Archive for the ‘Krav Maga Philosophy’ Category

Knowing how to avoid danger increases your chances of survival dramatically! (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

The “4 stages of self-defence,” as taught by UTKM, is the basic order of operation for what you are doing when presented with conflict; be it physical, social, or otherwise. The order, moving from best option to worst, is; Avoidance, Diffusion, Preemptive Self-defence (Strike First), Reactive Self-defence (React Last). Understanding the basics is easy, but, like all concepts, understanding when and how to apply them correctly can be trickier.

The major reason for this is the simple fact that if you do not truly understand what you are doing and you lack the experience to make a quick and correct decision (and you do not have your instructor whispering the answers into your ear), the real world situation is suddenly more complicated than it was in training.

Grasping the nuanced application of a technique, how and why it works, and when to employ it, can be the result of you being fortunate enough to possess an innate ability to understand intricate contexts, or, as is more common, it can be accomplished through consistent training. Consistent training makes up for talent by internalizing the details, purpose, and application of a given technique (or reaction in a scenario), to the point that your nervous system and decision making process will, more often than not, fire correctly under duress.

To help foster a better understanding of these key concepts, I, and others at UTKM, will be sharing real world experiences relating to the four stages. Each week we will expand upon one of the concepts and give examples.

This week it is the first and arguably most important stage: Avoidance.

“You win 100% of the fights you are not in.” – Nir Maman

First you must accept the fact that you cannot always avoid. For example, applying avoidance as a self-defence tactic for interpersonal conflict will most likely result in further problems. The concept of Avoidance simply suggests that it may be better to avoid than to confront in most situations However, and this applies particularly when it comes to bullying or active violence, sometimes the best option is to directly confront the source of conflict. After all, Krav Maga was built on the idea that sometimes running is not an option. So, please, do not interpret this stage as permission to be passive-aggressive or to never deal with life’s problems, that is not the correct application of this concept (and, honestly, if avoidance is always your chosen option in life, this may be indicative of other, deeper problems you are struggling with.)

So, lets start with some examples from my youth:

  1. It was Halloween night, and, like most young teens (I was maybe 15 or 16), I wanted to go out. In our area, big house parties were not a common occurrence, but what was all too common were hoards of teens and young adults roaming the streets like a hungry packs of wolves, looking for fun and perhaps trouble. I was with the group of friends I usually ran with at the time, and we ended up crossing paths with another pack of teens. Walking together with them, in costumes, masks, and painted faces, with candy and fireworks in hand (legal then, but illegal now, likely due to these same ravenous packs of ne’er-do-wells getting up to yearly mischief) we were on the boredom-fueled prowl. Some confident and bold, others just trying to fit in. In my case, the latter seems like it was the appropriate category. I mean, is that not what one of the best features of Halloween is; You get to dress up and pretend to be something else, something grander, something more powerful? It is after all, “All Hallow’s Eve,” where dressing up as something scary was meant to fend off the roaming spirits and demons that walk the earth on this night, every year (so the legend goes). But masks and make up can only mask you for so long. One of the older boys in a mask, I did not recognize. Clearly a leader, out front, loud and obnoxious, identified himself to me. It turned out this masked individual was someone whom I had issues with in the past. He was also dangerous, in the literal sense, much like that of a hungry alpha. He regularly got in fights (and won), regularly had police interactions, the circumstances of which were anything but innocent fun, and he “may or may not” have had ties with even more violent individuals who were known to police. He was also much bigger than me, a good bit stronger, and far more athletic. Which, through a child’s eyes, was a terrifying thing, even though I considered myself tougher than perhaps I was and, like most males, overestimated my skills. I had no training and no experience, just an over inflated ego. It was, of course, dark, and I did not like the things coming out of this guy’s mouth, nor the energy in the air. The feeling of fun turned to a dread and an uneasy churning in my gut (yet to be filled with candy.) It was uncomfortable. Concerned that the hoard was full of individuals who did not in fact like me, not to mention the de facto alpha, this was not ideal for an enjoyable night. So I decided to listen to my instincts; it was time to leave. My pace slowed, I fell to the back of the crowd, then quietly, but swiftly, faded into the dark, walking to my home a few blocks away. Later, when I was asked by my cohort where I had disappeared too, I made up some plausible story. The reality is, it was probably the right decision. Those uneasy feelings we have may be wrong sometimes, but it is often better to err on the side of caution, as we never know how things will escalate. There is one thing for certain; if you are not feeling your best, or you are uncomfortable, it can be easy to do or say the wrong thing and cause a situation to quickly shift from manageable to disastrous. So, in that case, with those personalities, avoidance was the best choice. No harm, no foul, no hospital.
  2. I was an awkward teen with no sense of who I really was yet. Which meant I was not so great with the opposite sex. So, when female friends came into the mix, it was always a joy, and an uneasy excitement (the kind only a teenage boy knows.) For a time, I frequently hung out with two girls who were a year or two younger than me. Feelings were always mixed, as I liked them each at a different time; which meant I would often go out of my way to spend time with them. Lacking experience and confidence, of course, things never went the way I had imagined. Nevertheless, it was fun at the time. Like many youths lacking good mentoring and guidance, I had trouble controlling my temper. I would never hurt anyone, but it was obvious to those all around me. Like a tornado striking down in an open field, I was loud, boisterous, and, to some, terrifying, as the fear that the destruction might come your way. (This is something I still work on daily, though with calmer mind, maturity, and fewer raging hormones it is much easier to manage.) One of these girls had a cousin, equally attractive in my eyes. Someone who I had met previously, at a random community party. She was troubled. If I am informed correctly those troubles continued to impact her in adulthood. Whenever she came around to join us, it never went well. I was POSITIVE she would intentionally say or do things to illicit my temper and unleash the tornado for her amusement. I was cold, dry air, she was warm, humid air, the inciting words and actions were the required updraft. Everyone said I was either crazy or imagining it. Nonetheless, there came a point at which I could no longer stand to be around her. So the strategy I employed was avoidance. Anytime she randomly showed up, I would find a reason to leave. If she was already there with my friends, I would make other plans. Everyone thought I was being unreasonable. However, I did not like having my fun outings turned into episodes of anger, thus, to me it seemed like the better choice. It also prevented me from hitting a breaking point and actually doing something I would regret. Despite the fact it made me look even more weird and unstable, socially, in many respects I probably made the right decision by practicing avoidance. (In hindsight, and perhaps re-framing the situation, it turns out that this girl may have actually liked me. I was told by someone, later down the road, that she was very likely trying to illicit my aggression on account of a secret, let’s say, fetish for violence. Had I been more confident, then perhaps I would have handled it differently and allowed my cold dry air to meet her warm humid air, but given my lack of knowledge at the time, avoidance was still the best strategy. Lest the tornado met the hurricane and all hell broke lose. It probably wouldn’t have been good for anyone.)
  3. If you think bullies disappear after high-school you may have practiced avoidance a little too much, and may in fact be a shut-in who is living in a perpetual state of self-imposed exile. As the internet has shown us, most people are not as stable and confident as you think, and many have bully-like tenancies at the very least; trying to use force, intimidation, or aggression to get what they want. Or, they simply have not learned to manage their anger like others and emotionally lash out at people when they are challenged, or whenever things do not go their way. I learned to deal with these people early in my youth, and as an adult I tolerate it even less. I, of course, generally employ Stage 2, diffusion, as much as I can; using my words and avoidance, as Stages 3 & 4 (outside of physical violence) are not at all appropriate in day-to-day life in a Civil society. Which means, as an adult, mastering the first two stages is that much more important. Especially when you live in a strata (eg. a condo or townhouse). Personally, I despise stratas, as it is all to easy for a bully, or someone who has a bully-like attitude, to get on the council and try to tell others how to live or act, or has a personality that leads them to take issue with being challenged (due to their perceived powers.) I personally think stratas have been nothing but a disaster, and will go the way of the dinosaurs eventually, but until then, you, like me, will likely have to deal with them at some point. Without getting too detailed, there was some conflict between me and those on a strata council. Whether I was in the wrong or the right isn’t important, sometimes I was, sometimes I wasn’t. However, several members of the council seemed to think it is acceptable and appropriate to yell and scream at people when they don’t like what was said or done. This is, of course, utterly inappropriate, and in the adult world could constitute bullying and harassment. Obviously, this is something I will not tolerate. Extensively researched, well-worded letters where sent! The goal of these letters was not to demand compliance one way or another, but rather to make it clear that I am not the kind of person to pick a fight with, verbally, physically or otherwise. Initially they got the hint and basically stopped bothering me. Later, another incident occurred where a member of council, once again, decided to scream at me. After making it clear that this was an inappropriate (and futile) tactic it didn’t seem to matter, they saw me as a threat to power, and continued. As an adult, I made the decision that, clearly, these individuals are old, unstable, and have never resolved their personal issues. I understand, but I still have no patience for it. I privately told another, calmer strata council member that their fellow’s outbursts were boarding on harassment. Moving forward, I just ignored the problem individuals and do not engage. Clearly they have problems, and those problems are not mine to solve. I made it clear that I will not be pushed around, they all seem to have gotten the hint. I avoid conflict with them, they avoid conflict with me, and we now all live in a cold peace where, so long as we don’t bother each other, all is well. While it is certainly not an ideal situation, I would rather have good relations with my neighbours, it is, in modern times, often quite impossible to get along with everyone. So, practicing a peaceful yet aware avoidance strategy will, in the end, help keep things calm, and less stressful.

Whether you are a teen, an adult, or a senior learning to practice good avoidance (and when to move to the next stage) can be extremely useful, not just in literal sense of physical self-defense, but also to help you manage the hardest part of life: Other people. These skills can be innate or learned. In my case, it seems to be more of the former, though through practice I refine them as I go along. Perhaps as an Ashkenazi Jew it is in my genes to be cautious, and avoid whenever I can, as thousands of years of oppression and living in fear is likely to impact your genetics a little bit. (Think Woody Allen, the stereotypical, nervous Ashkenazi Jew, albeit a extreme case.) Regardless of how you come to learn these skills, learning it early, and learning it well, will only mean one thing; a happier, more peaceful life. One in which your visits to the hospital due to violence are low, and your conflict related stress is that of calm waters rather than a raging storm. For if you find yourself raging too much, too often, you may find yourself battered, bruised, and broken; because you failed to manage your mental state (see awareness colour code.)

Written by Jonathan Fader

A while ago, I wrote about taking control through training. What I was really talking about is achieving balance. Now, more than ever, Balance is what we need. In a world where it’s more important to “take a side” than to seek the truth, a world where it’s easier to believe what you are told rather than research it in depth from multiple sources. Now, more than ever, both as individuals and as a society, do we need to learn to take a more moderate approach.

 

Audio by Jonathan Fader

Enter the Jedi and the Sith. In the Star Wars universe, the Jedi are presented as the “good guys,” with the Sith as their polar opposite “bad guys.” This, of course, depends on who you ask.

The Jedi, disciplined warrior monks, claim to seek balance in the Force, yet their own moral superiority (among other things) blinded them to the quiet rise of the great Sith Lord Palpatine. If we look at the actions and beliefs of the different Force-user creeds, it could be said that the not so often spoken about Grey Jedi are actually the ones who seek balance.

(I am using the codes as in the photo though there are various versions.)

The Jedi Code is as follows:

“There is no emotion, there is PEACE. There is no ignorance, there is KNOWLEDGE. There is no passion, there is SERENITY. There is no chaos, there is HARMONY. There is no death, there is THE FORCE.”

Sounds nice right? So how did these warrior monks, bolstered by a set of seemingly simple guidelines, get so overwhelmed? Simple, they did not actually seek balance. Rather, they took a generalized, non-interference stance and planted themselves firmly on a “moral high-ground.” Even when asked or subtly manipulated they avoid getting involved in universal events. They assumed they were always correct and that their actions, as long as they are in line with their code, were beyond reproach. Can you relate? Maybe you can or maybe you can’t, but often this is the view we take of whatever group we have decided to latch onto, acting as though any other group might as well be the SITH.

The Sith Code is as follows:

“Peace is a lie, there is only PASSION. Through passion, I gain STRENGTH. Through strength, I gain POWER. Through Power, I gain VICTORY. Through victory, my chains are broken. THE FORCE, Shall free me.

Sounds ominous doesn’t it? Which is often how we view the Other. We assume someone or something we disagree with must only want to take power and control over us, to impose their ideals on us. While there is certainly truth in that regarding the nature of the Sith, their code is much more about personal growth than you may have realized.

This is part of the reason the Jedi failed; they became stagnant, unwilling to grow or change, the Sith, however, were adapting and changing, growing into better versions of themselves until they could strike.

Of course, it’s easy to demonize that which is the Other. But, if you really know Star Wars, then you know that not everyone thinks the Jedi are pure and innocent.

The problem with both of these creeds is that they do not actually seek balance, that which the Force (the universe) actually wants. The Jedi, much like many priestly sects, deny their true feelings and desires, and in doing so they deny the true nature of living. Their denial of what they truly are caused misstep after misstep because they were not using all the strengths they possessed, and refused to embrace their full potential.

The Sith, on the other hand, do not seek balance because they don’t deny any of their feelings. They don’t even try to control them. They unleash it all to try to bend the Force to their will. This, of course, leads to erratic and foolhardy acts. After all, there is a reason that there are not many Sith around at any one time. They all kill each other.

The irony of this is that, if you go too far in one direction they become one and the same. If you are too puritan, too ideological, then you may become so rigid and uncompromising that you find yourself eating your own (much like the Sith) because there is no balance to rein you in.

While the Jedi did not literally destroy themselves, their blind actions and/or inaction led to their downfall. But in a more real world sense, ask yourself: At what point does your group, based on strong beliefs and political ideology, come full circle and turn into the Other whom YOU though were the intolerant ones? When do the Jedi Become the Sith?

If you are honest, you will see it often throughout history.

The solution is true Balance; to control yourself and to embrace new ideas, to leverage the strength of both views and meet in the middle.

Enter the Grey Jedi!

Never heard of them? That’s because the movies don’t talk much about them but they were there (first mentioned in a comic and first seen in a video game).

They adhere to the following code:

“There is no light without the dark. Trough passion, I gain focus. Through knowledge, I gain power. Through serenity, I gain strength. Through victory, I gain harmony. There is only the force.”

Even on a quick read it is far more balanced. They embrace their true nature, while controlling and cultivating personal growth in the process., and they understand that the Force is something bigger and simply is.

The Grey Jedi tend to still be Jedi at heart, seeking peace and balance in the universe, but bending the code to allow for change and growth (in a balanced way).

It was, after all, a Grey Jedi who guaranteed the survival of the Jedi Order after most were gone. I am referring, of course, to Qui-Gon Jinn, who was the one who discovered the secret of life after death, despite the fact this is not something the Jedi would do. This allowed Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi to continue guiding those who came after them, keeping the Jedi alive.

So it is balance which we all, deep down, seek. Yet it is the hardest thing to do because we either define ourselves by rigid rules or labels that (we feel) cannot be broken, or we allow our emotions to overwhelm us. Both are disastrous in the long run. Any change is difficult due to the required self-reflection (you aren’t always right!), and the realistic assessment of your beliefs, behaviours, and choices (you can’t party ALL the time). Achieving balance is the hardest task many of us will ever face.

So most don’t.

Start by asking yourself: Am I truly seeking balance within myself? In my political opinions? In my religious beliefs? Am I being restricted by unbending rigidity, or losing myself in uncontrollable emotions?

No matter what path you take, if you are truly honest with yourself, then you will be on the first step on the journey towards balance, a mental and emotional stability which will help you find the peace and serenity that you seek.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

Editors Note: This post was originally written on November 9th, 2016, As we are currently doing a series on injuries we thought we would re-post some past articles on this topic. This one was written by Assistant Instructor Dave Young who is a professional musician as well as martial artist. Like many who train martial arts, injury is a big concern, especially if it can affect your ability to do your other hobbies or your job. Yet, many musicians train in the martial arts without issues, like David Lee Roth of Van Halen. The discipline and consistency needed for music is much like that of the martial arts, so it should be a natural draw for musicians, but fear of injury can often prevent many from learning something they always wanted to learn. See our previous post on Injury Anxiety. This, however, has never stopped Dave, who has since moved out of the city and we wish him the best. We know he will continue his martial arts journey no matter where he is, so keep an eye out for this bearded warrior.

Audio By Jonathan Fader
daveyoung2

In any martial art, there is always the risk of getting injured. I think most martial art and self-defence students have experienced at least one mild injury during their training. This is the trade-off; training that is meant to prevent violence requires violence, so it must be imbued with an inherent risk. Yet, being trained allows you to reduce risk in a real fight.

How can you avoid injury in training and avoid injury in a real situation?

As a musician, my hands and my brain are the two most important things that allow me to write, record, and perform. Thus, throwing punches and getting hit in the head may seem counter-intuitive towards preserving these body parts. There is a balance between avoiding injury to maintain my ability to work, and taking the risk of injury to be able to defend myself and my family.

First of all, I am NOT a fan of being punched in the face or hit in the head in any manner.  Many studies show that repeated blows to the head, even those that don’t cause concussions, can cause long-term changes in the brain and have lasting neurological effects. That being said, it is very important from a Krav Maga perspective to experience high pressure real world situations and be able to react appropriately.

In a fight, you are going to get hit, so experiencing the real thing in a simulation-type environment is invaluable as a learning tool.  At UTKM, we spar in a very controlled manner, and this is great for safety.  Even so, accidents happen. Everyone is at a different point in learning to control their strikes (and their emotions), so the best way to avoid getting hit, and protect your brain, is to train hard and improve your technique.

The best way to avoid getting hit, and protect your brain, is to train hard and improve your technique.

When it comes to protecting my hands, the same idea applies: Hone your technique.  I work hard on improving my technique so that I retain thorough muscle memory of the proper movements and positions, whether I’m punching a bag, focus mitts, or sparring with one or many opponents. This reduces my chances of injury — remembering to keep my hands up, fist at 45°, elbow slightly bent, and so on. When I ingrain this into my muscle memory, I won’t need to remember to do it in a distressing situation, my body will know it and do it.

Better hurt in the gym, than killed on the street

Perhaps, I will never be required to fight for my life or to protect my family. Nevertheless, in the end, I would rather train hard and perhaps break my hands defending myself successfully, than be overly worried about hurting myself in training and ending up seriously injured in a real confrontation.

In a fight, you are going to get hit, so experiencing the real thing in a simulation-type environment is invaluable as a learning tool.

Written by: Dave Young.

Audio By Jonathan Fader

During the Covid-19 lockdowns many people have found a lot of time to do a variety of things they might not normally had the time to focus on. For me, as many of the things I would like to do are not available or are sold out, I decided to reacquaint myself with one of my childhood passions.

POKÉMON!

Don’t lie, if you are under the age of, let’s say 40, there is a good chance that you too, at one time, wanted to be a “pokémon trainer” when you grew up.

Unfortunately, like many childhood dreams, this is one of those aspirations that is impossible in real life. Sigh, I can still dream.

Aside from the many cute pokémon, like Pikachu and Togepi, and the addictive nature of trying to achieve that lofty goal of “catching them all,” coupled with a brilliant cross platform global strategy, there are numerous reasons that Pokémon was, and is still, great.

While I did not think much of this as a kid, as I re-watch the original seasons, as well as the many, many, many seasons I missed (and they are still making new ones!), one of the great lessons the show teaches is that it is, in fact, OK to loose.

Even as a child I often thought the lead protagonist, Ash Ketchum, was a terrible pokémon trainer. This is mainly due to the fact that, in the original few seasons, he didn’t actually earn many of the gym badges by winning battles, but rather by foiling the plans of the “evil” Team Rocket. This means he probably didn’t actually deserve much of his respect as a trainer. So what did make him such a good trainer?

I think it’s the fact that win, loose, or draw, he would always keep going; he stayed consistent and kept a reasonably good attitude. Compare this to so many other cookie cutter kids shows or superhero series, where the protagonists always win in the end. I think Pokemon was a refreshing change, as it was far more based in reality than most other shows in regard to “winning.”

In most cases, these kids’ shows always result with the protagonist winning, which shelters young kids from one of the most important life skills; learning to fail. Pokémon, in contrast, showed you could win, loose, or draw, and still come out stronger.

For it is only in your losses that you can learn to improve. Only through adversity do you realize you need to change. If you only ever win, and only ever achieve the best, then you may not know how to truly assess and improve yourself.

A good, real life example of someone who clearly can’t handle loss would be Jon Jones. An amazing fighter who is one of the very best, yet is chronically having issues with the drugs and the law. Perhaps, had he faced a loss, or true adversity, he might have learned to be a better person as well as a better fighter. Maybe, had he been a pokémon trainer, this is a lesson he might have been forced to learn.

Whether you love Pokémon or hate Pokémon, the fact remains that it was and still is a worldwide phenomenon, one that experiences a resurgence in mass popularity every few years with some new version of the game. If you pay attention, you may realize that it’s a much better TV show for your child to watch than so many of the other cookie cutter junk out there; as it portrays the challenges of life (though in a fictional setting) in a much more realistic way.

So, whether it’s for your child, or yourself revisiting your childhood love, perhaps it’s time to look at Pokémon for some of it’s deeper lessons. Then learn to internalize the truth that it’s okay to lose, so long as you learn from it, and use that lesson to move forward and grow.

No matter what your endeavors are, keep going, stay consistent, and perhaps you too will metaphorically “catch them all,” as you will have built yourself up to the very best that you could be, a little bit at a time.

By: Jonathan Fader

Just think positively and envision your future and everything will be alright. Do lines like this seem familiar? Speakers, motivators, educators, authors and more have been selling lines like this for many years now. So what’s the problem?

Lead-with-Positivity.jpgFirst, let me say having a positive internal dialogue with your self is extremely important. Seeing your self in a positive light and being objective about your strengths and weaknesses and being ok with that will lead to a much happier life. After all, confidence goes a long way.

Beliving blindly in the words of motivational speakers and beliving blindly that simply being positive will get you everything you ever dreamed of most of the time will not achieve the things you think it will. It may just make you happier in your failure but it still won’t achieve the results you want.

Yet, we love to hear it. Be positive…………and you will achieve all. This is what is sold to us because this is what we prefer to hear. If you like many, hear objective meaningful criticisms as an attack on your self and simply as negative vibes then you will try to avoid them and seek out the “positivity”. This is why it has been commercialized. Because much like sex, it sells. And for many, it has taught people that meaningful criticism from our loved ones is only negativity and must be avoided. While sometimes it is, often it is not, yet we avoid it still because our fragile egos have been massaged to seek only the positive. Yet that criticism may be the changes we needed to make to actually achieve our goals.

The thing is between the positive and achieving it, is hard work, consistency, adaptability, and luck. There is also the execution element of any idea or plan.

Planning to be positive and change your life as it has been sold is a noble cause. Implementing it in a meaningful way is the hard part. It requires sacrifice and often many uncomfortable moments with your self, your ego, and interactions with others.

To me, the absolute most important thing in self-defense is critical thinking. This skill set is also extremely important in real life and is also a skill that seems lacking in many even those who feel they have a grasp on it. This skill needs to apply even to those we look up too and ideas we hold dear. Those people we look up too after all are people too, and those ideas we love so much may actually be wrong.

Yet if we think positive it will all be ok right? It may not, but you will be happier in the process. But if things still are not working out then know positivity alone will not get you what you want.

Take Krav Maga or BJJ progression for example. You believe positively that you will get your next belt soon. You come diligently to class and have a smile on your face. Yet you aren’t getting invited for the belt test or your belt isn’t changed when everyone else did. The issue is your execution. Obviously, your instructor/professor feels you have not made the progress they are looking for either technically, spiritually or mentally. Thus your positivity hasn’t gotten you your desired goal because you failed to recognize what you needed to work on and improve thus you failed to effectively execute.

Now instead of feeling positive, you feel defeated and depressed because one thing your positivity didn’t do was manage your expectations. Yet all the books you read, all the speakers you heard said to stay positive. and you bought it and enjoyed it.

What happened is you failed to realize they want to sell you something, hence the commercialization of positivity. YOU failed to realize this because YOU failed to apply critical thinking. Positivity is a great thing for general happiness, but it is not on its own going to achieve anything. It required a combination of many things. One of which is hard work. Thought alone won’t change your world and outcome, but positive thinking, with hard work, critical thinking and a little luck just might.

So next time you are thinking of shelling out big bucks to hear that motivational speaker you always wanted to see think twice. Is that money worth it or would it be better spent on more training that would help you actually achieve your goals?

Positivity + Hard Work + Good planning and execution + consistency + Adaptability +luck will most likely = success more of the time than positively alone.

Long story short, the path to success is always more complicated than we would like it to be, but it is what it so stops resisting and move forward.

 

 

MONEY FULL

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MONEY FULL.jpg

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

Watch the video. What do you see?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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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