Master ken seminar

So to should a good seminar!

When it comes to martial arts or self-defense there are many reasons a person may choose to go to a seminar. For some, its because they do not have the time to train regularly, for others they want to supplement their regular training. At UTKM we have attended many seminars on many topics from leadership, how to teach, Krav Maga, Self Defense, Martial arts in General and we have learned what makes a good seminar.

Who is teaching

The person whos teaching is a world champion. The person whos teaching is famous for… The person whos teaching regularly teaches classes. Therefore, they must run an amazing seminar. WRONG! The thing is running a seminar is different than teaching a regular class, with regular students. It is also clearly different than performing.

We have gone to seminars for people who are the heads of seminars who teach all the time and who have developed champions and yet the seminar was mediocre at best. We have also gone to seminars from people we have never heard of and had an amazing seminar.

Don’t just sign up to a seminar because you like the topic, or the person has a name to them. Ask around, do you know anyone who has gone to the seminar with that person. Find out if it was worth the price of the seminar and if they learned anything. (Just make sure your friend isn’t a seminar junky who things they are all great) If they tell you it was worth it and they learned a lot then this person is probably great at running seminars

Content of Seminar

A good seminar, picks 1 topic or maybe 2 or 3 related topics. From there, there should be a clear structure for the seminar. It should start with the basics of that topic and build it up. For example, let’s take a gun disarm seminar. If it doesn’t start with the basics like how firearms work, firearms laws and basic safety then you may be missing out on super important contextual information. If they really know their stuff this can take 5-15 minutes as they will be able to sum it up.

The topic is always great as it is often the reason people sign up, but it is not enough. There must be contextual information allowing you to have a framework to build off of mentally for the rest of the seminar. Often good instructors will lay out how they are going to run the seminar so you have an idea. The structure and context of the material is super important. While we often go to seminars thinking we are going to be constantly going, a good seminar should be a mix of explanation, demonstrations and drill time.

Bad seminars, especially in self-defense, will just teach a bunch of random unconnected techniques. You have limited time in a seminar so there must not be too much information or techniques taught or else it will be difficult to retain the information for most people. Another bad seminar is one where they spend a large portion of their time telling stories without giving much practice time. While this can be educational you should have time to develop your skills. Alternatively, a bad seminar is one in which you are simply doing things the whole time with no explanation at all.

This is why if they start with a basic overview, explain, demonstrate, give drill time and correct as needed it should be a good seminar.

Length of Seminar

A seminar, if it is any good, will almost never just be 1 hour. 1 hour is enough for review of material that you already know and not for new material or material being taught from someone you are not familiar with. A good seminar should be between 2-4 hours. Anything longer than that is more akin to a course which would be 8 hours plus. A seminar needs to be a quick overview, of a topic, idea or concept to be taught in a relatively short period of time.

Anything less than 2 hours then it is unlikely there is enough time to give an appropriate overview of that topic, idea or concept. Anything over 4 hours and peoples attention spans start to go. This is especially true if the seminar is full of people who are new to the topic or have never worked with that particular instructor.

Lead Instructor Jonathan has done many seminars, and courses ranging from 4 hours to 7 days and he can attest that even in topics he is familiar with it can be hard to focus past 4 hours let alone 4 days especially when there is both physical components and mental components.

Even better it is a seminar series, that goes between 2-4 hours each day or in consecutive weeks that expands on a specific topic. With each time review what was done before, adding on too it and allowing for a full review on the last day. Any Seminar is serious that last more than 4 separate days is probably more akin to a full-time course. If seminars are presented in series that it would be important that you attend every single one. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of separate seminars with their own loosely related topics rather than a specific series.one one topic.

Level of Seminar

The level of the seminar should have been advertised prior to it. For example, is it for beginners with Zero experience? In which case it should say Intro too or beginners. Or it could specify must have X amount of experience in X. If it is the former then great, bring one bring all. If it is the latter then it is the responsibility of the organizer to appropriately vet every person entering the seminar to ensure everyone is at the correct level.

A Seminar where the skills are wildly varying can be tough as you either have to teach to the lowest skill level or you teach to the skill level you want to. In the first case, it can be boring for more skilled individuals who wanted to update and progress their skills. In the second, it can be dangerous and frustrating to the new person who can barely keep up. In either case, people are losing out.

We have been too long seminars that covered multiple topics or areas in some we did just fine, then it got to a specific skill we were not familiar or practice in and thus that portion became very difficult and we were unable to keep up. They kept saying its easy a fundamental but as we had no experience in that skill it was neither. Needless to say, it was not a fun section and we ended up just observing.

A good instructor can read the room and adapt the skill level accordingly. There have been times at UTKM that a certain level was expected and a lesson plan was created and either the skill level was too low or too high. So we simply adapted accordingly making it easier or harder. Unless it is a graded seminar requiring a certain level of standards (Such as instructor training) than adapting to the level of the group is extremely important so that everyone stays safe and learning to their maximum efficiency.

Was it Fun!

Lastly, and you can only really know this at the end. Was it fun. Was the instructor or instructors engaging and were they able to read the room well and adapt accordingly? This, of course, is relative as fun for one person is not always for another. The better the seminar the more likely a majority of people enjoyed it. If it was, fun then its usually something you might consider again. This is a simple one, because well, nobody likes a dry seminar.

 

 

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A Harmless Man.jpgPonder these words, for they have even more profound meaning in the modern world.

Growing up in school I was taught that violence is never the answer. Yet I have learned through training and study that Violence is often the only way to deal with Violence. Yet it still must be avoided as much as possible.

While defining what is good or not good is still morally relative generally a person who has strength or power, physically or otherwise who chooses not to wield it abusively is stronger than the person who has a little power yet abuses it.

There are often those in many circles who do not want their children to learn martial arts or self-defense because they feel that it is too violent or dangerous. Thus they make the decision to “protect” their child from that violence. Unfortunately, they are depriving their children of the important education that is to understand violence and power in a controlled fashion.

Who is more likely to blow the horns of battle? The general who has seen battle, seen loss and seen destruction and knows that great sacrifice of many that will occur. Or the Politician or public that will only gain financially or otherwise without having to deal with the cost of war? The answer is quite easy to see. Knowledge and experience should teach that most wish to avoid war and violence. Despite what we think the 21st century is actually, in fact, less violent than the previous centuries. This is most likely because now that the average person can see the cost of violence and war there is a trend to avoid it.

This does now mean, however, that you should not be capable of it because there will always be those who prefer war, or want control or power thus there must always be those capable of stoping them. A favorite quote of mine is;

“It is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in war”

It is always better to be able to do something but choose not to than to not be able to do it without a choice.

As Humans, we should aspire to be more capable and competent as we grow as species, but having the knowledge is not enough without the skill and wisdom to wield it effectively.

They say our future is in the hand of our children, and this is always true generation to generation. So do your child a favor, girl or boy and let them learn the lessons now and not later. Get them started in martial arts early so that they can learn the difference between knowledge, power, skill and when it is appropriate to apply them in the form of violence and when it is not.

Let them learn physical, mental and personal control and learn the lesson that for every action is an equal reaction and there will always be consequences.

Teach your children to be good, strong and capable and not just harmless lumps.

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Empty your cup

Posted: September 24, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga and Other Martial Arts
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empty your cup.jpgWalking into a classroom of any type can be a daunting task. You walk into a room knowing you will leave havier than you did before. Heavier in knowledge, or doubt, or pride, success, failure and weighed down further by the growth you will have achieved one way or another. This is however if you went into the learning environment with an empty cup. Or rather you went in to learn with an open mind. This applies to academics, or martial arts, or any place where there is someone offering something in the way of knowledge or skills.

Yet why do so many fail to understand that if you want to learn you must go in with fewer expectations, not more?

In martial arts, krav maga or otherwise, you would think this is a given yet there are always so many with too many expectations and full cups.

One such group is locked heavily on personal preference or experience, whether it be personal or what they have seen. Some especially in Krav Maga, come in and think they know how a class oaught to be because they saw it on the internet. Or they know what they like and it doesn’t matter that there may be others in the class. Or they come in with experience but the new school is not like their old one and they remind every one about it.  This is one group of people whos cups are not empty. They came in with preconceived ideas about how their class or school should be without bothering to actually learn openly.

Another group is locked little more in their minds and a little bit in the experience. Even when standards are clearly laid out they often feel like they are ready, or not ready for a particular promotion or role. Some think they are ready to be promoted, yet they have not met the expected standards yet. Others have met the standards and have been told they are ready and yet for one reason or another they feel they are not. One of these is an overestimation and the other an underestimation. Both each with their flaws in different ways and yet they both are examples of not having an empty cup. In both, they think they know better than those who are measuring progress, have set the standards or are the ones responsible for grading. While in some cases there may be specific examples of malicious intent, in most it is simply a matter of the question, do these people meet the standards? Yes or no. While these types should not follow their instructors blindly they also show a lack of trust in the judgment of their instructors. For they have determined internally that they know what is best, even if they may not entirely.

The last are the ones who are not even willing to learn at all for they are too trapped by their own minds to start with an empty cup. They think they cant do it, and then they psych themselves out of progress. They demonstrate they can do the technique, the skill or pass on the knowledge yet they have convinced themselves they cannot. In many ways, these are the hardest to teach for there is something going on that the instructor may not be equipped to deal with. It is often something deeper in the person such as trauma or social issues. It is probably not their fault, yet they need to empty their cups of those block lest they feel even more helpless with their lack of progress in knowledge or skill and stop themselves altogether from any learning or growth at all.

These three groups while wildly different all have the idea that they want to learn. Yet they start with their cups full. The hardest part of learning is often just stepping in the door and getting started. The second hardest part is opening your mind so that you can actually enjoy the learning process. If you enjoy the style, the skill or knowledge you are learning but you are not enjoying your self, then perhaps its the instructor or the school. But if the problem follows you where ever you go. Ask your self if you fit into one of the groups mentioned above and ask your self, is your cup really empty. Or was it full the entire time.

Either way, knowledge is power, and knowing is half the battle. So which is it, is your cup empty or is your cup full?

 

This week’s Krav Maga curriculum: Sept 23rd – 29th

Posted: September 23, 2019 by urbantacticskravmaga in Weekly Curriculum
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Know your self.jpg

Sometimes the answers we seek have already been learned but we are too proud, to scarred or too weak to accept the reality. Sun Tzu knew this thousand’s of years ago in ancient china. The full quote goes as such:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There are two aspects of this quote, one the good strategy of studying your enemy is something I can talk about another time as I want to focus on knowing your self.

Fear is a powerful thing. It is a built-in biological mechanism designed to protect us from harm and death. Once upon a time, this was good when the threat was lions and tigers and bears, Oh My! But now in the modern world, we are still using these mechanisms designed to protect us from predators against things like homework, large social structure, modern workplaces, social media and generally far too much stimulus than we are really designed to handle.

What this means is that we often create fear where none need exist.

but did you die.jpgI often say when teaching the only real fail in self-defense or in general is death.

So you are worried about being judged, even if you are judged, did you die?

So you lost your match, but did you die?

So what, you failed your final exam, but did you die?

We often for one reason or another either from external pressure or internal ones activate the fear mechanism to not do something or to stress out when we dont need to. This is not good. If you are stressed due to a perceived fear then you will not be able to focus or perform as well as you can. Which means it might just actually all be in your head. This is what the knowing your self aspect of the quote means. If you are unable to control your emotions and fears in any given situation you will not be able to do the best that you can. If you take every “Failure” as a learning experience then you will ever grow stronger. But if you perceive every “Failure” as a near-death experience your body will treat it as such and you may just spiral into an unproductive fear loop that paralysis you and prevents you from the growth you know you are capable off.

Ask your self honestly, how well do you really know yourself. If you look deep and dont like things about yourself or your life then change it. If you learn what the issues are that are causing the fear it may even help you move forward. One thing is for certain is that if you only ever dwell in your fears than it won’t be better. For you and you alone have the power to change how you perceive things. Whether your fear something or not ask your self honestly, will fearing that thing or not fearing that thing cause you immediate death? If the answer is no, then guess what you have nothing to fear but fear its self.

So how well do you know your self? and what are you afraid of?

P.S. If you lived a full fruitful life, then death is not even something to fear for you will have left a lasting legacy behind you that hopefully caused the growth and development of the next generation of humanity.

This week’s Krav Maga curriculum: Sept 16th – 22nd

Posted: September 16, 2019 by urbantacticskravmaga in Weekly Curriculum
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If you arnt first you are lastIn the Will Farrel Movie Talladega nights, Farrel plays a Comedic NASCAR Driver Ricky Bobby who always wins.  He was driven to win by the fact when he was a young boy his dead beat and AWOL dad told him, “If You Ain’t First you’re last.” From this point forward he took it to hear and basically made winning everything.

The thing is Winning isn’t everything. The only people who ever truly believe that are perhaps people who have never lost or those who have never won. In either case, there may actually be an element of mental instability. Some may say that having the focus and drive to give it your 100% is what makes winners and champions. Statistically, whether you like it or not this usually is not true. You should, however, always give it your best and try your hardest and keep a positive attitude but the thing is, not everyone can be a champion.

When I was growing up in elementary school they attempted to address this by not giving out 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place winners but rather participation ribbons. Even at 10 years old I knew this was a bunch of crap because it was clear to me the other teams or individuals were, in fact, better at me in those particular things.

For most, as we are all human the realization that you may not be very good at the thing you like, or that you simply are not good enough to win can be one of the biggest blow to the ego possible.

Whenever we ask champions and winners how they got there we often hear things like, hard work, never giving up, belief in my self or other such statements. These things are of course, very inspiring. But if we always use the outliers to set our personal expectations of success we may be sadly disappointed. I won’t try to discuss this concept in-depth, I would rather recommend you read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

What I will say is that for most of us, winning can be a great goal, and some of us may achieve it, but most of the time it cant be everything. This is both so we can live healthy productive lives mentaliy, physically and socially.

So if winning is not everything can we re-frame what is? Heres a thought.

Learning is everything.

Growing is everything.

Improving is everything.

Being better today than yesterday is everything.

With these things you may just find the happiness and growth you are looking for.

The ego is a sensitive thing and needs to be managed. If you change your focus from winning to simply being a better version of yourself, then you may find you are in a much happier place. And who knows, eventually you may even start winning. Because really, if you weren’t winning before you may have been focusing on the wrong thing. Then when you focus on the right things the change you want to see may start happening.

Even in the movie, Will Farrel’s character finds this out when he talks to his dad again as an adult.

“Ricky Bobby: Wait, Dad. Don’t you remember the time you told me “If you ain’t first, you’re last”?
Reese Bobby: Huh? What are you talking about, Son?
Ricky Bobby: That day at school.
Reese Bobby: Oh hell, Son, I was high that day. That doesn’t make any sense at all, you can be second, third, fourth… hell you can even be fifth.
Ricky Bobby: What? I’ve lived my whole life by that!”

So if Ricky bobby can realize that winning isn’t everything. So can you!

 

This week’s Krav Maga curriculum: Sept 9th – 15th

Posted: September 9, 2019 by urbantacticskravmaga in Weekly Curriculum
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