February 11, 2016, Los Angeles, California
The years give us a certain perspective. Time... just does something, if we are wise enough to pay attention and observe.
As life goes on we see people come and go, born and die. Our role in life changes, from a child to an adult, from a student to a teacher, from a disciple to a mentor. We embrace life changes. In other words, we grow up.
When we are young we discover the body; boys want to build muscles and girls want to lose weight and look pretty. The illusion is that these qualities last forever, we make a shrine to ourselves.
At a certain age the young men are in the gym, lifting weights and getting big. They feel they are new men, they have discovered themselves. They feel so proud. They wear cut off shirts and proudly display their newly developed muscles as if they are showing the world something we have not seen before. They flex their new muscles as the discover a new world.
The money spent on protein powders, power shakes, nutrients and supplements guaranteed to get that look; if only they could see the future.
I still get the urge now and then for extreme training. I want to go back to the endless push ups and sit-ups, the heavy lifting, the long up hill runs. But then today I am older and a little bit wiser. Today I can see how fruitless and in fact damaging, some of this extreme training can be.
Today I look at friends, many former champions in various sports and martial arts; body building, weight lifting, power lifting, karate, full contact fighting, MMA etc..
None have the bodies of their youth, but worse, many suffer aches and pains that prevent not only athletic activity but normal everyday activity.
And this is truly sad.
Time takes its toll and despite the advertising of some unscrupulous companies, no one can stop the aging process.
At IKI Krav Maga we teach skill. We teach how to think, we teach how to survive. We have dropped some of the training that only leaves permanent damage.
I recall my younger days at the Oyama dojo. I was paired up with one of the black belts, before we began our sparring he issued a stern warning:
Do not go near my nose, it was recently broken. Do not touch my ribs, they are still recovering. He went through a list of broken or injured body parts that I was to avoid, or else...
Well, I pretty much avoided him all together. Is this what we train for?
After all our purpose in training is to protect ourselves from injury, not to cause injury, not to cause permanent damage to our bodies.
My dear friend, teacher and mentor, Prof. Arthur Cohen was always the voice of wisdom and reason. After one painful injury, followed by a 12 hour flight and a 4 week tour, Prof. Cohen told me that I cannot do both. I cannot be a fighter and a teacher. I cannot afford to get hurt and then expect to be at my best for teaching, and all that travel.
I still have aches and pains, but thankfully not as much as some martial artists. I miss the full contact fighting, I miss the gruelling workouts, I miss pushing myself to my limits and then beyond, but today I must be wiser, I want my body to last.
I recall being with Prof. Cohen at Karate College, our dear friend Joe Hess, master and champion martial artists, was walking down the steps. But walking would not be accurate. He was really struggling. Each step was clearly painful, each step was an ordeal as he tried to carry his small hand luggage with him. Prof. Cohen pointed this out to me.
Do you realize what a champion Joe was, can you imagine how difficult this is for him?
And so at IKI Krav Maga our goal is to teach, using common sense. Our goal is to teach self defense, practical and useful and sustainable self defense. Our goal is to give you tools that will last a lifetime and will not depend upon extreme fitness or extreme training. Our goal is to help and not to harm.
We do not need to be extreme. We only want to be extremely wise.
Training and having fun with my dear friend, teacher, mentor, Prof. Arthur Cohen of New York.