ESCAPE, CONTROL and TERMINATION are the “sacred three” with regards to self-defense training, conditioning and study. Each has it’s own paradigm with its particular conceptual techniques, flow and options; and, all should be, at the very least, looked at very closely to determine what may be suitable for every individual, in any situation.
ESCAPE means exactly what it says, “to find the door”, and this should be the preferred option for everyone, no matter how much training one has undergone, and no matter how tough one thinks they may be, as there is always room for error in a street-fight, and, hello, there is always pain and injury, sometimes much worse!
I just completed my first certification in Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee’s renowned combat system) under Sifu Harinder Singh. Needless to say it was an eye-opening experience, and quite involved…a total of 28 hours over the course of an extended weekend. I was both mentally and physically drained, but spiritually lifted, once again, just as every time that I study with my instructors or other experts out of my personal expertise.
We all, after having trained long and hard enough and achieved expert/master status in a particular combat art (in some cases, several), can get too comfortable within our own system(s) and the people that we workout with on a constant basis. Facing someone new, in a different art, will put you into a zone of uncertainty and stress; it is a natural reaction for anyone and, hello, just a little similar to an actual fight.
This week several college students took on the overwhelming and heart-breaking responsibility of being pallbearers for their friend’s funeral. A young girl was cruelly and dispassionately murdered by a housemate (I will forego the details as they’re simply too awful to describe) in her own house on campus. This is not “news” in our headlines these days, however; it seems as if every few months we hear of similar incidents. This girl was the daughter of one of our prominent judges, and two of my Krav Maga students knew the family well. One of my close friends, years ago, lost her very own daughter in a similar fashion. I have two girls, 28 and 25, and cannot imagine the pain.
In the movie “Roadhouse”, with the late, great Patrick Swayze (may he rest in peace, God continuing to bless), there was a scene in which he gave the beautiful doctor his medical history, filled with a multitude of previous injuries; well, mine is very similar.
Unfortunately, in martial arts training, once in a while we get hurt, either by accident (mostly), intention (rarely, and, if this occurs, said person of cause is emphatically expelled), or by an eventual “breakdown of parts”, simply due to age or previous history. Mostly, however, it’s the instructor that receives these “reminders” from students and inexperienced lower belts.
In terms of being the least complicated, most direct and greatest method of self-defense going, I would not argue against Krav Maga. Simplicity was the very basis for its genesis, and, with a few weeks of intensive training, Krav’s first Israeli Army students, more than 50 years ago, found themselves acquiring life-saving skills very quickly and most efficiently, thus proving its original concepts and philosophy.
I am well into my second decade of studying and instructing this unique martial art, now having attained Israeli certified 3rd degree black belt status; thusly, I am quite skilled, but my very nature tells me there is always more, so much more!
I am a Taekwondo Master (4th degree black belt), and have multiple high-ranking black belts in several other Asian arts (including sword), as well as kick-boxing, Muay Thai, combat JiuJitsu and extensive knife-training. TKD 5th degree for me would have been the following: attend occasional classes, and teach a little, plus a new form…that’s it; in other words, just “time in the trenches”, improving upon my existing skills, which should, of course, always be a priority. I opted out. Do not get me wrong, because I loved training in that art, and improved my kicking techniques like no other; however, “real street-survival skills”? Hardly. In fact, I know a guy that was under serious Taekwondo Olympic consideration, yet was hurt pretty badly in New York City, when he lipped off to the wrong person. No skilled street fighter is going to let you launch a spinning back-kick, or jump-spinning hook kick…that’s strictly for the movies.
ALL of us watch YouTube, or we should, if for some strange reason one happens to be from another solar system. The wealth of information is incomprehensible at times, but the treasures to be collected are worth the effort. However, for everything positive there is a negative side, as well.
I would venture that most of us realize martial arts cannot be cultured from video. One needs “hands-on” training from a qualified instructor, but this is not the purpose of this blog. Neither is the obvious “there are numerous, unqualified teachers out there, whose methods are simply bad.”
Having been a student and instructor of Krav Maga for many years, I have often been asked how I continue and further my training, especially since I outrank the local and regional Krav instructors, and that my Israeli Sensei is in this country only a couple of times a year, and my other main source is on the West Coast (I live in Northern, VA).
The easy answer is that I learn from everyone; students, the aforementioned instructors, and since I am a huge believer in ancillary education, there are always other styles and arts that can enhance one’s training regimen.
Krav Maga is in several ways similar to other martial arts, yet markedly different in certain aspects. Most noticeably, for myself, is the philosophical notion of “never again”, which for the Jewish people is a most sacred maxim, post Holocaust. As well, the conceptual theme of Krav Maga being: “fight with surprise, fierceness, skill and purpose until you are safe”, makes it unique from everything else, as the curricula from various worldwide Krav Maga organizations (I am a high-ranking member of I.K.I.) will all attest.
In Hebrew, “Retzev” means continuous attack…in other words, fighting until you are safe. “Safe” is a relative concept; on one hand it can mean stun and then run; on another, disable your attacker, because flight is not an option; and, in many military operations it can mean kill.