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Are you a good training partner?


Are you the guy that as soon as the instructor says pair up everyone looks at hoping you will train with them or are you the guy the people avoid making eye contact with until everyone else has pared up and you get a reluctant partner. So, what makes a good training partner? Here is a list of what I find to be some of the most important points.

Turning Up


In my experience training martial arts as well as working with teams of people in the construction and hospitality industries first and foremost the thing that makes a good partner in any situation is turning up; not just being there, but being mentally focused and physically active. Especially in martial arts, where someone not paying attention can mean injuries, you need to be focused on the task at hand, knowing what both you and your partner are expected to do and executing those duties with enthusiasm and commitment. No one wants to train with the guy who is constantly asking what they are supposed to be doing or just lacks physical commitment to the training; whether that means holding pads or playing an aggressor.

Listening to the Instructors


Secondly, once you have turned up pay attention to your instructor and listen to instructions! There is nothing worse than performing a combination or series of techniques and your partner isn’t where they are supposed to be or isn’t reacting appropriately. I experienced this recently, while practicing getting up from the ground as an aggressive attacker approaches you. The drill goes like this: the attacker pushes the defender with a kick shield, the defender falls to the ground and performs a break fall, the attacker then walks towards the defender, the defender stabilizes themselves and kicks at the attackers knees (of course protected by the kick shield), keeping them at distance, and then gets up, facing the attacker in a fighting stance. My situation was that my partner pushed me with the kick shield, but, as I performed my break fall, stood 4 feet away from me and didn’t move in. So it was impossible for me to complete the technique because my partner was a) in the wrong place and b) standing static not moving forward; all because they didn’t listen to the explanation of the drill by the instructor.

Pad Holding


There is somewhat of an art to holding pads well, and it does take a little time to learn, but there are some basics that you need to grasp; not just to give the best experience to your partner, but also to avoid injuries (yours or theirs).

The two main types of pads we use are focus mitts and kick shields, so I will limit my discussion to these. When using focus mitts, the mitt itself typically represents your opponent’s head, but in some cases their body or groin. With that in mind, hold them in a position that corresponds to those body parts. For example, if your training a jab/cross (1,2) punch combination keep the pads at your head height, and close to where your head would be (though not right in front of your face, as you risk a blow to your face with the back of the pad.) Avoid holding them more than shoulder width apart, as this is not a realistic target for your partner and is a good way to injure you own shoulder. As the strike connects with the mitt treat it like catching a ball; you want to add a little forward force so there is resistance for the person punching, which helps them to avoid hyperextending their elbow.

Kick shields, as the name implies, are typically used for striking with legs and feet. The key with this type of pad is to hold it tight and close to your body. People have a tendency to try holding this type of pad off their body, assuming that the shield will absorb all the force, but what really happens is the shield is slammed back against your body. This also allows for a lot of movement in the shield and often results is your partner’s kicking foot sliding off at an unexpected angle; possibly hitting you and/or causing a ankle or knee injury to your partner.

Providing a Realistic Attack


Providing a realistic attack is another key to being a good partner. If you are training to block a punch to the head I’m not suggesting you try and knock your partner out, but if they do nothing, or offer a weak block, you should make light contact with their chin, nose, or cheek bone (depending on where you were aiming). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve faced punches that were falling short (by several inches) or landing way out to either side of my head. This is obviously not a realistic attack. As a result I have to perform a different movement to “defend” the attack, and this isn’t the muscle memory I want to train. Similarly, if you are putting chokes or holds onto your partner use enough force that they have to fight to get out of it. If you offer no resistance to the defense they are training they will be stuck wondering why its not working, and probably really shocked at how it feels, if it ever happens in real life.

Watch Your Distance


Everyone’s range is different, and all of your natural weapons (legs, elbows, kicks, knees, punches, headbutts, etc.) have different ranges. You need to match your range to the range of your partner and what they need for the weapons they are using. So, if you are working with someone much taller or shorter than you, don’t stand where your range is, stand at, or hold the pads at, their range; so they can correctly train the strikes they are practicing. It is also important to maintain this range when we train in a dynamic mode; if your partner moves in, move back to match, if they move back, move in to match.

Watch Your Power


Power control is one of our most important training concepts, especially when sparring but also when working with pads or holds and grappling. Often, rules set out a 10-15% power limit, but, if you are much larger or stronger than your partner, remember that your 15% is likely more than theirs. So, try to let your partner set the power level if they are smaller or less experienced. Likewise, if you are using pads and unload on a kick shield held by someone 40lb smaller than you, you will probably send them flying across the room.

Final Thoughts

I will elaborate further on each of these points in subsequent blog posts, but the basics are here. If you want to be a good training partner, and always have people happy and wanting to train with you; turn up, listen to your instructors, hold your pads wisely, provide realistic attacks, watch your distance, and watch your power.

And please, for anyone that trains with me, please call me out if I’m not being a good training partner. I promise I won’t take it personally.

Written by: Evan J

UTKM: Yellow Belt

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Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

For many of you reading, you may have never heard of this once famous poem. For others, you may remember it from the movie based on the comic books v for vendetta. Some of you will even know it’s origin. 

Guy Fawkes the once infamous traitor of the British Empire attempted to blow up Parliament in 1605 using about 2.5 tonnes of gun powder. For a time this was something worth remembering. Yet as times change it is fading into the memory of the past. For most of the world, this evil plot in British history is not very relevant, so forgetting it might not seem like a big deal. But what about events which not only affected the whole world but also changed it forever. Are these things worth forgetting too? 

lest-we-forget.pngYesterday was remembrance day and I ask did you remember or did you already forget. I worry that with each passing year and each additional death of the Veterans of the great wars (WWI & WW2) of the 20th century so to will the remembrance of November 11th. 

Recently a British Instagram star named Freddie Bently on the show Good Morning Britain said that he felt we no longer needed to learn about world war II because it might be too traumatic one such quote is as follows “I totally get that, but I don’t think it need to be put in such a way to young children mentally, to their mental health, that “‘this many people died for you,’” he said. “My God, it’s so intense.” He is basically inferring the new generation cannot handle or learn about the harsh realities of the past. The past which we often learn from to grow is more important now than ever yet so many are finding it to easy to forget.

How easy it is it seems for generations once, twice removed are now not only forgetting the reason from remembrance but want to erase it from the history books because it bothers them. With each new mind pushing in this direction because of progressivism the closer we may be to repeating the mistakes of old.

This same remembrance weekend I was away out of cell reception, and when I came back I found out that the news of the day was the hockey broadcasting legend Don Cherry had been fired for making racist remarks. Don, by the way, is a much older individual and has on occasion said things that even I think were pushing the line. But when I found out what he was fired for and why I was shocked. He said when referring to immigrants “You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,”

Heres the thing, while remembrance days or variations of it are western in nature the World Wars were global in nature including both the west, Asia and Africa. This includes many of the countries that immigrants to Canada often come from. As I Canadian and as I have written about in the past I have noticed fewer and fewer people wear poppies. It could be because there are more immigrants who don’t care because “it’s not their history” or because the younger generation doesn’t care about the past at all for reasons I cannot quite fathom. But what he said was in my opinion far from offensive. He is simply pointing out that immigrants don’t seem to care much about the culture of the country they are in. And while this does not apply to all immigrants of course, in my own personal observations as well as conversations I would say it does apply to many of them.

For those of you who have forgotten, or choose to ignore the realities of the past here is a video explaining it in more detail:

There are many more examples in the west, and Canada of the clear sign that the newer Canadians of all types are willingly choosing to forget or not learn the past, to ignore it and belittle it.

Remembrance day is the reminder of what great sorrow can happen when we let things get far out of hand. Yet modern politics and progressivism now use  Nazism and fascism (or their idea of it), the only thing most people seem to remember about WW2 as a means to scare those who would not agree. Yet they do not even understand what they shout when they scream nazi or fascist others that it is something bad. They probably don’t even know that Nazi’s and Fascism were not even part of the first World War but who knows what else such people believe. The same people who do this have forgotten the difference between the world-changing nature of the 2 great wars. Wars the were fought for the right reasons and confuse them with the wars of today which might seem like pointless wars indeed. Yet we must remember the sacrifices, the history, and the tragic losses. It is not about embracing war but about the tragedy associated with it, Should this not be in line with progressive ideology? or perhaps this ideology is simply about being as loud and obnoxious as possible rather than being about anything meaningful.

Without remembrance, we will only ever fade into the darkness without a light to guide. Without remembrance, we don’t comprehend how that light has created the path for the progress and positive lives we now live thanks to those wars.

Freddy Bentley and those who caved to online pressure to fire Mr. Cherry should be ashamed and we should all be saddened by the newest generations’ call to forget the past. For a war of such magnitude would be disastrous if the newer generation were ever forced to fight against evil. For those who have forgotten may have lost the strength of old needed to stand up and fight if true evil should ever rear it’s head again.

So I ask that you remember, remember the death, remember the suffering, remember the torture that it took for us to live in the wonderful world we live it. For it is through this remembrance we can strive to be better. Without it, the light that was found in the dark will be extinguished forever and we will once again wonder blind stumbling in the dark. 

So I say never again, I will always remember and so should you.

number one bullshit

You started Krav Maga, or a generic self-defense program. perhaps another martial arts style offering self-defense classes. Often they say it is subjective but really it’s easy to determine if a technique is on the better end of the spectrum or the less effective end.

Of course, it should be mentioned that everyone says they are the best or what they are teaching is the best because of well Ego and other factors. If this sounds familiar just know you can objectively determine if a technique is a general good or not and if it works for you in general or not.

This is a topic that can be found all over the internet, entire Instagram accounts are dedicated to asking if a technique is objectively realistic or not. Discounting the standard internet trolls and those who cannot ever be please there is a general consensus of good and bad techniques.

Recently I watched a video posted by a local Krav Maga school, that belongs to a considerably reputable organization. By all accounts, the instructor is quite legitimate with a military background and extensive martial arts training. Yet when I saw the video of the technique being posted I couldn’t believe my eyes at the ridiculous nature of the technique. I felt bad for the students for they were clearly being sold a false sense of security by someone seemingly legitimate. I don’t know if this technique was standard for the organization or just the instructor but I was shocked.

(I will not re-post it so as not to draw attention to that school or instructor or organization so you will just have to use your imagination.) I will, however, post this youtube video of similarly bad stuff.

The technique involves one person being held back by their wrists, while someone else choked them from the front. The technique involved the defended rotating their head out of the choke and then spinning into the person behind or something like that. I may have burned it from my memory slightly.

First off, if someone is holding you from behind the most likely scenario is that they will be beating you, not choking you. but hey never say never so I guess I can let that part slide. The issue is that objectively there was zero resistance from the attackers nor were they being aggressive. Additionally, the attackers were not much bigger than the defender. had even one of the attackers been aggressive with resistance there is not a chance in hell that technique would work 9 times out of 10. But hey never say never I guess. Still a shit technique and delusional but oh well.

If that was me in that scenario I would stick to principles of keeping it simple, be aggressive and use your most effective tools. Largely kicks, head buts and aggression.

Of course, I always ask my students in scenarios like that. HOW THE FUCK DID YOU GET THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! You clearly failed to pay attention, practice avoidance or strike pre-emtively. Unless you are living in Mexico in some perpetual war against the cartel such scenarios are not as common as people would make you think. Either way several poor life choices happened in order to get into such a situation.

This begs the question of how as an uninformed student or potential student objectively asses a good technique. Here are some things to consider, this is not an exhaustive list just some ideas.

bell-curve

Most people are in the middle, whether we want to accept it or not. Thus this is what techniques and training should be aimed at. Working 80% of the time for 80% of the people.

  1. Will the technique work 80% of the time for 80% of the people most of the time? First, one thing that needs to be established is no one technique is 100% foolproof for everyone at every time. Different body times, capabilities and other factors always play in so nothing is 100% that is why aggression training is so important. I like to apply the bell curve model. There are 10% of people who probably should just avoid physical conflict and it won’t matter what technique they use. there is another 10% of people who are so athletically gifted they can rely on that alone much of the time. Meaning that we need to teach to the majority. So if a technique works for most students, most of the time with no pressure and with pressure then it is a better technique than others.
  2. Is the technique relatively easy to perform for the majority of people after a short amount of time? This does not mean master but means can it be done regularly and reasonably well within a few hours of practice. One way to know is if it relies on gross motor movement rather than fine motor movement. Take joint locks. Mechanically sound techniques that take a fair amount of training and skill to pull of much of the time even against mildly resisting opponents. A groin kick, for example, is very easy to learn and will work most of the time. After learning it, its simply a matter of practice to train your nervous system to perform it well under duress. If a technique is hard to pull off under duress or takes a long time to learn well then for basic self-defense purposes it is probably not a good technique.
  3. Will the technique work against someone bigger and stronger than you or work in with a set of other fluid techniques to overcome the size and strength advantage. First, I would like to point out there is a point where someone may be too big and strong to use the technique thus you must fall back on aggression and the will to survive because nothing is 100%. Going back to the joint locks, let’s say a wrist lock. On average if a person is much stronger and resisting it is a very difficult technique to pull off. Contrary a groin kick works 9 out of 10 times at least to cause a major disruption in the attacker for most people.
  4. Are you able to eventually get it to work on it’s own or in a sequence of moves under duress? If you never train the techniques with resistant then you are probably not training good Krav Maga or self-defense. Hitting pads is one thing trying the technique against different sized and strength people is another. So get practicing or go to another school if this isn’t happening. You may quickly find out which techniques work more and which work less.
  5. If and when the technique fails, are you able to fill in the blanks to survive? This is arguably the most important thing. As techniques don’t work all the time no matter how good they are the real key is you knowing what to do when failure occurs. If you are regularly and consistently unable to adapt, you are either not training hard enough or not training properly. This is sometimes a school thing, sometimes an instructor thing and sometimes a you thing. So figure out which it is and make the changes!

The last thing, the ego can be a hard thing to deal with. Especially when as instructors we like to teach the best thing and after all, we are here to help. Except if you never challenge your techniques or make changes accordingly you are only doing your students a disservice. I can say over the years I have probably changed the UTKM curriculum 4 or 5 times to work for the majority of students or fill in technical or training blanks. If you are only ever teaching the same thing that your instructor taught you, you must objectively asses are really doing the right thing or are you just selling a false sense of reality to your students.

If you are a student and love your school ask your self why are you there. If you are there because you like the community then by all means stay. But if you are there to learn to defend your self ask your self, are you really, objectively learning it or just being sold snake oil.

What is Krav Maga to you?

Posted: October 16, 2019 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga in General, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

A little while ago on the Joe Rogan Podcast, he did a wonderful thing. He further legitimized Krav Maga. He also brought up a great point. That Krav Maga will vary from place to place depending on the background of the instructor. Some focusing on kickboxing or boxing more. Some on wrestling or general grappling more. This is a good thing and this is a bad thing.

It means that yes, Krav Maga is Legitimate, but it really depends on whos teaching because it really can vary from place to place and organization to organization. There are many different philosophies, both in teaching and curriculum in the Krav Maga world. To the uninitiated, it is all the same but in many ways, it is not. This has lead to confusion for the average person as they have often decided what Krav Maga is before even attending a school or looking for one that suits them.

Sometimes, potential students come in and have come in with these pre-determined ideas. Some come in looking to get a good sweat in thinking it will be all action and no talk. Others come in thinking it’s going to be the most intense thing they have ever done, every time. Some come in expecting general self-defense and find it is to many contacts and too hard. It’s not entirely their fault as it can be difficult to do accurately research it online, and often many in the industry put a massive bias on what they think it should be. What we would put on them, is the idea that they have come in with expectations, or rather their cup is full. Thus preventing them from gaining the skills or knowledge they thought they saught out.

What is Krav Maga?

So what is Krav Maga to us? First and for most, Krav Maga is the Israeli approach to Self defense that when done correctly has proven its self to be very effective for the street.

No matter there are a few things that definitively makes Krav Maga:

  1. It should be simple and easy to learn (It will still take a lifetime to master)
  2. It should teach you above all else to be situationally aware and use critical thinking first for all self-defense scenarios (Without this, techniques and aggression may be useless if you don’t know how to use it.)
  3. It should use Aggression when techniques fail (Which they will)
  4. It should choose the most effective techniques for the majority of people the majority of the time (There is no one size fits all but majority is good enough)
  5. Techniques and strategies should change or be abandon as things change and are shown to be ineffective)
  6. It should not be a fitness class but should push you mentally and physically at least part of the time.
  7. It should focus on avoiding the ground, but teach you how to deal with it should you require it.

These are just some basic core ideas (for more see our Self Defense and Krav Maga Principles here) but are ones that are very universal in the Krav Maga world.

Types of Schools

There are many types of schools out there and no matter what our opinion of them you should find one that suits your needs and wants because something is better than nothing. Just remember, you may not be getting the best version or the most complete version of Krav Maga.

  • Military oriented – Often this is what people think of when they think of Krav Maga because this is often what is all over youtube. Hardcore, BOOT CAMP style works out just like in the military. Yes, Krav started in the Military and is used by the military but here’s the thing. Military application is different than civilians. For one, their primary weapon is often firearms and hand to hand combat is their last resort. For civilians, it is their first. These schools are awesome at building mental and physical toughness and grit which is a component of Krav Maga. But they often fail to develop good technique as they rely far too much on aggression. They are also often run by individuals who fail to understand that in the military you are working with physically capable individuals, while the average civilian may need to build their way up. While crazy often beats big, in the modern world there are cameras, courts, and judges in the eyes of the public. Good clean technique will be the difference between obvious self-defense and an assault charge.
  • Martial Arts oriented – These schools are started by individuals who have often spent years in a particular martial arts style. They then learn Krav Maga sometimes extensively and sometimes just a little. While traditional martial artists can do a phenomenal job running a Krav School often run them to much like a traditional style and fail to understand the fundamentals of Krav Maga. They may have a great technique in their students but often fail to develop their aggression and ability to function under duress. Krav Maga traditionally is not a martial art it is a self-defense system. Don’t get me wrong there are many great aspects of traditional martial arts that do well in Krav maga such as respect, discipline, Drilling and body conditioning. But there is often a lack of full-contact sparring or pressure drills which makes these no different than a regular martial arts school that fails to understand the difference between dojo and street. They also struggle to understand police or military application unless they are also in those fields.
  • Fitness Oriented – These schools often know how to market. A lot of people want to take self-defense to feel good about themselves. Which is a great thing and we are all for it. The thing is if all you ever do is hit pads and get a good sweat on then you may not actually be learning krav maga but rather something closer to the fad of tae bo. I have worked with students from these schools from time to time and very rarely have they sparred or actually been pushed mentally beyond their comfort zones. While you can certainly get in shape doing krav maga and you will, if that is the selling point of a school then it is a fitness class with a self-defense spin and nothing more.
  • Hybrid – In a modern world, this is what a good school should look like. A mix of developing people like a traditional martial arts school but while keeping to the principles and ideologies of Krav Maga. There should be a mix of explanation, and hard practice. Aggression training and theory. It should, like the originators of Krav Maga intended to adapt, change and be flexible teaching all aspects of Self Defense like MMA but with a street orientation. It should also include weapons training at an appropriate level as required for self-defense.

Ranking in Krav Maga

Ranking in a Krav Maga is often a highly contested area of Krav Maga. Some argue it is needed for developmental reasons, others argue there is no belts in the street so it shouldn’t matter. Some even choose to abandon belts and use a patch system but still have ranked. Either way, these are the three general types of ranking in Krav Maga. Either way, a concept that is hard for some to understand is that a belt or rank does not equal skill and is merely a measurement of achievement according to a certain set of standards.

Belts- This is the standard ranking in martial arts and was the original under Krav Maga. That is at least the Judo system. White, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Brown, Black. From novice to expert. This system originally developed by Kano the created of modern Judo. Recognizing that in the civilian world far from the warrior cultures of old, a progressive structure was needed. Sometimes Krav schools use belt systems other than this, and it is usually because they were an already established school that did not want to change the system they already have.

Patches – Born out of the great Krav Maga split when in the 90s and oriented towards the military they are used by a few organizations such as KMG and IKMF. Like the belt system they have a structure and requirements, though it seems like there may be many more ranks than we think are necessary, but hey to each their own.

No Ranking – Other organizations have no ranking. They often recognize that belts and ranks do not equal skill and on the street, a black belt cannot stop a bullet. They are of course correct. However, sometimes they fail to understand that the average person requires rank and structure. Something about being human. Sometimes we wonder if they don’t like ranks because running a ranking system that maintains standards globally is very difficult.

Conclusion

While we may not agree with the approach or strategy of many other organizations or school what does matter is if you are getting what you want out if it. But more importantly, do you think you are gaining the skills, physically, mentally and technically to truly be able to defend yourself. If you have never trained with other Krav maga organizations then you may never know. Not all Krav Maga is made the same. What we do ask, is that you be respectful and go on with no expectations. We ourselves have trained with people or schools that just didn’t work for us. We have also had students that just were not the right fit for our school. This is normal but if you find a place that works for you then you may find out what Krav Maga really is and what it can do for you.

Kravmaga.jpg

A famous photo of Krav Maga training long ago in Israel

If you arnt first you are lastIn the Will Farrel Movie Talladega nights, Farrel plays a Comedic NASCAR Driver Ricky Bobby who always wins.  He was driven to win by the fact when he was a young boy his dead beat and AWOL dad told him, “If You Ain’t First you’re last.” From this point forward he took it to hear and basically made winning everything.

The thing is Winning isn’t everything. The only people who ever truly believe that are perhaps people who have never lost or those who have never won. In either case, there may actually be an element of mental instability. Some may say that having the focus and drive to give it your 100% is what makes winners and champions. Statistically, whether you like it or not this usually is not true. You should, however, always give it your best and try your hardest and keep a positive attitude but the thing is, not everyone can be a champion.

When I was growing up in elementary school they attempted to address this by not giving out 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place winners but rather participation ribbons. Even at 10 years old I knew this was a bunch of crap because it was clear to me the other teams or individuals were, in fact, better at me in those particular things.

For most, as we are all human the realization that you may not be very good at the thing you like, or that you simply are not good enough to win can be one of the biggest blow to the ego possible.

Whenever we ask champions and winners how they got there we often hear things like, hard work, never giving up, belief in my self or other such statements. These things are of course, very inspiring. But if we always use the outliers to set our personal expectations of success we may be sadly disappointed. I won’t try to discuss this concept in-depth, I would rather recommend you read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

What I will say is that for most of us, winning can be a great goal, and some of us may achieve it, but most of the time it cant be everything. This is both so we can live healthy productive lives mentaliy, physically and socially.

So if winning is not everything can we re-frame what is? Heres a thought.

Learning is everything.

Growing is everything.

Improving is everything.

Being better today than yesterday is everything.

With these things you may just find the happiness and growth you are looking for.

The ego is a sensitive thing and needs to be managed. If you change your focus from winning to simply being a better version of yourself, then you may find you are in a much happier place. And who knows, eventually you may even start winning. Because really, if you weren’t winning before you may have been focusing on the wrong thing. Then when you focus on the right things the change you want to see may start happening.

Even in the movie, Will Farrel’s character finds this out when he talks to his dad again as an adult.

“Ricky Bobby: Wait, Dad. Don’t you remember the time you told me “If you ain’t first, you’re last”?
Reese Bobby: Huh? What are you talking about, Son?
Ricky Bobby: That day at school.
Reese Bobby: Oh hell, Son, I was high that day. That doesn’t make any sense at all, you can be second, third, fourth… hell you can even be fifth.
Ricky Bobby: What? I’ve lived my whole life by that!”

So if Ricky bobby can realize that winning isn’t everything. So can you!

 

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On April 27th, just before 11:30 am at the end of the Jewish holiday of Pesach, a gunman entered, Chabad of Poway the place of worship and began to open fire.

Then on Tue, April 30th, a shooter enters UMS Charlotte (A university) and opened fire with a handgun.

In both cases, the shooters were misled by hate and prejudice.

In the first case, only one person was killed, in the second only 2. Generally accepted US government standards say it is a mass shooting when 4 people or more have been killed. Though both cases are tragic events, the combined death of both is less than this. (It should be noted that over the years this number seems to keep getting lower).

Compare this to other high profile US shootings like the highly publicized Stoneman Douglas Highschool shooting where 17 people died, or the Orlando Night Club Shooting where 49 people died.

thumb_keep-calm-and-1-stop-the-threat-2-counter-attack-as-37629368So what is the difference between 1 or 2 deaths and 17 or 49 deaths? The answer is simple, in the first 2 examples brave individuals quickly and bravely stood up to the shooters.

Though it is often counterintuitive especially to the untrained, if you are able to and you wish to stop further harm or death then the answer is to run to the threat not away. You see, waiting for the police can take some time and in the time a lot can happen. In Metro Vancouver, the call time is usually somewhere between 5-7 minutes for most serious calls. I was once told in Washington state that the call time can be 20-30 minutes. No matter the call time however, if a police officer is not there with a gun shooting back immediately a lot of people can die.

In the Chabad shooting, the rabbi stood up to the shooter with words in a way only rabbi’s can do and another took the bullet for him. Then the gun jammed and it is my understanding that someone charged him which started the shooter and he ran outside. Another person, who was armed, an off duty LE shot and the assailant until he gave up.

In the second UMS shooting a courageous young man by the name of Riley Howard charged the shooter died in the process but this allowed everyone else to be saved.

The specific details of both are a bit hard to follow as the accounts vary from site to site, but the fact is in both cases when the opportunity arose, someone did the bravest thing they could and confronted the shooter.

Believe it or not, this is the Israeli way. This is also what we teach in Krav Maga. If you are unable to or unwilling to stand up to terror or tryany then get to safety. No one is saying be the hero. But if you have it in you and you are willing at the moment to know that the faster the threat is stopped the more lives will be saved.

I often tell students that Israel most likely would get very different results if they studied the bystander effect. For one something happens, you get two groups of people, those running away, and those running towards. Because they know the more people that are able to stop the threat the faster the threat will be stopped. I even have family that on one occasion noticed odd behavior of someone who entered the store they were in. They tackled him and this saved everyone. For you see he had a suicide vest on and had yet to activate it.

In the west, we often have policies in place that tell people to lock the doors close the windows and hide as best as you can. While in some cases this may save lives the reality is if you are able to get out of the building to safety by whatever means necessary then your odds are even better than simply waiting and hoping.

Duck and Cover

Duck and cover practice

Bullets and bombs go through walls and doors. But smashing a window to run home will most likely get you out of harm’s way. Such policies remind me of the cold war when students were told to duck under their desks in case of a nuclear bomb. We now know this is clearly laughable yet why do we still insist on such an approach to dangerous situations.

 

These policies, by the way, are usually for the administrative class. It is easier for those arriving on seen to know who is “the good guys” and “bad guys” it is also easier to count heads. The heads of the dead and the heads of the alive.

In the west, our views on how to deal with these situations seem to be out of touch with reality. If you are unable or unwilling to stop the threat then get away to safety. But if you are able and willing, just know the faster you stop the threat the more lives will be saved.

In the end, the motives of those who would use violence for their own ends is less important in the moment than the fact they are doing it. The why only matters to prevent people from doing it in the future, in the moment the why is quite irrelevant. If one morning someone wakes up and decided to do something hideous, if there were no indicators that they were going to do it then the why is even much less important because the only thing that will prevent tragedy or reduce the tragedy is that in the moment someone had the courage to stand up and stop the threat.

So come, learn Krav Maga, so that you may walk in peace knowing that you have the skill and ability to stop the threats that may enter your life whether you want them to or not.

 

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I have a feeling this post is going to have many cliche’s. As much as we like to hate on cliches because they are unoriginal, they have much truth to them. They are cliches because they are the things we know but choose to ignore because we are a curious species always pursuit of more. And besides who likes being given the answers directly? According to psychology, no one. People generally prefer to be guided to find their own conclusion rather than be given the obvious answer. As an instructor, it is a difficult thing to swallow and yet its how we operate. As I grow older I seem to be letting people find their own path a little more and I hope one day to have the wisdom to know right away who will learn how.

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On my path to find that wisdom I am re-listening (Yes, I do audio books, so much more efficient) to the Jocko Willink‘s book The Dichotomy of Leadership, the best selling sequel to his original book Extreme ownership. The second book as far better than the first as it clarifies somethings from the first one, but dont believe me even Jocko thinks its better.

As they say if at first you dont succeed, try, try again. Or if you make a mistake it’s ok, just learn from it and do better next time. See Cliches.

Anyways, back to my point. In listening to the book again a line stuck out at me. Since it was an audiobook and I can’t remember the time stamp I am going to paraphrase.

It goes something like this, People often want to learn the advanced tactics over building solid fundamentals. 

This is something I have seen many times, especially in the Krav Maga world. I am fairly sure I have written about this before but since it came up again I guess its time to write about it again.

Krav Maga is known for its firearms and knife related self-defense. These are the things people always want to learn, yet they are not the fundamentals no matter who sells it to you.

Occasionally I will get a student who has a previous Krav Maga or Martial arts background. The question is often, when do I get to do the weapons stuff. Or the stuff I saw online? I usually ask them about their background first and go from there.

If you are from another background, dont you think you should take some Krav Maga classes first to get to know what’s different between the styles? Also just because you saw something online dont presume to understand Krav Maga without actually practicing it. First, unless you have been training for 10+ years it is unlikely you are as good as you think you are. Second I dont go to other martial arts and expect to start anywhere other than the beginning. If you want to take regular classes then do so, if not I suggest private lessons, though I am picky who I teach what.

If you are from a Krav Maga background then I hope you can understand that not all Krav Maga curriculum is the same. Many people don’t know this because they dont usually train outside of one or maybe two organizations. If you did you would know what I teach at UTKM is an amalgamation of different organizations curriculums simplified to be more efficient. Which means no matter your Krav Background if you want to rank up under me then you have to learn the UTKM way. Of course if after assessment it turns out you are as good as you think you are in Krav then I will gladly reduce your hours between each rank. But you still need to understand how UTKM works first.

Either way, the scenario is the same. They dont want to spend time working on the basics. The basics you must remember are the foundations of everything. To me, if you can barely punch, kick, move or fight the gun disarms are not as easy as you might think. You must be sure of your foundations less you regret it later.

Speaking from personal experience learning BJJ I can say not learning and mastering fundamentals early is something you will regret later. In my earlier belts, White and Blue, I jumped around gyms, did open mats and had little structure to my training. I was also injured at blue belt which meant limited training. All these things meant I missed out on developing solid fundamentals, as such now at purple belt I am struggling to catch up to those at the same rank. Don’t get me wrong I fully intend to catch up and train more but its something I could have easily done in the past had I trained properly and focused on the fundamentals.

So, fundamentals are important even if you dont think so. No matter your experience or background when you walk into a new place respect their fundamentals. If you don’t like it then go somewhere else if you do then train and do so humbly.

Another cliche is to lead by example. So I will give you an example. Recently the local Krav Maga Global club held an open seminar for group fighting and multiple attacks. The Instructor was GIT Expert 2 Natasha Hirschfeld who was a wonderful instructor. Both she and the other instructors noted that there were so many new students they were most likely going to start with simple Krav basics. They seemed apologetic but it didn’t matter to me, for when you teach a lot sometimes you dont train as much as you should. Though I couldn’t stay for the whole time I enjoyed reviewing some basics. I even picked up a new warm-up game or two.

You see if you go in with an open mind even if you are practicing the fundamentals you will always learn something new if not simply move your way closer to the 10000-hour mastery principle.

There is a reason that in most martial arts even ones where a black belt takes 8-15 years to get on average that they also say the same thing. That they started to learn more at black belt than they did in all the training before. I think this is because they finally mastered the basics they can see other things they missed before.

The basics like any skill take a lifetime to master in any style yet they are what matter the most. Especially in Krav Maga as its the basics that will most likely save your life should you ever find yourself in an unwanted violent conflict.

So if you regularly train, or are coming to train, respect the basics and practice them until you achieve mastery no matter how long it takes.

 

 

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“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or perhaps you prefer, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stranger”. These are sayings you should have heard if you grew up in the west, or at least with the later saw Batman the Dark Night. They suggest that if you survived an ordeal real or perceive you will either become a stronger better version of your self or something else, perhaps twisted.

How about this one? “Fortune favors the bold” which suggest only those who risk will succeed. Yet, evolutionary, humans are averse to risk. It is built into us in fact. If you taste something bitter, you might spit it out because our bodies are saying if I dont know what it is, it must be poison. Yet through our minds, we can eventually tell our bodies, no idiot, I love coffee, I am going to drink it no matter if you think it is bitter or not.

If evolution then builds internal pathways to avoid risk, and protect ourselves then how do we evolve and grow?

The answer must be the outliers, those who learn and grow from their mistakes. It did not kill but, that was a bit too risky let’s try it a different way. And so it goes until a new pathway is formed and growth can occur.

These sayings may be cliche to you, old, boring and pointless, yet idioms such as these have been around in most cultures for a long time. Perhaps there is some wisdom in these ancient, or not so ancient re-works of the sayings.

All these self-help gurus, after all, seem to preach similar things, like believe in your self, and just do it, or think positively.

The truth is thought its often much closer to what “doesn’t kill you makes you stranger”, that is to say, you may become a stranger to the self you once were. The hope though is that the stranger of now is a stranger that you like. And that you can look back at your old self and say ” I can’t believe I used to be so shy, so risk-averse, so unadventurous and so unwilling to challenge myself. I can’t imagine how I even lived life at all.”

That’s because you probably were not living, you were just surviving.

Unlike what so many self-help gurus preach the truth is, the path to a better you is stepping way outside of your comfort zones so that you can be the outlier that forges those new paths internally and externally. The fact is that the journey will be fraught with perils, both real and imagined and it is always easy to stop turn back or take the easier route.

For some challenging their comfort zones will be easy, perhaps your genetics allow it, or perhaps challenging your comfort zones is your real nightmare because something happened to you that you dont want to face yet you know that the only way forward is through. Who though, has the strength to fight their demons, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly so that they may find their peace?

The answer is you! if you want. It is yours for the taking.

Sometimes, people seek help to be better versions of themselves, but they dont really change. It’s only those who embrace the discomfort and charge through it that eventually see the clearing on the other side.

As a Krav Maga instructor, I have seen this many times with my students over the years. And even more, I have seen it in myself.

I have seen students be challenged hard, physically and emotionally and disappear on me. I have seen students challenged hard, physically and emotionally and they embrace it and come back for more.

I have challenged my self hard, physically and emotionally and I am still here, Still growing and still working on it because even if I dont like it, I find my self constantly putting myself in situations of discomfort challenging my self more and more.

I am not gifted genetically, and physically endeavors are a struggle for me. I am not gifted with words for I often offend and push away, yet I challenge myself to be an instructor and learn to be better to communicate to help those who want. I am not particularly strong emotionally day to day for I wear my emotions on my sleeves and instead of keeping my mouth shut for the sake of politics or being liked I push the boundaries with people and learn to tweak my self day by day so that perhaps I can get the results I want a little more each time.

But one thing I can say for myself it is that only through challenging my comfort zones today, and now, that I can look back at the stranger I used to be and say I dont know you, but because of you, I got here today.

I only wish that I had known what I had known now, then, so that I could have grown faster but the path to fighting your comfort zone is fraught with perils and for some the journey is quick, and others long and arduous. I can only hope the hard my journey that more I will learn and grow and the better I will be able to help you challenge your comfort zones so that you to may learn to grow and walk in peace.

So move the boundary of your comfort zone forward a little bit every day, so that instead of surviving you can have the space to be free and truly live.