5 Secrets from GMAU Black Belts – And How You Can Get There Too!

By Joel Williams | Home Study Students

Jul 18

Distance learning has gone through many phases: correspondence learning by mail in the 1700s and 1800s, radio and television formats reaching the masses in the early and mid 1900s, and web-based learning first appearing in the late 1900s. Today, online learning is a not only widely available (there are millions of online learners and almost all colleges universities utilize online delivery methods to offer courses and programs), there are professional standards established by accrediting agencies and consumers demand high quality content. You can literally learn anything online today…

Global Martial Arts University is an industry leader in reaching individuals with high quality, personalized (and affordable) martial arts training. In this article, I will share with you some of the benefits and constraints of this learning format and summarize tips from successful GMAU black belts.

5 Specific Tips From 5 GMAU Black Belts:

TIP #1: Be Prepared to Train Differently.

There are many benefits of online learning but it also takes a lot of self-motivation and discipline. Where [in-person] learning tends to be more instructor-led, online learning is student-focused and participative. It is truly unique. The format does produce a different type of experience and to be successful, a student must realize this.

” Tracking training time through the GMAU website is very motivating. Much more personalized feedback after sending in assignment or grading videos than at the physical dojo. Sensei Jon is a great mentor and a gentle, nice but also firm person. I regard him as a role model, and I can learn so much from his life and MA experience. ” – Jonas Bieri, Shotokan Black Belt

Jonas Bieri practicing kata in Bennwil, Basel-Landschaft, Switzerland

TIP #2: Set a Time to Train.

This was a common recommendation across the board. Just as a physical school will have a set schedule, students learning through GMAU need to set times for training. This requires prioritizing and dedication.

” Make a training schedule and stick to it no matter what. Even better, don’t just say ‘I’ll practice 30 minutes today’, come up with a brief plan and time of day you plan to train. You will see definite improvement this way and then when the time comes to practice you won’t talk yourself out of it. ” – Levi Potter, Ultimate Bo Black Chevron

Levi Potter training with GMAU student Sean Robinson in Glendive, Montana, United States

TIP #3: Make a Commitment to Yourself.

The GMAU format does require one to be internally motivated, and is commonly used as a screener to answer the question: Is online learning for me? See this article from U.S. News & World Report for further discussion.

” I could certainly see how people are less motivated when training alone and/or without constant direct supervision … you need to train as if you were in a real dojo and for some people that can be hard to do. People who need constant encouragement inside a dojo, for instance, won’t train as hard as required when training by themselves. ” – Rick Langevoort, Ultimate Bo Black Chevron

Rick doing some rooftop bo training.

TIP #4: Take Advantage of GMAU’s Unique Features

One would think that not (physically) being in class with others would be a major drawback of this learning approach. Of course, there is some truth to that but GMAU includes features to overcome this by providing options within the system to allow for (and require) instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction.

” The interactions between the instructors and myself, as well as the good communication between the other students and myself despite the distance learning [was a positive experience]. ” – Christian Rainer, Shotokan Black Belt

Christian Rainer working out at home in Mitterdorf im Murztal, Steiermark, Austria

TIP #5: Set Realistic Goals.

Whether you attend a brick-and-mortar school or learn via distance, you need to have goals to guide your progress. Goal setting is highly recommended by the successful GMAU black belts I interviewed. For more information on creating SMART goals, check out this link.

” The way I do training is to wake up at 05:00 and to a follow along workout till about 05:45 that I do for four days a week. Being over 40 it is according to me better to train 4 times a week for 30-45 min. than to train for 2 hours 5 times a week. The body takes longer to heal when over 40. ” – Ferdie Oosthuizen, Shotokan Black Belt

Ferdie Oosthuizen from the City of Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

The GMAU Difference

The black belts interviewed for this blog gave several reasons why they chose GMAU and what makes it unique:

  • Convenience. All these students mentioned convenience as a hallmark of the GMAU format. The flexibility of working at your own pace (fast OR slow), of being able to train when your work or life schedule allows and not when the dojo is open, and the comfort of training at home (or anytime, anyplace they chose to) were specifically mentioned.
  • Professionalism. The instruction, feedback and the website were all listed as being very professional compared to other schools/providers found on the web.
  • High Quality Videos. Not only were these successful students attracted to GMAU via follow-along classes discovered on the web, they place great value on the lesson, class and extra videos available in their course.
  • Interaction with the GMAU Community. One of the unique features of the GMAU site is the ability for students to locate other students, send emails to their instructors (and one another), and interact with instructors and students on discussion boards. These features not only create unique social interaction one would not have through a brick and mortar but also overcome one of the pros of not being physically in class with others.
  • Individualized Feedback. Not only do GMAU students receive personal feedback from instructors, they also are able to track their progress through the GMAU course dashboard.

A recent Forbes article confirms these comments:

  • Online courses offer students greater control over their own learning by enabling them to work at their own pace.
  • More engaging multimedia content, greater access to their instructor and fellow classmates via online chat, and less likelihood of outside scheduling conflicts can contribute to improved retention metrics.
  • Online courses also tend to include more frequent assessments. The more often students are assessed, the better their instructors can track progress and intervene when needed.

If you are considering learning online through GMAU there are a few other considerations (not mentioned above) to bring to your attention. You must have a basic understanding of and aptitude with computers. At the most basic level, you have to be able to navigate the web and send emails. You should also be comfortable recording yourself and posting videos to YouTube.

Another important skill is understanding “netiquette” or expressing yourself in an electronic format. This is different than speaking to someone in person or on the phone. Because most learning is through videos, if you are a visual learner that is a plus.

Lastly, you must be a critical thinker. Not only do you need to be able to understand and demonstrate physical skills, as a GMAU student you will have to express critical thinking skills through assignments that require you to communicate your thoughts about martial arts concepts and techniques, e.g., by posting on discussion boards and commenting on other student posts.

About the Author

Husband. Father. University Professor. GMAU Certified Krav Maga Instructor.

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(4) comments

Rachel Brown July 19, 2019

Excellent article and all of the points hit the nail on the head. I also believe that the grading system by video is actually more difficult – a) because the focus is on your every move and not going from student to student b) there are no breaks between movements or sections while waiting for other groups of students to ‘perform’ and c) doing the movements several times in different directions rather than just front on in a dojo grading. I believe this makes the gradings special and is a thumbs up to the system – those outside of the GMAU may turn their nose up at online training (especially in the UK – very frowned upon) but this is through lack of knowledge.
For me, the biggest and best part so far is the point about the feedback being in depth and individualised. I’ve found this most helpful.
When I train and get involved on the GMAU site, it does actually feel like being in a real dojo 🙂

    Joel Williams July 30, 2019

    Rachel – thank you for the comments and for sharing your personal experience!

Leon Myburgh July 24, 2019

Online training is great. The GMAU grading system is in my view superior to in person gradings as your technique is recorded from various angles and the grading instructors are able to see each technique in detail. I studied karate for sveral years through a regular dojo and won many competitions but when I enrolled for GMAU Krav Maga, it was the first time that somebody noticed that I punch incorrectly in that I tend to drop my hand before punching. Many years of training allowed me to get into a bad habit and none of my previous instructors picked it up in class. Another benefit is that you can watch the videos over and over if you do not understand a technique. In a dojo, you have to ask and there may be limited time available to spend on each student and the unique challenges each are facing.

    Joel Williams July 30, 2019

    Leon – thanks for your message!

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