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.
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.
At first, I was really hesitant with it, you know, thinking how can you do Krav Maga online and what the not? But the more I thought about it, and the more I talked to him, if you look at how things are nowadays and how everything is shifting, almost everything is done online now. You can get a personal trainer certification, you can get a college degree online, you can go on YouTube and learn just about anything online.
It really made a lot of sense to me and I saw the potential. You know, I own two schools here in Tennessee, but I saw the potential of having thousands of students and being able to reach so many people throughout the world, so that’s really why I dove right in headfirst and was super excited about making these detailed classes in the way that we’ve designed our classes and our interactions with the students. They get so much feedback from the instructors that it’s almost like having a personal training session, and they get to do so much work at home, just like a lot of students here at classes do. They practice in their class with everybody and then they go home and sometimes they’ll practice on their own. But now, instead of doing the class format, they do it online, and see these classes that are really designed for being at home. It’s a really unique opportunity and I just couldn’t say no to it.
Michael: Like how much time do you spend on the GMAU on a weekly basis or how do you juggle that and having a local school?
Dustin: I actually, like I said, own two schools in Tennessee. I run a show, which is called National Top Roller, which is for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and then I work with the Global Martial Arts University. At times it can get tough to juggle and my wife is always joking with me about how I’m always on my phone, but really, I’ve broken it down to where I spend about an hour in the mornings on Global Martial Arts, I spend an hour with National Top Roller, and then I’m teaching later that night at my schools and marketing, things like that. Usually, I spend about an hour a day.
Now, students will send their assignments. They’ll send in tests and I’ll watch those and then later that night after I’m done teaching, do a quick feedback video for them, which is anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, upload it to them and get it sent back to them, so it’s really become a daily routine for me. It’s become my everyday life. I spend that time watching, answering questions for them and as I said, I take about an hour and dedicate it to the Global Martial Arts University.
Michael: How has the income from GMAU course improved your life or changed your life since being a part of it?
Dustin: It’s been amazing to watch the growth from when we first started to where we are now. I’ve really been able to pay all of my personal bills from GMAU. From my house to some of our cars, to our normal, everyday bills, so it’s really changed that.
Plus, I still have the other income from my schools, my National Top Roller, and really, I’ve been able to invest and do a lot more things. It’s been an amazing thing even though it’s a couple hundred students right now, the growth and watching it every single month grow and grow and grow and having the opportunities of doing testing, exams, assignments, instructor certifications, and having people come in-person and test, so there’s always these small bonuses as well. It’s been very beneficial for me to continue invest into the schools and other projects that I do.
Michael: What do you like most about working with your home study students, since you’re not actually there locally with them? What do you enjoy about that?
Dustin: One thing that I absolutely love, is when I get to watch these videos and watching the growth of the students, from their physical abilities to actually taking what we give them, their feedback, and applying it. And it’s such a unique opportunity to be able to work with people in Australia, South Africa, Greece, and all over Europe. It’s really unique to me and exciting to talk to these students and give them feedback and work with them, but the most important thing is, watching their growth in Krav Maga and really seeing that doing this online can change their lives and help them out in the long run.
Michael: And the last one, from your opinion, what sets the GMAU apart from other online schools, like from what you’ve seen?
Dustin: As you guys know, there’s quite a few different online programs that are out there. A lot of them are just video banks and you pay a monthly fee and you can click on the video and watch it.
What we’ve done is—Michael Hodge and the team at the Global Martial Arts University—is really listen to our students and every single month – we’re trying to improve our website and our student feedback. We’re always giving them something new. We’re always giving them something to continue working on and challenging them and giving them new goals through the GMAU. It’s really awesome to see that.
From having a live feed of when students complete things, being able to give the students high-fives, kind of like a like on Facebook, it’s really almost becoming like a positive community for martial artists. It’s a very interactive thing, being able to find students that are near you if you want to train with them, you can reach out, you can message them, you can have a discussion on the forum and talk about your ideas. There’s so much that’s involved in it, it’s become very community oriented at the same time with the martial arts and being able to continue growing and continuing your learning.
You can learn more about the Global Martial Arts University Krav Maga course here. Are you a black belt martial arts instructor and school owner? Apply to launch your own course with the GMAU.