Real Life Mistakes

September 1, 2023, Delta, JFK - MSY New Orleans

In real life you cannot make mistakes

The river will drown you
The snake will bite you
The wolf does not have compassion

The elements are unforgiving

These profound words come from the fictionalized voice of a young woman making her way on the Western Frontier. The words reflect a truth, a reality, that most of us choose to ignore. A flood may destroy everything you have toiled for, it may also take your life. A snake seeking only to eat, can poison you with its bite. A native American "Indian" on the prairie will certainly defend his land. A wolf will satisfy its hunger, a river will not let you pass but will drown you, the storm will destroy you and leave you without supplies. The elements are unforgiving and this is reality.

Life is unforgiving, and this is reality.

There is good in life, there is bad in life, there is the unknown and there is the unknowable. 

We try to control our environment. We try to make the unknown better known. We try to stack the odds in our favor. Sometimes we can and sometimes we cannot. This is the reality of life. 

There is a generational ongoing debate among parents; how much to expose your children to. When I was a young karate instructor, teaching mostly children, we used to have Movie Night once a month. It was an idea I got from an American martial arts magazine, seemed like a good idea. Naturally I chose martial movies, and by their nature martial arts movies have violence. Many of the parents objected, the fight scenes gave the children nightmares. I had to stop this program. 

To me this made no sense, the reality of life in Israel is violence; war and terrorism that extended back to long before we were born and that shall extend long after we return to dust. People whose parents witnessed the Holocaust are concerned about exposing their kids to Jean Claude Van Damme kicking a bad guy? I disagree but that is the nature of the debate: is it better to expose young ones to the reality of life, or "protect" them for as long as possible so that they will not be traumatized? 

Most of us who grow up in nice neighborhoods with nice families are ingrained with a false sense of security, a fake reality. We make mistakes and our parents cover up for us. In truth there are no consequences to our mistakes. If our parents or teachers try to punish us for what we did wrong, we protest in righteous indignation; it was not my fault, someone else was to blame. Sadly, we see this in society as a whole, there is always someone else to blame. It is the government, it is my history, it is my ethnicity, it is "The System", whatever, it is always someone else's fault, and the individual expects society to bail him out once again. 

How many live on government' charity? How many just refuse to take responsibility for their own mistakes?

As our story begins, in nature this is not the way; the elements are unforgiving. You made a mistake? You took the wrong route, or went at the wrong time of year and now the snow will cause you to freeze to death, you miscalculated and now you will starve to death, that is reality. You made a mistake and you will pay for it. You have no one to complain to. There is no second chance, there is not opportunity to undo your mistake. You need to be careful, you need to be aware, you cannot become sloppy. A slight mistake can cost you your life. This is reality.

But when you are "molly cuddled", when you are allowed to make a mistake and then cry out DO OVER, you will never be ready for real life. 

Today most of us will never have to decide which mountain range to pass or which river to cross. Today most of us do not have to worry about being bitten by a rattle snake and not having access to medical care, but we have different troubles. Are we prepared for the rejection when we are not properly prepared for a job? Can we handle the emotional and financial setback of being fired? Divorce, financial ruin, seeing your business collpase, are you ready?

Can you handle the violent elements of modern society?  A wrong turn may land you in a violent neighborhood. You may not have to cross a raging river in Texas, but you might have to cross a neighborhood controlled by violent gangs. A mistake will not be forgiven. He who has trained, will survive. 

Every day we must make decisions, every day we must take actions, a mistake will not be forgiven, and there are no do-overs in the real world. We must be prepared. We must train hard. We must submit to reality in order to cope with it. Accept the pain in your training, accept that you will have to work hard. He who shoots most proficiently will be the one standing at the end of the gunfight. He who has studied hard, will get the job.


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

Understand the Israeli Fighting Mentality - Israel a Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz


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