Influence the leaders
To find out who has the most influence in a school, listen to who the students quote the most. They may always say “the instructor said…” but sometimes you will hear many people saying, “Fred said.” While the instructor may be the boss, it is obvious that the students have much respect for Fred’s opinion.
Once you find out the people who are highly respected by students and the ones who have the ear of the instructor, work with them as much as you can and always strive to do your best when they are around or watching. Instead of showing off in front of the instructor or telling the instructor how great you are (which may make you look bad in the mind of the instructor), develop a group of people who will tell the instructor how great you are. Buzz created by others is more valuable than buzz created by you.
Some say that all this attention to fitting in is neither needed nor desired, that you should just train in the martial arts without worrying about class “politics.” This is only the wishful thinking of idealists who think there is such as place as Utopia. In the real world, power controls how everything operates. The ones with power rule, the ones without it serve the ones with it. That is the way it is and no amount of wishful thinking will ever change it. If you want to be successful in your martial art, you will have to learn the power structure and politics of your school and its organization, and learn how to fit into them and use them to your benefit. If you are merely a student, you will always be—just a student.
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