As noted in our “Adults” section, in today’s HIIT craze that has swept the nation, people are prone to injury. That is a fact. I’ve lived it.

In addition to the myriad of exercises that we throw at our students, we are teaching a martial art, which could prove injurious to one’s own body in the absence of sufficient individual attention.

Look, “self-defense” is nice way of saying “fighting” or “hurting someone else.” Sorry pacifists, but it is.

While we take time to emphasize that staying out of trouble is the #1 rule of self-defense, the truth is that in many cases you have to hurt an adversary in your efforts to stop them from hurting you.

Here are three reasons why we emphasize the semi-private:

1) We are making a weapon out of your body and that can be dangerous to you!

If you do not know how to handle a weapon, it becomes a liability against you. A gun could go off in the wrong direction and at the wrong time. A knife could cut you by accident or be dropped on your foot.

In teaching classes, I like to use the example of the nunchuck, which has a chain or a chord linking two hard ends that are used to strike opponents. At any moment that the chain or chord is even slightly loose, the wielder of the weapon loses control over the flailing end and they hurt themselves. This is why students learn on “soft” chucks. Me personally, I learned on bamboo and got hurt, a lot! My elbows and the back of my head were constantly getting bombarded (I think my instructor thought is was funny), an experience that has reinforced a lesson about the martial arts in general:

If you do not know how to move your body properly, the art you’re wielding will become a weapon against you!

The most common example is the boxer’s fracture, in which case a person breaks their own hand throwing a punch. In the martial arts the toes tend to fall susceptible when kicking.

As an experienced teacher of the art, I like to emphasize how to pivot properly, keeping the toes in line with the hips at all times, whether rotating into a roundhouse kick or spinning to face another opponent, because the knee lies in between the toes and the hips. When the hips rotate and the toes remain planted, the knee twists outside of its natural range of motion. If the student is not taught how to pivot under challenging conditions, which takes time, practice and a lot of attention from the instructor, the knee is liable to either wear away over time, or snap in one fell swoop. We spend the personal time with you to minimize the likelihood of these things happening.

2) The second benefit of our semi-private lesson is that we teach our white-to-black belt curriculum in this setting.

Most schools teach the curriculum in the group class. We find it challenging enough, a) to find an instructor sufficient to teach a martial arts class—period, and b) to teach a group of between ten and twenty-plus people what they need to know as individuals in a group setting.

Students of different rank, age, learning paces, conditioning and with learning disabilities, learn differently and at different paces and in different ways!! If you are serious about learning the art, it would make sense to have some more intimate time with your instructor where we can focus on you, answer your questions, and teach at your speed.

3) We get to know each other better.

This last one could rank either at the top or bottom of your list, but we enjoy getting to know you. Schools that teach only group classes are incredibly impersonal, in some cases the instructors write their students’ names on their uniforms so that they can remember them. Especially for kids, this becomes a problem. How can you really be of help to a growing child when you can’t even remember her name? We know the kids’ names, favorite movies and toys, how they’re doing in school…we stay in the know.

Our semi-private not only gives us time to get to know our students better, but in the case of children, we get to know the parents as well, and that is valuable.

We build the value of the semi-private lesson into the tuition, which is probably a little higher than the dojos down the street. If you’re like me then you’ll appreciate that. Upon signing up for lessons at a local yoga studio years back, I quickly realized that I did not understand what I was doing, and bought some private lessons at $150 a pop. That is correct—$150 each. Did they help? Yes they did. Were they expensive? Yes they were. To me they were of value, however. To each is to own.

For us, the semi-private is a necessity and having one per week at our tuition rate of $245/month, which includes unlimited group classes, is steal!