Lieberman M. (1953). Education as a Profession
Have a comprehensive self-governing organization of practitioners. While the martial arts have a vast number of national and local organizations to support their development, they seldom self-govern the teaching of the arts, especially within the public domains of education.
Have a code of ethics that has been clarified and interpreted at its ambiguous points by concrete cases. This is not the same as the code of ethics that many martial arts have established within their arts. It is a code or teaching ethics that controls the conduct of martial arts instructors. This would not be too difficult to establish in the martial arts community since they are used to supporting codes of conduct.
Historically, only a few professions existed. Members of the clergy, medical doctors, and lawyers held the monopoly on professional status and on professional education, with military officers occasionally recognized as social equals. Self-governing bodies such as guilds or colleges, backed by state-granted charters guaranteeing monopolies, limited access to, and behavior within, such professions.
With the rise of technology and occupational specialization in the 19th century, other bodies began to claim "professional" status, such as engineers, paramedics, plumbers, and teachers. Today almost any occupational group may, at least unofficially, gain professional status, and with unification and hard work, they may even become a recognized profession.
To gain status as a recognized profession, an occupation must be governed by some nationally chartered organization or guild that sets guidelines for education and certification required of its members. These organizations have written ethical standards and require their members to abide by them. These organizations set and enforce high standards of conduct and professional behavior so the public may have a high level of trust in a professional that is a member of the organization. Think about the respect and trust earned and held by members of the American Bar Association or the American Medical Association.
Since martial art instructors earn money at teaching the martial arts, they may be loosely considered professionals. However, to be considered professionals in the strictest sense, they need a nationally sanctioned organization that sets and enforces standards and a code of ethics for the martial arts teaching profession. This will not be an easy task.
Martial arts deal with combat, which is a male dominated aspect of society. Combat is sometimes a necessary evil that is needed to defeat those who want to dominate or kill others. However, most times, combat is merely macho, ego driven fighting to "protect" one's manhood. This means that those involved in the martial arts have large egos and are very territorial about their arts and their positions in each art. For them to relinquish any control to a national organization would be an affront to their manhood.
Until martial art leaders can come together and form a joint professional organization that governs the profession of teaching the martial arts, martial art instructing will continue to be a mere occupation that does not get the respect it deserves from society.
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