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How Many Students?

Sometimes instructors will ask each other how many students they have. I think that there is a general belief that it is better to have more students.

I try to keep my class pretty small -- no more than 30 students. The reason for this is so that I can concentrate on each student and try to help him reach his maximum potential.

In my dojo, there are three students who are sandan (3rd degree black belts) and two active students who are nidan (2nd degree black belts). I think that each sandan represents about 100 students and that each nidan represents about 75 students. So when I have the three sandan and two nidan in the dojo, I feel like there are really 450 students present!

You can't just count bodies. You have to look at how much time and effort it took to produce a student. For each sandan, I imagine that 100 students had started and quit. One sandan is a big accomplishment. A sandan can basically run his or her own dojo.

Class enrollment goes up and down, somewhat with the seasons, and also over the years. Keeping the advanced students is the most important thing because they are the ones who teach the most. You have to balance their progress with their teaching duties. Teaching is an essential part of learning. You cannot learn without teaching. At the same time, we must continue to develop the advanced students and not only make them teach.

I have a good senior friend who is a 9th dan. Can you imagine how many students it took to produce him... perhaps a million!


Charles C. Goodin