Dojo Vs the Street
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

February 21, Los Angeles, California, USA

The ultimate goal, or at least claim, of most martial arts is self defense; to be able to defend yourself on the street, in your home, at your office building, at the train station, on the bus etc. 

From karate to Taekwondo to Kung Fu to Krav Maga, all make this claim. The question is, how successful are any of these arts at giving us the tools we need to survive. How well do dojo (training hall) skills translate to the "Street"? What is your black belt really worth in a violent life and death struggle? Does your tournament trophy actually mean anything in terms of life saving survival skills?

These are tough and pointed questions that most instructors would rather avoid. The problem is that the truth cannot be avoided, the real life violent confrontation cannot be avoided, sooner or later it will come, if not to you than to someone you know. To paraphrase the title of an old controversial book, these are uncomfortable questions for comfortable martial artists. 

How realistic is your training?

As I see it all training is compromised because, quite simply, it is training. i.e. there is no element of surprise or fear. Once you walk into the dojo you know what it is all about, it is never going to be the same as being attacked on your way home from work. No matter how hard you train or fight, there is always going to be a missing element, and this is our challenge.

How do we compensate for that? not by harder training, not by using stress drills, not by greater levels of fitness. We must focus on the real issue; the mind.

When a great martial artist, an athlete, or the average person, is attacked on the street the part of the body that is really being attacked is the mind - we are caught unprepared. All military battles are predicated on this point, the art of deception and surprise. Study World War Two, the discussions at military headquarters were always focused on this point, where and when is the enemy expecting this attack and how can we fool them? 

Hitler deceived Stalin with a fake non aggression pact and caught the Russian army totally by surprise. The American deceived the Germans with the DD invasion. The Germans surprised the Americans with the Battle of the Bulge. Of course supplies, training and conditioning are also important factors.

Thus in our dojo training we must find a way to compensate for this huge lack, the missing element, the mind game. 

We do so by focusing on the tools, not on an exact sequence of attack and defense. In my seminars in Ukraine I was constantly frustrated by young female warrior-wanna-bees all dressed in military camouflage asking...but what next? They wanted a step by step response to everything. Not only is that not possible, or realistic, it is counter productive. 

We train our tools, and as Bruce Lee so wisely said many years ago, Train your tools properly and they will strike at the correct moment. i.e. you will not strike, not your mind, but the tools will strike as they have been trained, fluidly. 

We train the mind, to be aware, to scan the environment, to visualize threats and potential attacks, same as a general would do in war. 

Use the Surprise to your advantage

and here is a crucial point: unlike other systems we do not depend upon action but rather on natural RE-action. We do not try to override the natural wiring of our system, we learn to work with it.  We do not try to conquer fear, we learn to use it. We use the element of shock and surprise to our advantage, so that rather then having the fear paralyze us it triggers a response, our well trained tools. 

In conventional martial arts wisdom they say

if you are a 10 in the dojo you can expect to be a 7 on the street.

If you are a black belt in the dojo, you can expect to be a blue belt on the street. 

Your worst day in the dojo will still be better than your best day on the street.

Our training is the opposite. 

Our training has proven itself on the street because of our unique approach. As we use the surprise to our advantage to trigger well rehearsed simple gross motor moves, our results have been..

If you are a 7 in the dojo you will be a 10 on the street, and so forth. We train for reality. We survive. 

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