Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Audio by Jonathan Fader

This style of Krav Maga may actually be the most common nowadays. With numerous LARGE organizations, like IKMF and KMG, running massive programs all over the world, with schools in 200+ countries. What a civilian program looks like will vary WILDY from organization to organization and country to country. It is a topic of much contention as many, many Krav Maga schools, for the sake of money, have become more akin to “belt factories” or “McDojos,” which in some cases have given Krav Maga a black eye and in others have increased it’s popularity.

Civilian Krav Maga

A major difference between civilian and other styles of Krav Maga is that often you are often starting with people with no experience; people of all ages and physical capabilities. Some students are attracted to the system because they heard Krav is the best, or they want to prepare themselves for police or military careers, others start on account of an unfortunate encounter, like bullying or assault, and they want the power to better defend themselves in the future.

Another difference is the use of ranking is commonplace, as compared to styles or organizations that focus more on police and military. I think ranking is a MUST in a civilian program, this is because humans need goals, and a sense of progress. Especially in a world full of distractions. While many military and police Krav Maga experts turn their noses up at belts, I think it is a mistake. In particular as an organization grows, people need structure and ranking. It’s just a reality, just like aggression is needed for Krav Maga to be Krav Maga; it is just a reality. The reality of people is what it is, so if you like reality then ranking is a must in a civilian program. There must be measurable progress and you must be able to build people from nothing to something, or, as I like to say, from everyday citizens to everyday warriors.

The Why

If Krav Maga is so anyone can learn to defend themselves and learn to walk in peace, any program must be developed with the widest possible audience in mind. You will get people who are less physically skilled, people of all ages and sizes, so the program must be designed to build people up. This does not mean you cant do balls-to-the-walls periodically, as without this experience it is not Krav Maga. Unfortunately, the reality is that in many countries people can’t or won’t train like the military will. Thus you must build people up physically, mentally, and technically, so they can better handle the more traditional Krav Maga training as they progress.

As mentioned ranking is a must, because people need a sense of achievement. If you, as an instructor, want to develop a larger group of people you will need to give this sense of place and progress to your students. The problem arises if you water it down and make it too easy. I have ranking, but my tests are so hard most people quit after earning their first belt. While this is bad for business, I take pride in knowing I am probably doing something right.

Once you have built people up in the various aspects you can then work on pushing them mentally and physically. Often in modern times people do not face as much adversity as they think they do, particularly in the Western world. Driving people to feel what it means to be pushed to their limits is super important to better prepare people, but they must be convinced to do so. Unlike military or police where it is assumed they will do it, the average civilian needs to be gently massaged through smaller periods of intensity until you can safely put them through an hour long class that is non-stop.

In my opinion this is an area many instructors struggle with, they do not know how to balance their class based on it’s composition. How you teach a full class of all new people is very different from how you teach a mixed class of skills or a class full of more experienced individuals.

One big advantage of civilians is the amount of time on average you have to work with them to develop all of their skills, including technical accuracy. While, yes, most people won’t stay more than 3 months, the core of people you will probably have for years even if they only train one day a week. This means that a general skill development becomes more viable and more important, as for most people the use of lethal force, while sometimes needed, is generally not on the table (though cannot be neglected.) This is why those who train in civilian schools (assuming it’s a proper school) often are better overall practitioners than those who were in military units. Though the military individual will often have the advantage in the physical and mental, a civilian may be able to quickly pick apart the technical holes of the military-only practitioner.

For civilians it really needs to be a lifestyle, just like a military one, albeit a different one; the goals are different initially, but in the long run someone trained as a civilian will eventually learn all aspects of police/security and military application. That is, of course, dependent on the organization and the instructors available to them.

The How

This is simple. While in a military setting I can simply run an aggressive combat focused boot camp, and police I can set up scenario and job-specific training, a good civilian program needs a simple, well-structured, easy to follow, ON PAPER, curriculum that develops people from nothing to Something.

How this is done and what techniques are included can vary wildly. In the UTKM curriculum, white belt (beginner) is the intro and basic techniques. Yellow and Orange (novice) continues development of more combative skills, such as wrestling, and further improves the basic skill. Finally, Green-Black belt (advanced) focuses on police and military application.

Many organizations will hold basic techniques, like a roundhouse kick, at a much higher level, but the reality is if the kick cannot be quickly learned, early on, as a foundational skill, then it’s probably not a very practical technique for most people.

Another consideration in any civilian program is that it MUST be principle-based, as originally intended, and not technique-based. Too many organizations focus too heavily on techniques at the expense of the other important things like aggression and strategy. Others simply teach as they were taught and don’t actually understand beyond “this is how you do the technique.” A deep understanding of the how and why is super important for any instructor in the civilian world, and this includes the other aspects or styles of Krav Maga.

For the civilian program an emphasis on consistency is important. While in the military it is not a choice, you receive the training your receive, and with police some training is mandatory, but for civilians there are many distractions and a student may wane from the path that they had originally set out on. An emphasis on development takes time, it becomes a constant message, in particular for the average person who isn’t naturally talented.

Lastly, a civilian program must be balanced and go hard or soft, fast or slow, depending on who’s in the class and what the average stage of development is. Because people may train for years you cannot always go balls-to-the-walls, military style aggression, or you will destroy yourself. But you also cannot always go “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” drill work, which is common in traditional martial arts styles. There must be a balance, bringing up all aspects of development from mental, physical, technical, and, of course, building aggression. Many programs fail to do this and only focus on one area over the others, based on the skillset and knowledge of the instructor.

Conclusion

Most of you reading this probably fall into the civilian category. Even if you do not, you may have limited experience with Krav Maga, whether it was taught to you in the military or elsewhere. A good program MUST develop aggression and be hard sometimes, MUST develop technical proficiency, and MUST, at some point, teach all aspects of Krav Maga application, from military to police/security, as well as day-to-day general self-defence.

As a civilian looking to train Krav Maga, I advise that you don’t just go to the first school you Googled. Look into the instructor, their background and training, and the philosophy driving their curriculum. Is it wide and diverse or is it only from one source? Do they know other styles of martial arts? How long have they been around? Did they have other experiences, such as police and military backgrounds (though not required)? Do they have a structured program and how is it laid out?

Something to watch out for is a structred program that is actually based off of another style. If they don’t have a patch system or a belt ranking system, it is likely they are integrating other styles into their teachings, which may violate the principles of Krav Maga.

Another thing to be wary of is if they are selling it as “military Krav Maga.” They may have an awesome pedigree, but there is a good chance they will fail to develop you technically and will only ever run a boot camp style class; which for long term growth really isn’t appropriate. Unless you are training for professional application (and even then) you don’t always need to go hard, though if it’s not in the program at all then you have a different problem.

There are a lot, and I mean a lot of garbage schools out there, and even more garbage instructors. Remember, just because someone can do doesn’t mean they can teach. And just because someone isn’t the best themselves doesn’t mean they cannot help develop you.

The goal of Krav Maga is to learn to walk in peace, so make sure you research and find what you are looking for. Krav Maga for the civilian however, cannot be casual. Though it is easy to learn to be good enough to defend yourself most of the time, true proficiency will require constant training over years. Though it can be argued that slow, consistent training will produce better results overall than hard condensed training, since if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

Control and technique under duress is especially important for law enforcement. (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Police oriented Krav Maga may be one of the most underdeveloped areas of Krav Maga in general. While it overlaps heavily with security and VIP approaches, as there are many similarities, there are also many differences. While some organizations will excel at teaching Police oriented Krav Maga, like IKF and CT707, others may not, as there is not always a high demand. While military protocols and acceptable use of force are fairly standard globally for military, this is not the case for police and security. What is acceptable in one country may not be acceptable in another, thus making it difficult to have a general program as well as win specialized contracts. Many organizations do offer VIP security training, which is similar though things like “3rd party protection” will be more of a focus for security than police. So, depending where you are you may have to learn a military approach and combine it with a security approach, then mix it with other things to put together a good base for policing applications.

Police and Security Krav Maga

The main difference for police, and more so for security, when compared to military application is the fact that it is considerably less appropriate to use lethal force. Police certainly have the legal ability to use lethal force in extreme circumstances, but in general it is frowned upon by the public. This creates serious issues when it comes to making decisions. For security application it really depends; if you are doing security for the Cartels, then you are basically applying military Krav, but if you are doing security at a mall, unarmed, then it is safe to say that your best tool is your pen and paper, and maybe a camera, as your authority to use force is often limited (and lethal is definitely off the table.)

So what is a big difference between this and other styles of Krav Maga? Other than acceptable levels of use of force it is also assumed that punching and kicking people is generally off the table for police and security, which means that this kind of training needs to focus significantly more on grappling skills and arrest and detainment protocols. Arrest and detain are a large portion of your job, you show up to de-escalate or arrest and control. This is largely why police specific Krav Maga is lacking, as up until recently grappling was a weak skill in the Krav world, and even if you were in the military your arrest experience may be limited. Thus it is often assumed other aspects of Krav can be applied to this aspect just as well.

The problem is that when it comes to grappling you cannot just be aggressive, you actually need skill, which takes time to develop. It also means that if a police force has the choice between teaching wrestling/Judo/BJJ over Krav, they will often choose the former set of styles, as the image of Krav tends to be more aggressive. This means it creates hesitation over the adoption of a program that includes this mentality. The issue with this is finding an instructor that can adapt grappling for police and security situations, which may include a struggle over weapons, which often leads to problematic technique choices and strategies. Experience in the field of application is something to seriously consider when hiring a martial arts instructor for police and security.

The Why

So why does it need to be different other than the lethality? If it wasn’t clear already, it is because of legal restrictions and what public considers acceptable. If a police officer or security person simply punches a person to gain control as may be required according the how our nervous systems work, it may be perceived as excessive force. This means that punching and kicking are often not options as the public, politicians, and lawyers often remove it.

Enter the grappling. A police or security officer’s best bet is grappling, which ultimately will give control, with minimal damage to the opponent, and is already on the path to an arrest. The key is keeping it simple, using basic techniques that have a high percentage success rate for most people, and will function with weapons or multiple assailants. Another reason why the grappling aspect is more acceptable for this application (which goes against our general “do not go to the ground” rule) is because there is often more than one officer/agent/guard and it is, in many cases, not assumed to be a life or death situation. This means you have more freedom to go to the ground while one or more of your partners stands guard and can do crowd control. Having available support is something that is not always possible in the civilian world or practical in the military world (though sometimes needed). So the why is fairly straightforward, thought the training needs to be tough physically and mentally, as it is a tough job, it needs to focus less on the aggression and more on the control; which ultimately leads to a higher level of skill requirement than the military might.

The How

So how would I run police training? One thing I always ask for, but rarely get, is to start unencumbered and work up to officers training with their duty gear on (unloaded pistol, of course), as it is very different training with gear on than without. Usually a fear of injury or damage to mats is often why this does not happen but should.

I would also work on training that mixes up the heart rate, from high to low to high to low, etc., in order to simulate how a real life policing situation impacts the nervous system. The intensity of this would depend on the physical capabilities of the officers or security being trained. Often this is much lower than it should be, but if someone drops dead during training it’s not very good for business.

Given the time I would show every variation of police specific takedown that I teach, whether they be drawn from Krav, wrestling, or BJJ. While judo is great in many places, it too may be considered excessive force and it’s high skill requirements make it difficult to teach in a short time. I would also focus on drilling actual arrest techniques against resistance, as this is an area many officers struggle with, particularly right out of the academy.

I would limit myself to only teach specific striking techniques, ones that are considered less aggressive and modified general application strikes. While regular techniques should be taught given the time, as to develop overall skill, if time is limited there is no sense in teaching someone a technique that would only get them into trouble. It has actually taken me quite some time to create police/security friendly techniques from what was traditionally taught in Krav Maga, which shows the difficulty in crafting police/security specific training, as so many of the normal Krav options (eye strikes, groin kicks, etc.) are no longer on the table.

Conclusion

If it wasn’t clear in this post, it certainly should be clear in my series on policing (1,2,3,4,5) that police and security, where they are allowed, actually need the highest level of hand-to-hand combat and unarmed training. Unfortunately, as we know they often receive surprisingly inferior training. Unlike the military, lethal use of force is not on the table as much, which means using other tools, like a taser, when possible; but in practical reality it’s almost always going to get physical. A quick search on YouTube can find video after video of interactions gone wrong for the police or security, because they were easily overwhelmed by the assailant. Police need more training, at more frequent and regular intervals, to develop and maintain the level of skill required to be proficient for their own safety and the safety of those they are trying to detain or protect. While it would be great to work on the physical and mental toughness, again due to time constraints and operational practicality, more time needs to focus on the technical aspects, in particular controlling another person safely and effectively and learning to arrest those who do not want to be arrested, without hurting then.

Perhaps when more Krav Maga instructors become more proficient at grappling, and integrate it into their programs in a way that doesn’t just look like MMA, then we may see Krav Maga be adopted as a style more and more by police forces outside of countries that allow police to employ extreme force.

Of course, a proper program will integrate this into the training because at some point even a civilian may need to safely detain someone. Even if it just means detaining an out of control person at a party until the police show up (something I have had to do before).

So, should police train Krav Maga? Absolutely, however, make sure you know your force’s policy, the laws of your country, and what you can and cannot do. In the case that you need to adapt the system, know what your restrictions are and how to modify the techniques and training to your needs. However, keep n mind that even police and security may face life and death situations, so don’t forget to train the mental and physical aspects, as well as the aggression, as much as you can.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

The principles of Krav Maga make it an effective close-quarters combat (CQC) system (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

What is Krav Maga? How should you train it? What is “real” and what is not? This is a debate for the ages. It is a subject discussed quite a lot and is an area in which I feel so many people let their own world view, experience and, of course, ego get in the way (see my series on Ego). Certainly, at least from the Imi lineage, it should be principle-based, evolve over time as needed, and in general be employed so that one “may walk in peace.” Beyond that Krav Maga is open to much interpretation. Often it is associated with the military, but the Imi lineage actually started as a means for civilians to defend themselves against the Nazis, it wasn’t developed for military applications until later.

I decided to write this series after watching another video of a former IDF Special forces solider discussing what his Krav Maga experience was. The context of the conversation was a discussion of his experience, as well as that of the other participants, with what was referred to as “original” Krav Maga, that being Krav Maga prior to the watered down BS, “McDojo” style, American Krav Maga. (Which most serious people do not consider real Krav Maga, though I see even some legit schools or organizations becoming more “martial arts” than practical self-defence.)

I thought, “why not write an in depth series to clarify a few things about the differences in what military, police, and civilian Krav Maga should and should not look like?” Of course, if you ask me, a proper program should not separate everything, but rather use the pacing of the curriculum to build up from civilian to law enforcement, then later to military, as the application and situations become more severe. But, hey, since most people seem to want to make a distinction, for the purpose of this series I will discuss the three applications as such.

As this is something I have discussed loosely before, I shall skip an intro post and jump right into the Military application, approach, thoughts, etc…

Military Krav Maga

I am going to start with my own Krav Maga experience during my time in the military. Prior to joining up I started learning Krav Maga as a civilian and developed my skills to get a leg up on basic training. Unfortunately, upon arriving in the IDF I was sadly disappointed in my Krav Maga training. Granted, I was in the infantry and not Special Forces, but still it was hardly what I thought it would be; I had only about ten lessons total in the IDF and several of them were not even when I was in combat. Even further, and quite ironically, the lessons I had outside of the infantry were while studying in the IDF Hebrew school (a place that had more serious discipline and structure than my actual time in active duty.)

To be fair, it really depends who’s in charge at any given time. Some commanders are in favour of more Krav Maga and some less, some for more intense training, some less. But out of all the lessons I had in the IDF I only learned one new thing, and it was fairly minor. (At least during my time the standard Krav lesson was 90 minutes with 45 mins being more like physical fitness and the rest drill basic techniques.)

So why do we always think “hardcore military training” when we think of Krav Maga? That’s because many of the earlier ambassadors for Krav were all former Special Forces soldiers. Additionally, when KMG and other such organizations started going global in the ’90s, their focus was on the global military units; 1) because it’s the kind of people many of them were used to training and 2) because militaries have lots and lots of money…

So what does Special Forces Krav Maga training look like? Well it’s hard, and focuses on mental and physical toughness over actual technique. Depending on the unit, time, budget, and, of course, willingness to train regularly, units may do sessions from 1.5-4.5 hours or even all day sessions, sometimes for months-on-end or in condensed coursed lasting a few weeks. While this builds physical and mental toughness and a focus on aggression, it severely lacks technical development, which can actually hinder a soldiers overall ability in unarmed combat. An example of this was a person I know who was not just Special Forces, but Black Ops, who once visited UTKM. This was in the earlier days when our students were not as developed, but when it came to sparring he struggled, because though his physically and mental prowess are among the best I have ever seen, his technical development in fighting and unarmed combat was limited. Despite all his hard training.

The Why

Okay, so why is military style Krav Maga so focused on the physical, mental, and aggression? Well the answer is at it’s base a simple one: If a soldier, particularly an SF soldier, is in a position where they are forced to use unarmed combat it means things have gone absolutely, insanely wrong. They lost their primary (rifle), they lost their secondary (pistol), and lethal force with a knife may not be an option (at least in that moment.) This means that a soldier must rely on their will and ability to never stop to fight out of that bad situation. Because, for a soldier in such a situation, it is probably a life and death struggle, so they will need to fight with everything they have. It’s this severity of life and death that requires a serious focus on the mental strength, physical ability, and aggression. As much of their training is on other tools, like firearms, to defend themselves using hand-to-hand combat is seen as a far more blunt option.

Another factor is limited time (at least the claim of “limited time,” as many know the concept of “hurry up and wait” means there’s probably lots of time) in the development of soldiers. In the IDF, infantry members go through 6-12 months of training, while SF soldiers may have upwards of 2 years of training prior to deployment. In this time there are numerous skills, from firearms and field maneuvers, to specialty training, etc., that must occur. Which means time dedicated to Krav Maga training from a technical aspect would take away time from other skills that may be more important. The IDF, at least from what I saw, spends a large percentage of time training firearms skills (probably why they are so good) and already cuts out a lot of junk, like how to march in formation (most of the time). Because of this time constraint it can be difficult to really develop people properly from a technical stand point. Hence the simpler task of focusing on physical and mental development through adversity, and, of course, aggression training.

Another issue is the potential for injuries. It can cost $100,000 to $1,000,000 USD or more to train a soldier. Naturally, continuous and constant martial arts training or Krav Maga training, particularly of an aggressive nature, will eventually result in injury. One even minor injury could derail a soldier’s chance to progress, thus wasting the money and time of the organization. In the old days (’70s, etc.) you can find videos of bare-knuckled brawling as part of the training, where they freely beat the crap out of each other. While we can read about it and talk about “the glorious old days,” it really is a stupid way to train; mainly due to the physical injures and potential for CTE. Now, though training is tough, they often are fully geared up with protective equipment; gear that is bulky and hard to move in. While it protects the wearer it also limits their ability to learn proper technical movements and instead requires people to basically wail on their opponent. This means that without the gear an average unit like the infantry isn’t really allowed to train properly (at least according to the rules) and SF soldiers “can” because they have the gear. Naturally the gear changes the quality of the training but increases the safety of the soldiers.

The How

It should be noted that the aggressive nature of military training from the ’40s onward is actually what lead to Krav Maga being so successful. Because, at the end of the day, in the real world techniques fail and it is the the pure aggression and willingness to be violent that will lead to survival. As such this of course MUST be a part of any given military style. Another thing to consider is that when you are training military personnel it is usually assumed they are already the top 10% or so of the physically capable in any given society. This means that you can push them harder, faster, and at a quicker pace without it being an issue. This is why people who throw military boot camps for Krav Maga usually push people to their limits. Which for a civilian may be a “cool experience” but really does not develop much of anything other than a good story. Such training should be reserved for military units or more advanced students who have developed their physical and technical abilities prior. However, whether it be general advanced training or specific training, any military style training that leaves a participant in any state other than exhausted and annoyed probably isn’t very good military style krav maga.

Another thing that MUST be considered when training military Krav Maga is the increased acceptance of lethality. Which means there MUST be training with firearm’s, both in dryfire and live fire capacities, as a full Krav program cannot be one without this kind of skill training. Aside from this, training MUST include how to use firearms as a blunt force trauma weapon. They are, after all, just tools and are prone to break, jam, or otherwise malfunction, meaning you may now need to employ your firearm as a simple piece of metal. This means that any military training in Krav Maga must show soldiers or participants how to use the weapons in this fashion. This also means that proper training will at times include training with full gear on. After all that, is how you will be dressed when shit hits the fan; tired, with a minimum of 20lbs of gear on! Realism, it is what Krav Maga is all about, and any training without this is not very good.

For me, these are the main components that must be included in military training. The physical difficulty and mental training, as well as firearms training, are a must. After all, this is what people often think of when they think “Krav Maga.” As well as a need to periodically train in full gear, out side, and true-to-life scenarios.

However, given the time, say several months, there really should be more focus on technical development of overall combat skills as, while aggression is great, trained aggression with technique is even better.

Conclusion

Military style training is what Krav Maga is truly known for, however, it is only one aspect of Krav Maga. As so many individuals receive training in the IDF SF’s various Krav Maga programs, these people are often the ambassadors for the system as they are the ones people want to talk to and learn from. Remember, though Krav in military units has a very specific application, to build mental and physical fortitude and train the nervous system to be aggressive under duress, it is not however particularly good at developing overall skill and technique in various fighting methods. As such, many peoples’ experiences, while great, do not really translate well over into the civilian world where people may not be the most physically capable and require considerably more time to develop. While a soldier who is already physically gifted may be able to rely on their natural gifts and often authority to be lethal, civilians do not have this luxury. While a civilian certainly can attend military training (and should during their Krav path), if that is your only training it is possible that this will simply give you an over-inflated sense of confidence just because you completed a particularly difficult military Krav course. But the reality is you still lack the skills and development.

A person who was trained in SF Krav Maga or just standard military Krav Maga also does not always know how to build programs for the civilian and law enforcement world, as their application and needs are different and cannot always rely on pure physical skills and aggression.

Military Krav Maga training is a must for those who wish to train Krav Maga in the long run, but for most this style of training needs to be built up to over years of general development in order that they enter into it more well-rounded.

So always operate with skeptical hippo-eyes when someone says “I know Krav Maga, I was in the military, I can teach you!” Because they only know one part of good training and may simply enjoy the thrill of watching you suffer, but have done little to properly develop your ability to defend yourself.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

Balancing Ego: Sometimes you must build it up, sometimes you must push aside. (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

As this series has been on martial arts and ego perhaps its time to define “ego” as per the dictionary:

e·go – /ˈēɡō/ noun

  1. A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. “A boost to my ego”

Similar definitions:

  • PSYCHOANALYSIS: Ego – the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.
  • PHILOSOPHY: Ego – (in metaphysics) a conscious thinking subject.

In layman’s terms it basically means “how we see ourselves, how we think of ourselves, and how we value our self-worth relative in the world.” Ego can help or hinder you. A healthy ego can give you confidence which will allow you to accomplish the tasks that you wish to do without the inner dialogue, that is often negative, to hold you back. If people perceive you as confident than they may be more willing to help you or follow you. On the other hand, an unhealthy ego may also help you achieve your goals, but will also hinder you socially as those around you may simply consider you arrogant and unworthy of listening to or following.

One thing that seems to be consistent with regards to ego, healthy or unhealthy, is that you must build a healthy view of yourself that is positive while trying your best not to push your ego onto others. There is a reason people like modesty or other comparable personality traits; because if your ego is too much, for one reason or another, especially if someone has a negative view of themselves, they will perceive this as an attack on their ego.

In short, people are hard. Yet, we are innately social creatures that need to be around others. Yes, it’s very complicated.

So with that definition (somewhat loosely) established in an super-overly simplistic context let’s talk about how this relates to martial arts.

The Instructor

Being a martial arts instructor is a challenging job. Depending on how you approach the activity it can be very rewarding, a long struggle, a hobby, or an enjoyable lifestyle. I would say that if 4 out of 5 businesses fail, 4.99 out of 5 martial arts or fitness business fail. It is naturally a hard business to get into. When you start you think, “I want to take my hobby into a lifestyle that can make a living.” It should be no surprise however that most martial artist who do it more seriously actually don’t make very much money. For those who do make money it is usually due to a difficult journey, both physically and mentally, that simply through consistency and hard work eventually paid off.

It’s this fact, that until you reach business stability it is quite common for the grind to affect the ego of the instructor, as their self worth is tied into their hobby and now livelihood. (After all, marrying a martial artist is often frowned upon as they are no doctor, lawyer, or something traditionally more prestigious.) During this period of stabilization it is often quite common for the instructors ego to feel unappreciated as students (at least in modern times) make all sorts of demands on the instructor, some reasonable and some not. Often the demand is to progress them faster or make things easier or “do things differently.” For a martial arts instructor this can be quite tough on the ego. A question is often asked; “Do I do what they want to keep business alive, or maintain my integrity and stick to my guns with the proper way to do things?” The latter can be quite difficult, as it often means less business and ultimately a view of yourself and your position in life that may include a lessoning self worth.  

It is assumed that all martial artists, through discipline and “spiritually grounded mind, body, and soul,” have a good, strong ego that is not too much or too little; so they, of course, are expected to have a positive self worth at all the times. This is simply false, because, like all persons, the martial arts instructor is human, with an ego.

For those who do well, their self worth and ego are boosted and they see themselves as a valuable member of society, contributing to the physical and mental growth of others; which includes the shaping of healthy egos in their students. Either from making students realize they aren’t as good as they thought, bringing their egos down to a more reality-based plane. Or by helping them build their ego through confidence, by achieving goals and making progress as they rise through the ranks.

A martial arts instructor with an over-inflated ego and self worth, with a little charisma, can very quickly become a cult leader, teaching nothing more than bushido for the sake of boosting their ego. Beware the McDojo!

A martial arts instructor with an under-inflated ego (a.k.a. a low self worth), no matter how good their skills are, may have a difficult time inspiring others to develop themselves and stick too the difficult path that is the martial artist.

The instructor must remember to manage their ego while also managing the skills and development of others, and remind themselves it isn’t always about them but about developing others.  The method in which this will be achieved varies, as there are many paths, but some paths will attract fewer students and others will attract more.

The important thing for the instructor though is to always keep in mind; why they are doing it and what about it makes them happy?

Some instructors may be totally happy with a modest living, so long as they can practice and teach their arts. Others may only be happy with thousands of students and will achieve this at all costs.

The balance is a tricky one.

What is too much ego, or the right balance of ego, confidence, and self worth really depends on the person.

But the martial arts instructor who fails to understand that ego is part of not only being human but is ingrained in the martial arts for practical, philosophical, and historical reasons, may find themselves in the worst of all worlds.

For how is any student to learn properly if the instructor loses the most important battle of all, the eternal one that isn’t with the opponent but the ego and the internal dialogue?

The Student

The student wants to learn martial arts for ego, self worth, and more. Just like the instructor, they too have an eye on being something more, something better. Though for them the journey with the ego is different.

Some come in thinking they are tougher than they are, others not as tough as they are. In both cases there is often an underestimation of the time it will take to achieve their goals. When this is realized it is often the first ego beating that a student has. Fear, doubt, or just life gets in the way and although they may tell themselves they will train they do not follow through with their original plan of becoming “the ultimate warrior.” These students lose the battle with the ego with questions like; “What if I can’t do this?” “What if I am not good enough?” “What if I can’t train enough?” Before they even really start to try, their ego and confidence says “it’s easier to quit now then to keep going,” because it will, of course, be easier than the path to the goal they originally had.

Another battle with ego students sometimes experience is with the school itself, the instructor(s), and their training partners. Though martial arts is ultimately a solo activity, rather than a team activity, it can often make students forget that there are other people to consider; the instructor, the school, and other students. The student makes it about themselves and only about themselves. They care nothing for the struggles of the instructor or the school, or how they may help benefit their fellow students. It is a battle between the ego’s demand for the primacy of the self and the social demand for others. It can be far too easy for the ego to take over and make the journey only about the self. This will ultimately lead to less desirable results, as the instructor may simply gloss over the difficult student, or other students may not want to train with them. The ego must not win this battle if the student expects to have the best journey, to the best version of themselves, to achieve their martial arts goal. The ego will say this is an “individual journey,” but without the instructor, the schools, or the fellow students, your progress will simply be hindered and it is a battle that must constantly be fought, remembered, and managed.

Of course, there is the student that is a physical specimen and let their ego run wild, for they are the destroyer of worlds. This is, of course, what the ego says. No one challenges you and you are the best. While it may be true in your world, your gym, you may simply be a big fish in a small pond. This student also fails to realize, through the blindness of ego, that being the best physically is not the main goal in martial arts, just part of it. In Krav, at least, it’s to walk in peace.

Running around with an over-inflated ego will only ever cause conflict, both internally and externally. If this student let’s his ego win, eventually he won’t just fail, but the internal story that the ego has weaved will come crumbling down and the once high view of self importance will collapse into the pit of the question, “who am I without my physical prowess?” Some rebuild and some do not. It is an ego trap easily avoided by developing the other areas that one can gain by training martial arts.

The opposite student to this is the one with no developed ego at all and almost no self worth. Perhaps there are no physical skills present. Often these students rely far too much on the opinions of their instructor or others, and not enough confidence comes from within. Accepting their starting point, and the difficult journey ahead, is often far too difficult a challenge to face and will only be another metaphorical blow to their already poor self worth. A student like this must realize the importance of developing their ego and realizing that much of the martial arts journey is actually solo. If you quit to early, you will never grow; but that is, of course, easier. If they put their ego aside and simply do, rather than resist they will find positive growth not only in the ego and self worth, but in the other physical-oriented aspects that is martial arts.

Final Thoughts on Ego

There are, of course, many other ego traps or challenges that students or instructors may face. The only way to find out which ego battles you might struggle with is to start your martial arts journey and never stop, even if it only means casual training. A battle never stopped is a battle never won or lost, but rather a journey. Which is how you probably should view the hardest battle of all, a journey with ups and downs and loop-de-loops but one that only ever should have progress and nothing more. This battle is not with your instructor, your students, or the world around you, but rather the battle within, the one with your ego, the one with yourself, the one that matters the most.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

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Old rivals, and their egos, come face-to-face once again in “Cobra Kai”(source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

If you like martial arts then there are a few people and concepts you probably familiar with, no matter what decade you were born in. Bruce Lee is, of course, one of the most famous. But how about Mr. Miyagi, the legendary, Okinawan karate master played by Pat Morita in the 1984 movie The Karate Kid, and in three sequels? (Not to be confused with the 2010 re-make of The Karate Kid, starring Jacki Chan as the martial arts mentor Mr. Han, in which they aren’t even learning Karate but rather Kung Fu, the traditional systems of Chinese martial arts. NOT THE SAME.)

Anyway, Mr Miyagi taught Daniel-san traditional Okinawan Karate (the system originated in Okinawa, not the main islands of Japan) to help learn to defend himself against the bullies from the Karate dojo Cobra Kai, taught by military veteran (and mild psycho) John Kreese. In the original movie the rivalry culminates with young Daniel LaRusso defeating his main bully, blonde bad boy Johnny Lawrence. This propelled Daniel to a good and successful life, and led Johnny to a life of alcoholism, bad parenting, and poor life decisions. This is, of course, as we now know seeing the characters 30 years later in the “Cobra Kai” series on Netflix. With the SAME, albeit now adult actors, which is a great thing for a series to do.

This is where I give you the spoiler alert. If you didn’t already know that Daniel won the tournament in the original movie, well too bad; it was made before I was even born so you should know by now. But, if you aren’t caught up with the latest season of Cobra Kai yet then be warned, there may be some mild spoilers ahead.

If are into martial arts and the original movies, then you will love this series! It is pure entertainment combined with continuing the original storyline, with the added bonus of considerably more character development; which makes this series a must watch in my opinion. The show includes, at various points, almost all the same actors from the film series (where possible, R.I.P. Pat Morita), and adds some new faces, which is something I would love to see in other, older series.

Johnny decides he wants to start teaching Karate again and opens up his own dojo. Needless to say Daniel finds out and all manner of ego-driven shenanigans ensue. Daniel also tries to get his daughter to start training Karate again. Long story short, Cobra Kai competes in the famous “All Valley Karate Tournament,” despite Daniel’s effort to keep Cobra Kai banned, and Johnny’s champion prevails. Daniel looks like the bully and it looks like Johnny is doing good again. Season 2 sees the return of Johnny’s sensei, Kreese, who is just as nuts, if not more so, than before. A school rivalry builds between Johnny and Daniel’s schools, which results in a fight with serious consequences. More ego-driven violence and shenanigan’s occur as everyone, Johnny, Daniel, their students, and their own kids, is trying to prove themselves, their Karate prowess, and their ego.

All around it’s great fun to watch. However, intentionally or unintentionally, it is showing the negative side of martial arts and human EGO. It also perpetuities the bullshit idea that training in martial arts makes you a violent person. Which makes me concerned that any “Karen” who walks in on their child watching it will then go on a Karen-rampage to try to stop all martial arts from occurring. You actually kind of see this in Season 3, where school trustees, who are clearly vanilla people who know nothing of combat, simply panic and try to ban all Karate.

Karens aside, it really highlights the EGO of “who is the best?” Ego is a powerful thing, it can help you or hinder you. It can give you strength and courage, or make you crumble. As mentioned in the previous post of this series “My Martial Art is Better Than Your Martial Art” (and as implied or stated by me numerous times), there are many factors to “who is the best” and this means not everyone can be the best.

This is why it’s important to understand, for your own ego, are you capable of being the best, and if you are, are you putting in the work to be the best and stay the best? Or if you are not capable of being the best, are you happy just being the best version of yourself that you can be? In the latter situation, people often quit training in martial arts altogether because of their ego. They cannot accept they are not the best because of some factor or other, so they stop rather than continuing to strengthen themselves. No, not everyone can be the best, but not everyone needs to be. You just need to be better.

Now, if you are the best, as proven by competition, can you stay the best? For many it is short lived and for others it’s a long journey, but eventually you will fall, and the question is can your ego handle it? A good example where the answer was “No” was the dominant female UFC champion, Ronda Rousey. When Rousey finally fell, she fell hard and fast, and never really recovered mentally. I am still waiting for the in-depth documentary on her life, as it will most likely show how an unchecked ego will only lead to a massive crash and a pit of emotional despair.

Personally, I dislike the need that so many people have to boost their ego through martial arts, as can be seen in the Cobra Kai story; those once bullied become the bullies when they finally have the power to do so. This is an aspect of the show I do not like, as it depicts how without proper guidance many people can take power and go sideways. After all, “With great power comes great responsibility”- Uncle Ben, Spider-man.

Cobra Kai, at least as of the end of Season 3, has yet to show how losing can actually check your ego back in place, teaching you that maybe you aren’t as good as you thought. Which means you can either work hard to get better or you can simply be content with working to be in a better place mentality and physically, and know that, outside of competition, you know your abilities and can walk in peace. This aspect is something I would love to see more in the martial arts world. As we always follow the champions and the best. We strive to be them and are motivated by them. It is the winners we look up to. Except the truth is for most of us, either because we are a casual practitioner or just lack that certain something required to be the best, as martial arts practitioners are doing it just to be a better version of ourselves.

This obsession over ego and winning can be problematic and give a bad image to all the Karens out there who look down on the learning of violence. For most people learning to fight makes them less likely to fight, because they realize it’s actually quite hard and carries a high risk. Some never learn, but that’s because they have other personal issues that were there before the training and should be dealt with separately.

Cobrai Kai does a very good job at showing the kind of damage ego-driven conflict can do when it starts going out of the ring or out of the dojo and into the streets. It starts to look like the petty gang conflicts you see globally, where even the slightest look can result in someone hospitalized or dead.

While ego is inevitable, it is part of the human psyche, it must constantly be checked in all aspects of martial arts, including in its portrayal. The days of using martial arts for life and death are gone in many countries. And while some may long for those days, the reality is our lives are better when this kind of wanton violence against each other is generally unacceptable.

If the only portrayal of martial arts comes off as negative and simply for the purpose of violence, it could be possible that things go sideways and people once again loose the ability to defend themselves.

This is very problematic. When a group of people do not know how to defend themselves there can be catastrophic results. The film “Demolition Man,” with Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stallone, plays on this idea: A society that had lost not just the ability, but the understanding of violence, is at a loss when a mad man of old comes out of prison and wreaks havoc.

We must understand the importance for everyone to learn and understand violence; hoping we never have to use it, but knowing we can if we must. If you are an ego-driven person then temper your need to win, or your rage, and express it in the appropriate arenas, and work on yourself in other ways so that it never gets out of control harming others in the world around you.

Cobra Kai shows many of the negatives of violence, and what can go wrong when it is undirected or misused, though it attempts to demonstrate the positive aspects through the peaceful lessons from Mr. Miyagi, as re-taught by Daniel-san. Yet even he, now without his mentor, seems driven by his ego to always be right and win at all costs.

Whether portrayed in Cobra Kai, or the movies, or seen in real life, one of the most important journeys for any martial artist is learning to manage and control their ego, lest it blind them from achieving the ability to walk in peace in all aspects of life.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

The benefits that vaccinations provide to humanity far outweigh the potential harms from the exceedingly rare side effects. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Okay, as this is a topic that will be discussed ad nauseum this year, I thought I would apply some basic critical thinking. This is, of course, part of a series, the first being The Initial Response and the Virus and second being Context, Masks and Stats.

I thought I would also clarify (if it wasn’t already clear) why I write about topics that often many people think have nothing to do with self-defence. I believe that Krav Maga is truly about learning to walk in peace (as originally intended). This approach, should be clear in my series Self Defense is not just physical. This means that when I hear students, friends, collogues or family making grossly incorrect comments, on either side of the political isle, or others simply expressing confusion about some basic reality that is affecting their mental health (among other things), I feel it is my duty to do or say something. Either to quell there fears, or to educate them with more correct information (most up to date).

To those who believe that everyone should “stay in their lane”, I respectfully disagree.

One thing is for sure, COVID has applied immense pressure to society, and the confusion and non-nonsense, FROM ALL SIDES, conspiracy theorists to experts to politicians, is a big part of the problem.

So, if my writings help you, then wonderful, if they just make you hate me then, by all means. And, like many, while I may be extremely annoyed at how many governments have handled the situation and decisions they are making, it does not mean that I am also anti-science or anti-Vax. In fact, the importance of vaccines cannot be stressed enough, but that does not mean there are no issues with them.

Vaccines in General

I am just going to go ahead and say it: If you are outright against vaccines or fall into the “anti-vaxer” category, then you are not applying critical thinking at all. This is not actually a political thing. In case you have forgotten, much of the anti-vax movement started relatively recently in California from very Left-wing people. It just happens that now many of the anti-vaxers reacting to this specific event tend to be on the Right. This means it is an apolitical issue, so please stop accusing “the other side” of being stupid.

No, vaccines are not going to give your kid autism (that whole rumour started with one fraudulent paper). Historically vaccines are responsible for ridding most of the world of many previously horrible ailments, for example small pox, measles, polio, etc.. In fact, they have been so effective at snuffing out of many of these diseases which plagued humanity, that in many Western countries they do not even give the vaccines at all anymore. I’m actually kind of upset that I never received vaccines for some of these illnesses, because, you know, what if shit hits the fan and I’m not vaccinated against these something that suddenly becomes a problem? GIVE ME MY VACCINES DAMMIT!

With that being said, to sit here and pretend that vaccines are not without drawbacks is also foolish. There have been, and will continue to be, lawsuits, periodically, not just for vaccines, as in the US alone they have paid out over $4 billion in compensation. In fact I recently listened to the podcast Kill Tony, a comedy podcast, in which one of the participants suffered nerve damage due to vaccination, so it does happen.

The general attitude is that the benefits outweigh the potential harm… by a long shot.

For the COVID-19 vaccine however, even if there are some risks (which may include death) many governments are not allowing financial recourse for any damages, which is morally wrong. So, before you call someone names or insult them because they have concerns about vaccines recognize that these concerns are not entirely baseless.

Additionally, pretending like pharmaceutical companies are not morally corrupt corporations, with a very questionable history, is also silly. It can easily be seen in the recent $8 Billion lawsuit against Purdue Pharma related to Oxycontin’s role in the opioid crisis in the US. (To be fair, the responsibility also lies on the shoulders of any corrupt doctor whom prescribes something when they know better.)

With regard to the current vaccine for COVID-19, it has been said if you suffer severe allergic reactions then perhaps it may not be advisable for you.

Vaccines and other medications are very expensive to produce and as a general rule companies won’t even bother unless they think they can recover their expenses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Which makes sense financially, but for the betterment of humanity’s health makes little sense. But it is what it is, and the concern from the producers is a legitimate concern, this doesn’t mean someone is a conspiracy theorist.

Again, as a general rule, MOST of the time vaccines have done more good than harm, BUT, don’t pretend there are not potential negatives for some people.

How Do Traditional Vaccines Work?

I thought I would do a short section on the science behind vaccines, as many people really do not understand how these things work. They hear or read something online that sound ominous, or they don’t understand, and that’s why they decide they don’t like vaccines. First things first; TRADITIONAL vaccines have been used for a long time now and have a long track record of success overall. However, in the early days I bet lots of things didn’t go as planned, because we just didn’t understand enough. So if you dig, you will always find some negative examples. But, again, we don’t have polio, measles, and other horrible viruses/diseases (for the rest of the article I am just going to say “viruses,” but some afflictions that vaccines have helped with may be from other sources) on mass, in general anymore because of them. So overall, fairly good.

Vaccines introduced the virus an Active form, Passive form and other types into your body in a controlled fashion. This is intended to train your immune system to fight off the actual virus should you encounter it in the future. Yes, that means they do inject a small bit of the offending organism, along with other “science stuff,” into your body. If it is Active, it’s a reduced viral/bacterial load (ie. not enough to take hold and give you the illness). If it’s Passive, they use an inactive (dead) form. Other methods employ a part of the virus, etc.. (click on the link for better description)

All to teach your immune system how to deal with it if you were to ever get it.

If you were to encounter something like Smallpox, you may have immunity after having it because your body has now learned how to fight it off. But that’s assuming you are still alive, and most likely you are now severely disfigured. This is why vaccines teach your body how to deal with it before it is encountered. Your body is like, “Hey, I know this! Go away!” and either you are mildly sick or don’t notice it at all. With some illnesses you can only catch it once before you are messed up with disfigurements or dead. Hence you can’t just “get it” in order to develop immunity. Thus many illnesses that require vaccines are those with which the consequences are simply too dire.

Yes, you can get slightly sick after getting a vaccine, exhibiting mild symptoms of the illness or experiencing some minor side effects. This is largely due to the fact that genetics, and humans, are complicated and there is no way of knowing who will react to what. Some people’s immune systems will react more severely than others. I can remember receiving one vaccine as a child that was so painful I could barley move my arm for several days. This does not mean, however, that you are dying or that they injected a microchip into you! It does mean however that our medicine and science is not at the point where we can be so precise that we can have custom doses for each person and we probably wont have for a long time.

Stop expecting perfection, it does not exist.

The COVID-19 Vaccine

Enter the Covid-19 vaccine, which is NOT a traditional vaccine but rather a mRNA-based vaccine.

Just so you know, DNA and RNA are different structures life on this planet is based on. Coronaviruses, like the common cold, are RNA-based, which essentially means they can evolve and change at a pace our medical science has yet to keep up with. This means that, so far, we have never completely eradicated a RNA-based virus and vaccines for them require regular updates (eg. an annual flu shot).

Unlike traditional vaccines they essentially use a “key,” a protein or RNA-type thingy (yes, very scientific word), that teaches your immune system to fight off the virus.

Something to remember about the mRNA vaccines is that they are a relatively NEW technology and there is no longitudinal data, on mass, from which to assess how this will affect us in the long run. Which is a legitimate concern, as, historically, there have occasionally been issues with new technologies when they have not been tested on a wide enough population over a long enough period.

With that being said, numerous studies (one such study) have been carried out globally, on exceptionally large test groups (in the tens of thousands), which is really good, considering traditional test groups are considerably smaller.

However, a legitimate concern from many is, what was the make up of these test groups? Was it a diverse group of people, with thousands of people from White, to Black, to Asian? Or was it, as many studies are, limited to a particular group of people? It’s a legitimate question, as the medical field often ignores the genetic differences in groups when developing things because that would make research more expensive, or the politics of race and culture complicate the matter. But nevertheless, it is a concern and something worth considering. I would hope, as this is a global endeavor and studies have been done all over the place, that this is something that was taken into consideration, but without reading the data from the studies, indicating the makeup of these groups, it will be hard to ascertain.

Another issue is some people actually have been advised not to take the vaccine, that is, individuals with severe allergies. This group essentially has immune issues, for a variety of reasons, which means no vaccine, no normalcy. This was specifically for the Pfizer vaccine, but who knows, it could apply to the other vaccines from the variety of companies producing it, but, as always, without further investigation we may not know until much, much later.

What concerns me most about the vaccine is how numerous governments (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3) have limited or blocked the ability to seek proper compensation should things go wrong, especially if it is made mandatory. If I was a citizen in such a country this would be very concerning to me, as it goes against historic precedence and is extremely immoral and unethical. For many the fact that the companies producing the vaccine are protected from liability is a concern, though a moral argument can be made, on both sides, as to why or why not this should be allowed.

So let’s assume that the vaccine, in its various forms, does what it says it is going to do, which is to provide a 94-95% barrier to stop you getting, or spreading COVID-19 after both shots (less so if you only get one dose). Then within reason lockdowns and mask mandates should disappear. If they do not I would be very, very concerned.

If it does work as they say, preventing the spread of COVID, then the idea that EVERYONE MUST get immunized against COVID to help promote some kind of herd immunity is actually quite silly. This is because, as has been made clear, MOST people under 60, who are reasonably healthy, will not have significant issues should they contract the disease. Which means those who are vulnerable or at risk probably should get vaccinated, and everyone else should if they want. However, to claim everyone MUST take it and that it’s MANDATORY, actually seems very un-scientific to me. Whether asymptomatic people can transmit the virus and how many people are asymptomatic seems to be up for debate, as numbers range between 20%-80% of those who test positive. One thing is for sure, the vast majority of people under 60 who encounter this virus are not at risk of severe complications or death. Thus the idea that if you don’t get vaccinated you will die or the world will end makes no sense to me.

If, for whatever reason, the vaccines are not as effective as they claim, then our options are really to learn to live with this and learn to be healthier in general. We will not know, however, until this thing is rolled out and the next year is upon us. So buckle up and hold on.

While the speculation around COVID herd immunity numbers are up in the air, it should be evident by now that this may be irrelevant at this point, with most people being relatively fine; especially if COVID becomes another annual virus (being RNA-based). Normal herd immunity, by the way, for something like measles requires something like 95% of people to be immune to prevent mass outbreaks. So really, protecting the vulnerable and accepting that most people who get COVID will be just fine is probably the way to go.

Either way, I really want the fear mongering to stop.

No matter the virus what we really need is to see a greater push toward healthier living and better dietary choices, as well as more preventative medicine options in the Western medicine world.

Something I have yet to see from most major world leaders…

Testing

I’ll keep this short, but testing throughout the entire pandemic has been a source of confusion. Most governments did not do widespread testing early enough, particularly where it mattered, at points of entry. Some countries did not even do widespread testing at all, favouring instead targeted testing, and had great success (like Japan). But how testing is used, and it’s results measured, can greatly affect the perception of how bad the pandemic actually is. So it’s worth noting.

In Canada, we are using 3 types of testing: PCR, Point of Care, and Antibody tests. PCR is the most widespread, but also the most problematic and the source of many of the issues, whereas antibody tests are hardly being used at all.

The PCR test, to keep it simple, checks to see if you “have something,” as in are you sick, did you have the virus, is there any virus in there at all? Even the creator of the PCR test said it’s not a good test to get accurate numbers (he did not say it cannot test for the virus, it can). This means this test can produce false positives, meaning you may have the cold and you might test positive. Or you could have had COVID weeks ago, didn’t even know it, are fine now, not contagious, but you would still test positive. This means that it is likely, as most of the world is using PCR, that the positive rate is being presented as higher than they actually are. This is why as soon as you saw mass testing, the positive rates SPIKED dramatically in the second wave, yet the hospitalization rates, while they rose to, didn’t spike through the roof at the same rate.

Scientists and governments may prefer an artifactually high number, to make people take the situation more seriously, but, as I mentioned earlier, I prefer honesty over fear mongering. While COVID is a serious problem it should be obvious now that, either because of the widespread use of the PCR testing or politics of COVID, we will never know the real number of active COVID cases. Just like we will never know truly accurate numbers for the flu and common cold.

But, since it is a global issue, I really think they need more accurate numbers so that better policy decisions can be made. Just my two cents.

Conclusion

While I, like many people in the Krav Maga world, am very against the way governments are reacting and behaving I still support genuine science, that is to say actual reality, not what is being portrayed. NO, I do not believe COVID is as bad as it’s being presented to us; many of the problems are to do with failed policy, reactions, overreactions, etc. As I have made clear in this series, numerous governments got it right, unfortunately most did not.

But when it comes to vaccines, while there are obvious concerns even from a scientific perspective (it was produced rapidly and mistakes could have been made, it’s a new technology, it has no long term data, etc.) vaccines, on the whole, have been positive for humanity.

Personally I never get the yearly flu shot; because I am young and healthy and it’s not a big deal if I get the flu, when I am older, however, I would re-consider this stance. This is because flu and cold vaccines are very different than, say, those for measles, because of that tricky RNA thing.

So on this same logic, when it comes to the COVID vaccine, I am in no rush to get it. HOWEVER, if you are over 60 or an at risk individual, I would definitely consider getting it as soon as you can (from a little poking around I would prefer the Moderna one over the Pfizer) as you are the ones who need it. IF the vulnerable are protected the the death rate from COVID should be negligible, even if only half the population gets it. ESPECIALLY if it turns out that it is going to be an annual shot, then, logically, it will be just like the cold and flu shot; those who are at risk get it, and everyone else do what they feel is best for them. So, no, I am not for mandatory vaccination for this particular virus, it doesn’t make sense to me. If we were facing aerosolized Ebola however, I would be Kraving my way to the front of that line!…JK.

The point of this series was to give some perspective from the eyes of critical thinking. Experts, politicians and those on either side can sometimes get tunnel vision and stop thinking clearly in a broader perspective. On some issues I fall on one side of the isle, and on others the other side of the isle; this is how it should be if you are practicing proper critical thinking. To entrench yourself in the camp of LOCK DOWN, LOCKDOWN, or in the camp of HOAX, then you are not operating with any critical thinking at all.

COVID is not a hoax, it’s just really, really, really, poorly managed by our “dear leaders.” BUT given that many countries that have done well barley lockdown, like Sweden (though they admit they should have been a little more cautious), or countries like Japan didn’t do mass testing, means that perhaps the camp of LOCKDOWN also isn’t applying critical thinking.

So, I hope this series has been of help to you, either to open your eyes to one side or the other, teach you something you didn’t know, or clarify something you thought you knew, then I am glad.

Just remember, self-defence is not just physical, it is everything that comes together so that you can learn to walk in peace, be it physical, social, financial, mental, or spiritual. In these crazy times, sane voices and rational discussion with critical thinking must be our priority, lest we all go mad and fail to learn to walk in peace.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

When it comes to teaching Krav Maga, I do not think of techniques as the starting point of self-defence, but rather critical thinking. This is because critical thinking is a skill which translates into more situations, allowing a person to better walk in peace. This skill, however, can be a very difficult one to teach, as some people have developed ways of thinking and processing information that are totally devoid of critical thinking (which is a hard habit to break), while others may have never been taught to think critically, and, of course, there are those who do not even care to think at all. This is all part of the complex concept that we call the human condition.

Enter COVID-19 and 2020. This year has clearly been a trying one, for many reasons, especially when you are attempting to apply critical thinking and rationality to everything that is going on, while many of those around you simply cannot be bothered. But I remain undeterred, and I will apply some critical thinking skills to analyze the goings-on of this most interesting year as we approach the beginning of 2021. Though to what end, I am really not sure. (You can take it or leave it but it’s really up to you to apply your knowledge, skills, experience, and even trust, to make up your own mind one way or another.)

I am separating this analysis into a three part series, employing my “non-expert” knowledge and experience to break it all down a little bit. This post will be on the initial response to the pandemic, next week’s will be on masks and testing, and the following week will look at vaccines. So, love me or hate me, these posts are coming.

Preparedness (or Lack Thereof)

In case you live in a cave somewhere, COVID-19 popped up in late December of 2019 and was identified and announced in early January of 2020. (Though there are claims that the highest level of government knew earlier, I am not going down the conspiracy rabbit hole.) By March we started to see governments panicking and moving toward full closures of borders or communities in order to “flatten the curve.” Remember that “only 2 weeks, to flatten the curve” lockdown pitch? So much for that!

But let’s take a step back and talk about pandemic procedures. We should start with this; when I studied Occupational Health and Safety I learned about the field of “Emergency Preparedness.” Said field is a subfield of OHS that was so complex it grew into its own specialty, “Emergency Management Planning,” and requires extensive comprehensive training (way beyond the basics) to be proficient in it. I came across this back in 2006, and I expect it was known outside of my training experiences, so, while planning for a pandemic is a monumental task, the requirements of such a plan were on Public Health’s radar for quite some time now.

Thus I find it highly unlikely that Western governments, the UN, NATO, and other such organizations, did not have pandemic plans on paper prior to 2020. In fact, if they did not I would say this is unforgivable negligence. FYI, my understanding is they all did…

Now, with my non-expert knowledge of pandemics, and emergency preparedness planning, let me just take a stab at a basic plan:

I’ll begin by defining a pandemic:

Pandemicadjective – (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

Now, a potential plan, made my a layman:

  1. Identify a potential virus or outbreak that has the potential to become a pandemic.
  2. Start the process of doing science stuff to learn how to defeat said virus.
  3. Isolate the region in which the initial infection is located, limit travel as needed.
  4. If and when it spreads, limit travel to the region and test anyone entering or leaving the country (where realistically possible).
  5. Surrounding countries should start preparing emergency plans for hospitals.
  6. If and when it jumps to another country stop travel to said newly infected country while science is done and solutions are planned.
  7. If and when it jumps to further countries, close boarders, implement testing, and post updates on how to identify the infection. Prepare hospitals for potential influx and prep for the possibility of needing field hospitals to offer increased capacity. Start preparing emergency caches of supplies and increasing strength of the supply chain. Re-direct government finances to bolster hospitals, first responders, and infection response teams.
  8. If needed due to high death counts or EXTREME negative symptoms, limit travel inside countries/regions and make widespread, ACCURATE, testing easily available. Implement health procedures needed to decrease exposure risk in various industries. Restrict activities as needed (within reason).
  9. If outbreak worsens and death count increases, implement lockdown procedures until a better solution is sorted.
  10. When governments fail due to chaos, get your guns… (learn how to use them before you need them.)

This, of course, is just a basic idea of what might be a good strategy. If I, with limited knowledge, can come up with something (implementation is obviously more difficult and an expensive logistical nightmare) why did governments get things so wrong in the initial stages?

Well, they resisted shutting things down because at the time, the claim was limiting travel to China would be a racist action. Wait, racist? What does this have to do with a pandemic? Nothing. It’s purely political. A virus like COVID-19 doesn’t care much about race, though differences in genetics and socio-economic status do affect how a given virus will impact certain groups, but racist? Nope. (Practical? Yep.)

What would have the world looked like if governments across the globe had actually implemented the plans they had on paper, and immediately limited travel restrictions and testing rather than screaming about the appearance racism? Probably a more functional 2020. (A few nations have managed to avoid COVID)

With that being said, from what I have seen many experts assert that this virus would have spread regardless. See Alanna Shaikh‘s “TEDx” talk from 2019 (and pay attention to what else she says). Some were convinced of this virus’s inevitability to the point of basically saying “don’t bother closing boarders because it won’t make a difference.” This attitude seems very morbid and not very forward thinking, because of, and we all know this, the people factor. But, hey, an expert in pandemics is an expert in everything else; like economics, or psychology, right? Clearly coming from the perspective that the virus will spread anyway so what’s the point? The point would have been simple: Governments are slow and inefficient. Thus the more time they have to prepare the less likely they are to be overwhelmed, and the less the general public would have been punished for their incompetence.

Why do I say incompetence? Well, let’s take the widely accepted claim, from many leaders, that “no one could have seen this coming.” This is simply a giant pile of crap and a failure of our leaders and governments to take responsibility for their actions, or lack of actions in many cases. How can I make such a claim? Consider that experts they are now using to shove restrictions down our throats are the very same experts who were telling politicians, for years, that due to “climate change, massive urbanization, the proximity of humans to farm or forest animals that serve as viral reservoirs” pandemics are coming and we need to prepare.

Epidemiologist (ie. pandemic expert) Michael T. Osterholm, who was the guest The Joe Rogan Experience, episode 1439, wrote a book called the Deadliest Enemy in 2017. This was a response to the SARS and MERS outbreaks, in 2003 and 2012 respectively, the fifth and sixth coronaviruses humanity has encountered. (here is another piece talking about what we learned from that outbreak and how to prepare.) There were many other experts telling our leaders to prepare, so what happened to “listening to the experts” back then?

In this book he talks about the seriousness of pandemics and the general lack of preparedness, even going into specific details such as identifying the issue with modern medical supply chains. Yes, that’s right. The whole “don’t wear masks” at the beginning was actually a lie to ensure the medical system had priority access to PPE, rather than sound medical advice. But I will get into that in the mask post. To keep it short here, it basically means governments didn’t properly prepare. Period.

A local example: After the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, governments in Canada and Provinces spent loads of cash on PPE, etc. for first responders. Awesome right? Well, medical gear expires. So guess what happened? It expired. Unfortunately, governments generally did not replace equipment because of ignorance, cost-saving measures, and the attitude of “that’s a future government’s problem.” Enter COVID-19, and, hey, with the crappy supply chain (based in China) first responders were left for weeks or months without proper equipment (this was confirmed by sources close to me).

So, while this was a short analysis it is actually very easy to prove that the assertion “Nobody could have seen this coming” and “we couldn’t have possibly prepared for this,” is simply a lie to coverup government incompetence.

The Virus, the Politics, and the Data

Wait, Jon, did you say there was more than one coronavirus!? Yes, there are many members of the Coronaviridae family, which includes “the common cold” and several flu strains. Some are worse than others, SARS (SARS-CoV) and MERS (MERS-CoV), for example, tend to have a higher death rate, around 20-40%, but spread much slower than COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). An initial comparison of COVID-19, SARS, and influenza can be found here.

You may recall there were many at the beginning saying it was “flu like” or closely comparable to the flu. Well, it is in the same family of virus, so saying someone who repeats that is an idiot isn’t completely fair. Though COVID-19 does spread at a far more rapid pace than the common cold or flu, with significantly higher morbidity rates in elderly populations and those with co-morbidity factors, the vast majority of people, probably 80-90%, will experience mild to medium symptoms (much like a cold or flu.) It is, after all, a virus with a 95-99% survival rate, depending on age and other factors. Considering the amount of elderly who are hospitalized for the cold or flu, who then develop pneumonia and die, comparing COVID-19 to the flu, albeit a bastard cousin with a reliable, easily available vaccine, was somewhat reasonable. (Notwithstanding the fact that, in Canada at least, COVID-19 has, at the 10 month mark, taken out almost four times as many people than the seasonal flu does in 12 months [13,779 vs 3,500])

Yes, as it should be common knowledge by now, age groups 60+ are generally at a MUCH higher risk from having issues, short and long term, due to COVID-19. This isn’t really debatable, but they are still trying probably to instill fear in young people by bringing those numbers up every single time a young person dies. Yes, it can happen but that is true for most viruses or diseases. Some people, no matter their age or good health, are just screwed. Your own immune system may overreact to cause more problems than the virus itself due to a “cytokine storm.” It’s like winning the unlucky lottery that you played simply by being born. It is unfortunate, but it is what it is. Statistically, however, you are not likely to die of COVID-19 by a long shot if you are under 40, and less so between 40-60 than if you were older.

So why did they demonize this comparison? Well, again, politics. Because the system had failed they wanted to use fear to make people take it more seriously so that people would “listen to them” (ie. the government). While some politicians are legitimately trying to save lives, others may simply be incompetent; but instead of being honest and open with the science, both would rather lie, manipulate, and talk down to you.

I have read articles reporting on young people who had a terrible experience with COVID and it is often presented as “you see, young people have problems too.” But buried further down in the information is a note that “oh, they had diabetes,” “oh, they were overweight,” or “hey, they had a health issue they didn’t even know about.” Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and call that manipulative; they are encouraging fear to encourage obedience.

By the way, obesity, old age, and general poor health are some of the main factors that will lead to death if you get COVID-19. So, you know, staying healthy is a good way to keep yourself farther from death… in general… all the time. Oh, and also, vitamin D deficiency can cause complications, which many, many, many doctors have confirmed, but, you know, vitamin D is cheap, easily accessible, and does not need governments or pharmaceutical companies to be involved in a solution. I want to be clear: Vitamin D is NOT a cure, but rather can help your immune system do it’s thing so that if you do get COVID-19 you are considerably less likely to experience severe symptoms (unless you have health problems.) The link above was from Ben Greenfield’s podcast, but there have been many others talking about COVID-19 and other issues. For example on another episode with Dr.Zach Bush he discusses how those on statins or comparable drugs (for heart problems and obesity) are more likely to experience complications with COVID-19 than the average cancer patient (different meds). Weird huh?

Despite the INSANE amount of evidence about how being healthy and strengthening your immune system helps vs COVID (again, not a cure, but a solid preventative medicine against general ailments and the slowing of the inevitability of death), governments have largely only focused on the expertise of ER doctors and epidemiologists. Individuals whom are, in fact, not experts on preventative medicine. In general, Western medicine barely focuses on preventative medicine at all, aside from the generic advice of “maintain a good diet and exercise.” Considering this virus was supposed to be the death of us all… shouldn’t they want to give all reasonable, scientific advice to help people survive? I guess promoting good health and wellbeing isn’t good advice? Or, at least, not good advice with regard to money for the medical system, because, you know, people are healthier… but I digress.

Let’s go back and talk about the concept of flattening the curve. Initially, in Canada, this meant a two-week, partial lockdown, in order to slow infections and space out those that required hospitalization, to avoid being overwhelmed, and also to allow the overall system, medical and government, to make preparations. This is reasonable (although, had they prepared properly it might not have even been needed). I accepted this premise, as, if the hospitals are overwhelmed then, yes, many more would likely die. Except that many hospitals, for the most part, were never overwhelmed in the first wave (in the case of Toronto, the hospitals were filled to bursting prior to the pandemic!). Some ERs had very busy nights as can be seen in numerous articles or ER personnel venting their emotions to the media. Something I consider professionally inappropriate; these doctors should be mad at governments for failing to do their job in maintaining appropriate staffing of doctors and nurses, and providing adequate funding overall. (But, hey, it’s the public’s fault apparently.) I sympathize with frontline workers, this has sucked, but their emotional distress due to being overworked should not translate into bankrupting thousands of businesses.

So, based on frontline doctors panicking, despite the fact that most hospitals were not overwhelmed, the government’s knee-jerk reaction of two weeks turned into months. Goodbye, many other peoples livelihoods and lives! Hello, increased suicides, increased abuse, etc…the list goes on. Lockdowns were not a good idea for this virus, one with a high survival rate for the majority of the population, and yet they still justify it. Anyone saying it was a bad idea was called a “conspiracy theorist,’ yet now, months later, the data is in and it appears that more damage was done, physically, financially, and emotionally by lockdowns than the potential deaths that would have occurred had we stayed open with some restrictions. But hey, now some places are still doing lockdowns. So much for data and science driven decisions.

Infection rate vs hospitalization rate vs death rate. The confusion between these points when presenting data, and manipulation of its presentation, is how they keep you down. But Since I have already gone on enough, I ll expand on this in another post, probably the mask one..

Appeal to Authority

Since “experts” aren’t avoidable let’s talk about them.

“Trust me, I am an expert” is a statement you should always be very skeptical of. Unless those words are combined with the specialized knowledge, valid credentials, or sufficient experience that make someone an expert, quite often they are not as expert as they think. Assuming someone is an expert in everything just because they have some letters after there name isn’t as safe as one would think. It is also important to understand that some of those letters may have been “earned” doing research that is not repeatable, yet they get a pat on the back for it. This is not to say that there are not legitimate experts to be found in every field, because there are. Unfortunately in our society people who want attention get it, leaving those who may be far more qualified to speak on a topic toiling in some poorly funded lab somewhere, all because they won’t step into the spotlight or refuse to play the game of politics.

Another consideration it that experts and scientists are STILL HUMAN! Period. Meaning they are fallible and prone to error, ego, and chasing the funding. Some may even have their intentions corrupted by attention seeking. They are not the god-like, invaluable individuals the media (or they themselves) would have you believe. Also, whose experts? Because I can find an expert in anything to say anything on anything, because, you know, hoomons.

So, who should you trust? The experts saying “keep locking things down” or the experts saying “lockdowns serve no purpose.” Many politicians will listen to whoever they think makes them popular, rather than the actual science and data. This often includes politicians who say the words “science” and “data” repeatedly without actually understanding anything they are talking about. Don’t accuse others of being populist when you are doing the same thing. Anyway.

I do listen to experts who make valid, well-thought-out arguments, based on research and data that has been thoroughly worked through. We should listen when a reasonable argument is made. However, you must always apply critical thinking to what you hear, watch, and read, and know when you are being misled.

Sometimes experts, intentionally or unintentionally, assume you are too stupid to understand so they leave details out. One such example is another “hot mic” incident where the truth comes out when “top Ontario doctors” got caught saying (perhaps jokingly) “I just say whatever they write down for me.” Regardless of intent, this is not a great approach, especially when they go on to express anger at the average person being very scientifically illiterate (which I agree with). They just treat you as such rather than attempting to properly educate you with simple, well-thought-out arguments that are actually backed by clean, unbiased data; the so-called “democratizing of science” (ie. making it accessible and considerate of common people.)

I like experts who don’t like to give black & white answers because answers with nuance are more likely to be true. A working theory isn’t 100% fact yet, so saying things definitively is not always correct. However, they are advising politicians and politicians need to make decisions that are usually based on minimal evidence, because they need to know now. Sorry, science doesn’t work like that, and cherry picking experts to make you look good is unscientific and unethical.

Here’s the other thing with experts; they may in fact be an expert in their field, but when it comes to decisions that affect everyone you should also consult experts in other fields. For example, seek out information from those who know about economics, psychology, etc., in order to get a fuller picture of consequences and knock-on effects. Essentially, experts in other fields were ignored with regard to lockdown policies… because it probably made the decisions too hard.

You should listen to experts when their arguments are well-made, have significant evidence to back them up, are informed by more than just their own study, and include consideration for other areas that may be affected by their advice or decisions. Being too specialized means are very good at what you do, but you sacrifice the ability to give sound advice beyond a specific scope of knowledge.

In defence of scientific experts on COVID-19, I would say that many of the “spokespeople” are acting more like politicians than they are scientists, which is not the appropriate way to deal with major issues. I am sure more of the behind-the-scenes types would be better choices if they stood up and voiced their knowledge and concerns more publicly.

So before you listen to the government appointed person because they are an “expert” or have Dr. in front of their name, ask yourself “am I actually being given the entire, factually accurate truth, or am I being selectively told things to get a desired result?” (A very, VERY, unscientific methodology by the way.)

Conclusion

This is, of course, a only a small portion of the things I could say regarding COVID-19 and critical thinking in general, but I am not writing a book here. My goal is to encourage you to think for yourself and ask “are the things I am being told based in reality or just because it’s easier for those making the decisions at the top?”

While it is easy to say “it’s all about saving lives,” which is an emotional appeal (appeals to emotion should make your Spidey-sense tingle), the reality is that, while some may believe their own intentions are genuine, it has clearly been spun into a complicated web of politics and control.

I despise when people believe what they are told outright, because this shows a complete lack of critical thinking. It also saddens me to see how powerful “groupthink” can be when people perceive their own safety to be at risk.

I do plan on addressing the issues of masks and vaccines as a layman, and, as an outright statement, I am not against either of these things. I will, however, as always, apply critical thinking on these two topics.

I hope I have given you something to think about, so that you can learn to critically think and live your life freely while also considering others.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

Well rounded fighters incorporate aspects of multiple styles. (DC Comics: source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

People often talk about styles and say, “Krav Maga is just Krav Maga and has its limits.” This is not strictly true, as, originally, it was based on boxing, wrestling, and being generally fit. Right there, in it’s foundation, the potential for multiple styles is evident. Not to mention that, if your school is being honest, it will ensure that it has instructors whom are capable of teaching multiple styles. You should be learning aspects of boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, submissions grappling, and judo, as well as police, military, and security applications. A good Krav Maga school is actually making you a jack-of-all-trades, ranging from okay to good in any and all of these styles so that you are better prepared to deal with any and all attacks. Of course, all these styles also need to be taught in a way that maintains a common conceptual thread and incorporates basic Krav Maga principles. Which means how solid your Krav Maga is really depends on the design of your curriculum and the character of your instructors.

So let’s discuss.

Krav Maga is primarily known as a “stand up” style, targeting anything that is effective with minimal effort, which includes strikes that are normally considered illegal when there is a given rule set (eg. in sport). It’s this disdain for rules, which limit the chance of success, combined with strategy and aggression, that has made Krav Maga so effective.

Still, a lot of people do not know about Krav Maga or only see it as a pure self-defence system. Which it is, but contained within it are many secrets. You will actually be learning boxing, kickboxing, judo, wrestling, and anything in between that adds to the style or fills gaps. This is because you must be prepared for any given situation, and that requires skills and abilities found across various styles.

A good thing to remember is that, while a Kravist will usually have a specialty (eg. I am a much better grappler than striker), you must be a generalist, overall, to be able to deal with the most situations most of the time.

Something to be aware of is that which style you will learn more of, and when, will largely depend on your instructor and the curriculum you are learning from. Traditionally, or in the last 30-40 years anyway, most Kravists are boxing or kickboxing specialists, but when it comes to the ground they are often fish-out-of-water. That is because the philosophy of “stay off the ground!” has been drilled into us, and consequently many choose not to develop those skills. But with the global rise of grappling sports, from a self-defence perspective, ground fighting skills are now essential. You just need to remember to apply the Krav Maga mindset and strategies when teaching groundwork. If you are an instructor with no grappling or wrestling skills then you should hire someone else to teach it.

The same geos if you have a traditional grappling background and are not that great at striking; though Krav Maga punches and kicks are fairly straightforward and can be learned fairly quickly compared to many other styles with fancier ways or more specialized ways of doing things. However, remember the Krav Maga principles; if it takes too long to learn or master then it really should not be taught in Krav Maga at all.

Perspective students often ask, “should I do Krav Maga or boxing or grappling?” To which I respond, “what is your goal?”

This is an important question to think about. If they just want to get a sweat on, Krav Maga may not be for them. If they want to be competitive in a sport setting, then it also may not be for them. But, if their primary concern is general self-defence, and they want to learn a little bit of everything, then Krav Maga is definitely for them.

If you have limited time and can only train one system, then a good Krav Maga program will teach you that little bit of everything. You will even learn to understand and wield weapons (modern ones, no sword and three-section staff), though this should be reserved for the higher levels. If you only want to learn boxing, then weapons will never factor in. Or if you don’t like striking styles, leaning toward grappling instead, then know that while one-on-one grappling can dominate a fight, but in the grander scheme it is not always an option.

At UTKM, while you will start with striking and stand up, you quickly work your way to learning Judo, Wrestling, and some BJJ components, along with proper, controlled takedowns that are more applicable for security or law enforcement scenarios; due to the intensity and psychological differences that occur in the real world, the world outside of the ring. Continue long enough and you will learn pistol, shotgun, and rifle skills, as well as the basics for working in teams to take down any assailant.

This is because in a self-defence system you should learn the basics of everything to deal with any possible self-defence scenario, no matter how unlikely. While you probably won’t be the level of a Special Forces operator or John Wick, you will be far better trained physically, mentally, and technically then the average citizen, and in most cases far more capable than the would-be assailant who just bit off more than they could chew.

So, just because the system is called by one name, Krav Maga, it doesn’t make it one specific style. The system is about being prepared for anything, and this means learning a little bit of everything; to be well rounded, to be ready, so that you too may walk in peace, knowing that you are prepared for what the future may hold for you.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

Unfortunately, defending yourself from an attacker requires more than one punch. (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

If you believed the previous myth then you may also believe this one, as they are fairly connected. It too is simply bullshit. Yes, Krav maga is brutal, but the reality is if you understand HOW to train your nervous system, and you understand Krav Maga concepts and strategies from a “principles first” point of view, then all you really need to know is that you CAN flip that switch and apply it in a lethal form if needed.

Obviously, if it was so harsh that you could train consistently or for a long time, then the training isn’t very good at all. The “hardcore” mentality is an “old School” mentality and is misguided if you expect longevity in your training path. Additionally, not everyone is capable of going hard all the time, not to mention that we want to avoid injuries in order to stay training and live a good life. If we actually trained at 100% all the time, the bodies would hit the floor and we would be violating a (rather sensible) Krav Maga principle; avoid injuries.

It’s not about training hard for lethality, it’s about training smart to get the results we need. If you came to class to “kill” there’s a good chance you won’t last; either someone will put you in your place or you will be kicked out.

So, let’s discuss.

Whenever I hear about this myth one of my favorite Israeli sayings comes to mind:

אַתָה חָי בְּסֶרֶט

Which says, “Ata Chai be Ceret” or “Are you living in a movie?” (in the masculine) While this phrase actually translates quite well into English it still doesn’t have the same impact as it does in Hebrew. In English you could say “You are crazy,” “You are delusional,” “You are living in a fantasy,” etc…

The logical fallacy of this myth is easy to point out: If everyone who ever trained Krav Maga did so in a lethal fashion, everyone would be dead and no one would actually be training it!

Or, if the process of training it was too lethal then the Israeli Army, the IDF, would not have been around to defend anyone. A great general (or even a good one) would be wiser than to kill off his best warriors in training.

This logic is fairly simple, yet some people still live in a fantasy land or spend too much time perusing the depths of the Internet (like random Reddit sub forums, a place I never really understood).

Yes, Krav Maga is a style deeply rooted in life-or-death situations and it trains for potential deadly encounters. This however, is true for any martial art that started with self-defence or practical combat in mind. (At least, it should be, otherwise what is the point?) Thus it is a relatively safe assumption that all styles started as violence-vs-danger. Krav Maga, being more modern, has yet to fall prey to the current trend to water down a system for sporting and marketing purposes.

The need to defend oneself physically has been around since we, as humans, realized there were threats all around us. Once we became self-aware we needed more than simple nervous system responses to protect us, in particular from other humans. This is why self-defence systems, martial arts styles, and combat tactics were developed globally. They were all rooted in the need to better defend oneself in order to survive. Which means all styles started with some degree of lethality in mind, then peaceful times and sport aspirations asserted their influence.

There are many styles that are comparable to Krav Maga, where it’s simply of matter of taking out the flashy elements and ensuring that the fundamentals are (reasonably) easy to learn and apply on a consistent basis, for most people, most of the time, in most situations, with more variables allowed for than the average style.

Additionally, Krav Maga’s “lethality” comes from the training methodology, developed under duress, to allow people to train safely and be able to function under duress. We don’t train to “fight,” we train to defend ourselves, but we still need to be able to spar, and survive sparring, in order to understand how fights move, flow, and how to stay calm and react. Perhaps the notion of “lethality” here could be replaced by “efficacy.”

A system or style that, for most people, only works in the dojo or competition isn’t very practical on the street or in combat. Krav Maga remained effective for practical applications as “practical applications” came up a lot for Jews before, during, and after WWII.

However, don’t think for a second that any martial art style cannot be lethal, as it is not the system that is lethal but the person and their intentions. In the ring an MMA fighter is most likely going to beat the average Kravist, as the two train for different purposes. Plus MMA fighters certainly have the skills to be lethal on the street if they need to. Humans, after all, are just bags of water, flesh, and bone, and lots of things can kill us.

The only real difference is Krav Maga’s simplicity and ability to deal with a wide variety of situations quickly, including modern weapons and tactics. Which is bolstered by the training style, focusing on training the nervous system for the inevitable stress of a mugger, assault situation, or other life-or-death altercation. Just ask anyone who has fought in combat and fought in the ring: There is a difference.

That being said, if you find yourself training Krav Maga at a school where it feels like actual life-or-death training, and you are fearful of getting your head kicked in regularly, then your instructor is either an idiot or an asshole and knows nothing about proper Krav Maga.

So, is Krav Maga too deadly to train properly? Ata Chai be Ceret!

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

Mr. Miyagi employed novel methods to teach karate to an impatient a teenager in the ’80s. (“The Karate Kid”, Columbia Pictures, 1984)
Krav Maga Myths and Misconceptions – “It Should Be Taught As It Was By Its Creators” Audio by Jonathan Fader

Many organizations and individuals still take a “traditional martial arts” approach to Krav Maga. They say, “this is how I was taught by the Master so-and-so, thus I should I teach it to my students this way as well.” This is patently wrong and actually goes against some basic principles of Krav Maga. That is, if it doesn’t work, don’t use it! Inherently, by the fact that the times change (and so do people), attacks will change, tools will change, and knowledge will change, so too must the techniques and strategies change.

I have met individuals from various organizations and countries whom are training Krav Maga as it was taught 30 years ago, and they told me “only this is Krav Maga.” I suspect many of these instructors have lost their connection to those at the forefront of Krav Maga. Or they have simply been tricked by their own ego.

Just like with the principle of “Situational Awareness,” instructors must look at their system and their methods, then assess, assess, and assess. Further to that point, as a student you must know that, periodically, techniques may (and should) change. This might come in the form of additions or subtractions in the curriculum, modification to the way techniques are executed, or new approaches to how techniques and principles are taught.

Let’s expand on this.

One thing to remember is that, at its core, Krav Maga is, and should be, principle-based rather than technique-based.

Some of the original principles of Krav Maga were:

Do you see a specific technique listed here? The answer is, No. These principles are mostly about strategy or the application of techniques, not specific ways of doing. These principles were developed based on logic, biomechanics, and the philosophies of Imi and other Krav Maga pioneers. Since their original inception, however, if a technique or principle doesn’t work in most scenarios, the norms of what is acceptable in society have changed, or we discover a more effective idea, we rethink, re-assess, and make changes. The principles are core to the system, but they too are not set in stone.

What this means is that there is quite a lot of interpretation regarding what is the best technique or approach… and this is where the trouble starts. In many ways it’s about credibility and ego. That is, an instructor or organization doesn’t want their students to know that their current curriculum may not be as up-to-date or as effective as the instructors claim it is.

Fact: Common attacks will vary from place to place and time to time, therefore requiring adaptation of techniques and approaches.

Fiction: What worked 20 years ago will work now (at least as a 100% hard statement)

This means that, over time, things will change and refine to maximize efficiency for the most people. For the MOST people! Krav Maga tries to leverage natural reactions and movements wherever possible, but some people, unfortunately, will always need to put in more training and practice to gain efficiency, no matter the technique (bodies, abilities, temperaments are different).

Occasionally I will have students who come from a school or organization that was teaching Krav Maga as it was 30 years ago. Their techniques often fall apart under stress testing, which says a lot. Their “instructors” may have been, unwittingly or not, conning them.

Now, with that being said, there actually shouldn’t be TOO much variation in the solutions for specific attacks, for a simple reason: We have a head, a groin, two arms and legs, that really hasn’t changed much over time. Thus techniques and approaches from place to place should actually look reasonably similar, so long as they follow the core principles. If they don’t look even close to other Krav Maga schools it’s probably not Krav Maga; be that due to the teachings being outdated or infused with too much “other stuff.”

In the Krav Maga community, much like in other styles, there is… politics. So, if you only ever train with one organization and it never exchanges ideas with outsiders, change is unlikely. Which means it is unfortunately likely that you are not being taught the best options in the wider Krav Maga knowledge base.

I personally started my Krav Maga journey with one of the major organizations. While they have updated their curriculum a little over time, I found myself thinking their arsenal of techniques was somewhat bloated and not exactly up-to-date. As I explored various other organizations I realized that some schools had developed better solutions for one problem and others for another problem. As a result the UTKM curriculum has changed over the years, as I get more information and training myself, and as we stress test techniques with a variety of students.

Occasionally I will see students struggling with one technique consistently. Sometimes I can solve the problem myself, but on some occasions I need some input from outside sources; maybe that is from another organization, maybe it’s from another style of self-defence or another martial arts system.

As long as the techniques fit in smoothly with the other techniques and follow the core principles then it will work. However, what I will never do is add a random technique for its own sake.

All these changes can be annoying, I know. Very annoying. Trust me, I know! Sometimes I even have students complaining that they have to learn something new. But, guess what, that’s Krav Maga!

So, regardless of the technique (though there are garbage ones out there), the reality is that the obsession with lineage and “this is how it was then,” really isn’t the Krav Maga way. The goal is efficiency, to stop the threat, and that means changing and adapting. With that in mind, if you are still doing it the way it was “in the old days,” then don’t be surprised if your techniques quickly fall apart under duress (Especially if the training was “easy” the whole time).

Ego has no place in developing Krav Maga, yet, as it involves humans, it will unfortunately always find its way in. As an educated student or instructor it is up to you to constantly remind yourself that well-thought-out and well-planned change is, in fact, the way.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com