Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’

Why AM I harder on some people more than others?

Let’s be honest here, first off, I am not a patient person. I have worked hard to become more patient so just imagine me 10 years ago and feel lucky you get the version of me today… so it could be worse.

The short answer is…..Because you NEED IT MORE!

Ok, end of the article. Just kidding

now-you-know.jpgObviously, I could be more patient but you do have to remember I have a lot of students and I can’t give special treatment or time in a group class when everyone else is also needing my attention.

The truth is if its been months and months and you are still struggling to pick something up and I have tried my best to explain it in different ways over and over, and everyone else seems to be getting it but you…TRUST ME, I am just as frustrated as you.

Now before you go blaming me because you aren’t getting it, can you attempt to be honest with yourself for a minute and ask is it actually the instructors or is it a you thing?

I know being honest with your self is very hard. And if you think I am not honest with my self then that’s nonsense because clearly, I started this with saying I am not a patient person so I do acknowledge this about my self so yes I am honest with my self, but are you really?

For example, if you only ever trained under me, and you are not getting something have you tried training with another instructor? If you have and you start to get it then yes you can say Jon may not be the instructor for me and that is ok.

But if you have tried another instructor (we have many fine instructors to choose from) and you still are not getting it then the answer is maybe yes, it is a YOU thing!

The first part of any battle is accepting the objective truth first, and then finding a solution from there.

Perhaps you are simply the type of person that needs to think less and drill more and you only come once a week. Then the answer to getting better is to train more.

Perhaps the answer is you train too much without thinking and you need to slow down and think about what you are doing?

Perhaps you genuinely have a difficult time learning physical things and that is ok, but you must first accept that before any instructor can really help you. If this is the case you will take a lot longer than other people to learn and progress and you really need to come to terms with this. I know it will be frustrating for you but as I said it is frustrating for me to, but as long as you keep showing up I will do my best to help you.

Another reason I am hard on people, especially in Vancouver is that people here are genuinely less willing to be pushed physically and mentally and Krav, self-defense or combative’s require you to be uncomfortable and push through things. So if you are constantly fighting me about not wanting to do things I am either going to push you harder on purpose or quite frankly focus on the people who are serious about training.

I have mentioned before that if our class cannot help you break through to push your comfort zones then perhaps counseling may be an option for you because the truth is I can only teach people properly who are willing to learn and let the process happen.

If you push against me I will push back, or I will simply not push back at all and let you do your own thing in which case you are wasting your own time more than anyone.

Now, I fully accept that I cannot get along with everyone and I don’t expect everyone to like me or my opinions. But I do know I can teach you to be a better version of yourself if you let me. I am going to approach things aggressively because in part that is Krav, In part that is my military training and in part that’s well…that’s just me.

So if that’s not for you that’s ok. You can train with another instructor. You can simply say Jon is an asshole but he can teach me what I want and let me. Or you can fight me during the whole process until one of us gets tired of it.

Remember, even though I am not patient I am still trying to teach more than one person. You, however, can learn from multiple instructors and other students so tell me who has less patience, me or you?

So if you are having a hard time with me giving you a hard time just know that I genuinely want you to learn, and no I don’t think I always have to be nice about it. But if you are willing to learn I am willing to teach. But trust me, I am not just being hard on you because I like it. I don’t, I would much rather be avoiding people than trying to manage them.

So again, if you want to learn do so. Just know if you resist the process you will get challenged.




Saying you don’t want to learn to fight to a self Defense instructor is like saying you don’t want to learn at all. Empty your mind, then you will be ready to learn.

I know I have definitely talked about this before, so I don’t know why I am surprised this statement keeps coming up:


I want to learn self defense but I am not interested in fighting or learning to fight

Meteor hitting earth.jpgEvery time I hear this statement from a new student or someone eager to learn to defend themselves I want to smash my face against the desk so hard it causes a meteor to be knocked out of orbit and smash me and the surrounding area into nothingness because I’ve died a little more inside and lost even more faith in the human race.

Ok, enough of the melodramatic truth…

One of the biggest uphill battles faced by any legitimate Krav Maga instructor who is actually interested in teaching people to defend themselves is to ride their students and the public of all of their blatant misconceptions when it comes to violence, Use of Force, and Self Defense.

No, I am not here to teach you to be a ring fighter. No, I don’t want to you be a fighter for the sake of fighting. Yes, I am here to teach you to learn to defend your self. and YES!, I am going to teach you how to fight.

The worst is when people actually think they can learn to defend themselves without hurting other people. Or as I have been told by another instructor once in a while, when law enforcement or security agencies ask to learn defence techniques with no physical contact. Thankfully the later of the two never occurred to me otherwise the original melodramatic statement could have the meteor replaced by a black hole so large it could destroy the universe.

Can you tell when presented with the ideology that somehow fighting and self-defence are separate from each other is extremely frustrating to a legitimate Krav Maga Instructor?

Essentially a big part of Krav Maga is Aggression (though it is often wrongfully no thanks to Israeli attitude perceived as the only part) which is really about teaching you how to turn on the internal “fight” switch. Because the reality is, under stress, pressure, fatigue etc… techniques begin to fail and it is through aggression and your pure will to fight that will save you. And you cannot ever forget that.

Yet in many more “peaceful” cities like Vancouver were relative to other big cities there is very low rate of violence out in the open, people tend to get sheltered from the realities of violence. The people I have met from countries where violence is much more open or a day to day thing are far more ok with, and understanding with using violence to fight violence.

Truly, most normally wired human beings when put under duress will fight flight or freeze, and it is our goal to teach you to control and use the fight or flight mechanisms without activating the freeze. The reality is though the best self defence is to run, it is not always an option which leaves the Fight option.

So if you “don’t want to learn to fight” then you are going to have a very hard time learning to defend yourself. Because that fight mixed with training, skill and aggression is the only way you will every overwhelm a larger stronger opponent long enough to actually find your escape to live to survive another day. And in some more extreme violent cases, you might have to Fight so hard to overcome the attacker that you have to incapacitate or use lethal force because that is the only way to stop the threat.

So do you really think if you don’t want to fight you are going to defend yourself against a serious threat? I think you need to take your head out of the clouds or as the saying goes in Hebrew, Ata Chai B’Seret or you are living in a movie.

If you cannot overcome this belief of not wanting to learn to fight then perhaps you simply aren’t ready to actually learn to defend yourself by learning Krav Maga.



Download on iTunes Today!

Download on iTunes Today!

Greg Fuentes

Greg Fuentes started at UTKM over a year and a half ago. He originally found us through the program we offer at Kwantlen Polytechnic University for students and was immediately interested. It became apparent to us that he not only had the physical skill to be a great practitioner but he also had the right skills we were looking for in an instructor. It took him a while but he is officially one of our assistant instructors and it is well deserved.

Download on iTunes Today!

Download on iTunes Today!

Jonathan Fader and Stephan Kesting    Stephan Kesting is a BJJ Black Belt under Marcus Soares. He is also the founder of  and has been  offering free online content since the early 2000s before most other people had even really gotten into the internet. Because  of his head start Stephan has one of the largest followings on YouTube for any BJJ related channel. Currently he sits at about  145,000 subscribers and another 30,000 followers on Facebook.His technical break down of BJJ moves from all aspects have  people from all over the world using his channel and DVD’s to learn BJJ. Stephan is also a full time firefighter at one of the  local metro Vancouver detachments and has a degree in Biology. He has also trained in various other styles of martial arts as  he has been practicing martial arts for over 30 years. We talked mostly about Martial arts and Self defense as well as the  learning and teaching process but we also discussed other things like global climate change.

You can find his YouTube channel at:

Here are a few videos to give you an idea about what he has to offer:


I recently sat down with the editor of the local Jewish Newspaper. I may be biased but I rather enjoyed the results of the interview.

Here is an excerpt:

When Jonathan Fader copied the Jewish Independent on an open letter that he posted online in mid-August, Operation Protective Edge was winding down. Noting the sometimes violent antisemitism that it had evoked in places around the world – including in some protests that took place in Canada – he stressed the need for members of the Jewish community to know self-defence. Since then, there have been two terrorist attacks on Canadian soil.” -Nov 7th Jewish Indepence written by Cynthia Ramsay

For the full Interview click the link below.

Teaching something arbitrarily is not only one of my pet peeves in martial arts but can also be extremely problematic to the learning process of your students or their personal safety.

This came up recently when working on a program for kids. The topic of the ground techniques came up.

Now of course in Krav maga we never intentionally go to the ground but we do understand it can happen. And our rule for the ground is get up as fast as you can using as much aggression and technique to achieve this goal.

In addition, we always encourage our students to supplement  their KM training with wrestling or BJJ just in case.

In our regular KM program we don’t even really look at take downs and techniques until orange belt.

This is because:

  1. We do Not want our students building the habit of thinking its ok to go to the ground. (This has happened for students who are shown ground stuff prematurely.) Holding it off allows us to drill into their heads do NOT go to the ground.
  2. It allows them to focus on their standing techniques prior to adding in the complexities of the ground which will reduce how much they learn and how proficient they can be with their standing techniques

But I digress, so back to the kids program. The other instructors were discussing ground techniques and saying hey this works or that works let me show you.

My response was, while it may work for you or me if we are teaching to kids who have not even gone through puberty and weigh from 60-100lbs they will not work for them if their attacked is a large adult male.

It actually made me quite annoyed that they continued to insist the techniques would work for kids but in reality if a 200lbs plus man takes down a child who is 60 lbs with the intent of harming them there really is little they can do. It is harsh but it is the reality of the ground and quite frankly physics.

To me it does far more harm to show a move and say this will work all the time than telling them the truth.

If you go down you must kick, scream, bite scratch and do everything in your power to create distance and draw attention to the situation so the child can escape plain and simple.

That to me is the reality of the ground for a child.

Perhaps it is because I also practice BJJ and simply have a better idea of ground fighting or maybe its something else.

I have personally sparred with much larger men in BJJ and let me tell you, even if I have more skill, the moment they get on top there is little I can do but defend my neck and limbs.  (I cannot bite, scratch or strike in BJJ). Even if you say, oh but in Krav Maga you can hit and strike, well guess what in real life so can they. So if a bigger stronger person with a little skill gets on top of even me and starts hitting me as well, it will be a very problematic situation. The ground and pound strategy can be extremely devastating.

In addition, I have also rolled with BJJ black belts and world champions and if someone who knows what to do get you on the ground you may feel like a fish out of water.

Reality often only comes from experience in the real world. As such teaching a technique because you were told, this is the technique for this, without testing it under various circumstances, body types and people is ridiculous and results in teaching your students something that give a false sense of security.

If you are teaching something simply because you feel you need to teach it then please stop, especially if you are teaching KM or self defense.

Example: A student or group wants to learn ground fighting for self defense but cannot even punch, move, stay balance or anything required for realistic defense against a violent and aggressive opponent. (I have taught to these kinds of groups, and my initial advice is run. because for them it is the most realistic option.)

For them, if they insist, the correct answer should be, “I am sorry but, if I cannot develop you properly then I am not interested in teaching you.” This is not only the correct response but also the responsible one

Saying, “ok I will teach you ground techniques for self defense because you are paying me and it is expected I teach you something,” is in my opinion, the wrong attitude to have. Because really, you are not teaching them reality based self defense you are teaching them to have a false sense of security which could result in a deadly encounter. Really and truly, for people who are not ready to deal with violent attacks, the best self defense advice you can give is, do not be in the situation in the first place and remain observant and vigilant. This is not victim blaming, this is simply reality!

It is also, a well known fact that I am not a fan of one time self defense seminars, as to me this is teaching arbitrarily. There is no realistic way a person can learn to defend themselves in a one hour session.

I have only been teaching for a few years and I cannot even count the amount of times a 100lb girl showed me a technique they learned in a “self defense” seminar only resulting with me wanting to face palm myself and taking time  to show them why that technique is quite frankly bullshit, or why it may have a low success rate.

If you are teaching techniques in the name of self defense with no sense of reality then in my mind you may be a causing more harm then good.

Imagine, teaching a technique to someone and telling them this will work every time.

Next week you hear they were in the hospital because their attacker was too big, too strong and the technique did not work.

How would that make you feel?

If you feel nothing then you are perhaps a sociopath.

For me if I find a better technique for a situation with a higher success rate then I immediately switch. I do not stick with a technique because that’s what my instructor told me or that’s what I have been doing for years or that’s what my affiliate organization is telling me to do.

In addition to this I recognize that some techniques work differently for different people as we are of all different shapes, sizes and athletic ability.

Sometimes a technique, while may work for 9 out of 10 people just doesn’t work for one person.

And of course while I strive to find the perfect techniques that work for everyone I know that this isn’t a reality. For those students who the move doesn’t work for we work together to find them one that does.

So if you are teaching any system or any move for arbitrary reasons it is fine by me so long as you are telling your students your style is artistic. However if you are teaching arbitrary techniques and calling it self defense or Krav Maga, I definitely have a problem and so should your students.

Jonathan Fader

Fyi…in the end for that specific program we decided not to teach ground techniques to kids who are not in high school with regards to self defense.

We would however verbally inform them the dangers and tell them to bite, scratch and hit while attempting to escape and calling for help.
Also I still encourage all parents out there to enroll their kids into BJJ programs as early as you can as it is an excellent style which I love and only increases the chances of your child survival if attacked. It does however take lots of practice and body awareness and not one or two self defense seminars that teach ground techniques that may or may not work.

The Brain The Great Equalizer

One of the great things about being an instructor of any kind is that you will be exposed to a wide variety of people, with different backgrounds and education levels. This exposure, with an open mind, can only make you better.

Some of you may know that I am currently in the process of getting my BA in Psychology. Part of the reason I am doing this is to better understand the people I am teaching. The other part is to better understand the brain, which is the great equalizer. More or less, no matter of your skill level our experiences our brains are fundamentally the same and operate in the same manner. One of these great equalizers is the Fight or Flight response, which as it happens is a big factor in decision making in Krav Maga.

During the last shotgun course, and during the long drive out to the appropriate shooting area I had the pleasure of discovering that one of my students also shares my interest in Psychology. She has a Bsc in Psychology with a focus on the biological aspects of the brain. She obtained her degree from Lewis-Clark State College.

As we always do at UTKM we encourage our students to share their knowledge and help contribute to our blog. I asked her to discuss the Fight or Flight mechanism from a biopsych point of view. Below is what she sent me.

“The fight or flight response refers to physiological reaction that occurs when a person is placed in a threatening situation. Fight or flight simply describes the two basic decisions that are instantaneously made to resolve the dangerous situation, which is the decision to either quickly escape or to stay and fight.

The physiological effects of this response begins with one or several of the five senses, typically vision. A person will see threatening stimili, such a person or animal. The stimili is then sent as a signal via the optic nerve to be processed by the brain, generally in the amygdala, known as the ‘fear center’ which sends signals to the hypothalamus, which activates the nervous system. A signal then stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which sends impulses down the spinal column to the adrenal gland, which releases epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. This hormone will cause the heart rate to increase and is sent throughout the body as the heart beats faster. Epinephrine will signal the liver to release glucose, which will then be converted into ATP, which is used to activate muscles. This heightened level of epinephrine in the body will also activate the lungs, causing the breathing rate to increase in order for the body take in and utilize more oxygen through dilated blood vessels. The pupils in the eyes will also dilate to facilitate better lighting and vision as blood vessels in the ears dilate for increased auditory perception. In order to efficiently escape an attack or to fight, this response also subdues bodily processes which are unnecessary during a dangerous situation, such as digestion. The elevated levels of this hormone and increased activation of these bodily processes will increase body heat, which is also useful as it allows your muscles to ‘warm up’ in seconds as the mind registers the threat.

Psychologically, the combination of the increased heart rate, sweating, and the explosion of energy in the muscles, create a sense of acute awareness of the current situation and the ability to act quickly. While this illustrates a case in which the entire process runs smoothly, you must also be aware of the case in which it fails, known as condition black. Condition black is also known as ‘freezing’ during a dangerous situation, preventing the individual from fleeing or fighting. Cognitively, a sense of increased aggression will be associated with the ‘fight’ response and a combination of fear and anxiety for ‘flight’, while freezing is associated with fear and anxiety, but also a feeling of physical stiffness. During this freeze response, the parasympathetic nervous system dumps large amounts of hormones into the body, the same hormones that return the body to its relaxed state after a fight. The sudden increase of these hormones during a dangerous situation have the opposite effect of the fight or flight response, mixing panic with an inability to act quickly. Although freezing can be useful in situations in which a person must remain still in order to hide from an attacker, it can be detrimental when faced with an attacker head on.”

It is amazing to me that so much goes on in the brain in such a short amount of time, and for an untrained individual the Fight or Flight mechanism will operate in just that manner.

“I need to run, or quick throw a punch”

The great advantage of being a  properly trained individual is that this one will not be easily governed by their immediate biological responses. They will instead do their best to diffuse and continually assess the situation. Only then, will they make the decision to run (Flight) or to Fight with the purpose of escaping danger.

Of course, we are all human and there are times when we can be overwhelmed and thus enter condition black. You will never know if you are the kind of person who will enter condition black and freeze or will allow with correct decision making, the fight or flight mechanism, to work effectively. The only way to know, is during a period of extreme stress where an immediate and correct response is required, which will ultimately test your ability to react appropriately.

In the end, the only way to really reduce the chance of entering condition black is to train and become better at reacting under pressure. Which is something of course, any good Krav Maga training must include.

Written by: Annie Faulkner & Jonathan Fader