March 24, 2019, Apeldoorn, Holland, the Netherlands
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A new student joined us for class today. He came from another style, this was his first exposure to our training. As he left he thanked me, the host, and every one of the participants. He said he was made to feel welcomed, everyone helped him understand the techniques, everyone allowed him the time and space to learn. No one bullied him, no one hit him hard, no one intimidated him. He has already indicated that he will be joining us for our next seminar.
We train for real life. We train for survival. But we train smart. I always teach to be cautious when training. If you are using a heavy training rifle, be careful not to smack your training partner with it in the jaw. If you are punching without the punching shields, use caution, as my teacher Itay Gil used to say jokingly, keep your training partner alive and well, you need him at least until the end of the training.
We train for reality but we must train smart, we must protect each other. We prefer to be on the mat than in the hospital.
There are schools where the emphasis in training is on aggression. They feel every training session must be totally aggressive, for this is what real life is like. Yes, it is true that real life can be very aggressive but this does not mean that brutal training is the correct way to prepare for this.
We do not shy away from hard training, we are not afraid of pain. However there is an intelligent way to go about doing this. Training must be gradual, learning the techniques, the concepts, developing smoothness and fluidity and developing confidence. At this point speed and aggression can be controlled in a safe and productive way.
But what do we see in many schools? We see Aggression as a Compensation for Technique and true ability. We see aggression being used to cover up flaws.
Let us make an analogy with music, a field I spent years in as a musician and performer. If you playing a piece of classical music, Beethoven, Mozart, it must be played carefully, note by note. Every little mistake will be noticed and there is no way to cover it up. On the other hand if you are playing the Sex Pistols or some other punk music from the 1980's, just play loud and fast and aggressively and no one will notice if you make mistakes. The point I am trying to express is that speed and volume often camouflage many mistakes, they are the make-up that covers up a woman's blemishes, and yet the blemish is still there.
Another analogy with which I have experience, the reading of the Torah in the synagogue. We read the Torah from the original scrolls without punctuation or any markings and yet we are expected to read it correctly. Any mistake invalidates the reading and the section must be repeated. In the Yemenite synagogue in which I pray the reading is done very slowly. Visitors who are not used to this often become impatient. And yet this is the old way.
Every little mistake is revealed. However in many synagogues the reader reads very fast, so fast that it is difficult to hear the subtle mistakes. Over the years these mistakes become acceptable until the language is not longer what it was originally. That is why "European Hebrew" sounds nothing like the original Hebrew as still used by Jews of Yemen.
A good reader can read fast and slow, a poor reader can only "get away with it" when he reads fast. It is exactly the same with Krav Maga.
Hit hard and fast and aggressively and it looks impressive and powerful. In fact many mistakes are being made, you will pay the price for this in a real confrontation for you have not trained correctly. Learn to do it correctly, slow and smooth. Soon you will be able to control the technique.
Aggression is like volume; you can control it, you can turn it up as you need it. A good musician is a good musician even when he is playing his guitar softly, an acoustic guitar, no amplifier. A poor musician uses volume to cover up his lack of ability.
My friend Heribert in the coffee business says the same about coffee; anyone can take hot water, poor quality coffee, add plenty of cream and sugar and pass it off as coffee. But true coffee can be drunk without any additives and the quality comes through.
With our Krav Maga we can "raise the volume" when we need to. But we can also play the song quietly, with a quality cup of coffee.
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