View Full Version : What do you really know about instructors?

May 13, 2000, 01:30 PM
I know this is a long shot but has anyone ever heard of Chris Woodall? He is the instructor at a martial arts school that I just started training at located north of Atlanta. Woodall has fought all over the world and has the trophies and newspaper articles to prove it and although that looks nice, it doesn't tell me he's a good teacher.

The school teaches Muay Thai, Jui-jitsu, and Akido. Although he is a black belt (don't know what degree) in Akido, he has another instructor teach that and basically assists him. What is your feeling on these arts as far as covering all the basics?

Lastly, this school doesn't spent much time on kata or traditional aspects of karate. It's more like "Ultimate Fighting." Half of the class is technique and the other is application. It will get as violent as you and your partner want it to get. I kind of like that but wonder if I missing anything. (This is all new to me.)

Thanks in advance for your input.

May 13, 2000, 02:15 PM
My personal $.02:

I really don't care about trophies or newpaper clippings. In fact, I find them to be vulgar, as if the instructor is egocentric. I'm far more impressed with schools that have small gestures and personal effects that are there as a sign of respect to that style's heritage. Also, to me, it is more of a sign of humility and a sense that martial arts is here for a greater purpose than just collecting brass cups and pieces of paper.

Schools that offer multiple styles is nothing new. However, I am glad to see that this teacher has different instructors for each respective style. No matter how good someone is, I would be hard-pressed to believe that someone is capable of mastering so many various styles (that is, unless I saw it for my own eyes). Anyway, there is nothing wrong with trying to offer a more complete self defense solution in one place, since most styles have specific strengths and weaknesses. However, on a more rhetorical level, I would be highly curious to hear their explanation on how Aikido and Muay Thai can be augmented together seemlessly.

Some schools simply does not spend much time on katas. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with that, but it depends on the reasoning of the instructors. In other words, they may have good reasons for doing so, or perhaps not. What I would really be wary of is if they don't emphasize katas in Aikido. The two go hand in hand. Either that, or they butchered Aikido into some other form. In which case, it would no longer be Aikido. Morohei Ueshiba took most of his lifetime to finally attain enlightenment to know what to do to create Aikido. For someone to butcher it and, in effect, say that they have a better idea, well, they'd have to be borderline geniuses. My personal knee-jerk reaction is to wonder if they're ignorant and actually know what they're doing.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with getting "violent" with a partner if that is a) what you're looking for, and b) is what they admit to you up front. But the most important thing here is probably to realize what you really want to get out of martial arts, and then finding a school that will accomplish the goals you have in mind. If this is it, then fine. If not, look elsewhere.

[This message has been edited by SB (edited May 13, 2000).]

George Hill
May 14, 2000, 02:47 AM
"By there fruit, ye shall know them."

May 14, 2000, 08:07 AM
About instructors who have newspaper clippings of them hanging around.

I have taken what I consider alot (15) of CQB classes pistol/carbine and it seems that the instructors that have articles about themselves only produce when the media is writing about them.

I have been very disapointed in some of the "big names" out there.

Edmund Rowe
May 14, 2000, 03:25 PM
In the summed up words of several of the firearms instructors I have trained with:

"Everyone has something to offer. Nobody knows all of this."

and some other sage advice from one that some call "the instructors' instructor" in firearms:

"Just because X didn't like instructor Y doesn't mean Edmund can't learn something from him."

So, like Bruce Lee said, who got proficient at several martial arts and was always hungry to learn more, from Western boxing to ballet dancing and everything in between, "Absorb what is useful."


May 14, 2000, 06:06 PM
"Take what is useful, dispense with the rest?" :)

I can not help but agree. But, perhaps a small consideration with martial arts, they are unlike modern aftermarket training schools that we have in terms of commitment. Rather than days at a time, we can spend years to almost an entire lifetime with just a single martial arts style.

So, rather than one-night stands with many partners to gain a broad experience base, we have to apply long-term relation strategies for traditional martial arts.

Hmm... this is an odd way to look at things. Martial arts are like relationships. Hahaha! I think I need more sleep. Later all.

P.S. Yeah, and what George "Moses" Hill says. ;)

George Hill
May 15, 2000, 05:44 AM
Never been called Moses before...
Can I get a seat on the NRA Board now?

- Kodiac

May 15, 2000, 11:31 AM
Hmmm. No Kata in Aikido? That's interesting... Didn't realize that Aikido could be taught in any other way.

Only Tomiki Aikido does Randori (free-sparring) among various Aikido styles and most American Tomiki Dojos are rapidly doing away with it.

On Muay Thai, I would second the opinion of Mr. Roy Harris (of Progressive Fighting Systems) and train with someone who competes actively in it. Those guys know what the heck they are doing.

On Jiu-Jitsu, I would first find out what style Jiu-Jitsu it is. Is it Nihon (Japanese) Jiu-Jitsu, which in turn has numerous different ryus (styles)? Is it Hawaiian Kodenkan or Small Circle, which are an eclectic mixture of Nihon styles, Judo and others? Is it Brazilian or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (ground grappling-oriented)?

As for the level of "violence" in Dojo or class, there should never be any "violence." You cannot ever replicate "violence" - implying loss of control, in a class setting. Certainly there should be some degree of sparring (whether striking in Muay Thai or grappling in Jiu-Jitsu), but safety should always be the paramount concern. You do not want to train with thugs, but rather with folks who are mature and mutually-helpful adults.

On the one hand, you should expect some exertion of energy and some degree of pain. On the other hand, you should feel comfortable with the instructors and other students there. If not, you should find another place.

My two bits...


For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu

Tactical Response
May 20, 2000, 01:20 PM
I train with a fellow who doesn't know what "ego" means. Very open and professional.

Check out his page:

1* James Yeager
Tactical Response