Cheesy yoga on the beach in Japan

This was a hot summer day from a few months ago. I rode my bike out to Nishijin in west Fukuoka and went to the beach. I like it out there.

I then decided to do some yoga.

Here we go.


Actually my posture doing this position in the thumbnail of the video here is not that good. My hand on the ground should be closer to my foot. Making the video was good for me because I could get some feedback and see how I looked.

This was actually the second time in the same day. Sometimes I do that. But I usually do yoga in the late morning.

I made another video here on yoga for lower leg strength, balance and flat feet.

BJJ vs. Judo – What’s the difference?

I’ve practiced both BJJ and judo. I currently live and train in Fukuoka, Japan, but started in San Francisco, CA.

I made this video out near Meinohama beach. There is an area that I like going to and I rode around on my bike and talked. Later I added some footage of myself practicing judo and BJJ mostly in Japan, but there is some from CCSF.

What judo is mostly

First let’s start with the goal.

Ippon is the goal and that is either a throw where the opponent lands on his back, a pin or a submission.

Kodakan judo was a complete grappling program, but nowadays judo is mostly stand up grappling and throws. The rules to judo have changed over the years to partly suit the needs of television viewers.

Watching ground grappling was boring, but watching someone getting thrown is exciting. So they changed the rules to please the TV viewers – so my former sensei Mitchell Palacio said.

In a judo competition a person can win by ippon which is either a throw where the opponent lands on his back, a pin, or a submission.

If the fight goes to the mat and there is no submission within a certain amount of time they will stand them back up again.

What’s judo practice like?

It depends on the school. At CCSF in San Fran, practice starts with some running and light calisthenics, then forward rolls, ukemi: side and back falls, then maybe the teacher will teach techniques, uchikomi: drilling the throw without throwing, nagekomi: letting your partner throw you and then finally randori.

That was at CCSF.

I have been training at Fukuoka univ. and that’s higher level judo. Some stuff is similar to CCSF, but more intense and I didn’t see anyone teach a throwing technique.

Maybe cause all of them were black belts (except me) and it is assumed that you know all of them.

There practice looks something like this:

  1. Warm up: stretching, falling, rolling, walking, running, walking on your hands, cartwheels, etc.
  2. 5 minute intense interval exercises: jumping, running in place, push ups, sit ups, burpees, side steps, mountain climbers, etc. (It gets the blood flowing!)
  3. Uchikomi – drilling the throwing technique without the throw
  4. Nagekomi – letting your partner throw you often 5 times and then switching
  5. Different kinds of randori – free sparring sessions
  6. Something where one person has to fight many people in a row without a break
  7. Newaza – ground sparring where you try to pin or submit your partner

So far out of the 4 classes I have been to there hasn’t been much newaza. One day they practiced some pins from the turtle position and another did newaza sparring.

All of my judo practices have been 2 hours.

The place where I train now is called Sekiryukan and we don’t really do much of a warm up. You can on your own and then we do uchikomi or newaza sparring and then tachiwaza or standing randori.

What jiu-jitsu is mostly

First off you should know that jiu-jitsu or “BJJ” evolved from judo. However, it’s focus is newaza.

The goal of jiu-jitsu is a submission. Unlike judo a pin or throw can’t end the match or win it.

What’s jiu-jitsu practice like?

It depends on the school. Some schools have an intensive workout and others not.

Many have a warm up like this:

  1. Running
  2. Backfalls
  3. Shrimps (sometimes in reverse)
  4. Hip escapes
  5. Forward rolls
  6. Backward rolls
  7. Side shrimp (not that common and difficult)
  8. Back fall with technical stand up
  9. Bear crawls
  10. Crab walks

Then the teacher usually teaches some techniques and you get to practice them with a partner.

Then sometimes there is drilling where you start in a certain position try to escape and/or submit your partner.

Sometimes there is a king of the mountain where the winner stays and the loser goes. And others where one person stays regardless of if they win or lose.

Then there is sparring. You are free to spar with your classmates. The times are often 6 minute rounds although I have seen 2 minute rounds at CCSF and at another school when it is busy.

Sensei Palacio at CCSF has a sort of nagekomi version of jiu-jitsu where you let your partner do a few moves and then switch.

I think that is cool. You choose the technique. I haven’t seen this at any other school.

Jiu-jit$u is more profit driven

BJJ is more profit driven. It’s more of a money making scheme. It’s more entrepreneurial.

Judo on the other hand is not. In Japan it’s part of the school system. Many students will choose whether to do kendo or judo.

That’s part of the school system. I know judo and kendo are both part of many school systems and I had friends in Japan that both did kendo and judo in school.

So it’s kind of like wrestling in the USA which is also part of the school system. Not in all schools, but in many.

Here are some examples from here in Fukuoka, Japan where I am currently. I have been to 3 different places inquiring about judo.

  1. Meidoukan. Charges 10,000 Yen ($100) a year plus an additional fee of 1,900 Yen a month I think. You can train 3 days a week.
  2. Sekiryukan. Charges 3,500 Yen a month and you can train 3 days a week.
  3. University of Fukuoka. Now I just walked into this place and it’s quite impressive. It has a huge bright yellow and red mat and so far they haven’t asked me for any money.

So you can see that it’s cheaper.

BJJ on the other hand is entrepreneurial.

I currently pay 10,800 Yen ($100) a month to train at Axis jiu-jitsu.

Tri-Force jiu-jitsu charges the same.

I went to another place called Carpe Diem and the guy said 20,000 Yen a month. And I thought the guy was trying to take advantage of the dumb new foreigner in town…

Haha.

Nice try.

So I left.

I train at Axis jiu-jitsu now for 2 reasons. One it’s closer to my house and two the sensei invited me to train for free on my first day.

The other 2 schools in Fukuoka wanted me to pay right away.

I guess in the USA I got used to a free first class.

In San Francisco I used to train judo and jiu-jitsu a lot at City College which is almost free or is free now I think.

I also trained at Romelo Melo occasionally which was like $160 a month or $130 when I signed a contract for my first year.

I don’t like contracts though and after 14 months there I went to CCSF to learn some judo and jiu-jitsu.

Caeser Gracie was like $120 for a few months.

Evolve jiu-jitsu was like $130 I think, but I only went there for the free open mats on Friday.

Ralph Gracie was like $180 a month, but I only went to a few open mats in Berkeley and once in downtown SF.

So jiu-jitsu costs more money and it’s more entrepreneurial.

Jiu-jitsu is also more branded like: 10th planet, Gracie, Alliance, etc. In judo there are no brands.

Judo is judo.

Judo is usually more academic and less profit driven

You can probably train judo somewhere for free actually. Well, you might be able to depending on where you are. I did. City College in San Francisco is now free as far as I know. When I started there it was like $80 a semester.

Certainly there are places that will make you pay for judo probably like BJJ, but I haven’t been there. Where I currently train in Fukuoka, Japan costs about $30USD a month. On top of that I have been a guest at a couple of universities and a high school in Japan for free.

I also entered a competition for judo shodan for free.

Competitions in BJJ can cost quite a bit like maybe $100. The only BJJ competitions that I did where at City College and those were pretty cheap like maybe $25 if I remember correctly.

Are the mat’s the same?

Mats will vary from gym to gym, but in my experience I’d say that BJJ mats tend to be softer which may seem ironic. Both the surface of the mat and the cushion part of the mat tend to be softer in BJJ gyms.

And judo mats tend to be more firm, but sometimes have springs in the floor. Judo mats tend to also have rougher surface material on them too. One thing that I have noticed about the really soft mat where I currently train BJJ is that doing stand up techniques like throws and moving around is more difficult cause the floor is spongy like.

Are the gi’s the same?

At first glance it may look as if the gi’s are the same. They are similar, but judo gi’s have a longer skirt – the part of the jacket below the belt.

White is the traditional color and blue is also usually acceptable at least for competition.

Jiu-jitsu gi’s have a shorter skirt and the gi’s tend to have a lot of advertising on them with logos and what not.

In jiu-jitsu there are:

  • White gi’s
  • Blue gi’s
  • Black gi’s
  • Camouflage gi’s
  • Pink gi’s
  • Purple gi’s
  • Red gi’s

And probably more.

But in judo it’s only white and blue. Logos are not common like in BJJ, but some companies do put smaller logos on their gi’s like “Mizuno”.

And then in Japan the judoka’s often put their name on the back of the jacket.

Also another slight difference is what people wear under their gi’s. In judo most males do not wear anything under their gi, but in jiu-jitsu I would say many males wear t-shirts or rash guards under their gi’s.

What are the belts like?

In BJJ you have five belt colors: white, blue, purple, brown and black. Some schools also place stripes on belts to measure progress through the belts.

The belt colors are similar around the world.

In judo you have some variance of the belt colors depending on the school and country. Where I trained at City College in San Francisco we had: white, green, brown (w/ 3 degrees) and black.

I have also seen students from other academies and countries wearing yellow (which might be a youth belt) and blue belts which might be higher than green belts.

In Japan there’s usually only white and black belts. At the youth level there may be some schools that use brown and green.

There are also certain levels of black belts called degrees in BJJ and dans in judo. In judo a very high level black belt may receive a red belt at 9th or 10th dan, but these high ranks are rare.

How long does it take to get a black belt?

In BJJ most say it takes 10 years, but it really depends. I know brown and purple belts who have been practicing for 10 years. I even met a blue belt who said he had been practicing for 10 years.

If you are extremely gifted and you practice often It can take less time.

In judo it’s generally easier to get a black belt called a shodan. It depends on the school – always and you.

My teacher at CCSF said you can do it in 2. Judo is more academic so it seems like if you just apply yourself every semester and do the tests you can level up. But most took around 5 years there I think.

Here in Japan you have to do a competition called shodan shinsa. You have to win 4 times and do the kata.

Judo is more formal and there are more rules

As mentioned earlier it’s common to bow in judo when stepping on the mat or at the beginning or end of class. Traditionally you either sit on the mat kneeling or cross legged.

If you don’t your teacher might yell at you.

In jiu-jitsu I haven’t been to a school that told me to sit a certain way. It’s just generally more relaxed and less formal.

If you’re belt comes undone then you tie it back up and tuck your gi in. If your belt comes undone in BJJ it doesn’t really matter in fact many people will just take it off. And throw it to the side.

If you try that in judo you will probably get yelled at like I was once.

In judo there are certain ways of bowing and beginning randori, competitions and even uchikomi sometimes. You bow and step in with your left foot first and then your right and then “hajime!” begin.

When you finish you step out with your right foot first and then your left and then bow.

At the end of the class you bow out usually and hands at your side left foot back to your knee, right foot back to your knee while on your toes and then point your toes back and come to seiza – kneeling.

To get up you get off your butt, get on your toes and then step your right foot forward and then left and stand.

Should you bow or handshake?

In jiu-jitsu it’s common to shake hands with your classmates in some dojos and then again when you leave. And in all of the dojos that I have ever rolled in you always slap hands and then fist bump your partner before you spar.

In judo shaking hands is not common.

I remember when I first started judo after about a year of jiu-jitsu. I went to the class and tried shaking my teachers hand and he just kind of looked at me in a cold and indifferent manner and offered me a limp hand.

I don’t think he liked hand shakes.

In judo you bow and it’s called “rei”. You often bow in the beginning of class and at the end and at those times you sometimes kneel and “bow”. Sometimes you bow when you step on and off the mat.

You usually bow when you do randori with your partner too.

What’s the difference between judo newaza and BJJ?

Well, as far as Kodakan judo goes I’ll make some generalizations here based on my experience. Of course a judoka could train Kosen judo which is uncommon and that could affect their style or maybe they also train BJJ or wrestling.

But…

  • A lot of the judokas are going to go for a pin if you “roll” (BJJ term) with them and when they pin you they might stop because they won in their mind. Their are a lot more pin positions in judo that aren’t commonly used in BJJ.
  • They tend to be top dominant and don’t play guard.
  • They might roll over and give you their back which doesn’t happen in BJJ.
  • They might be faster and more aggressive. Not sure why it seems that way, but maybe because there is a time limit in judo for newaza.
  • There are also shorter sparring rounds in judo which have been 2-3 minutes and in jiu-jitsu 5-6 minutes. Kosen judo competitions are 6 minutes long.

Kosen judo

Kosen judo has a different rule set that allows for more newaza and some of the techniques currently forbidden in Kodokan judo.

It is more akin to old judo.

  1. You can pull your opponent to the ground (kinda like pulling guard in BJJ)
  2. You can do ashi garame which is not allowed in kodakan judo and in some BJJ competitions.
  3. You can’t do any leg submissions.
  4. You can win by ippon: pin, submission, or clean throw.
  5. There is no time limit to be on the ground.

Watch this video of a Kosen judo competition.

I did a judo competition in Japan called “shodan shinsa” yesterday

This test for judo is called “shodan” shinsa. Shodan is the first level of the black belt in judo. I did this test in Fukuoka, Japan yesterday.

In America and at least where I started judo at CCSF there is a different ranking system for belts.

white>green>brown>black

And brown belts have 3 degrees. And then of course black belts have varying degrees going upwards of maybe 9 or so degrees.

But in Japan there is only:

white>black

There are no colored belts between white and black.

And…

To get a black belt or even the next level of black belt you have to do a test. And this test varies for adults and children. For adults you have to compete and fight against others who are also competing for a black belt.

It’s a single elimination competition which means if you lose once you’re out. And you have to accumulate enough points and your first time that is 4.5 points which means you have to win like 4 or 5 times in a row.

If you don’t you can try again at the next competition.

I did this in Fukuoka yesterday. I probably wouldn’t have but my dojo where I got the cultural visa to stay in Japan encouraged me to do so.

As you might expect it was a bit scary like other BJJ competitions that I did. This was the first judo one that I did.

I get a lot anxiety and anticipation and all the fears like: getting hurt, this isn’t that important, why should I do this, I am going to lose, I’m not good enough – all those fears that other people get.

But amongst all those negative thoughts and feelings – actually most of the time it’s a feeling – kind of like public speaking or a performance if you have ever done that.

But I try to inject into my mind some positive thoughts too like:

“You’ll probably win or learn something” which was true.

But when the fight starts the feelings are gone and you are in the moment.

I did win two and I did learn something about the rules and about how I can work on my tani otoshi counter.

Getting a black belt isn’t the ultimate goal. The goal is to learn and have fun doing so. Although I am not sure it’s always fun, but 99% of the time it makes me feel better.

Like the competition it would have been easier to just say no I don’t need to do this because I have done that before with jiu-jitsu competitions, but I knew that if I did it I would feel better.

It’s just about pushing through those fears and discomfort.

I am also happy that I got a couple of throws because I am better on the ground and have about 4 times the amount of experience and hours doing BJJ than I do judo tachi waza (throws).

There is another competition like this in November and I will probably do it because I started it so now I feel like I have to finish it.

Occasionally some people will win 4 or 5 matches in a row and get the black belt, but my friends tell me more often than not it can take 2-3 times.

I know one that said it took 7 times as a teen, another 4 times and another who actually won 6 in a row on his first time for shodan, but then said for yon dan (4th degree) it took him 3 or 4 times.

Judo is actually called “the gentle way”

Haha… really?

Yep, but it doesn’t look or feel gentle most the time. But what is meant by that I think is finding the opening for a move or submission or where the opponent is off balance for a throw. Like in the pic above in the thumbnail to this video.

I threw that guy with an osoto gari.

He was stronger, probably weighed more, more aggressive and a bit spastic, but I found the path of the least resistance and threw him there and that’s judo – finding and seeing the openings and then capitalizing on them.

A day training Kosen judo at Kyushu university in Itoshima, Japan

Lucky me. In a previous post I got to see a kosen judo competitiion here in Fukuoka, Japan. This is a rare style of judo that emphasizes newaza (ground techniques) so it’s similar to BJJ or is it that BJJ was inspired from kosen judo?

Hmmm…

Here’s a picture from then.

You can see me above in the back right and to my left is Tsukamoto-san and second in the back left is Amamiya-san. Those two I train with often at Sekiryukan in Hakata. They are 3rd and 4th degree black belts.

Anyways…

Last Saturday I went with a couple of my dojo members from Sekiryukan to Kyushu university to practice Kosen judo from about 9:30 to 12:30.

Here are a few clips from the lesson.

And then after I went to a beach in Meinohama, Fukuoka. I went for a swim and it was nice. I also saw a lot of feral cats.

Tony & Moly Sharehouse – My experience

*Update. I originally wrote this a few months ago. I am happy to say I don’t live in a sharehouse anymore.


I hate sharehouses. It’s 4:30 and I can’t sleep. Starting around sometime around maybe 2am until after 3am I hear the manager banging shit around and making noise.

First I’ll tell you the good.

It’s in a good location – Otemon. It’s near Ohori park and in between that subway station and Akasaka.

Compared to another sharehouse I stayed in it’s in better condition. This is not a Japanese house it’s in a small cement apartment building, but the interior walls aren’t cement.

Everyone staying in this sharehouse at this time is either Taiwanese or Chinese. Most everyone I met staying here was o.k except for one annoying guy who always cooked onions and slammed his door.

Although I wonder why everyone here is Taiwanese or Chinese.

Oh yeah, there are 2 apartments in this building for the sharehouses. I live in one, with another Taiwanese girl and Taiwanese guy and then another person came later.

Now I am going to give this place some criticism.

Why?

I probably wouldn’t have had the “manager” – hehe (I hate managers by their very nature), not complained about water on the floor and later leaving the trash can lid open.

Criticism:

  1. Cigarette smoke
  2. Noise (floor noise)
  3. A NO SEX rule
  4. You have to pay for parties
  5. A little pricey considering
  6. There’s a business in it
  7. The manager

Now I am only staying here because I didn’t really have another option without a permanent visa.

I don’t really like to complain and this is, but I think they should change some things.

1st smoking

They do go out and smoke on the porch so they say, but sometimes I think they smoke in their room – the manager and the owner, but they leave the doors open and the smoke comes in the apartment.

And I hate cigarette smoke. It’s not all the time, but still cigarette smoke is annoying.

Noise

It’s not noisy all the time, but the floor makes noise and the walls are cheap thin wooden walls and the sound travels through them. The room I stayed in 2F room 103 which was the smallest is right next to the entrance and kitchen and the room where the landlord operates their business.

103 sucks because of the noise, no air con, no screens, and it’s not worth 50,000.

A “no sex” rule

This is the stupidest rule yet. And I knew it ahead of time. Like WTF?! Why do you have this rule in place? The manager said to “go to a hotel.”

Dude, I am paying you money to stay here and this is my home now and my room and it’s not your business what I do in my room.

Maybe if I was being noisy having sex in the room it would matter and I could understand if someone didn’t like it.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing like he said, but I lived in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan and this is the first time I heard about a “no sex” rule in any hostel, hotel or anything like that.

You have to pay to party

They have parties sometimes on the 5F sharehouse apartment for new guests and whatever. But he told me I didn’t have to pay since I was a new guest but next time I would.

That was weird and I said that.

I kind of see it like a “managerial” tactic to manipulate and that is why I hate managers. Like other people will pay to attend your party but if you don’t pay to attend someone else’s party then you feel kind of quilty or the other people might think you are not cool or something.

Like I understand if you have a party to bring something maybe like I brought a little wine and sake when I had my party.

But just seems like the dude is trying to make money off of you too.

The manager

First off I don’t like managers or being managed.

I am an independent person and if you meddle with my affairs try to tell me what to do or control me then chances are that I won’t like you.

He seemed kind of alright and positive at first. But I was just waiting for some shit to come up. Like I said the money for the party thing, the no sex rule (is that his rule or the landlord’s).

He speaks Japanese, Chinese and English so that’s cool.

Come towards the end of my month here he was like do you want to stay and like someone else wants the room too – which I doubt since there is another free room.

He told me when I moved in that he would make the price for the room cheaper then when I brought that up he had nothing to say about it except that the price of the room was going to go up when they get an air conditioner.

So I guess that was a little lie.

The dudes young like 28 so yeah.

He’s a little hyper about stuff too like l forget my clothes in the shower room sometimes cause there is no door to the shower room really and just a high shelf to put your stuff on.

And then I got some water on the floor (not that much) and he came and asked me to clean it up. That is what actually annoyed me and prompted me to write this.

There is a rule that everyone takes turns cleaning the common areas too which is understandable. And when it was my turn I know I did a way more thorough job than those before me because I cleaned a lot of mold of the walls in the bathroom, cleaned the toilet, vacuumed, and basically did a lot more cleaning than others did.

It also seems slightly weird to me that everyone else that lives here including the manager is Taiwanese or Chinese. That seems slightly selective.

It’s not that cheap

I pay 50,000 for that little room 103. Like I said the location is good, but the room is small and it’s a little noisy.

I know that I can get a room – a studio in the same area for like 35,000 no problem ( I pay 30,000 now for my own studio) but I need a visa.

There’s another business in it

On the 2nd floor there is a uber eats business that landlord is starting in one of the empty rooms right next to mine.

It’s not too big of a deal, but between like 10am and 2-3pm some days of the week this guy is like making and selling food in the kitchen. And he walks really hard too. You can really hear him trudge along the floor.

That’s my review.

I am still here at the moment, but I just don’t like this whole sharehouse thing. This is the second one I stayed in. It’s not for me. So if you have a visa I would just go and look for a place on your own. I can’t see what the advantage is of staying in a sharehouse.

It’s random and you don’t chose your roommates.

Yesterday I took a bike ride to Imazu beach in Western Fukuoka

On Saturday I went to Itoshima to train Kosen judo at Kyushu university. Along the way I got to see some beaches. So I went back yesterday.

I found a spot on the map that didn’t look too far and headed out. It was pretty nice. There were few people there and the water was pretty clear.

It took maybe an hour and 20 minutes or so to get there.

I just checked on the map and it said it was 12km from Fujisaki station. Roundtrip was 24km so about 14 miles. Sounds like a lot but most of it was a nice ride.

“Have you ever spent time in Santa Fe?”

“There’s a subculture of healing there.

The idea is that there is something therapeutic in the atmosphere and it’s a safe place to go and get yourself together. There are other places like Santa Barbara and Ohai, California come to mind, usually populated by upper middle class people with more time and money than they know what to do with in which a culture of healing also retains…

The concept in all of these environments seems to be that one needs to complete his healing before one is ready to do his work. This form of thinking… is a form of resistance.

What are we trying to heal anyway?

The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain free. He has to play hurt. Remember the part of us we think needs healing is not the part we create from. That part is far deeper and stronger…

The part where we create from can’t be touched by anything our parents did or society did.”

Taken from THE WAR OF ART – Steven Pressfield

I heard about this book many, many years ago first from Seth Godin in the book Linchpin and just finally got the audiobook. It’s good.

What do you do?

Thinking out loud here.

I am seeking an answer that I like.

  1. I teach people how to teach English especially to kids in Asia.
  2. I teach and inspire people.
  3. I make stuff that is sometimes creative and wacky.
  4. I work online.
  5. I take people who are having a bad time teaching abroad and transform them.
  6. I revolutionize people’s experience teaching abroad.
  7. I tell people the truth.
  8. I humor, inspire and teach people how to teach English in Asia.
  9. I create stuff.
  10. I am an artist.
  11. I make something that is drab and boring into something fun, creative and life changing. Teaching English sound like a drag? Here’s how to make it fun…
  12. I try to bring color, truth and courage.
  13. I scratch records, beatbox and make art outside.
  14. I paint.
  15. I practice judo and jiu-jitsu because it’s fun, challenging and courageous.

What does my website to? What do I want it to do?

  1. I want it to transform teaching English abroad from something ordinary and routine to something extraordinary.
  2. I don’t want to BS people. I want to tell them the truth and help them.
  3. I want to help them to avoid the BS. If I can inspire them.

Selling to teachers who are already abroad

Thinking out loud again.

This time I am thinking about selling to a different person. In a previous post the one that had that Seth Godin quote as the title I talked about selling to a person mostly who hasn’t taught abroad yet.

I think this person has a different set of problems. This person is mostly focused on transitioning or moving abroad. Maybe that’s why so many TEFL course providers show all these places of exotic beaches and temples, etc.

Maybe this person is in a bit of an escape or vacation mindset. They know nothing about teaching – usually. They are also scared and anxious and maybe why that’s why they fall for the course that says it’s accredited, internationally recognized, reputable, has a guaranteed job, etc.

Maybe all of those things give them a peace of mind.

You don’t say those things or offer them. And despite the fact that they don’t matter and most experienced teachers know that those things don’t matter the new teacher is scared and ignorant.

I was reading on Seth’s blog about babysitters. And he was saying that what babysitters sell is a peace of mind. The parents don’t really care about her skills, really it’s about a POM.

So maybe it’s the same with new teachers who haven’t made it.

For those teachers it’s about transitioning. They are scared and they want security and promises.

Now let’s talk about the teacher who is already there.

They are not all the same.

A fewer percent of them are looking for certification. Fewer of them are considering taking a course, but I know some of them have problems.

What problems?

I can only talk about the problems I had:

  • Students that ignore you
  • Students that don’t pay attention
  • Bored students
  • Difficult students
  • Students that speak when you speak
  • Students that speak Chinese, Korea, etc. in class
  • Chaos in the classroom
  • Students who won’t talk
  • Large classes
  • Students who don’t want to be there
  • Stress

Are you happy with teaching? Do you like teaching? Do you think you can improve?

I know you can improve.

Because I did.

Before I started teaching I said I am not a teacher. And then I tried to ease into it. But even though I was only teaching 15 hours or so in my first year it was difficult.

Then came year two and then year 3 and then things gradually improved. Teaching was always challenging, well not all of my classes, just some of them and then there were the problems outside the classroom like:

Culture.

Living in a foreign country.

Language.

And.

Trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life or where I was going to go.

Those were problems too.

I didn’t know what was next. I didn’t know what I should do. I didn’t know how to make the most of my time.

Then there was the job. There were always people that I had conflicts with. Always? Not always, but there were co-teachers that I didn’t like and there was a manager I didn’t like and then I had this bad experience with a recruiter and even one boss who tried pocketing my tax money.

All of those people added to my stress.

So can I be a role model for them? Not really, since my experience was so not perfect. Knowing what I know now though would help a lot inside the classroom and outside the classroom.

How?

Teaching. I got better with time and effort. You definitely have to make an effort if you want to change. I can’t change it for them. It’s not a silver bullet, but I can offer them a lot of guidance and I can relate.

I can offer them the best materials too.

I can help them save time.

I wasn’t a natural teacher. But teaching is a skill. It’s like anything that is a skill. Some people are going to have more talent or be more natural at it, but you can improve. But again you have to put in the effort.

Honestly, I was a bit lazy and reluctant to put the effort in. But if I was to do it again I would have put the effort in early on so that the teaching would have been better.

Back when I started teaching in 2004 there weren’t any good websites for learning and I would spend a lot of time searching, reading and looking for something that would make my classes better.

But what I learned is that it wasn’t one thing.

I needed to learn many things. Honestly I started to learn a lot more about teaching when I started working on this website. The process of making videos to demonstrate teaching techniques helped me.

Reading instructional stuff on the web was REALLY BORING and the quality was really poor too. So that’s why I started to make videos of activities and techniques that I had learned.

It was because that I learned that watching other teachers (usually the experienced ones) was the easiest way to learn how to teach.

I know how to improve your situation.

I can relate.

I can help you inside the classroom and outside because they are related. This course starts with the first and focuses more on that. If you improve your teaching you will improve you overall state of mind abroad.

You will have a better experience.

I can’t promise that you will love it, but I know you can improve your situation. I know you can change. You just have to want to change.

Are you committed to making a change?

 

“You sell the story the person tells themselves”

Thinking out loud here.

That is a quote by Seth Godin. I am not sure what he means exactly. And in this post I am going to try to think about what that means to me as I have a marketing problem because I feel like people are just not getting my message on ESLinsider.

You’re probably anxious about going abroad. You don’t know who to trust and you are probably not sure what you need. You want to make a change and you want a job, but it’s a whole new beginning and I have to say the challenges that you are having right now aren’t going to go away when you get a job.

In fact if your experience is anything like mine then your challenges are going to increase when you get abroad and start teaching. Sorry to say that. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s part of the truth. Teaching is hard and it’s especially hard when you have no experience.

Yes, there’s excitement that comes with something new, but it wears off and if you are not enjoying your day to day life then you won’t be very happy.

That’s why I made this course. It’s because I want you to have a better experience teaching than I had.

Look if you just want to get a job then you don’t always need a certificate to do so, but if you just want a certificate to check the box then go to Groupon.

The reality is that on paper TEFL certificates are viewed mostly the same by most employers. The brand doesn’t really matter. Sure some schools may be familiar with some brand names, but they are in a different country and they don’t really care about certificates.

What do they care about?

Many schools just want a good teacher and 99% of schools value experience more than any certificate. A certificate is just a piece of paper that shows that you supposedly learned something. “Supposedly” is the key word because if it’s a low quality course without any teaching observation, feedback and it’s just not targeted towards who you will be teaching then you probably won’t remember much of it.

And it’s the same if you chase the carrot – the certificate.

It’s like that saying that life is a journey and not a destination. It’s the same with a course.

And it’s not all your fault.

It’s the education system. It’s focused on ends too like grades and useless archaic info to memorize that just goes in one ear and out the other. With TEFL courses that useless info is called studying English grammar and teaching theory.

The 2 other courses I have taken were boring and impractical. I learned a lot of… well I shouldn’t say learn because most of it went in one ear and out the other.

I took a TESOL course before I went to Taiwan (my first country) in 2004 and if I remembered right it was “accredited”, claimed to be “internationally recognized”, said it was a 120 “hour” TESOL course and offered a “guaranteed job”…

I later realized that none of those things mattered and the whole “hour” thing was a bit of BS and I could find more jobs on my own if I just looked.

So what mattered?

The teaching is what matters. What you learn in the course is what matters. The process matters.


“Don’t do it for proof, do it because the learning itself is worth it.” – Seth Godin