Krav Maga and Aging

The imperfect body

by Moshe Katz

Aging is one of the greatest challenges we face. At first it is fun and exciting to get older; we are allowed to do more things and we are able to do more things.

As time goes on we are able to do less things, and we are allowed to do less things, (cut down on many kinds of foods, certain activities are now too dangerous). So we soon discover that the aging process is not too much fun. As one of my older relatives said, "Aging is not for weak of heart".

One of the things that we must eventually give up is sports, and, martial arts. I recall when my dad's doctor said, "Rabbi, it is time to give up baseball and take up golf." Of course my dad, refusing to grow old, rejected the silly doctor's advice. He played baseball until his body would no longer allow it. When I was a green belt a doctor looked at my elbow, damaged from an arm-bar, and said, "Your martial arts days are over; it is time to find another sport." Obviously I did not listen to this doctor, but I did give up bowling. (too much stress on the elbow)

Now with martial arts some are designed for the young and athletic while other martial arts have evolved to become more suited for older people. Tai chi is generally practiced by older people while MMA and Taekwondo are practiced by the young. On a recent trip I met a Taekwondo master, a young woman with an impressive collection of championship trophies, who said that it seems Krav Maga is more suited for her at this "advanced" age.

There are certain sports reserved for young people. No one expects to see a 45 year old playing professional baseball or basketball. At this point they should be on the side line with a big belly, serving as a coach and telling stories from their glory days.

Krav Maga is not a sport, and I am not even sure if I want to include it as a martial art. Krav Maga is about survival, period. If you can survive by outrunning, out smarting, or outfoxing the assailant – great. You do not need to put him in an arm-bar. No matter what you do you will not be awarded a trophy. Your only trophy is getting home safely.

As such Krav Maga cannot be limited by age. When people contact me and say, "I am 54, can I learn Krav Maga, or am I too old?" I respond, "If a 54 year old cannot learn Krav Maga then I would not bother teaching it to anyone, at any age."

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Moshe Katz with Prof. Arthur Cohen, two 'not so young' martial artists, but still....able to fight.

The techniques of Krav Maga are designed so as not to require tremendous physical abilities. Speed, muscular strength, and flexibility are not what will determine your success in Krav Maga. Rather it is about understanding the concepts and developing the proper mind-set.

Changes as you Change

Krav Maga changes as you change. When I teach Krav Maga to first grade students (ages 6-7) it is mostly mind-set, attitude and awareness along with a few very simple techniques.

When I was a child all these aspects were ingrained in me from the earliest age; do not pick up any objects from the floor, they could be small bombs left by Arabs. Anyone can be a terrorist, be careful, do not wonder to unknown areas. The fear and threat of terrorism was so real (as it still is today), that it shaped my every thought.

As the child grows older he will learn more techniques, techniques that require more understanding, but still everything remains gross motor, simple and direct. The older students, young men of army age, will incorporate some kicks and more aggressive striking. They will do many pushups and develop great physical fitness and endurance.

As the Krav Maga practitioner ages so will his training mature. He will focus more on vulnerable points, hit and destroy rapidly, get away as soon as possible. The techniques will require less physical strength and more smoothness. The older practitioner will learn to rely less on his muscle and more on this "flow". His movements will become more natural and involve less exertion. Krav Maga grows and adapts as you age, just as you do. As long as you can still get around on your own – you should also be able to defend yourself, and I have heard many stories to his effect.

Perfect for Imperfect bodies

Many of my students over the years have had imperfect bodies; some have artificial limbs (war, terrorism, motor cycle accidents). Others have had diseases which left them imperfect (Asthma, bone deterioration, and others). And some of us, in fact nearly all of us, simply have imperfect bodies. That is why Krav Maga is designed for imperfect individuals, as nearly all of us are imperfect.

To paraphrase the great Abraham Lincoln; God loves imperfect people, that is why he created so many of us. Our style of Krav is designed for the imperfect. If I had brochures they would not be like those of other organizations, they would not feature perfect bodies, body building champions and beauty queens. These images create an illusion of perfection. Our style of Krav Maga will not make you perfect but it will show you how to use your imperfect body to cope with difficult situations.

Krav Maga is a combination of mental and physical skills. The exact proportion changes as you do. A child's Krav should not resemble that of an adult, and an adults Krav should not resemble that of a Senior Citizen, but all should be equally effective at our only goal; survival.

Tour and Train in Israel

Learn Krav Maga in Israel, the land where it was born and continues to develop. Spend 10 days, or more, soaking in the culture, the language, the history and the fighting spirit of this ancient land. See Israel as insider, not as a tourist.

Krav training will include:

hand to hand combat

gun, stick, knife defense,

Hostage situations

Defense in and around a car

and more...

We have sessions starting

June 10

August 1, 2012

Late November, exact dates to be announced soon

Tour and Train in Israel

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Register for Tour and Train in Israel