School Formality is a tool or road block depending on how you use it
Many people expect a certain ritual in their martial arts. Ritual brings focus, and for parents especially, it warms their heart to see their kids lined up in uniform being a little more formal than in their daily life. Even adults are seeking answers and stability, and the traditional teacher-student relationship that you imagine can bring peace to their life.
I’ll write later about the fetishization of this and Eastern culture, but at the end of the day, if you’re going to put on pajamas and play Power Rangers, you may as well do the whole thing, bowing and barking, “hai!”
Respect is not formality
Many have a problem with this, especially the more thoughtful Westerners who know this is not a necessary inheritance, and that it often distorts truth and relations.
Fine, but there’s a problem here:
You’re not going to ever be able to give potential students what they need if you don’t first give them what they want.
The problem with school formality is that by its very nature, it shouldn’t morph over time. You can’t graduate to not needing to bow. Ever been to a school where it felt like the black belts were friends and everyone else income or followers? Ugh.
So you need to decide what’s best for you and your students. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, but do believe you need to stick with it, as it becomes part of the school culture, and will attract different kinds of people. It attracts different kinds of people. So if you can swing the business side, do what is best for you.
It is worth mentioning:
Even the most casual place will raise school formality for kids programs