Martial Arts Monday: Losing “The One!” 5 Stages of Grief

Losing The One

There are always a select number of students that come in on their first day and you think to yourself, “wow this kid is going to be amazing one day.” They have natural movement, work hard and encourage their fellow classmates. Whether 4 or 14, when this student signs up, you as an owner feel like you just hit the lottery. They stick around for a while but then, all of a sudden, months even years into their training, they lose interest and quit. The shock is real, the pain stings and you are at a loss for words. Here are the five stages of grief when losing “the one!"

Denial: 

You cannot believe this is happening. There’s no reason that this student should want to leave your school. They always smile and never have shown signs of being disinterested. You saw a younger version of yourself in them and thought they would train with you forever. No! This can’t possibly be happening!

Anger:

Once you have been told of this absolute betrayal, you can’t help but go over and spend 10-90 minutes hitting the heavy bag. This student had unlimited potential if he/she had just stuck it out. There is no telling what they would have accomplished and now that opportunity is gone for both of you. Punch! punch! kick! kick! repeat!!!

Bargaining:

You call the parents back over and over offering lower rates, merchandise, teaching opportunities, private/small group classes, demo team privileges, whatever you can think of to get them back through your doors. What’s a $10 hat compared to losing this student? It is totally worth all of your time and energy to get this one student back!

Depression:

You work yourself up wondering what you did wrong? Were you too tough, not tough enough, say something wrong to them, say something wrong to the parents? Did you yell at them, or yell at their friend and they are leaving in solidarity? There are a million reasons why someone quits and no matter what they tell you, you run through all possible scenarios until you drive yourself mad.

Acceptance:

Then you finally realize that you are an amazing instructor, and more importantly, that you have a school full of hard working students that see the value in you as their teacher. One student doesn’t define what your school is about. All of your students deserve the same amount of energy and attention no matter where they were when they first started. Natural ability is great, but perseverance is what separates a student from a future leader!

So don’t get caught up on “the one,” no matter how good they were, are, or can be. If they leave you, they may come back they may not. If you are doing everything to provide the best martial arts teaching to your students, those that need and want to be there will continue to be your biggest asset!

Respectfully Submitted, Tiger Blood

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