Posts Tagged ‘Instructor’

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.

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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.

My name is Andrew.  Jon made us give our names. Our real names, too. Dammit. I so wanted to be called “Hawk of Hell”.  I’m one of the people up there in the image above. The rest are my family.

I’ve been studying Krav Maga at UTKM for, oh, a year and a half now, barring downtime for work, illness, etc. I’m currently enrolled in the six-month long Assistant Instructor course, which comprises of hours of weekly classroom study, physical practice, many written and verbal tests, culminating in a final exam and an orange belt test.

By the time I’m an Assistant Instructor, I will know plenty more about every aspect of Krav Maga than I’d ever even thought existed. Technically, I volunteered for this process and this blog post is to explain why. Also, I have to write it or else. Fear is the little death. I must not fear…unless you’ve been kicked a lot in the groin. Then fear. Anyhoo.

As a child and young man, I took a fair amount of beatings, being too smart, too chubby and, mostly, too mouthy in a small rural community where none of those attributes, especially combined, were particularly… appealing to other children. This gave me an early respect for what physical harm can do in terms of motivation and deterrent, as well as a serious desire to not be on the receiving end of said harm.

In the 30+ years since I first tried a martial art (Karate of some kind when I was about 12), I’ve enjoyed the idea that there could be a system to not getting beaten up, as opposed to my more generalized don’t-talk-so-much-oh-crap-run-fast methodology. I’ve tried Karate of various kinds, Kung Fu, and Aiki-Jutsu, mostly dabbling in these as life took me from one place to another. I’ve liked all of them. Some I’ve loved, like Tai Chi. My tiny, murderously precise Tai Chi teacher helped as well. Suffering brings focus, kids!  Wait… small, murdery, hyper-fussy… I may have a “type…” Hmm.

I’ve also been in a few (probably too many) real-life fights and I noticed that outside individual techniques (snap kick, straight punch, etc.), relatively little of what I learned in a dojo or studio translated very well to sudden application in the rain or on the cement or while walking home thinking about math classes (math – where getting punched in the face isn’t the lowest point of your day). Sadly, part-time martial arts training wasn’t really helping me fight safely and by the time I’d learned it well enough, I was actually old enough that people had stopped using their angry bits to get me to stop talking. Mostly.

However, I’d long had an interest in Krav Maga, mostly because I’d read the founder, Imi Lichtenfeld used what became Krav to punch Nazis. Nazis.

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The fighting style for Nazi-punching. Hell yes, I’m interested! Sign me up! And my children! And my wife!

This might have gone on as an unrequited love affair forever except my teenage daughter moved to the city with us and (wisely) demanded some self-defense training. A more in-depth study of practical defense systems indicated that Krav Maga was a very solid choice for someone interested not in out-boxing or out-grappling an opponent on a mat, but more in surviving an attempted robbery or rape while on their way home, thinking about math. Also for punching Nazis, should any be so foolish as to rear their dyed blonde heads again. Anti-rape, anti-nazi, so much goodness in one eye-gouging package.

Today, my whole family does Krav – schedules allowing. The young ones for protection, the older ones for fun. Since I’ve already proven I can raise larvae without all of them dying (yet), our Lead Instructor decided that I should be applied to the (theoretically) more durable students. I might have said no, but having been a frequent groin kick-ee has reduced my will to oppose said groin kick-er. It’s a very Krav method of promotion. Just like real life, sometimes “choice” is just a synonym  for “sudden stabbing pain.”

So far, my experience with the Assistant Instructor program can be summed up in that Jon is a cruel bastard with the compassion of a dying wolf spider. Less legs, though.

 

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Our lead instructor, Jonathan among UTKM students after a Yellow Belt test.

 

I hope only to make it through the six (6) two-hour-long exams (no multiple choice, what, are you kidding? You mad fool!), the midterm and the final exam in order to throw up all over my Lead Instructor during my Orange Belt test. Gonna eat hot dogs and clams in oyster sauce just before the test – good luck cleaning that smell out.

Then graduate and do to others what has so thoroughly been done to me. Yesss.

Gotta have dreams, right? Good! Hands up! Look around! Condition yellow, kids. Never know when there’s a big guy with a (padded) bat right behind you…

 

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If you are a regular audience of my Warriors Den podcast, then you know that I have a long-standing battle with depression. No, I am not talking about the kind that SJWs have because they can’t handle a bad grade or the reality that shitty behaviour can get you fired in the real world and makes you unhireable. I am talking about chronic depression which I have had my whole life. I always recognized that I have experience some problems throughout my life, but I couldn’t figure it out. It took a manic depressive episode several years ago for me to finally realize the issue.

Now, some years later and 2 years on SSRIs have helped me to get my depression to a reasonably manageable point that is allowing me to move forward with my entrepreneurial aspirations.

First off, I would like to say that if you are what I would consider “functional with a diagnosed mental health issue” (by functional I mean employable and or capable of going to school or operating fairly normally), then I don’t think you should ever use your mental health as an excuse to skirt responsibility, which a lot of people do. Sure, it’s ok to have a down day or even a week, but if you use it as an excuse to get out of homework, work or other issues, then you are either just fall into the category of non-functional or you just need to learn better coping mechanisms. At the end of the day, your problems should not always be the problems of those around you. Just saying. Moving on.

Some of you may also know that 2016 was not a great year for me with regards to physical health. Early 2016, I tore the cartilage in my left foot, which made it very painful to run or jump or move properly. Also, I do not believe in medicating the pain away, so it was a great discomfort. When that was finally clearly up, I tore my ACL in my right knee, which basically killed my ability to move forward in my BJJ training. Last December, I finally got surgery and have been recovery rather speedily thanks to the fact I have projectpower.ca attached to my UTKM gym giving easy access to rehab tools and advice. This helped me to keep up with my rehab training, even when I didn’t really want to because it was right there in my regular training environment. Convenience helps!

Recently, I have been amping up my training with running. Finally! After well over a year of no running, I can run again. As well, I’m doing more regular weight training.

Here is where the factor of depression comes in. I noticed that my recovery and increased training coincided with the weather having finally started to warm up and be nicer. I realized, here I am as someone battling with clinical depression and heavily affected by SAD (seasonal depression) and heavily injured and unable to train properly for the last year or so. Man, 2016 was a shitty year! (And not because Trump won because I actually won a bet because of that.)

I have been told by countless people that they are  astonished by how unfazed I am by major complications in my life. I am generally fairly steadfast, and while I may be super disgruntled during a moment of crisis or when a problem arises, I always think that I need to keep on trucking. Resilience is a skill that so many people today have forgotten about. Personally, I can’t say why I’m particularly skilled at resilience, but I know now how important it is to general success.

Anyway, I have been thinking about why I am so motivated to train now. I did not realize how much the injuries had affected my general motivation, mainly due to the aforementioned attitude about resilience. I also don’t think I realized how much the seasons affect my motivation.

It’s easy for experts to say, “Exercise helps with depression and makes you happy!” For the most part this seems to be true, but when I am depressed, I generally don’t want to exercise at all. Add that to the fact that I couldn’t do much physically…

A big wake up call for me happened when I was holding my last Yellow Belt Test in March. Most people didn’t notice, maybe a few probably did, but holy shit was I out of breath! I often write about how being an instructor should not be about how great you are as a practitioner, but how great your students become from your training. Yet, I think in this case, my students are my motivation to become better. Realizing how out of shape I was made me think to myself, “For my student’s sake, I cannot be this out of shape.” Not that I was ever really an athlete, but you know…

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You guys keep me going.

 

 

With my regular depression mildly under control and seasonal depression nearing its end and my crippling injuries behind me, I now find the motivation to train from my students (and the sun), which is something I did not fully appreciate until now.

I am not sure what I am really trying to say about this topic other than that living with depression can be tough, especially when you are high functioning. At least in my case, so many people depend on me and my ability to function. It’s especially hard in this industry when there are so many hyper athletic, super motivated people around me getting better and better as I watch and think, “Man, I wish I could be that motivated.” What is your motivation? No matter what level of intrinsic motivation you have and no matter the condition of your mental health, people still need to find their motivation.

rawI supposed I have found mine in my students and those who depend on me. It is good to know because without knowing that this motivates me, I would only be a facade of an instructor, telling my students to do something that I struggle to find on a daily basis. Though my students may not realize it, I am grateful that they are there to continue to drive me forward so that I can offer them the best training experience possible.

If you struggle with a mental health issue, don’t let it get you down (pun intended). Don’t let injury cripple you and keep looking for what keeps you motivated. Slow and steady is better than nothing at all. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress.

I have been serving with the army for about 14 years now and recently experienced something interesting that I want to share. While participating in one of the biggest NATO exercises with a very serious group of military professionals, I was able to observe examples of leadership in the group. There were both fine leaders as well as some pretty questionable leaders.

One lesson I learned in particular through this experience was the consequence of forming cliques within a large organization. I witnessed people creating their own sub-groups, taking all the resources from other teams, becoming overly protective of their own teammates or subordinates, and unwilling to participate in or contribute to group work or the success of the team as a whole.

As Krav Maga instructors, we can learn from this…

For example, at UTKM, we have different instructors teaching each day. Greg teaches on Monday, Dave on Tuesdays, Josh on another day, and so on. Some students only attend certain instructor’s classes due to their personal schedule and/or preference.

Four points come to my mind as guidelines for Krav Maga instructors (and other instructors as well) to maintain unity and solidarity as a school. Keep these four things in mind to help you and your team ensure that you are a cohesive unit!

SCHOOL CULTURE, NOT PERSONAL CULT

Oftentimes, we have to be aware of creating a cult under individual instructors or classes. We must take steps to avoid doing our own thing in class and straying from the curriculum. To do this, we must acknowledge above all things that our students are people who choose to train under our school. Maybe they enjoy your personality or style as well, but ultimately they are students of the school.

As the school grows, we run the risk of allowing personal preferences to change the curriculum in a way that does not reflect the school anymore. It could create a different culture, or subculture within various instructor-led classes. Some students who are sensitive to a cult of personality could consider themselves more elite than other students or classes.

GO BY THE BOOK, THEN ADD YOUR STYLE

When implementing techniques, everyone has their own personal flair, but there is always the textbook reference. In classes, always follow the textbook first, then show your personal preference later. Students need to have a common foundation to understand the moves, and they also need to be able to attend different instructor’s classes and receive the same training.

Every instructor has different strengths and weaknesses, style and preferences. While training new instructors for UTKM, I have seen that some of them are great at being aggressive, some are very technical, some are very patient, some are very lively. I am constantly amazed by how different instructors bring something unique to class, and each provide something similar but original to students. For example, Jon is someone who pays incredible attention to detail, and the depth of knowledge he teaches to students is not something I can do myself.

Think of the textbook reference as your bone structure, and personal style as muscle. We all have the same bone structure, but our muscles are different. The point is that it is good for us to have variation in teaching styles and methodology, but it is more important for the curriculum and materials to be the same.

COMMITMENT

Know your reason for being here, know your mission, and do what you promise. This is what I learned during my NATO experience. On the contrary, at UTKM, we always give instructors the right to say no to things due to schedule conflicts, or other reasons. However, there is a difference between prioritizing personal affairs, and neglecting responsibility.

We all have to commit to doing what we say because it has an impact on everyone else in the group. The success of one person’s job is important for the success of one team’s mission, which is vital to the success of the other teams, which is crucial for the success of the organization as a whole. The key to ensuring the individual and the team does their jobs well, is to let them know how important their tasks are and how their piece of the puzzle informs the bigger picture.

vimy_ridge_-_canadian_machine_gun_crewsFor example, one of Canada’s great triumphs was Vimy Ridge in WWI. At Vimy Ridge, Canadians inflicted a significant defeat on the Germans, causing the German commander-in-chief, General Erich Ludendorff, to admit that their campaign was “the black day of the German army.” The key to the Canadian military success was that every soldier, from Private to General knew exactly what their job was and, even in the absence of leadership (happens a lot in war and business), everyone could still finish their task. Therefore, the overall mission was successfully completed. It was a daring attack that marked a turning point in the war, and as Sir General Arthur Currie said, it was “the grandest day the Canadian Corps ever had.”

Believe it or not, we are fighting a war

In this world. Right now. Every one of our students has the potential to use what we teach them in a life or death situation (many have done so already). If we fail as instructors, our students suffer, get hurt, or die. The leadership we need to take in class is not just about how good you are or how nice your personal style is.

Think team and think big – bigger than just your class, bigger than just our school. Think of our society as a whole, and think of the world.

WE ARE BACK!!!

Sorry for the long break on the podcasts and posts but it is all explained at the beginning of this episode!!

Download on iTunes Today! https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/urban-tactics-krav-maga-warriors/id969549693?mt=2

Download on iTunes Today!
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/urban-tactics-krav-maga-warriors/id969549693?mt=2

Josh Hensman

(We meant to have a photos of him receiving his certificate, but they were all blurry 🙁 )

Joshs Company Forge Fitness

Josh has had a passion for martial arts since seeing a video clip of Bruce Lee in action as a kid. He first studied Karate and then at University he began to explore Wing Chun Kung Fu and Capoeira.

After arriving in Canada in 2007 Josh moved to boxing and kickboxing, along with renewing his pursuit of Karate.

In 2014 he represented BC at the Canada Karate

Championships – a highlight in his sport martial arts career. As a qualified fitness instructor and personal trainer he often found himself working in fitness and recreation environments where martial arts were occurring. This is where he first encountered Krav Maga. Josh was immediately captivated by the practical, easy to learn, and adaptable nature of Krav Maga. This was a martial art that was continually evolving! Josh continues to study Krav Maga through IKI and UTKM. Josh completed his UTKM Assistant Instructor training in Sept 2015 which nearly took him a year to achieve. Josh regularly teaches our kids classes as well as some of our white belt classes. He also is our head fitness trainer and instructor.