Updated: Nov 21, 2019
When I first started teaching, it was helping out at my local stables, teaching kids how to ride horses. I absolutely loved it, and would do anything to spend just a little more time each week, helping out. It wasn’t just the horses I loved, it was the fact that people would ask me questions and value my opinion.
As I moved onwards and upwards, multiple jobs later, I settled in Thailand. Again, I was teaching but this time I had up to 40 children a day in my care, each speaking a vast array of languages. The harder the job became, the more I loved it. My favourite sound of the day came every morning when I was greeted with a chorus of, “Good morning, Teacher Helen!”
Leaving that job was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I promised myself I wouldn’t stop teaching. Fusing my life passions: MMA, teaching, and strength and conditioning, seemed to be a no-brainer.
Coaching is, without a doubt, the most satisfying job I could ever imagine. However, as with every role, it does have its pro’s and con’s.
The pro’s are easy: I get to teach people about the thing I love, and I get paid to do it! Life could not be better. As a female MMA coach, I’ve come up against it though. I’ve heard it all:
“No offence, but I just like to learn from a man”.
“I don’t think a woman could teach as well as a man could”.
“Women shouldn’t be doing MMA anyway”.
As charming as those comments are, I try to look past them, and remember why I love my sport, and why I love to coach.
Some days, after teaching some specific techniques, I watch my students sparring. When I see something I’ve just taught being pulled off, I can’t help but beam from ear to ear. Those moments are what makes everything worthwhile.
Despite our MMA team in its infancy, I’ve been encouraging my students to compete and fight in amateur competitions. One of my students won his first two fights and his first grappling tournament and again, I found myself unable to stop smiling.
Lately, I’ve decided to go back to my roots. I found MMA because I needed a form of self-defence. I was constantly scared for my life. I regularly refer to the year before discovering MMA as the worst year of my life, and have no shame in admitting that I almost ended my life several times.
After dragging myself back from rock bottom, I made a solemn vow that I would help anyone I came across that had been in a similar situation. The problem with my vow, is that it’s not often that people in those situations are in a position to ask for help.
Instead, I decided that along with my MMA team, I would create some preventative measures. I didn’t see all the bad things coming, but if those I teach are prepared for it, then maybe they will. Maybe they won’t have to go through what I went through. Here’s hoping.
My new mission, is to create an atmosphere where women can learn about the serious subject of self-defence, whilst having an enormous amount of fun (I truly believe that the more comfortable and relaxed you are, the better you learn and retain information).