Nov 12

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Shotokan Karate

By Michael Hodge | Shotokan Karate

Shotokan Karate is a dynamic martial art style created by the late, great Gichin Funakoshi. The style is characterized by highly concentrated striking, forthright blocking, powerful stances, and a series of captivating kata. Shotokan is a form of self defense that is built like a strong house – first a formidable foundation is molded within a student, and then one brick is layered on at a time. Rather than including endless variations and techniques, the style focuses on a handful of powerful blocks, strikes, and kicks – and then perfecting the body alignment and concentration required to place them within an actual fight.

This guide is designed for complete beginners to the style. You will be introduced to the style’s beginnings, the purpose of the various training types, along with some practical knowledge on its basic movements. This is a crash course in the white belt level of the style – focusing on the foundational movements, rather than the complex combinations and sequences (kata).  

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Oct 05

Qualities of a Great Martial Arts Teacher

By Michael Hodge | Instructors

Teacher’s Attitude

When I think back to the most impactful teachers from my life, there is a commonality. They tended to push me hard, and really challenge my capabilities; but from a place of love. They had a strong backbone and were even strict at times, but also pumped out positive energy and passion. As martial arts teachers, we want to emulate this double-edged sword of strength and caring. We want to show our students that we have great self-confidence, but are not full of ourselves.

Check Your Ego at the Door

There is a fine line between showing off to stroke your own ego, and inspiring a sense of wonder into your students. Some of us have experienced instructors who are so strong, athletic, and capable that they are constantly showing off their moves. Don’t get me wrong, we need to show our students that we know our stuff, and I never recommend asking your students to do something that you would not do. But, your student base is not an audience, for whom you are entertaining.

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Aug 04

Learn How One Martial Arts School Owner Launched a Successful Online Course

By Michael Hodge | Instructors

In this article, we meet Dustin Koppel. He has been a career martial arts instructor for over ten years and has owned a school for five years. He currently owns two successful schools in the Knoxville, Tennessee area, and teamed up with the Global Martial Arts University to launch an online Krav Maga program. In this interview, he discusses what it has been like since starting the online program back in 2016.

Dustin’s GMAU Course Success Story

This is an interview between Michael Hodge, the Director of the GMAU, and Dustin Koppel, the Krav Maga head instructor.

Michael: Why did you want to launch your Global Krav Maga Course?

Dustin: So, I met Michael Hodge back in early 2009. He owned a school out in Texas and I was actually here in Tennessee working and we developed a friendship. A couple years later, he reached out to me and was talking about this idea that he had with Global Martial Arts University and teaching Krav Maga online.

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Jan 20

Is Your Personality Type Holding You Back from Succeeding in Online Martial Arts?

By Michael Hodge | Home Study Students

This is a guest post authored by Adam Bein, currently a yellow belt in the Global Martial Arts University Shotokan Karate program. He maintains a helpful blog for other shotokan home study students.

You’ve signed up to learn Shotokan Karate through the Global Martial Arts University.  You pay your fee and you’ve begun to watch videos and practice.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know what hurdles YOU face studying martial arts online due to YOUR specific personality type-that other people who have a personality type different from yours, do NOT have to deal with or face?  Another way to look at this; how does your type of personality get in the way of advancing in online martial arts training? Furthermore; how can you leverage the benefits of YOUR personality type to maximize returns and advancement in online martial arts training?  The big question is: Is understanding your personality type key to excelling and progressing, and not dropping out of, online martial arts training? I say “Yes. Understand yourself and your chances of advancement in online martial arts training are significantly greater.”

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Jan 18

My Karate Journey with the Global Martial Arts University (Guest Post by Jonas Bieri)

By Michael Hodge | Shotokan Karate

This is a guest  post written by Jonas Bieri, of Switzerland. He is currently a 3rd kyu brown belt in Shotokan Karate-Do with the Global Martial Arts University. He also maintains a blog about his karate journey.

When my kids started Karate at a local dojo, my interest in the Shotokan style started. Watching them train, learn and grow made me want to practice Karate, too. Observing their world-class japanese instructor teach them techniques, mindset and stamina, and seeing all the kids improve, rank, sometimes fail and retry, motivated me enormously.

Being already a student in a local Goshindo Jiu Jitsu dojo and training once or twice a week, I did not want to spend yet another weeknight away from the family to practice Karate, so in 2016 I joined theGlobal Martial Arts University with their distance learning course to learn Karate at home via video lessons instead. We have some free space in the corridor between the kids’ rooms, that’s where I placed a mirror and now call it my home dojo.

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Jun 28

Launch an Ultimate Bo Program in Your School to Increase Excitement, Retention, and Revenue!

By Michael Hodge | Instructors , Ultimate Bo

As a career martial arts instructor and school owner, it is easy to get stuck in the same routine. Clean the mats, return phone calls, check emails, handle customer service issues, write out some class plans, and go teach. What happens is when tend to fall into a comfort zone.  A place where we do, more or less, the minimum effort to achieve our short term goals and complete our daily tasks. This makes life more comfortable, less risky, and also, less rewarding.

What does this have to do with launching an Ultimate Bo program in your martial arts school? By injecting new life into your school, via an exciting new class and add-on program, you will be keeping it fresh. Your students will have something new to work toward or to begin training in. They will become more well-rounded martial artists, you will improve your own understanding of weapons combat, and will have fun and grow your business along the way.

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Mar 24

How to Become a Certified Krav Maga Instructor

By Michael Hodge | Instructors , Krav Maga

If you’re reading this, I imagine you have the desire to spread the positive benefits of Krav Maga to your local community and help to make the world a safer place. Teaching Krav Maga is incredibly rewarding, whether you are doing so as your full-time profession or just out of passion in your spare time. People from many different backgrounds end up becoming krav maga instructors, but the uniting factor is their desire to teach and uplift.

Are you a martial arts school owner,  a current black belt in a different style, a krav maga student, a fitness/gym owner, personal trainer, law enforcement personnel, have a career in the military, or some other similar situation? If so, you are already more prepared to learn and then teach the style of Krav Maga. Below, I will line out the basic steps you will need to take to become a legitimately certified and qualified instructor of Israeli Krav Maga.

  1. Become a Krav Maga student. This is the essential, obvious first step. There are actually some associations that will claim that you can simply attend a short seminar or training to become an instructor without first being a student. Of course, if you are an experienced martial artist, and hold a high rank and proficiency in a similar combative self-defense system or other fighting style, there is the possibility of an accelerated path. Here are your options for becoming a krav maga student, on your eventual path to being an instructor:
    • Enroll in a Local Krav Maga School – Find a qualified instructor in your area. Make sure and try a free class to get a feel for the instructors, curriculum, environment, and overall culture of the academy.
    • Attend a Krav Maga Seminar – Some associations offer seminars or short training programs that will introduce you to the style, and give you the opportunity to get in-person training from time to time.
    • Enroll in an Online Krav Maga School – Find a qualified and accredited online (or hybrid) krav maga school that allows you to train and earn rank from a distance, such as the Global Martial Arts University Krav Maga course.
  2. Train and earn rank in Krav Maga. Take your time learning and training in the style. Don’t consider that your goal is to someday teach the material that you are learning, but rather, to fully engage, use, and understand the methods and philosophy. Teaching is an after-thought, a natural progression, after you yourself have experienced. Take your first exam to achieve your Level 1 or Yellow Belt certification (different schools have different names for the first level).
    • In some associations, after earning your first rank (and being an advanced belt in a different martial arts style), you are eligible to attend an instructor certification program.
    • Some associations and schools require that you first earn a brown or black belt in krav maga, before you can ever become an instructor.
    • And some do not have a student rank requirement, and just let you jump to instructor, which you should be weary of (due to your own lack of experience in training, and time spent mastering the material and embedding it into your muscle memory).
  3. Find the right Krav Maga Instructor Certification course. If you have already been training for some time as a student, or have previous experience, you can now search for the right instructor certification course for you to take part in. The purpose of attending an instructor course is not just to learn the krav maga curriculum. You should have already learned the curriculum which you plan on teaching, in your own studies as a student. A krav maga instructor course should encompass:
    • Principles of Teaching – Overarching principles that will make you an effective teacher, regardless of what subject you are instructing.
    • Martial Arts Instructor Techniques – How to effectively instruct a technique (the cycle of instruction), manage a classroom floor, execute warm ups, various types of drills, class formations, teaching different age groups, working with disabilities, motivating students, correcting students, testing, feedback, and many other aspects that are specific to martial arts.
    • Krav Maga Philosophy and Methods – Specific to the style of Krav Maga, learning how to not just teach a collection of techniques, but stringing together all movements into a fluid philosophy that students can truly understand, at a cellular level, as well as intellectual level.
    • Class Planning, Curriculum, and Testing – Learning how to plan effective, fun, and exciting classes. Teaching and following a curriculum that keeps you consistent, while allowing for dynamic evolutions. And testing and promoting students while maintaining high standards and a clear-cut path for advancement.
    • Basic Business Management and Krav Maga Class Implementation – At the least, a quick course on how to introduce a new Krav Maga program, and different formats for instructing your target student base. This can vary greatly if you plan on teaching law enforcement, youth classes, or fitness-oriented programs to young adults.
    • Instructing Specific Techniques and Concepts – Now that you already know the techniques, you will need to learn the nuances, variations, drills, and implementations for techniques within the curriculum that you plan on instructing.
  4. Choose the right Krav Maga association to align with. Think beyond the initial krav maga instructor certification event. Which association is the best fit for me and my goals as a krav instructor? There are different types of associations, that offer varying levels of products and services:
    • Franchisors/Licensors – These are large organizations that not only allow you to become an instructor, but also open up a full-scale academy with their namesake. There is a much larger monetary investment upfront, as well as a sizeable monthly fee for all benefits. This option will give you full support in managing your krav maga school, advertising guidance, marketing advice, business systems, curriculum, and much more. $500+ a month
    • Business/Marketing + Instruction Focused Associations – There are other, mid-sized associations that have an emphasis on business building ideas, marketing, sales, as well as the instruction of krav maga. These groups tend to charge a monthly fee to stay active as an instructor in their organization, along with the other benefits they provide. $150-300+ a month
    • Instruction + Curriculum Focused Associations – These associations exist to teach and support the certified instructors with a focus on the Krav Maga curriculum, high quality instruction, and instructor support. The Global Martial Arts Association Krav Maga division is a great example of this, which does not charge a monthly fee to be an active instructor, and just have a lower cost certification event to become a part of the association. This makes it ideal for schools who want to add a krav maga program to their academy, or for personal trainers or gyms wanting to add a new program, without adding a large monthly expense. $0-$100 a month
  5. Attend a Krav Maga Instructor Certification event or enroll into an Online Instructor’s Course. Now that you have been training as a student, have earned rank, researched certification options, and done some more research on the association that you want to align yourself (and your school) with, it is time to commit to an event. You will need to attend a local, in-person instructor certification, so that you can have hands-on guidance, feedback, and an intensive learning experience with the instructors. Some associations offer a 2 day event, a one week program, and some can be in-between. Study, prepare, and train hard at the event so that you can pass! Or, if you are unable to attend a local event or appreciate the option to learn in a self-paced environment, you can find an online course. Make sure the online course has real interactivity, standards, assignments, test, and challenge involved. You don’t want to pay a fee, and then print out a certificate. That will not improve your own knowledge, abilities, and confidence in launching a successful krav program.
  6. Begin teaching Krav Maga! You’ve done it! You have just joined a small (but growing) group of honorable and determined individuals who set out to become wonderful practitioners as well as teachers of this incredible self defense system and way of life. Make plans to introduce a new krav class, or being instructing in whichever format makes sense to your situation.
  7. Continue training as a student, and certify to the next instructor level. Chances are, you were certified in the first level, which means that you can now begin to legitimately train, test, and rank your own local students. But, you need to continue to learn the next levels of curriculum on your own, and never stop training as a student. You will also want to prepare for the next instructor course, so that you can become certified to teach higher levels, and stay active within your association.
Feb 22

Can You Learn Martial Arts at Home Without a Partner?

By Michael Hodge | Common Questions

I feel like I just opened up a can of worms. Well, let’s let them all out, then. To properly answer this question, I would like for you to take into account two variables: the martial art style being learned, and the goal for learning this martial art. These answers can range from a stay-at-home mom wanting to finally reach black belt in shotokan karate (because she had to stop at blue in college), to a police officer wanting to increase his personal knowledge of self-defense for true on-the-job application with krav maga. And everything in-between.

So, let’s break this down. Many critics would immediately claim that all martial arts are combative in nature, and thus need hands-on sparring practice in order for the style to be properly learned and mastered. This is not entirely true, with some martial arts teetering more on the “arts” side, or even “movement arts” side of the spectrum. We can see this with the rise in martial arts demonstrations, tricking, tournament competitions, and movement arts like tai chi or qi gong for health revitalization.

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