“So that one may walk in peace”, the wise words of Imi Sde-Or, highlighted in the UTKM student guide and white belt workbook. To me it certainly has a compelling draw; not only as a journey, but as a destination. I’m a lifelong learner who has exhausted many of the usual avenues in trying to keep balance in my life and to feel at ease. Over time I noticed that all my endeavours to achieve this sense of stability lacked a universal application, resulting in the need to move onto the ‘next’ thing. I was successful and restless at the same time, and I was starting to feel like the clock was running out on finding a means for me to balance all of life’s ups and downs. After almost a year of poking around the UTKM website, I attended my first Krav Maga session on March 19th, 2019, not quite sure what to expect or how I would respond.
So who the hell am I anyway?
Well, basically, I’m a middle aged dad with two intrepid grommets (active kids who can’t drive), a dynamic wife, and I love to ski and kitesurf. Believe it or not, I’m on my 40th season of riding sticks in the snow, and my old man knees reveal themselves whenever we do side lunges during warm up. I’m on my second (third?) career as a teamster in the film industry and I keep my life simple by being active, hanging out with my wife and kids, and doing some of that skiing stuff in the backcountry mountains. This sounds easy, but I have a complication that throws this ideal state into flux: my soul seems to have a tendency to either drive or attack itself. This unsteady state has been the fire under many of my successes, but also the root cause of many unnecessary life problems that I have brought to bear on myself and my family.
I’m relatively easy going and hardworking but I also have a deep-seated temper. With this all-over-the-map mix, it feels like my soul has either an itch that needs scratching or a scar that needs healing (perhaps both?). My upbringing was pretty solid with lots of opportunity for success, so I’m not claiming a ‘woe is me’ scenario. I have no idea how this internal state came about but I do know that when I’m not in a training scenario that involves a routine and pushing limits, I get restless, frustrated and worst of all, angry. In my personal experience, the expressions of rage are not about being mad at something but more about ‘losing control to gain control.’ It’s fleeting, fragile, and ineffective, as the fallout tends to be greater than the gains. In the past I controlled this uneasiness through competitive endurance sports, but the feelings of peace and stability started to decline when I could not complete the required 20-30 hrs of training time per week. At age 41 all of my left ankle ligaments had to be surgically repaired and I knew that I needed to move away from doing all types of adventure sports, instead seeking to embrace lifelong activities that challenged my body and mind.
So why Krav?
As I mentioned before, I have engaged in many different activities to bring about some ease to my ongoing restlessness, ranging from competitive cycling, skateboarding, playing bass in bands, and completing an MBA at UBC. These endeavors certainly did add a positive element to my life but they all missed one essential element: a lifelong universal application. Once the event or opportunity was over, the skills and training that satisfied my soul’s itch/scar conundrum would fade away. Essentially, it took me almost a lifetime to realize that my relentless pursuit of new activities was never truly meeting my needs and that I needed a baseline skill that I could bring to any activity of my choice. If I’m the only caretaker responsible for keeping my life in balance, then I need an universal approach to help manage the ever-changing elements of my life, including my emotional cycles, its benefits and its responsibilities.
The UTKM whitebelt handbook states that “Krav Maga is not a martial art but rather a mentality and self-defence system that starts with critical thinking and situational awareness.” Bingo… the philosophical match I was looking for, with the training scenario that I enjoy. More importantly, the UTKM curriculum also emphasizes gradual skill building and deep appreciation of the basics. I love new things and the ‘soul itch’ I described earlier has a tendency to drive me too quickly, desiring progression vs mastery of skills that I have learned. This has always caused some interesting problems. For example, my ankle injury was due to the fact that I tried to land a skateboard trick in my 40s that I couldn’t even pull off in my 20s… oooops. With Krav I learned to embrace a new learning approach that would test my resolve through simple physical movements in complex scenarios. I find that it is impossible to feel restless or uneasy if my body is positively fatigued and my mind has been challenged to act.
After two years, one busted hand and several sparring humiliations, is it still a good match?
Well, my ongoing restlessness feels more often in balance than not, and I love the fact that Krav is an ongoing mental and physical discovery, which is adventure at its finest! After a long week at work, I enjoy the challenge of requiring myself to be 100% present for several hours. My daughter and I spend the drive home laughing about our various sparring mishaps, but also talking about things we learned. It’s a shared experience that I would never trade for anything, and I one day hope to bring my son along (he’s training BJJ at Budo Martial Arts).
Still not convinced by my post? Well, today I had my commercial driver’s medical exam to renew my class 1 license and the physician was a little in disbelief over my low heart rate and ideal blood pressure despite an average 85 hr work week. The physician joked that I did not look like a typical ‘truck driver’ and that I seemed very relaxed and engaged for a Sunday morning. I left that appointment with a feeling of pride knowing that with all this training, lifelong learning, and exposure that UTKM brings to us students, we really do get the opportunity to “walk in peace.”
Written by Ted E. – UTKM Yellow Belt