To Be A Good Instructor, You Have To Be A Student

One of the greatest lessons I ever learned early on, was that training never ends. The first person I learned KM from, Mark, was always big on training. Experimenting with new things. Taking other peoples seminars. Just seeking knowledge. From the beginning this concept was presented to me and after almost ten years, this lesson has only become more and more apparent.

As an instructor, you find it harder and harder to be the student. Every hour you teach, is an hour you could be training. That’s not to say you don’t learn things while teaching, trust me when I say, I have learned countless things from teaching. However, this is not a substitute for being the student.

Not only does time become an issue, but more often then not, ego is the biggest culprit. You have to have confidence in what you teach people. That confidence needs to be rooted in the belief that what you are teaching is the best possible self defense you could teach somebody. So it can often be difficult to go out and be a student, because you will most likely have to face the fact that what you have taught for x amount of years, might not have been the best. That takes an open mind, that takes the willingness to change, and that takes humility. That is something that doesn’t come in droves in the martial arts world.

All too often, people only train inside of their circle. And if you are at the top of that circle, you begin to believe you have all the answers. If you don’t have all the answers, which no one does, you are literally the ceiling of potential for those under you.

The first time I was in Israel for training, a group of us were having a conversation and the lead instructor said “When Imi gave us our black belts, he said ‘congratulations… now go learn the next thing’”

That’s profound right there. The guy that invented the system, gave him a black belt, then made a point to tell them to go learn something else. Expand your knowledge base.

That’s the thought process everyone should have. If you’re a well known firearms instructor but you haven’t taken any firearms classes lately, how do you know what your teaching is the best? How do you know some local firearms instructor can’t share one small piece of knowledge that might make you a better instructor. If you’re a Krav Maga black belt, but you haven’t trained with any other KM organizations, how do you know that your black belt represents the apex of knowledge. And that’s just inside of your industry!

If you teach firearms, but you haven’t trained krav maga, or bjj, or wrestling, or striking, then you’re missing a HUGE component of information to help make your students safe. If you teach Krav Maga and you haven’t studied firearms, who the hell are you to teach someone to take guns away? When you don’t even know how they are commonly used and what methods might be most efficient in that use. In the same breathe, if you have your black belt in KM, but you haven’t stepped into the ring to learn wrestling, or touch gloves with a boxer, how can you truly explain to someone what they might be up against if their bad guy just so happens to have trained before? This goes for everyone. If you have the balls to say you teach “self defense” but you only truly understand and teach one aspect of it, you’re dead wrong. You have to continue to learn.

Look, if you want to get better or be the best you have to continually train and be the student. You’re never too good for a lesson and you can always learn something from somebody.

“Any man who knows a thing, knows he knows not a damn, damn thing at all.” – K’naan

Yes I just quoted a badass rapper.. but that shit is true.

If you want to be a full time instructor and you make this your career, then you have decided to be on an endless journey to better improve yourself. Training is PART OF YOUR JOB.

If you do not MAKE TIME to be a student, you will fall into mediocrity. You will puff yourself up by telling yourself lies about how much you know and how the others don’t know shit.

The great ones now that even when they know almost everything, there is still more to know.

If you are reading this and you haven’t been a student in a while, then make it a priority.

Be good, train hard, one love

-aaron

Here are a few of the people I have had the pleasure of training with in person in regards to self defense. This is just some of them, it would be impossible to truly list and thank every person that has blessed me with knowledge. It also doesn’t include the people I have been blessed to train under for physical fitness, strength, rehab, functional movement, etc… I am listing these ones simply to show that it is in fact possible to train with people from different organizations and pick up things from them. Even people who don’t like each other hah. It is possible, to challenge yourself to get better. This says nothing about my personal ability, it simply shows my efforts to understand anything that I can and train whenever I have the opportunity to do so.

Krav Maga:

Mark Slane (USKMA)

Ernie Kirk (KM Universal)

Eval Yanilov (360 Global/Formerly IKMF)

Yaron Lichtenstein (Bukan School KM)

Rami (Wingate University)

Shachar (Wingate University)

Sam Sade (Alpha KM/Formerly KMWW)

John Whitman (Alliance KM)

Ryan Hoover (Fit to Fight)

Ron Mizrachi (KM Federation)

Israeli Police

BJJ:

Rodrigo Medeiros (Comprido)

Carlson Gracie

Dustin Hazelett

Justin Kennedy

Mike Cheney

The Other Rodrigo Medeiros

Deon Thompson

Dan Siegel

Travis Haynes

Arthur Ruff

Chris Larkin

Bernardo Faria

Eli Knight

Andre Herbert

Muay Thai:

Jason Lai

Ajarn Buck Grant

Boxing:

Jerry Page

Firearms:

Rob Pincus

Todd Fossey

Omari Broussard

Matt Kissel

Kali/Arnis/Knife/Stick:

Bryan McKean

Elmann Cabotage

Alessandro Padovani

Jared Wihongi

Jerome Teague

Clinch/Grappling/Wrestling:

Ronny Hewitt

Rashad Brown

Psychological/Physiological Response:

Tony Blauer

Don Moxley