May 16, 2018, Israel and Rome
I was asked to write a book on Krav Maga, one of those step by step photo books where you can learn a martial art by looking at photos with a brief explanation.
I turned this down.
I prefer DVDs where you can explain more thoroughly and offer various alternatives just in case things don't go as planned.
Martial arts choreography can come out picture perfect and I do respect these martial arts actors and choreographers, that takes a lot of skill to perform. However that is not reality. In Israel we are always reminded not to "live in the movies" but in reality.
We teach the technique slowly in a picture perfect way, step by step with attention to detail. However we teach skills that will serve you well when things do not work our perfectly. Because as the songs says, "Mama said there would be days like this". Yes, there will be days when things do not go perfectly.
Recently I was in Rome, Italy teaching a defense against a choke from behind. Someone had a question, doubting my technique. I chose as a volunteer the largest man among the more than 70 participants. He put the choke on.
The technique I was teaching did not work, at first.
The man is larger, younger, and stronger than me and he held me with all his strength. He was not giving me any discounts. His lock was so powerful that what I had planned to do simply was not working.
Does this mean it was a bad technique?
The technique is intended to be used as soon as the person puts the choke on, not after waiting patiently for the attacker to perfect the lock and get into the perfect position, securing the lock against you. No. Your resistance must begin at once, that is part of your training.
However, if this unfortunate situation should come to pass, the situation is not a lost cause. This is where your training comes into play, you still have tools.
In front of more than seventy participants I did not want to call for a "do-over", or say. "I was not ready". That would not look good. The man had an unfair advantage, and this often happens at seminars where I am a guest and the participants are not my students; They like to challenge me. This is not really "Fair" as I did not come for a fight, I came to teach. I am going slowly and the student is going hard, but whatever, I have to deal with it.
So while at first I could not get out I held on so that he was not causing me any harm or damage whatsoever. I used other tools to loosen him up. I shifted my body and attacked his hands. That was enough to move into my technique.
Thus in real life techniques often do not come out Picture Perfect, that is why it is dangerous to learn martial arts from a book, (as Mr. Miyagi points out in Karate Kid part one) however when we run into some trouble we have backup tools (part of our training) that allow us to deal with these unfortunate obstacles. In the end after a short struggle I emerged from the chokehold unscathed. My technique is valid.
And that is life itself. You show up for a job interview, but they do not ask you the questions you were prepared for. You go on a date but the young lady does not like the type of food you had in mind, or the planned activity. You spend a small fortune for tickets for an outdoor concert but she does not like sitting on the grass. You plan for an exam but it is nothing like you expected.
So we "Find a new plan Stan". We have to adjust. Life is not Picture Perfect, Krav Maga is not Picture Perfect. We will run into little snags along the way. We will overcome and move on.
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