Josh says, “I spent much of my elementary school years being bullied, feeling like I was being overrun, threatened and overpowered. I tried a few things to try to get more powerful. I started wrestling in third grade. I wrestled through all of elementary to high school. And that was really good for me. When I was 15, 16, I started off with taekwondo in my hometown and I haven’t stopped since.”
Though Josh had trained a bit when he was around 8, this class seemed more organized and long-term oriented.
He says, “The belt systems really reinforced goal setting and that we were part of something much bigger than just ourselves. We could move forward and achieve more power, more control as the higher the rank that we got. If you were a brown, red, black belt wow! You had everything. They were looked up to as amazing people.”
His instructor was a former US Army sniper. He taught Josh’s school for about two years before a new instructor replaced him.
Rather than be discouraged, Josh increased his training time, “I would train twice a week in my hometown and then drive an hour to go train in Alexandria twice a week. I was training four days a week and really, really enjoying the more competitive aspect of martial arts.”
Eventually, Josh’s enthusiasm for training led his instructor to pull Josh into the office for a quick chat.
Josh recalls, “A few months after I earned my black belt in 2001, he took me into his office and said, ‘Josh, you’re going to take over this school.’ It wasn’t a question. It wasn’t a request. He said I’m taking over and I agreed. I was a little afraid because I’d run a school before. Once I got going, I really liked it. So much so that I decided to get a degree in education so I could be a school teacher. I went into education because I wanted to teach in high school and I loved the process of learning and learning about being a teacher made me a better martial arts instructor.”
Though Josh graduated, he returned to his TKD school where he would apply what he learned in school. He says, “I went into education because I wanted to teach in high school and I loved the process of learning and learning about being a teacher made me a better martial arts instructor. It was the planning, the lesson planning. So much of what we focused on within education was lesson planning.”
Josh took some key processes and procedures from his college education and applied it to his martial arts classroom.
As he explains, “What I saw in education were assessments of learning and assessments for learning. So you have something where you are trying to assess a student’s progress, but it’s part of their learning, it’s for them learn to learn how to do something better versus where we often think of us having a test as of what they learned. But most of what we did in education, it was all about assessments and tests for learning so that they learned how to learn and how to be successful. So that’s where we have taken a lot of our martial arts. Part of the process is we have eliminated almost all of the tests of learning during their colored belt training period. We assess them, but it’s assessment for their learning, not of what they learned because of what they learned assessment happens at their black belt level when they’re ready for it. We have colored belt ranks, but we don’t have exams. We have graduations where they have completed the requirements. They’ve earned their stripes. And then they graduate to the next rank.”
Josh sees many similarities between his Bachelor’s Degree in Education and the MATA Instructor Certification program (MATACertification.com).
He explains, “The MATA certification program could have saved me $50,000 in college tuition. The lessons taught are the same or very similar to what I learned in college without the added baggage of additional required classes like history.”
In addition to teaching Empower Boxing for the past seven years, Josh also has a parkour program along with with his traditional tae kwon do program.
He is a local leader in combating human trafficking and has held special classes and programs for homeschooled children.
From a top-down vantage point, it’s clear that Josh Waltzing highly values education and continuous learning to improve your instructor skills.
Through Empower Boxing and parkour, Josh is also committed to meeting his students where they are at rather than where he wants them to be.
Congratulation Josh Waltzing for being the 2019 Martial Arts Teachers’ Association Instructor of the Year.