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Krav Maga has an image problem

Posted: November 6, 2018 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga in General
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Krav Maga is a Brutally effective system taught by the Israeli Military and used by police and Military all over the world. Its focus on aggression makes it ideal for taking out those who would do you or your loved ones harm.

IDF KRAV MAGA.jpg

If this is the only image that comes to mind when you think of Krav Maga then perhaps you don’t know what it really is.

Have you ever heard something like that? I have many times.  Videos on youtube that get the most views in Krav Maga are usually some hard-hitting, fast-talking person who gives you goosebumps while you are watching it.

Until I started running a school in Canada I did not see anything wrong with this. When I first started I refused to call what I was doing anything other than Krav Maga. Over the years I have softened my views. Krav Maga really is just a name for Israeli Style Self Defense that follows a general set of principles.

The problem is most people still dont even know what it is.

Using only the term Krav Maga may limit your ability to draw people in.

While I still say I am teaching Krav Maga I now add in words like Self Defense, or Martial arts (Even though it is not a martial art). I do this because if most people dont know what it is they won’t know how to search for it. If they dont know how to search for it how can they possibly learn it?

Nowadays Google is king so if you use keywords like martial arts then you are more likely to be found so that you can teach people what Krav Maga really is.

Now back to the image issue.

Imi Lichtenfield is famously quoted as saying “So one may walk in peace”

Aggression, Affective, Military, Special Forces. These are all words often used when describing Krav Maga. While they are all true you must remember that the founder Imi Lichtenfield is famously quoted as saying “So one may walk in peace” with regards to why he created it.

The idea of walking in peace doesn’t bring up images of aggressive military special forces it conjures the image of inner and outer peace and happiness. And yet, Shows like Fight Quest, Human Weapon and others really continue to portray that hardcore approach only. The truth is Krav Maga is for everyone and anyone who wants to learn self-defense. A good self-defense program Krav or not can build someone up to be tough and this is what we need to show people.

Unfortunately, most people still dont know what Krav is and those who do are often too intimidated to try. This is because, well you guessed it its hardcore image.

Yes, Krav Maga was made famous by its use in the Israeli Defense Forces

Yes, Krav Maga is used by Police and Military globally

Yes, Aggression is a big part of Krav Maga.

The problem? People seem to always forget that Police and Military units that are often portrayed doing Krav Maga are the top of the top of physically capable people on this planet.

They are the exception and not the rule.

Those who have been beaten and abused, bullied or harassed, assaulted and much worse. These are the people that need to learn and yet our own image often scared them away.”

So if Krav Maga is meant so that everyone can walk in peace, why do we always use these exceptions to the rule to showcase Krav Maga. If this is its only image publicly how can we possibly attract those who truly need to learn Krav Maga Self Defense? Those who have been beaten and abused, bullied or harassed, assaulted and much worse. These are the people that need to learn and yet our own image often scared them away.

Don’t get me wrong, you cannot take away the aggression and hard training and call it Krav Maga but what we need to do is make it so those who need it the most are not scared to start in the first place.

I can take anyone who is willing to come in and train and as our motto says Turn them from a lamb to a lion. But if they are too scared to come in and train in the first place then I will never be able to show them their inner lion. And no, I dont expect every one to reach Black belt as some people may not be capable but that’s ok. Because my goal is to make them the best versions of themselves so they can properly defend themselves. If this means they are forever a white belt but learn to run and avoid as their strategy then I have succeeded.

I have Over 10 years of Krav Maga practice and I have been teaching since 2012, I still get far too many people asking me to make the classes harder.

For the record, I have made grown men and women Cry, Puke, pass out and push themselves harder then they thought they could all in an hour or two. So when I say I can make the classes, tests or train hard, I can. In fact it’s easy.

The hard part is training every one all the time without injury. Which means you cannot realistically train hardcore all the time. Not when people have day jobs, not when they have families and not when they aren’t the top 5% of humans with regards to physical capability.

So if the Goal of Krav Maga schools and instructors is to teach people the most effective type of self-defense in the world and give everyone the skills to walk in peace we really need to change or view on how to portray Krav Maga. The real trick is how do we change the image without watering it down.

It’s hard I know.

But if we as Krav Maga instructors cannot find the balance so that those who truly need it are not still scared to come train then I think we have failed.

Despite what some think, Teaching Military, police and civilians are all different as they require different skills sets, but in the end of the day it is all Krav Maga and its the same for everyone because after all, we want everyone to be able to walk in peace.

So I ask, you out there when selling Krav Maga, don’t always focus on the aggression or the fact it is used by the military. Because for those of us who love Krav Maga this is a selling point, but the truth is for most, it is not.

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Being a parent in today’s world can be harder than ever, not only are the choices more than ever but also the financial considerations. What decision should you make with regards to your child in trying to give them the best and most supportive childhood you can.

Recently I was listening to the Sam Harris podcast Episode 137 title safe spaces, in it the guest Jonathan Haidt discuss his new book the codling of the American mind. Though I am loosely paraphrasing (listen to the podcast if you want the actual conversation) what they talked about, they essentially talked about the toxic nature of the helicopter parent of the 90s and early 2000s that led to a generation of unconfident anxiety-ridden individuals with no confidence who struggle to make decisions and explore the world. They also discuss the “new” movement of free-range parenting, which to me shouldn’t be a NEW anything, it should just be good parenting.

To martial artists, the answer has always been clear. Put your kids in martial arts from an early age. No matter what you think about the school system it seems they are increasingly scared to allow children to be physical even in a healthy manner, being too concerned with lawsuits or costs children are no longer getting unstructured play time and good physical activity. So what is a parent to do if they feel their child just is not getting enough of what they need in school? well its simple, find a good reputable martial arts school and enroll them. Of course, my preference is Krav Maga, BJJ but in today’s world, something is better than nothing. While I dont want to be to cliche. Here are 5 reasons you should enroll your kid in martial arts now than later.

Kids BJJ

  1. Build Confidence & Self Esteem – One of the biggest struggles that children have today is building intrinsic self-confidence. Not everyone fits into the cookie cutter models of most schools today and it can be hard to stay motivated and find drive and purpose. Martial arts can give children goals to build themselves up, and I am not talking about participation trophies I am talking about real goals that take work and effort to achieve. If your child works and trains hard they can build their confidence by working their way up a ranked system. Having a sense of purpose is key to any person no matter the age, and if your child doesn’t find it in school or other organized sports then perhaps this is the option for them. Additionally, because of the physical nature of martial arts, they will build confidence in their body image by working hard to achieve more. Through martial arts, they will see themselves and the strong, intelligent child they are. Especially as most serious martial arts instructors end up being more than just a teacher, but also a role model and sometimes a mentor.
  2. Build a healthy lifestyle – As I mentioned earlier many school systems are slowly winding down their physical training programs either due to overblown liability and safety concerns or budget concerns. Kids are meant to be active, and with less emphasis on physical health from the regular school system it is one of the contributing factors to our obesity epidemic. Just like mentioned about through martial arts kids will learn how to use their bodies and learn to listen to it. They will know when they feel good and when they do not. Anyone who lives a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise can tell you they feel much worse the day after they decided to have a binge day with no physical activity. If you teach your children young to have an active lifestyle it becomes a pattern that is built into them and is something they will continue for most of their lives even if they grow out of martial arts.
  3. Build social skills in a new environment – In the regular school system, it can be tricky for children to develop social skills. Some students excel and some do not. One of the best ways to build their skills further is to introduce them to another group of peers. Sometimes in school friend/peer options are limited and without extracurricular activities exposing your child to other peer groups, it can be hard especially if you dont fit in. I can tell you from my own personal experience that I did not have much exposure to other peer groups outside of those in my school, and looking back I really wish Id had, as perhaps I would have had a better time if I had friends doing a mutually enjoyable activity like martial arts. I started later in life, give your child the opportunity to learn early so even if they dont keep it up later in life they still learned social skills as well as practical self-defense skills.
  4. Learn discipline – This seems to be a popular idea. While the days of hitting your children are gone and rightfully so, it can be hard to find ways to keep your child properly disciplined especially if you are not familiar with various learning and teaching models. In martial arts children usually, learn that if they do not focus pushups (or other physical activity) will ensue. Either way, they are building something positive. They learn to focus because they dont like the push-ups, or they like the pushups and they get more physical strength. Additionally, in martial arts you can learn discipline through leadership. As your child grows in a program they may be asked to help out with classes and they will then learn to the importance of being well behaved in classes.
  5. Learn teamwork and community – Most children’s martial arts classes usually have some sort of teamwork involved. Whether it be the classical group punishment of if one child misbehaves every one does push-ups, or because the games and drills require all children to participate in partners of groups. They very quickly learn they would much rather work with partners who are serious about training and that if they want to partner with those people they better work well with others as well. Often in regular education group project are few and far between and often individuals care more about the grade than actually working well in a group. In martial arts teamwork is encouraged every class. Additionally, they are introduced early into a positive healthy community that they can be proud to be part of.

While there are certainly many more reasons to have your child join martial arts there are many others. Of Course one of the biggest concerns many parents have is the safety of their child. Always do your research and find a reputable school for your child. One suggestion I have is to make sure they separate kids 5-7 from 8-12. As far as teens, it’s usually ok for them to train with the adults pending the style. The reason for this is that the mental development of kids at these stages is different and the approach to learning is different.

For kids 5-7 the focus should be more on body awareness and fitness. and for kids 8+ of course pending the style they can learn usually just like the adults although in an age-appropriate manner.

This post is, of course, appropriately times as we at www.urbantacticskm.com recently expanded our kid’s program to include the age 5-7 age group. UTKM’s Richmond, BC, Kids program combines Krav Maga, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiujitsu, wrestling, and judo all in to one program. So if you are in my neck of the woods feel free to inquire by emailing us at info@urbantacticscanada.com 

Richmond Kids Martial Arts Age 5-7.jpgIf not get on google, do a search and find a reputable martial arts school near you and get your child started now not later. Build their confidence,  self esteem, Social skills, team skills and show them what a healthy life style looks like. Remember, something is better than nothing but of course I recommend Krav Maga/Kickboxing and BJJ.

 

Again, thanks to the guys at UF PRO for their awesome video. See our previous break down of their Gun Disarm video.

In this video, we see in close proximity a person with a holstered gun and a person with a knife. It should be obvious to those reading but the advantage of a gun is range and whenever it is not drawn in close quarters may not be enough to save you. While the advantage of a knife is close quarters which gives it a big advantage. This is already known in the standard 21-foot rule, whereas a person with a holstered weapon is at a distinct disadvantage if the attacker is charging and you are under 21 feet. Mythbusters TV show famously did a sequence on this that you can see HERE.

While both Guns and Knives are extremely dangerous to deal with personally I would rather have a gun in my face than someone pulling a knife on me. Guns usually get worse reps due to the optics as portrayed by the media but the reality is knives do far more damage and kill far more people on a daily basis than guns do.

OK to the video:

At 0:25-1:00 approximately the defender is standing with no movement with a close knife attack. In all attempts, he gets slashed most likely fatally in the neck prior to even having the barrel of the gun pointed at the attacker. Additionally, his arms are in a crossed position initially which is a terrible place to be when this close to a person you perceive as a threat (Orange). Really he should have already created distance with hands up in Semi-Passive, or Interview stance (as he has a gun). Of course for the demo I know they did this purposefully, but it highlights action vs reaction smoothly in that if you are totally unprepared the attacker will get you most of the time. Unless you have hyper fast reflexes which let’s be honest most of us do not.

I cannot stress enough that having the second free hand available for defending yourself will often mean the difference between life and death

At 1:00-1:43 the defender is allowed to step back. In all cases, the attacker either cuts/slashes or stabs them even if the defender gets the line of fire on target. Which means one or both may both be severely injured or die each time. Although I will say on sequence 4, or the first of these the count a slash on the arm as a fail and the defender clearly avoids the potentially fatal stab which to us would have been a success. The reality is in any knife scenarios the goal really needs to be don’t die. Or more precisely do not take any fatal wounds. Because there is no guarantee no matter what your skill is that you won’t get cut or stabbed. So really it about minimizing damage. So to me, the first of the sequence would have been a success. The next two, however, were not so fortunate. The other thing is, this sequence highlights the importance of the non-shooting hand in defending yourself. Too many armed individuals believe their sidearm makes them invincible. I have personally talked to police who believe they are skilled enough to draw and shoot anyone no matter what though I highly doubt that these individuals had such skills.

I cannot stress enough that having the second free hand available for defending yourself will often mean the difference between life and death as is clearly shown from sequence 4 vs 5 and 6 where he does not use the hand to defend and is clearly given a fatal slash. This is why when I teach I build fundamental hand to hand combat skills first, prior to teaching firearms skills as when it comes to self-defense these can be more important the later in close quarters scenarios. Especially if you are caught off guard.

At 1:53-2:38 the starting point is now 10ft or 3m giving distance for the defender which increases reaction time. Though if you did watch the Mythbusters video..well you will know this is not always enough.

This time the defender gets the shot off every time but again because the second arm is not defending he still gets slashed most likely fatally. Because of the less than accurate shot placement each time there’s no guarntee, the same will be for the attacker.

At 2:39-3:10 the defender is allowed to move back and is successful every time even getting a few shots on target. No matter the scenario if someone is attacker you with intent to kill especially with a blade you should be unloading as many rounds as you can until they no longer are a threat. Of course, ignore this if you need to conserve ammunition for a mission or tactical reasons in which guess you better start getting good at shot placement under extreme duress.

At 3:19-4:16 they now start at the 21-foot range. Unlike mythbusters, it is clear that the individuals in this video are far more skilled with both pistol and knife creating more clear-cut results (Pun intended). During this sequence, the defender is not allowed to move and while he gets shots off every time, I see a little bit of an issue. As the rounds progress the attacker gets closer and closer and if you were trained to just stand there even though you shot the attacker it is possible they could still stab or slash you fatally even if accidental. This would because they already have forward momentum and the direction they were traveling. Though this time around it is likely the attacker would be far worse off each time than the defender. See the difference distance and time make with regards to reaction time.

At 4:18-5:15 we see 4 more sequences. This time in sequence 5 and 7 the defender is clearly overwhelmed by the sprinting attacker. This could simply be due to “battle” fatigue or do to an increased speed of the attacker. As you can see moving backward still at 21 feet will not always make you infallible. So again, you better train properly and be ready.

So, clearly if you want to maintain your advantage with a holstered firearm, keep your distance well in advance. If you suspect an issue, draw your weapon prior to engagement but remember if you are not willing to use it lethally then drawing it is pointless. Additionally, even if you have the distance make sure you start to move as quickly as possible and still be prepared to use your free hand to defend, but only if it is not feasible to get a two-handed grip which is the ideal scenario. Lastly, if you are going to move against a charging opponent and you are prepared to use lethal for do not just go back. If you have the ability to do so get off the center line.

Generally, in the Krav Maga world, firearms training is considered a natural part of the basic training. For me, however, it is not for beginners. As you can see from most of these tests, basic hand to hand skills in addition to firearms training would have dramatically increased the succes rate. Although I suspect in this video the shooter was holding back for the purpose of the demonstration.

While I fully believe that competent and trained individuals should be allowed to carry firearms for the purpose of self-defense I just want you to remember having a gun may increase your chances of success but it does not make you unbeatable.

BONUS: 

Here is a video of two masters discussing this topic. I will leave this one without comment because well its Instructor Zero and Doug Marcaida

If you are not sure about who mike dolce is, it is most likely because you are not a UFC Fan. Mike Dolce got famous as a nutritionist and coach to many UFC fighters many years ago. Though what appears to be because of politics and personality difference he no longer works directly with UFC camps though he still works with some fighters.  He was also on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast Episode #546.

A little while ago I was re-introduced to him on the Below the belt podcast with Brendan Schaub Episode 84 and I decided to start listening to Mike’s podcast The Mike Dolce Show.

One thing I can say if you are looking for a good quick dose of daily motivation I find his podcast to be quite uplifting and he also gives out a lot of free general nutrition and fitness advice.

Ok, so why did I decide to try the diet or as I should say lifestyle change. For one, ever since I got my purple belt in BJJ I have been, luckily, mostly injury free and have gotten back into the competitive circuit. In the past, I usually just trained casually and show up to competitions and do however I do. However, This is not very good leadership on my part as I do run a martial arts and Krav Maga gym. I decided that now is the time to start taking things seriously and one of the things I always had trouble with was being consistent on a healthy diet or lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong I have always known about general health and fitness but I always have difficulty staying on one thing on my own for long. I think the last time I stayed on a serious diet lifestyle was pre-army many years ago, and then life just kept getting in the way and I was full of excuses. Anyways back on track now for sure.

One of my excuses was that I liked to go out socially, the other was meal preparing for the day or week is a pain in the ass. I have to say, that having a partner in crime to live a healthy lifestyle with has certainly helped this time around as we can both support each other and move forward together. So thank you.

In reality, both these excuses were just that.

Ok, enough about me, time for my thoughts on the diet. If I had to sum it up quickly I would say.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Sorry for the grainy before photos, not sure why it is doing it. As you can see I am more toned and slimmer with more muscle mass. And yes, I would be what many might call fit before, but I was and still am no where what I could be. I am not flexing in these photos.

It is an excellent diet (LIFESTYLE), for any beginner to start who isn’t sure what to do.

It is an excellent diet (LIFESTYLE), for any beginner to start who isn’t sure what to do. the three weeks to the shredded program is actually 4 weeks as they throw in an extra week. My understanding is it was originally designed for fighters to do healthy weight cuts prior to fights and they say you can lose 21 pounds in 21 days. Which is definitely achievable through my goals were only to lose a few pounds and cut and tone, which I most certainly achieved.

You can easily sign up on their website www.thedolcediet.com for either 3 weeks to shredded or living lean (which I am going to try next). The website (once signed up) allows you to track and record notes and progress you make with your exercise program.

Another thing I really like is that the idea of weight cutting can be done healthily. To many people, think weight cutting needs to involve starvation and water cutting, and this simply isn’t true.

On 3 weeks too shredded I was eating 5-6 meals a day including snacks and was on a guided workout plan 4 days a week. The workouts are also on the website with video and to my knowledge are called based on your goals. As I was on what I can imagine was a more athletic program, my workouts were about 40-50 minutes in length and involved squats, bench variations and deadlifts and variations as well as numerous lower body stabilization exercises and core workouts. Needless to say, this was definitely what I needed to get my ass going.

I should mention I was hovering around 162-165 lbs before now I hover around 155-168lbs. Again while you can lose 21 lbs and sometimes more on this I didn’t want to as I needed to stay at my current weight class for competition. At least now I do not have to worry at all about making weight I just need to be and feel healthy.

While I am a largely self-motivated person I also have a very hard time with routine and doing anything for more than two weeks usually gets boring for me. Fortunately for me, the foods on the diet are things that I actually enjoy. It focuses on mostly whole foods fruits and vegetables and Micronutrients as well as proteins including, fish, chicken, eggs and the occasional steak.  But you should be prepared to eat similar things all week long with the major changes at least in my program was the dinners varying from week to week. I also understand they have vegan and gluten-free diet options and you can always talk to them directly if you need specific alternatives.

With the program done I can say that I feel great and have more energy than I used to and I think this is the kick in the ass I needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle diet wise.

Here are things I learned directly from the program:

  1. I need to eat more calories appropriate to my exercise levels.
  2. Eating 5-6 meals a day is not painful with a little prep.
  3. I needed to get enough protein for my needs, which I previously was not.
  4. I needed to weightlift more throughout the week. Previously I was only lifting 1-2 times a week with no plan.
  5. Adding in more lifts other than the three main powerlifting lifts is necessary to get proper full body balance. This is often called accessory work, which based on what I have seen from watching different powerlifters also helps prevent injury.
  6. Doin variations of your main lifts can make your workouts easier to do more often so you do not get bored. It also gives your muscles something different.
  7. Staying on a program is easier when you have guidance. So either get an online program or get a trainer to keep you accountable and pushing yourself.

On top of this diet, it encouraged me and my partner in crime to start looking into health and fitness and lifestyle experts, and we are now heavily down the rabbit hole following people like Tim Feriss, and Ben Greenfield and many more. As I enter my 30s I can say that now was definitely the time to fix the issues in my lifestyle before I settle down and have a family. However, no matter where you are in life it is never to late.

I can also tell you for me and my partner it saved us a lot of money. While we both can cook we live busy lifestyles, so we were getting a bit lazy and just eating out which was costing far more than what we were spending on groceries. As one meal would be between $60-90 Canadian with both food and alcohol. But now we were spending maybe $100-200 a week for the two of us so you do the math.

Lastly, a positive effect of eating healthy is that I just don’t want to drink as much. While I don’t think I will ever outright stop drinking being healthy has allowed my body to self-regulate a lot better and I just don’t feel like drinking. So if you are a person trying to cut down or quit drinking alcohol perhaps a change of dietary lifestyle is in order.

Remember, the program itself is customized for you and will start with your needs and goals. So if you are looking for a lifestyle change this may be a good start for you. And remember, this fits right in with the Krav Maga attitude of living in peace. It is not just about your ability to defend your self but also be happy and healthy physically and mentally.

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*I am not a nutrition expert this is simply an opinion based on my personal experience any diet or exercise changes in your life should always be been done with consultation with your doctor and appropriate professionals.

**The dolce diet is just one way to approach a healthy nutritional lifestyle and there are many that work. Actually going down the rabbit hole as shown me you may need to do a mix but one thing that seems to be consistent between what I have found out is to stay away from processed foods and sugars. Coffee can be good for you. Regular or some intermitted and full fasting is good for you. Cheat days are ok. Your body needs a variance and no one program should be strict for more than 3 months. Again, I am not an expert on nutrition this is just a cheat sheet of what I have learned in the past month both through the dolce diet and other sources.

Follow be on Instagram @theponderingkravist

Why AM I harder on some people more than others?

Let’s be honest here, first off, I am not a patient person. I have worked hard to become more patient so just imagine me 10 years ago and feel lucky you get the version of me today… so it could be worse.

The short answer is…..Because you NEED IT MORE!

Ok, end of the article. Just kidding

now-you-know.jpgObviously, I could be more patient but you do have to remember I have a lot of students and I can’t give special treatment or time in a group class when everyone else is also needing my attention.

The truth is if its been months and months and you are still struggling to pick something up and I have tried my best to explain it in different ways over and over, and everyone else seems to be getting it but you…TRUST ME, I am just as frustrated as you.

Now before you go blaming me because you aren’t getting it, can you attempt to be honest with yourself for a minute and ask is it actually the instructors or is it a you thing?

I know being honest with your self is very hard. And if you think I am not honest with my self then that’s nonsense because clearly, I started this with saying I am not a patient person so I do acknowledge this about my self so yes I am honest with my self, but are you really?

For example, if you only ever trained under me, and you are not getting something have you tried training with another instructor? If you have and you start to get it then yes you can say Jon may not be the instructor for me and that is ok.

But if you have tried another instructor (we have many fine instructors to choose from) and you still are not getting it then the answer is maybe yes, it is a YOU thing!

The first part of any battle is accepting the objective truth first, and then finding a solution from there.

Perhaps you are simply the type of person that needs to think less and drill more and you only come once a week. Then the answer to getting better is to train more.

Perhaps the answer is you train too much without thinking and you need to slow down and think about what you are doing?

Perhaps you genuinely have a difficult time learning physical things and that is ok, but you must first accept that before any instructor can really help you. If this is the case you will take a lot longer than other people to learn and progress and you really need to come to terms with this. I know it will be frustrating for you but as I said it is frustrating for me to, but as long as you keep showing up I will do my best to help you.

Another reason I am hard on people, especially in Vancouver is that people here are genuinely less willing to be pushed physically and mentally and Krav, self-defense or combative’s require you to be uncomfortable and push through things. So if you are constantly fighting me about not wanting to do things I am either going to push you harder on purpose or quite frankly focus on the people who are serious about training.

I have mentioned before that if our class cannot help you break through to push your comfort zones then perhaps counseling may be an option for you because the truth is I can only teach people properly who are willing to learn and let the process happen.

If you push against me I will push back, or I will simply not push back at all and let you do your own thing in which case you are wasting your own time more than anyone.

Now, I fully accept that I cannot get along with everyone and I don’t expect everyone to like me or my opinions. But I do know I can teach you to be a better version of yourself if you let me. I am going to approach things aggressively because in part that is Krav, In part that is my military training and in part that’s well…that’s just me.

So if that’s not for you that’s ok. You can train with another instructor. You can simply say Jon is an asshole but he can teach me what I want and let me. Or you can fight me during the whole process until one of us gets tired of it.

Remember, even though I am not patient I am still trying to teach more than one person. You, however, can learn from multiple instructors and other students so tell me who has less patience, me or you?

So if you are having a hard time with me giving you a hard time just know that I genuinely want you to learn, and no I don’t think I always have to be nice about it. But if you are willing to learn I am willing to teach. But trust me, I am not just being hard on you because I like it. I don’t, I would much rather be avoiding people than trying to manage them.

So again, if you want to learn do so. Just know if you resist the process you will get challenged.

Over the past year or so you may have noticed posts on this blog about students who have finished the ranking tests at UTKM. Many of them are written by Instructor candidates before or after they are certified. Of course, the latter group definitely does it out of there own free will and not as a requirement of the course….

Here are a few in case you forgot.

nnnoooooo-youre-not-ready.jpgTo me, these posts are extremely important. They give students an opportunity to express in writing how they felt mentally and physically about testing, but more importantly, give a glimpse into what other students can expect.

In the Krav world, testing and ranking vary from intensive multi-day tests to no testing and no ranking. To me ranking is important. First of all, it is a natural human behaviour to want, crave or need some indication of progress to show consciously and obviously that yes there is a purpose to walking away bruised, tired and sometimes emotionally drained.

If you follow us regularly you will know our tests are not easy. There is a reason for these. While I fully understand the need of people to feel accomplished and have a sense of progress to stay motivated the thing is if you are learning Krav Maga so that you can defend yourself you need to be able to show you have what it takes to really defend yourself.

Our tests focus less on techniques and more on pushing you to your physical and mental limits so that you can show us you truly have what it takes to survive a real unexpected violent encounter. You should not just be learning krav for fun or to get in shape but doing so knowing you may need to use it in a terrible scenario.

Because of this I really dont want people to do the tests who I feel are not ready. I know you want to feel accomplished, I know you want to get to the more advanced classes but the reality is if I am holding you back its because you are not getting a certain aspect of Krav Maga or self defense in general. Maybe you are not aggressive enough, maybe you just are showing sufficient skill or maybe you have not been training consistently.

Without fail, the people who almost always come close to failing are the people who ask to be tested.

I also do not want to see you fail especially as the tests are so hard. So far we have not had anyone fail but that’s because we decide when someone is ready and we are usually correct. Occasionally someone who I didn’t consider for a test tells me they are ready and sometimes I let them do the test. Without fail, the people who almost always come close to failing are the people who ask to be tested.

Trust me I will feel terrible if I have to fail someone, but I will do it if you fail because in the end of the day I am 100% against giving people a false sense of security in a persons ability to defend themselves. If you are unwilling to spar, or unwilling to put in the time to train. If you prioritize other aspects of your life and are not consistent with your training please do not ask to be tested. It is for your own good.

Yes, I will like you to have the ability to defend yourself, and yes I would like to have more advanced students but I am sorry, please do not harass me or the other instructors because you need to feel special that you are allowed to test. Personally, I think I need to get stricter and if you ask to be tested without being prompted to do so I really should just automatically not let you test until a later date.

I dont want to see you fail, but if you do it will be for your own good.

So show up and train, put in the time, don’t argue with the instructors about not wanting to do a certain aspect of the training (Baring injury) and show us you can push yourself past your comfort zones. If you cant, then you may be a forever white belt, or yellow belt because you need to show us you are committed to learning proper Self Defense combatives which also includes your attitude.

So when you are ready, you will be asked to be tested.

 

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Saying you don’t want to learn to fight to a self Defense instructor is like saying you don’t want to learn at all. Empty your mind, then you will be ready to learn.

I know I have definitely talked about this before, so I don’t know why I am surprised this statement keeps coming up:

 

I want to learn self defense but I am not interested in fighting or learning to fight

Meteor hitting earth.jpgEvery time I hear this statement from a new student or someone eager to learn to defend themselves I want to smash my face against the desk so hard it causes a meteor to be knocked out of orbit and smash me and the surrounding area into nothingness because I’ve died a little more inside and lost even more faith in the human race.

Ok, enough of the melodramatic truth…

One of the biggest uphill battles faced by any legitimate Krav Maga instructor who is actually interested in teaching people to defend themselves is to ride their students and the public of all of their blatant misconceptions when it comes to violence, Use of Force, and Self Defense.

No, I am not here to teach you to be a ring fighter. No, I don’t want to you be a fighter for the sake of fighting. Yes, I am here to teach you to learn to defend your self. and YES!, I am going to teach you how to fight.

The worst is when people actually think they can learn to defend themselves without hurting other people. Or as I have been told by another instructor once in a while, when law enforcement or security agencies ask to learn defence techniques with no physical contact. Thankfully the later of the two never occurred to me otherwise the original melodramatic statement could have the meteor replaced by a black hole so large it could destroy the universe.

Can you tell when presented with the ideology that somehow fighting and self-defence are separate from each other is extremely frustrating to a legitimate Krav Maga Instructor?

Essentially a big part of Krav Maga is Aggression (though it is often wrongfully no thanks to Israeli attitude perceived as the only part) which is really about teaching you how to turn on the internal “fight” switch. Because the reality is, under stress, pressure, fatigue etc… techniques begin to fail and it is through aggression and your pure will to fight that will save you. And you cannot ever forget that.

Yet in many more “peaceful” cities like Vancouver were relative to other big cities there is very low rate of violence out in the open, people tend to get sheltered from the realities of violence. The people I have met from countries where violence is much more open or a day to day thing are far more ok with, and understanding with using violence to fight violence.

Truly, most normally wired human beings when put under duress will fight flight or freeze, and it is our goal to teach you to control and use the fight or flight mechanisms without activating the freeze. The reality is though the best self defence is to run, it is not always an option which leaves the Fight option.

So if you “don’t want to learn to fight” then you are going to have a very hard time learning to defend yourself. Because that fight mixed with training, skill and aggression is the only way you will every overwhelm a larger stronger opponent long enough to actually find your escape to live to survive another day. And in some more extreme violent cases, you might have to Fight so hard to overcome the attacker that you have to incapacitate or use lethal force because that is the only way to stop the threat.

So do you really think if you don’t want to fight you are going to defend yourself against a serious threat? I think you need to take your head out of the clouds or as the saying goes in Hebrew, Ata Chai B’Seret or you are living in a movie.

If you cannot overcome this belief of not wanting to learn to fight then perhaps you simply aren’t ready to actually learn to defend yourself by learning Krav Maga.

 

 

So you want to be a soldier?

Posted: May 8, 2018 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga Opinions

Forward: This post was inspired by both a conversation turned argument and listening to the Jocko Podcast Episode 123. Though it is a long listen It is a good listen. For some, it may be an emotional listen and that’s just fine in my books. Part of understanding this post, however, is to listen to it.

 

 

Every once in a while I have a conversation with individuals who tell me you know I really want to join the military. There are two types of people who tell me this.

  1. A person who has nothing and is struggling and sees it as a means to support themselves by sacrificing for a stable future
  2. A person who likes the idea of being a soldier and sees it as something fun, cool or entertaining to do.

Obviously, the later of the two really pisses me off.

First, let’s establish that the military culture and structure in every country are different and they cannot be confused. Some countries have conscription, some do not, and this difference is a big factory in a countries military culture. Some places like the U.S.A. have a volunteer army but depending on which state you are in will have more or less Military culture.

In Canada, we have a very strange Military Culture. Though Historically the Canadian Forces have been one of the top fighting forces in the world, albeit a very small one that has been involved many of the big conflicts over the years the average Canadian in many of the big cities doesn’t think much of the military or just doesn’t think about it at all.

Another thing about the Canadian Forces that may be different is the fact we have the regular forces which are all the full-time soldiers that have made a career of it and the reserve forces which is a part-time soldier.

Personally, I have an issue with the way the reserves in Canada is structure considering you can do it part-time in training on weekends until you have completed your minimum training standards. (There is far more to it than that as to why I have an issue but I will not get into it here)

To me, this just opens up the weekend Soldier, the person who wants to just play soldier without sacrificing their entire lives for something more. (Feel free to disagree) but to me, if you want to be a soldier go be a soldier. Make it your life, your career, and chosen choice in life at least for a few years.

Personally, I blame Hollywood and its complete misrepresentation of what it means to be a soldier. They idolize war and make it seem like that your entire time as a soldier will be in glorious battle. This is simply false.

First of all, in MOST armies the percentage of people in combat is usually somewhere less than 15% of the entire army. The rest is support from office work to supply techs to instructors and trainers. The military is so much more than just shooting at the bad guy. Not only that, PTSD and other issues are not specific to those who have seen combat, in fact, some of the people I know who got it literally did nothing, it was the waiting for something that drove them to it.

I remember I was guilty of this mentality too. Though I never saw combat in the traditional sense I can definitely say I had my challenges mentally in the military. Add to the fact I already had depression and didn’t know it didn’t help.

One thing I did learn is appreciating freedom. This is an ideology often pushed by the USA and its military apparatus but the appreciation for the freedom I think doesn’t come from “liberating” people. It comes from the fact that in the Military your time is not your own. Then when you are released it is again. That’s why soldiers appreciate freedom in my opinion.

Anyways. Recently I was listening to the Jocko Willinks Podcast Episode:

123: A FIGHT THROUGH DARKNESS WITH MARINE CORPORAL, JAKE SCHICK

Listening to this podcast reminded me the kind of sacrifices and an individual soldier can make and the challenges that they can face. If you want to be a soldier, especially a combat soldier I suggest you listen. I think if you don’t consider this result with the reality of your choice to be a soldier, and if you are willing to risk similar sacrifices then perhaps being a soldier just isn’t for you.

It is not a joke to be a soldier, it is not a game to be a soldier and it is not your weekend fun time.

The gladiators of old knew the reality of what they did with the saying

Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant

Or as many of you might know it as. For those about to die, we salute you.

This basically means, they fought knowing death it a possibility. The truth is after listening to that podcast I could say that perhaps death would have been easier. I am happy that Mr.Schick survived his ordeals and is doing what he is doing but what he went through must have been excruciating.

My point is if you want to be a soldier be a soldier, do it for real do it as a career. And if you want to be a career combat soldier you must accept that death is a real possibility, just like a severe life-altering injury is a possibility.

To me, if you want to play soldier, go play airsoft. But if you are ready and willing to make the sacrifice of time and energy and mental sanity then perhaps being a soldier is for you.

But please, don’t be disrespectful and pretend. if you want to do it, do it. To me, there is no in-between no matter how a military is structured.

What Success Looks Like

Posted: May 1, 2018 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga Philosophy
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What is Success?

The Merriam-Webster defines it as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame,”

or see here a Business Insider article asking several wealthy individuals their definition of success is. You might notice that many if not most of them do not count the wealth and fame as why they consider themselves successful. Yet we would all look at them as successful because they have wealth and fame.

Or you might look at them and say they aren’t successful because they don’t have my family or the friends I have so they are really successful. If that’s how you think, perhaps theirs an air of resentment in your tone because of course, they are successful. Others might think that success is about happiness, for what is success without being happy. Well, this is also certainly true, but someone who is miserable but has changed the world with their success due to their wealth and fame is still successful. In fact, they may be the most successful of all (Keep an eye on Elon Musk, his self-isolation and sadness may single-handedly change the world for the good.)

So what is success? well, a far more accurate realistic definition may simply be achieving the goals you set out for yourself. These could be daily goals or life milestones. When you ask many self-help gurus or those seen as strong leaders they often talk about goal setting.

They are most definitely correct, because who hasn’t been ecstatically happy or relieved because they have achieved their goals. These goals don’t need to be big grandiose goals like being the next bill gates because goals like that are completely unrealistic for 99% of you no matter how hard you believe. Your goals and reaching them which will define your personal success must be realistic to your ability, skillsets and drive among other things otherwise they will simply be delusional unattainable goals.

Another thing we tend to do with defining success is focusing on the end goal, with smiling photos and happy times without remembering how hard it was sometimes through the journey to achieve the goal. Remember, some goals could be as simple as getting up on time in the morning, other goals could be oh lets see achieving a certain rank in your Krav maga school…

Recently I ran a few Orange Belt tests (and I can assure you UTKM tests are harder earlier than many other Krav Maga tests that I have seen.) and at the end of every test I saw what appeared to be beaten defeated people, yet they had all passed so I had the thought. THIS is what success looks like:

If you just saw these photos without contexts it would be reasonable to assume they are broken or failed. But this is the look of people who gave it everything they had to achieve their goal of getting Orange Belt. In these cases they all passed but could you really tell just from these photos?

The truth about success is we do focus on the end goal. Getting rich, getting the belt, getting up in the morning on a regular basis. But we always seem to forget that it’s actually the Journey to success which defines success or not as without the Journey, the learning experience there can be no success. To me, even if they don’t think so, these people are successful. For me, they have achieved something hard to achieve, something that many of my students fear, or some avoid because they know that this Journey to success or the goal, is not going to easy because I’m not going to make it easy.

So if success is the Journey + the Goal then there is a reason we must set attainable reasonable goals because the Journey is the hard part, the Goal is just a checkmark on a sheet or a gold star on a paper.

So when you look at the people who you think are successful, (assuming they didn’t just get a massive inheritance and did nothing else after) then ask yourself how hard was their Journey to achieve their goals? Whether we admire them for it or resent them for it it does not deny them their Journey.

SO what is Success? its many things, it starts with setting a goal, then having a plan put in place an then the real Journey the Hard work, sweat blood and potentially sleepless nights to get to the goal?

Whatever your definition of success is, just remember, it’s going to be a Journey one that will be full of good days and bad says, easy times and hard times. But so long as you can learn and grow in your Journey success may be closer than you think.

Why I compete, even if I don’t win

Posted: February 22, 2018 by Jonathan Fader in Competition
Tags: , ,

First off, before anyone freaks out, no I am not competing in Krav Maga. Nor do I support competitions in Krav Maga. The reason for this is history. With all martial art styles, the started for the purpose of self-defence once they start competitions they often quickly become a sport and lose much of the practical application.

As I advise all practising kravists what you need to do is cross train to further develop your skills. If you do, you may find one of the other styles that are more sports-oriented will offer you an outlet to get that competitive bug out of the way. I recommend, MMA, BJJ, Judo, Wrestling, boxing and kickboxing/Muay Thai.

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For me, BJJ is what I like and practice and compete in. So why do I compete considering the following:

  1. I am not nor have I ever been a naturally gifted athlete
  2. I am not by any stretch of the imagination the best in my division
  3. I am not a super competitive person who must win.

Yet, I still compete. I have many students, or have talked to many people who just don’t want to compete because they know they won’t win and to that, I say so what?

I see three general categories of competitors.

  1. Tha Natural Athlete – to these people, winning may be everything, It has either become normal to them because they are simply better physically and it has become their standard, and competition is their outlet to show off their talents
  2. The Committed martial artist – These people may not be the best physically but they still win. They are in the gym almost every day training and honing their skills. To them, it is a lifestyle and a way of being.
  3. The Casual Martial artist – Someone who trains on a casual basis but still compete because it seems like fun.

No matter what group you are in there is something they all have in common when it comes to competition. Win, lose or Draw every one comes out of competitions a little better. For no matter the outcome you will learn something.

Maybe despite winning, you almost lost and found a hole in your game or strategy. Maybe you lost not because of skill but because of your cardio. Maybe you lost because the skill in your division is simply higher than where you are at and you need to train more.

For me personally, I check all of these boxes. Due to a variety of reasons, I haven’t been able to train hard enough, for a long time my cardio was shit and there are definitely lots of holes in my game. The thing is even though at least for now I know I  probably won’t win, I will still compete.

I always come out of competitions learning something new. and I always work towards fixing it. So far every competition I have for the most part, even if I wasn’t happy with the results the reality was each time I was a little better.

Over the last several competitions I have been working my cardio and each time I am a little less tired. So despite not winning gold, I have improved my self.

Over the last several competitions I have been working on my game and each time I am a little closer to implementing it and I have improved myself.

Over the last several competitions I have identified what I am doing wrong both defensively and offensively and I have improved myself.

While I fully Accept that I was and always will be a better coach and instructor than competitor I still plan on competing.

For me, It’s not about the winning, although as I am only human, It would be nice, it’s about being better every day. While I fully Accept that I was and always will be a better coach and instructor than competitor I still plan on competing. On that note, a coach or instructor who encourages their students to compete but has never competed or doesn’t compete may just be a hypocrite. As coaches, we tell them winning doesn’t matter, but then some fear competing cause they know they won’t win. But if winning doesn’t matter then why do you tell your students that and why don’t you compete? Being a hypocrite is the worst and is something I hate passionately.

So I compete, win lose or draw, I always improve and perhaps one day I will start seeing gold, and if not, its no big deal. The goal is improvement and competitions are one of the best ways to push your own personal boundaries and comfort zones and grow a little bit every time. For if you won’t, or refuse to push your comfort zones, you will never grow and be better.

I can only ever encourage everyone to take the same path, but even if you don’t, I will keep training, keep competing and keep getting better.

So get out there, and do not fear to lose. Just compete and have fun.