June 16, 2017, Israel
Do you remember your first day at school? Perhaps not, but I can tell you all about it. In a word, you were full of anticipation. And the day before enlisting in the army? The same, full of anticipation: What will it be like? how difficult is basic training? Who will be my commanding officer?
Anticipation. It is human nature and nearly impossible to avoid.
And yet, with martial arts training we must kill this anticipation bug or else it will kill us.
After more than 3 decades in the martial arts and having trained with some of the best in the world, and having taught all over the world, I can say that nearly all martial arts are plagued with the disease of anticipation.
What is this disease and why does it afflict so many teachers?
If the instructor says - today we are training for a defense against an ice pick knife attack, then what are you expecting? An elephant charge? No. You are fully expecting and anticipating an Ice Pick Knife Attack. Of course!
You know it is coming, you want to be ready, and you want to make a good impression on everyone. So you anticipate. Thus your training becomes based on anticipating an attack that you now is coming. Now even if you create a drill where several different people come at you, each with a different attack, you are still ready, you are still anticipating an attack, and thus you are still training for a situation that will only partially prepare you for reality.
Such a drill, and such training is fine for a situation where a group may surround you, announce their intention to hurt you, and then proceed to attack you. You know they are coming, you see them and you can prepare. But all too often that is not how life unfolds.
Most likely the attack will not be preceded by a declaration of war. Most likely you will be caught by surprise. And that means that you will not be able to anticipate the attack.
But all your training has been based on anticipation. Every defense you have done was based on anticipating the attack. Now what will happen when the attack is totally unexpected? What will happen when you did not anticipate the attack?
What will happen is what happens to everyone else: you will be overwhelmed and all systems will fail. You have been training and you have been trained incorrectly all these years. You have been anticipating the attack in your training while you cannot do that in reality.
You are not prepared.
I have seen this many times. I just saw it the other day, even trained people will react with fear and not be able to bring their self defense skills into play. Their skills are like great tools locked in a tool box, thus rendering them totally useless.
We need a different way of training. We need a much simpler way of responding. We need to accept the elements of fear and surprise. We must train ourselves to train without anticipation.
I have watched video clips of highly respected "reality self defense" instructors and have noticed the "cheating". If you slow down the video and watch if in very slow motion you will notice that nearly always the defense begins before the actual attack. I have seen instructors lunge in to catch a leg kick before the kick actually began. Now that is possible in a sporting type fight. In fact the best way to prepare for a sports fight is to study your opponent, watch his previous fights and understand how he fights. This way you can anticipate his moves and begin your defense and counter attack before he actually starts his attack.
But you cannot do this in a reality situation.
You are being sold a false bill of goods, a bad product.
That is why our system is built on the idea that you will be caught off guard. You will be caught by surprise. We use your natural reactions, your fear impulse, as the basis for the defensive move. We accept reality and do not try to override it. We do not cheat by starting our defense before the attack actually commences. We keep in real.
Make sure you are not wasting your time you a system built on hype and false hope. The physical appearance of an instructor, having the "look", being on the cover of a magazine, does not mean that this system has value. You have to be sure the system makes sense to you. You must be objective.