My day job is to certify personal trainers/fitness instructors and when they come in for orientation on day one, each of us teachers give a run down of our experience and offer advice for those beginning their careers. The message I try to get across is that I’m here teaching instead of being a full timer in the industry because I’m not that successful in monetary terms. My whole journey for fitness & for self defence has not been what it could have because I assumed that if I went and studied and became super qualified in my field (with real knowledge), the rest would take care of itself. People would flock to you because of your qualifications, knowledge and training. Problem is this couldn’t be further from the truth. What people need to do & what they want to do in terms of training, are two different things. If you want them coming back & paying your bills you need to cater for the want not the need for the majority of the population. This is prevalent in martial arts as people are content with easy, with a lie rather than the inconvenient truth.
I had a personal trainer subletting from my gym for a few years who was a great trainer yet was an introvert, super quiet antisocial media and would never promote himself (probably why we get along so well). He used to run a commercial gym with an equally talented trainer who is his polar opposite. This guy is an outgoing extrovert who is a charismatic people person that is always posting on social media and does classes at a number of different facilities. At this moment my introvert mate has left the industry due to inadequate work and the extrovert is flourishing. So I advise them to work on their people skills & that would lead to an increased chance of prolonging their personal training careers. People pay for the sizzle, not the steak. This is identical in the martial arts industry, in fact I’d say that this side is more important than quality material if your objective is $$$$. We see it time and time again with really shitty classes bursting at the seems with students, look at the top Combatives & Self Defence guys, very few have a successful permanent facility/location.
The other thing I advise them to do is network, do as I say not as I do! I don’t network because that doesn't sit well with me, I’m not willing to swallow my pride and play those games either. I, in good conscious find it difficult to network. I can’t sit in a room with a bunch of martial arts people who are selling snake oil, frauds essentially. I feel my presence, is condoning what they do. I’ve had more than a few offers to collaborate that I’ve respectfully declined. Sure it probably would have opened doors for me but I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror. Don’t get me wrong there are people I wouldn’t hesitate to work with, just not that many. This industry is the worst! I mean in the latter portion of my life I’ve made it an objective to have an opinion, albeit an informed one & if asked to speak it, I will. So if I do all the necessary research & if I inherently disagree with what you are saying or believe in, I won’t work with you unless it’s on my terms. Nothing personal, I’ve hosted many domestic & international people at my facility in the past that I’ve liked as a person but if they couldn’t add to our skill-set I haven’t invited them back. This may sound hypocritical as I’m about to host the World Self Defence Challenge with people that have varying opinions that are not in line with my thinking. Difference is these guys are putting their money where their mouth is & putting it on the line. If they are talking out their ass they will be exposed, plain and simple. I have a tonne of respect for that.
The other thing that I do not understand is when did it become so wrong to disagree? Why are we not allowed to have a difference of opinion anymore? I have much more respect for the people in my corner who critique my material, drills etc & will tell me if they don’t like it. I will listen to their point of view as long as its comes from an evidence based platform I’m all ears. I hate to be that guy who says show me a video of that working real time, there’s so much fight footage of all kinds out there that surely you can give me something? I don’t adhere to the notion that this guy does it well or I used it in a street fight once, as I’ve said I’ve seen highly regarded instructors lie through their teeth with their war stories and I’m pretty good at spotting a fraud. I much prefer to be on the outside than be part of the circle jerk that encompasses martial arts not only here in Australia but globally.
The other issue this causes is the watering down of certifications – you may have noticed when I wrote about qualifications I mentioned 'real knowledge' The circle jerk community is characterised by the certificate grabbers. You know those guys that show up to every seminar and have around 100 certifications to their name. Its comical to see the usual suspects patting each other on the back & reciprocating certifications, same people in a different gym with whoever's turn it is handing out the certs. Like the guy with 10 different black belts. To me this signifies you are lost & haven’t found your way yet. When you find an effective system that’s what you do & devote your time to. I have minimised my toolbox to include only that which works in a real encounter & I work on only that daily, not collecting belts or certificates. That’s why I have no hesitation to put it on the line. I had an instructor message me in fear trying to get me to call off one of my students for calling him out on his nonsense and offering to pay him a visit & show him. Apparently he was dishonouring my dojo (not my term). I actually believe he was dishonouring his by not backing his style and ability, by not having the confidence to prove him wrong and to teach material he clearly hasn't tested. I encourage critical thinking with my guys & to question such things. Luckily for old mate he had that 'honour' and 'bushido code' crutch to fall back on as he would have been taught a harsh lesson that day. I'm not encouraging a dojo storm, it could have been expressed through collaboration & drilling, unfortunately as it was cleverly or cowardly sidestepped his charade continues.
So we at WestCom are happy to go against the grain, to rub people the wrong way & not win the popularity contest in living up to our motto, 'Truth Through Combat' Keep your meaningless certificates and dutch rudders, we're all about ethically equipping our students with real, viable skills. I'll leave you with the lyrics from my ringtone 'Its not about a salary, it's all about reality'