Explain clearly
By Moshe Katz
CEO Israeli Krav International

April 29, 2020, Israel

Highschool, Hebrew Academy of Greater Miami, sometime in the 1980's. I was playing football, a game I had not known in Israel. The coach was grunting some strange sounds...Go deep, cut left, circle right, etc...I went up to him and asked, Are you saying that Kenny should run this way, and Josh should run that way, and Gary should ...throw the ball and...

He looked shocked and upset and turned to one of the other students/players and said, "What is wrong with this guy? Is he stupid or something?"

Fortunately my classmates responded, "No, he is not stupid, in fact he is probably the top Talmud student in the school, he just likes to make sure he understands the lesson thoroughly."  

The same "Problem" followed me in college. I was criticized for papers that were too long. Professor Deborah Lipstadt gave us an assignment; Discuss the history the Talmud, length of paper to be between 5 and 10 typed pages.

I received My paper back, Grade: 98, minus 15 points for over-exceeding the page limit by more than 100% (about 23 typed pages), total grade: 83. (See me after class, Prof. D. Lipstadt). I saw her after class. She informed me that I had two options; redo the paper according to her guidelines, not to exceed 10 pages, or accept the lower grade. I accepted the lower grade, I told her it was not possible to do the topic justice in just a few pages.

The professor often criticized me for being involved in "militia like activities" for Jewish defense on campus. Years later we had a happy reunion at a Jewish political conference in Washington D.C., where we were both invited to speak. She smiled at me and said she was surprised to see me, she thought I would be in prison by then.

During graduate school a professor handed me back my paper, with an "A", but with a comment, "Mr. Katz, you write like you speak, too much.""

So, yes, I like to be clear. I like to make sure that as a student I understand the material thoroughly and as a teacher that I am explaining it clearly. Over the years I have tried to become more concise. 

I have found that taking a little extra time to explain something clearly, or alternatively as the student, taking a little extra time to demand a better explanation, will save a lot of time and frustration in the long run. Imagine you have just purchased a new computer, and you are not a hi tech type. The guy has no time for you, he "explains" it quickly and wants to move on to another sale. But wait, you don't quite understand! Do you walk away, ashamed to admit that you have no clue what all that google-de-glop was about, or demand a clearer explanation? I say, stand your ground, demand a clear explanation. And as a teacher, do not dismiss your class until you are convinced they understand, fully.

On the other hand I do not believe in over-belaboring the point. There is a point in Krav Maga to say; Enough talk, start doing the technique and I will watch you and guide you. Too much intellectualizing of the technique leads to inaction. So I explain the technique clearly and then let's do it. Just make sure you explain it clearly, and concisely. As I see a student progressing I will add some pointers to fine-tune his ability and help him improve.

I heard one Israeli say to another, "You really understood what I am trying to say!", and the other responded, "When it is explained to me slowly, I understand quickly". 

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