Three Questions: With Terry Brennan, longtime teacher at Keith Hafner’s Karate

Terry Brennan, 40, has been a teacher at Keith Hafner’s Karate for 23 years. He has trained at the school since 1986. 

Q: Do you remember the first class you ever took in martial arts and how are your classes at Keith Hafner’s Karate different?

A: As a kid, I caught the tail end of the old, hardcore training, and that was pretty intimidating. I definitely cried in my first class. At that point, things were starting to change under Grandmaster Hafner’s direction, but the teachers weren’t yet skilled in establishing a quick rapport or understanding the experience from a new student’s point of view.

We’ve spent a lot of time working on this over the years, and I think we’ve crafted an approach that makes our school seem friendly and accessible to everyone.

Q: What are your goals/objectives in those early classes?

A: To connect with them. To make them feel valuable and welcome.

Also, I think it’s important for parents to see that everyone on our staff is able to articulate the benefits of what we do. When the teachers can very intentionally weave the values of the school into the lessons, it gives real weight to the things Grandmaster Hafner says about the program. He’s not just a guy who can give a slick talk; he’s created a culture of self-improvement and service to others. He’s the real deal.

Q: I’m sure you receive positive comments all the time but is there one from a student that stands out?

A: I was chatting with a former student the other day. This guy is wildly successful in his career, has a beautiful young family, and just pursues excellence in every imaginable way. He told me that the martial arts mindset he learned at Keith Hafner’s Karate set him on that path. What could be more gratifying for a teacher?