instructor certification????

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instructor certification????

Postby West » Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:47 am

Curious as to what is required in order to teach kitesurfing????

When I had my brother-n-law take lessons years ago with Jens at Kiteriders, I did so because Jens was a certified instructor and I felt it would be the safest option to learn. He picked up kiting quite well and went on to become a certified instructor himself; taking the necessary classes and learning how to instruct others to kite.....always preaching safety first!!!!

That was about 6-7 years ago, and kite safety has come a long way since then...so, I was curious if it is still recommended or required to become "certified" in order to teach, or if "anyone" can just use a local beach to teach, and it is "student beware"?
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby FSP » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:04 am

Not sure if it's still true but talked to an owner of a place out east that rhymes with "deal" and at least a couple years back they did not want their instructors certified by the leading kiteboarding certification board. He complained that it was a scam and not accurate practice in many ways. Don't know if this changed but when I taught the few I have, I used my own local experiences to teach unforeseen local issues that say u might not learn in st Lucia for example! I think that's what they felt at the time too. Hey bottom line is learn from who really knows and been out there knowing hard conditions over. Many years and does not just fair weather sail. Those guys no matter how many cert labels will fail to mention something important locally for sure!
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby Jimbo » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:39 pm

What is required to teach? My first experience with a kite was in the winter in a field on the bottom of a hill with a rope tied around my waist and the other end tied around the waist of the dude with the kite. That was for safety just in case something happened we didn't expect so my job was to be the extra weight, as soon as the kite was launched it went up to where the real wind was blowing at the top of the hill so the kite picked up the dude with the kite and when my rope got tight it picked me up in the air too. Both of us were launch in the air and then slammed down on the ground in the snow then dragged across a stumpy corn field till we stopped at the tree line.

LESSONS LEARNED 1. Never fly a 15 meter kite in 30 knots. 2 Never fly a kite in a stumpy corn field. 3 have full knowledge of wind conditions and the wind range of your kite. 4 Never let someone talk you into doing something you are not sure about :shock:

My second experience with kiteboarding was when the snow and ice were gone so we wanted to try my new eBay special in the lake next to my house. All dressed up in my brand new wet suit, boots, gloves and of course a life jacket. The idea was to float in the water and then launch the kite because the wind was at our backs blowing away from us off shore. The wind was blowing better in the middle of the lake over the tree line. So I'm floating in the water being blown down wind to get to the (good wind) so I can launch the kite, as soon as the kite hit the wind zone it powered up and was body dragging me very fast and I was spinning around in the water like a fishing lure I couldn't launch the kite and I couldn't reach or grab the quick release to ditch the kite because my gloves were so thick I couldn't feel the leash and I was dizzy from spinning. I drifted across the lake till I could touch the bottom about a 1/4 mile, I almost drowned and froze to death.

LESSONS LEARNED 1 never go out when the wind is at your back when you are standing on the beach looking at the water. 2 if you go in the water when it is about 35 degrees make sure you are properly dressed for it. 3 know your gear! the kite didn't launch because the bridle was not set right. Be careful of an eBay special. 4. If you are not experienced make sure you have a kite buddy with you to watch your back. :roll:

Third time out I sold that last kite and got a better eBay special, two weeks later I got the kite and couldn't wait to fly it. So off to the same lake with my buddy so we can test it out. Wind about 30 knots white caps everywhere! Perfect ! so with my wet suit and gear I connected the kite and my buddy launched it in the shallow water, so because of the almost drowning the last time my buddy was going to body drag across the lake with me so this time he tied the rope around his waist then around me that way we will be together in case something happens. As we were drifting down wind and playing we noticed that across the lake we saw many fire trucks, police cars and rescue squad trucks blocking off the main road from traffic. We thought their was a big accident of a fire somewhere. As we got closed to the end of the lake we noticed that they were going to launch a rescue boat in the water then the officers ran down the beach and were shouting out in the lake "ARE YOU OK" not sure who they were shouting at but my buddy who was connected to me via the long ski rope says "hey they are talking to us" so we waved back. When we got to shore an officer said that someone in town called and said that a paratrooper landed in the lake and needed help.
We told him we are "Kiteboarders" and just having some fun. The chief of police said that since we didn't break any laws he couldn't arrest us but the next time we go out we needed to call him to let him know. LESSONS LEARNED 1. Always respect the law, make sure where you kite is approved by the local ordnance's.

A few months later we wanted to try a board start since we are pros now at body dragging. The wind was side shore on this lake and no where to set up so we packed our gear in the canoe and paddled out to this island in the middle of the lake since it was full of trees and bushes and no place to set up we took a 30 foot garden hose and connected it to the kite pump. I was in the water holding the kite with the hose and my buddy was on the island pumping. We connected the lines and now ready to go. He launched the kite for me and as soon as the kite got over my head a big gust came and picked me up a few feet and the kite flew right into the trees. "Oh Shit"

LESSONS LEARNED 1. Never launch a kite next to trees when the wind is blowing towards the trees. 2. Never launch a kite holding your kiteboard in one hand and the other hand holding the bar. Use two free hands to launch your kite. 3. Never put your kite into a tree when people on the beach are watching especially if a person on the beach is on the board of trustees for the village. It will not be a good example for the rest of the kiters.

I have many other stories to tell but this all happened in the first year of my training and as you can guess I never took a lesson. So if you want to kite please take lessons it will save you lots of time and money. After 6 years of kiting now I have given a few lessons to some friends and what I teach is safety, safety, safety and what not to do!

By the way the other dude is my son who now lives in San Francisco.
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby jensmadwind » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:13 am

wow, wow wow wow.

I guess all the certification in the world can't help kiteboarding when there are people like Jim around.

sorry to single you out but your story sounds like a long list of examples of having no common sense or ability to recognize potential danger to ones self or son for that matter.

Good instruction is key to smoothly and safely learn to kite, but having a good head on your shoulders is much more important.
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby Jimbo » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:09 am

It's all a matter of perspective dude I find our experiences to be quite funny with many lessons learned. My son is 28 and is top engineer for a fortune 500 co. so no need to worry about him. With that said I wouldn't advise anyone to follow in my steps and most beginner kiters have no clue of the power or potential danger of kiting. If anyone knows that danger it would be me. So to get back on the topic of lessons the point being made here is that those who are giving lessons to fresh students may under estimate the potential danger of the sport so it's important to teach that.
I was IKO certified a few years ago and it is well worth getting your certification especially if need to rent gear out of the country, many places won't rent you gear unless you have a pasa or iko card. Everybody is different when I bought my first Porsche it had a top speed of 160mph, the first day I got I made sure it did. :D
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby jensmadwind » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:20 am

"my son works for a fortune 500 company, he will be ok" ..........the rock you get slammed into doesn't care if your an engineer. IQ does not translate to street smarts, i have taught plenty of successful, smart people who were jaw droppingly dumb when it came to doing the right/safe thing.

you kept listing lessons learned then following that with a story of how you didn't learn from the previous experience.

why on earth if you can afford a porche, are you buying ebay specials and not taking lessons?

i didn't type it, you did

just find it funny how some people do what you did while others see the potential danger and take the common sense approach to learning things
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby Jimbo » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:55 am

Whatever Dude! Lighten up! :lol:
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby West » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:27 am

Hard to "lighten up" Jim, when the topic at hand is kite safety...please go back and re-read what you wrote, so you are not so surprised by the response....that is Natl Lampoon type of shiz, buddy....and it would be funny if it wasn't so awfully dangerous.

Kite safety was the topic at hand: Is it recommended for a want-to-be kiter to take lessons from someone who is NOT "certified" as an instructor? Not whether or not to take lessons....that is already assumed to be the case.

The reason I brought up the topic is that there are many new kiters in the Chicago area seeking lessons, and there always will be...most of those kiters use this forum as a resource. As a result there seems to be a growing number of "local" kiters who feel that it is ok to give lessons without any formal training or certification; often on their own gear which is not exactly "tailored" for lessons....since this practice is becoming quite common I decided to bring this topic to the table.
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby Jimbo » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:43 am

With that said I wouldn't advise anyone to follow in my steps and most beginner kiters have no clue of the power or potential danger of kiting. If anyone knows that danger it would be me. So to get back on the topic of lessons the point being made here is that those who are giving lessons to fresh students may under estimate the potential danger of the sport so it's important to teach that.
I was IKO certified a few years ago and it is well worth getting your certification especially if need to rent gear out of the country, many places won't rent you gear unless you have a pasa or iko card.


Point well taken: The focus here is safety so to anyone who would like to take on this sport as I said before please take lessons! :D There were many times I had lessons
planned but were all canceled because the wind never followed through. Many kiters have kitmare stories I thought I would share some of mine. :wink:
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby West » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:00 pm

Jim, Now I understand the spirit of your post, thanks for the clarification. Jens IMHO is the most experienced and most safety-conscious instructor in the area; those self-taught stories were so over the top, I am sure they baffled him....of course, since no one was hurt you can laugh about it in hindsight. But Jens, as a conscientious instructor cringes at every injury-dodging incident you recounted.

It is refreshing to hear that you would advise others to take lessons. Now the question becomes....should that instructor be certified to teach kiting?
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby Jimbo » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:53 pm

West, In my opinion no. However: if someone is planning to be an instructor as a source of income then why would they not want to get the proper training? Teaching is not just about flying the kite it's also about having knowledge of CPR and other skills for saving ones life in a crises situation. If someone slices their arm open from a kite line does the instructor know how to stop the bleeding :?: or if someone is drowning? The biggest issue I have with kiters is beach etiquette like flying their kite over beach goers, flying their kite on the beach when kiters are launching and landing :cry: Good instruction will also teach beach etiquette. Another thing is that anyone who is learning to kiteboard I do suggest setting a goal for yourself to get a 3rd party certification because it will help sharpen your skills. I am not a certified instructor but I am willing to offer my time for a "Kite Safety Boot Camp" to anybody interested in the sport. :idea:
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby Jimbo » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:00 pm

Remember this dude? This is what I am talking about.

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Re: instructor certification????

Postby Rorke » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:20 am

Back on topic......

West,

There is no specific requirement for claiming to be a kiteboarding instructor.

There are advantages to getting certified by one of the existing organizations.
- Insurance (that will actually cover you if need be)
- Education in teaching techniques
- Access to instructional materials
- Credibility
- Marketing assistance
- Gear discounts

I got certified through International Kiteboarding Organization over a year ago.
The primary reason was to add it to my list of other instructional offerings, all of which are certified.
- American Sailing Association and US Sailing for my sailing/cruising instruction.
- Red Cross for my First Aid / CPR
- USCG for my Captain's Licensing courses


IKO could be much better if they made some changes. Their educational side is pretty well done; good materials, excellent instructor's instruction, etc. IKO's administrative side is a catastrophe though. Beyond the communication problems of zero returned calls/emails, there are deeper issues.
The biggest problem - existing trainers are threatened by other instructors becoming trainers, thereby limiting the amount of opportunities for certifying instructors.
This mentality bad for the gander AND bad for the goose.
Fact is -More trainers would lead to more instructors, which would lead to broader acceptance of IKO, which would lead to more students, which would lead to a need for more instructors.
Furthermore, a higher standard could be held for who could be an instructor. Currently, there is only so much interest and out of those interested, they have to be able to make one of the few classes held in a destination location. Thus, Instructor Trainers are unwilling to turn away anyone because they need the money. This leads to some pretty crappy instructors and a bad organizational reputation.

Could IKO or another existing organization emerge as a standard? Will a new organization pop up?
Not sure.
Maybe kiting isn't big enough to develop an improved program. Maybe the sport hasn't grown nearly as much as once predicted, and it is unlikely to ever hit that critical mass.


While anyone can claim to be a "Kite Instructor", it is in the best interest of our kite community to prevent the blind leading the blind.
I am very thankful to all the guys who have done so - at Montrose, on the forum, taking 10 minutes to talk to someone on the beach, or whatever. It has gotten us this far.

Last, there is a big difference between being good at something and being good at teaching something.

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Re: instructor certification????

Postby FSP » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:55 am

Rorke wrote:There are advantages to getting certified by one of the existing organizations.
- Insurance (that will actually cover you if need be)


Rorke wrote:IKO's administrative side is a catastrophe though.


Besides certain IKO techniques I would not advise here on Lake Michigan in certain conditions, I especially would not trust the insurance and follow thru of IKO on a potential claim. In a world of easily denied claims by some of the largest insurance companies we know, I certainly would not have much faith in them protecting you???

Insurance alone, would be the most critical aspect of IKO, and I cannot see how such a new complicated sport with so many potential "acts of God" possible, your IKO claim might back you :D :D :D . Hell I cant even get my car fixed when a woman hit me driving in the wrong direction of traffic!!!!

Teaching the right thing to save yours or someone elses life is a given, but feeling comfortable enough to take on such a teaching task and be protected is what matters in terms of certification!

Your also not smart enough as an instructor to understand all the fine print and legalities to know how each accident would be covered. You need to be a lawyer or will get one when its too late!

Technically, if God forbid someone dies you will be so pummelled and likely ruined; possibly facing involuntary manslaughter. Luckily it hasnt happened enough to see!!
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby skysurfr » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:01 pm

This brings up a good point. You should a pick an instructor who's been through a Certified Instructors course. That's not to say that there aren't some darn good instructors out there who are operating solo.

I did the PASA Course years ago. It's was pretty lame. There was very little "how to teach" and lots of liability stuff for you and your shop. We did write lesson plans and do some practice teaching. Jetski rescue etc.

I've read what an IKO instructor course entails and I was far more impressed. I was also impressed with their books and study guides etc.

The benefits of getting a certification include uniformity of the basics, and then being able to comply with local rules and gain insurance.

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Re: instructor certification????

Postby xwindsurf » Sun May 11, 2014 5:45 pm

I have been involved in certification program in my profession for more than a dozen years.
While, admittedly, many issues are different in translation than in kite teaching, I think I see some problems a bit more clearly thanks to it. Some of examples are:
- Enforcement: Even if we agree on this forum that only certified instructors should tech, what can we realistically do to prevent those without a cert from doing it? Obviously, the most powerful professional organizations, American Medical Association, and American Bar Association, lobbied successfully to be able to throw in jail any impostors. I don't think we could, should, or would do the same.
- Reputation: There seem to be issues with kiting cert organizations, mentioned by other guys. I would add something from my personal experience: that even instructors with reasonably good reviews, under certain circumstances (say, far away from their stomping grounds), can act like complete a**holes. I took my classes in SPI many years ago with an instructor from Michigan who decided to pay for his vacation by taking 2 students there. He did not know the area, did not feel like learning about it from the locals, forgot his booties (and didn't feel like spending money to buy them) so he stayed onshore and yelled at us. And did not have a kite big enough for me on lighter wind days. You get the picture. The fact that he was a certified instructors was no consolation under the circumstances, it was a total rip-off.
- Usefulness of certification: In scuba diving, whatever you want to say about lack of strict standards, the situation is simple: you have to show a cert card to rent a tank with compressed air, or to get on a dive boat. You can only get that card from a certified instructor. I don't see a similar gateway in kiting, except for our Montrose Beach, and gear rentals in some places in Europe.
To sum it up, while the insurance program provided by the kiting organizations (if it really works) is an important incentive, I don't see any other moral or legal argument for teaching by certified instructors only. On the other hand, I am all for talking to people who teach without required skills - and even more to their students, emphasizing these nasty scenarios with six-digit medical bills, possible felony convictions for negligence, etc.
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby 4w7s » Sun May 11, 2014 8:29 pm

I've been kiting since 2000 when I took lessons from non-certified instructors because there were not many around, if any at all. I feel like I got decent lessons, although it was clear that my instructors were winging it a bit, doing the best they could with their own skills and equipment (by comparison to today's choices). The standards for lessons today are much higher than in 2000, and the access to good instructors is vastly better now.

I became certified by PASA in 2004 and have been teaching ever since all over the world. I have taught in PASA schools, IKO schools (even though I was not an IKO certified instructor) and also in schools who ascribe to neither PASA nor IKO nor BKSA etc. I have also been certified as a US Sailing Keelboat instruuctor which was by far more difficult and more scrupulous than anything I have seen for kite instructor certification (only 3 out of 11 applicants passed).

I have taught in schools alongside quite a few PASA and IKO instructors. Some of them were good...a majority of them were an embarassment to be honest. And it is a bit frustrating to see people teaching who really should not be teaching...it sort of gives the good instructors a black eye, and in many cases it's a rip-off, many times motivated by greed or ignorance, or both. I have taught alongside "non-certified" instructors as well, some of whom were excellent and some of whom were terrible.

The bottom line is that being certified means very little by itself. The individual instructor can fall on either side of an acceptable standard, and often a "certified school" will look the other way if an instructor is sub-par. I have seen this time and time again.

The above statements DO NOT suggest that the certification process is useless. If you participate in an IKO or PASA or BKSA certification program you will learn some very useful things...assuming you have a good Instructor Trainer...and sometimes people get lousy I.T.'s as well and learn very little. Still I support the idea of going thru the training program, working as an intern for several schools in different locations, hopefully benefiting from being mentored by good instructors.

I would never say that one should not take lessons from an "uncertified instructor" if I knew that person had good teaching skills. And I would never give a blind recommendation to someone just because they have a "certificate". Reputation and track record/safety history, teaching resume, professionalism...those are the important things in my opinion.

And do not be fooled into believing that just because someone is a hotshot rider that they will be a good instructor. Without the fundamental skills of teaching it's hard to be an effective instructor.
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Re: instructor certification????

Postby FSP » Mon May 12, 2014 10:37 am

Roberto speaks volumes of experience and truth here.. No need to listen to anyone else. Nicely put!
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