Posts Tagged ‘Martial Arts’

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What is Krav Maga too 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

Master ken seminar

So to should a good seminar!

When it comes to martial arts or self-defense there are many reasons a person may choose to go to a seminar. For some, its because they do not have the time to train regularly, for others they want to supplement their regular training. At UTKM we have attended many seminars on many topics from leadership, how to teach, Krav Maga, Self Defense, Martial arts in General and we have learned what makes a good seminar.

Who is teaching

The person whos teaching is a world champion. The person whos teaching is famous for… The person whos teaching regularly teaches classes. Therefore, they must run an amazing seminar. WRONG! The thing is running a seminar is different than teaching a regular class, with regular students. It is also clearly different than performing.

We have gone to seminars for people who are the heads of seminars who teach all the time and who have developed champions and yet the seminar was mediocre at best. We have also gone to seminars from people we have never heard of and had an amazing seminar.

Don’t just sign up to a seminar because you like the topic, or the person has a name to them. Ask around, do you know anyone who has gone to the seminar with that person. Find out if it was worth the price of the seminar and if they learned anything. (Just make sure your friend isn’t a seminar junky who things they are all great) If they tell you it was worth it and they learned a lot then this person is probably great at running seminars

Content of Seminar

A good seminar, picks 1 topic or maybe 2 or 3 related topics. From there, there should be a clear structure for the seminar. It should start with the basics of that topic and build it up. For example, let’s take a gun disarm seminar. If it doesn’t start with the basics like how firearms work, firearms laws and basic safety then you may be missing out on super important contextual information. If they really know their stuff this can take 5-15 minutes as they will be able to sum it up.

The topic is always great as it is often the reason people sign up, but it is not enough. There must be contextual information allowing you to have a framework to build off of mentally for the rest of the seminar. Often good instructors will lay out how they are going to run the seminar so you have an idea. The structure and context of the material is super important. While we often go to seminars thinking we are going to be constantly going, a good seminar should be a mix of explanation, demonstrations and drill time.

Bad seminars, especially in self-defense, will just teach a bunch of random unconnected techniques. You have limited time in a seminar so there must not be too much information or techniques taught or else it will be difficult to retain the information for most people. Another bad seminar is one where they spend a large portion of their time telling stories without giving much practice time. While this can be educational you should have time to develop your skills. Alternatively, a bad seminar is one in which you are simply doing things the whole time with no explanation at all.

This is why if they start with a basic overview, explain, demonstrate, give drill time and correct as needed it should be a good seminar.

Length of Seminar

A seminar, if it is any good, will almost never just be 1 hour. 1 hour is enough for review of material that you already know and not for new material or material being taught from someone you are not familiar with. A good seminar should be between 2-4 hours. Anything longer than that is more akin to a course which would be 8 hours plus. A seminar needs to be a quick overview, of a topic, idea or concept to be taught in a relatively short period of time.

Anything less than 2 hours then it is unlikely there is enough time to give an appropriate overview of that topic, idea or concept. Anything over 4 hours and peoples attention spans start to go. This is especially true if the seminar is full of people who are new to the topic or have never worked with that particular instructor.

Lead Instructor Jonathan has done many seminars, and courses ranging from 4 hours to 7 days and he can attest that even in topics he is familiar with it can be hard to focus past 4 hours let alone 4 days especially when there is both physical components and mental components.

Even better it is a seminar series, that goes between 2-4 hours each day or in consecutive weeks that expands on a specific topic. With each time review what was done before, adding on too it and allowing for a full review on the last day. Any Seminar is serious that last more than 4 separate days is probably more akin to a full-time course. If seminars are presented in series that it would be important that you attend every single one. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of separate seminars with their own loosely related topics rather than a specific series.one one topic.

Level of Seminar

The level of the seminar should have been advertised prior to it. For example, is it for beginners with Zero experience? In which case it should say Intro too or beginners. Or it could specify must have X amount of experience in X. If it is the former then great, bring one bring all. If it is the latter then it is the responsibility of the organizer to appropriately vet every person entering the seminar to ensure everyone is at the correct level.

A Seminar where the skills are wildly varying can be tough as you either have to teach to the lowest skill level or you teach to the skill level you want to. In the first case, it can be boring for more skilled individuals who wanted to update and progress their skills. In the second, it can be dangerous and frustrating to the new person who can barely keep up. In either case, people are losing out.

We have been too long seminars that covered multiple topics or areas in some we did just fine, then it got to a specific skill we were not familiar or practice in and thus that portion became very difficult and we were unable to keep up. They kept saying its easy a fundamental but as we had no experience in that skill it was neither. Needless to say, it was not a fun section and we ended up just observing.

A good instructor can read the room and adapt the skill level accordingly. There have been times at UTKM that a certain level was expected and a lesson plan was created and either the skill level was too low or too high. So we simply adapted accordingly making it easier or harder. Unless it is a graded seminar requiring a certain level of standards (Such as instructor training) than adapting to the level of the group is extremely important so that everyone stays safe and learning to their maximum efficiency.

Was it Fun!

Lastly, and you can only really know this at the end. Was it fun. Was the instructor or instructors engaging and were they able to read the room well and adapt accordingly? This, of course, is relative as fun for one person is not always for another. The better the seminar the more likely a majority of people enjoyed it. If it was, fun then its usually something you might consider again. This is a simple one, because well, nobody likes a dry seminar.

 

 

A Harmless Man.jpgPonder these words, for they have even more profound meaning in the modern world.

Growing up in school I was taught that violence is never the answer. Yet I have learned through training and study that Violence is often the only way to deal with Violence. Yet it still must be avoided as much as possible.

While defining what is good or not good is still morally relative generally a person who has strength or power, physically or otherwise who chooses not to wield it abusively is stronger than the person who has a little power yet abuses it.

There are often those in many circles who do not want their children to learn martial arts or self-defense because they feel that it is too violent or dangerous. Thus they make the decision to “protect” their child from that violence. Unfortunately, they are depriving their children of the important education that is to understand violence and power in a controlled fashion.

Who is more likely to blow the horns of battle? The general who has seen battle, seen loss and seen destruction and knows that great sacrifice of many that will occur. Or the Politician or public that will only gain financially or otherwise without having to deal with the cost of war? The answer is quite easy to see. Knowledge and experience should teach that most wish to avoid war and violence. Despite what we think the 21st century is actually, in fact, less violent than the previous centuries. This is most likely because now that the average person can see the cost of violence and war there is a trend to avoid it.

This does now mean, however, that you should not be capable of it because there will always be those who prefer war, or want control or power thus there must always be those capable of stoping them. A favorite quote of mine is;

“It is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in war”

It is always better to be able to do something but choose not to than to not be able to do it without a choice.

As Humans, we should aspire to be more capable and competent as we grow as species, but having the knowledge is not enough without the skill and wisdom to wield it effectively.

They say our future is in the hand of our children, and this is always true generation to generation. So do your child a favor, girl or boy and let them learn the lessons now and not later. Get them started in martial arts early so that they can learn the difference between knowledge, power, skill and when it is appropriate to apply them in the form of violence and when it is not.

Let them learn physical, mental and personal control and learn the lesson that for every action is an equal reaction and there will always be consequences.

Teach your children to be good, strong and capable and not just harmless lumps.

Know your self.jpg

Sometimes the answers we seek have already been learned but we are too proud, to scarred or too weak to accept the reality. Sun Tzu knew this thousand’s of years ago in ancient china. The full quote goes as such:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There are two aspects of this quote, one the good strategy of studying your enemy is something I can talk about another time as I want to focus on knowing your self.

Fear is a powerful thing. It is a built-in biological mechanism designed to protect us from harm and death. Once upon a time, this was good when the threat was lions and tigers and bears, Oh My! But now in the modern world, we are still using these mechanisms designed to protect us from predators against things like homework, large social structure, modern workplaces, social media and generally far too much stimulus than we are really designed to handle.

What this means is that we often create fear where none need exist.

but did you die.jpgI often say when teaching the only real fail in self-defense or in general is death.

So you are worried about being judged, even if you are judged, did you die?

So you lost your match, but did you die?

So what, you failed your final exam, but did you die?

We often for one reason or another either from external pressure or internal ones activate the fear mechanism to not do something or to stress out when we dont need to. This is not good. If you are stressed due to a perceived fear then you will not be able to focus or perform as well as you can. Which means it might just actually all be in your head. This is what the knowing your self aspect of the quote means. If you are unable to control your emotions and fears in any given situation you will not be able to do the best that you can. If you take every “Failure” as a learning experience then you will ever grow stronger. But if you perceive every “Failure” as a near-death experience your body will treat it as such and you may just spiral into an unproductive fear loop that paralysis you and prevents you from the growth you know you are capable off.

Ask your self honestly, how well do you really know yourself. If you look deep and dont like things about yourself or your life then change it. If you learn what the issues are that are causing the fear it may even help you move forward. One thing is for certain is that if you only ever dwell in your fears than it won’t be better. For you and you alone have the power to change how you perceive things. Whether your fear something or not ask your self honestly, will fearing that thing or not fearing that thing cause you immediate death? If the answer is no, then guess what you have nothing to fear but fear its self.

So how well do you know your self? and what are you afraid of?

P.S. If you lived a full fruitful life, then death is not even something to fear for you will have left a lasting legacy behind you that hopefully caused the growth and development of the next generation of humanity.

If you did not know UTKM has 3 core principles, one of which is train people, not belts. I personally am very against belt factories or handing outranks just to keep business or make people feel good about themselves. I am after all here to teach people the realities of self-defense which are not always easy or nice both physically and mentally.

mcdojo_icon.jpgI know for some, especially in today’s world this may seem overly harsh but I think it is a great disservice to everyone to continue to allow the belt factory (McDojo), here’s your belt model.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves feeling good about themselves. I mean why shouldn’t they. Happy people are more productive and are more likely to stick around if they love it (whatever it is.) The truth is though A belt or Certificate does not always measure a persons skill or capability. It simply means they have completed a certain set of minimum standards to a satisfactory level.

There is a reason at UTKM or any school you will see a vast difference in skill level from person to person at any given belt level. For some, it comes easy, for others they need to work very hard to meet those standards.

A good example of this is in many styles a 10-year-old can receive a black belt. While they have certainly done well and worked hard for their achievement the reality is that a 10-year-old black belt who has not even gone through puberty yet is unlikely to beat a grown adult in a fight. Reaching such an achievement is wonderful for the child’s confidence and discipline but if they do not keep up their training into their adulthood then their black belt may mean very little in their ability to defend themselves.

In the Krav world, the disparity in skill and ability from organization to organization is quite alarming. A black belt in one organization or school may have the skill level of much lower rank at another. Yes, Krav Maga is supposed to be easy to learn but not that easy. Unfortunately, it is the way it is.

Some organizations produce monsters regularly but they do not hand outranks. These organizations may produce because they are tough and attract tough physically gifted people. Or they may simply know how to train efficiently. But comparatively, it can be difficult to tell where they stand without some kind of rank.

Other organizations hand out certifications or belts like candy which is quite a shame. In the Krav world, this is quite apparent in instructor certifications where most basic certifications are 3-7 days and spend very little time on actual teaching. So a person certified may have met the requirements of the course, but may not actually be very good at teaching classes, developing curriculum or speaking in front of crowds. This is quite possibly the reason why in some countries the Krav Instruction is quite poor as many individuals got a piece of paper which says they can teach, allowed them to get insurance and yet they really have no place teaching at all.

Regardless of where you are at skill-wise whether a champion or just beginning, you must remember to never let a rank or certificate get to your head. Because remember, there is always a bigger fish. And if you are the biggest fish remember, like anyone you cannot beat father time and eventually a younger bigger fish will get you. This is why another of UTKM’s core principles is to never stop learning and growing. I never said you have to be humble though it’s generally considered a good trait, but if you stop learning then you will run into problems when the world around you passes you by.  This can be particularly dangerous when it comes to self-defense. Because if you think your skill is more than it is you will quickly run into trouble that can potentially be life-threatening.

So even though your new rank, certificate or achievement made you feel good. Be honest with your self, is that rank, certificate or achievement truly a good measure of your skill or do you still need a lot more work? One answer will keep your thriving, growing and achieving. The other will only lead to disaster because you can only fake it so long until people catch on.

Watch the video. What do you see?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Every month I get a new student who tells me they aren’t in great shape and they might not be able to do the class. I usually just tell them to try it out and see how it goes. Over the years I can only think of a handful of people who actually had to re-think their ability to take the class. For most people simply underestimate their ability to perform physical activities. I have heard reasons from, I have never done this before, too, I am too old. In most cases its all in their heads. The truth is most people are not athletic superstars and probably never will be but they still can train. I know this because I myself have never been a standout when it comes to athleticism. I have written in the past about my struggles in the military physically because I am not athletic. I can do what I do because I train, and get better day by day to in spite of my non-athletic prowess. Did I mention I also enjoy training?

Judo Jack 92 year old

92 year old doing Judo

I suspect the reason so many people think they cant train is partially due to our lazy desk ridden culture where lack of activity is common and where people really do not know what they are capable of. In a city like Vancouver which is a little more active than normal, it means that most people who walk in to do a martial arts class will be just fine.

Even if you are out of breath in the first 5 minutes if you ended up finishing the class you are more than able to continue training. Keep in mind, even the regular students often find themselves out of breath and know sometimes it’s ok to take a break. This means you are probably better off than you realize.

Another reason people often think they are physically capable of training martial arts is that in today’s world of easy access everything people are not often used to pushing themselves past their comfort zones. But hey, you have to start somewhere.

I did mention that over the years there have been a handful of people who couldn’t continue. Almost all of the cases these individuals were severely overweight if not morbidly obese. Unlike many others I won’t sugar coat it, this not a healthy or happy way to live no matter what anyone tells you. This does not mean however you cannot train martial arts it just means your approach will be a little different. In these cases, you have a few options.

  1. Show up to class and do what you can little by little and you will eventually get there even if it takes months or years. It’s absolutely ok if you need to sit out or take breaks. Showing up and training is better than not.
  2. Know that you have the goal of training martial arts, consult a nutritionist and find a suitable workout program to go with a healthy eating style so that you can achieve a healthier weight that will allow you to train martial arts.

Either way, if your goal is to train martial arts then you can do it, even if you have to reach a separate goal prior to training. If this is the case you will have a happier time after knowing you achieved multiple goals.

So no matter your age, skills or background so long as you live a healthier lifestyle, or want to change to a healthier lifestyle and have reasonable mobility you should have no reason to think you cannot train. So get on google, find a style you like, and get training.

After all, everyone deserves to walk in peace.

 

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.

Mastering-Image-300x193.jpg

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.