Licensed Instructor vs Independant Instructor

  • Krav Maga

    Accredited British Krav Maga Training Centres

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‘With the success of my schools, my business, and the incredible learning experience and personal growth on offer from such a demanding course, I can’t speak highly enough of BKMA instructor certification. It’s a major life upgrade.’

Will Bayley. BKMA Professional Instructor

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The ‘would be’ Krav Maga Instructor has a number of decisions to make before choosing an Instructor course. Today we look at one of those decisions, should you become a licensed instructor with a major Krav Maga Organisation.

‘In an unregulated industry, Krav Maga Instructor courses vary from life-changing to bitterly disappointing’.

Krav Maga Instructor training is a major life decision for most. Outcomes vary from disappointment and feeling ripped off, through to a positive and literally life-changing experience. In this article, we are going to explore the relative merits of being an independent Krav Maga Instructor.

We will explore the merits of being licensed to a Krav Maga organisation in the next article.

British Krav Maga has been phenomenally successful in building successful Krav Maga Schools. In the less than 2 years (2010), British Krav Maga grew from a single Bristol based school to a National Organisation delivering professional coaching across the UK. Since that time we have developed almost 70 schools, trained thousands of students and become a genuine national brand.

In this series of articles, we wanted to share the experiences and truths behind teaching Krav Maga for a living. Warts and all…

Licensed Instructor vs Independent. What’s the difference?
In simple terms organisations like British Krav Maga, Krav Maga Global, Krav Maga Worldwide, and the International Krav Maga Federation licence instructors.

This means that for a fee, ‘licensees’ benefit from being members of a larger organisation with benefits of membership rising in line with fees.

The organisations require the instructor attend and pass certain standards of instructor training. Licensing organisations usually require that the Instructor pay a monthly fee and in return, the Instructor can access training and continue their own professional development. Instructors can run recognised gradings for their students and deliver training of an agreed curriculum.

In doing so they become part of something larger and more credible than just their own school.

‘In an unregulated industry, Krav Maga Instructor courses vary from life-changing to bitterly disappointing’.

From experience, most independent instructors eventually try to link up with some type of governing body, going it alone is often less appealing in reality than theory.

Independent Instructors attend an instructor course, typically 4-5 days or thereabouts. Instructor course standards are typically lower with fewer requirements to pass instructor certification. The independent instructor sets up their own school, brand, marketing and business infrastructure.

They deliver their own training, award their own gradings but don’t have access to regular Krav Maga continued professional updates or development. Most independent instructors join some form of martial arts organisation to accredit their gradings and provide insurance.

Which model is best?
This is not a straightforward question to answer.

It depends on who you are, your training experience and previous experience running a Krav Maga or Martial Arts school.

Broadly speaking, the standards of Krav Maga at licensed schools is higher than that of the independent schools. This trend can be seen globally, not just in the UK and can be attributed to the fact that most independent instructors receive shorter training courses, less continued professional updates and have no oversight in terms of their own continued development.

Consequently this impacts instructor standards and often results in smaller membership numbers and lower training fees than licensed schools. However, some licensing organisations leave a lot to be desired. It’s critical that you do your research prior to booking anything.

As a licensee, the rule of thumb is that the more you pay the licensing organisation the more you should get back.

Independent Instructor Pro’s and Cons
As an independent instructor, you are free to do as you choose. The martial arts industry is unregulated so you are free to run courses, gradings and instructor courses if and when you see fit.

Short Instructor Courses tend to be only around 5 days as opposed to the 18-23 days of licensed instructor training. This makes them more accessible as you need less time off work, less time away from home and less expense involved in training.

However ‘speed to market’ tends to be much slower as an independent, no one has heard of you and getting your name out there requires time effort and money. Independent schools take longer to build a customer base and are hit harder by what’s called attrition — the percentage of your students leaving each month. It will also be harder to generate profit as your pricing has a lower ceiling than that of a recognised Krav Maga brand.

As an independent, you need to develop your own curricula and programmes. More experienced martial artists may be more comfortable doing this and enjoy the flexibility to develop and innovate their own programmes. There will be no ongoing fees or oversight from an organisation and you are free to develop your business and training as you wish.

‘You would generally expect a higher standard of coaching and training from licensed instructors who are subject to longer training courses and external scrutiny’

Lack of organisational support becomes more of an issue over time.

Lesson planning and remaining up to date in your Krav Maga skills can become increasingly difficult. Eventually, small changes creep into you’re training and your own Krav Maga will become quite different to Krav Maga that is taught elsewhere, this becomes highly significant if you don’t have a solid Krav Maga background prior to Instructor training.

Curricula development is down to you. Keeping lessons fresh and varied after 3 years requires work and innovation. Competition against larger organisations with marketing budgets and recognised brand names becomes increasingly difficult.

Independent schools tend not to thrive when competing with a licensed school due to the greater credibility of the competitor. Loss of students and price cutting are often the result of serious competition and this will be compounded if there is a lack of infrastructure and business mentoring available to the independent school.

Typically independent Krav Maga schools have to compete via price cutting or rolling out multiple style training e.g. Krav Maga MMA, Kids classes, etc. However, as a smaller business, you can really specialise in a small niche area/location and use marketing advantages associated with these niche markets.

Most successful Independent Krav Maga Instructors start out as licensed instructors and move on over time. As an independent, you should make sure you are really comfortable with your skill set and business methodology before setting off on your own. Going back to a licensing organisation can be difficult because most licensed organisations will require you do their certification process before taking you on or may not take you at all.

For Krav Maga Instructors, being independent has its own rewards and challenges. If you like pioneering and carving out your own niche in the world — this could be the way for you.

Typically Independent schools thrive in the smaller towns with no other Krav Maga organisations to compete with. This allows the independent schools to dominate a small and unique niche within their own towns and can work very well in the long term for experienced instructors.

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