AGGRESSION, Krav Maga, and self defense

September 7, 2020, Ashburnham, Massachusetts, Newton, New Hampshire, USA 

Let us state our goals clearly: Number 1. To survive. That is it, there is no other goal. We want to survive and we want to protect our loved ones so that they survive. We are not here to teach anyone a lesson. We are not learning Krav Maga to impress anyone or win a trophy. We are not learning Krav Maga to become a feared Bad Ass. We have one goal and that is survival.

At my seminars I often say, if you are irritated by the fact that sometimes I will speak for a few minutes, your pulse or heart rate will go down, you will not be sweating, in that case you are at the wrong class, you can leave now. For me the goal is not to have a sweaty session, burn calories, push you to your human limits. I am sorry but you simply misunderstood what this is all about. You are confused by the constant fake news and commercial advertising. You are thinking about a Tough Man competition, a Warrior Wannabe Weekend, an imitation boot camp for those who were never in the military but feel a need to experience it, or something like that. You are fantasizing about crawling in the mud and pushing yourself to the limit. But that is not what Krav Maga is about. It is about survival.

If my telling you a story will help you survive, than that is better than a thousand push-ups. Learning how to handle a situation, walk away and not feel the need to engage in a pointless and often hopeless fight, is survival training. True, it may not feel that way, it may not feel cool, but a mature individual will make his choices, calculate the cost and benefits of his actions and take appropriate action. If he does this then he will not suffer any psychological trauma afterwards.

One of one members in South Africa recently encountered a potential violent situation, he took his situation into account, the presence of his wife, the values at stake, and he made a wise decision. The cost was minimal and he remained calm and in control of himself and the situation throughout. Damage done: The loss of an object that can be replaced. 

Krav Maga is associated in the public mind with aggression: The aggressive Israeli martial art of Krav Maga used by the Israeli army blah blah blah. There is an element of truth in this but it is misunderstood. I will attempt to explain. Aggression is not the goal. Aggression is a tool, a means to an end, nothing more. Remember, the goal, the only goal, is survival. 

This is what I see; people enjoy aggression. Many students are drawn to Krav Maga because of the aggression. It makes them feel good, and that is fine. However, if your goal is real self defense than aggression is not enough, and often will lead you to make incorrect decisions, that could end your life quickly. Yesterday I taught a seminar, many of the participants were very thin, petite, women. Some were so small they purchase children sized clothing. Let me be clear; there is no way, no way at all, than any of these women, using traditional Krav Maga techniques and approaches, can defeat a large muscular male. With their tiny Fists of Fury they will not make a dent on a large well built Heavy Weight man. You are being sold a myth. Sorry.

I always say we begin our daily prayers with words of humility and we must being our daily Krav Maga self defense training the same way; with honesty, humility and sincerity. We must also accept ourselves as we are and acknowledge our limitations. 

As I walk around the airport these days I see all sorts of people. My mind is never far from self defense thoughts. I look at some of these massive men and I ask how will I, or my students, be able to defend against them, I believe that we can. But not with the traditional Commercial approach. 

Aggression has its place and we certainly use aggression, when and how it is most effective. I will repeat that, we use and teach aggression, it has its time and place. But we must also have the correct techniques. And I know there is a is not the style, it is the practitioner. I disagree. I have seen people come from nearly every style of martial arts, but in a short time with us they feel they have gained much more in the area of practical realistic usable self defense. Yes, style does make a difference. 

Aggression has another downfall. Some styles of Krav Maga teach that aggression is always to be used. The approach, and I heard this again yesterday, is always to counter attack and beat up the bad guy. This is true folly. There are times to cut your losses, and get away. Know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. Every good gambler knows there is a time to take your winnings and walk away from the table, while you still can. 

These styles of Krav Maga would have a tiny petite woman "beat up" a tall muscular man rather than "run away". No, we teach, do the gun disarm, block the knife attack, escape the knife threat, get out of the choke-hold, and then based on your particular circumstances YOU decide what is the best course of action. There will be times when an aggressive counter-attack is the correct decision, and we do teach that. But there will be times when the correct decision will be to escape and seek safety. As Mr. Miyagi teaches, "When have full respect for self and full respect for attacker, that answer comes". 

This illusion that a 1.6 meter woman, 5 foot 2 or so, with proper aggressive training will be able to use that aggression to defend herself is incorrect in my view, based on my decades of study. However when taught correct techniques, Body Movement, correct concepts and when and how to disengage, she will indeed be able to defend herself against a larger more muscular aggressor. 

We need to be honest, and not fall prey to illusions. If you train to feel good; great, do a boot-camp, do "Aggressive Krav Maga" that will consist of nothing but elbows and knees, and shouting and uppercuts, and lots of sweating. But if real self defense is your concern, you should reconsider this approach. Our goal at IKI is survival, we have no other goals. 

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