Robert Bussey Wilderness Survival Seminar
This is the last week to get pre-registered for this incredible opportunity to learn survival skills from the original “King of Combat” himself Robert Bussey. Local training members can turn in their camp registration fees of $65 to James Rosenbach to reserve your spot. Please make any checks out to Robert Bussey. Don’t miss out on this historic opportunity to train with one of the pioneers of modern martial arts and an internationally renowned master of self-protection instruction. For more information stop by Robert Bussey’s personal website http://robertbussey.com
It was time for an update. The old site was fine, actually I kinda liked it but it was not easy to update, my current roles made it very hard to spend the time it took to keep the site up to date the way it was. It wasn’t hard to update it just took time. Which is in short supply lately. Enter WordPress. WordPress is something I can conceivably set up to get some help with the site and even if I CAN’T get help? WordPress is so easy to update that I can literally make them on my phone. So it might start slow around here but expect some new things to be popping up soon as I start to figure out what the new site should look like. In the meantime feel free to leave me some comments with some constructive ideas.
RWTB Black Belt Fremont, NE
Believe it or not I’ve been blogging for an awful long time. Pre-facebook (yes ladies and gentlemen there was life before “micro-blogging”… that’s what Facebook and twitter were considered before the term social media… if yer curious) Many of us had “Livejournals” and blogging looked very different than it does today. It was more like reading a diary. It was more like a windy version of Facebook.
However the point of this post is not necessarily to remind myself or any of you how old I am… rather… it’s been a bit since my last video post on Lesson Planning and it’s high time I posted some new content. Here’s the problem though… haven’t had time to write. Well not anything new for this here blog…
So in the meantime while I brainstorm my next article and continue searching and hoping for submissions… a long time ago in a blog (livejournal) farther away than this one… I started jotting down some of my thoughts and reflections on our martial arts school’s classroom tenets and what they meant. I did these reflections partly because some of our students might not understand all of them… and also as an exercise for myself so that I might understand them better (and thus be better able to explain them to my students).
Below are mine from way back in 2007… I won’t go back and edit them, they are as they were 6 years ago… so I hope they aren’t written so poorly as to be embarrassing… and if they are? Hopefully it will just serve as an example of (hopefully) my growth as a writer. HA! They are… what they are.
I invite students and instructors to look at your own tenets and do the same… what do your classroom tenets mean for you? You say them every week… what do they mean to you? Let me know in the comments section or shoot me an e-mail. Thanks! Train hard and stay safe!
“You are a Shadow of Your Instructor”
It’s a statement that we as RWTB instructors often make to our students, especially as they progress, and indefinitely they will hear it uttered as they prepare for those final steps towards the often coveted title of black belt and black belt instructor.
There’s a lot of truths inherent to this statement far beyond what seems obvious on the immediate surface. We often say “You are a shadow of your instructor.” before or after a particularly hard promotion at which point everyone kind of nods their heads, finds some personal meaning in the statement… internalizes it, and then moves onward and upwards to the next step or goal. Well maybe that’s good enough, a personal definition to a statement like “You are a shadow of your instructor” is likely poignant enough. However, since I sought to start a blog with a title like “Instructor’s Shadow” I think it’s probably prudent for me to attempt to explain, at the very least, what I think it means for me.
We take the best of our instructors (be proud): I think this is the first thing that people think of, and it probably should be. We want to emulate the best of our instructors, the men and women that worked so diligently to bring out the best in us. These are the people who gave us challenges that ultimately pushed us to new heights in terms of physical skills, intellectual knowledge, or tests of the heart/spirit. Our instructors paved the way long before we did, they endured tests that they then went on to administer to us so that we too could grow. They make us proud and we walk in their foot steps in the great hopes that we can become as good as they are, to know as much as they do, and to make the impact on someone else that they did on you.
I take great pride in being a shadow of my instructors (I couldn’t list everyone that’s impacted me I’ve been so fortunate to learn so many things, from so many people that I’d inevitably leave someone out). I’m fiercely proud of my Head Instructor James Rosenbach, his accomplishments, and all of the trials he’s put me through and the opportunities he’s been able to create for me. When I teach, whether it’s martial arts, self-defense, or an art class on figure drawing… I often look back and ask myself… what would he do to make this class interesting? How would he push his students towards success? Because the lessons I’ve taken from him have transcended content, I am a better teacher of nearly any subject because of the things I’ve learned from him.
You are an ambassador for your instructor: Here’s a tough one for some folks… whether you are ready to be or not… you and your conduct will reflect positively or negatively back on your instructors and your school. If you haven’t been training hard to get proper extension and technique and you get out in front of a crowd and demonstrate poor techniques? The critical eye may now ascribe your lack of discipline as a shortcoming of your instructor. That’s not how it should be, it’s not a fair thing to do… But this is a mirror that reflects back the good, the bad, AND the ugly but not always in the direction we think. To do your instructor the utmost respect you must carry yourself in a manner befitting your station. Your instructors can, will, and should give you the tools… it’s up to you to have the discipline to use them carefully, proficiently, effectively and sometimes to that critical eye? Convincingly.
Credit where it is due (remain humble/remain teachable): You worked hard to develop the skill that you have. Ultimately however, you still have to recognize that you were shown your technique, your experience was crafted with your success specifically in mind. Even the combinations that you DO create… that ability to synthesize came from somewhere… it came from your experience which your instructors played no small part in.
One of the number one reasons I see black belt students drop out after receiving the rank of black belt is an inflated idea that they have now reached a state of mastery. However to really push yourself higher, especially as a black belt? You have to push your ego aside, realize that no matter how much experience you have, there are instructors who will always have more and there are still lessons you can learn from them even in the simplest of content.
When your instructor teaches a white belt how to throw a front kick for the very first time? What do they do? Where do they begin? How far do they push? How long do they let students try before they intervene?
How are you most likely to improve your skill? When you are the head instructor? Only answerable to yourself? Or when you return to the source?
When you allow someone else to challenge you, it is also likely you will find that your instructors couldn’t have possibly taught you everything they know… because they have not stopped learning themselves. They are still working and learning techniques, and they may have stumbled upon something that makes the teaching of a skill which you struggle with so much more efficient, but if you don’t go back you’ll never know.
Your skill came from somewhere… stop and think about that from time to time… and recognize, respect, and give credit (and thanks) where it’s due.
If we aren’t careful we can emulate the shortcomings of our instructors OR we can emulate them TOO well: Before I get too far I mean this segment with the absolute respect for my instructors…. Let me start by using an example from my own instructor. In the practice of training one of his students he observed that his student was being what he termed “too good a student” he was emulating my instructor perfectly. The problem was… body type. Sabum is shorter and compact, to compensate for this he has developed fantastic flexibility and speed. This student was tall and lanky with incredible reach. So when Sabum kicks high and inside it works for him and he can kick some one quite tall in the head… for his student the technique HAD to change, at least in terms of distance and position, otherwise his student would not have the room to throw the kick, and when he did it would shoot right over his opponent’s head. A vigilant instructor can and will spot this in their students just as Sabum did for this young man… but sometimes you have to cast a critical eye on your technique and recognize that personal protection eventually has to be personal. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t emulate your instructor, but it also means you should seek their opinion on how to best adapt techniques so they work better for you personally.
RWTB is a Christian Organization so let me bust a little Bible for you: (Ecclesiastes 7:20) “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” Paraphrasing? We are only human. Even the BEST instructors are going to have characteristics that will hold them back.
An example? A common example is one of “over-talking/analyzing” a technique… you can and should break down a technique so that students know the mechanics… however, time management can be a real concern… be aware that if you have a 60 minute class and you spend 15 minutes on any ONE technique then you have spent a full quarter of your class time. So that time needs to have been well spent. I have watched so many instructors get so into minutia that they don’t even realize how much time they’ve spent describing the effective ways to throw a hook punch… guess what… no matter how good of a job you do showing it, and talking about it, the students will still need ample opportunity to try the technique and will likely STILL fail at it a few times before they will find success. Give THEM the time, let them do it, and help correct their technique one on one because likely, you’ll need to anyhow.
So… just be aware that not only can we pick up the best of our instructors we can also pick up some of their bad habits as well. If you have an instructor who is chronically late, or inconsistent, or monotone and unenthusiastic, or overly stern and harsh with criticism. Everyone has their shortcomings and is entitled to a “bad day” so don’t judge or become hyper critical… but do be watchful, do be aware. Because as an instructor it’s highly flattering when someone emulates your teaching style, but trust me… it’s not flattering to see your bad habits reflected back at you.
You will get what you gave (Respect and trust is not given it has to be earned): This one is related more tangentially to being a “shadow of your instructor” but…Call it Karma, call it divine justice or reciprocity, call it “reaping what you sow,” or call it what you will… but if you were not a respectful student who followed the rules of conduct… do not be surprised to see that same behavior reflected back at you in your future students. I’ve stared down the best and worst of my own past in many classrooms now in my career and have learned an awful lot about how to be a better student and instructor through those moments of truth. You might not recognize it immediately, but sometimes it’s absolutely undeniable. Remember these moments when you step in and out of the role of instructor… the next time you are a student… remember how that feels to be disrespected, remember how that feels to have your techniques questioned negatively, and remember not to pay that kind of behavior forward. Respect your instructor, respect your peers, respect your fellow peer instructors, respect your training partners, respect your students, respect their parents, and respect the members of your community. Even when they don’t show you the same. Don’t be a door mat… but don’t perpetuate unnecessary disrespect and ill will. You cannot start to expect trust and respect unless you also are giving others the trust and respect you desire.
Final Thoughts: Blessing, burden, privilege and honor. You are a shadow AND reflection of your instructor. This means great things, but it also means great things are expected of you. (excerpt from Luke 12:48) “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” You have been given great skills that you can pass on just as they were passed to you and you will continue to learn so much from that act of teaching it to someone new.
This post is predominantly my thoughts and opinions on the matter, I want to recognize that everyone can and will interpret the statement “You are a shadow of your instructor” in a different way. I think I could continue to write about this subject and expand each category a dozen times over within my own philosophy. I’m much more interested to hear… what does it mean to you? Drop me a comment or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear your take on it. Did I echo your thoughts? Did I miss the mark completely? Did I give you something new to think about? I’d love to hear about it.
About the Author: Jesse Kiefer is an RWTB Black Belt Instructor in Fremont, NE. He co-instructs the Fremont RWTB adults class, and heads up the Fremont RWTB Weapons classes. When he isn’t teaching martial arts, he’s also an elementary art teacher teaching grades Kindergarten through 4th grade at two separate buildings and sees more that 500 different students in a week.
The Semantics of Martial Arts Vocabulary (Mixed/Blended/Hybrid Styles)
It seems like silly semantics that I should have to say that I study a blended style (which makes me think of Starbucks coffee drinks) or a hybrid style (which makes me think of corn) when it’s clearly a mix of styles.
Interestingly enough, the phenomenon of MMA fighting which has been the largest proponent for the existence of these blended styles and programs, yet it has also become (in my own opinion) the largest source of confusion to its own definition and evolution.
The Present: I don’t like it but I’ve become very conscious about how I describe my style of martial arts. I dislike the semantics of it nonetheless I’ve started referring to my style as “blended” just to remove the stigma and pigeon-holing that goes along with being associated wrongly with the MMA. I watch UFC fights when I get the chance, I enjoy the fights and I respect the fighters. Our school however should not and cannot be judged with the same eye as the one who judges the sport. If you look at our school and think MMA you’ll walk in and see a safe Family Friendly Martial Arts school.
The Point: These mixed styles used to be really unusual. Only people like Bruce Lee could get away with creating their own styles, and even then when he first did it he made a lot of people mad, now its becoming the norm. Some schools are set up without rank guideline in mind and are purely for creating a stable of competition grade fighters or for training like competition minded fighters. Because these schools exist it’s important that we acknowledge their existence and realize that the nomenclatures of what our styles are termed are affected by their existence. It’s not a world where we can say “We’re a mixed martial arts school” without evoking a certain idea and persona. I’m not saying that you can’t call yourself a mixed martial artist, just know that there is a perception and a stigma either good or bad that comes with such a naming.
Update 2-9-09: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_martial_arts
This blog is staring you down right from the heart of the internet which means I really should talk about web presence. The following is going to come right out of my head, so please take it as one man’s perspective and opinion.
Internet Love it or Hate It?
In 1999 I set up my martial arts web site. (www.rwtb.org) The “dot com boom” had come and was on its way out. Online vendors were making it possible for you to buy just about anything you wanted. I loved the internet! Fast forward to 2008, I’ve gotten into some ugly online discussions, I’ve been conned, I’ve suffered internet related identity theft, I’ve connected with some really cool martial artists both nationally and internationally, I’ve generated some sign-ups for my Head instructor and his school, and I regularly keep in touch with friends and loved ones. With less of the naïveté I still cautiously enjoy the internet very much. In this increased state of globalization it becomes hard to shrug off the very lucrative opportunities that the internet provides, but it’s so important to approach the internet carefully because the risks are very real and very present.
Think of the internet as a large city. Much like the public library, there are places where you can get what you need legally, safely and free. There are also places where you can get into trouble, there are places on the internet that you should avoid, and there are places that are just plain dangerous.
Without losing the point of this essay I think it is worth noting that awareness is really key to keeping yourself out of trouble when surfing the web.
So Why Have a Web Presence at all?
Some people will avoid the internet entirely. My instructor is one who avoids using his internet except to check on the website I run for his school and to make a few pedestrian stops along the way. Otherwise he has little use for the internet and the things that happen there. Does that hinder him? No. His business was successful before the internet started and his business would not suffer without a web presence.
However, that’s where I come in. My website, blogs, and online social networking have individually streamlined some additional operations and has generated some marginal traffic into the school which has in some cases resulted in sign-ups. Having a presence on the web (a.k.a. web presence) creates another relatively cheap avenue for people to find you and/or your business.
So then why not, sounds harmless. Right?…
Yeah it does sound harmless. However, the thing with the internet is that anything you throw out there becomes public domain. That dorky vanity website you created in Jr. High, the book reviews that you posted at your favorite online bookseller; your wishlists that you set up; that ugly debate you had in an online forum; your online wedding registry; your Myspace/Facebook profiles; everything is there and available to anyone who has the know-how to access it. This can make you vulnerable if you aren’t cautious.
Social Networks: Probably the first things I want to cover because they are incredibly popular now are social networking sites; some of the most popular sites are: Myspace, Facebook, and Friendster. These are tricky, because when you start an account you start by putting together a profile which has certain information and photos which identify who you are, where you are, and how you can be found or contacted. That information is at your option to provide, and can be either a benefit or a burden. It’s a calculated risk that you are taking any time you post personal information which can be potentially accessed, collected, and then passed on. Now many of these sites do offer privacy settings, but in many cases the defaults allow open access (meaning that anyone with internet access can view your page) and in order to limit access you will have to go into your account and manually change those settings for yourself.
Now just like anything on the internet these social networks are constantly changing and constantly evolving. This blog could be irrelevant by the end of the month so I’m just going to cover a few key points that you might need to consider as a Martial Arts instructor who might want to create a profile on one of these networking sites.
One reason that it’s important to monitor these sites is for the photos; both for the ones that you post personally and for the ones that others post of you. The scary reality is that it is so easy for pictures of you to wind up on the internet anyone with marginal internet skills can upload photos. They can do it with their digital camera, they can take pictures with their phones, they can put it on a disc and load it, and they can even scan an old photo! Any photo EVER taken of you can be put on the internet. Additionally In a social network people can “tag” you in photos that they posted or that someone else posted. Tagging a photo will identify you in that photo regardless of what it is that you are doing. Often tagged photos of you will be lumped together and can be easily viewed with a courtesy link set up by the social networking site. Good news? In the privacy settings for Facebook you can limit who has access to Tagged photos. That still won’t control who can see untagged photos so in some cases tagging photos might be the wise choice (if your privacy settings are at a wise privacy setting). Probably the best option in the event of a questionable photo posted is to contact the poster and to politely ask them to take it down before any problems have a chance to manifest. On the positive side, a good picture can be dynamic and really describe the type of school you run or the type of person you are. Try to keep the photos you load relevant to the type of persona you want to put forward.
These networks are exactly a network. People can search for you and you can search for others. You create a page with information for personal purposes, for recreational purposes, and even for business purposes. So there are opportunities to connect with potential clients with the help of these sites. You are going to have a hard time limiting that. As a martial arts instructor your young students will be able to find you just as easily as adult students, so it’s important that your profile and its contents are appropriate for all ages before you add them to your network (also called your “friends list”)
Applications are fairly new to social networks and seem to have started with Facebook. These applications are developed by sources outside of the network administrators and often link to other places. Some of these allow you to list and rate movies, some allow you to put music on your profile page, and some even let you post videos! Something to think about when adding applications is, again: “is it appropriate to the people who I want visiting my profile?” If it’s a business profile site do they need to see “What Super Hero you are most like?” or the “Bumper sticker” declaring your disdain for the current President? Will these things help you to earn the respect of potential students, or lose the respect of current ones? These are important things to consider before you just go ahead and click “add”.
In writing this article I realize that the internet is too vast to cover in a single article so I’m going to wrap this up with one last question you should ask yourself and that is:
Do you already have a web presence? Vanity search yourself! It’s important that you figure out what’s already happening with your name on the web. Even if your web dealings are fairly limited you might find that if you’ve ever been in the newspaper, most have gone online and print their stories both in print and on the web; which may be good or bad depending on the source and the story. That wild office Christmas party where you had too many adult beverages? Someone may have taken some choice photos of you and added them to the web. If someone else searches for you and sees that first, it will send a message or even create a first impression that you don’t really want to make. To do a vanity search I suggest going to Google.com and typing in your name surrounded by quotes (ex. “John Doe”). The quotes will limit the search to your name specifically. You might find that someone else shares your name and you might have to dig to find anything that matches the real you, you might not find anything but it’s good to know what is and what isn’t out there. Still not convinced? What if someone was pretending to be YOU? Don’t think it can happen? It can happen and it has happened to countless individuals. Vigilance is the only true defense for something like that.
That being said a web presence isn’t necessarily bad IF you are careful to craft the kind of presence that is a benefit to you and your martial arts school, and not a detriment.
I don’t think the conversation went poorly, I didn’t embarrass myself and my profession, but I didn’t walk away from the conversation feeling like my thoughts were as put together as they maybe should have been.
The point for martial arts instructors is that you won’t always know when you might get a call because of your position in the community, because of the impromtu nature of “the news” it becomes really important that you think things through before hand. If a reporter asked you “How did you get into martial arts?” what would your story be?
Anyhow it’s a different way of thinking, and as I learned it’s something that you should prepare for because you never know when your 15 minutes of fame might come.
I’ve come across a good blog on this matter already:
Another matter to consider is getting a hold of the press in the first place. I’ve been looking at a certain magazine lately which is all about my fine state. They do articles on old businesses, art from the area, and all sorts of interesting things that pertain to the state. The more I think about it, the more I wonder why an article has never been done about my Instructor. He’s a Hall of Fame martial artist, and co-founder of what was once the International Martial Arts Organization known as RBWI. However through it all he’s never left the state. He’s been teaching in his home town for over 35 years! It occurs to me that the only reason they haven’t written his story is because they probably didn’t know that there IS a story. So in that case someone should call them or maybe… write a press release. But what is a press release? How do I write one? Who do I send it to?
Here’s a good website about Press releases and how to write them:http://www.publicityinsider.com/release.asp
I guess the point this week is, don’t wait until the press comes knocking on your door to think of the things that you want to say, it’s easy enough to be misquoted when you DO know what you’re saying that you really don’t want to be caught without well thought responses. Also sometimes you have to let people know when you are doing something interesting. Last year there was front page article on a family that gives blood every year! Wow… don’t you think the last martial arts tourney you attended might be a little more newsworthy? Don’t you think that time you volunteered a Free self-defense class to a ladies church group might be good news? I do.
But reporters are not fortune tellers… they do not know when you are going to do something interesting… they need to be told. Sometimes a press release is a good way to get the word out.
It doesn’t help to change the schedule monthly. Try to leave the schedule alone as much as possible you want to keep your business hours pretty stable, however from time to time it may become necessary to tweak or change the schedule. When a change is about to occur try to give your students plenty of time to adjust to the change in many cases students may need up to a month advance notice with several reminders in between. Changes should be as minimal as possible, for example if you currently train Monday Wednesdays and Fridays and have been doing this for the last 3 years, then you probably would be best served by staying true to those dates (if possible) rather than moving the dates to a new arrangement.
Well… folks my schedule says it’s time for me to move on to the next thing. Hopefully this has given you a few ideas, which can help you maximize how your schedule works for you. Leave some comments on what works for you!