The Art of Economy Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz
Inspired by Primo Levi

August 8, 2016, Israel and....Auschwitz

If This Is A Man, written by Primo Levi just after the Holocaust.

People tell me not to live in the past, but why? We learn from the past. I say half jokingly that I have one foot in the present and one foot in the Holocaust. Some things you never outgrow.

Bruce Lee wrote that in self defense we must practice economy of movement. Now this is not followed by most martial arts and not understand by most "masters". No, not at all.

First we must distinguish between what can be done in the relaxed atmosphere of the dojo/training hall and the reality of street self defense where fear and panic take hold. Most instructors do not understand this concept at all, but they will tell you that they do.

The proof is in their training. Push ups, "stress drills", running and climbing have nothing whatsoever to do with training for reality; Neither does crawling in the mud or looking really tough.

Let me tell you about some really tough people, let me tell you about reality. No, I will let Primo Levi tell you, read his book, "If this is a Man".

Bruce Lee talked about economy of motion, and for this we must consider him wise. But Kraus spoke about it long before Bruce Lee.

Kraus? Who is Kraus?

Kraus is a Jew in Auschwitz in 1944, what became of him I do not know.

Levi writes..."he is Hungarian, the understands German badly...He is tall and thin, wears glasses...He works too much and too vigorously: he has not yet learnt our underground art of economizing on everything, on breath, movements, even thoughts." (Primo Levi, If This Is A Man, page 147)


I have tried to express these same thoughts myself at every seminar. Economize, for you must!

In Auschwitz they learned this the hard way, and those that did not learn did not live long, they collapsed from exhaustion. Primo Levi hits the nail on the head; even thoughts are energy and must be used sparingly. I have stressed this at my seminars; the more you have to think about the more you drain your brain, and in a real life situation your brain has limited supplies. You are wasting valuable supplies having to think of extra moves.

Thus you not only waste your time with extra steps, you waste and deplete the mental energy you have. In a real life situation this may lead to your death, as they learned in Auschwitz.

As Levi points out, every move, every breath, every thought uses valuable time, effort and energy. We must economize if we are to survive.

Thus in our style we make every attempt to chip away at the stone, reduce, distill, minimize, optimize, economize. Every non essential move is dropped, every non essential thought extinguished.

In Auschwitz one learned ...or one died.

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