New perspectives

I entered the Kids Krav Instructor Course from a slightly different perspective than that of many of the attendees – I’m not a Krav Maga Instructor, but I already work with children. I teach from ages 9 to 18, but not in a physical environment. A regular classroom, trying to pass on knowledge about computers and information technology.

The idea of training children to exercise and run around when I’m usually trying to get them to sit still and not run around sounded like a nice new challenge!

An eye-opener

From an educator’s perspective, the course was hugely enjoyable as well as eye-opening. There were as many instances of Krav Maga teaching sharing techniques that I use in the classroom world as there were where it differed. I even walked away with a few techniques I think I can adapt to work “cross-borders” in both environments.

Lesson structure is important and I watched our Instructor, Natasha, making incredible use of kinaesthetic learning to have children very quickly pick up moderately complex physical activities.

Along with this, I learned myself to have a little more patience with younger pupils and appreciate that they often struggle with some things that we take for granted as older people. The concept of ramping is not dissimilar to the scaffolding techniques I already use, but watching it being condensed into a short physical exercise was impressive.

As she demonstrated several lesson plans and we then dissected them, it was apparent how much planning goes into what seems like a pleasurable and hectic 45 minute session. As with the traditional classroom, often the trick is to entertain and make children learn without them realising they’re being taught!

Teaching practice

Although the course ran over five days, there was little spare time to get bored. In fact, I think a few of my fellow students would have appreciated a week or ten more between being given their assignments and having to actually teach a class! At some point you have to take the plunge and, as I said, even with my own teaching experience this was well outside my comfort zone and I was a bit nervous.

However, having given the lesson a dry run alongside my partner Bea, using other students as (badly behaved!) pupils, we had a chance to iron out the kinks and realise what aspects did or did not work. Saturday was D-Day and alongside the majority of our co-students, we undertook a shortened class with an already-tired collection of children.

Learning through feedback

The twenty minutes whizzed by, as I’m sure it did for all of us, and once the volunteer pupils had been waved out the door and thanked we had a lengthy feedback session both from our peers and the instructor. This was one of the most useful parts of the course as everyone was both fair and honest with their criticism and praise, which added significantly to the learning process.

Likening this to classroom teaching, it’s not uncommon practice to have another teacher pop their head in and sit through one of your lessons. It’s a useful exercise for both – a chance for the spectator to pick up some hints and ideas, and for the teacher to gain some independent feedback. Following on from this training course, it’s something I think I’ll be reintroducing into my main job as I’d forgotten how useful it is.

The Krav Junior programme

After this point, the course focussed more on details regarding Krav Maga and its place with youth, schools and how the system is built for younger participants.

Kids Krav is still a young beast and as such there are a few rough edges regarding things like grade progression (the combination of age, size and ability allows some “wiggle room” for each student), but I appreciated that on most occasions, the answer was to use professional judgement and to treat each student as the individual they are.

And with that, we reached the end of the course. Armed with some sample lesson ideas, course notes and a great collection of eager peers, the only step left is to get some classes of my own organised at work!