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New Government Development Puts Martial Arts Back A Decade

We receive many calls from instructors, venue hire facilities and corporations who are confused at how the industry operates and have asked who calls the shots, so I thought it best to explain it. We agree it can be confusing because there are some associations claiming to be the only peak body. They also claim that their instructor qualifications standards are the only ones recognised in the industry and that’s is simply not true.

The Martial Arts and Fitness Industries are not regulated by the government at this point, nor should they be, they have been in the past but now operate under what is called a ‘best practice – code of conduct’.

What this means is when a peak body is formulated it looks at other sporting groups and consults with industry leaders to agree upon the appropriate qualification standards, insurance ratings / coverage, policies and procedures etc. From this they created a bench mark standard for instructors to follow and then implement it.

The Fitness Industry’s main peak body ‘Fitness Australia’ for example implemented a protocol that every gym / fitness instructor needed at least a Cert III Fitness or Sport & Rec to work in a gym. What made this work was that the industry wanted to do it, a government qualification package was developed, and the employer’s (gyms / community centres etc) pushed it by only employing people with the appropriate qualifications. The result a growing professional and well employed industry.

The Martial Arts Industry works differently, as a rule it doesn’t try to enforce a set qualification to employ an instructor and that’s because employees are predominantly developed from within the club/school. We will not talk about the old days (20-40 years ago) because training and club operations were very different then. The National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) established in 1978 (developed by the Australian Sports Commission – ASC) was the first nationally recognised coaches / instructors course but it wasn’t until 2002 that the martial arts industry adopted it. Although this served as an entry level course it paved the way for higher and more appropriate courses that came to prominence in 2004 such as the Sports Coaching with a Martial Arts Specialty. These courses (Cert II – Diploma) have been developed by industry leaders and delivered by numerous Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

These qualifications have been the ideal fit for raising the bar and attracting government funding. Over the years this has helped the industry become more professional and enable it to better serve / protect the community whilst creating healthy careers and increasing employment.

It is the forward thinking of associations and school owners implementing these standards that have helped grow our industry, making it more appealing and safer for the public. Most groups have selected from the two options above but more recently many have started using the nearly formed Australian Martial Arts Coaching Scheme (AMACS) which has bridged the gap between the other two. There are also some groups that have developed their own credible instructor courses using elements from government recognised qualifications to be more specific to their operations.

However that said all government qualifications relating to martial arts are currently under review with some courses being no longer available. In fact the ‘martial arts specialty’ attached to the sports coaching package has been deleted and other relevant units moved to other packages taking us back ten years. The whole process of creating the appropriate instructor’s course for our industry has been taken back to the drawing board with the industry having to start again. This is due to the government being misinformed and not understanding the impact these changes will make. This action has been done without consulting with industry nor verifying the facts.

How can this impact on the industry? It makes it even more confusing to track down an appropriate martial arts instructor qualification.

Where does this leave the industry? Not in a good place!

Who will do something about it? Typically the industry sits back and waits for a few individuals / orginisations to do all the work, allocate their resources and then jumped on board when it’s all done. Well I think a lot of the people that have done this in the past are not too eager to do it again because it is generally a thankless job. If the industry recognised and supported the people that did this type of work for martial arts we may get something going. What it will take is for people to pledge support and deliver.

Yes we have already done something about it, we have created the Australian Martial Arts Coaching System that combines the right Nationally Recognised Training Units / Qualifications for the industry.

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