Starting a training group?

Brothers training together.
Brothers training together.

It’s never really easy venturing into something new. Especially when you know there’s quite a lot of work to be done. However, once things start rolling and you get momentum, things become more fun. Then you see the fruits of your labors.

Starting a training group is no easy task either. At least it was not so easy when I started. However, when your burning desire and passion is greater than anything else you will find a reason to continue.

I started the Pekiti Tirsia Kali Lethbridge training group in January of 2015. Now to give you a little background. I moved to the Lethbridge area. I didn’t know a lot of people and there’s a lot of established martial arts groups in Lethbridge. Karate, Tae Kwon Do, MMA, just to name a few. These schools had their own venues and students. How was I going to introduce Filipino martial arts to this region? What did I have? Passion.

Instructor development training.
Instructor development training.

I was asking myself a lot of questions. Who will join you? What if people say no to you? How much will it cost to rent a venue? Venue? What venue? How much will insurance cost? How much do I charge? How much time do I devote to this? Will my wife get mad at me for being away from her and our young son? The questions of uncertainty was almost endless. However, I knew that it was important for me to pursue a training group.

Footwork! Grand dad & grandson side by side!
Footwork! Grand dad & grandson side by side!

I was not alone in this venture. My wife played a big part in this. Her support was the first thing I relied on. Check out her blog I also had the support of my mentors, Guro Herald Casana, PTK Alberta and Guro Oliver Salvador, Rutano Estokada Edmonton. With any venture, I always feel that I need a team to provide support and ideas.

To make a long story short, the first class consisted of me and my tennis buddy, Kevin R. It just so happened that he was looking for a martial art to train in. He was shopping around and I invited him to meet with me. The first class was in his living room. Soon the group grew. We were training twice a week in random free places. For a few months we trained in parks and basements make a decent venue. We even started another training group in the town of Magrath. Things were looking good. We even have a Facebook training group with pictures and announcements. It was pretty cool.

Training in the garage.
Training in the garage.

Now at this point you might start saying, “See, that wasn’t too hard.” Unfortunately that’s when it started going down hill from there. I would go to our usual meeting place and I would wait for half an hour in Lethbridge and maybe one or two will show up. Most of the time I didn’t even get a notice from them. Then eventually I found myself alone. I was not impressed. It felt like I was begging them to come out and train. Did I mention that these classes were free? I was hoping to train assistant instructors.

Alas, while the Lethbridge group was falling apart I focused on my Magrath team. They were a budding group. The serious students stayed and are doing great up to this day. We train in the local school. It’s nice to see families train together.

One afternoon I was contacted by Blair. He had been training other martial arts but he had some FMA training. He asked if he can join us in Lethbridge. I figured why not? It would be nice to train in a Lethbridge park before winter comes. Blair and I met and it was nice that we had one more person, Kevin R join us. I was impressed by Blair’s enthusiasm. I’m glad he showed up because he was the start of a new beginning for the Lethbridge training group.

We started training regularly as long as schedules permitted. Eventually we were joined by more quality people. They wanted to learn a practical martial art and they craved more and more of FMA. This was was good for me and it was good for them.

More footwork.
More footwork.

Blair found us our new home to train in. It’s a nice studio and it has a heater! Perfect for winter training. Since we restarted training we’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve had seminars presided by Guro Herald. The number of attendees grew more and more. The quality of learning and teaching has gotten better. It’s also nice to see husbands and wives, friends and a family of three generations train together.

calgary seminar

Now where do we go from here? The answer is simple, we keep training. We train because we love the art and the learning environment. I want to thank my training partners for taking time to learn with me. We have a consistent team that I’m proud of. To my mentors and friends in the Philippine Warrior Arts Society, without you this may not have happened.

Salamat Po.


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