In this edition of TMA Role Models we meet Glenn Tanner, and interview him about how martial arts has helped his school and university life, his passion for teaching and the opportunities he has earned by continuing to train even when injuries or peer pressure offered a very different alternative. At this time of year it is easy to consider quitting martial arts because you are worried about moving to a new school and the legendary amounts of extra home-work that you’ll be getting, but really this couldn’t be further from the truth. So take a moment to meet our TMA Role Models. These students all continued to train in the martial arts throughout their school life and have achieved amazing things. 1. How old were you when you started training and why did you choose martial arts? At the age of 14 I was a keen rugby player, but an injury prone one at that. The latest injury was a torn knee cartilage and I was looking for something a little gentler to get my fitness back up to scratch. Of course the logical choice was a combat sport! Martial Arts had always been somewhat of an urban legend to me. I grew up watching movies about black belts and fighters never once thinking that I could become one. It is still quite unbelievable to me that I can fight black belts and hold my own against them. 2. How has martial arts training helped you at school (better concentration, grades, confidence etc)? The discipline has been invaluable to my growth and education in and out of the dojo. Now as an instructor I can also appreciate the shear level of trust it takes to teach people. Not me trusting them but people trusting me. I taught my first lesson when I was only 17, yet I was put in a position of telling people twice my age or even older how to improve themselves. Being taught by Shihan or any of the Senseis before becoming an instructor was second nature to me and I never once questioned their desire to help me. Now that I can proudly consider myself one of them I can truly appreciate the level of trust that takes. The incredible level of trust and respect that is highly beneficial as a student and highly humbling as an instructor. 3. How do you balance homework against your training, has training helped you be more organised or helped you cope with the stress of moving up to a new school? Personally, I don’t think that I would have done very well at school without kickboxing. I believe that you need that work and play balance and to me training or teaching has never felt like work. Being able to focus that energy and channel it into something safe, physical and healthy gives my mind a much needed break when I get too caught up in work. 4. Did you ever feel like quitting training? I’ve never just wanted to quit, however, about one year ago I ran into serious trouble with my old knee injury. It’s an injury that I’ve had since started training but never really caused any severe trouble. That changed when I started training for my 2nd Dan Blackbelt. I went hard, really hard; running most days, in the gym every day and doing as much sparring as many repetitions of technique as I could. The pain got bad and I ignored it, and then it got worse and I still ignored it. The pain became so severe I had to stop training and even had trouble walking for a time. At this point I was ready to through in the towel. Take up Brazillian Ju Jitsu, or boxing, anything that didn’t require kicking. But then I sat on the panel for the grading that I was meant to be taking and was blown away by the incredible determination of Sensei Paula and Carl Pinchbeck. Despite Carl’s multiple injuries he pushed on and performed incredibly! Then there was Paula who will never stop training, never stop trying to improve herself and never give up. Her dedication to her students continues to her own ability which is vital for any good instructor. In comparison there was only one thing wrong with me and something fairly minor in comparison. So I rested it, took up cycling rather than running and now my kicks have never been stronger! Not only that but it is now rare I feel any pain. Of course never work yourself to injury, but if you ever feel like you can’t do something just try a different approach and if you really want something never give in. 5. If you had to give someone one piece of advice about balancing home/school/work and martial arts what would it be? It’s all about time management. Work hard at school. If you are going to revise – revise, as Shihan often says, “Wherever you are, be there 100%”. If you are revising give your all to it, if you are at school focus and concentrate with every fibre of your being, when you train, leave it all on the mat. Don’t do what many of us do and do everything not to revise in that time and don’t say to yourself you’ve done 6 hours revision when you have really only done 1 good hour. I’m a terrible culprit for that bad habit. But at the same time don’t work yourself to exhaustion. Life is about balance, the Ying and Yang that we always talk about some times the hard with the soft, the work with the play. Make sure you work hard because it is important and you will reap the rewards of doing so I promise you that. But always remember that you have to relax your brain just like any other muscle after exertion. 6. If you have left school where are you now I’m going into my fourth year of University but every time I return, I look forward to coming back to Tring Martial Arts to train. I am fortunate enough as well that Shihan has always found time for me to teach as well. I have a very privileged position where I can learn from new instructors and new martial arts at university and then bring that knowledge and new abilities back to Tring Martial Arts. I feel that Tring Martial Arts is as much my home and Tring itself!