How to tell if you found a good instructor

nelsonizer

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Here's my situation. I'm 25, 165, 6'1", athletic, living in Chicago. I want to get into great shape and learn some practical self-defense.

I work abroad which puts me in some pretty nasty places from time to time. I've had some knives & machetes pulled on me and met scary people on dark streets. Luckily my "do whatever they want and hope they go away" approach has worked so far but I shudder to think what would happen if they decided to put the hurt on or if I was with a female friend.

I've read a lot on Bullshido and No Nonsense Self Defense and I've come to realize that martial arts are not what I thought they were. I was really interested in Krav Maga because it seemed to be everything I wanted, practical, deals with weapons, teaches situational awareness but it seems to be the latest fad, or you can't really practice because its dangerous to spar, or there aren't too many real instructors? Idk, Filipino Martial Arts and Muay Thai seem pretty interesting too.

Basically what I've learned is that I need to concentrate on finding a good teacher and a program that includes a lot of sparring.

- So, my problem is how do I know I've found a good teacher?
- What kind of sparring is the good kind?
- I've never done martial arts before so how do I know somebody is feeding me a line of BS?

Help me know what to ask when I go visit schools and what to look for to find a good teacher, school, and style.
 

drop bear

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If you are doing something like muay Thai. It is a bit easier. Because they will have fighters that are winning fights. So if nothing else you know what they do works.

Otherwise for sparring it should look professional and intense for the top guys but not a merciless beating for you.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MAxfXCl_tfQ

So at an upper level they hit hard where they need to. But don't take advantage if the other guy is rocked or in trouble. To a certain degree.

The leg kicks there are harder than the head kicks for example. And the is just because you can inadvertently drop a guy with a head kick and mess him up.

He batters him a bit hard into the wall but does not really try to finish it. Gives the dude a bit of a feed to keep him from getting complacent. In the last 10 seconds the pace builds up to build a tolerance. But it is ten seconds.
 

jezr74

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Whats available to you in your area?

Don't write off Krav Maga, it's been around for a long time. It may have come to the spotlight, but all the arts do at different stages for different reasons. And some people just like to bag out other arts they have no experience with.
 

Cirdan

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I don`t really think you can tell when you have found a good instructor without having some time in the arts. They are kind of not what you expect either. You might be able to spot some bad ones if they make outrageous claims or have high Dan grades at a young age however. Bottom line is try out a few classes of what is available, talk to the instructors and find somethink that suits your needs. Reevaluate the situation after a few months if you have dounbts.
 

Buka

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IMO
First, make a list of any and every place within a reasonable driving distance to where you are. It's common to think, "I don't mind driving forty minutes away for good training" but it isn't practical, life gets in the way and it rarely works out.

Next - find out when they spar and go watch. Again, IMO, if there isn't contact between the fighters, especially face/head contact, cross it off the list. In my experience as a city boy and cop, I have yet to see or hear of an assault that didn't have serious contact. And it's probably a good idea to go watch more than once.

The above concerns stand up styles, or striking arts.

I'd check out the Carlson Gracie BJJ academy in your area. I'd go give it a good, long look, several times, then talk to the instructors about your particular needs.

The comments you made about machete and knife are pretty scary. I'd look to see if there are any knife fighting clubs in your area. If you find one that looks good, (just use your common sense) it may be a good supplement to whatever else you want to train in. Knife fighters know more about blades, anything to do with blades, than anyone else.

Again, IMO, (yes, I'm beating a dead horse) contact fight training is the only way to go.
Best of luck on your quest. Please keep us posted.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Check out John Bednarksi who teaches Filipino Martial Arts and also Piper the South
African knife system. You can find him here: https://www.facebook.com/tatlopusakasenjata

It is very hard to tell when looking for a self defense system what is good and not good with an untrained eye.
That's why it is always good to get recommendations from other people who practice.

When looking for self defense or personal protection go in and try out a class or two. See if what they are
teaching seems practical to you. Use your common sense to make this evaluation. Do they have weapons
training? Do they emphasis being aware and alert and avoiding trouble? Do they have a well rounded
program that includes weapons/tools, kicking, hand strikes, joint locks and grappling? These are just a few
things you should be looking for.

Good luck!
 

jks9199

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You might also check out the Degerberg Academy. I know Master Degerberg and have been consistently impressed by his students.
 

PhotonGuy

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Here's my situation. I'm 25, 165, 6'1", athletic, living in Chicago. I want to get into great shape and learn some practical self-defense.

I work abroad which puts me in some pretty nasty places from time to time. I've had some knives & machetes pulled on me and met scary people on dark streets. Luckily my "do whatever they want and hope they go away" approach has worked so far but I shudder to think what would happen if they decided to put the hurt on or if I was with a female friend.

I've read a lot on Bullshido and No Nonsense Self Defense and I've come to realize that martial arts are not what I thought they were. I was really interested in Krav Maga because it seemed to be everything I wanted, practical, deals with weapons, teaches situational awareness but it seems to be the latest fad, or you can't really practice because its dangerous to spar, or there aren't too many real instructors? Idk, Filipino Martial Arts and Muay Thai seem pretty interesting too.

Basically what I've learned is that I need to concentrate on finding a good teacher and a program that includes a lot of sparring.

- So, my problem is how do I know I've found a good teacher?
- What kind of sparring is the good kind?
- I've never done martial arts before so how do I know somebody is feeding me a line of BS?

Help me know what to ask when I go visit schools and what to look for to find a good teacher, school, and style.

As for when you go to the nasty places where you've had knives and machetes pulled on you, my advice would be to get a carry permit and carry a gun after you get the proper training but if you're not allowed to carry in the places you go to here is what I would say in terms of learning martial arts. Visit a bunch of dojos, observe some classes, ask around, and whatever suits you best settle for that. Lots of places might let you try out a class so you should do that. Also, if you ever get ahold of BlackBelt magazine, you can find it in most news stands, in the back they have a directory of some very good martial arts schools. So you might want to check that out too.
 

Blindside

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As for when you go to the nasty places where you've had knives and machetes pulled on you, my advice would be to get a carry permit and carry a gun after you get the proper training but if you're not allowed to carry in the places you go to here is what I would say in terms of learning martial arts. Visit a bunch of dojos, observe some classes, ask around, and whatever suits you best settle for that. Lots of places might let you try out a class so you should do that. Also, if you ever get ahold of BlackBelt magazine, you can find it in most news stands, in the back they have a directory of some very good martial arts schools. So you might want to check that out too.

Don't have a problem with the concealed weapon permit idea, except that he said he "works abroad" and I suspect that will be problematic.

Totally disagree with the blackbelt magazine suggestion, you would be better off googling your area.

I agree with the suggestion of checking out lots of places and taking classes.
 

Blindside

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- So, my problem is how do I know I've found a good teacher?
- What kind of sparring is the good kind?
- I've never done martial arts before so how do I know somebody is feeding me a line of BS?

Help me know what to ask when I go visit schools and what to look for to find a good teacher, school, and style.

Check out Counterstrike MMA:
CounterStrike MMA

I don't know how they are as instructors, but I met the "self-defense" instructor at the Dog Brothers gathering this year and he has some serious skills.
 
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nelsonizer

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Hey thanks for all the responses.

I checked out my first class tonight, it was a beginner Krav Maga hosted at a kickboxing gym. 4 students, all beginners, instructor certified through KM Global. It looks like the gym just added the program. We worked on 360 defense and punching properly (you will laugh at my naivety but I never realized there were incorrect ways of punching).

I mean I can see the advantages because we are crawling at this point in our technique but I guess I was hoping for something a little more intense. I was tired at the end of the class and I felt like I learned something (but starting from zero means anything you learn is more than you knew coming in the door) but I also really wanted to be pushed a bit more.

Is it a bad sign that there are no advanced or intermediate students?
 

Blindside

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Hey thanks for all the responses.

I checked out my first class tonight, it was a beginner Krav Maga hosted at a kickboxing gym. 4 students, all beginners, instructor certified through KM Global. It looks like the gym just added the program. We worked on 360 defense and punching properly (you will laugh at my naivety but I never realized there were incorrect ways of punching).

I mean I can see the advantages because we are crawling at this point in our technique but I guess I was hoping for something a little more intense. I was tired at the end of the class and I felt like I learned something (but starting from zero means anything you learn is more than you knew coming in the door) but I also really wanted to be pushed a bit more.

Is it a bad sign that there are no advanced or intermediate students?

If the class just started then obviously that isn't a bad thing, however, it becomes tough to judge the instructor without seeing what kind of students he produces.
 

jezr74

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Hey thanks for all the responses.

I checked out my first class tonight, it was a beginner Krav Maga hosted at a kickboxing gym. 4 students, all beginners, instructor certified through KM Global. It looks like the gym just added the program. We worked on 360 defense and punching properly (you will laugh at my naivety but I never realized there were incorrect ways of punching).

I mean I can see the advantages because we are crawling at this point in our technique but I guess I was hoping for something a little more intense. I was tired at the end of the class and I felt like I learned something (but starting from zero means anything you learn is more than you knew coming in the door) but I also really wanted to be pushed a bit more.

Is it a bad sign that there are no advanced or intermediate students?

Are you in a introduction course? Not uncommon to separate beginners from regular classes. May also be just getting started.

As far as fitness goes, keep with it for a while and see where it goes. You can always jog home. (avoiding the bad alleys)
 

new.era.player

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In my personal opinion this is a judgement call that you make based on your type of personality and what your needs are.

For me, it really depends on these key things:

1. The direction I'm taking my training
2. What it is that I want to learn
3. The experience and level of training and/or skill of the instructor (both in martial arts application/technique and teaching)
4. The availability of the instructor
5. My ability to learn from the instructor
6. The attitude of the instructor and my ability to get along with him/her
7. The relationship that me (and my family) can develop with the instructor

For me, it relies on how much faith I'm able to put into having this person safely teach me and my family what we need to know in order to succeed in our overall goal. And that all depends on the level of professionalism and expertise of the instructor, and my ability to get comfortable with them and learn from him/her. This would generally be based on their teaching style and personality. A "safety first" approach must also be recognized, and it's a mega bonus if they have some level of verifiable medical training/experience/expertise. And after that then comes our availability to meet each other's schedules; having all of those traits isn't good enough if we can't actually be there to benefit from them.

It's no different than a teacher or a college professor, in my mind.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Don't have a problem with the concealed weapon permit idea, except that he said he "works abroad" and I suspect that will be problematic.

Totally disagree with the blackbelt magazine suggestion, you would be better off googling your area.

I agree with the suggestion of checking out lots of places and taking classes.

Yes the fact that he works abroad can be a problem with concealed weapons. In that case I would recommend learning how to fight unarmed but also possibly taking classes that teach martial arts weapons that are easy to find. For instance, lots of martial arts schools that teach weapons will teach you how to fight with sticks since sticks are easy to come by (tree branches, baseball bats, ect. you will always find sticks around.) Also knife fighting is good to learn since knives are also not that hard to find and in most places you can carry a knife of some sort. There is nothing wrong with checking out the directory in MA magazines, its just another source of information for schools in the area. Googling of course is also a good idea and using any means to find what kind of MA instruction you're looking for.

That being said I would not recommend an art such as tai chi, not because tai chi is ineffective but rather it takes a long time to really get good with tai chi to the point where you can use it in self defense. Krav Maga or MMA on the other hand you can learn and use relatively quickly.
 

donald1

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good teacher teaches good effective material depending on what type of dojo you are going to
 
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