"For $3000+ a year YOU TOO CAN HAVE THESE MEMORIES!!!" - Another side to West Wind
I want to start this off with saying this is going to be long and factual. I will try and answer as many questions that may come up as I can. I was there for about three years starting in 99/00 or so. I got pretty far in the system, and pretty high up as I left the school a Senior (full time ) Instructor. I'm taking the time to write my story and really just memories for a couple reasons.
First, after googling West Wind just the other day and stumbling across Bunyip's thread and all the goodness within it, I haven't been able to stop laughing. I hope maybe my story(ies) may be able to bring some joy to someone else one day. (Side note: I've actually met Bunyip a year or so ago at Mod Com in Berkeley right before I moved to AZ. He was a great guy. Really nice and down to Earth. Although I can't remember his name to save my life, it's ironic to read his opinions a year after meeting the guy. )
Second, I wanted to write something that was more geared to the former West Wind student/instructor than your typical BS'er. I do believe what I write will be entertaining to all, so don't worry about that. But after I did some more digging on BS and realized just how many scorned WWers there are on here, I figured we should have a place we can go to an laugh at all of the silliness we experienced.
Last, I've lost contact with people I consider myself close to over the years (old students, fellow instructors, etc) and would love to reconnect. Hopefully they will be some old WW'ers on here and we can have another party like we did back in 03.
With all that said I would like to finish up with one last disclaimer. It's 1:30 where I am. I can't promise a literary masterpiece, but I do promise to TRY and keep it all entertaining and informative.
Honestly, it wasn't all bad. I'm not trying to start all positively like a fool on purpose, but after reading these other threads and seeing the GLORIOUS C.O.R.E. picture, I can't help but laugh at it all. If you were there and have been gone for a substantial amount of time, I'm sure you know what I mean. For the un-initiated, here is some insight:
Can anyone believe just how over the top the respect thing was? And the ways they would test you? I mean COME ON! I remember after doing formants or stripe (now dan) tests and having to then be mindful of who sits down first, second, third, etc. Like seriously. I just busted my ass in a small dank school (old Berkeley, not new Berkeley)... I'm sweating bullets which was customary because the amount of warm bodies in that place made the San Fernando Valley feel like the North Pole by comparison, and now you want me to think about "the rules" of sitting?! ... AWESOME! Just plain awesome!
Or what about the time wasting tradition of the instructor having to say sit three times to any one student before they would do so? How many people loved that little piece of Heaven? I remember when I would teach students I respected; you know... the ones who were actually higher ranking than me (regardless of my red belt), had been there longer, and were all around older, wiser and deserved to be treated in a certain regard... well I remember teaching them in group classes and "wanting" to tell them all a story while they sat down... only to have to go through that whole dog and pony show. God, I remember always looking at THOSE students thinking "I'm really sorry I'm having to ask you to sit down three times, because I know your just as sick of this **** as I am." I mean I was 19 or 20 for Christ sake, telling HIGHER STUDENTS who were 30+ when they could sit down. How stupid did that look?! Lets now throw in the fact that MOST of the people I taught who where higher ranking than me KNEW EXACTLY HOW MUCH LOWER I WAS because they SAW MY ASS AS A WHITE BELT! It's not rocket science ya know!
Back to the sitting...
I actually don't know what is worse: The process of getting a group to sit, or what would happen when a higher ranking INSTRUCTOR would walk by?! ...MADNESS I TELL YOU! MADNESS! So, for conversation sake lets make up an instructor level chart real quick. 1-5, 5 being the highest. Well I was a 2. Now if a 3,4 or 5 walked by if I had my class/students... HELL ANYBODY FOR THAT MATTER sitting down, everyone sitting would immediately stand up. Frustrating considering I just had to ask x people to sit THREE TIMES BEFORE THEY WOULD, and now it was all in vein because Mr. S walked by to get the phone. I would now be back to square one: SIT SIT SIT! (yes, instructors ACTUALLY DID SAY IT LIKE THAT when the situation required it.)
Guess what is supposed to happen though if lets say a level 1 instructor walks by? NOTHING! Guess what WOULD happen when a 1 instructor walks by? EVERYONE STANDS UP! ... ....
I've come to the conclusion that the United States Constitution is in fact, less confusing than the rules in which people can sit (or have to stand) at West Wind Schools.
That's it for now. Tomorrow I'll go into other such funny things like: Students not being allowed to watch/look at instructors while they worked out/lessons. Hours of a full time instructor and how they differed from part time instructors (more than what you may think.) And something that I'm sure will be a crowd-pleaser: Pay structures!
Oh and if anyone could get me in contact with a Beka that would be great. The email she had listed on some threads is inactive and I can't PM just yet. Any help would be great. See you tomorrow!
I'm moving this thread to MABS
"Do as I say not as I do because, the ****'s so deep you can't run away..."
I think that line from the Green Day song "Walking Contradiction" best sums up this next subject: Students not being allowed to watch instructors work out or have lessons.
Simple answer: Its just dumb. But then again all of you probably already knew that, so I'm going to give you my take on the whole conspiracy.
So let me paint the picture for you. When I started at the Berkeley school, it was on San Pablo Ave underneath an apartment building. The school had about 6 or so private rooms; rooms that were about 8x8, most likely smaller. On their side of the school was one of two "group" mats. One dubbed the small mat (which was from the original school, as a few years prior to this WW bought out the storefront next to them thus doubling their space) and the other was the large mat, on the newer side of the school. Men changing rooms were on the small mat side (right), women on the large mat side (left). All this is important, I assure you. Because see... you had to walk PAST either mat in order to get to the changing area, or leave in... Remember that.
So you change and go to leave and all the sudden an instructor would be working out on one of the mats. You were supposed to KNOCK on some surface around you to let that instructor know you were trying to pass... THEN WAIT for them to acknowledge you and let you go by BEFORE you could leave the changing room. Or enter that area for that matter... Thats right. You couldn't just walk by and advert your eyes... NO NO NO you had to wait for the "it's okay to pass" message which was "COME IN!" yelled in some weird bark. Everyone did this bark. You couldn't tell who was actually on the mat from the voice because everyone sounded the same.
You may be thinking what would happen if you didn't do this. Well on more than one occasion someone would knock to pass and NO ONE would answer! After a certain amount of time and knocking 2-4 times extra the student would just walk by only to get "REMINDED" that they weren't allowed to pass until told! REMINDED= Politely reminded of the traditions of the school, being yelled at for knowing better, and then sometmes being sent back to where they were until they were told they could pass! Awesome huh?
Okay so now lets actually get to the whole why you can't watch part. You basically can't watch because you really don't want to. With a VERY FEW exceptions, the old saying holds true at West Wind: Those that can, DO. Those that can't, TEACH
When I finally became an instructor I clearly was around the school a whole lot more. That time multiplied 10 fold when I went full time. So it really wasn't until I became an instructor when I learned how just.. weird some of these people's form truly was! As funny as it would be to name names, I'm not going to. Sorry. You all are just going to have to wait for the book entitled "Memoirs of a McDojo" that I"m now determined to work on. But the noises I heard from a lot of the instructors who worked out there were just alarming. And their faces were down right pornographic at times. Which always made me chuckle on the inside because I have video tape of myself from tests and formats and such (well I used to at least, just tried to find some and can't to save my life) I didn't look like Bruce Lee or anything, but I also didn't look like a retard, okay? And I remember how my instructor(s) always used to get on me because I didn't have the "look" they were looking for while I did what I did. I mean.. .what look was that? An O-Face while I was doing a technique?!? What was wrong with my kia? (or however you spell it) Did I not have enough animal sound in it?
Legit, if I could back in time and make a mix tape of all the sounds I heard from most of the Instructors working out, I'm confident that it would sound like a Rhinoceros fucking a Llama. Now I don't know what that sounds like exactly, but I ask in your faith of my story so far. That wombo-combo of sound production would make the PERFECT EXAMPLE of a Rhino fucking a Llama. Period.
The other reason students weren't allowed to watch? A lot of it just looked BAD! Like "WOW! And your teaching me again because?!" ... You know what, that's kinda not true. Let me be more specific. No one is perfect (except for Fedor, but that's a whole 'nother topic on a different thread.) People train in things to get as good as they can. People have their highs and lows. It's human nature. Some days are worse than others. But what I saw from most of the people there in their own practice was magnified to be as bad as I think it looked... because ... get this... of the "SUPREME WARGOD IMAGE" EVER INSTRUCTOR was SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT! AND YOU CAN QUOTE ME ON THE QUOTE-UNQUOTE of the Supreme Wargod crap.
Yes... I did just say that the instructors were taught, and most believed that they were the Second Coming. And you know what. It's kinda hard to be Jesus come back when you are having a tough time with that Arcing Heel Kick of yours, or you forgot a technique you learned about 8 years ago... Wouldn't you agree?
West Wind instructors are human. Nothing more, nothing less. Now, sure. We can argue that a lot of them are either brain washing people, or brain washed themselves. I wouldn't argue that. But that makes them no less human. And humans make mistakes. (Again, unless your Fedor Emelianenko. Or Jack Bauer. He doesn't **** up either.) The whole problem is they're clearly not perfect. The higher ups need to work on their craft more than they do, which is why their students are often more proficient than they are, and the lower instructors aren't black belts yet and are often trying to do their part in "mastering" new **** they just learned the week before.
In a nutshell: I have seen students who were much more talented martial artists than instructors that were there. Main reason they didn't get a red belt is they could see past the bullshit. The instructors working out looked just horrible because of the laughable facial expressions, weird animal noises, and often times poor technique that was being worked on. I would like to now give the short list of Instructors that I had the pleasure of working with, working out with or was able to watch without getting caught and looked good, sounded good and was actually GOOD at what they did:
A. Draper, E. Swanson, S. Flint, D. Murphy, D. Kelly, E. Shipp was pretty talented, P. Flores, K. Flint, D. Mickelson, Hickman, T.Jenkins, and my absolute favorite... "ABSOLUTELY" Adam Bradley. Now I know that may seem like a long list... but hear me out. There are 12 names there. 12 Names over the 3 years I was there, plus my return journey in 2005/2006 which I'll talk about too. When I was there for the first three years PLEASE understand The system LITERALLY went through 100 instructors. There were at that time 4 schools, and each had about 10 instructors, plus turnover. No Fucking joke. Of the 12 I have listed here 3 left the system within my first 6 months there, 4 left after a year, and only 1 remains there to this day... Think about that, will ya?
I'll be back later today to do my part in explaining the student/part time/full time relationship, as well as covering the pay structure. Both, how much was asked, how much the school MADE (that number will make your brain fall out of your heads) and how much was actually trickled down.
See ya in a bit.
I'm really enjoying this thread. :)
As am I. *makes popcorn*
Originally Posted by Samuel Browning
Lovely read. Entertaining and informative. Along with our latest FengCrapDo visitor this making for a fantasticly positive week in the war on silliness in martial arts :)
You are a total Douchbag. Train more, post nevermore.
FickleFingerOfFate -08-21-2007 08:59 AM
just die already.
Plasma - 08-20-2007 11:45 PM
Best MA website ever!!!!!: http://www.dogjudo.co.uk/
You know something is wrong when they make you an instructor after only three years
Oh my god, someone FINALLY is telling it all..
I LOVE THIS...
Please keep the truth coming! It's so true that it wasn't all bad to start with. I do have fond memories of some people I've met there and I'm still good friends to this day. However the pay scale will blow people's minds (how crazy was I? really).
Love this..Can't get enough of it.:karated:
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO