Previously I gave a breakdown of my training experience and certifications within the martial arts. Primarily doing so so that people would stop harassing my buddy Noah Legel. Then people started demanding to know about my teaching experience. As it’s no secret lets discuss it. Shall we?
As previously mentioned I went through the World Youn Wha Ryu Association’s Instructor’s Course when I was a 1st Kyu/ Gup. At this time my friend Corey Warner was running a class out of a Creative Arts Center outside of town on Tuesdays and Thursday’s. His work schedule changed, so he was looking for someone to take over the class. One day my instructor approached me after class and asked me if I would be interested. So I went and met with the owner of the center and was given a rundown of the program, being told I would be getting paid $10 an hour, wouldn’t need to worry about advertising the program, etc. That I would just show up, teach, and get paid.
So I did that for two month. When I took over, there were only three students in the class. I taught there for two months, and one day the business owner called me into his office and told me he was shutting down my class because their wasn’t enough interest. I never once got paid, and explained to him that I had half a dozen people who wouldn’t mind training there, but he wanted to use the time slot for tap dancing.
So even from my first teaching experience I witnessed the unethical side of the martial arts business. Joys!
Next, I just became an assistant instructor at several schools. I traveled around and helped out in different towns on certain days of the week. Monday I helped Master Sherry. Wednesday I ran a class for Abi Borrego. Occasionally I’d drive an hour to help my buddy Lance Bohnert. Etc.
In college, when I was a 2nd dan, I was given another offer, “Matt, we want you to open a school three towns over. We had one there in the past and it always did well.”
I explained, “With my current college and work load if I opened a school I’d only be able to run it two classes a week, and that’s not fair to the students.”
So a group of three 1st Kyu/ Gup girls took the offer instead and only opened the school for two classes a week… go figure.
A few months after opening, this new school was losing money and close to failing. So again my instructor asked me to go and help out. As an assistant instructor in the school I did a flier campaign and secured some business sponsors, growing the school from 5 students to 30+ students and added 4 more classes a week to the schedule. I continued to teach there until I finished my Associates Arts in Teaching and moved away to pursue my Bachelor’s Degree in teaching.
While at a four year university, I again just became an assistant instructor at a wide arrange of schools. I also became very involved with my college’s TKD Club, eventually becoming it’s Head Instructor. I was then asked, by my new instructor, to take over a few after school programs and schools. So I taught an after school program at Star Middle School, Miller Elementary School, as well as at a gym in Mount Vernon, Mo.
I was unsatisfied with the small space in Mount Vernon and was constantly turning down students, because I refused to take more students than our space would accommodate, so I partnered with the local BJJ school called The Bull Pen. We set it up so that if BJJ students wanted to train in Youn Wha Ryu they would get a discount and if Youn Wha Ryu peeps wanted to do BJJ they could get the same discount. I also reached out to local police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and school teachers to offer discounted training.
However, again we outgrew the space, so when two BJJ students started a new health and fitness gym, the owner of The Bull Pen and I partnered with them. They set up a huge mat area with half a dozen hanging bags in their new building, D-Fine Fitness, and we moved there after they opened.
I continued being the Head TKD/ YWR Instructor at D-Fine, Miller Elementary, Star Middle School, and my college’s TKD Club (as well as assisting at other schools) until 2012, when I passed the reins on to others and ventured into the next part of my life. This by no means implies that I am somehow great or above such things, I am simply explaining these instances for those who have been pestering my friends for such information.
In 2012 I became a camp counselor at Cub Creek Science Camp and asked the owner if I could teach Tai Chi. I am not particularly good at Tai Chi, nor do I enjoy it. However it is a healthy practice that provides benefits for things like lung capacity, balance, and flexibility. The owner of the camp agreed and we added it to the roster of eligible courses campers could take. We decided on Tai Chi because the owner felt TKD and Karate were a bit too violent for their program.
Also from 2012 to 2013 I helped out at the Missouri University of Science and Technology Youn Wha Ryu Club along with Garret Coffee, the club’s head instructor. Despite outranking Garret by quite a bit, I was more than happy simply helping out. Same as I always have.
From 2014 to 2015, I helped out in the eastern part of Missouri and was the Head of the Eastern Missouri Division of the World Youn Wha Ryu Association. A position I found myself in when my original instructors left the association in May 2013. I was also made the Head of the Western Illinois Division of the World Youn Wha Ryu Association.
This is leading up to when Jeremy Fox and Yujin (pronounced Eugene) Han attempted to Blackmail me. Their first step was to remove Anthony L. Smith Sr. and myself from Jeremy’s chain of command. Placing us both under the supervision of Marsha Fagan. Next they attempted to remove Anthony L. Smith as the Head of State of Illinois. Tired of all the politics and unethical behavior happening in Missouri and Arkansas, so in 2015 I took a job offer in Arizona and moved far away from the mess happening in Missouri, Arkansas, and Illinois. Anthony L. Smith Sr. even threatened Jeremy Fox with a lawsuit over Jeremy’s unethical business practices, and Anthony was kicked out of the World Youn Wha Ryu Association for making a legal stand against them.
In Arizona I assisted Marsha and John Fagan at several of the schools they ran and eventually took over the classes taught at Hope Baptist Church in Surprise, Az and the Youn Wha Ryu classes at Empire Martial Arts in El Mirage, Az. Empire Martial Arts being an MMA gym that also offered Boxing and BJJ. That was the second time in my life that I taught out of MMA/ BJJ gyms.
Also around this time I was training and helping out at Peaceful Warrior Martial Arts in Scottsdale, Az. Assisting Noah Legal and Richard M. Poage Sensei with video seminars, testings, and classes. Though it should be clearly stated my capacity there was primarily as a student, not an assistant instructor!
In May of 2017 I moved away from Arizona. I helped teach Youn Wha Ryu until 2018 at my original dojang. But by that time I was emotionally distant to both Youn Wha Ryu and Taekwondo, not having an interest in continuing to train nor teach.
In 2019, I joined the World Matsubayashi Ryu Karate-Do Association as a Shodan-ho, with the clear intentions of wishing to eventually open an Okinawan Karate dojo. However that day is no time soon.
Well… that’s it! That is a summery of my teaching history. Please stop harassing Noah demanding to know my story. Please stop harassing me. Please stop harassing people (period).
Update: As of July 4th, 2021 I acquired my first three Karate students. Two of them are old friends from high school and the third is an old training partner who is interested in Okinawan Karate.