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Belts: What are they good for?

Posted: January 15, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga and Other Martial Arts
Tags: , , ,

The subject of belts and ranking is like so many things a complicated thing because though they are supposed to be straight forward they can mean different things to different people. In Krav Maga, it is no different. There are those who follow the original belt system developed originally for Judo, like us. There are those who follow the Patch system originally developed in the great split of the 90s when IKMF was formed. There are those who say there should be no ranking cuz it does not matter on the street. And there are those who came from a different martial arts background and simply took the ranking system for that and used it for Krav Maga.

Let’s Start at the beginning. Originally there was simply student and master and some way to indicate the difference other than skill. Then as martial arts started to popularize and become more about sport and less about life or death there needed to be a way to track progress and differentiate both skill and time at practice. At some point in the late 20s or 30s Judo’s founder created more or less the modern belt system. And that was that. From there on almost every martial arts style adopted some form of the progressive ranking system using colored belts or sashes. In a lot of styles each colour represents something other than the physical, it others it simply means the next stage.

Back to Krav Maga. If you have read into UTKM a little more you would know when we developed our curriculum we stuck with the traditional belt system as we believe to the lamen it is easier to understand than the patch system. The patch system was developed to appeal to the more military oriented nature of Krav Maga but to most people trying to explain this system can be a bit annoying. But everyone understands what a white or brown or black belt is. So in following Krav Magas original nature, we decided to keep it simple. Additionally, if Krav Maga is simple then we shouldn’t need so many levels to get through the curriculum. Advanced progress can simply be marked by Dans anyways, which are more an indication of continued progress, skill and dedication than anything else.

To the people who say there shouldn’t be ranks, I would say that they really dont understand humans. People who say this usually come from a special forces background and are already physically, and potentially mentally stronger than most people. They may find themselves in a new school and doing far better than average. Thus, due to ego, they feel they deserve more. But they are forgetting that ranks are far more than just skill. They are right though. There are no belts on the street (unless you are wearing one and use it as a weapon of the opportunity of course!) but this is a two-way street. Being a high rank doesn’t matter if you are overwhelmed and being a low rank doesn’t matter if you escape to safety. But humans are funny creatures and we like to measure everything, including our progress. We also like to compare to other people of similar ranks. We are social creatures and thus we crave a system with earnable measurable progression in relation to those around us.

To the last group of people who teach Krav Maga but use some other or random ranking system you are either being disrespectful or care more about business than the actual style, you are teaching. Just my 2 cents and I’ll leave it at that.

So, Belts. What are they even good for?

The obvious has already been stated; Measurable progression. But what does that even mean? One thing to consider is one of UTKMS main goals, to produce people, not belts. People are the product of a school, not their ranks. A belt usually indicates both the completion of minimum time and practical requirements accompanied by an acceptable demonstration of skill for the level in question.

For example, did they show the required attendance or attitude? Did they show the required skills? Did they pass the test? In some systems, it’s simply a matter of going through the motions. In others like ours, we expect you to be able to show us you can really defend yourself while tired and at each level adding the additional skills you have learned at each new level.

Simple, yes? well no. I could have 2 yellow belts, that both passed the test but one is clearly better than the other. This should not discourage anyone, rather show an individual that there are those bigger stronger and faster and that for them the best self-defense is avoidance knowing there are such people out there. Unfortunately, due to our nature, this often discourages people.

In styles with competitions this certainly can be very discouraging but in Krav Maga, it should not. The difference without the sports aspect, the only reason you should be wanting to progress is for yourself. Though really, this sentiment should be applied to all styles. So if you are stuck at a certain rank for a long time all it means is show up more and train harder.

The reality is, self-defense is for your self. It is so that you know what you are capable of in any given situation and you have the confidence to do something should the need arise.

At UTKM we break the skills up based on rank. Beginner is the white belts. Novice is yellow and orange, and advanced is green and up.

When it comes to Krav Maga everyone always wants to lean the fancy stuff which is what a lot of Israeli Instructors focus on. But again, if you are not special forces then you are not a naturally gifted individual physically and mentally and we need to build you up properly so that you don’t hurt your self overestimating your ability.

This is why I believe in ranks. To let you know where you are at so that you dont get overwhelmed in conflict and focus more on the avoidance and situational awareness.

If you can barely punch or kick, then learning to do gun disarms (though easy from a technical standpoint) may just be dangerous. I know you imagine yourself the next John Wick or Hit Girl (Links contain Violence and language) but being delusional is just plain dangerous. I know it hurts your ego to hear this but when it comes to self-defense and your life, there is no room for such things. If you want to learn the cool stuff then put in the time, show us you can do it and you too can learn.

But I want to feel I progressed now!

7 ranks, as a basic, should seem like enough? Or is it too much? BJJ only has 5 ranks. Yet BJJ is quickly becoming one of the more popular styles globally. One thing they understood, is that people are impatient and want to see marked progress now. So they added 4 additionally tape stripes per rank, and even more for the kids. Unlike the days of old where progress meant surviving a life or death battle today just means feeling useful, and happy with a sense of purpose. Before our purpose was just trying to survive. But now our purpose may mean getting to the next rank in a given style. The thing is people are more and more impatient no thanks to social media.

Enter the stripe or half progression. Now people seem to expect progression from JUST showing up. If I show up I will get another stripe. Thus it feeds our ego and our need for acceptance among other things. Yet going this way often dilutes the style. Fortunately, BJJ is still holding strong but there are concerns that standards will fall if ranks are given out too often and too easily. But does it even matter if it’s not about life or death? I think it does still at least.

For Krav Maga, it still is about life or death, survival and much more. There really is no room for ego. Yet if many schools want to survive they need to give the people what they want? right? Well no. If you as a Krav Maga school do your best to remind people why they are leanrning then it should be less about their next rank and more about how they feel about their own progress.

Are they better today than they were yesterday? Delayed gratification goes a long way especially if you ever need to use Krav in a real-life scenario.

I know you want your next rank, I do too (in BJJ) but I care less about the rank now and more about getting better and so should you.

A rank, a belt, a stripe is simply a milestone in a journey. It is not always about skill, but it is definitely about time and attitude.

If you feel you deserved the next rank but haven’t gotten it just stick to it, remind yourself why you started in the first place. In Krav, the reasons are often a little more than just I always wanted to do it, or I just want to do something fun while getting in shape. Often it is things like, I was assaulted, My house was broken into or I was bullied. If those are any of the reasons you came to Krav then the rank doesn’t matter at all.

So remember, no matter what rank you are. It’s about building people ( yourself) not just about getting another belt color or stripe. Check your ego at the door, and just keep training and like everything in time, your next rank will come.

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If you haven’t noticed by now be some of my recent posts there is a focus on self-improvement. For those of you who are new to the site or just spent to much time on Facebook and not on the content of these pages then UTKM’s core concepts may be foreign to you. One of them however is Never stopped learning and growing. This doesn’t just include the students, but the instructors and myself as well. For us, an instructor who no longer wants to improve themselves and face the challenges associated with it probably does not want to be an instructor anymore. We have this attitude because leading by example is the best way to get students and others to do it too.

Don’t get me wrong, being a better person is hard. In fact, it may be the hardest thing most people do in their lives. It means facing the things we don’t like about ourselves in a honest manner and deciding if we are willing to change for the good. With the new years in order, I don’t really want to make a new years resolution I want to make a lifestyle change.

For those who have taken a class with me you may think, or know that I can come off as very confident and charismatic. The truth is despite this, I truly have a hard time making meaningful connections with those around me. Whatever the reasons for this are, dont really matter. What matters is that I would like to change this.

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Without meaningful connections, it can feel like you are alone even if there are lots of people around you. People, you may even consider friends.

If you dont have meaningful connections how can you reach out and get the information you want for self-improvement? Traditionally, there were books, then the internet, now there are podcasts. Podcasts are amazing as they give you a direct connection, often to the people that textbooks cite, except you can get the most updated information directly from the source.

One of my go-to podcasts for health, wellness and fitness is the Ben Greenfield podcast. Ben is one of the top fitness and nutritional experts in America and an elite athlete. He is driven to constantly better himself in all aspects of himself because he knows despite his achievements there is much to improve.

 

His recent podcast posted before the end of the year titled,

The Hidden Health Epidemic Nobody Is Talking About (& 6 Ways To Protect Yourself From It)

Ben-Greenfield during a ultramarthon

Ben during a Spartan race

Really spoke to me. Yes, Ben is a little religious for my tastes but the reality he is right. If you are depressed because you feel lonely it is likely you are lacking meaningful connections with even a few people. I can say that this may very well be the case for me (though I dont feel particularly lonely as I have the UTKM family.) I find it difficult to relate to people, and many people find me difficult for one reason or another. I have noticed whether intentionally or otherwise the podcasts I listen to all have been focusing on self-improvement lately(probably very intentional due to the new year).

If you are like me a more right-leaning (Politically) indivudal then you might find a lot of the people who talk about mindfulness and meaningful connections often sound very WOO WOO. The truth is, its probably because they aren’t the best themselves and are really just parroting the information. That or they have done a little too many hallucinogens in their lives and have lost touch a little. The reality is, the science seems to be fairly consistent at this point.

Humans are social creatures and as humans to be happy we need meaningful connections.

Even if this podcast doesn’t reach you like the way it did for me use it as a starting point and find someone that you can connect to. Either way, Ben is an amazing source for the most updated science-based fitness knowledge and info.

To give you an idea of some of the things he covers in this podcast:

  • How loneliness, or “social isolation” negatively affects your physical health…8:30
  • The correlation between smartphone prevalence and loneliness…16:15
  • Practical things you can do to fight loneliness…24:12
  • The chemistry behind face to face interactions…38:20
  • 6 ways to enhance your life and longevity with love…47:15

*pulled from his website on the link given above for the podcast

At this point, this episode has been out for almost a week and I have listened to it a few times. Two of the things I am working on immediately is

  1. putting away my phone during meal times and turning off notifications outside of business hours.
  2. I am also working on the eye contact part, something that has always been a challenge for me for one reason or another. Usually, if you think I am looking you in the eye there is a good chance I am actually looking at your nose. A trick I picked up a few years ago but probably does not help with meaningful relationships.

In many ways. Podcasts like this are far more helpful than seeing doctors. Usually, their advice is diet and exercise. But that’s usually because they are not really trained outside of acute medicine among other reasons, but I will not get into a rant here about it….

For someone like me, this advice is useless because I do exercise and I do eat fairly well. So what else could it be? Well, it should seem obvious to the doctors, but it is not. (I generally only go to them if I have already figured out what the problem is like the time I tore my ACL, even though they thought I did not).

So if your doctors are not helping you, and you do exercise and you still feel lonely. Then it is possible you lack meaningful connections. This is why those who are surrounded by people are still lonely. It is because the majority of the relationships are shallow, hollow, fake or just surface relationships. So if you think this might be you then, this podcast is a great start to a new lifestyle change for the new year.

I hope it is as helpful for you as it was/is for me.

P.S. If you are the type of person who prefers to read. The Transcript for the podcast can be found here!

 

 

This year I swear, I will hit the gym 3 times a week, swear off cookies, and take that new Krav Maga class thing regularly I heard about last Tuesday! This is my new year’s resolution.

Enter March. You bought an overpriced gym membership, that you used twice and are now stuck in a contract you dont even use. You just bought peanut butter fudge cookies because you are depressed you spent money on that contract that you don’t use. And you never bothered to try that Krav Maga class because it looked too scary, and your best friend didn’t want to come because their significant other didn’t want them to get hurt.

The first thing is you probably bit off more than you can chew (Pun Intended) and it is now overwhelming and no longer fun.

A mistake people often make is they make decisions because they should do something but not because its what they would like to do.

Bottom line, if you dont enjoy it, you probably won’t do it long enough to make it a habit or a priority.

Instead of starting with I need to lose 30 lbs, start with finding an activity that you like. It can be going to the gym, taking that krav maga class, or even just going for a walk. Once you have made it something you like to do and have made it habit you can now focus on your other goals.

If your goal was to train more and you say you are going to train 5 days a week in Krav Maga or other martial arts but were barely making one then perhaps it’s not a realistic goal. 2 days a week might be more attainable as it is only one more day than you have been doing so far.

Once something has become a habit it and routine eventually it becomes a lifestyle rather than a task or chore or something you just have to do.

If you say you want to start Krav Maga this year as your goal, great. Take a class first. Then take two. If you like it now you can set your goals. If you don’t and it’s still something you really want to do, try a different school. Sometimes it’s just not the right fit and that’s ok, but if its something you really want to do then try all school options available.

Don’t rely on your friends either. I cannot remember how many times groups of friends started coming and then only one stayed, and eventually, they too stop because their friends were not there anymore. If its something you want to do, then you do it. Make new friends in the gym for when you are in the gym and keep those friends for when you are not in the gym. But do it you not them.

The same goes for diet. If you dont like the foods on your “diet” then it’s going to be impossible for you to stay on it. Consider eating healthy 4-5 days out of the week and hit up the exercise activity you chose to make up the 2 days you have as cheat days. Realistically strict “diets” are hard to keep and keep a healthy social life. So need to go out to that party one day because (Insert Reason), its ok go and have fun. Just know to stay on track the rest of the week and you will be fine. Because a yo yo diet is not a diet at all. Also, diet is relative, when it comes to food there are many great options on how you should eat. Just make sure you consult your doctor or a nutritionist if you are sure ( I would lean heavily to the latter).

New Life

Don’t just say the change. Make the change happen with a lifestyle change.

No matter what your new year’s resolution is, do it not because you are supposed to, but because you want to. Make easy on your self and break it up into smaller parts. If you cannot make it a habit and a lifestyle you will not likely keep your resolution. If you change how you look at it next thing you know its 1 year later and you have met and exceeded your goal and you didn’t even notice because you were to busy having fun. Dont just set another resolution. Make a lifestyle change.

 

 

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So you want to train? No, You LOVE to train? At least that’s what your profile says. But if I asked your instructor if that is the truth they might paint a different picture. I can certainly attest that sentiment to many of my students past and current.

If you go to any Martial arts school, Krav Maga or otherwise, you will always find a core group of students who are there 2,3,4 days a week almost every week without fail. They are there because aside from the fact they love the training, they have chosen to make it a priority in their life.

It’s not because they don’t have work, school, family or kids because quite often these individuals have one or more of these things in their lives. It is because they have made a conscious effort to build a life in which they can without guilt, distraction or excuse show up to train regularly and happily.

For so many others though, those same factors, work, school, family or kids have become an excuse as a reason not to train. They can and are of course legitimate reasons not to do something else such as training with your favourite neighbourhood Krav Maga Instructor. However, I want to make a request of you. Stop making them excuses and make them the reality of your life. The reality is that you prioritize those things over training.

It’s not that you can’t make the time for training in your obviously busy schedule its that you simply are not prioritizing it. And you know what, that is totally fine if that’s how you would like to structure your life.

But if training is really something you want to do then make it a priority and stop giving your instructor, your peers, or your family excuses as to why you won’t hit the gym if its clearly something you like to do (or something that is clearly beneficial for you).

Can’t train, or won’t train? Ask your self this question seriously.

In our modern world, both are fine if they can attain happiness and satisfaction in your life. But try instead telling those around you, you know what, it just isn’t a priority in my life.

Trust me, this will garner you a lot more respect from your instructors and peers. Try to use this phrase instead of saying, I want to train but…

The reasons don’t actually matter, its just not a priority and that’s ok. Unless of course you actually want it to be a priority it which case what are you waiting for?

Work schedule in the way? change shifts or job.

Family life in the way? see if you can bring your kids with you, find a babysitter, make an arrangement with your significant other to watch the kids another time so they can do the thing they really want to do.

School and finals? Maybe take one less course next semester because you realize that actually, physical training is a priority for you because taking a break from sitting with your head in some textbook is actually good for your health mentally and physically.

If you answer but I can’t, that’s ok, then training Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate or just lifting some weights really isn’t a priority for you. Just be honest!

so, Instead of saying “I Don’t have time”, try saying “its not a priority” and see how it changes your life for the good.

 

To Act or Not to Act.jpgHesitation can often lead to embarrassment or post scenario guilt or worse. It could lead to much more serious consequences such as permanent disability or death.

For some it can lead to thoughts of why didn’t I make my move, I really liked them. To Act. Or the opposite, why didn’t I do anything to stop them, what they did was not consensual. Not to Act.

In both above examples, there is only regret and/or shame. But when it comes to failure to act in a violent confrontation it can lead to catastrophic consequences.

To Act (Action), or not to act (Inaction) are the dichotomies of Action vs Reaction and Avoidance as well as self-defense in general. In the face of Violence, an action is faster than reaction. One can Act first, to avoid a reactive action. Or you can Choose inaction as an attempt to avoid the scenario altogether. It can be a tough decision, but for Krav Maga, action is usually preferred over inaction even if that means running.

Krav Maga is known for its aggression in the face of violence but aggression is only a tool and means nothing if a person fails to “turn it on”. If in that moment of need, that second you had to strike first or to block or to simply resist you choose inaction then it could lead to your own demise both literally or figuratively (psychological trauma).

Often when teaching students even under light stress they often hesitate to act. Or as is quite common they “screw up” the technique and stop. I will tell them or yell at them “keep going, don’t stop” because that moment of hesitation is all it takes for the attacker to re-coup and re-engage offensively.

When training people, we need to train their aggression to be appropriate and well timed so that when the moment comes no matter what happens even if an error occurs they can fight through and survive. However, if they hesitate and instead of channeling that aggression through retzev, techniques and other strategies and principles their training and aggression is for naught.

This is why situational and high-stress training is very important in Krav Maga or any good self defense training so that we can train the brain and nervous system to recognize situations or scenarios and act or react quickly without hesitation.

To act without hesitation often means to act with confidence. Without confidence in one’s skill then it can be harder to act.

One of the easiest ways to build confidence in your skill, speed or timing is to practice more and practice often. With practice also comes the knowledge of what you are capable of and will help you better recognize when you should avoid scenarios all together so that action or hesitation is not even a factor.

To act or not to act that is the questions, but hesitate to act in the moment of decision and it might not matter at all, philosophically or otherwise.

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Krav Maga has an image problem

Posted: November 6, 2018 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga in General
Tags: ,

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.

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.

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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.