February 23, 2015, Hilton Hotel, Florida
Alex and Jaime, Georgia Mountain Krav Maga
In my more than 3 decades in the martial arts I have seen countless newcomers walk through the door, and I have heard and felt the remarks of instructors and students.
From the veteran students it has often been..Damn, I hope I do not get assigned to work with her! or, that guy looks like such a geek, God spare me!
The instructors often have mixed feelings; on one hand a cash cow just walked in the door, on the other hand it is a beginner who might be very challenging.
I have also heard comments such as, "Until they reach brown belt I want nothing to do with them."
The idea is that new students come, and very soon ...they go, so why waste time on them?
The running theme is that new students must earn the respect of their teacher. They must prove themselves worthy of the training we are wiling to bestow upon them, if they wish to be trained by us they must prove they are hard working, passionate, and dedicated martial artists.
This theme is equally conveyed in many classic martial arts films. The student travels far to meet the master, but the master is not even willing to meet with him. Finally the master agrees to meet the student but quickly dismisses him. Once the training begins the master does nearly everything possible to fail the student, to show him that he is not really worthy of this martial arts training, that is weak in mind, body and spirit.
It is up to the student to do everything humanly possible to earn the respect and approval of the master.
Makes for great movies but for a lousy, pathetic reality.
Emile, a new student, training with Jesse, a veteran. This attitude is the correct one. A larger stronger, more veteran student happy to work with a beginner. This is the correct way to learn.
The reality is quite different. Our students need us!
Respect? The way I see it any student who has the courage to walk into a Krav Maga class has already earned my respect.
Most people will never dare walk into a martial arts class, let alone the feared Krav Maga class. The media and the leading commercial Krav Maga associations have done such a great job portraying Krav Maga as a Tough guy Bad Ass type of activity that most normal decent people want nothing to do with it.
This is a tremendous disservice to the population we need to serve.
Violence and fear is all around us. Daily people are abducted, stabbed, shot, women are raped on campuses all across America, a silent war is taking place against decent people. And when finally someone has the courage to try out a Krav Maga class most instructors will scare them away.
We are not living in the movies. We are not recluse masters living in remote mountainous regions. We are here and we are here to help.
If a student has the courage to walk into on of our schools we must greet them with a warm and inviting attitude.
Think of a hotel.
I am on the road a great deal. When I arrive at my hotel, often late at night, often tired from a full day of training and a full day of travel I want to be greeted correctly.
Today I am at the Hilton, and loving it. At the Hilton they know how to treat people, they have mastered the art of hospitality as envisioned by their great founder Mr. Conrad Hilton of blessed memory.
Every staff member is part of the team.
Every employee is part of the program.
From the moment you enter until the moment you leave you know you are in good caring hands. At some of the Hiltons' they actually remember my name and greet me personally whenever they see me.
They create an atmosphere. The difference between one hotel and the other is measured by many things, atmosphere is key.
Pay attention to details; how clean are the carpets? how many towels in the bathroom, how willing are they to help with special requests? how friendly are they at the front desk?
Is this really important?
You better believe it.
For those who travel every little nuance is key in creating the feeling you want and need.
Our Krav Maga training centers are no different.
Keep the toilets clean, no blood on the mats, and greet everyone with a smile.
You are not the great master from the movies. You are here to help and you must do that by creating the appropriate environment. Like the Hilton you are in the field of hospitality. You are hosting your students and you must make them feel important, special.
Our training environment must be one conducive to growth, learning and empowerment. And we must provide the best possible Krav Maga taught in the best possible way.
Never forget our mission.