Using Lying as a tool in teaching Krav Maga: When lies can set you free

Posted: April 16, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga Instruction

Before you judge don’t think I am some profound pathological liar. In fact, most of my close friends have accused me of being too honest and without a filter. This has certainly always been a challenge. There are those like Sam Harris who think you should never lie no matter how uncomfortable it may be, to be honest, or those like Jordan Peterson who think you shouldn’t lie but omitting somethings sometimes is probably a good idea for certain social situation. The general consensus is usually dont lie. Day to day I probably am too open with my thoughts, but when it comes to Krav Maga I have learned that lying can be a useful tool.

just-remember-its-not-a-lie-if-you-believe-it-36472280When I was in the IDF, there were often times when we were told one thing but another thing happened. The most memorable one was when we were on a week-long, particularly difficult training exercise. 2 days in we had run out of food because we can only carry so much. Normally they would bring food for us, but 24 hours later there was none. 48 hours still none. They had told us that it was coming and don’t worry, 72 hours later and we only got food when we got back to base.

It was a fun week.

It was also a week that taught me a lot about leadership and human nature as when someone is sleep deprived, physically tired and hungry you start to see the true character of people.

Later we were told that we didn’t get food on purpose. You see the IDF learned in the second war with Lebanon, that sometimes supply trains get disrupted and if you are a soldier entrenched behind enemy lines sometimes support just isn’t coming. The strategy of telling you that it is coming in their minds is to give you hope, then purposefully not bringing it to you is to strengthen you mentally for situations where things are not what you thought but you still have to keep going. The IDF learned that much like Napolean did that an army marches on its stomach. But sometimes in life, love, and war things do not always go as we would like. So the IDF decided to prepare its soldiers mentally for the all too a common situation where the supplies just aren’t coming including food.

A similar situation occurred in the 1973  Yom Kippur war where Israel was caught off guard by overwhelming numbers. They were told help was on the way, to give them the hope to keep fighting. The truth was, help wasn’t coming at least not for a while. Those who were on the front line did the thing that Israelis often do and beat the odds and held the line until help did come..eventually…

You see, by lying to people for the purpose of strengthening their mental will you can force them to dig deep and adjust. On lie you can tell is the lie of hope, for example saying that there are only 20 seconds left (when they cannot see the clock) but really there is a minute left. Time is relative so they may perceive it however they want but giving them the hope that the time is less than it is will keep their minds in the game.

Or you can tell them a lie outright and change your mind to shift the parameters. In this case, you are getting people used to the disappointment that things dont always go the way they are supposed to just like in real self-defense. In this case, you are training peoples brains to become accustomed to this horrible feeling. So that in the hopefully never case that a life or death situation occurs their brains have adapted enough to avoid code black so that they adapt and continue to survive.

I remember a Yellow Belt test I ran long ago. One of the individuals was a particularly fit person who happened to be a Canadian Forces Drill SGT. Of course, he was used to the slightly more predictable CF which has a more traditional military model. They were asked to do a certain amount of push ups, sit ups and squats. The individual of course dutifully did the number asked (which is a fair amount) and in perfect form might I add. When they finished, the test was still not ready to move on to the next section so they were told to double it. They did not respond well. Mad because they did what we asked of them and still had to do more? They, of course, we’re missing the point. Most people do not actually finish the initial amount. The amount is an arbitrarily high number too much for most. The goal is to push people past their limits and adapt. In this case, the individual not used to this methodology was clearly not, pleased. They, of course, finished the test but it highlighted how most people deal with sudden and unpredictable change. Not well.

So you see when it comes to good Krav Maga training. Lying may need to be part of it. It throws uncomfortable curveballs both mentally and physically to the students and forces them to adjust whether they like it or not. Exposure to uncomfortable stimulus trains the brain to learn to deal with them better. This same concept is often used to cure phobias by slow gradual and safe exposure. So lying is simply exposing students to the uncomfortable nature that is an unpredictable conflict. Your would be attacker might tell you, you will be safe if you just go with them, but of course, this is a lie. They might say if you dont fight back you won’t get hurt, this is also often a lie.

Being ready for anything mentally or physically is always a challenge. Most people have no problem with the physical relatively speaking. But the mental aspect can be harder.

As I mostly teach civilians I can’t really deprive them of sleep and food as the army did, but I can push them physically and mentally by playing with their emotions to train them better. So when it comes to Krav Maga, yes a little lie can be a good thing.

The lies I tell you as an instructor is for the one goal of helping you learn to walk in peace.

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