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This year I awarded my 5th and 6th Krav Maga green belt under our UTKM curriculum. For the 5th (Click here for the experience) It was a special occasion as it was not only the first women to get a green belt at UTKM but also the youngest person.

If you had told me that when she first walked in our doors at age 15 she would be the first female green belt I probably would not have believed it. A non-athletic teen with bad posture who was fairly quiet.

They say first impressions matter, but in this case, my first impressions were very wrong.

Yet we did not scare her away and she kept coming, again and again. Yes, I am talking about Karis. Whether she likes it or not she has become an inspiration for many of the other women in our gym. She is always there, always training and always pushing…with only minimal complaints (lots of sass though).

Consistency is key.jpgSo how did Karis go from point A to point B? Simple, she was consistent and regular in her training. It is no secret. If you are consistent and you put in quality time, you will get results. period.

My 6th Green belt was also given out to Quinn. When we still had the Richmond school he was one of the most consistent and regular students we had. Coming to Krav Maga, BJJ and Muay Thai. (Karis did too btw). Quinn is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Naturally athletic, Cycling everywhere, hiking all the time and living a super active Vancouver lifestyle. He too has made much improvement as he no longer relies on his strength alone. This is a challenge that many bigger stronger men have yet if they learn early to use more technique they will be even better for it.

So what does Quinn have in common with Karis? You guessed it Consistency. Even after the days he can train with us was reduced he still comes regularly to progress his training.

By the way, the previous 4 green belts also go there through constant regular training with extra classes, private lessons and 3-4 days a week of regular classes.

Yes, you guessed it, like any martial art UTKM Krav is no different. If you want to get good. If you want to progress. If you want to achieve your goals. Then you must understand that consistency is the path of the warrior. So quit talking, show up and train.

 

 

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Over the last few days, myself and 3 of my students including 1 of my assistant instructors went down to Petaluma, California to take part in the first ever International Kapap Federation (IKF) in America. It was lead by the head instructor of the IKF Amit Himelstein. You may remember him from the last major Warriors Den podcast.

Before moving forward I should clarify that KAPAP is teg cousin of Krav Maga historically although nowadays it is essentially the same thing. For some, it is a distinction of great significance but for others it’s is not.

For Amit, the difference is far less important than providing quality and up to date training. Amit started his martial arts Journey early like many with Karate. He served in the IDF special forces after which he moved to China and studied Kung Fu, Sanshou and Shuai Jiao. He is also an expert in wrestling and modified Jiujitsu under the Machado lineage. Additionally, he has spent time training and developing CQB protocol in the IDF where he continues to regularly teach.

The course it’s self though only 4 days was one of the more intense courses I have taken so far as Amit does not just expect you to know his protocol and techniques but also show your ability to perform physically and mentally.

Days often started with 1-2 hour warm-ups. This may have been general warmups, pad work, body weight exercises or basic tumbling and gymnastics drills.

The range of techniques covered during this time covers all the standard self-defense scenarios from grabs and chokes to third party scenarios. Each day would range between 8-10 hours with a lunch break.

Amit and the IKF’s approach is simple to give you a series of progressive moves for each scenario from a simple escape to a more complex option should the first one fail. Because yes, techniques can and do fail for a variety of reasons. In order to keep it simple their approach sticks to a simple protocol that can be followed in most situations.

For myself, the only complicated part was overriding my muscle memory from the various other styles of Krav Maga I have learned which at the beginning often led to delay but in the end, under stress proved no problem. This shows that the IKFs and Amits approach really is simple and easy to learn.

One thing I will say about the IKF style is that it is much more security, police and military approach with a heavy emphasis on control and arrest. Though all the techniques and approaches showed would work just fine for civilian application through their emphasis should be more on escape and evade.

If you are a security professional or LE and you have limited time and resources to train I highly recommend the IKF course as a must to supplement any training you might already have. It is an affordable course with a wealth of information that will help you stay safe and keep others safe.

As this was the first US course there were many participants from all over the country and of course Canada. In total there was 14 of as and from what I can tell except for some bruises, cuts and my Cauliflower ear we all had a blast.

(If you are squeamish then this video is not for you)

If you do think that this certification is a walk in the park it is as not everyone passes as you must not only show a good command of the IKF style but also an ability to physically and verbally control others. To me, there is nothing more disappointing than an instructor course where everyone passes for just showing up even though it is clear that they shouldn’t be certified. This is, by the way, a big problem in North America as there are so many Krav instructors who class’ look more like a cardio kickboxing class than something that is seriously preparing students for conflict both physically and mentally.

For me, Amit is probably one of the best instructors I have so far trained under. Not to disrespect to the others I have trained with because they all have amazing credentials and back rounds but I found Amit to be the most well rounded not just in skill which is terrifying but in experience and temperament. Amit is humble and is in it for the right reason he clearly loves training and teaching and is not just in it for the money but rather to build something greater than himself. On this course, I didn’t just find a certifying instructor but also a brother.

The UTKM squad after testing and certification. From left to right: Petra Foerster, Jonathan Fader, Amit Himelstein, Jeff Dyble, Oliver M.

I am also pleased to say that all 4 of us from UTKM passed with little trouble and now at the time of this article are the only school in Western Canada with certified IKF Instructors. On top of this everyone seemed to be in pressed with the quality of my students who couldn’t have made me prouder.

This trip also turned out to be a great bonding experience with my students and because of it, there will be some very positive changes to come at UTKM.

So for those who want authentic Israeli style training that is the most current and up to date in relation to what the IDF is doing and is also affordable then IKF is the place for you. Don’t get me wrong I still believe in training with everyone but as most individuals are not me and don’t want to travel a lot and spend a lot of money to train. The IKF is an amazing place to start.

So get up, get training and learn to walk on peace both physically and mentally.

 

MONEY FULL

What do you see in the photo above? Do you see some green, white pink smudges or do you see something more? A few weeks ago I wrote about tunnel vision and big-picture thinking and this is simply a continuation of that thought from another perspective. If you did not figure it out from the title the image above is part of a famous Monet painting. Monet was a French Impressionist painting, one of many. While I am not a scholar in Art or even really an Art person at all I still find my self able to appreciate art and in particular the impressionist movement.

What I like about them is that if you stand to close or look at only a part of the painting then you may not be quite sure what you are really looking at. But if you stand back and take a wider perspective that what looked like nothing now becomes a painting or image with what is usually a beautiful scene.

We live our lives through our eyes and other senses. Because of this, we cannot see what is not within our senses grasp which often gives us a limited perspective. As humans, we are lucky that we can use experience and knowledge to fill in the gaps but often these are just intentional or unintentional guesses.

“If you know the way broadly, you will see it in everything”

 

Additionally, the way at least western society has been trending we have been taught heavily to streamline our thinking processes for specific things such as a particular area of study, let’s say engineering or Architecture. I have found that this can often even further narrow a person perspective as this often traps them in a particular way of thinking. Take Engineers for example. They can often be notoriously rigid in their thinking as compared to say Architects who want to be a bit more free and well artistic with their thinking. Yet they both need to work together to create something bigger their respective ways of thinking and doing.

Take and moment, or a step back to remove yourself mentally from the moment and look at something more broadly can often mean the difference between success and failure.

The great Samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi knew this well when he said,

“If you know the way broadly, you will see it in everything”

For he knew if you only saw one piece of the puzzle, or become to tunnel-visioned at the moment, then that could mean a swift demise for your self in battle. In his case, it was the swift demise of those he faced for he was one of the greatest warriors partially because he had a big picture thinking and didn’t do something just because everyone else was doing it.

According to modern science, humans cannot literally multi-task, but we must do our best to focus on multiple aspects to get the best possible results.

In Krav Maga and self-defense scenarios we must think and see as broadly as possible. This is why Avoidance is often the best choice because you are not just thinking about whether you can or cannot win a confrontation but you are also considering things like collateral damage or what might happen legally after the fact.

As Kravist we must also see the way broadly so that we are not caught off guard potentially ending in our own demise.

If you see the way broadly it can also lead to richer interpersonal relationships as it will allow you to see things from other peoples perspectives. Though I admit this is something I am still working on.

So when you look at something are you looking at it too closely so that you cannot really appreciate it in its entirety or have you taken a step back to enjoy the thing, the moment or the Monet painting for what it is. Something beautiful.

 

MONEY FULL.jpg

Working Title/Artist: Monet: Bridge over a Pond of Water LiliesDepartmen

On April 27th, just before 11:30 am at the end of the Jewish holiday of Pesach, a gunman entered, Chabad of Poway the place of worship and began to open fire.

Then on Tue, April 30th, a shooter enters UMS Charlotte (A university) and opened fire with a handgun.

In both cases, the shooters were misled by hate and prejudice.

In the first case, only one person was killed, in the second only 2. Generally accepted US government standards say it is a mass shooting when 4 people or more have been killed. Though both cases are tragic events, the combined death of both is less than this. (It should be noted that over the years this number seems to keep getting lower).

Compare this to other high profile US shootings like the highly publicized Stoneman Douglas Highschool shooting where 17 people died, or the Orlando Night Club Shooting where 49 people died.

thumb_keep-calm-and-1-stop-the-threat-2-counter-attack-as-37629368So what is the difference between 1 or 2 deaths and 17 or 49 deaths? The answer is simple, in the first 2 examples brave individuals quickly and bravely stood up to the shooters.

Though it is often counterintuitive especially to the untrained, if you are able to and you wish to stop further harm or death then the answer is to run to the threat not away. You see, waiting for the police can take some time and in the time a lot can happen. In Metro Vancouver, the call time is usually somewhere between 5-7 minutes for most serious calls. I was once told in Washington state that the call time can be 20-30 minutes. No matter the call time however, if a police officer is not there with a gun shooting back immediately a lot of people can die.

In the Chabad shooting, the rabbi stood up to the shooter with words in a way only rabbi’s can do and another took the bullet for him. Then the gun jammed and it is my understanding that someone charged him which started the shooter and he ran outside. Another person, who was armed, an off duty LE shot and the assailant until he gave up.

In the second UMS shooting a courageous young man by the name of Riley Howard charged the shooter died in the process but this allowed everyone else to be saved.

The specific details of both are a bit hard to follow as the accounts vary from site to site, but the fact is in both cases when the opportunity arose, someone did the bravest thing they could and confronted the shooter.

Believe it or not, this is the Israeli way. This is also what we teach in Krav Maga. If you are unable to or unwilling to stand up to terror or tryany then get to safety. No one is saying be the hero. But if you have it in you and you are willing at the moment to know that the faster the threat is stopped the more lives will be saved.

I often tell students that Israel most likely would get very different results if they studied the bystander effect. For one something happens, you get two groups of people, those running away, and those running towards. Because they know the more people that are able to stop the threat the faster the threat will be stopped. I even have family that on one occasion noticed odd behavior of someone who entered the store they were in. They tackled him and this saved everyone. For you see he had a suicide vest on and had yet to activate it.

In the west, we often have policies in place that tell people to lock the doors close the windows and hide as best as you can. While in some cases this may save lives the reality is if you are able to get out of the building to safety by whatever means necessary then your odds are even better than simply waiting and hoping.

Duck and Cover

Duck and cover practice

Bullets and bombs go through walls and doors. But smashing a window to run home will most likely get you out of harm’s way. Such policies remind me of the cold war when students were told to duck under their desks in case of a nuclear bomb. We now know this is clearly laughable yet why do we still insist on such an approach to dangerous situations.

 

These policies, by the way, are usually for the administrative class. It is easier for those arriving on seen to know who is “the good guys” and “bad guys” it is also easier to count heads. The heads of the dead and the heads of the alive.

In the west, our views on how to deal with these situations seem to be out of touch with reality. If you are unable or unwilling to stop the threat then get away to safety. But if you are able and willing, just know the faster you stop the threat the more lives will be saved.

In the end, the motives of those who would use violence for their own ends is less important in the moment than the fact they are doing it. The why only matters to prevent people from doing it in the future, in the moment the why is quite irrelevant. If one morning someone wakes up and decided to do something hideous, if there were no indicators that they were going to do it then the why is even much less important because the only thing that will prevent tragedy or reduce the tragedy is that in the moment someone had the courage to stand up and stop the threat.

So come, learn Krav Maga, so that you may walk in peace knowing that you have the skill and ability to stop the threats that may enter your life whether you want them to or not.

 

Watch the video. What do you see?

Did you see two antelope locked in battle with a lion charging in taking one out for lunch or did you see the bigger picture and the lesson to be learned?

When we are angry or in conflict it is very easy to get tunnel vision and focused on the threat or perceived threat. This then prevents us from seeing the bigger picture and avoiding danger overall.

If you are in a self-defense situation and are so focused on the immediate threat you might not see their friend circling back and around for the sneak attack.

Or how about this, if you are driving and you are only focused on the road ahead of you and never turn your neck or move your eyes to see other dangers is it more or less likely you will crash? It is definitely more likely you will have a higher than normal chance of crashing if you are not constantly observing everything on the road.

Did you notice that well before the Lion got close, the other Antelope watching the fight stood up? Then before the lion got even closer all of the other Antelope ran? That is because from where they are standing they have a broader perspective of the situation and can see more information.

We as humans often get locked into a specific perspective or thought pattern and while it may be good for the task at hand may blind us to other opportunities or dangers.

Tunnel VisionWhen it comes to self-defense you 100% cannot get tunnel vision. You cannot forget to assess the entire situation around you and look for the best possible solutions to avoiding further conflict. Our goal must always to be to avoid the biggest possible threats, but know that they are there so we can effectively engage them if we need to.

Even in sparring sometimes even though students are supposed to go light I often see two individuals going a bit too hard and they are so focused on each other they cannot hear me or other instructors yelling their names to chill out.

This means that some people are more prone to tunnel vision than others. Do you know who you are? If you are a person that gets locked into tunnel vision under stress, or who focuses too much on one task or thought and not the bigger picture can you learn to take a step back?

Clearly, the antelope who are far less intelligent than humans understand this. The ones who had a broader perspective easily avoided danger. So as humans why do we often act more like the two antelope locked in battle?

You never know, you might be the one who got away or you might be the one with sharp teeth sinking into your neck as the jaws of life come crashing down around you.

Think about it. How is your perspective? Do you see only tunnel vision or can you see much, much more?

 

If you have not already figured it out from the title this post was inspired by The Game of Thrones episode 3, Season 8. At this point, it should be an obvious Spoiler alert but you know what it has been more than two weeks so if you are a GOT fan, to damn bad, you should have seen it already. In particular its this scene and quote that inspired it.

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In the scene, the red priestess, Melisandre is in a room that Arya Stark and company (The hound) barricaded themselves in to hide from the Wights (Undead soldiers of the night king). Melisandre has a habit of mostly correctly predicting the future and it is clear to Arya that she had predicted certain things in her life security. This advice is a foreshadow for a following scene where Arya is the one who kills the Night King.

To me, the entire episode and this scene reminded me of the nature of self-defense. So let’s get some context or a reminder of the episode.

The entire episode was a lesson on how not to plan for battle as basically everything went wrong. A large portion of the defending army got wiped out cleanly in the first 5 minutes of battle. (I bet if Genghis Khan was leading the battle this would not have happened to the horde) and every line of defense was inevitably overwhelmed to the point of futile efforts. I won’t get into the details of what I didn’t like about this episode or battle (The battle of the bastards was a far better episode in almost all ways) but this feeling of absolute dread and futility might be what you feel should you ever find yourself in a self-defense scenario.

Let’s start in the Macro. In the days when wars were fought out of survival or necessity often it only takes one person who is brave enough, bold enough and crazy enough to do something so unpredictable it changes the tide of war. If you look into any of Israels earlier wars where they were literally fighting for existance you can find tones of such stories in every battle. In this case, that crazy person was Arya whos training and skill finally paid off. Though how she snuck up on the night king with everyone surrounding him is beyond me but ok…

Now let’s take it to the micro. Where you have now been attacked, overwhelmed and you feel helpless and weak. Survival means doing something so crazy, so bold that it is completely unexpected by your assailant. All you have to do really is fight back, fight hard, fight to win and destroy them in the process so you can stop them as a threat and get to safety.

You see as overwhelming as being attacked can be I can most certainly guarantee they attacked because they thought you were not a real threat. For when people see you as a real threat those who are smart will rarely attack head-on. Predators attack the weak, both in nature and in the human world. Those who can fight back, or are perceived as having the ability to fight back are less likely to be attacked.

Krav Maga teaches you to turn the tables on your opponent using pure raw aggression in a controlled and strategic fashion in order to disrupt your opponent’s ability to continue their attack. Then you either escape to safety or you finish them off as needed.

To me, this is what this long-awaited episode of GOT symbolized. The spirit of the warrior defending themselves to win against all odds. The spirit it takes to defend your self when all seems lost. The spirit to know that if you do give up all is lost so you must keep fighting until there is nothing left but the victor.

This is what it means to learn to defend your self either in war or in a simple mugging gone wrong. The weak shall prevail over the strong because they were never really weak in the first place.

So train hard, train smart, overcome your fears and you too can defeat your night king (Demons).

P.S. I hope you never have to use such skills in self-defense but if you do channel your inner Arya and not your inner Jon Snow…

Every month I get a new student who tells me they aren’t in great shape and they might not be able to do the class. I usually just tell them to try it out and see how it goes. Over the years I can only think of a handful of people who actually had to re-think their ability to take the class. For most people simply underestimate their ability to perform physical activities. I have heard reasons from, I have never done this before, too, I am too old. In most cases its all in their heads. The truth is most people are not athletic superstars and probably never will be but they still can train. I know this because I myself have never been a standout when it comes to athleticism. I have written in the past about my struggles in the military physically because I am not athletic. I can do what I do because I train, and get better day by day to in spite of my non-athletic prowess. Did I mention I also enjoy training?

Judo Jack 92 year old

92 year old doing Judo

I suspect the reason so many people think they cant train is partially due to our lazy desk ridden culture where lack of activity is common and where people really do not know what they are capable of. In a city like Vancouver which is a little more active than normal, it means that most people who walk in to do a martial arts class will be just fine.

Even if you are out of breath in the first 5 minutes if you ended up finishing the class you are more than able to continue training. Keep in mind, even the regular students often find themselves out of breath and know sometimes it’s ok to take a break. This means you are probably better off than you realize.

Another reason people often think they are physically capable of training martial arts is that in today’s world of easy access everything people are not often used to pushing themselves past their comfort zones. But hey, you have to start somewhere.

I did mention that over the years there have been a handful of people who couldn’t continue. Almost all of the cases these individuals were severely overweight if not morbidly obese. Unlike many others I won’t sugar coat it, this not a healthy or happy way to live no matter what anyone tells you. This does not mean however you cannot train martial arts it just means your approach will be a little different. In these cases, you have a few options.

  1. Show up to class and do what you can little by little and you will eventually get there even if it takes months or years. It’s absolutely ok if you need to sit out or take breaks. Showing up and training is better than not.
  2. Know that you have the goal of training martial arts, consult a nutritionist and find a suitable workout program to go with a healthy eating style so that you can achieve a healthier weight that will allow you to train martial arts.

Either way, if your goal is to train martial arts then you can do it, even if you have to reach a separate goal prior to training. If this is the case you will have a happier time after knowing you achieved multiple goals.

So no matter your age, skills or background so long as you live a healthier lifestyle, or want to change to a healthier lifestyle and have reasonable mobility you should have no reason to think you cannot train. So get on google, find a style you like, and get training.

After all, everyone deserves to walk in peace.

 

I have a feeling this post is going to have many cliche’s. As much as we like to hate on cliches because they are unoriginal, they have much truth to them. They are cliches because they are the things we know but choose to ignore because we are a curious species always pursuit of more. And besides who likes being given the answers directly? According to psychology, no one. People generally prefer to be guided to find their own conclusion rather than be given the obvious answer. As an instructor, it is a difficult thing to swallow and yet its how we operate. As I grow older I seem to be letting people find their own path a little more and I hope one day to have the wisdom to know right away who will learn how.

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On my path to find that wisdom I am re-listening (Yes, I do audio books, so much more efficient) to the Jocko Willink‘s book The Dichotomy of Leadership, the best selling sequel to his original book Extreme ownership. The second book as far better than the first as it clarifies somethings from the first one, but dont believe me even Jocko thinks its better.

As they say if at first you dont succeed, try, try again. Or if you make a mistake it’s ok, just learn from it and do better next time. See Cliches.

Anyways, back to my point. In listening to the book again a line stuck out at me. Since it was an audiobook and I can’t remember the time stamp I am going to paraphrase.

It goes something like this, People often want to learn the advanced tactics over building solid fundamentals. 

This is something I have seen many times, especially in the Krav Maga world. I am fairly sure I have written about this before but since it came up again I guess its time to write about it again.

Krav Maga is known for its firearms and knife related self-defense. These are the things people always want to learn, yet they are not the fundamentals no matter who sells it to you.

Occasionally I will get a student who has a previous Krav Maga or Martial arts background. The question is often, when do I get to do the weapons stuff. Or the stuff I saw online? I usually ask them about their background first and go from there.

If you are from another background, dont you think you should take some Krav Maga classes first to get to know what’s different between the styles? Also just because you saw something online dont presume to understand Krav Maga without actually practicing it. First, unless you have been training for 10+ years it is unlikely you are as good as you think you are. Second I dont go to other martial arts and expect to start anywhere other than the beginning. If you want to take regular classes then do so, if not I suggest private lessons, though I am picky who I teach what.

If you are from a Krav Maga background then I hope you can understand that not all Krav Maga curriculum is the same. Many people don’t know this because they dont usually train outside of one or maybe two organizations. If you did you would know what I teach at UTKM is an amalgamation of different organizations curriculums simplified to be more efficient. Which means no matter your Krav Background if you want to rank up under me then you have to learn the UTKM way. Of course if after assessment it turns out you are as good as you think you are in Krav then I will gladly reduce your hours between each rank. But you still need to understand how UTKM works first.

Either way, the scenario is the same. They dont want to spend time working on the basics. The basics you must remember are the foundations of everything. To me, if you can barely punch, kick, move or fight the gun disarms are not as easy as you might think. You must be sure of your foundations less you regret it later.

Speaking from personal experience learning BJJ I can say not learning and mastering fundamentals early is something you will regret later. In my earlier belts, White and Blue, I jumped around gyms, did open mats and had little structure to my training. I was also injured at blue belt which meant limited training. All these things meant I missed out on developing solid fundamentals, as such now at purple belt I am struggling to catch up to those at the same rank. Don’t get me wrong I fully intend to catch up and train more but its something I could have easily done in the past had I trained properly and focused on the fundamentals.

So, fundamentals are important even if you dont think so. No matter your experience or background when you walk into a new place respect their fundamentals. If you don’t like it then go somewhere else if you do then train and do so humbly.

Another cliche is to lead by example. So I will give you an example. Recently the local Krav Maga Global club held an open seminar for group fighting and multiple attacks. The Instructor was GIT Expert 2 Natasha Hirschfeld who was a wonderful instructor. Both she and the other instructors noted that there were so many new students they were most likely going to start with simple Krav basics. They seemed apologetic but it didn’t matter to me, for when you teach a lot sometimes you dont train as much as you should. Though I couldn’t stay for the whole time I enjoyed reviewing some basics. I even picked up a new warm-up game or two.

You see if you go in with an open mind even if you are practicing the fundamentals you will always learn something new if not simply move your way closer to the 10000-hour mastery principle.

There is a reason that in most martial arts even ones where a black belt takes 8-15 years to get on average that they also say the same thing. That they started to learn more at black belt than they did in all the training before. I think this is because they finally mastered the basics they can see other things they missed before.

The basics like any skill take a lifetime to master in any style yet they are what matter the most. Especially in Krav Maga as its the basics that will most likely save your life should you ever find yourself in an unwanted violent conflict.

So if you regularly train, or are coming to train, respect the basics and practice them until you achieve mastery no matter how long it takes.

 

 

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.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on these topics, it is simply a run through of what was covered and some of my own thoughts on the matter.

Every once and a while Facebook’s creepy targeted ad actually shows me something useful. In this case, it was a talk to be given by former CSIS head Richard B. Fadden hosted by the CIC. And yes, it is CSIS, NOT ISIS. I say this because I know there are many Canadians or other individuals reading this who may have never heard of CSIS. For those of you who do not know CSIS stands for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or to give you a better idea, they are the Canadian CIA. This means one of two things, either Canadians know less about how their own country works than they think. Or CSIS is very good at what it does in protecting its citizens on the down low.

This was one of the points that Richard opened up and closed with. Canadians feel too safe and do not feel the need to fund things appropriately. Or as I am not paraphrasing, If you dont feel thretened you won’t give the governments permission to do what they need to do.

Hard times...jpgFor me, if Canadians don’t feel threatened then they won’t sign up for Krav maga because they feel they do not need to learn self-defense. (The ability to defend yourself is something you should learn regardless of whether you live in a dangerous place or not, for it is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.) While not a perfect analogy I think it stands true. Whether you like it or not there is the saying. Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.

Or more precisely if you have to face adversity you will be more resilient to adapt and do what needs to get done to survive.

A good example in Canada is that the Canadian military struggles to find the money for procurement of new equipment. However, in modern times even when we were at war, and yes Canada was in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria (Mr. Fadden confirmed this if you think otherwise…), Canadians don’t really feel it at home because we are safe. Just so you know, all parties in Canada struggle to justify military spending to the public who has no taste for it. To me, and my friends in the military this is a terrible strategy for any country in the long run.

At this point, you may be asking, what was the talk actually about. Well, good question.

The actual title of the talk was:

Threats to Canada’s National Security: Russia, China, and the Leaderless West.

Any guesses what he talked about most?

Russia

It’s all Russias fault!?, no I am just kidding. What he suggested was that when it comes to western global security China is a much bigger threat than Russia. To paraphrase. Russia is a rogue state, but it is still containable through sanctions and other diplomatic channels. They have a weak economy but still, have a nuclear arsenal which keeps them a global player.

I would also say at the moment at least their biggest asset is Putin as a statesman. And despite what westerners may think, and Mr.Fadden confirmed this, is that Putin is very popular in his own country.

Evidence suggests that yes, Russia does mess around in global affairs. While they did not “HACK” the 2016 US elections as was suggested by the media. This would mean they physically change the election results, which is not what they did. Instead, they used legal avenues and shenanigans on Facebook to manipulate some public opinion. A strategy that was first tested out on their own population regarding the Crimea annexation and possibly the semi-civil war in eastern Ukraine. Which by the way is the first time a state straight up annexed another state since WWII, yet without going to war there wasn’t much anyone could do about it.

I would think Russia has shifted to this strategy because as the cold war showed, from an economic standpoint they cannot realistically keep up in a traditional military sense. Nor would I suspect they would win that war. Mr.Fadden indicated that this is indeed true by the fact that the Russian military is shrinking, though it is improving and upgrading the skills and technology which means smaller groups can be more efficient and harder to deal with. Beyond the standard military operations, they seem to focus more on psi-ops for the dissemination of information that is misleading or incorrect. Something I should add that many western media are adopting, though I suspect it is more for the income generated by the click bate nature of their articles. As Mr. Fadden suggested, this kind of shenanigans would have occurred regardless of Trump running for president. Despite what the media and the public sphere seem to think, this is more Russia being Russia than anything.

He also briefly mentioned Russias role in Syria suggesting that they were more of an annoyance and slowed the progressed in the eventual defeat against ISIS, which according to the media has recently fallen. And that yes, Russia is Mucking about in Venezeuala which goes against the Monroe doctrine which is why the west (America) is so uncomfortable about it.

With regards to Russia, unless you are a former USSR state in eastern Europe then Russia is more of an annoyance trying to stay relevant in an increasingly crowded world. If we in the west really wanted to stick it to russia we would move faster away from fossil fuels and natural gas and more towards renewable energy as without the demand from the west, and China Russia’s economy would most likely collapse again. (FYI Nuclear Energy is the best for global climate change, but if you don’t trust me, ask a scientist…)

China

This brings back us back to China. As Mr. Fadden explained they are a true adversary at this point. They are incredibly economically strong and can affect the economies of the west through trade. Have a strong military power and the main power in Asia regardless of whether you like it or not. The issue with China is that in many ways they can play by their own rules.

For example, if a company in Canada or US is looking to do a deal with a company in China it is the resources of the western company vs the resources of the Chinese company + the resources of the state. As Mr. Fadden explains that in China, especially when it’s dealing with international deals, the moment the government of China wants to get involved it will and as a company in China you are obliged to let them. So a company in the west must stick to the rules and regulations of the land regarding their deals and the Chinese companies can essentially do what they want. It is my understanding that despite what you think of Trump on the topic of China and their trade practices he is most likely right.

Unfortunately, as China is a real threat to global security many politicians are perhaps too afraid to stir the already awakened yet crouching tiger in fears they release the hidden dragon.

Mr. Fadden also explained that when it comes to espionage, mostly digital, China is king. They do so with little regards to what the west thinks and the west has little power to stop them much of the time without going to war. Which, no one wants, including China and Russia. This means every time China, or Russia does something there is little the west can do to correct them. As mentioned sections have much more effect on Russia than China due to the differences in trading needs and the economy overall.

So what has China done that Mr.Fadden could openly talk about without us having full clearance?

Over the last few years, there has been over 1 Trillian USD, stolen from IP related attacks that are mostly from China. A Canadian fighter plane design was stolen then a replica or near identical version was produced (I didn’t even know Canadians did fighter planes anymore, which makes me think it was stolen from Bombardier). There is the noted case where a Saskatchewan Pot Ash company was looking to do a deal with a Chinese company and they had their servers hacked, their Lawyers servers hacked and government agencies hacked all regarding the company by China. This, of course, killed the deal.

China through both legal and illegal means is expanding its power mostly through economic means. They are the key power of influence in Asia and are a big financial sponsor of Africa loaning out money they know will never be repaid. Which asks the question, to what end are the doing this? Power, Control, or resources? Probably all of the above.

There is also the tension regarding the South China Sea between China and all its southern neighbors in which China basically says it’s theirs and other say not but if China really wanted to take it out right it could. Which makes everyone very uneasy.

And of course, if you pay attention to the news Canada is caught in between the spat of the US, China, and Huawei as we are currently detaining one of their executives on behalf of the Americas. In America, most major carriers dont carry their phones as they are worried about spying software. This according to Mr.Fadden is a legitimate concern and perhaps Huawei phones should not be allowed in Canada in a similar fashion. Yes, the phones look amazing though I suspect its mostly stolen tech and full of foreign spyware. Although Google and Apple basically do the same thing at least they still have to follow the laws.

The question you have to ask your self regarding China is if the intelligence and economic community think its a bigger threat because generally, they do what they want. Why is the media so silent on this matter. Why do most of the public, and media focus on Russia? This is a question I am not sure about though I am sure it has something to do with money and politics.

Global Terrorism

This is a topic that seems to have been quieted publically as the media seems to focus more on the idea of white supremacy as a problem rather than just a general terrorism as a problem. Mr. Fadden focused more on Islamic Terrorism and how it is less of a problem now but still a big problem.

He mentioned a magazine called Inspire, which is an Al Qaeda magazine in circulation. Remember Al Qaeda. You know, The perpetrators of 9/11 and who Osama Bin Laden was part of? Yes them. They are still around, in various forms globally and are still a problem. Unlike ISIS which was localized Al Qaeda is compartmentalized globally so still has not gone away and is still a problem.

One thing he mentioned that for a while the advice of such magazines was that if you want to help their global cause, dont go to Syria to help ISIS, Don’t go back “home” but stay in the country you are in and cause trouble. That means if you are a Canadian who wanted to fight for ISIS, rather than do that then stay home and cause havoc. This could be one of the reasons we saw the problems in many western countries where the attackers lived in these Countries, such as the US, France and to a lesser extent Canada.

He did say though, that the last Non-Muslim Country the west entered was Grenada in the 1980s. So he can understand why the Muslim global community is annoyed with the west as it seems that they are the only group being targeted at the moment. Which brings us to the last topic. Canada.

Canada’s roll in the world

In most countries, Canada is well respected and liked. In the 20th Century, we had major roles in both World wars and were involved in major global events.

He suggested that while Canada was once an upper tier Middle global power we are now a lower tier middle power. This is because Canada is very poor at building foreign relations and really is not doing much to help the world in an active way. An example was the poor decision recently to leave the Mali mission despite the complaints from the military and what I can imagine would be most sane advisors. An no I dont believe simply throwing money at other counties or problems (like is currently happening) is in any way strong or good leadership. Real leadership should always be something active not passive.

I think this issue is related to what was stated near the beginning in that, Canadians feel too safe and do not feel the need to fund things appropriately.

Canada may actually be at least for the time being one of the more functional democratic western nations. We are relatively physically isolated from other countries globally with the US to the south for some safety. Though Russia does regularly test our Sovernty with regular tests to our airspace scrambling Canadian fighter planes all the time to push the Russians back (An annoying and stupid global game of cat and mouse). Despite perhaps what some politicians might want you to think, Canada is a very safe place as compared to other countries. We have someone decent socialized health care (though I don’t know how much longer that will hold up with the way it’s being managed) and we have many other benefits that other countries would love to have. Because relatively Canada is a great place most Canadians find themselves in their selfish little bubbles caring little of the world other than to simply travel and post photos for the Gram.

I dont think we need to be some major global player like the US but I think that Canadians should care a little bit more about what their government’s foreign policy is or lack thereof. When I talk about these topics with most Canadians they seem woefully misinformed or woefully uninterested. Which for such an educated country is fairly sad.

Mr. Fadden said that when he traveled the world, as a representative of Canada, Foreign dignitaries always welcomed him politely but were dismayed that a Canadian PM never visits or at the very least high-level Cabinet ministers. From a foreign policy standpoint we generally dont bother, but I suspect it because the Canadian public really doesn’t like this kind of global spending so most politicians oblige by not bothering.

I know most of this doesn’t matter to you, although if you have read this far perhaps it does. But if you do not want Canada to fade into obscurity in the long game perhaps you should care a little bit more about the world around you. (DO remember, Much like the Dutch East India Trading company, for a time the Canadian based Hudsons Bay company was a major global economic hub in the western world, thus historically Canada at times played major rolls.)

Wrap Up

So as always I do, I try to relate things back to Krav or self-defense. Most students roll their eyes or insult me in their heads when I go on a rant in class for the million times. I do this because I care. I understand that real self-defense is not just Kicking or punching. It is understanding the world around you and all its complicated intricacies. Canadians love to travel but often travel without the thought of what is going on the countries they are visiting. Didn’t know there were minor political problems going on in the country you are in? Oh well too bad now you are stuck in the middle of a civil war? Didn’t know the country you are in doesn’t care that what you just did is legal in your country, oh and by the way there no extradition treaty. Now you are stuck in a foreign jail for 20 years…FUN!. Or my favorite example (ROLLS EYES HEAVILY), someone I know said they felt unsafe traveling to the US because you know Trump and racism so instead decided to go to Jamaica, Which is so much safer…It is not. The same individual also mentioned their hostel had an 8pm curfew…hmm I wonder why…

I have often heard even from those close to me that they don’t care what is going on in the rest of the world, the country or over there because it doesn’t affect them directly. Unfortunately, this is a failure to understand how interconnected everything is. What China does and how it acts matters because it definitely affects trade. Remember, if everything is made in China which makes it cheap they could mess with it forcing our governments to act or vice versa thus things become more expensive. Or perhaps you are a citizen of both countries and now you are stuck in the one you least prefer because of some global shenanigans that you thought didn’t affect you.

Being good a defending your self is not just physical, it’s about being informed, educated and using appropriate critical thinking skills so you can navigate this complicated world and come out better than you were yesterday and in one peace.

I hope that this commentary has given you some food for thought and hope that today you may walk in peace.