By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts
We all have our reasons why and some of those reasons are much more honorable than just doing it for money. Sure, it is nice to be paid for an expertise that you have acquired due to spending your hard-earned money and your extremely valuable time. But money is not everything! Sometimes we teach due to a much higher calling.
So I ask those that do teach, “why do you teach?
I’ll start with my story.
I have been teaching in some form or another since I was a very young boy. My father taught me how to fight and I passed those skills on to most of my friends. It was one thing to know how to fight, but it was always better when all of my friends knew how to fight also. Alone, you were a force that caused concern……together, almost nobody messed with us. When you are on the streets……nobody messing with you is a very important thing……a matter of “life or death” thing. So in the beginning “teaching” was done as something that ultimately benefited me. Sure, were there times that I had to fight friends that I had taught? Of course there were! Having friends that pushed you to a higher standard was always seen as a plus. ”
“Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another.”
In this time period, teaching was about self-preservation, status, and the strength of the pride.
As time went on the call of the street began to fade and the endless crime and violence were beginning to take their toll on me. I was already dead and had nothing to live for past that final inevitable fight. Then I met a man, an Instructor, and a God send, his name was Jerry Shopfner. He could teach any course in the Community College, but he chose to teach the people who were the roughest in the school, the Auto Collision Repair students. He chose to teach “the street” because he was once “street.” When he was young, he was labeled a “moron” because he had dyslexia before anyone knew what dyslexia was. He dropped out of school at twelve years old and started working at a body shop. At eighteen he met a man who understood dyslexia and taught him that he was not a moron. Jerry went back to school and took courses every year until I met him. He was sixty-three when I met him and a Professor that could teach any course in the College. Inside of these so-called “Collision Repair Courses” Jerry would also teach us business, philosophy, psychology, and anything else he thought that we needed. “Street” would pass on going to lunch to just hang out in Jerry’s office while he taught us the tools to fight our way out of the gutter.
I credit the man for saving my life.
Teaching took on a new meaning to me. It became a moral obligation, to pass onto others what had been done for me. I will never reach the level of greatness that Jerry thrived in, but I will spend the rest of my life trying. Before I became a Firearms Instructor I taught numerous “rough around the edges” guys, how to achieve the American dream. I cannot possibly tell you the number of guys that I took from being unemployed to six figures, within a couple of years. And once again, did I have to compete with some of these guys? Yes, I did! A hard man never shy’s away from quality competition. Fear is for wimps! Do what is right, never look back, and always remember to honor those that have given you so much by passing on the blessing that were bestowed onto you.
Becoming a Self Defense/Firearms Instructor is as natural as breathing to me. Teaching good people how to protect themselves and those under their care is the most honorable thing that I can possibly do. I have some things to make up for and teaching matters of “life and death” to the very best of my ability will give me a chance to make amends, honor Jerry for what he did for me, and to do the most good that I possibly can. My perception may be skewed due to my past, but to me, being an Instructor is the most honorable thing that I can possibly do. Due to the extent of this belief I have made some very clear choices and take on a very solid oath.
I will never teach or sell anything that I do not have a 100% belief in. There will be no compromising on this oath, because to do so wipes out everything that I have worked towards since my life was saved by a man who taught me what he had a 100% belief in.