The Importance of Private Lessons for Martial Arts Students

If you are enrolled in a martial art program, I am sure you want to become the best you are capable of becoming. Being a martial artist is not about coasting through classes half heartedly and just going through the motions. That will not help you reach your full potential. In fact, that would just be wasting your instructor’s time as well as your own. Being a martial artist means doing all you are capable of doing to become all you are capable of becoming.  Nowadays, a black belt doesn’t have the value it used to due to many people just ranking people for the almighty dollar.  To me, however, being a black belt still holds GREAT value and I am going to do whatever I can to be the best black belt I can be, and I hold that same standard for my students. If you are wearing a black belt you better act like one and look like one – talking the talk and walking the walk. If not, the only person you are fooling is yourself.

One of the best ways to become all you are capable of and to become the best black belt you can is to get private lessons from your instructor.  I can’t express how valuable these lessons are.  It is one on one time with your instructor.  Coming from an instructor’s perspective, trust me when I tell you that my best students are those who get private lessons.  It gives me the opportunity to get to know them the way I need to know them to be able to teach them the best way possible so that I can get the lessons across according to their learning styles and be able to adapt what I am teaching to fit them as individuals molding them into great martial artists. It also gives me the opportunity to point out every small detail that will make them better – something as simple as the angle the foot should be on in a certain stance.  In group classes I can’t focus on each individual so I won’t be able to give all the fine tune details that each individual needs.

Another great thing about private lessons is that they give you the opportunity to learn your new material for the next belt level you are working on in a timely fashion.  I don’t know how it is at your martial arts school, but at mine most of the group class time is for drilling the material and getting the body work that needs to be done.  Although my students do learn new material at times during the regular group classes (mostly the white, yellow and orange belts), we don’t use class time to learn new material too often.  Of course I’m primarily talking about my adult program. We do teach new material to all belt levels in our child programs.  That doesn’t disqualify children from getting private lessons, however. Again, my best students are those who get private lessons regularly (both children and adults).

Private lessons are also great for review – just running through whatever material you already know and having your instructor critique you and tighten you up, and they are also great to prepare you for a belt test.  I have quite a bit of students who get a private lesson a few days before their test to do a little pre-test run through.  It makes them more comfortable to know they got through everything and builds their confidence for the test.  It also gives them a chance to fix anything that needs work before testing.  Furthermore, getting private lessons shows your instructor that you are serious about your training and that you are a dedicated student.  Take it from me; the only students we want are those who are dedicated. They are a lot of fun to teach.

I keep my private lessons affordable, and if you get on my weekly plan (one private per week, you save $5 per lesson).  I have a handful of people who take advantage of that and it shows. I have students who take weekly privates, bi-weekly privates, monthly privates, and those that get a private once in a while. Of course I have students who have never had a private lesson with me, which is too bad because they would benefit from them greatly.  I have always gotten private lessons from my instructors and I still do once in a while. I’ve even had private lessons with some of the top martial artists in the world including Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and the late, great Joe Lewis (RIP).  I would not be even close to the martial artist and instructor I am if I never took private lessons.

If you are a student who already gets private lessons good for you.  Keep up the great work.  If you are a student who gets them every once in a while, if you can afford to do it more often, do it.  You won’t be sorry.  If you have never had a private lesson before, I encourage you to try it out, even if it’s only once per month.  It will make a big difference on so many levels.  Good luck with your training and if you ever have any questions feel free to e-mail me at  If you have an article idea that you would like me to write about on my site let me know. I’m always looking for new ideas for articles that will help people along their journey.


About Michael Miller:

Michael Miller is an international martial arts instructor and self-defense, personal protection, and anti-bullying expert who holds a 5th degree black belt in American Kenpo – a modern reality based street system of combat. He is the co-founder of the “Stomp the Bullying” program which is becoming world recognized with celebrity endorsements from actors Martin Kove (Sensei John Kreese in the Karate Kid Series) and Sean Kanan (Karate’s bad boy Mike Barnes in the Karate Kid III). Miller runs a full-time martial arts school in Bradford, Pa (Miller’s Kenpo Karate Dojo) and teaches American Kenpo, boxing, kickboxing, Joe Lewis Fighting Systems, Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu, and Modern Arnis. He worked for McKean County Children and Youth Services for three years certified by the state of Pennsylvania as a Direct Child Service Worker dealing with child development, child abuse and neglect. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh in writing with a minor in sociology. He is also a writer with several magazine feature articles published and one book. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 814-368-3725.