Damaged and Cracked Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz

February 1, 2012

One of my nephews just had his preliminary interview with the Israel Defense Forces, (IDF), he is 17 and as such it is time to get ready for military service. During the interview they asked him many questions and he tried his best to give the answers he thought they were looking for. My brother explained that this is a foolish approach. When you are being interviewed by a professional they know what to look for.

I recall when I was in college and friends told me of their job interviews, the following question always came up, "Tell me your strengths and weaknesses, your virtues and faults.", Well, no one had a problem listing their many glorious virtues, but faults? Hmm, that is a problem, "If I have faults no one will want me for the job!"

We can never confess to having faults.

The solution? Nearly everyone gave the following answer; "My number one fault is that I am a perfectionist and a workaholic. I am not happy until I have completed the task to the complete satisfaction of the boss. I often stay late at work as I cannot sleep until the work is done to my satisfaction."

Hmmm…I wonder if the interviewer can see through that one.

My brother, a veteran hi-tech worker, told my nephew the following story. A man comes in for a job interview and is asked, "Have you ever committed a mistake?"

Now that is awkward, so the applicant answers, (lying of course), No sir, I have not.

"Well then", the interviewer continues, "I am afraid we cannot hire you. You see we learn from mistakes, sometimes things go wrong, we face a new challenge and we grow from it. Mistakes help us learn to cope with a challenge, with a situation that was unanticipated, when all hell breaks loose, when we suddenly have a crisis on our hands. I am afraid you do not have the necessary experience for this position. You see all men make mistakes and I certainly would not want your first mistake to be on the job with us! I need someone who has made mistakes and learned how to handle that situation. I wish you luck and I hope you continue with your lucky streak."

Some styles of martial arts, fighting, Krav Maga, make no mistakes. They have a text book, they have a manual; it remains unchanged as it is passed from teacher to student. The techniques are never really tested or questioned; as such no mistakes are possible. Dry drills always look perfect. The students look like choreographed dancers on stage; beautiful to watch but useless in real life crap-hits-the wall situations. Certainly the teacher can never admit that what he was teaching until now may have been flawed and perhaps it is time for a newer technique. If no mistakes are admitted – no real learning can take place.

In life and in Krav Maga we do make mistakes. Even the Bible says clearly that there is no man without flaw, there is no man who has not erred. In fact the definition of being human is to make mistakes. The only question is – do we learn from our mistakes.

As my friend Annie wrote in her amazing poem – the most beautiful sea shells are those that are cracked or broken, those are the sea shells that have experienced the harsh waves, the reality of life. Those are the sea shells that have a story to tell, a lesson to teach. They are damaged and cracked from the life they have led and that is why they have victories and stories to tell.

We have nothing to learn from the pristine perfect sea shells.

With IKI Krav Maga we learn from our mistakes. Every time there is an attack in Israel we analyze what went wrong and what lessons can be learned from this. I look at old warriors, scarred, damaged and cracked; their scars are products of their mistakes, and lessons; it is from them that I want to learn.