I have been teaching for fifty years. I had a school in Santa Maria Cal. which was a converted double car garage. It was always jabbed packed with men and women students. I now teach privately at my home studio.So lately (past month or two) I have been communicating with and traveling to other martial arts schools that also run as a full time business trying to get some insight into ways to run a business without sacrificing standards and I noticed an unsettling trend. Every school bragged about how they had high standards and every school had between 250-450 students. All but maybe a dozen students per school, to put it bluntly, sucked. They had their floors full but nobody on the floor, not even some of the instructors, had any semblance of good technique. The schools had 6 year old black belts, some with 2 stripes on their belt, they had 3rd dan and 4th dan black belts that couldn't throw a basic round kick without loosing balance, none of them had any focus or semblance of discipline, no effort or power in their forms, their sparring was sloppy and low effort, and many of them didn't have an understanding or ability beyond what I expect from my yellow belts. Conversely there is a Shorin Ryu school in my town that has maybe 80 students at most for all programs (kids, adults, and fitness classes) and they are GOOD! They have white belts that after a month are more skilled than many black belts at these bigger schools. They have way more discipline and focus after a week than the black belts of the larger schools.
So, Million dollar question: Is it possible to run a school with 300+ students at any given time without actually sacrificing high standards? Can I have a school with 300+ students and still have the same or higher standards as the small schools tend to? These big school owners keep telling me it's possible but it is clear that their idea of "high standards" are less than mediocre.
It's difficult to keep high standards wilth 300 plus students. The only way to do that is to have an instructor for each fifty students. Then you must have weekly meetings with them, to see how things are going and that they are teaching the way you want.
I've taught for Al Tracy and other studios. People are taught and they stay, when you make them feel special. To do that, you have to give private lessons to the student. Groups are only for practice.