July 11, 2020, Israel
I am an educator, my field of education is Krav Maga, and I am passionate about seeing people learn to defend themselves, gain confidence, gain life skills and become stronger individuals. I come from an educational family and an academic background, but I also come from a people who are experts at survival. After all were are the ancient Phoenicians, the Etruscans, the Gauls, the Ligurians, but we are here. Israel fights daily for its survival, we are a Nation of Warriors.
I want people to learn to defend themselves but I am not geared only towards professional martial artists, competitive athletes, or who those who train full time. I am here for all of us; with our family obligations, our busy lives, our struggle to make a living, ordinary people who need to acquire life saving skills. The streets are dangerous.
I have been a teacher for a long time. Many years ago the father of one of my students, a life time educator himself, said to me words that changed my perspective. He said, "Moshe you are more than a Krav Maga instructor, you are an educator". And so I am. I look at the many people who attempt to learn martial arts, self defense, just as I look at all those who wish to learn a language, and It makes me wonder; why is it that so few succeed?
Truly, the vast majority of those who take up martial arts, or a foreign language, do not learn anything of lasting value. That is the plain truth. You can check it out.
I have spent years wondering why people do not learn and how can we change this.
There are many things that I do different from others; for one I make every effort not to offend or insult anyone. This was not the norm when I was training. I do not choose to ignore beginners until they have "earned the right" to be noticed by me. I do not test new students by questioning their sincerity.
Here I want to focus on another point, on why people fail to learn that which they were so enthusiastic about; the difference between learning a skill and acquiring a skill. They may seem like the same idea, you may think it is simply a matter of semantics, it is not. I assure you of this. Hopefully I will be able to enlighten you.
There is a difference between acquiring a skill and learning a skill. I will take two examples, learning an instrument and learning a language, but this applies to any skill. When you learn a musical instrument, you learn, i.e. you memorize certain rules, notes, chords, patterns. Music has strict rules, timing, rhythm. To play in an orchestra every detail must be adhered to. And yet the best musicians feel the music rather than read the music. The instrument becomes an extension of their body. They no longer read notes but feel the notes. They have acquired the skill. They do not need to count, or think. With a language, if you are fluent you do not think about sentence structure or grammar. In fact most native speakers of any language would fail a grammar test in their own language. This is because they never "learned" the language, they never went to school to learn to speak their native tongue, rather they acquired it as children without trying to learn.
What does this mean and how can it help us with Krav Maga/Self-Defense?
When you "learn" a style, you will be learning to think about techniques, steps, movements, details. Most people will get lost at this point. It is like learning Italian, and memorizing when to use L', la, il etc...The thinking process prevents you from progressing. We teach concepts, body movements, ways of thinking; all this comes before techniques.
When you learn concepts you can apply them, you do not need to memorize them. The ideas become a part of you and you use them naturally. There is less right and wrong, there is just understanding and application. You acquire the techniques by understanding the movements and the underlying principles. We teach you body movements and then concepts. Now you will move naturally without stopping to think, without having to remember specific details. First you get the Big Picture, the details come later.
We have found that with learning if we focus on details too soon students get bogged down and never progress. We are not looking for perfection, certainly not at the beginning. We are looking for understanding how to move, the rest comes later.
A child will learn their native language, only later, much later, they will learn the correct grammar. After they have Acquired the language they can learn more details; rules of grammar and better use of vocabulary.
When you pay attention to every detail at the beginning you will acquire very little. The details come at the advanced levels after the basics have been acquired. We believe in minimizing corrections until the basic idea is understood. We only correct that which is essential in order to avoid bad habits. We also believe that your body will be your best teacher and find the natural path. All this accelerates learning and acquiring the skill set. The result is you have Acquired skills which are now yours forever, like riding a bicycle you will retain these skills. Of course continued practice is vital for staying at your best.
Think back at your life; all the tests you passed in school. You "learned" for them and you passed, but do you have that knowledge now?
Now think back at what you did acquire; language skills, sports, how to fix things. All these were acquired by doing, by enjoying the activity, by becoming part of the activity itself.
We teach you to Acquire Krav Maga in a way that it becomes yours and can serve you when you need it most.
Moshe teaching members of the Jewish club at Baruch College, where he earned his MBA in Finance and Economics.
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