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Referring An Instructor

Sometimes I am contacted, usually by email, with a request to refer a potential student to a Karate instructor, either here in Hawaii or elsewhere in the world. As time has gone by, I have developed a policy generally not to give such referrals.

Usually, the person asking me for a referral gives me very little information about himself, sometimes not even his last name. It is one thing to recommend a restaurant -- it is quite another to recommend a Karate instructor. If I refer a student, I will be responsible for that student in the eyes of the instructor. As such, I can really only refer a student if I know him.

If you refer a person to a restaurant or store, those businesses usually want customers. They sell something. A Karate instructor -- at least the Karate instructors I know -- do not sell anything. They are not advertising for students. Usually, students only come to them from referrals from other instructors, students, or close friends. And to be honest, a student would have to be very lucky to be referred to a fine Sensei.

The relationship between Sensei and student can last a lifetime. It is not something to be entered into lightly.

This is why I generally do not refer prospective students to Karate instructors unless I know the student pretty well. I do not mean to show any disrespect to the student. It is just that we have different attitudes about what such a referral means.


Charles C. Goodin