Carefulness and Habit Development
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

June 17, 2016, Israel

How do good people become bad people? How do good instructors became bad instructors? How do good teachers become lazy, how do men who truly desired to help the public become corrupt politicians?

The answers can all be found in a short and simple book by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato of Italy, written close to three hundred years ago. And the answers are simple.

He writes in chapter two of his book, "The Path of the Just" about "explaining the quality of carefulness". His points can be summarized as follows:

One must always be careful with his actions. This means constant examinations of one's actions, are they good or not?

One must never follow habit.

One must walk with his eyes open and constantly be aware of dangers and pitfalls.

Now to elaborate a little.

One may start off well. Good practice, good habits, good intentions. But one must never let habit take over. When habit takes over carelessness rules.

Imagine someone avoiding being followed, say an important spy. At first he examines his routine every day. He looks for mistakes or pitfalls. But then he becomes complacent. Before long he is unaware that he has developed bad habits, one's that will lead to his downfall.

The same is true of all of us. Marriage, work, begins with being careful, not taking anyone for granted but after a while we become lazy, we stop paying attention to details, we let habit take over. And habit becomes our downfall.

Even great men, leaders, people in power, fall in this trap. Soon they start mistreating their staff, they become arrogant, they begin to think of themselves as superheros. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato reminds us to be humble, to constantly examine our ways, are they good or bad?

Let us apply this to Krav Maga; instructors learn a technique, test for black belt but then...get into habits. They do not stop to examine their technique. They do not critique themselves every day.They stop the "constant supervision" of which Rabbi Luzzato writes. They let habit takeover and habit is their doom. When I return a year later for a seminar I see that the instructors are misleading the students with poor techniques. What happened?

What happened is that Rabbi Luzzato warned us about, back in 1737 in Italy.

Ever take a dog for a walk? Ever watch it? He or she travels the same path every day yet has the vigilance of a warrior, sniffing every flower, being alert to every sound. The dog does not say...been there, done that, no! The dog is always on alert, always curious and careful and always examining its path.

This is how we must be, says Rabbi Luzzato, always aware, always examining our ways, for if not...we will slowly slip away from greatness down into mediocrity.