Inevitably, as a Krav Maga instructor you will get students who tell you in confidence, “I am doing Krav Maga because I was assaulted and want to learn to defend myself.” This is a very logical response. However, as someone who is also interested in psychology and as has dealt with many students who fit into this category, I can say that sometimes it is not the correct initial choice.
Krav Maga is an activity which involves close contact and aggressive training. Is it always appropriate for an individual who was just assaulted? While in the long run they should absolutely learn to defend themselves, for some people what they really initially need is counselling, often for PTSD.
For individuals who have experienced a traumatic experience, I will break people up in to two groups: victims and survivors. Unfortunately, you will never know which you are until you have been put into a bad situation.
While I am certainly not an expert, I will define each as the following:
- Survivors – A “survivor” is an individual who becomes stronger. They learn from their experience and say they will never do it again. They seek any and all remedies to prevent such an event from happening again. They act on their wishes to do this.
- Victims – A “victim” is an individual who may or may not be aware of the negative effect of the event. If they are aware they may seek help but are withdrawn into themselves. They talk about solving their problem but resist due to fear or other internalized reasons. They may not like to be touched or, in the case of females, have a distrust of men.
If you are a “survivor,” you will most likely do well by jumping into Krav Maga classes or another equivalent self defense style. This is not to say you should not consider counselling in addition, but you will most likely thrive in a well developed Krav Maga program.
If you are a “victim,” it is likely you will need to seek counselling prior to hands on aggressive Krav Maga training. If you are hesitant to partake in close and possibly aggressive training, then it is likely the training may be ineffective. You must learn to be comfortable with others in order to properly train.
Often, the argument to encourage a “victim” to jump into hands on training immediately comes from the idea that it will make them feel better. However, when it comes to Krav Maga or self defense training, it isn’t about making someone feel good. It is about giving a person REAL skills to asses dangerous situations, avoid them if possible, and survive them if needed. Attending Krav Maga classes because it simply makes you feel good may mean that you are at a McDojo teaching Cardio Krav Maga, or as it is sometimes called “American Krav Maga.” Good Krav Maga training should challenge you both emotionally and physically and will make you a stronger person for it.
This means that it may not be easy and you may not always feel good. Thus, if you are a “victim” that wants to be babied emotionally in any way, I would strongly suggest you seek a form of counselling prior to Krav Maga. Either that, or build your self up by doing other physical activities, such as cardio kick boxing which would put less stress on you mentally.
While I encourage all persons of all ages to do Krav Maga, you must understand proper training is not always easy and sometimes not always nice so long as it is done safely.
Therefore, if you are looking to do Krav Maga due to a traumatic event, you must ask yourself if you are a “victim” or a “survivor.” If you are a “survivor,” then Krav Maga is definitely for you. If you are a “victim,” you can ask, what can I do to become a “survivor?” If you are not sure, then start small and build yourself up as it can be very discouraging to get your hopes up for Krav Maga as a solution only to find out that it’s not something you can handle at the moment. That is a very unfortunate situation as it may sour Krav Maga for you for the rest of your life.
Ultimately, always tailor the solution for yourself so that you can begin the healing process properly so that you can be the best version of you that you can be.
Written By: Jonathan Fader