Your Name: Stefan Spiess
Job Title: Founder of Mantis Martial Arts for Kids & Head Instructor of KB Martial Arts Community East
What is your nationality and background?
I was born in Germany and spent the last 25 years or so here in Thailand. I am now a resident of this beautiful country.
What is your profession?
Originally I am an engineer, but realized that I like to deal with people and especially travel and sport activities. That’s how I ended up in Thailand and since worked in the tourism industry, now for almost 20 years. I always practised and studied martial arts, safety and situational awareness, and I have now been doing this for almost 30 years. We decided to turn this skill set and hobby into my mission and share this knowledge and skills with everyone interested, especially with talented martial artists wanting to pursue a career as a trainer or instructor.
What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
The key skills are certainly to be able to understand and to combine personal safety, situational awareness, traditional martial arts training, self-defence techniques and life empowering skills. To convey those to our students and trainers from young age onward into adulthood and to maintain the high standards set by our UK-based affiliate: Kros Bros Martial Arts Community.
How did you get involved in your profession?
It was mostly the personal contacts I made during training camps, traveling and in business and also some recommendations by friends or business partners which connected me into this business some 15 years ago. I wanted to be engaged in meaningful activities which helps people to develop mentally, emotionally, physically and in a way also spiritually as well. Mostly because those are topics I focused on in my life since early age. I have also tried to instill these values in my 2 kids, now aged 16 and 10.
How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?
My role is to ensure that Mantis and the clubs under our umbrella are run by following our well-structured program, which combines fun martial arts with a key focus on child development. The classes are designed specifically for children aged 3-14 years. The program has been developed alongside teachers, head teachers, physiotherapists, Occupational therapists, parents and other martial artists. We need to ensure that the high standards it is run are kept, ensures that instructors are well trained, background checked and first aid trained. Especially for the age group 3-7, the motor development plays a major role. Our program is specially designed to positively enhance the motor and cognitive development.
What challenges do your face in this role?
The biggest challenge is to find qualified staff and maintain working with them, according to our standards. We are happy to train people and also support where we can, and ratify their trainer status. However, the English language skills we expect from our trainers are often not to the standard we are looking for. We therefore are working on domesticating the program and teaching in Thai in the future, in order to reach out to the market. We designed a new concept, where trainers will be able to run their own club, with their own brand under our KBMAC umbrella, originating from the UK. Therefore the main benefits remains within their own clubs, stuff can take ownership and are responsible for their own success. We provide all tools, knowhow and assure the clubs run to the set standards.
What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
I have been recently visiting the UK and we run seminars there as well. My hope is that we will be able to spread out to various countries and expand our Children’s Martial Arts Community, being able to introduce international camps in Asia and Europe, hold competitions and organizing a league where young martial artists can gain motivation to become top of their regional, maybe later international – league.
Who or what inspires you?
I’ve been working in the travel trade for almost all my life time; I enjoy it and honour the valuable time spent on that work. I am thankful for all the experience I was able to capture from there. But what inspires me to work in the field of personal safety, development and training is that I now have the opportunity to positively impact some people’s lives. Helping to make some of our members, first of all, safer in various aspects of life, better students, better children, better members of their and our community and valuable citizens of their own state. At least providing them with a chance to become reasonable adults, good parents one day and therefore also influence the lifes of others in future generations.
Only a Bangkok local would know… For those who are interested in experiencing some traditional Tai Chi training, there are groups in some public parks practising together in the morning. Bejasiri Park, Lumpini Park and others are well known for that. There are also public swimming pools and gyms available adjoining some major parks in Bangkok for a small annual membership fee of less than 100 THB. My favourite green space is Nong Bon Lake (‘Bung Nong Bon’) in Prawet district, near Rama IX Park. It is a man-made reservoir and scenic recreational area. It features a watersports centre that offers windsurfing, kayaking and sailing. Plus it’s dog-friendly for those with four-legged friends.
For more info on classes for kids and adults, please visit Mantis’ facebook page.