harsh reality krav maga

March 5, 2021, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, USA 

In academia the contrast is clear; you have the world of the academy and you have the real world. It seems like yesterday, oh how the years fly, that I walked out of my place of work, the Bank Leumi Trust Company of New York and happened to bump into one of my favorite professors, Prof. Moshe Ballabon of Baruch College. 

I liked him very much, such a fine English gentleman, how lovely to see him again. He inquired as to how I was doing in the "Real World" of banking and economics. I told him it was a far cry from our lessons in school. Whereas in the university we were assigned complex economic problems and told that we are Chief Executive Officers of major international corporations, in the real world I was performing mundane routine tasks, such as opening bank accounts and transferring money. I can still picture his calm delightful smile, ah yes, I too tried the real world once as a young man, I did not care for it much so I returned to the university to pursue my doctorate, and a career in academia. I am much happier in this world. (give or take, that was his message, but he probably said it more elegantly than I can). 

Yes, indeed, he spoke the truth. Little did I know, back during that lunch break in 1989, how relevant those words would be to my true calling, not as an Economist, but as a Krav Maga Self Defense instructor.  

As the professor pointed out there is a difference between the class room and the real world. I recall another wise professor telling us the following message: a plumber finishes his course and can go fix a toilet. You guys are prepared for nothing but for being able to learn something. i.e. we were not ready to work, we were only ready to begin to learn about the reality of business and economics.

The distinction between the world of Academia, the world of philosophy, is very different from the Dog eat Dog world of business. That is why professors rarely make good businessmen. There is a similar distinction between dojo martial arts training and surviving real brutal violent attacks, and yet most (nearly all) martial arts academies do not deal with this issue. 

Training is all physical. There is no discussion of psychology. There is no attempt to understand the mindset of the criminal, or gang member. Hardened street criminals are "played" by compliant friendly dojo classmates. The real world is treated as if it is made up of your classmates.

Some schools will "go hard" now and then, but that is not what I am talking about. I am not talking about making it more challenging physically, I am not talking about revving up the physical challenge. Being more fit is not a crucial factor on the street, though it may help. Understanding violence, aggression, street "ethics" is more important. Plenty of college athletes have been killed in common holdups, you are die prettier. 

Sometimes I can be a little "mean" during class or a seminar. I only wish to wake people up from their "Pleasantville" or Pleasant Valley Sunday, to the harsh realities of life outside their comfort zone. I want them to understand what they are facing.

In the film, "the Best of the Best", the coach, played by the brilliant actor James Earl Jones, is accused of being too harsh on this martial athletes who are preparing to compete in Korea. He responds by saying...I have been there, I have faced these athletes, I know what are team is up against, but they have no clue.  

He wants them to succeed. He knows how to get them there, but first they must wake up.

Without an understanding of the harsh reality of the real world, I believe most martial arts training is pretty much useless. I look back at the many techniques that I learned from many great and wonderful high-ranking martial arts and I believe that no one in the history of martial arts has ever used these techniques successfully on the street. They are Academia martial arts. The fact that the instructor may have served in the military does not automatically validate a technique. It has to work for us, under pressure, and we must understand what real pressure means.  

I often create an imaginary opponent. I will say..."His mother is a prostitute, his father...anybody's guess, his uncle was killed in a gang fight, his older brother is in prison. He joined a gang at the age of 9. Stabbed a man to death at the age of 10. Shot a man at the age of 12 and now he has 19 kills to his name. Do you think he will hesitate to shoot you? Do you think you can say, Hey man, take it easy, and then fool him with a self defense technique? I think not. We need to understand this. He has every advantage, we have almost none .This is our starting point. 

Once we understand this, we can begin our training, and it will look very different. Training is not only physical.

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