I was recently asked the question by one of our IKI UK members, "Now that I have learned a certain number of techniques, perhaps I don't need to come in for training anymore. I can just practice at home and save myself the trouble and expense. When I need more techniques I can come in for more training." Sounds like a fair question. And of course practicing at home is a good idea, as long as you are not beating up your family members.
Moshe Katz training with Professor Cohen, a true expert.
But is it enough, training on your own? Is it OK to stay home and practice by yourself?
Hmm, not really. It does not work that way. My friend and teacher Arthur Cohen always says, it is not correct to say, "Practice makes perfect", rather perfect practice makes perfect, and practice makes permanent. If you are practicing unsupervised you can be making some serious mistakes. Soon this will become habit and it will cost you a great deal more to correct these mistakes. Correcting bad habits is more difficult than learning new techniques. It is a tough business.
Sometimes you can come to practice, train for an hour or longer and only get one little correction from the instructor. That one correction is worth all the time, effort and expense. That one correction will save you a great deal of headache in the future, maybe even your life.
Arthur Cohen told me that if he goes to a three day seminar, pays $260 and all he gets is one minor improvement on one technique, he considers himself to have spent his time and money wisely. Any true martial artist will nod his head in agreement.
There is value to expertise, in Krav Maga or in any field. My friend Harry told me that once a repairman came into his house. He analyzed a certain problem, tightened one screw and solved the problem. "That will be $180 please". My friend was shocked and wanted to see an itemized list and an explanation why a five minute job cost $180. The list said, "Tightening screw - $1, years of training and experience adding up to the knowledge of what screw to tighten, $179". My friend was satisfied.
My father had a similar experience. We used to live in a house with these roof tiles. Every winter when a big storm would come we would lose a few tiles and have to pay an expert to climb up and replace the two or three tiles that blew away. One day my dad figured this was a waste of money. It did not look that difficult; he could probably do it himself. Not far away a friend of his had the same thought, and acted upon it first. Sadly the man underestimated the importance of the expert and tried it himself. He promptly fell through the roof, landed in his bedroom with a broken leg, a hole in the roof, huge medical and home repair bills. Plus of course he had to call up the tile replacement guy and pay him to do the original job. My father decided against trying it himself. He realized that paying the expert for what appeared to be a simple job was actually the less expensive option.
Often we think short term; we are "Penny wise, pound foolish". What I would give to have someone look at my technique and say, "You know if you twist your hips a little more this way you will get more power", or "if you grab the gun that way it will be more effective." Such expert tips are priceless.
Sometimes when I am teaching and I see the student has mastered a certain Krav Maga technique I say to myself, "that alone was worth the price of admission. Whatever he gets beyond that is pure gravy". I keep my thoughts to myself of course but that is my honest opinion as a teacher and as a student.
So we can spend all day drilling holes in our walls trying to find what screw to tighten, we can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage in our attempt to not pay the expert but the wise man will recognize that the fastest and least expensive way is simply to pay the expert, even when it looks like he is hardly doing anything. Just remember what the man told my friend, "Turn screw - $1, years of training and experience to know where to turn screw - $179."