Our Krav Maga seminar series held at Wichita Falls Athletic Club kicks off this Saturday, December 17th with a sold out event. Due to the high demand, we’ll offer a seminar every month. Each seminar will offer a different focus, but the training principles will remain consistent. You will be able to learn and make progress by attending these seminars once a month!
As a new instructor, sometimes the warmup is a crutch. You just passed your instructor training, but don’t REALLY know how to teach yet. The warmup, since that’s what you’ve been doing as an apprentice instructor, is what you’re good at so it’s time to show off a bit and make sure that everyone is “warm” before you get to the shaky business of teaching actual self defense.
There are a few problems with this:
A lot of the time, the warmup is wasted time (sometimes up to 25 or even 30 minutes!) that could be used to reinforce skills and introduce concepts that will be useful later on in the class. Arm stops, pummeling, moving to dead sides, basic wrestling, transitions. Depending on what’s going on in class, getting some basic movements out of the way early on in the class will get people moving the way you’ll want them to move when you introduce more complicated movements later in class. During my warmups, I’ll have students practice very basic transitions or basic wrestling under no stress, without striking, or having to think about anything else. Things that are simple, but absolutely critical to managing a threat.
Guys will have students jogging around the room, waving their arms around, sprawling, doing endless pushups, situps, and burpees. These are lazy, uncreative ways to get people sweaty and tired. Strictly speaking, the purpose of a warmup is to prepare the class for what’s coming later with the intent of reducing the chance for injury. Raising body temperature, getting the correct juices squirting, and getting people mentally comfortable for what’s about to happen. Doing your P90X “muscle confusing” warmup accomplishes all of these things, but that’s about it. You’ll use class time more effectively if you get people doing what they’ll be doing later under stress, early on in the class under no stress. Let’s say you’re going to work on bearhugs for today’s class. Your warmup could consist of drilling underhooks and a couple of transitions. The nice thing is that for beginners, this will be plenty to get them warmed up and even breathing hard. For the more advance folks in the room, they will naturally up the resistance and get the same effect. Now people are learning or refining skills rather than doing mindless exercises. Save the “badass” exercise for your conditioning classes.
By breaking up the class into chunks of time – Warmup, Strikes, Drills, Self Defense – the instructor never fully develops a cohesive teaching method where, even in the course of a 1 hour class, skills build on each other from simple to complex. We’re all given the formula starting out – pick a technique for the class, figure out which strikes complement that technique and teach those, do a couple of drills. It works great when you’re developing as an instructor, but understand the limitations of the this teaching formula. It assumes that your students will be able to connect dots that they may not or never will connect unless you explicitly do it for them. As you train more and more people, you come to the realization that teaching a strike or a self defense technique “based on natural instinct or reaction” isn’t all that difficult. What’s difficult and where things will unravel very quickly in real life is during the transitions. Control of the opponent, proper transitions, and control over variables whether through clinching, grappling, movement or striking is the most important thing you have to be able to teach. The opportunity to reinforce shouldn’t be passed up.
Doing a super-long, crappy warmup is maybe excusable in the newest of instructors. If you want to be a better instructor and gain a deeper understanding of how to teach Krav Maga, take the time to evaluate how and why you run your classes the way that you do. Question everything.
Anyone else tired of hearing the word tactical? Unfortunately, I have quite a few perfectly good t-shirts from days passed that have that cringe-worthy, non-sensical term all over them.
In the 10 years I’ve been teaching Krav Maga, I’ve used it on tag lines, websites, t-shirts, etc, etc, etc. It sounds neat, or at least it used to. I’ve also made a big deal out of training “tactical” people. Cops, military, security folks – those types. All self-defense instructors do to some extent. Either the system being taught is used by “Elite” forces around the world, or the instructor has personally trained Delta Force while a member of Seal Team Six operating under cover in the IDF.
Here’s the thing. You become a better instructor by teaching and coaching regular folks. Taking a completely normal person, with a normal job, who has never been in a fight and transforming that person’s ability and mindset in a few hours of a seminar or over a few months in regular classes takes serious skill. Doing this well is something most instructors can’t do.
It really does sounds cool when you tell someone that you trained a Secret Service Agent, or that **insert military unit here** uses your system, but what no one understands is that the police officers who choose to take your training and the guys who are in military units they make movies about, especially, ARE ALREADY FIGHTERS AND KILLERS. You may give them a handful of techniques that they’ve never seen before, but you’re kidding yourself if you think that you’re blowing the minds of guys who are specifically selected to solve problems and do a lot with a little.
Telling folks they’re training in a system that a tier one unit supposedly uses is also complete bullshit. It’s irrelevant because what applies to small unit tactics and may be mission specific doesn’t apply to Bill, the insurance agent. Bill doesn’t carry an M-4 to work and roll with 4-12 of his closest buddies. Bill is pre-diabetic, just started “working out” last year, has a bad shoulder, and showed up to your class because he’s getting bored with machines at the gym and wants to feel like a badass.
If you’re ever lucky enough to train someone who’s very experienced, you find that you’ll get the opportunity to push, and push really hard. Being able to keep the attention of 30 or 40 veteran police officers says something about you as an instructor, but those skills are honed through taking people who can barely walk proficiently and making them powerful, confident, and competent quickly. The only way to do that is to have a deep, fundamental understanding of absolute basics. Of what’s important and what’s a waste of time, and the experience to be able to give minimal instruction to produce maximum performance.