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An Interview with Coach Meg

Meg Weathers is a Krav Maga coach at DFW Combat Co. with a Brown Belt in Krav Maga at time of writing. She teaches Krav Maga Fundamentals and Heavy Bag, and also trains in Muay Thai and BJJ classes.

Daniel H - Alright, so this is Meg Weathers. …Hey, thanks for coming in. …I'm going to do my podcast voice.

Meg W - Alright, cool!

DH - So how long have you been training? When did you start?

MW - That's a really good question… I want to say 2016?

DH - Okay.

MW - Yeah, I'm pretty sure.

DH - If that's what you want to go with.

MW - Well, hold on, that can't be true… Oh, no! It was 2013.

DH - Really?

MW - Yes. Oh my gosh….Okay.

DH - Ten years now?

MW - I trained for three years and then I moved for two years and then came back.

DH - That's right! Yeah, you moved to Indonesia, right?

MW - Singapore.

DH - Singapore, okay.

DH - Okay, so what got you involved in training in the first place?

MW - So I used to play roller derby and I liked hitting things… and people. I also had an ACL tear and the sport just wasn't for me anymore, so I needed to switch it up and I wanted to try martial arts. Looking around at the options, I found Krav Maga and thought self-defense was very practical. And to be honest, I was looking for a workout predominantly, and I thought I wanted that workout to be useful.

I took a trial class and it was ground (which is a polarizing activity). And the instructor actually invited me back for a combatives too based on the description of me “liking to hit things” and I just loved it.

DH - So then how would you say that martial arts or training at the gym has transformed your life?

MW - I think a couple of different ways… So, one, there's the obvious fitness aspect (and I think I was reasonably fit before joining the gym) but I think that has definitely improved because having a training goal really matters. In Krav there's a very practical application of that training goal since you’re moving towards defending yourself. It may sound cliché, but I believe that sports in general and this kind of stuff really gives an opportunity for confidence building for women.

I say women, but also people in general.

The awareness of what it really takes to win a fight and what it really feels like makes you feel more prepared to be out on the street. I think that is something that I've kind of learned over time.

For example, “physics is real” and learning that in a safe environment actually informs then how you would defend yourself.

DH - You learn to respect physics a little bit more, I guess?

MW - You learn to respect physics and also know what tools are available to you.

I'm much more aware than I used to be of my surroundings, which has slowly built over time. I wouldn't say that it's dropped into paranoia by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm usually aware now of what's around me, and I think that helps.

DH - You mentioned it's helped with your confidence, but you've always struck me as a very confident person… you'd say that it's helped you become more so?

MW - No, no, I think it has. Because things like doing a fight, doing a defense, or going through some of the tests that we've done (certainly the instructor certs) I think they help you test your limits. And when you're testing those limits after a six-hour test it proves that things that you maybe thought were unachievable are in fact possible.

Actually when I originally joined I never thought I'd be going for my black belt.

I thought if I could get my green belt, I would be ecstatic.

I've never considered myself coordinated.

I've never considered myself someone who had any natural talent at this kind of thing (and I still don't)

I think I just work my butt off.

DH - You can say ass. It's fine. It's going on my website, so you can say ass.

MW - Well, I work my ass off.

I train a lot because I like it, and I've been able to achieve things, even things like jumping kicks and spinning kicks… I have no natural talent for those.

I have to work really, really hard to even be halfway proficient at them, but I think doing all that proves to yourself that you can, that things that you thought were unavailable to you are in fact achievable, and that's very cool.

DH - What was the biggest challenge you've had to overcome since you started training here, that training has helped you overcome?

MW - Self-doubt.

DH - Yeah?

MW - Honestly, yeah. Yeah. I really am extremely self-critical. I mean, I'm not saying it's one of my more sparkling personality traits, but I had my days, and after sparring, rolling, those kinds of things… I would leave class and think, “why am I even doing this?”

DH – And training has helped with that?

MW – Oh yeah, absolutely.

DH - So besides just being able to achieve what you didn't think you were capable of, what helped you see that that you're capable of doing more?

MW - Some of it is just persistence but a lot of it is the instructors, you know? People willing to put their time in and saying “I will get you there if you just do the reps.” I've had a number of instructors here help me. Practically all of them, to be honest.

I think that's huge, because they're saying “don't be so down on yourself, all we have to do is rep this.”

And they were right. It was difficult for me to see that by myself.

A great example was at the blue belt test. I didn't fail it, but I missed some techniques on it.

DH – Sure, I remember that.

MW - That was a really tough blow, because I'd worked very, very hard for that, and to work that hard and to still miss on a couple of things was painful, you know, mentally speaking.

I still think I struggled a little bit with it, but, you know, just sort of having that opportunity to say, “don't worry about it, it's a handful of things and we'll get you there,” like, really was a huge impact.

DH - You say you also appreciate not just the support that you got from the coaches, but also their honesty?

MW - Yeah, yeah, yeah….

DH - Integrity, I guess, might be another word.

MW - Integrity, yeah. I never had an issue with that, because I'm also a person who wants to do it right.

I don't want to be told, you know, “we’ll give it a pass”, I guess, for lack of a better phrase. You know? I want to do it correctly. I think the coaches here (and I've worked with quite a few of them), if they know that you want to learn and they know that you have an interest, they are dogged in driving that.

DH – So now that you are a coach yourself and have been for some time I'm sure that it has informed your opinion on what a good coach is. What is your philosophy on coaching? Like, what do you see your role as for people coming up who are now in the situation that you were in when you first started?

MW - I think it’s a couple of things. There’s a certain sense of safety, a certain sense of fun, a sense of progress… I think all of those things are super important because if people don't want to go to class, then they're not really going to get the training that they're looking for and that they need.

I think there’s certainly a commitment to really understanding and knowing the technique and training regularly. You don't want to be showing up with subpar knowledge so you have to stay on top of it.

I think you also have to speak to each individual as best you can in a class environment. Everybody learns differently. Everybody wants feedback differently.

The more your students come, the more you get to know them and get to determine, “these people like to be nitpicked, these people need to be given just one thing to work on in that class so that they can absorb it.”

All of that combined is tricky, but over time it gets a lot easier

DH – So then for someone who's just starting out but they're struggling? One of the most common things that I see as a coach is people maybe not understanding the technique right away. Everybody understands how to work out hard, but really getting the technique and kind of “getting it” [the technique] is the hard part. What advice would you give them?

MW - I think, one, persistence. Go to more classes. Go to classes longer. Don't be brought down if you feel like you need a little more time than someone else.

I'm certainly someone that can speak to that. I overcame it just by persistence and frequency, recency and training all the time.

If you put in the work, it will pay off. And if you need to, find different ways to work a technique.

You can do dry work at home. You don't need a partner to do that. You can do shadowboxing by yourself. You can work your striking and your technique in heavy bag. You can get a partner outside of class and you can do reps.

DH – So use the resources, trust the process.

MW - Use the resources, trust the process and stay committed. Realize that if you're getting feedback of how to make something a little bit better it's not a reflection on you as a person. It's just a reflection that maybe there's a nuance to the technique that you hadn't heard before.

DH – We've talked a little bit about what's ahead for you. Going for black belt this year?

MW - Yeah.

DH – What else are you working on?

DH – My level three and four [instructor] cert.

I've already been training in Muay Thai, so I'm going to keep training in that.

I started upping a lot my time in BJJ… that's been nice because I definitely want to advance there as well.

So I think those just those three things, with the black belt, level three and four cert are probably… that's enough. That's enough for the next year.

DH – Yeah. That's a lot.

MW - Right now it's mostly about my black belt.

DH – What does it mean to you to be a woman in combat sports and self defense, which is usually more male oriented or male dominated?

MW - I think, arguably speaking, women need to be in it more than men do.

DH – I fully agree.

MW - Or anyone who who is at risk of or consistently, you know, somehow at risk of violence. There's quite a few, I think, communities that meet that description.

I think it comes back to that confidence building with learning even basic strikes and awareness.

Situational awareness is massive. People are looking for a victim. If you transition yourself into a state where you don’t look like a victim, that has a massive impact on that kind of thing.

Also I've always said if I get into a street fight with someone who's much bigger than me, I may or may not win, but they're going down with me.

DH – I love it.

MW - So I am not going down easily.

And I think combat sports gives you the tools to say, “I know how to punch back, I know how to fight, I know how to take a punch.”

I think that knowledge and that awareness is so important for women that they just have to learn aggression.

DH – And that goes back again to what you were saying before about building your own confidence?

MW – You bet.

DH – And so would you say that part of your role as a coach is to help foster that for women or groups that are usually victimized?

MW – Women have a tendency, societally speaking, to diminish their own power because we're taught to do that.

And that is how it is.

I've been told at work to be more feminine. It's weird because it's not like my job requires me to be more feminine. That's stuff that we hear all the time.

And I think women walk in and they don't know how to be aggressive and powerful because they've been told their entire life to be sweet and kind and permissive and these other things.

They need someone to not only tell them how but to give them permission to do it.

DH – So how does that translate into class?

MW – So it's a lot of ways. One, I push my women very hard to show aggression.

I do that by giving myself as a target and saying, “I can take it. If I can take it, you can take it.”

No one likes to be hit. I don't like to be hit, but it's not going to drop me if that happens.

I think they need to know what they're capable of achieving and they just need to be pushed to do that.

DH – Outstanding. A couple other random questions if that's okay… Who is your favorite fictional martial arts oriented character from video games, movies, books?

MW – Oh man.

You know, immediate reaction, I want to say Chun-Li because I played a ton of Street Fighter… and she has amazing legs. I love that she just destroys people with them.

DH – What real world people do you look up to? Who are your training idols?

MW – You know, there's quite a few. There's a couple Muay Thai fighters that I love watching just because they are so powerful and technical. I don't follow the fight world very closely, but any strong female athlete is inspiring in some ways.

Serena Williams is an easy example.

Because she's a beast.

And I know she's not in this space.

DH – She's the GOAT.

MW – Yeah, she's the GOAT. What she's been able to achieve and how she does it… she's also stood up for feminism in her own space. I know she's not a martial artist, and there's a ton of really talented female martial artists. Every time I watch a ring fight and I see some women in there, I'm impressed as hell.

DH – What do you do in your spare time?

MW – What spare time? This is what I do in my spare time. Yeah, this is it man. I mean, I think this gym is affordable, and I think it's an incredible opportunity for women. It's very cool.

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