When I began teaching my adult program at the Derry Boys and Girls Club it was just for interested parents of kids in my youth program there. A few of the older teenage members of the youth program also joined with the adults. The program always was for the few and its maximum level perhaps only had 10 or so members.
When I was teaching in Scranton, one evening 3 adults approached me after class telling me they knew I competed with Kobudo (many program did not have Kobudo training at that time). They informed me that I would teach them a Bo kata.
First, not being a Scranton native, I was surprised they knew of me or my youth program. I was caught off guard.
I responded, “Guy’s I am not teaching an adult program. However, if that is what you want, I will find a way to instruct you. You must understand that I only teach Isshinryu the right way. And in order to study the Isshinryu Kobudo kata, you first have to learn all he Isshinryu empty hand kata first. Only then would the kobudo kata be taught. If you are ok with that then we can work something out.”
Hearing that as a group they turned, not saying a word, and they left.
I was always teaching for free, never looking for money.. And I was very fine with that.
So when I began my adult program, I was just teaching the same program as I taught to the kids. My Bushi No Te Isshinryu program. The only real difference is that the adults mostly learned at a different faster pace because they had made adult choices to train. They were just students I really had no intention of turning them into youth program instructors.
And as adults do some stayed with me, some of them moved on in time.
Many of them reach black belt level training with me and then averaged to train further at least 17+ years, my senior students staying 35 + years training.
I did not advertise I was training adults. Each one of them had to work to find me. That I had adults to work with was enough for me. And I could focus on their training always learning more and more from teaching. And as time passed they developed skill.
At times over the years adults with serious prior training approached me, may times having moved into the Derry area and not finding the style they had studied. Some approached me to train. I remember one 6th dan approached me to help teach.
Every time I followed the same pattern.
1. First if they wanted to locate a specific school I would to my best to help them and then show them where to go.
2. If that was not possible I informed them I understood their need.
3. Informing them my program was Isshinryu not the art they came from. I always suggested if their art was their concern I believed they should open their own program to teach it.
4. I always informed them that to move forward with the discussion they first had to observe a class to see what we did.
a. My adult classes always were based on my application of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to karate instruction.
b. When those potential students with prior training were observing the class, I always made sure it was a class that it was unlikely that they have ever seen. Of course for my students that was nothing different from how they studied with me.
c. The purpose was I wanted them to viscerally understand it was probably not what they were used to.
5. Only after all that would I ever discuss the idea of their joining further.
6. Then I informed that I only taught one way, they would be expected to learn what I taught from the beginning.
7. I expected them to keep up their prior study, never to lose it, but it would be on their own to do it. For I only taught my art.
8. Then should they join, I would tell them the first night in a year’s time they would begin to recognize the structure to these classes based on my interpretation of uncertainty.
9. I also informed them out of respect for the rank they held previously I expected them to wear that obi, but until they progressed in my program past that rank, they would not receive further rank from me. The real purpose of my program was to train no rank acquisition.
10. Each time those who joined after a year I would ask them if they agreed I told them the truth from the beginning. Every one of them agreed I was telling them as it was.
Some stayed to join, some did not. I ever had a very good student who moved in from another Isshinryu background, he followed the same path as all my students.
I did not treat them any differently from my other students.
Later I would develop my program instructor standards. The first requirement was they have 15 continuous years training with me before being a candidate for the 5 year mentorship for the instructor.
Each of my students were special to me, even when adult decisions made moving on necessary for them. Those that stayed became even more special
This is how I approached potential students with prior training.