2019 MATA Instructor of the Year: Josh Waltzing

2019 MATA Instructor of the Year: Josh Waltzing

Congratulations Josh Waltzing, Empower Boxing Alexandria, MN

Two locations.

Alexandria and Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and dedicated are just some of the positive words to describe Josh Waltzing, the 2019 MATA Instructor of the Year.

Josh is a unique instructor with plenty of rank in tae kwon do in addition to a Bachelor’s Degree in Education From St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. 

What makes Josh’s career path even more unique is that he didn’t earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Education so he could be a better tae kwon do instructor.

He enrolled in school after teaching TKD for about five years because he learned that he loved to teach and made the decision to teach in the secondary level school system about the time he earned his 3rd degree in 2006.

Still, one aspect of his martial arts career rings true to many of us. He was bullied as a kid.

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. 

 

John Corcoran on Martial Arts Instructor Certification

John Corcoran on Martial Arts Instructor Certification

The late John Corcoran was a significant mentor of mine. I hired him to be the editor of the ACMA Instructor Certification program in 1998, which was a job he had great enthusiasm for. The ACMA has reworked and updated into the MATA Certification Program.
martial arts instructor certification

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  Here is his Foreword for the ACMA Manual.

Let’s Learn From The Past Lest We Repeat It!

BY JOHN CORCORAN Don’t tell me about training, buster! I’m from the “old school” of martial arts—and I’ve got the injuries to prove it! For years, in fact, you could hear the physical symphony of snap, crackle, pop whenever I moved. It especially terrified my dance partners. It all started innocently enough. One time, when I was young and, in retrospect, astutely foolish, I enrolled in a karate class after seeing the flamboyant use of martial arts in a James Bond film. Most assuredly, I could have used James’ help during my lessons—as a personal bodyguard. For, as it turned out, I signed up for lessons in 1967—at the tail end of that notorious period known as the “Blood-n-Guts Era” of American karate. I was something of a 19-year old skinny runt, standing only about 5’6” and weighing in at 120 pounds. The type of skinflint bullies traveled from out of state to line up for. When I put on my first gi, with its “high-water” pants flagging around my lower knees, I looked like a scarecrow on a popsicle stick. The grueling training regimen of that era, as ACMA and NAPMA founder, John Graden articulates it so well, “Was not so much designed to build strong character, but to eliminate the weak ones.” Most instructors were gungho ex-military types who ran their classes with brutal boot-camp regimentation. But I was gungho myself. I rode a bus five miles each way to get to class, and sometimes also had to walk about a half-mile, even in all kinds of inclement weather, to and from the bus stop to my father’s home where I lived periodically. It’s not like I had much choice of changing schools for a more convenient location. In 1967, there were only about four or five karate schools in my entire hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Ah, the good old days! So scientific were the training methods of that time that, amazingly, I can still feel some of their peculiar lasting “benefits,” 30 years later. How well I remember doing those character-building bare-knuckle push-ups on concrete floors; punching, bare-fisted, straw-wrapped makiwara boards till my fists ached. All while working up a good gi-drenching sweat during mid-winter in cold buildings with minimal heat. We were breaking boards-sometimes with bare-knuckled punches that sometimes didn’t break, resulting in two swollen “egg knuckles” that never returned to normal size. My favorite was performing tens of thousands of repetitions using good old “bounce stretching” which is now called ballistic stretching. Sure, you’re thinking, everyone got hurt back then. And the truth is, only the strong did survive that prehistoric training, and it did forge us into stronger individuals, both physically and mentally. But as we know very well today, there’s a radical difference between self-improvement and self-destruction—a distinction truly lost on old-school beginners and intermediate practitioners. Like gungho automatons, we just did what we were told. Example: Sensei: “White belt, go run head first into that brick wall.” Beginner: "Yes, Sensei!" Bonk! Later, in our intermediate phase, we got smarter. We started to ask why. Example: Sensei: “Green belt, go run head first into that brick wall.” Green Belt: “But Sensei, why?” Sensei: Because it will strengthen your head butt.” Green Belt: “Yes, Sensei!” Bonk! Like so many of my peers today, I have some of those antiquated training methods I’ve cited above to thank for the torn ligaments in my knees, which is practically an industry standard among veteran black belts. As well, most of us suffer from a host of other unnecessary injuries from those early classes. How many veteran black belts do you know that have had hip replacement surgery? My nose, for example, is still cracked from one of my first sparring sessions: Me, a white belt with about three weeks of training, pitted against a bigger, stronger, more skilled green belt, who kicked me squarely in the face so hard I saw stars and my nose cracked and bled profusely. Some kind soul, probably not the instructor, threw some type of rag at me and directed me to wipe the blood off the floor so no one else slipped on it. My nose has been crooked ever since! My second instructor was hardly better, which brings me to perhaps the lowlight of my entire martial arts training. I won’t tell you his name in order to protect the guilty. He had this self~defense thing he did that he called, “Let’s work out together. _ But his vision and execution of this “shared" concept confused me for a long time; most of the time, it just hurt. Our Equal Opportunity Workout consisted of this. I would stand facing him, step forward and throw a simple reverse punch at his face with my right fist. He would block it and then beat the living daylights out of me with any number and all manner of hard contact punches, kicks, and chops tall over my body. Duh! This is definitely where I became intimate with the phrase, "marriage to gravity." The most memorable "Let's work out together" workout led to me, "Ben Gay night of terror!" I came home that night with my then–fiancé, a green belt in the same class, and collapsed on the bed. My instructor had beaten me almost senseless. I was black and blue everywhere from head to feet. I had a brilliant revelation on the way home from the school that night–"Honey, let's buy some of that Ben Gay stuff. The commercials say it's good for sore muscles. I had never before used a muscle ointment. Ignorant of its peculiar effect, I stripped and had my fiancé rub Ben Gay all over my body from neck to toes, both the back and front of me. Double Duh! I quickly learned the science of cause and effect. Cause: Never-rub Ben Gay over your entire body. Effect: When you do, it causes you to alternate between Hot Flashes and Cold Chills. So bad Were the Cold Chills my teeth were actually chattering” audibly and I had to wrap a heavy blanket around me in a futile attempt to stop my body from convulsively. About every 30 seconds, I was introduced to the “extreme” alternative. During the hot flashes, I broke into a feverish sweat and had to whip off the blanket and fight to breathe. I soaked the blanket and three towels with sweat before the dual effects began subsiding. The “Ben Gay Night of Terror ended about a half-hour later. This anecdote sure sounds funny in retrospect, but I can tell you now folks; that I didn't know if I was coming into this world or leaving it. And boy, was I mad at that instructor! Had he and I and a gun been in the same room right then, I know only two of us would have left and it wouldn't have been him! Here's the point behind all of my painful anecdotes. Let's learn from the past, lest we repeat it. There are still, unfortunately, far too many instructors using frightfully outdated teaching methods. Maybe nothing as severe or brutal as in my era, but certainly antiquated compared to other modern fitness industries. The future–the time for change–is now. In my 30+ years in the martial arts field, I've watched our industry rise from a storefront novelty practiced by a few in rooms akin to dungeons, to a popular activity mass-marketed in fine schools to millions of people in all walks of life. I've applauded our victories and mourned our failures over the years. I'm proud of our spectacular strides in so many areas but equally disappointed by areas suffering unnecessarily from stubborn stagnation. One such area, standardized teaching practices, should now be brought up to speed. Many of you, through associations like John Graden's NAPMA, are now becoming black belts at business. So, isn't right now a great time to become a black belt in teaching too? I knew you'd agree. So please read this book and apply its modern principles. Your students will thank you instead of suing you. Now there is a concept! Had I sustained my stupid injuries around the late 1980s or after, I probably could file a multi-million-dollar lawsuit for damages caused by instructor negligence. Heck, the trial for such a case might even air on Court TV. I could become a courtroom star as I sing the blues about my black and blues. Good thing I'm a nice guy. It's also a good thing that I've spent some 25 years around Hollywood and the entertainment business. There I learned how to use "props" not only to look 10 years younger than I am but also hide the otherwise disastrous effects of those numerous martial arts injuries I sustained during the "good old days." Now, at middle age, I'm finally going to have to get my nose straightened too the result of that green belt trying to remodel my face with his foot 30 years ago– since it mildly impairs my breathing capacity. No doubt a good L.A. plastic surgeon will charge me a few grand to help me smell the roses again. Paying for my youthful annoyance has been an expensive education, folks. But–ha, ha–I no longer clank when I walk. And for darn sure I know how and when to use Ben Gay sparingly! Now, if I could just perfect this last technique...BONK!  
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