Leadership at MKK

Note: My wife is getting her doctorate in Entrepreneurship (I’ll be married to a doctor someday!). She is currently taking a leadership class and the following is a portion of her homework this week. I wanted to share this, especially before the tournament. What she said was true: we don’t value students who compete over students who do not. We value each student, regardless of physical strength. Our student’s success, however that is defined, is our ultimate goal.

Leadership and the Martial Arts

It should be noted that within the world of martial arts there are numerous examples of unethical leadership. The term martial arts should not be mistaken as a synonym of respect or leadership. Although the perception is that great martial artists are great leaders, the reality is martial artists have no secret leadership skills. The tenants that make good leaders are the same in both the business and martial arts world.

With this in mind, the leadership culture within our dojo is consciously designed around humility. We do not spout our credentials, but celebrate our students accomplishments not our own. In the martial arts culture, ego can be both powerful and overwhelming. We have consciously created a culture that is not ego-centric but based on true martial arts tenants.

Miick (2010) describes martial arts leaders who lack integrity by listing examples including how some instructors will allow students to buy their rank, or the instructor that “camouflages bad technique with luxurious training halls and false flattery to his students (Miick, 2010, p. 11, para. 1). It is because of the overwhelming examples of poor martial arts leadership in this country that we strive to nurture a culture based on humility.

Dess and Picken (2000) believed an organization must embrace the information age and leverage the knowledge of the entire organization to compete in the 21st century. Additionally, “organizations often fall prey to the ‘heroes and drones’ syndrome, wherein the value of those in powerful positions are exalted and those who fail to achieve top rank are diminished” (Dess & Picken, 2000, p. 22, para. 5).

For a commercial martial arts school, our goal is to embrace the entire student population. We do not value students who are physically superior more than average students (as some schools do).  We welcome all students, regardless of age, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.  Our goal is to be an inclusive organization, which is both professionally and personally rewarding.


Dess, G., & Picken, J. (2000). Changing roles: Leadership in the 21st century. Organizational Dynamics, 28(3), 18–34.

Miick, R. M. (2010). Art of leading. Food & Drink, 10-11.