Watching Harjeet and Roger throwing punches at each other while both evading Josh’s stick attack, I was truly amazed how far these reserved gentlemen have come from the day they first stepped into our dojo. One of the most amazing transformations I have witnessed is seeing timid, shy and quiet people turn into warriors as time progress.
Different schools attract different characters. We, however, attract everyone and anyone. We have many LE and Military personnel and top athletes from other sports or disciplines, but the majority of our students are average Joes and Janes. They just want to learn how to defend themselves. Sometimes these Joes and Janes have very interesting and at times difficult progress in their development. Some of these students seek permission to strike and be aggressive, while others find their inner hulks and shock the whole class and themselves. Another instructor of UTKM, Josh Hensman, often describes “that society links aggression with anger, but that should not always be the case”. Prior to stepping into the UTKM dojo most of these students have never had a chance to express their innate aggression and fight instincts because society and education have oppressed these types of behaviors; however, for their own reasons they need to seek it out again or to build it from scratch here in our school.
The process of building a person’s aggression is a balanced art. If you develop it too much then you are abusing the student, too little and there is no effect.
First step: Link anger with aggression. This does somewhat contradict what I mentioned above, but it is the fastest way to bring out inner aggression from students. Any violent encounter is usually emotional and anger is generally one of these emotions. Phrases such as “this man is going to hurt you and hurt your family”, along with swearing generally get a rise out of students.
Second step: After students can function normally and do the defense techniques they learnt under extreme pressure, we simply remove the link between anger and aggression by enhancing and rewarding aggression (we don’t reward violence – there is a difference). After a hard sparring session, we complement the students on a job well done and let them know they were in control of the situation.
Third step: Link aggression with the idea that having to be aggressive in order to stay safe is simply a job that needs to be done. Remember the first time you drove and how nervous you were? Some of you were probably very emotional because of fear and the unknown. Some people even get angry. Defending yourself is exactly the same thing. In the beginning students might experience the same emotional state as a first-time driver, but as time progresses they will come to the conclusion that this is just like any other day in the office. UFC fighter John Jones was once asked if he is afraid step into the ring. His response: “a postman does not get scared when he steps into a post office does he?“
After merely 100 hours of training our yellow belt students have performed incredibly under stress against other students. I recall the times these students break down in tears, lose control of their emotions, get short of breath, and sometimes even get injured (you can never eliminate all the risk). I often tell them: “it is better for you to experience this here in a controlled environment, than out on the street”. We don’t teach Self Defense here in UTKM, we use Krav Maga to turn someone into a lion. A lion does not fear getting into a fight, for it knows it is the biggest and baddest creature out there.
Last but not least, living in a peaceful society people often do not know how violent they can be in the right circumstance. A student once told me that after he defending himself against a home intruder he could not remember the process. When you know your limits and what you are capable of, you tend to be able to control your power. It is like driving instructors who recommend to their students to find an empty parking lot and just push their car to the limit so they know the limitation of their vehicles.
I always ask students ” in sparing are you allow to strike the back of the head ? ”
students reply :” no ! you are not ”
I reply ” of course you can this is Krav Maga but you do it in gently and lightly to remind your opponent that they have been strike in the back of the head and if you have to do it in real life you simple just have to increase the forces to neutralize the threat ” ( it does not take much force to cause affect or permanent damage to strike the back of the head ) Seeing students like Harjeet and Roger transform into who they are today makes me realize that not anyone can transform others into fighters who enjoy fighting, but everyone and anyone has the potential to become a warrior who will fight so they can walk in peace.