November 8, 2020, Israel
I was walking out of the bank where I worked, my long awaited lunch break, and low and behold I bumped into one of my favorite professors, Prof. Balabon. He greeted me warmly and asked how it was in the real world, now that I had graduated from Business school and found a job at a bank. I told him it was quite different from the exciting projects he assigned us while we were students in his class. We were no longer "heads of banks making complicated international investments", but simple entry level bankers dealing with the mundane every day life of the banking world. "Ah, so reality is not what you thought it was!" He smiled broadly, "I too once tried living in the real world, didn't care for it much. So I returned to the world of academia and earned my doctorate. I have chosen to stay in this world. I am much happier now. "
I have never forgotten that brief conversation although I may be off a little on the exact wording, but not the intention. That was 1989 and I was getting my feet wet in the real world. I learned a great deal during my university days but only years later I discovered what I really learned during those years. The difference between the world of the student and the world of the street, are the difference between academic theory and life experience.
The academic training had not prepared me for any particular job. In fact our professors made this clear to us; When you graduate you will not be prepared for any particular job, at best you will be prepared to learn the job, on the job. This proved to be quite accurate. The Ivory Tower of Academia did not prepare me for the reality of work and the challenges I would face.
It is said that when Bobby Kennedy went down to Mississippi and actually met the people, he was so moved that he became a changed man. He became a champion of social justice. His heart went out to this downtrodden people. He had read reports, he had statistics but he had never seen the people or felt their pain.
This week in the synagogue I read the following words from the Torah, the ancient scroll hand written on parchment, a tradition that goes back to Biblical days. "And God said 'the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their transgression so grievous. I will go down now and see whether what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has come to my attention, and if not, I will know.'" (Genesis, Chapter 18, verse 20-21)
So we see that God himself, although all-knowing, still did not rely upon reports from a distance. He felt the need to go down himself, in person and see what is going on before he passes judgment. Sitting in a government office, analyzing reports about the situation in a certain region, will never be enough. That is why most government programs fail, these academics or politicians are not in touch with We the People. They don't have the pulse of the people, they don't understand what we are going through. It is the same these days with the Coronavirus. A local shop keeper was interviewed, she shouted at a government official who decided to postpone the opening of small shops by another two weeks. She said...another two weeks! Do you understand that my children are hungry and I cannot feed them? You sit in your office with your coffee and your secretary and you decide that to be on the safe side we should wait? We can't wait!
This is in fact how much of life is. Those who are far removed from the problem are the ones who make the decisions. A general sitting in Washington would decide about troop movements in Europe, but he is not there, he does see the terrain, he does not see the men, he does not feel their bitter cold feet and wet socks, he is not knee deep in snow and with hunger pangs in his belly. He his not holding the brains of his dead comrade in his hands.
And so it is with many martial arts. You memorize long sequences and are expected to apply these for a real life violent attack. Does the creator of these complex moves understand that when the attack comes you will have trouble remembering your own name, let alone these complex series of techniques? I watch these lessons and I just shake my head, I am quite a good student but half way through the sequence they have lost me. My mind is already somewhere else.
I learned such styles, I taught such styles. But I have traveled the world and I have seen violence. I have heard first hand accounts in South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, the worst parts of the USA, and of course in Israel. When the S...t hits the fan you have to have something simple, very simple and instinctive. I have talked to the victims, I have seen their scars, physical and emotional. And I have changed the way I think.
I think of myself as a fairly intelligent person and I have decades of martial arts experience. If I cannot learn a technique in a few minutes, if I cannot remember it the next day, forget it, I don't want anything to do with this. If I can't learn it, how will my students?
IKI Krav Maga comes from the people, it is of the people. We receive questions from all over the world with detailed reports and videos of attacks that took place, from Oaxaca and Morelia in Mexico, from Australia, from downtown Philadelphia and the center of San Juan, Puerto Rico. From the gangs of Los Angeles to the gangs of Port Authority New York, we study real cases and we deal with real people.
We shall always remain the Krav Maga of the people. Our students all over the world are on the front lines and they provide us with feedback. We are always responsive to their input and we gain from their experience. Of the people, for the people, by the people.
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