Archive for the ‘Instructor Courses – Progression and Thoughts’ Category

sleep is for the weak.jpgEditors Note: This entry is part of our ongoing Assitant instructor course. We have gotten half way through this years course and its time for a post midterm update. Karis is one of our most talented and committed students. What words of wisdom might her young should deem worthy of you!

First of all, if you’re reading this, go away, please. I’m positive you can find better things to do than listen to me complain. If you’re still here, why? It feels like I just wrote a post but here I am AGAIN. I hope you are all ready for more sarcasm! I’m not 100% sure what exactly I’m writing about, probably my experience with the AIC (Assitant Instructor course) so far? Sure, I’ll go with that. If not, well, I’m not rewriting. So first of all, it may not have been the smartest idea to add on another course to school and training. I think I spend more time on the bus than anywhere else. Oh well. Haven’t had a breakdown yet.

Sleep is for the weak!

So I have made it through four units and their corresponding tests and a midterm, and I’ve passed three of the units tests, to my surprise. Still waiting on the results from the unit four test and the midterm. Actually, the midterm was not as hard as I thought it would be (shocking, I know), at least for the written part. Just four essay questions and I actually felt like I could answer them. Now, whether I was actually correct remains to be seen. Unfortunately, I also had to teach a mock class which did terrify me. I actually forgot to talk about a principle relating to the technique until I was already halfway through. Leading up to the test Jon had been saying stuff like “everyone struggles with time management” and “people always run out of time”. Whenever I heard that, I’d think to myself, “Pffffft no. Screw that. I refuse to have a problem with that. I will watch that clock and keep everything on time.” Well surprisingly that actually worked. I finished the ‘class’ right before the timer went off. Honestly, I’m very proud of that. Nothing else matters now, I can die happy.

So, I THINK the midterm went okay, but what have I learned? Teaching is extremely difficult and scary. And I’m only halfway through. Still haven’t been forced to teach a real class, yet. But the PowerPoint on problem students is nightmare material, despite the fact that most of the students I’ve trained with are very nice and eager to learn. But there are so many other things to be worried about. You have to keep the class on time, keep everyone safe, teach the principles when appropriate, and not lose the timer thingy (another thing I have decided not to do). There’s a lot to remember. Fingers crossed I don’t kill anyone. OKAY! I have nothing else to say, so please leave now.

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Editors note: Of course sleep is not for the weak, according to science it’s actually one of one of the most important things you can do for yourself. We have told Karis many times she needs to sleep more but well you know the kids these days…

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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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Karis After her orange Belt test. Also how we imagine she feels writing this post.

Did I say forced? I meant given this wonderful opportunity…

So first of all, to everyone who told Jon I should do the Assistant Instructor Course. Yeah. I’m doing it. Thanks. Peer pressure guys, clearly it works. Starting at the beginning though, I’ve been doing Krav Maga for close to three years now. Before that, I did ballet when I was younger and tried some other sports, but I didn’t really enjoy them due to being shy and not good at team sports. I chose to learn self defense because I thought it would help me get into the RCMP and also because my father wanted me to be able to protect myself. He recognized that as a female, my life going to be different from that of my brothers and I would face different threats. I also thought Krav was more of a solo sport, however, on that I was wrong. Anyone who’s been to one of the tests could tell you that at Urban Tactics everyone is very encouraging and we all want each other to succeed.

When I first tried a class at UTKM as a quiet, small fifteen-year-old, I definitely didn’t

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Karis During her orange belt test. Not so quiet now.

think I would ever get this far. I started just going to one or two classes a week and was surprised when I got told I could test for my yellow belt. Side note to anyone going for a belt test, pleeeeease prepare. DO IT. It will be a bit easier if you are physically ready and trust me, on your test day, you will be thankful. I struggled through that first test and while it was rewarding, it was harder than it would have been if I have been physically prepared. Anyways, I’ve come pretty far in the time I’ve been training. I currently have an orange belt in Krav and I’ve been training Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for six months now? I got a stripe for my white belt in BJJ recently! Explaining what that means to my family was interesting, as I’m not totalllllly sure what exactly that is. I was still really excited about it, though I’m not ‘suddenly’ better now like how someone told me would happen.

So, on top of all the training and oh yeah school too, I am now doing the assistant instructor course (help me). If you have ever met me, you will probably have noticed I am not exactly a loud person. Or someone good at stringing together explanations. But somehow people thought I could teach, I dunno what they saw. We’ll see if I can do it or not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I also have a green belt test coming up, for anyone who wants to help, especially big, strong people taller than me, it’s in November. Yup. Show up for tests in November. Don’t worry about any tests before then (unless you’re small, then we need you). Otherwise, don’t come. Thanks anyways. See you in November. Don’t forget.

Okay, what else? Why am I doing this course? Because all of my reasons to NOT do it were shot down, and someone put time and effort into writing a response to my list (That someone was Lead Instructor Jon.) I would feel bad if they worked on that and I didn’t do the program. And that’s the only reason I’m doing this. No, I’m kidding. I love Krav, and I love UTKM. I think they have an amazing program and some pretty awesome people training there. My problem with becoming an instructor is…. PEOPLE. As an instructor you have to control a class, be able teach a technique well, think of creative drills/games, answer any random questions students have (that you may or may not know the answer to), keep everyone safe, oh and, everyone is watching you during all this. Heh. Heh. Help. You tell me to my face that all sounds fun/easy. I will laugh at you (politely). Hey, did you guys know I’m only going to be eighteen when I start teaching? Yay! Very excited to tell people two-three times (possibly four, I don’t know how active old people are) older then me what to do! No. That is not exciting. That is terrifying. Also, if you don’t understand sarcasm, I’m sorry. Can’t really help you with that though.

So, IF everything goes according to plan, I will finish the AIC sometime in December? AFTER eight unit tests, a midterm, a final, teaching 25 classes under supervision, and learning about to talk loudly. Not sure about the last one. Last thing, if you come to a class I teach, please be nice and don’t ask too many questions. Or don’t come at all. You don’t have to come. It is actually okay if you don’t. I will forgive you eventually. Probably. Please wish me luck. I have to go do homework for the course THAT NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT. Heh.

-Karis

Karis Gets her Orange Belt.jpgEDITORS NOTE: Please come to class and be difficult students so Karis can be challenged and learn to be the awesome instructor we know she will be. She was asked by many people to do the course as she is one of the most dedicated students we have despite her age. Assuming she passes her green belt she will also be our first female green belt and we will be very proud of her. We know through practice and the AIC course she will overcome her quiet demeanour and become the person we know she can be so she has all the skills to get into the RCMP one day. Don’t let her age fool you she has some of the best cleanest techniques out of all our students and well gladly try to stab you when we do our knife stuff. Look forward to more sassy posts from karis in the future.

Well, first thing I’d like to say is that Warren (A UTKM Green Belt Student.) lied to me. “The orange belt is easier than the yellow belt!’ You know, for an older, pleasant-seeming fellow, Warren is probably quite, quite evil. It is to be expected, he is a Green belt.
UTKM only really has three belts. Yellow, Orange and Green. There are more above Green, but everyone who has tried, has died. Well, not died, but, you know, not made it yet. Perhaps one day, if they learn immortality.
Editors Note: No one has died at UTKM. This is Andrews dark sense of humour. also, we havent been open that long for anyone to train long enough to achieve the higher belts where we go past the basics of hand to hand combat and start to look into more specific applications like police and military. For most people, the orange or green belt is enough but for those serious about expanding their knowledge in the area of use of force then this is where it’s at. Additionally we currently only have 4 green belts, only warren is regularly still at the school.
Yellow, Orange and Green. I personally think Orange should be Red. Not just because it looks like stop-lights that way, but because the Orange belt test did that to my brain about twenty minutes in. Stopped it. It’s already red (ish) because, you know, brain.
Editors note: Possibly a reference to the awareness colour code? but we are never quite sure with Andrew.
 A Yellow belt test is about mental toughness and determination with basic technique. An Orange belt has you demonstrate the advanced technique, then takes it away from you and sees if you can make it. Then demands technique again. The Greenbelt test is a lovely combination of all this, while maintaining advanced technique at all times.  Good fun.
So the Orange belt is half-way through UTKMs punishing belt regime. After Green, it’s less about testing for physical and mental toughness and more refining and learning. You’ve proven you can take what is dished out and how.
Things like tough belt tests are an excellent motivator not to get in real-life fights.
Andrew does 360

Andrew during testing

Things like tough belt tests are an excellent motivator not to get in real-life fights. You are reminded that not all will go as planned. That training and technique can only go so far when you are winded and repeatedly being punched in the face. You’re wearing a head protector, but that head protector only does so much, as my black eye attested. Looked cool though.

The second reality is the first time it starts to get hard and you have to recommit to pushing through, realising that the only way out -is- through.
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Editors Note: If you have ever wondered why lead instructor Jonathan Fader is the way he is, it is because he takes this very krav approach to life.
Krav is about always learning and re-learning, and about giving up ideas for harsh reality. The harsh realities of a demanding test come in several, equally-delicious flavours. First, you take that first step and make it to the test. The precipice moment. Comes and goes quickly, but you must still psych yourself up in order to get to it. The second reality is the first time it starts to get hard and you have to recommit to pushing through, realising that the only way out -is- through. Finally, when and if you’ve run out of endurance and technique, is the pure guts part. Just keep marching or fighting, one step after another.
Real fighting also has a precipice moment – one we teach you to spot early in Krav and if you do decide to take the step, do it before the other guy does. Preferably you see it coming and turn aside, but if you have to do it, do it fast and commit.
After that commit point, a real-life, no-rules fight can go anywhere. It can be over in a punch or two or be a ten minute struggle for dominance. It can end with a fast stab and you can spend twenty minutes trying not to bleed to death. We can only train you so much for those moments, but what we -can- do is teach you that if you -do- learn to push through and fight on, your chance of success goes way, way up.
 UTKM belt tests are not only a test of your technique and perseverance, but a reminder of how punishing and unpredictable a real life fight can be. And why you should avoid them when possible – and destroy when not.
So that’s what Orange belt tests are like. Learn to succeed through toughness when technique fails. Can’t wait to see what Green belt is like – apparently, you have to have technique even when tall men are repeatedly kicking you around. Should be interesting.
Oh yes and I got my Assistant Instructors Certificate so now I may pois..polish young minds. And old minds. And any mind that doesn’t manage to escape my reach in time…
Editors note: The assistant instructor course takes 6 months-1 year in addition to regular Krav Maga training, Just like our belts our instructor’s course is not for factory instructors but those who are committed to both Krav Maga technique but also and mostly the knowledge that makes a good instructor.

Here we go, my orange belt test.

To begin with – I was incredibly nervous, I did not want to fail. Everybody was sharing their stories about how hard and horrible the test was which did not help my anxiety. I tried to train for it, Jon helped me to get my conditioning up but then I got injured, I strained a muscle in my hip. Very annoying location for that. So I rested but after a week or so I picked up training again. I tried to train more days to make up for what I missed but that wasn’t the greatest idea either. I felt really bummed out that I struggled so hard physically. Yes, I’m not in my twenties anymore but still, come on you old corpse! Well, yelling at myself also didn’t work.

I also did some trial runs in the gym to familiarize myself with the “circle of death“. Let’s face it – I sucked at it!

Editors Note: The “the circle of death” as some affectionately call it is a component of both the Orange and Green Belt tests and is common in Krav Maga testing. 

With all these things on mind, the days before the test were hard on me. I doubted myself, I didn’t want to fail and I spiralled down into the black hole that so far I was able to avoid.

Andrew (Fellow Assistant Instructor Candidate) helped me a lot during those days, we trained together, worked our way through the curriculum for white and yellow, and talked. What would be the worst case scenario?

I could fail. Working on becoming an assistant instructor failure was not an option for me. I didn’t want to lose students’ respect. I also didn’t want to disappoint people  – Jon, Andrew, Karch, myself …

Petra Success

Petra Post-test Exhausted but victorious

At the end – I made it, and I was incredibly relieved and I felt I really earned that orange belt!

 

During the last part of the test, the sparring – whenever I hit my opponent and people cheered – that was a first for me and I enjoyed it a lot. So thank you to all of you who were there that day!

For people who are going for their yellow or orange belt – make sure you know the curriculum (I know, it is mostly about pushing through and not to give up, but knowing the curriculum helped me a lot, at least one section of the test I felt confident), read the UTKM blog and work on your conditioning. For the test itself, energy control is crucial. Know yourself and your body, know your limits. But also understand that your body is telling you to give up way before your energy reserves are empty. That is the mental part – telling yourself to keep going, to not give up. It always sounds so easy when people say that but in reality, it is hard. It is a roadblock in your head and fighting your own brain is tough. And it is ok to fail – we (including myself) tend to forget that. Sometimes the way how you deal with failure says a lot more than winning. And it is ok to ask for help. If you are unsure about a technique or just want to go over it again – ask the person you feel most comfortable with.

In Judo we always say there is no shame in falling, only if you don’t get up again.

Why DO we Fall BruceEditors Note: When It comes to testing sometimes we really aren’t sure with who will struggle and who will make it look easy, often we are quite surprised as to who does what on both ends of the spectrum. Leading up to the test we can assure you Petra was having a hard time both physically and mentally and it was definitely a low point for Petra (“A fall”). But when it came test day her performance was almost flawless. It was clearly difficult for her but in true Krav Maga and warrior fashion she sucked it up for the duration of the test. Petra is an inspiration to not just women but all Krav Maga practitioners. Difficult, does not mean impossible. And falling either mentally or physically should always be a learning experience. For those who do not get up again are doomed to fail, but those who brush themselves off and keep going to learn and grow will always continue to succeed.

Road To Orange Belt

Last year in March I started the assistant instructor course at UTKM, together with my fellow sufferers Andrew and Karch. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Friday classes, I definitely learned a lot and I also enjoy teaching. I even like most of the students. But it is a lot of commitment.

Recently Jon sent out the monthly Warrior News by email. He is almost ready for the next batch of aspiring assistant instructors but he also requests that if you are interested in becoming an assistant instructor you have to talk to either Andrew, Karch or myself to get an idea of how much commitment we are talking here.

I’ll be honest, It is a lot!

Not only are you still attending regular classes, you also have to add a minimum of 4 hours per week dedicated to the course. And when I write minimum that means that it is actually more. Get used to the idea that one night or more a week, will be dedicated to endless PowerPoint Presentations. Not to forget the extra days where review and catch up is needed as one or more of the participants missed a regular class. And the Saturdays that you are going to spend doing firearms’ or other seminars.

And then there are the written tests, Did I mention there are tests? Many of them, some which took at least 3 hours to complete. While you are busy writing your hands off, Jon circles the table like a shark always trying to distract (because, you know, Krav Maga). Did I mention test? I would say more like endless “Essays” that test your ability to critically think without a hint to help with memory recall.

Just memorizing is not enough, you have to come up to your own conclusions, explain your own thoughts. I still have to write my final exam which will cover everything we’ve learned so far. Not intimidating AT ALL!

Picture: Petra Helping out in a yellow Belt test, knowing one day she two may have to run a test.

And then the orange belt test.

The last few months I’ve been dealing with some health issues and I’m not Feeling on top of my game. To be honest I haven’t Felt on top of my game for quite a while. I sometimes even feel I’ve peaked already which is, of course, not true. At least I won’t allow myself to think like that.

But I still Need to get a reminder that I still can do it, kick peoples’ asses and spar even with the heavy hitters like Quinn or Jeff (chose one). But that means work, again. And commitment. Jon is helping me a lot by offering conditioning classes and while I’m huffing and puffing on the assault bike distracting me by rambling about the city or politics.

Why am I doing this? I like the teaching but also the physical aspect of Krav Maga. Learning to fight and how to defend yourself is very important. At least for me, I was raised to be independent. I’m definitely not a Pilates Person. I like throwing or hitting People. The idea that women are inferior to men is bullshit and if there are male students who think they don’t have to take me seriously will be taught otherwise. And I hope to encourage more women to join the gym.

Krav Maga is helping me also with my mental Problems – I’m off my medication for almost half a year now. It wasn’t always easy but working on becoming an assistant instructor, teaching and now working on my conditioning for the orange belt gives me purpose and helps get me out of bed in the morning. The conditioning classes with Jon are tough but they remind me that I’m still strong. It might take me a bit longer to get back into the game but I WILL get there!

I also understand why Jon is doing this to himself and us – he wants to give us as much Information as possible so that we can be confident on the mats, knowing what we are doing and that the techniques we are teaching to you make sense and also to Keep the high Standards of the School. I myself decided to Train at UTKM because of the good Reputation that the School does have.

If you want to become an assistant instructor at UTKM – please go ahead, but be warned, you will Need lots of Stamina to get through. But is it worth it? The answer is a big fat YES!

Editors note: The Assistant instructor course is currently only available to local UTKM students.

 

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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.

I was just thinking about when I started the Assistant instructor class at UTKM – was it March? It feels like forever that I’m spending Friday nights at the gym, watching presentations, discussing techniques and try to memorize as much as I can. Not to forget the tests! To become a UTKM instructor you really have to commit yourself. I guess I didn’t really know what to expect but I don’t quit because I want to become an instructor, I like teaching although I have to work on my personal approach – having a Judo background makes me sometimes very strict and I don’t like it when students don’t pay attention or are too chatty. I have to loosen up on that part and be more relaxed.

Having taught my first class on Thursday I really appreciated the students’ support and commitment – Thank you so much! I was nervous because Jon “Eagle Eye” Fader was breathing down my neck and scribbling notes that I still have to read. But knowing that I can count on you guys makes it easier.

 

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What we imagine Jon looks like when auditing classes. 

 

 

Becoming/being an instructor comes with a load of responsibilities – I want students to feel safe and to trust me which means I have still a long way to go learning every tiny little detail of the techniques that we are teaching. The assistant instructor class at UTKM is just the beginning – it shows you the opportunities you have but also the hard work they come with and it is up to us to make the decision whether or not we want to go that way. I personally decided that I want to go that way.

And then there is Jon with his high standards. I fully understand that he wants to make sure that UTKM students get the best training which means that the instructors need to be able to provide that high standard of training. Being a perfectionist and creating a lot of pressure already by myself I sometimes feel like a headless chicken. I don’t want to disappoint or let anyone down. I know that experience comes with time and over time I will learn all these tiny little details but being patient and cutting myself some slack is not my strongest feature.

Interesting enough I also started to reflect about myself – where am I in my life? Am I happy? I have to admit that I had my life planned out differently – you know, same old story – getting married, having a kid, building a house, planting a tree. And here I am, 37, no husband (thank god! Dodged that bullet), no kids. But I am in a good place. I don’t feel I’m missing out on things. At some point, I understood that I like doing Krav, BJJ and Judo and I also like to share my knowledge.

I still think that leaving Germany behind and moving to Vancouver was one of my best ideas ever! And no, I’m not planning on going back. I like where I am and I like the direction my life is going.

Learning Hurts

The Continuing Adventures of a Would-Be Krav Teacher.

Anyone who has taught will tell you that, at least at first, you are your greatest obstacle to being a good teacher. For a variety of reasons, it’s unlikely that a neophyte instructor is going to be particularly good right out of the gate. Sometimes it’s lack of confidence, sometimes too much confidence. Sometimes it’s just that the base -you- isn’t necessarily a great fit as a teacher. Yet.

 

This is not a bad thing because that’s what learning is all about. Before we can teach well, we have to learn well.

More than halfway through my time in the Assistant Instructor Course for Urban Tactics Krav Maga, I have (re)learned the above a few times. Multiple written and verbal tests later, it has at times been a struggle to adapt to a curriculum and regimen not of my setting, while learning skills I don’t yet have. You forget simple things – names, dates, even techniques – you knew. You trip over the different methods for teaching different people, getting the methods and even the people mixed up.

The bright spot in this has been the students. You’d think people that sign up to learn how to survive and defend themselves when things go bad would be a grim, focused lot, bent on the destruction of weakness. Not so. Krav students that I’ve met have been interested, eager, cooperative and fun to teach. Patient when I do something obviously wrong or say something too quickly to understand. It’s a cliche that teachers learn from their students as much as the reverse, but it’s a cliche for a reason.

Learning to teach Krav Maga is an exercise in not only technique and memorization but also forethought and empathy. Patience and perspective. The first two are rote – the rest is the real work of a student teacher. And to get them right means having to adjust how you think and speak and react to people.

Midterms and exams, arduous though they may be, are not where you learn what you don’t know. That comes in class when you’re in front of all those watching eyes. Actually knowing the techniques is just step one. It gets harder after that.

On the bright side, it is pretty fun and it’s a job worth doing. So, onwards towards the final and the oh so fun orange belt test. Onwards!