January 9, 2019, Israel (and the United Kingdom)
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Our rabbis teach that the first step in learning is humility. Asian martial arts teach "empty your cup".
People take up martial arts training for many reasons, self-defense is only one of those reasons. However, if self-defense is your goal one must be careful to chose a style that actually focuses on self-defense and survival.
One way to know that this is the case is the evolution of the style. If you view our videos or DVDs from several years ago you will find that much has changed over the years. Many techniques have been dropped totally, many have been modified, this is because we are never content.
The reality of violence is so gruesome that we must never end our attempt at finding better solutions. As Gichin Funakoshi said we must always imagine our opponent in front of us.
Yesterday I bumped into a man who helped plan my home security system. I told him that to this day, every Friday night around 8:30 I become nervous and feel a need to patrol my house. That is the hour that the robbery took place. (with several attempts later on at approximately the same time). And yet, I told him, despite the loss of property and treasured personal items, there was also some good. The fact that I am still affected by this violation of my home helps me appreciate how traumatized actual victims of crime must feel; those who were stabbed, held up at gun-point, raped, survived a mass shooting etc. This has deepened my resolve and commitment to keep improving our system. As Mark Richardson points out (later on), there is no perfect solution, only an endless quest for improvement.
During our recent Five Day Training camp I had the honor of hosting and training Mark Richardson from the United Kingdom. Little did I know that he was already an accomplished martial arts instructor with a vast amount of knowledge and training in many styles. It was his endless quest for real life self-defense that brought him to us. I am pleased that he was satisfied with the training. Due to his vast previous training, which we noticed at once, Mark was able to earn his first level instructor status rather quickly. I never saw any of his diplomas, nor do I need to, I, and my staff, saw his skill and abilities to perform IKI Krav Maga.
Recently Mark sent me a link for a podcast where he was the guest. It was a full hour but I listened to it, every word, and several parts more than once. I am indeed very impressed.
I will include here some excerpts from his podcast, as well as a link for those who wish to hear the entire, unedited, version, as I feel there is a great deal we can learn.
I call this blog "Honesty in Training" as I feel that that is what he represents, honesty and humility.
Please note that nothing here is meant to disparage any other style of martial art. In fact it was his training in these other arts that allowed him to understand and become proficient in our style so rapidly. His conclusion, which he wrote to me later on, is not that "IKI is perfect and anyone can easily defend themselves" but rather that it is important step in the correct direction, but perfection shall never be found. I echo his feelings.
Interviewer: What have you been up to Mark?
Mark: I've just returned from Israel and did an instructor course in Krav Maga.
Its quite savage, its for realism, so I go to where it's come from. It's quite an explosion world wide last few years.
Interviewer: So who were you training with?
I went to meet a guy called Moshe Katz and IKI, he is a very well respected instructor in Krav Maga and he travels all around the world teaching seminars, but I actually went to his house where he's got a set-up in this cellar, and people from all around the world go, and I did a five day instructor course. Excellent experience. My outlook now is all about realism. I want to know what will work in a real situation.
Krav Maga is not a competitive system. There is no sport thing to it. It has taken influences from all the martial arts.
Incorporates into what works in a real situation. I went over there because of its effectiveness. I wanted to see the culture behind it as well. The trip was fantastic.
Moshe is a historian as well, he writes a lot of books on the history of Israel and the warrior aspect and the mentality of the Israelis. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the history, he incorporates that into his training.
Interviewer: it's so obvious when you look back at certain things. So you went from kind of the sporting side of combative arts, however you want to put it, martial arts, and you wanted to go into the reality side of things because, I think I'm right in saying that the reason you initially went into karate was for self protection, and to kind of make you feel more comfortable in environments but you began to think that maybe it wasn't going to help things in a reality situation. Is that right?
Mark Richardson: Yeah, I mean it's the bread crumps isn't it, I can look back now and see the story there, I probably did start through insecurity, so you're' in school, you look at the bigger lads, and I'm thinking I can't protect me self, not that I had any trouble, I wasn't being bullied, or anything like that, just a feeling I wouldn't mind knowing how, learning how to defend myself, although I got into it through the movies, I was obsessed with martial through movies. there was that side as well, I wanted to learn karate as self defense, and when you walking into it blind that is exactly what you think you are getting,
then when you look fifteen years down the line I've not really learned how to defend myself, what I've learned is a sport, and an art, and a competition aspect to it, and so evolved into competition, then i started to think i was bored of that, stopped competing with the England team, and it was just dead to me....started entering open competitions , to do something new and exciting for us on a personal level, … it was about to keep up my interest, to fire up some interest, but that became very boring as well,
so I began to think back to why I started, there I was 15 years down the line, I didn't know anything about self protection, if someone would have started some trouble with me, I wouldn't not known how to protect myself, I started looking into people who was out there doing real self protection, I did a lot of studying, a lot of reading,
...I needed to learn now to box and how to grapple...
I want into a boxing gym, .I've done 15 years of martial arts, Ive done hundreds of hours of sparring, .'there was going into boxing, I was absolutely pummeled, I mean absolutely pummeled, I had no answer to a basic jab, it was a fast learning curve, in the first sparring session, I've not even got close to the guy, here I thought about range of movement but it was totally different,... you learn very very fast. I was at the bottom of that class, I started to became obsessed with boxing....although I came for the practical level I .started getting drawn for to the sporting aspects, to the competition.
but then I contradicted everything Id come there for
I decided to train to become a pro fighter, for fights, I was training daily with these guys, fitness, sparring, then again I was embroiled in the competition side of things. Tough training.
as I was going towards my license I started to train less, due to things in my personal life, which is a good thing as it played out.
...then I went back to the original plan... I was also doing my personal training qualifications, I met a guy who invited me to his martial arts club, he introduced me to some grappling, same as the boxing, I was terrible, absolutely terrible, trying to use brute strength, I didn't have a clue. then slowly....I was full on to grappling,
….the physical side of it is probably 10% of self protection, which seems laughable when you say that, 90% of it is the warning signs, the feelings we have pre fight, the signals people are sending, their is an internal dialogue going on,
...self defense is about avoidance,
on some level … if you are in a violent account it means you missed something. I strongly believe if you are in a violent encounter you missed something
there are a lot of myths out there about violence.
You have asked, is violence necessary in this situation? What are your options?
If you can get to someone's back, you can run away.
...the more you learn how to do the physical side, the less you want to do the physical side of it in a real situation.
Moshe: I also want to ask you a question. After training in karate, boxing, grappling, Kapap, and some very respected instructors, how do you feel after your training here? I hope you feel that you have found the answers you are looking for?
Mark: Israel was a very prevalent step in my understanding of martial arts and as you know we never find the defining answers in any of our endeavours. What we do learn is that we are forever evolving and helping each other along the path.
Thank you for an incredible experience in Israel and a thoroughly enjoyable course and training. I am still processing the information and knowledge you passed on - thank you!
Promoting Mark Richardson to IKI first level instructor
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