Many friends from the traditional martial art community have asked me. “So, do you guys teach your students morality, honour, ethics, etc.“ This question always makes me sink into deep thinking about whether or not we should be teaching these things. Coming from a traditional Asian martial art such as Judo and Tae Kwon Do I have benefitted from straight guidance and have learned to respect others and honour my school and my discipline.
Here in Urban Tactics Krav Maga, we do not teach those important things and here is why.
Although we have some students who are teenagers, the vast majority of our students are actually mature adults, and many of them are older than both instructors here in the school. There are very few things I can lecture to them about morality and honour when they have children who are my age. The reason that the vast majority of our students came to us to learn Krav Maga is exactly because they want to expedite training and use their precious time wisely and get the result they want –that is to be able to defend themselves.
- No honour in the street
As a historian, when I learn a discipline I am not just learning the techniques but also the history of the discipline. Here is something that might shock you. Many Japanese martial arts such as Judo can trace their origins to the Sengoku period (Warring State) and there sure was no honour on the battlefield. In fact, samurais switched masters as frequently as people switch cell phone companies today. It is very much about survival and being practical just like what our students have to face today. In fact, the idea of honour, respect, etc, did not come into place until the Edo period and Minji period when killing people was no longer considered appropriate in Japanese society. The best example is when Jigorō Kanō revamped traditional jiu jitsu into Judo; from a killing system to a sport. In our view, we are in the Sengoku period not the Edo period.
- Legality not honour
Why do we not stomp on our attacker’s head during a counter- attack? Not because honour or safety but simply because of legality. It is not my priority to teach students to move based upon honour, beauty and tradition. My priority is to teach them to survive and stay out of trouble, and if these moves will get them into trouble with the law later then I will not teach them. In every country the law is different and as a Krav Maga instructor my job should be about finding out the laws of self defense instead of teaching people to be a good person. In order to ensure we understand the latest self defense law, here in Urban Tactics Krav Maga, we hire lawyers to do seminars on self defense law. After all, I am a Krav Maga instructor and neither a lawyer nor a priest. Violence is cruel and war is ugly. I would rather have my students to be practical and ready instead of good and decent if their lives were ever threatened. Because morality is a question after one’s life is safe and their belly is feed.
- Students character
Some of my friends from traditional martial arts ask me by your way of thinking how do you verify a person’s character and make sure you are not teaching Krav Maga to thugs and criminals. Well! Luckily in Canada we have firearm license and criminal checks. We make sure our students have to get their firearm license and criminal record check after passing their orange belt. I am merely a mortal and with my limited life experience I cannot guarantee that I would not make mistake about judging close to several hundred people’s characters but I can trust the Canadian Federal government and police forces to verify there are no criminals among my students. If the Canadian Federal government allows my students to purchase and use firearms, I am pretty sure it is ok for me to teach them Krav Maga.
- Preach with your body but not your words
I often say to my students that everything I teach you I will do it myself and that’s why I do not teach you anything other than Krav Maga. As a human being, I will make mistakes and can face moral dilemmas. I accept my weaknesses and imperfections and I do not expect my students to not have weak moments or make irrational decisions because of rage, pride and sorrow. In fact, the harsh training and sparring often reveals my student’s true character and by putting my students constantly in bad situation give them chances to practice and be calm. Having a calm mind will prevent them from making wrong choices if they ever encounter problems. After all, generally we make mistakes when we are emotional.
At the end of the day, we as human beings can only do so much. I accept my main purpose is to teach people how to fight and survive. I know we, UTKM, are the best in this field in Canada. The rest of things from morality to ethics, I will leave to the professionals.
Written by: Borki Yony
Edited by: Warren C