Ratel Apex blog

Progress

Progression in anything is about dedication, commitment, and above all hard work.

This past few months has seen exponential progress by both the junior & senior students, with most having no prior experience in martial arts or self-defence. The enthusiasm on display has been humbling, with the willingness to learn shown by all.

It's always a challenge to teach a class of 5-10yr olds, their concentration is fleeting, and usually they've come to class after a long day at school, so they're all tired & had enough of 'learning'. Children have no filter, and are the best gauge of whether you as an Instructor are doing a good job. If a child doesn't like you, they'll let you know, the same with if they don't want to perform a certain technique. Classes have to be engaging, fun, and always different, as children, especially the very young get bored easily. Some of the very young students still get confused with knowing their left from right, so not only are you teaching them self-defence, but basic motor skills. Also there's the aspect of humans learn in different ways, so teaching a large class takes on multiple dimensions.

This past few months has seen progress in my own ability as a Kids Instructor. It's not just the students who are learning. With no peers to discuss things with, continual development of classes has been another challenge, but one that I've relished. There are so many differing ways you can get students of the 5-10yrs age group to respond effectively to learning. Some things work, others don't, but it's the job of the Instructor to ensure that things are always fresh. This is part of the job that I relish, as when you see week on week progress to what you're trying to teach, it's the only reward worth having!

The 11-15yr senior students, are at once both easier & more difficult to teach. Students in this age group are more astute & 'switched on' than when I was their age, so it's a fine line between treating them as young adults and still being aware of how young they still are. Their personalities are well defined, independence of thought more to the fore, and physicality more apparent. This requires another way of teaching, as they're more liable to feel embarrassed by their perceived lack of ability, or 'social standing' within the student group. Again, I'm learning just as much as they are, having had to develop a style of teaching as both a figure of some 'authority' and an older 'brother'. I've found that you can't be dictatorial or too serious, as although Krav is a 'military' system, with the reasons behind the system, serious, it doesn't need to be taught with that level of discipline. In my experience, If you stand 'aloof' as an Instructor this can have a detrimental effect on the class atmosphere.

When teaching children & young adults, I've found the best approach is to try and meet them on their level, and not as some perceived omnipotent being! Constant positive feedback is key, both for children & adults alike, and acting the 'fool' in front of the students isn't by any means a negative thing in my humble opinion. To me it reinforces in the students minds that the instructor is just like them, and only separated by more 'experience'. With the senior students, I make sure to always tell them that "we're all in this together", that i'm learning just as much as they are (if not more), and that nothing I'm asking of them is impossible. This seems to be paying off so far, as the individual abilities of all students is growing fast.

So, progress is continuing apace, both student and Instructor alike, and I couldn't be happier.

New Beginings

So, the club has now been open a week, and what a week it's been. At the time of writing we've taught over eighty children, with many more lined up to take their first steps into learning some valuable life skills.

In just four lessons, the children's retention of knowledge has been proven, with a little test we did tonight. The results were outstanding, with 90% of them remembering something taught once, for the first time a week ago! The other 10% were new starters, who also picked it up on the second go, so well done kids!

Being my own boss (Caroline will argue that I'm not) is allowing me to be more creative, which children themselves have in abundance. Discussions with like-minded people has given me so many new ideas which the children can only benefit from. One new idea tonight worked really well, which has led to another idea I have. Eureka!

This being only the begining, we've still a long way to go before we reach our long term goal, but with a meeting later this week, we should be sowing the seeds for the club's future.

More classes this week so time to stop waffling on & get some rest, but just want to end with some thanks:

Firstly, a huge thank you to my partner in crime, my wife Caroline Trotman. It was her idea to create the club, and without her Apex Krav Maga simply wouldn't exist. Her support through some tough months has been priceless, and now we're beginning to see the fruits of our labours!

Secondly, another huge thank you to our Parents, who've shown nothing but encouragement. Always helps to have family who have over 40 years of running successful businesses providing advice, wisdom, & insights.

A massive thank you to the local community of Chafford Hundred, Thurrock, and to Tudor Court School. The response to our offering a Self-Defence club for children has been quite frankly, overwhelming. The offers of support & help from so many people has helped make this a dream come true.


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Ratel

Welcome to the first Apex Krav Maga blog entry. Here we'll be posting regular musings on all things that catch our eye.The blog will range in content from class updates, children's self-defence articles, weekly thoughts, funny stories, and much more.

Firstly though, why Ratel as the blog name?

Well, i was looking for a good blog name for the site, and remember watching a documentary about the 'Honey Badger', a smallish mammal with a fearsome reputation!

This little mammal is virtually unstoppable, when it comes to defending itself. Anything unwise enough to interfere with it, soon learns a valuable lesson.

I thought Ratel (Afrikaans for 'Honey Badger) was an apt name, as my aim is to have a club of fearless little warriors, unafraid to react effectively if escape is impossible. The quotes below sum it up perfectly:

"The Honey badger or ratel is a tenacious small carnivore that has a reputation for being, pound for pound, Africa's most fearless animal despite its small size. It is even listed as the "most fearless animal in the world" in the Guinness Book of Records."

"Honey badgers are notorious for their strength, ferocity and toughness. They have been known to savagely and fearlessly attack almost any kind of animal when escape is impossible, reportedly even repelling much larger predators such as lions. Bee stings, porcupine quills, and animal bites rarely penetrate their skin. If horses, cattle, or Cape buffalos intrude upon a ratel's burrow, it will attack them. They are virtually tireless in combat and can wear out much larger animals in physical confrontations."

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Honey Badger