Long Time Lurker, First Time Poster


White Belt
Sep 21, 2023
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Hello Everyone,

After a lifetime of martial arts practice and development I want to start teaching in the rural communities I live nearby because there's apparently no one else. But I have a slight concern...

I don't mean to sound elitist or snooty or what have you

But I'm a little worried about coming across as too strange or exotic to the locals (I practice mostly Kung Fu)

I don't just mean the strangeness of Eastern culture; I'm highly functioning on the spectrum, I have PTSD from going to war three times, and I have kind of a hard time relating to normal people but I try to be kind.

I know this seems kind of weird, but I have just noticed that due to whatever reason, people kind of just don't like me at first glance. My own parents actually acknowledged they felt the same way when I was younger. Something about me is kind of repulsive to others - probably the autism. ugh. so it goes.

Anyway, I just don't want to end up getting lynched or something - but I do want to teach martial arts. Any advice?

Thanks for reading, great to be here!

Blue Lotus

White Belt
Oct 12, 2021
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St. Paul, MN
In response to your, "I know this kind of seems weird," note: I have that same problem! (Sorry, I couldn't get the forum quote function to work on my phone)

There have been a few people I know who have said something along the lines of, "When I first met you, I kinda hated you, but you are actually really awesome!"

I am also on the spectrum, and tend to chalk it up to my face/voice not matching what I am thinking/feeling - those things just go rogue.

I taught high school science for a while and 1) the students on the spectrum loved my classes (I didn't know at the time I am autistic) 2) the administration might have been put off by my -demeanor? - but they also said that my content knowledge was stellar, and knew I was able to know and explain the material well, generally, and when asked hard (or kind of stupid) questions.

Anyway, if you are the only person in an area teaching something, and someone wants to learn it, they will probably at least show up for a few lessons. Use your spectrum-fueled passion to show them you know what you are teaching and doing. If you are hoping to turn this into a career, it might not work out - your customer base probably isn't large and a few people might be put-off enough at first not to continue. But if it is your passion and you want to teach to pass it on and not necessarily make a profit, you will likely get a few students.

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Jan 4, 2012
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New York
I agree with everything blue lotus said, but want to make a book suggestion, Teaching the Martial Arts. It's not too long of a book, but goes through a practical way to create a club from the ground up. Full disclaimer, I did receive it almost a decade ago from the author in exchange for reviewing it. I am otherwise entirely unaffiliated with the book or the author, I just find it really useful so I recommend it.

I just checked, and it's still free on kindle unlimited, but only $3 without that. I don't have a kindle and could read it on my computer anyway, just FYI.

It is very practical, and goes step by step in a way that would help someone with a more logical, concrete mindset. You can read my full review here:
Teaching the Martial Arts Review

Hot Lunch

Black Belt
Apr 25, 2023
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Confession: while not on the spectrum, I'm also not very charismatic and some people might find my in-person personality to be a bit borning. Because of this, it wouldn't be wise of me to open a school. I personally wouldn't want to anyway. But if I did, my best bet would be to find a fellow practioner who does possess the charm and charisma to open up the school with.
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Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Aug 3, 2015
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Different groups of people have different reactions. People who want to learn martial arts are usually focused on martial arts.

What made others uncomfortable may not bother those who are interested in Matial arts as adults.


Master of Arts
Apr 10, 2008
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I'm trying to imagine how this might work, and I can think of two ways:
  1. chat up the locals, get involved, mention what you do. If people seem interested for themselves or their kids, find out more about what they need. In short, do market research.
  2. practice in a public park, and people might come up to you and chat you up. You'd teach in the park until you get a space.
But yeah, I think you'd come off as exotic ... unless you taught general self-defence first, then let them approach you after class if they're interested in a more specific art.

... but the veterans angle might be a good way to build a clientele.

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