An International Martial Arts Teachers Association for the 21st Century
In the Martial Arts community, Kyoshi Dave Kovar is often referred to as “The Teacher of Teachers.” He has earned this title over the last 20 years by leading hundreds of seminars to thousands of instructors across five continents. He has literally written the book on martial arts instruction, multiple times over, including his 1998 “Martial Arts Career Training” manual and his 2012 book, “The Martial Arts Instructor Toolbox.”
With nearly 4 decades of success in operating multiple schools in Sacramento, CA, Dave Kovar shares that experience with school owners around the globe through his “Kovar Systems” products and events (www.kovarsystems.com). Best known for ProMAC – his Professional Martial Arts Coaching program – and for his live Instructor College seminars, he and his Kovar Systems team remain committed to improving the industry and helping school owners to benefit from his success.
Now, Dave Kovar and his team are preparing a new venture that could be the next chapter in our industry – The Satori Alliance. We asked Sensei Bryan Nay, General Manager of Kovar Systems, to sit down with Kyoshi Dave Kovar and the project’s General Manager, Shihan Nick Wilson, to talk about their latest undertaking.
Bryan Nay: Can you tell us a little more about what The Satori Alliance is all about?
Dave Kovar: At a high level, our goal is to help instructors be the best they can be. The word “Satori” is a Japanese word that, roughly translated, means “in the moment and at your best.” Our mission with The Satori Alliance is “To serve and positively impact the global Martial Arts community – from beginning students to experienced instructors – by establishing a shared level of excellence for Martial Arts instruction, professionalism, and ongoing learning that honors tradition and inspires innovation.”
Nay: You’ve been helping schools and school owners for decades. Through books, seminars, coaching programs, online tools and resources, and more, you’ve already put so much information out there. What makes The Satori Alliance different from what you’ve already been doing?
Kovar: I’m so proud of the work we’ve done up to this point through Kovar Systems. Our ProMAC coaching program has helped countless school owners reach new levels of success and independence through building solid business systems built on ethical business practices. Just a few years ago we created our non-profit organization “Martial Artists Against Bullying” (www.donewithbullying.com) to help unite martial artists behind the goal of eradicating bullying through a free program they can use in their local communities. However, as I traveled for my events and have worked with school owners and instructors in all parts of the world, I realized there was still a need to go further and bridge the gap in the journey between someone becoming a high level martial arts practitioner to becoming a high level martial arts instructor. To be clear, there are plenty of reputable organizations that certify black belts, but as we all know, there’s a big difference between being a technician and a teacher. Unfortunately, there aren’t any options out there to address this, particularly at an international, non-style specific level. So that’s where The Satori Alliance comes in. We emphasize how to be the best teacher you can be – regardless of style or system. Instructors that become certified in The Satori Alliance teach more organized, motivating, and well-controlled classes on a consistent basis. They learn how to inspire and retain students for the long-haul.
Nay: So why now?
Kovar: Great question. I've been teaching martial arts full time for nearly 40 years now and I have seen our profession go through a lot of phases. There was a time when the demand for Martial Arts teaching was so great that even mediocre teachers could make a living. But those days are long gone. This has become a retention-based business. The schools that perform well now are the ones that can keep students. They are able to keep students because they have high-quality instructors. What I find interesting is successful schools are the first ones to send their instructors to our Instructor Colleges because they know the value of continued education. Now, with The Satori Alliance available, we can offer the same training to full and part-time instructors at schools, big or small, anywhere.
Nay: Can you share a little about how this project came together?
Kovar: Of course! Providing a deeper level of instructor training and certification is something people have asked me about for a long time. However, it wasn’t until I started talking more with Nick about two and a half years ago that we really started to get some traction with the idea. It was his passion that really helped The Satori Alliance come to being. From our early conversations, he dove into doing the research and talking to school owners about their challenges, figured out how we could have the greatest positive impact, assembled a team, and got to work.
Nay: Nick, with all that time invested, can you tell everyone a little more about what schools can expect from The Satori Alliance?
Nick Wilson: Absolutely! I'm super excited about what we have developed – everyone involved on the team has put a lot of time and energy into making this a solid program. The Satori Alliance offers a comprehensive and rigorous certification program designed for beginner teachers and Master instructors alike. It is made up of a combination of online and live training sessions. Instructors will be able to learn and study the library of online lessons at their own pace, and work on integrating those lessons into their daily routine of teaching classes. Once they have not just the understanding, but also the ability to apply those lessons to their classes, they will have the opportunity to test for their certification during one of our scheduled live exams. Here they will be assessed and receive feedback on their ability to teach concepts and structure their classes appropriately for a variety of age and skill levels. There will also be some key pre-requisites like CPR and First Aid certifications to ensure that instructors are providing a safe environment for their students.
Nay: Who is this program intended for?
Wilson: Our goal is to help establish the gold standard for teaching certification within the industry. So really, this instructor certification program is designed for anyone from your newest instructors in training to your top tier veterans. I think there’s so much benefit to having everyone on a team work on the material together. I know I’ve continued to refine my own teaching techniques as a direct result of working on this material.
Nay: There are some other optional components to participating in The Satori Alliance too, right?
Kovar: Yes. One of the things I am often asked is to help design or to oversee a school owner’s next rank advancement. This is often because they no longer have their original instructor to promote them, or because they are no longer affiliated with their previous organization. With The Satori Alliance, we will have an opportunity to provide structure to this process and help ensure that these “orphans” are able to continue their journey in the martial arts while being pushed and challenged so that any new rank is earned rather than simply given. There is also a very strong health and fitness component because we believe it's not enough just to learn how to defend against an attacker. We believe that instructors should also know how to defend against sickness and injury as well.
Nay: Can you tell us more about what’s entailed with that testing process?
Wilson: We call this type of customized testing and advancement “Satori Ryu.” We want to help push them to new levels in their own training as well as staying open to new ideas, in the spirit of the continuous student. Some elements of this test process will be directed by the applicant, but there will also be some minimum requisites as well. While we take into consideration someone's prior training, we believe that the modern martial artist should be competent in the five range of combat. Those ranges are weapons range, kicking range, striking range, clinch or trapping range, and grappling range. Demonstrating skills across each range will be a big part of this test. Also, members of The Satori Alliance will be able to learn and earn their black belt in the blended system we teach in our schools, should they have the interest to learn and practice the material.
Nay: So what’s the next step if a school wants to get involved?
Kovar: We are committed to ensuring that this is a quality program, so we are taking our time to make sure we can uphold the highest standards. We only just started taking on members this month. Right now, we are only accepting applications from current ProMAC members. If someone wants to get involved right away, they should start there.
Wilson: We will be opening it up to the general public beginning in spring of next year, as space is available. Any instructors that want to get on the waitlist should visit www.kovarsystems.com/TheSatoriAlliance.
Nay: Anything else you two would like to add?
Wilson: I believe that it is going to change the Martial Arts profession, for the better, forever.
Kovar: I'm as excited as you are and I think school owners will be as well, as soon as they see all the great things that The Satori Alliance has to offer them.
Flying Keeps You Humble
I’m pretty sure that I travel enough to qualify me for frequent flyer status. Flying can be quite stressful if you’re not careful and you can learn a lot of life lessons in airports if you look for them. Emotional composure is definitely one of them and when I’m flying, I pride myself in not overreacting to things out of my control, such as late flights, broken planes, lost luggage and middle seats. I often find myself watching in amazement as someone chews out a gate agent because the plane is canceled, or yells at the flight attendant because the plane is delayed. When I observe one of these emotional outbursts, I usually pat myself on the back because I’m so “above” that. Or so I thought.
A while back I was waiting in line to board a plan
The Future of Your / Our Work as Teachers of the Martial Arts
This is a piece about where you / we may or should be going, as professional teachers who want to do fun, interesting, and maybe even exciting work –and who would also like to see the work, in general, produce the kind of income that reduces worry, pays the bills plus, and that allows us to live our later-years in some degree of financial comfort.
Step number 1 of living a good / great life is physical health. If you suffer one of the many diseases or ailments of people who don’t stay fit, mobile, and healthy —it doesn’t matter how much wealth you’ve accumulated, your life is going to hell in a hand basket.
You, that is YOU, must not only use your martial arts journey to live a life of Jack LaLanne like fitness, you would do a LOT better in your business, guaranteed, if you look, act, and live the path of fitness over flab, of superior health over the mediocrity of those people who simply don’t have the self-discipline to do what it takes to be a strong and fit specimen of physical health.
The Action Plan? Go thru EVERYTHING it takes to be muscular –over bloated and fat, flexible –over stiff, active –instead of inactive. If you DO go thru EVERYTHING it takes to be one of the super healthy, you will be well-read, well-researched, experienced, and knowledgable –and you will be able to use what you’ve learned to help others.
This is a part of the future of our business: Super Health. If that’s not self-defense in today
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other issues of the magazine
Cover: David Kovar
Instructor of the Month: Jeff Denu
School of the Month: Karate America - Appleton - APPLETON, WI