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I’ve been teaching martial arts, specifically Combat Sambo, Submission Wrestling and Kickboxing for over 18 years. Looking at it now, it’s been a long time.

Someone asked me once: “Over the years of teaching, has there been a change in the people that train in your dojo?” Ever since MMA has become more mainstream and gained popularity, I have seen some increase in people who come in and have interest in competing. Some have absolutely no clue on the hardships of becoming a pro fighter. They think it’s as easy as playing a video game. There are those that have showed interest and have actually competed. Some of those even thinking of the big day. Those who do end up competing, either lose interest in it (but continue to train), will want to continue to compete, and those who wanted to taste going pro decide in the end it’s not for them. I still highly praise these students as they got their feet wet and have gone the mile. Unlike those who just talk all the time but don’t pursue.


I would say that the vast majority that come train with me are looking simply for self-defense and getting in better shape. They have little or no interest in competing. Due to this, I do push those who want to compete a bit harder and give extra advice, but I do not want to turn my dojo into a 100% competitive atmosphere, as it will turn away the vast majority of the present and potential students. This of course does not mean I do not train them hard!

I do encourage students to try a competition at least once, especially grappling (as it is the least dangerous of the competitions that I have competed in) to experience a ‘real’ fighting situation, without having to really fight, and there are refs to look over the competitors. Much safer than a real street fight!


Real street fighting ain’t fun!

Stepping into the realm of MMA competition, this starts to become more serious, especially if one decides to go pro. Going pro is not a walk in the park. The fight money, until the big time, is not usually enough to sustain oneself, and the potential for injuries, both physical and mental are high. As I have started competing less myself and concentrating on my students more, I sometimes ask: “Why in the hell would someone wanna go pro in MMA? The potential damages…it doesn’t make sense!!” But then I think back to my experience fighting in the Combat Sambo Worlds (basically MMA with a jacket on), I remember the extreme high I got from competing, and wanted more. The rush. When I talk about that feeling of elation to people who don’t appreciate combat sports competitions, they look at me like I’m some axe murder! So I change subjects. Quickly.


The psycho Axe Murder!


Teaching is not an easy thing to do, as many people think it is. There are up and downs in teaching. Not many people are able to become good instructors, especially for a long time.

Starting with the downside of teaching, one has to be able to deal with all sorts of people. The bad side of dealing with so many types of characteristics, dealing with negative people. If one does not know who to deal with these people, they can suck all our energy and end up mentally scarring you and could lead to the destruction of one’s school. Sometimes I have no choice but to make these people “leave” my dojo, as other good students may quit because of them.

Instructors are people that are suppose to give inspiration to their students to make them succeed. The big dilemma is, where does the instructor get their own inspirations? We constantly give, but without any positive outside intake, the instructor will be in a deficit and will lack the ability to give good inspirations to one’s students. I have gone thru this and to seek outside inspirations for myself. This will usually come in the form of reading certain books, listening to speakers and personally talking to people who give me an inspirational upbeat.

Even though I am an instructor, I have to keep a mind set of being a student too, looking for new and perhaps improved techniques and to me most important, teaching methods. Those instructors that assume to “know” all are actually fooling themselves. Better to be honest and say:”I don’t know” and research into it. That does not mean one is compelled to master this technique or training method, unless they feel it is advantageous.


The know it all teacher


The one real element that picks me up and see why I continue teaching and pass on my knowledge, is when I see success in my students. Not only when they start perfecting techniques, get into shape and perform well in sparring or competition, but also when they tell me that them being under my tutelage, their life has become more satisfying. More confidence in themselves, better interaction with others, and a more wholesome lifestyle. This uplifts me and gives me a purpose to continue teaching. I tell myself: “This is why I am here.”

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