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Karch Bear hug yellow belt testEvery once in a while a certain debate about a certain subject arises at UTKM. The debate between which belt test is more difficult, the yellow belt test or the orange belt test.  The simple provocation to answer that the orange belt test would be more difficult since it is the higher ranking belt test would be too easy of an answer. Where my argument would atone that the yellow belt test was the harder of the two since most people (including myself) are not mentally ready for the physical and mental exertion of their first UTKM belt test. In which by no means a simple feat, and one should feel damn proud after completing one. On March 31st of this year, I had the great pleasure of receiving my orange belt and my assistant instructor certification with 2 fellow students, the journey was not short I had many lessons and bumps that I had to experience before I was anywhere close to being the person I am today, my story begins like anyone else in the martial arts world: white belt.

the variable situations where shit can immediately hit the fan are many to infinite.

June 9th, 2016. The Beginning:

Was any other hot summer day, the birds were out chirping, the children were out playing, and people were getting their groins kicked out at UTKM. Just another regular day, right? June 9th, 2 years ago was the day I decided to join and try out this so-called “Krav Maga”.  At this point in my life, I had stopped doing Martial Arts and or anything combat related. I was having a difficult time trying to find a self-defense system that made sense. Now you must be asking what I mean by a self-defense system that makes sense, well a lot of martial arts assume and practice situations that simulate a predetermined situation. For example, the idea that criminals or desperate vagrants will attack you fairly that they will fight with “honor”, where in reality we’re not fighting inside a ring and anything can happen, someone could pull out a knife or a gun, there could be multiple assailants, someone might have past experienced in martial arts, the variable situations where shit can immediately hit the fan are many to infinite. This is where I believe Krav Maga really shines, it takes all these what-if scenarios and simplifies them to the base core of what all self-defense should be: the prioritization of survivability and common sense. Which brings me back to my first day of Krav, where a group of students and myself were told to surround another student who was about to do there yellow belt test. Each student that was outside the circle was given a move to perform whether it was straight punches, an overhand attack with a knife, and the student in the middle was supposed to defend against all incoming attacks. After 5 minutes straight of attacking the poor soul that was stuck in the middle and getting my groin severely kicked a couple of dozen times the only thought that went through my mind was “holy shit, this is crazy”, I knew exactly that this was what I wanted to practice. I wanted to be that badass in the middle of the circle being able to defend himself from what this crazy world had to throw, so began the training.

I personally believe that those 70 hours were some of the most crucial and important lessons you will carry with you in your life and if you choose to continue down the path of a Kravist.

White Belt:

252000 seconds, 4260 minutes, 70 hours. 70 hours is the minimum length of time of training you must acquire before you are asked to do your yellow belt test. This is not including achieving the acquired amount of time you need sparring, volunteering in a yellow belt test, and being able to prove to one of your instructors that you are ready to try and survive a UTKM belt test. I personally believe that those 70 hours were some of the most crucial and important lessons you will carry with you in your life and if you choose to continue down the path of a Kravist. Here are some of the challenges and lessons I learned in those 70 hours:

  • Stay humble, seriously I cannot stress this one enough. Leave your pride at the door, this doesn’t only apply to the UTKM gym but everywhere else you go in life. Someone is always going to be a little better, faster, younger, smarter than you, accept it. That’s life. You’ll learn more if you accept the fact that you might not know everything this world has to offer.
  • Stay standing, stay alive. It’s as simple as it sounds. The ground will do you no favors, your movements become restricted. you lose sight of your environment which brings me to my next point.
  • If there is one bad guy there is a good chance that there is 2 more. I mean what kind of bad guy fights without his henchmen?
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. If you know whats going around you, you could avoid a dangerous situation entirely.

if your fundamentals are weak you will definitely have a difficult time mastering the new techniques.

Yellow Belt:

The yellow belt is where all the basics you’ve learned comes and merges together. Not just techniques but also all the basic principles of how you should be thinking when you’ve been placed in a situation where you must defend your self. During this stage of your UTKM training, you will continue to perfect your training while learning more advanced techniques.  And after another grueling 70 hours, you will eventually be tasked with taking on the orange belt test, but first, what did I manage to learn in those 70 hours of yellow belt:

  • The basics are important if your fundamentals are weak you will definitely have a difficult time mastering the new techniques.
  • Still, continue going to white belt classes.
  • If you’re a smaller person (like myself) you will have to up your aggression, out-crazy the crazy. Physics will not be your friend here. Do not stop fighting ever.

Orange belt and now:

And now we have reached the present. I have overcome many challenges in the past 2 years that I have been with UTKM, and I expect more to come. The training and the people I have met have changed my perspective on life and generally how I view things. I can walk confidently down the street knowing that I have the tools to protect myself and those I care about. I can walk into a classroom and write an exam with zero anxiety, knowing that I have overcome greater challenges and this is just another challenge I will conquer.

Stay fearless, and walk with pride so that you too, may walk in peace. Until the next time

Karch T.

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What becoming a UTKM Assistant Instructor looks like to Karch. Isn’t it beautiful?

 

The instructor program so far has been a wild, and enigmatic ride. From long winded discussions to unexpected challenges, there was always some sort of lesson to be learned. Whether it was from the lesson itself, or listening to Jon and Andrew argue about miniscule details, exploding into something completely unprecedented from the original thing they were arguing about. I knew that every Friday night I would have the pleasure, or discomfort that I was going to be learning something new.

Jon is best described by a quote I once found deep inside the depths of the internet,

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see” famously quoted by Alexandra K. Trenfor.

Every lesson given, every story told, always seemed to have an underlying meaning behind it, and we were always left to wonder and think what else we could have been missing.

Learning how to critically think has been the greatest take away for me so far in the program. There are many of times where we are placed in a situation where we confronted with a predicament where we must quickly analyze and act. I use to freeze up in moments such as these, my brain would suddenly shut down and I would draw a blank, and I would either just follow the crowd or just stand there with drool dripping down the side of my mouth. In the instructor program, we’re often taught the importance of quickly analyzing a situation, whether that be in class or outside in the real world. I’ve noticed within myself that I freeze less often now, and act a lot quicker within precedence. Of course, I still have a long way to go, but it’s better than it was before.

The instructor program had definitely has been one heck of a journey so far, and I can’t wait to see what else it has in store for me. Whether that maybe more lessons, more test that don’t include multiple choice answers, and or more challenges for me to overcome. I know that by the end of this journey I will become a stronger person, and will have attained the necessary skills to be a certified UTKM assistant instructor.

Karch Tan.

This is part of a series on our instructor training program. To understand this series and how our Assistant Instructor Course and Full Instructor Course work, please start with Part 1. This post is a self-introduction from one of our current Assistant Instructor candidates.

In the beginning there was darkness, a black hole of nothing. Then in the light, there was Krav Maga. As silly as this may sound, this is Krav Maga for me. My name is Karch Tan, and this is my crazy reason to why I decided to listen to our Lead Instructor, Jon and become an Assistant Instructor.

It all started in a far away time, in the summer of 2010. It was a summer like all summers, you know the kind. The summer where you find yourself and discover new things. This was the summer I found out how big of an asshole people could be, it was the summer in which I got mugged. Without getting into too much detail, I’ll sum up the whole experience with two feelings: fear and frustration.

Fear. You hear about these kinds of things happening to other people, but you never expect it to happen to you. I grew up living a safe neighborhood, where nothing really ever happened. Deluded in my self-awareness of the world, I always thought the best of people, and boy, was I ever wrong.

Frustration. I was angry. I was angry at the people who took my money, the people who threatened to spray me with bear mace and beat me up. I was angry at myself. I was mad because I was helpless to do anything. I was mad because I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened and what I could have done. I was mad at all the “what if” scenarios going across my head. What if I was with my girlfriend and they wanted something more than money, what if they did attack me without provocation, what if I did attack them, would I have won?

This led me to a fun road to some extreme paranoia and anxiety. I started to become more secluded, never wanting to leave the house. I was afraid of the people at my school. I knew it was becoming unhealthy for me, and I had to do something about it. A friend suggested on taking martial arts, which began another fun journey with me bouncing around from one martial art to another.

It began with Taekwondo, which I did for half a year. While I enjoyed what I was learning, it just didn’t seem practical and felt too traditional. Then I went and tried a couple of months of kickboxing and Muay Thai. This felt more like my style, but I still felt like it was missing a certain… Je ne sais quoi? After months of trying to find a martial art to satisfy my refined taste, I was ready to give up. Until I saw a rerun episode of Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior, the episode pitted the Navy Seals against the Israeli Commandos. The show talked about the aggressive martial art that the Israelis used called Krav Maga. Remembering that I had seen a couple of gyms during my search, I decided to look for a gym and try out a class.

 

Fast forward to my first day of Krav Maga. We were asked to drill a situation where a person has a knife pointed at you. The instructor quickly demonstrated slapping the person’s knife hand away and quickly kicking them at the groin. And that was it. It was simple and it made sense. No extra complicated moves. He wasn’t giving us 4 other different ways to do it from different angles. It was simple and effective. With that I knew, Krav Maga was going to be different. What they were teaching was practical. Anybody could do it and it was easy to remember. With that, I knew I had found my cup of tea.

walkinpeaceSo why did I decide to become an instructor? The generic answer would be to tell you that I want to teach people to be safe, and so they could safely get home at night to see their loved ones. However, in reality, nothing is that simple. I hated the feeling that I had to go through after getting mugged. The frustration, the self hatred, the fear. I would never want anyone to go through that kind of pain or experience and I know that I’m no superhero. I can’t simply appear where ever someone is about to get mugged or about to get into a violent situation. The best I can do is to teach someone to protect themselves and to give them the confidence they need so they can walk in peace.

The instructor course is incredibly humbling. It tells me that I have a long way to go and that I still have tons to learn. It’s eye opening to see how much an instructor has to keep in mind when they teach. Diving deeper into the ideas and constructs on what a UTKM instructor is suppose to teach to their students: not only technical and physical aspects, but also mental aspects. This helps to put into place the puzzle pieces in my head of what I have been learning about becoming a better martial artist. My only complaint about the course is the lack of multiple choice questions on the tests.