Archive for the ‘Krav Maga Opinions’ Category

Foreword: This article was originally published on this blog on June 09th, 2016. However, it still holds true. It has been partially edited to be a bit more up to date. In the wake of the tragedy that occurred on March 15th, in New Zealand where 50 people lost their lives, the NZ Government responded by announcing strict new rules banning many commonly owned types of firearms including most semi-automatic rifles. I am not familiar with NZ laws or due process but this is a sweeping overreach of power in my opinion. While this was a tragedy, an emotionally driven policy is rarely a good idea. A quick search on wikipedia shows that the last time there was a massacre involving a firearm in NZ was in 1997. This would suggest that such events are not common in NZ and this is, in fact, an emotional, politically motivated driven decision. Generally speaking, when you actually look into detailed breakdowns of stats from organizations like the FBI, RCMP, Stats Can or any major government body you will find that the truth rarely matches up with the anti-gun grab narrative that is often pushed. In fact, a quick search can usually find that top law enforcement agencies rarely support outright gun bans. I just did one and found one in which the RCMP commissioner does not support a handgun ban in Canada. Despite this, the current government is trying to push one to gain mostly political favor in certain municipalities (Mainly Toronto, which has a gang problem) which have failed to resolve gang violence issues. I will, of course, be perfectly honest, I am not going to in-depth research to find the stats around this, but if it matters to you they generally are not hard to find. Also if you look into most mass shootings in western countries they are often preventable as the individuals who did so are usually mentally unstable or often regularly are fairly open about their opinions and willingness to use violence. Often, gun grab policies are to appease a particular group of individuals who are loud and emotional and have not bothered to look into the facts.  The irony is they often speak of being scientific and fact-based yet the facts are gun grabs are rarely based on facts because the facts do not support them.

Joe Rogan famously said, referring to America ” This country has a mental health problem disguised as a gun problem. And a tyranny problem disguised as a security problem.”

This is very close to the truth. When politicians are not sure how to fix a problem they usually tighten the rules, ban more things and make things difficult for those who didn’t do anything wrong because it’s generally easier for them.

Ok I lied, since it was so easy to pull up some stats here is a report from Stats Can on firearms violence in Canada from 2012 (Yes a little out of date but still fairly relevant) Generally you really have to pay attention to these kinds of reports as they often mix things to make firearms crime look worse even when they are supporting firearms owners.

Figure 2, shows a break down of violent crims with firearms vs other weapons. It clearly shows firearms comes second. Additionally, the term homicide often includes accidental death or death due to legitimate police activity which often skews the actual data.

If you looked into it further to update modern firearms-related crimes you would find it is mostly Gang related and generally involves illegally purchased firearms which means the individuals broke the law simply by having the guns.

Chart 5 also shows the majority of homicides (remember the earlier definition) are handguns. Simply by taking a handgun somewhere, it is not supposed to be, such as in your pants in public you would be breaking Canadian Law. Based on this alone banning semi-automatics would not be justified in Canada at least would not be based on any facts. It is likely that in most places that have major gun restrictions, they will be heavier on handguns based on the fact they are easier to conceal. I suspect, putting the March 15th event aside in NZ you would probably see a similar trend.

Chart 6 also states that most firearms homicides are gang-related. Which to this day is most likely also accurate. This means if firearms crimes are gang related for the most part then it would be a failure of government policy or police activities to curb gang violence and not anything to do with stricter gun laws. Gun laws in Canada are already tough enough to prosecute gang members using guns in such a fashion.

It should also be noted that recently, in Canada, many types of firearms deaths have been reclassified as a “misuse of firearms” this includes suicide, homicide, and accidental death. According to the manufacturers and the courts, this is not what they were designed for thus it is a misuse of firearms. Keep in mind even self-defense deaths are still considered homicides. This means that future stats my just lump everything together under this term without really breaking down the data openly and truthfully. See how confusing and misrepresentative stats can be?

While I could go on and on about this in-depth ( I don’t want to because I’m not writing a research paper) the facts are that the fact shows that stronger gun laws don’t do much to curb already illegal behavior. Mentally ill people should be blocked from having guns, yes, but if they go the illegal root like the gangs do then increase the laws more doesn’t actually do anything. Anyways, I thought I would add some additional context prior to the original post which discusses why in my opinion it is important that everyone has firearms to prevent tyranny and other things. (It should be noted that in almost all cases resulting in firearms used in Canada in self-defense you will face criminal penalties. WHich means having a firearm for self-defense in Canada is not considered legal or an appropriate reason to have firearms. An while I do not agree with this, it is the law and is not at this point debatable)

 

ORIGINAL POST (Edited for spelling grammar and updated some irrelevant items as contextual to today.)

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Note: I have since watched all seasons and it is a great show.

A while ago, I saw a preview of the AMC TV series Into the Badlands. Something has happened to create a world without guns, and with guns no longer available, the old ways of martial arts came back. Those who are able to train or control those who could fight have become warlords. While I still have yet to see it (waiting for it to appear on Netflix), the premise of the show got me thinking.

This means that the ability to teach or train martial arts and hand-to-hand combat would become a highly sought after commodity. It is likely that many of the best trainers would then become available to the highest bidder, or to those with enough power to control the trainers–much like the character Hundred Eyes from the Netflix original Marco Polo: One Hundred Eyes who has Kublai Khan holding power over him.

As such only those with power and money could afford to train armies and fighters. Sound familiar? Seems like a repeat of human history to me. In the past, kings and queens of Europe and emperors of Asia held power because they had the trained warriors and money. Meanwhile, the average person did not have the time to train properly since they needed to do other work to provide for themselves and their families. As such, martial arts training was a privilege, and the poor or less fortunate would be at the mercy of the upper class who could afford to spend time training.

 

So how does this relate to guns being a social equalizer?

Why is this relevant today? In today’s 21st-century-internet-media-driven world, stories surrounding firearms and gun laws easily take over news streams. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to guns and what should or should not be allowed. In addition, with the upcoming US presidential elections, as well as recent UN small arms treaties, it is likely people who believe in the right to own guns will be louder than ever.

For example, I am such a person who believes that any human being of sound mind, no criminal record or history of violence, and with proper training should be allowed to have guns. I write from Canada where the gun culture is radically different from the US, and where possessing firearms is not considered a human right–though I think it should be.

Any human being of sound mind, no criminal record or history of violence, and with proper training should be allowed to have guns.

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In America, the founding fathers enshrined gun laws into their constitution the Second Amendment. The way it is written leaves some room for people to debate who can and should own and use firearms. However, often times people get too caught up in semantics and forget the intent with which something is written, and thus its true meaning. To me and many gun supporters, the reason is clear–to give the average person the ability to easily defend him or herself against oppression and tyranny.

Real knife defense is simply to shoot the person, assuming they are aggressive and non compliant.

In Krav Maga, we have hand-to-hand combat solutions to deal with knives. However, people should remember that in Israel where Krav Maga was developed, real knife defense is simply to shoot the person, assuming they are aggressive and non-compliant of course. The reality is that hand-to-hand combat solutions are last resorts in the event of an emergency, and using a firearm is a much safer method for such a defense scenario.

Being for social equalization and firearms go hand in hand

Imagine a government with a large army, well-trained in both hand-to-hand combat and strategy, who is determined to oppress its people. Opposing the government is a group of farmers living in the mountains who simply wish to live a free, happy life. If these farmers have guns, I guarantee you they can make a stand. Without guns, though, it is likely that their stand for freedom would fail.guns6 Source Shooter Jobs

Why? Guns give the ability to strike from afar. The “enemy” will be forced to re-think their strategy, as now they may face unacceptable losses. This scenario is quite plausible in reality. For example, in Afghanistan, the locals were able to hold off both Russian and American forces in two different wars simply by having guns to defend themselves.

In the world before guns (or a world with no guns like Into The Badlands), it was arms and legs, swords, and bows and arrows. These take significant time and training to become proficient, and it limits people’s ability to use them to defend themselves or hunt. On the other hand, guns can be learned in a relatively short amount of time, which renders everyone on equal grounds when it comes to general defense.

guns5 Source FB group Right-Winged Birds of Prey

Guns protect the the weak and less fortunate from being controlled by the wealthy and powerful.

From a military perspective, an army is far more likely to engage a group with no firearms because that is an easier target. A group with firearms means that the army must think twice and create a better tactic before engaging.

Therefore, guns are the great social equalizer. Guns protect the weak and less fortunate from being controlled by the wealthy and powerful. Historically, guns and the ease of access to guns has fundamentally changed how rulers controlled the world, as they could no longer use force and fear mongering. Resistance was simply one gun away.

Why being anti-gun doesn’t make sense

So now, left-leaning (politically) individuals often claim that the government is corrupt and unjust and whatever else they think, AND they are also anti-gun? That is the epitome of hypocrisy.

So the government decides to clamp down and initiate martial law because they think the left-leaning individuals are out of control. However, left-wing voters opted to get rid of guns. Now, citizens can be easily overwhelmed by the government and hard pressed to protect and defend themselves because the government has all the guns and the people do not. This concept goes on both sides of the political spectrum as historically tyranny occurs when the power of the people to defend themselves, legally or physically was rapidly or slowly eroded away.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

MARTIN NIEMÖLLER

Thus, if people are for equal rights, for social justice, and for general equality, then they should also be for reasonable gun access. There should be rules and regulations around gun access, licensing, training, ownership, use, and so on. However, simply saying guns should be taken away from everyone just because they are dangerous or “scary” is unreasonable. Guns, like anything, are tools created by humans to make life easier.

guns8 training and regulations

This is an example of a possible reality.

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Online I follow many different Krav Maga Organizations. Often you can see people have left one organization for another. In my opinion, the two real reasons people leave is accessibility or issues with the instructor and they find someone they jive with better. However, people don’t always see it this way. Often they claim that they left because their organization was withholding information, which dont gets me wrong may be the case. The thing is “withholding” information might not always be what you think.

Withholding knowledge using a paywall

First, let me discuss the bad kind of withholding information. The bad type of withholding information or let’s also insert rank here is to do with money. If the reason you dont want to teach specific techniques or approaches to people is simply that you want them to have to pay or “earn” there way up then this is not great. While paying for testing or other things is not inherently bad it is if you only want to teach people things whom you’ve collected X amount of money from.

So let’s call this a paywall method of withholding information. Sometimes it is intentional which is, of course, immoral and in most cases just wrong. Whereas you only teach things after they have shown loyalty and regular payments over X amount of time then they have “earned” the right to learn it.

Another paywall that is not malicious or intentionally is the logistical paywall. Whereas, certain training especially the higher level stuff is only offered in Israel or specific countries. This requires individuals to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to access this training. In some cases, if a head instructor of an organization or their top instructors never leave Israel to teach and train people in a meaningful way then this will inherently limit the access of students to that particular organization. To me especially if an organization is considered a global leader then this is just laziness on the part of the instructors and organizations.

In other cases, it is regarding legalities or logistics. For example, many, many organizations hold their higher level of firearms-related courses in Poland or other eastern European countries. In this case, it is usually to do with legal considerations. The countries where these are hosted have relaxed laws allowing individuals from any country (usually) to come and train properly. Israel, for example, isn’t a fan of people from every country coming and learning advanced firearms tactics (Feel free to correct this if it is wrong, but this is my understanding.) Here in Canada, most ranges are not willing to allow people to do the kind of live fire drills required to achieve proper training. It is usually to do with Lawyers, Insurance companies and well because they dont trust you. In this kind of payroll scenarios, it is more of a necessity than anything and the more governments globally restrict such training the harder it will be to do properly.

Withholding knowledge because they just aren’t ready

pai maiThe 2nd kind of withholding knowledge is the proper reason to withhold training from someone. Just because someone wants to learn something, or feels they are ready to doesnt mean they are. ENTER THE EGO!!. Of course, this too can be abused but a good martial arts instructor withholds training, or ranks because the student for whatever reason may just not be ready even they think they are.

Sometimes, not being ready isn’t just about physical abilities but also mental or it could be an attitude thing. A good example of this is Jon “Bones” Jones, the UFC lightweight king. While he is an amazing fighter his personal life is a mess. The story goes that he despite having good skill his BJJ instructor withheld a rank from him because of his overall attitude and life decisions.

Remember, sometimes training martial arts and yes EVEN Krav Maga isn’t just about the physical it’s about becoming a better person.

An example is a common complaint I have heard and have experienced is when either very athletic persons or very big aggressive persons do well in sparring but are held back or chastised because they didn’t control themselves. The response often is that I am bigger so I can’t control my speed. Or its because I’m better than those guys and you dont want to admit it. This is of course bullshit.

The person was held back or chastised because they failed to listen to instructions, failed to consider the safety of their training partners. And failed to understand that if they truly were as skilled as they thought then they would understand you can go fast without having power and you should be able to control the fight easily. Yes, it is Krav Maga and aggression matters but no one wants to train with an uncontrolled asshole. If thats what someone wants then there are tones of meathead gyms out there who dont care about brain trauma or helping you be a better person.

This is why a well-structured ranking system can help determine if people are ready for different things. For example, at UTKM it is broken down as such.

White Belt – Beginner. Moving, Kicking, Punching, Sparring and thinking for Krav Maga

Yellow & Orange Belt – Novice.  Refining and advancing striking, grappling offense and defense, Basic weapons

Green Belt  to Black Belt – Advanced – Job specific training such as police and military, advanced weapons, arrests, and control, firearms training

The way I look at it if you can barely punch or kick I am not really comfortable teaching you firearms stuff. Other times individuals come in with backgrounds but they are not familiar with our curriculum and thats the only reason they get held back. Other times i get individuals who are physically gifted but have been told to work on other areas and until then they will be held back.

A good curriculum and structure will “withhold” knowledge because the goal is to develop each individual appropriate to their own pace. Some people will move through fast others slow. If you think its not fair thats because it’s not. I wish I had been born a natural athlete but I was not. It just the way it is. To each his own.

If you feel your instructor is withholding knowledge unfairly you have two options

  1. Train somewhere else – Maybe it’s just you and your instructor are not the right fit. Find another gym teaching your style and grow from there. It is true the instructor might just be an asshole (hopefully not). or you might have to consider number 2.
  2. Let go of your ego – Maybe the instructor knows or sees something that you dont want to see or accept. If this is the case it may take some soul searching but the answer is to complain less and train more. Eventually, the progress will come.

When it’s appropriate to teach advance knowledge early

Sometimes it may absolutely be appropriate to teach advanced knowledge early. It is always a city by city thing or person to person thing but it shouldn’t be open to just everyone. Here are just of few of my thoughts as to when it is appropriate to teach advanced knowledge early in Krav Maga because after all it is about giving people the skills to properly defend themselves and really there is no one size fits all.

  1. Seminars  – I dont mind teaching advanced topics if I have the appropriate time to give the basic setups or context. Usually, if I run my own seminars on advanced topics I want to do 4 hours plus. I understand this is too much for most people but if you have only been training for a bit doing a one-off seminar for an hour is not really going to teach you anything useful. If I do teach shorter seminars its more about general basic concepts and knowledge with a little training but I will always stress this is a “Crash Course” and that people shouldn’t now think they know Krav Maga.
  2. An individual requires it for specific training or goal – This is great for individuals who need to prepare for something. This would be during private lessons where you can focus on the specifics that the client needs. I have had individuals want to get ahead of police or military training. Because it’s usually a dedicated individual who is training a lot they will be on a quicker learning curve. This is also sometimes people who have train a lot of Krav Maga in the past but want a refresher course. Because of its usually one on one attention, it’s easier to know if they really understand not just the technique, but the context and application. As well as do they understand their own skill level.
  3. The city you live in has a specific threat – Let’s be realistic I live in Vancouver, Canada and there really isn’t a rush to learn advanced topics due to specific threats. However, if I said living in a place like mexico I may have special days every month where we cover things like gun disarms and gun safety. It would be up to an instructor whether this was part of their regular curriculum or whether its a seminar but in these cases, because there is a real need to learn the material then it would not be appropriate to not teach it.

Closing

So before you decide to leave a school or organization because they are “withholding” information. Really think about the reasons for this. If it’s simply a matter of logistics then it might not be the instructor or schools fault. If it’s just a matter of you not getting along with the instructor then nothing wrong with changing schools. I myself have done this because I just didn’t vibe. If this is the case, dont make a big deal about it especially if they are legitimate it’s just a people thing. If you feel through the school just wants your money think about it if it is actually true or not. People sometimes make this accusation here in Vancouver, but they are considering that it is an expensive city for everyone, this includes commercial rent. Lastly, really consider is it perhaps that you just aren’t ready. I understand people hate to accept their skills or limits but sometimes we need to, and only then can we really progress.

No matter the case I hope you can learn to walk in peace and have a great day.

 

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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.

Warren Green Belt techniqueA work colleague of mine recently joined UTKM on a trial basis. He had never trained in martial arts before although he always had an interest, so he decided to give it a try.  Based on our discussions about what to expect, and not, he was quite excited to give it a shot.  His father was a martial arts practitioner when he was younger so he was also happy that his son showed an interest in self-defence.  At the end of each class we spar with a partner for a couple of rounds, so since he had never sparred before and I introduced him to Krav Maga, I felt some responsibility to help him ease into it by being his sparring partner, rather than throwing him to spar with the other, more experienced, students.  As a green belt, sparring is now optional for me instead of being mandatory, and when I passed my green belt test I had hoped I would never spar again.  Never say never.

Since my colleague only had sparring gloves and no protective headgear, I had to be careful to only use kicks and body shots against him, and allow him to hit me in the head if he wanted to since I was protected. We’ve sparred now a couple of times and he’s not bad, so I can see that once he’s fully geared up it will be an interesting experience helping him improve.  It then got me to thinking how my sparring is, and whether or not I’m very good, or need much improvement myself.  The answer is, no, I’m not very good at sparring and yes, I could also use improving.  It then made me think exactly what the differences are between someone who just started taking Krav Maga and someone like me, who’s been taking it for years.

When I first started training in Krav Maga, I had never sparred before so it was a new experience for me. The first thing I noticed was that it’s much different than just watching a boxing match on TV and there are consequences for every move you make.  I keep my hands up to protect my head, but then that means I can’t throw a punch.  I use a hook which then leaves my head open, albeit for a split second.  Still, I immediately feel vulnerable.  At the same time my partner is throwing a kick which I need to block and try to counter-strike.  Do I go fast and try to overwhelm my opponent, or go slow and measured, and ensure that my throws reach their intended target.  It was very confusing and chaotic, and while I’m now much better at controlling my emotions and being more precise with both my technique and power, I’m still not very good at sparring.  But as a green belt, shouldn’t I be?  The answer is no.  We are learning Krav Maga, and not learning how to be an MMA fighter.  Yes, I should be better than someone who has never sparred before, but it doesn’t mean that someone trained in Krav Maga should be able to out-box a boxer, out-kick a kickboxer, or out-grapple someone taking BJJ.  Krav Maga is a self-defence system, and its prime purpose is to a) not get into a confrontation to begin with, b) if a confrontation arises, to try and de-escalate the situation, and c) if it gets physical, to be able to fight well enough to be able to buy enough time to get the hell out of there.  And, as Jon had passed some words of wisdom to the class just yesterday, to run to safety, not to just run away from the threat (think about that for a bit and you’ll see why it makes sense).

As a green belt, I have learned and been tested in parts of the curriculum that the lower belts have not yet seen, such as multiple attacker defence or ground fighting. But right from the first class that anyone takes in Krav Maga, they’ll learn to spar.  So it should come as no surprise that when I watch someone taking their Yellow Belt test and they get to the sparring section, they can be pretty good and I certainly wouldn’t want to get into a fight with them.  There are some beginner students who are very strong and are natural strikers, and they can easily give the higher belts a sparring challenge. The main difference is that they can often lose control of their emotions and power, and that’s where experience comes in.  So I fully admit and concede that in a 1:1 sparring situation they may overwhelm me, but that’s ok, because I’m not taking Krav Maga in order to be a boxer.  And it can take some students a longer time than others to be good at sparring and again, that’s ok.  We’re all here to learn and help each other, not to point fingers at one another and say “I’m better than you!”.

Also, progressing to the higher levels in Krav Maga is more of a linear, as opposed to vertical, progression. In a traditional martial art such as judo, it is more of a vertical progression, and advancing to the higher belts actually does mean that you can do the technique better than the lower belts, along with its application in a competitive situation.  It can take years, and repeating the same technique thousands of times, before you can execute an advanced throw cleanly and efficiently.  The lower belts will know the same throw, but the upper belts will perform it properly, and hence the acknowledgement that the higher belts are more skilled than the lower belts.  In Krav Maga, the techniques are simple by design, so it doesn’t take years to learn how, for example, to hit or kick effectively.  Progression in Krav Maga is about learning more techniques and strategies as opposed to learning how to do a technique really, really well.  Yes, with more practice some techniques will also improve, however, I’m sure that if I throw a jab-cross 10,000 more times I won’t get that much better than I am now.  And since I am taking Krav Maga to learn to protect myself in a real-life situation, I am confident that I will be good enough to be able to escape and get to safety.

Keep in mind why you are taking the martial art or sport you are. Time is very limited and we’ll never get it back once it’s been spent.  In my case, I love watching judo matches just as others enjoy watching their sports, but I freely admit that in a real life-threatening situation, judo is not going to help me much if someone came at me with a knife.  And that’s why I take Krav Maga, so I can learn what to do in an end-to-end situation and get home safely, regardless of who was better at sparring in class.

 

 

 

 

third party.jpg

A few days ago my brother sent me an email in which he wrote, among other things, the following:

“On Broadway I just passed a big 1st nations guy who was shifting back ‘n forth on sidewalk blocking a young Chinese women from passing. 1st of all I thought it was just play, even thought perhaps they knew each other.  I simply walked past them, looked back and realized he was harassing her.  Just at this moment her Chinese guy friend caught up with her, didn’t say anything, and the 1st nations guy continued on his way. I heard her say to her friend (in Chinese), “that was really scary”.  It was over in less than 10 seconds.

If he kept harassing her, I would’ve gone back and said something like “is this guy bothering you”, but I would’ve kept a distance. I would never get into physical confrontation, except for immediate family.  You often wonder how you would react.”

It started me thinking about his statement of “You often wonder how you would react.” How would I have handled the situation?  In spite of the years of self-defense training I’ve had, I know that nothing will prepare me for actually being in a situation like that in which a wrong decision can have potentially disastrous results, and not just for myself.

I decided that since it’s impossible to know exactly what I’d do, I would break down some key actions that, knowing myself, I am positive would happen and then go from there.

  • I’m positive that I would have helped out. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to just walk away and ignore the situation, knowing that someone needed help. Would I have been scared? Absolutely. But the adrenalin would have started flowing and my senses would be up.
  • I’m positive I would have stayed with the woman until other help came, or I was able to get her out of the situation.
  • I’m positive I would have tried to defuse the situation as much as possible, and getting into a physical confrontation would have been the last resort.

Now for the parts I hope would happen:

  • I would hope that my training would have kicked in and I would have watched for friends of his, and watched for a weapon.
  • I would hope that I would keep my hands up in a semi-passive stance, while starting to put myself between the guy and the woman, and slowly distance us away from him.
  • I would hope that I would think about weapons of opportunity, be aware of the limitations on me that would constrain my movement, and look for exit points.

The problem with facing unknown situations in real life is that you have no idea that it’s going to have a happy ending. It’s not like a commercial break is going to start in 30 seconds that will break up the tension so you have time to go for a bathroom break.  It’s real life and it’s happening at that moment.

Think about your own training, your own temperament, and your own ability to assess unknown situations. In my case, I hope that at a certain point my training would have taken over and I would have made the best of a bad situation.

In your case, what would you have done?

Being a Cop: Train First, Apply Later

Posted: November 14, 2017 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga Opinions
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So you want to be a police officer.jpg

Are you Ready? Because he was.

 

So you want to be a cop? If this statement applies to you, then you need to ask your self if you are properly prepared to become a police officer. You should know it is one of the most stressful jobs with a very high rate of PTSD, stress, alcohol abuse and more.

Every year I get numerous people tell me they would like to be a police officer. Half the time they are fresh out of high school, I usually roll my eyes as they are idealistic and still believe the law and justice are blind as it is supposed to be. The reality is not. Thankfully in Canada, the RCMP and almost all police forces will not take people fresh out of high school. They usually want people 25 and older with life experience and bachelors which are all great requirements to set in place. This is because, with such requirements, the individual has had time to grow, experience and get a bit of an education. After all, no one wants a meathead cop with no life skills or education.

The average young person who wants to be a cop usually has between 5-8 years before they will even be near a gun and badge (again I can only speak for Canada, though I know much of the USA has issues with low standards for being a police officer). So what is an ambitious young person to do with all that time? Aside from the obvious which is get a BA, the less obvious is get trained in some form of hand to hand combat style and shooting for tactical purposes.

Unfortunately not enough people do the later of the two as they assume wrongfully they will get enough training in the police academy of their choosing.

In my experience, this is a dangerous mentality as most police academies do not spend sufficient time on hand to hand combat and when they do are often teaching antiquated or terrible techniques. I say this because almost everyone I know who goes in with previous training is often shocked at what is taught and can think of a million reasons why it is garbage. I even know one individual who was a high-level grappler with MMA experience tell me they had to sit them self out during that hand to hand because the refused to do what was taught. (They still became a police officer, so don’t worry.)

With regards to shooting, while all candidates need to qualify on their pistol, in Canada at least, after they become police officers they usually get little range time to keep their skills up. Assuming that once you are an officer of the law, you will time to continue to train is also false.

In Canada, the RCMP at least are subject to 4 days of 12-hour shifts with four days off. However, they end up doing a lot of overtime, due to the poor way in which the organisation is structured. Add on family obligations, rest and other general tasks and training usually falls away as a priority. This is a dangerous mistake, as skills can be lost and is not beneficially to you as the officer, or the public you are sworn to protect.

So what is an ambitious young person who wishes to be a police officer to do right out of Highschool? The answer should be obvious by now. Train! Get that BA if it’s a requirement, and get some general life skills or field experience such as volunteering for community policing or do security. But above all else TRAIN! If it is going to be 5-8 years maybe even longer before you become a police officer that is more than enough time to attain a Blue, Brown or Black Belt in any particular appropriate style.

Of course, I prefer, Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo or other styles suitable for policing but the reality is training in combatives is important for you to understand violence and be competent enough to apply it appropriately as a job when under duress, which you will be constantly.

In the end of the day, Grades mean nothing when you are approaching a violent suspect or criminal and will do nothing to protect you but proper training will. In addition to hand to hand combat, it is advised you put in the time at the range or at the very least practising dry fire with pistols, shotguns and carbines as these are the platforms most police will need to know.

So you want to be a cop? Great, I hope you make a great one. But if you are fresh to the adult world put together a proper plan to give you the correct skills that you may not actually get in the police academies even though they are ones you need. And Trust me, you will not get proper training to the level you require. Much of the training you will get is to do with the laws and paperwork. If a training academy is only 3-6 months long how can you possibly attain proper proficiency in hand to hand combat or shooting when mastery takes far longer than that. So would you risk putting your life on such a limited amount of training? I certainly would not.

Your plan should include, getting an appropriate education, getting into shape and achieving high physical fitness and training yourself properly in Hand to hand combat and shooting PRIOR to becoming a cop. Again, trust me, you probably won’t have much time after, and by then it’s too late.

So you want to be a cop? Train now, Apply later.

The Specialist vs the Generalist

Posted: September 12, 2017 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga Opinions
Tags: , , ,

On Sat August 26th one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history occurred. If you do not know what I am talking about, then you live under a rock. For one of the greatest Boxers of all time, albeit not such a nice person, Floyd “Money” Mayweather squared off against UFC Bantam and Feather weight champ Conor “Notorious” McGregor. They would be of course be fighting in a boxing match under the appropriately established boxing rules. In the end, the champion boxer won out with a mildly controversial TKO in the 10th round. Despite Conor’s domination in the early rounds eventually, his gas tank ran out allowing Mayweather to turn it on. However, had this been an MMA fight or a fight with no rules than with out a doubt Conor would have easily won and probably quite quickly.

The fight brought up a good question. That is the one of specialisation vs Generalisation both in life and in Self Defense.

If you follow the traditional academic model, they will often push for specialisation. The entire post secondary structure is set up for this. Take a B.A. with a major, then masters focusing more on that topic and then a P.h.D further specialisation. Because of these or society or at least in the west has been heavily convinced that specialisation is the way to go. As many Millennials will know, all their post secondary education still has them working at the corner Starbucks or some other low paying job. So much for the dream right?

Or how about the trades. I know more people in the trades employed right out of school than traditional education. So are they specialists or generalists? By definition, they are experts usually specialising in plumbing, electrical, frame work etc. However, I would make the argument that the excellent tradesmen are a mix. 60% specialisation in their trade and 40% knowledge in the other occupations. This is because a building requires many trades with many skills all working together to put up the same thing. So a tradesperson that only knows his craft as experience will tell is more likely to make decisions without regard to what the other trades needs are causing problems in building construction.

So how about Krav Maga or self-defence. Well, in a real fight, it was established Conor would win and that’s because he is a generalist. A good Kravist will be a little good at every style and maybe very good at one, usually striking but not always.

When it comes to self-defense, and I would make the argument in life it is better to be a generalist. Why? That’s Because generalists are far more adaptive to any given situation and can draw from more information and general experience to come to the correct solution for all. When it comes to life or death situations, you do not get to pick what form of attack your assailant will have. Nor do you get to pick when or how. As such being prepared for anything even if your skills are only mediocre in each gives you the greater probability that you will succeed. It’s not like you will be going 12 rounds after all wear a specialist can wear you down. You have 10-20 or 30 seconds to block the attacks and get to safety.

In life, I also make the argument to more of a generalist. While once upon a time the average person had maybe 1 or 2 jobs their entire life meaning specialisation was a requirement now we are probably looking at anywhere from 6-10 or even more jobs in their life. Not only that with technologically advanced life changes so rapidly it can be hard to keep up. By being generalised or less of a specialist, you will have an easier time adapting to a situation no matter what it is as you have not painted yourself into a corner with a specific mindset that limits you when you are outside of your comfortable parameters. This is particularly the case as in the past your entire family were known as the blacksmith or the farmer, and you could make a guaranteed living. Now in the 21st centurury, there is so much competition for almost all fields that unless you are the best of the best then specialising is risky business as you now have limited your options should the world change.

Not only that, the success of a species when it comes to an evolutionary perspective is all about adapting. The environment can change around you, and you may not know why or how, but if you can adapt and change you will thrive. For as they say, adapt or die.

Now I am not saying we shouldn’t have specialists. If I needed brain surgery, I would rather go with the specialist who has done it 100 times that the generalist who has only done it once. What I am saying is that though in particular scenarios such as medical surgery specialisation is needed, in general, it is better to be a generalist. Let the best of the best be the specialists. For everyone else, both in self-defense and in life I guarantee you if you have a more general and adaptable skill set your life will be better off for it.

There is a myth among the public that a quick seminar can teach you everything you know about self-defense. Quite frankly this is a lie. I bring this topic up every once in a while and I am sure a repeat myself but it comes up so much when people ask me about seminars it’s worth repeating.

No, you cannot learn much in a 2-hour seminar that attempts to cover the entirety of Krav Maga. So please stop asking me and stop asking any serious self-defense expert. Yes, Krav Maga at least is easy to learn but not that quickly.

at my schools though I do offer seminars but they are topic specific seminars. Each topic ranging from knife survival to clothing and weapons of opportunity is usually about 4 hours. Usually, In this time I will cover as much of the UTKM white-Orange belt curriculum that pertains to the specific topic and as much of the advanced application I can pending the skill level of the participants. However in reality, for each topic, I could probably run a week long seminar and still not cover everything.

The purpose of the seminars at UTKM is to give a broader more complete perspective on the specific topic that might other wise take months of a regular training to get. They are also to help new students understand how much there is to learn and how much practice they will need and for the more advanced students to refine their skills and also learn something new.

It doesn’t matter if you have done the seminar before with the same instructor or a new one. There are always new ways to approach things and new drills to practice. Especially as there is so much to learn about each topic. I have never gone to a seminar I have already been too and not walked away with at least something new. And to be honest, even if you learned 100 new things the reality is you will probably only remember a 10th of it so even if you are learning the same things you will still probably walk away better for it.

Remember one of UTKMs core values is to never stop learning and growing so to all former, current and potential new students when time and budget permits always come to our seminars or other peoples seminars when you can.

Life:

noun
1. the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
2. the existence of an individual human being or animal.

You have to want it

But what is life really? This is a question so many of us ask our selves, as is simply existing life or is it something more.

As always when teaching students Krav Maga inevitably come students that are not quite aggressive enough. Upon teaching one student recently I told them, “cmon you have to want it. ”

You have to want it more than youre afraid of itThis got me thinking. In Krav Maga, wanting it is committing in an aggressive fashion apply Krav Maga principles and retzev while being relentless until the threat has stopped. In this case, wanting life is due to an immediate threat to life. If you hesitate or let up, there is a good chance in a violent situation things might not go your way. In Krav Maga, wanting life is about commitment to your action, in an almost singular focus driving forward with constant pressure until you are sure your life guarded. In such cases, you wanted your life bad enough to do what it took to survive.

In some ways, you might say I have adopted this attitude towards many aspects of life, hence the saying Krav Maga is a lifestyle and a way of thinking.

As an instructor, teacher, coach or what ever title some wish to give to me, I find my self often giving out advice to students or people outside of Krav Maga class. Sometimes it’s wanted, and sometimes it’s not wanted but needed. The thing is my advice often ends up being the same. You have to want it!

On Mental Health:

I often tell people the story of my manic depressive episode, which I won’t go into lengthdesire-to-change here. But for me, it was a 2-3 week period where things were not the way they should have been. After realizing things were not right, I got my self off the couch, I got my self-help and I did everything for my self to get better because I wanted to. In my case, those around me didn’t know how to help or didn’t recognize a problem so I did it my self.

Often when I talk to students or people about mental health issues, I will listen and in the end, the advice is always the same. How badly do you want to get better and what are you going to do about it. The choice is simple, you have to want to get better and you have to take the actions (not words) in order to get better. The choice is easy, the execution is hard, and so many are too fearful to make the required changes. In such cases, can’t is often won’t (Though in some cases biology wins out and medication or other things may be required to create a baseline level)

 

 

Mental health can be tough, and for some, they need out side help. But remember, YOU HAVE TO WANT IT. YOU Have to get better and YOU have to take the actions to make your life the way YOU want it.

On Entrepreneurship:

You have to hard workOn this topic I often find myself banging my head on the wall because I see the same thing over and over. I see people who like the idea of being a business owner or entrepreneur but fail to understand what that means. What it means is working 60 + hour weeks, working second jobs, being your own marketer, being your own carpenter, being your own driver, being your own well EVERYTHING. Why? because unless you are lucky enough to get large investments and I mean LARGE investments you will not be able to hire the people with the required skill set and drive to do those things for you. Because trust me, the people who can are worth a lot. Volunteers and helpers unless they are as driven and hard working as you will often just be a hindrance or at the very least a great source of frustration.

So you want to be our own boss, and take your life into your hands. Well, guess what, YOU have to want it. YOU have to do more work than you ever imaged. YOU will deal with the hardships and the millions of non-stop obstacles that other people and the world will throw at you. Belief is not enough if YOU don’t do the work.

There was a myth propagated a while ago by the book The Secret that many people bought into that if you simply believe you will get what you want. The issue is the common thread among all the people used as examples was that they all put in lots and LOTS of hard work and time.

If YOU aren’t willing to put in more than you thought you would and YOU are willing to forgo your social life or other things to make YOUR life the way you want it through business and entrepreneurship then YOU are only lying to yourself. so are YOU going to want it bad enough for your own life’s sake?

In General:

I could apply this to numerous other situations but in order to simplify it and keep this short, I will say, in general, YOU need to want what ever it is you want. So long as you keep it legal, and do not physically harm anyone in the process then YOU need to do what ever it is YOU need to do to get where you want. YOU want to survive a violent situation, then YOU have to want it by applying the appropriate force and strategy even if it hurts or is not comfortable or pushes your boundaries. YOU want to get better from mental illness then YOU need to take charge and make the required actions in your life including hard changes to get better. DO NOT BLAME YOUR MENTAL ILLNESS, or use it as a crutch or excuse. YOU need to take charge and move forward. YOU want to own your own business so take charge of your life then YOU need to do the work until it has been built into something more. No excuses, YOU just need to do it and move forward. YOU, not other people.

So life, do YOU want it?