September 3-5, 2020
Garden Hilton Hotel, Virginia, Delta flights 2242, IAD-ATL-BOS,
Written Ashburnham, Massachusetts, USA
I read a blog that shook me to my core. And I must admit this is rather rare. This blog took me totally out of my comfort zone and made me contemplate and probe deeply into issues I had chosen to ignore for a long time. It shook me to the point that at times I had to stop, pause, reflect, before I could read further. It caused me to rethink certain core values in a brutal and honest way.
Any blog that can do this has achieved its goal, for the greatest reward of any writer is to cause the reader to think, react, rethink, feel, and hurt. A writer that causes one to take a deeper look at oneself, at the world, and one's relationship to the world, can indeed change the world. This young writer has inspired my own blog for today.
The writer is young but she has experienced much in life that has caused her to be brutally honest with herself, her experiences have changed her as they have challenged her. And I know how profound this is as I have known her nearly her entire life. The writer is none other than my precious god-Daughter.
When I refer to her in writing I use a small g (god) but a large D (Daughter) for she is truly a daughter to me, in every sense of the word, as are her sisters. Knowing the writer personally can sometimes cause the impact to be even greater as you sense the impact of the personality in the words, you know the heart, the truth, the love, the pain. The writer and the written word become one.
Her topic is a very personal one and a very universal one. You can, and should, read it yourself, she writes under the title of "MBL Writes". All her blogs, and soon novels, are well worth your time.
She writes about her relationships, the good and the bad, the painful. I felt powerless as a parent as I read these words, that I was not there to protect her when certain deeply emotional painful events took place. It pained me deeply. But yet I knew that in fact I was indeed always there; part of her inner strength that helped her overcome and triumph over these challenges. I realized as well that I could not have been there, that indeed this is what life is about; as I always write with regard to self defense, in the end it will be you, and you alone, who will face your greatest enemies. When God forbid you are in a dark alley, on vacation in some foreign land, and a thug pulls out a knife; you will be there alone. All I can hope for as a teacher is that I will have prepared you well and you will triumph.
With my dear god Daughter that is exactly how it was; she had to face those challenges alone, I could not fight those battles for her, it was she and she alone who had to confront your adversary, and her self.
Ultimately the greatest battle was within herself. She had to learn to love herself, to accept herself, and to respect herself, before she could deal with her relationships with others. She truly and correctly understood that self defense begins with self respect and a relationship with yourself. Self Defense is ultimately a Self Relationship.
She was brutal with her honesty. She was totally open, exposed, nothing was held back. It shook me and shocked me. I understood that this is the only way to progress. Bury it deep inside, ignore your feelings, and you will stay exactly where you are in life. You will never live and love life to the fullest.
I thought about her words, I let them simmer, percolate like a good cup of coffee which we both love. I applied those words and her message to physical self defense, to Krav Maga. In fact physical pain and emotional pain are equally damaging. There are many crippled people whom the doctors can examine but will never find any physical damage. Hurting the soul and hurting the body are equally damaging.
There are so many lessons here. Let us look first at honesty in training.
I began my martial arts training many years ago, naively, pure and innocently believing that what I saw on the Big Screen was reality. I bought in hook, line and sinker and devoted myself to my training. While every moment of training in every style was truly valuable I gradually realized that much was lacking. The methodology was all wrong, the application was all wrong, the attitude was all wrong, the real life understanding of violence, cruelty, hatred and personal violation, all wrong.
My daughter, without even realizing it, addresses all these issues in her short blog. Remember the name MBL Writes. She did what I attempt to do in my teachings: She challenged pre-existing notions about survival and self defense and living life happily. Let us apply this to our Krav Maga training.
1. Honesty - Our goal is survival. Let us state our goals clearly. Krav Maga is not a tournament martial art. It is not a sports martial art. It is not a Fitness martial art. It is Israeli, it is get home to your loved ones, do not seek glory. Wash your hands and get back to life. As Jews we do not glorify combat, we glorify life. We have very few career warriors, most of us do our basic training and service and then serve in the reserves. We are a nation of warriors but we are a peace loving people.
When we approach our training we must be, as MBL is, brutally honest. At IKI we study surveillance cameras from all over the world. We see brutally shocking crime, bloodied and dismembered bodies, young and old being killed. We study these incidents and we recreate these scenarios in our training. We do not "give ourselves discounts", as the expression goes in Israel, i.e. we do not make it easy. We use the element of shock, fear, surprise, the unexpected, just as MBL describes in her blogs. Nothing is left out, no uncomfortable details are eliminated for that would compromise the truth of our training. Leaving out the fear, the tears, the mistakes that we made, would invalidate our training. Presenting our students with Perfect Defense would be like MBL writing a blog that resembles a 1950's Hollywood love story...and they lived happily ever after. The bride and groom walk off into the sunset and the world is a happy place. No, we deal with the pain, the chaos, the lover turned jerk, the potential husband turned creepy stalker. Yes, that is life.
With our On Line Distance training program we often include takes that in other styles would be deleted or used as "Bloopers", i.e. videos that did not turn out right. We use them. We use them because they are real, they may not look beautiful but that is how it turned out. If we present you only with pristine perfect techniques then you will expect that of yourself, but that is not reality. We want you to understand reality, even the grand master of Krav Maga will screw up sometimes. In this same vain MBL includes dates, relationships, encounters where she misjudged a situation. These are not deleted or edited out as Bloopers. In life there is no Do Over, only Do it better next time.
2. It is Complicated - Often people will list their relationship status as "Complicated", or answer ..."it is complicated" and that is the truth. Relationships are complicated and that is how MBL presents them. One of the major issues in the USA today is that very issue: Police reaction to crime or perceived crime. Many who have never worn a uniform are quick to criticize, condemn and crucify the police. What they do not realize is that, as MBL writes, it is complicated. Self Defense is a relationship, and relationships are unpredictable. What you imagined to be the start of a life long loving relationship was in the minds of the other simply a one night stand of love 'em and leave 'em. You just don't know. If you are law enforcement professional and a likely candidate for crime approaches you, does not comply with your demands, well the relationship is complicated. One night stand or life long partner? Criminal reaching for a weapon, or innocent man reaching for his cell phone to call his mom? The situation itself is complicated, confusing and often we only know later. You are in a relationship with the potential criminal, and relationships are complicated.
3. Self Relationship - Reading my daughter's blog it occurred to me that self defense is essentially a self relationship, an ongoing conversation and relationship with yourself. Only later does it become a relationship with the other. MBL writes that she learned never to chase a partner as she did in this one situation. It pained her greatly. But she realized that the issue was not the man in this case, it was her relationship with herself. She had to learn to feel complete in herself. She had to learn that she deserves to be respected by a man and treated correctly. She had to learn that her well-being did not depend upon her relationship status or what others thought of her. This was bold and brave!
The first step was coming to terms with her self, and only later could she contemplate another, healthier, relationship with a man. It is the same with self-defense. No matter how violent the world is, and we all see it daily on the news, No matter how much we are all aware of violence, the Krav Maga instructors still find it difficult to fill our schools with students. Instructors have to bribe potential students with belts, trophies, etc. Seminars that should have students lined up outside the door, remain half empty. Why?
The answer is that the process must begin within each individual. We, the instructors, coming from the outside cannot affect this change any more than a father can educate his daughter about her self-worth and how to avoid creepy men. For self-defense the individual must reach an understanding with him/her self. This is, as MBL Writes, I am deserving of better treatment, I am deserving of respect, I do not deserve to be disrespected this way, I deserve to be appreciated, I will not chase after any man, or any job. When a person reaches this understanding and they walk into the Krav Maga training hall, they are now prepared to move ahead in life. They are now ready to prepare themselves to deal with the other; the violent person who wishes to disrespect them and violate their personal boundaries. Not until you have reached this relationship with yourself can you begin to prepare for your relationship with the other, the one who until now did not respect you.
Self relationship - Self respect - Self Defense.
What MBL Writes did in her blog was expose her innermost feelings, trauma, and challenges so that others can benefit from her experience. She spared nothing, for had she beautified the experience the lesson would be lost. It was so brutally honest that I had to pause and regroup at times. I admire her for this openness. I admire her for not fearing what others may think, including family and close friends. This is how we must approach self defense: if you are a grand-master you can still make mistakes and share those on videos, do not fear your mistakes. We are all still learning from life. You are not immune to failure. Trees that stood for a thousand years suddenly will fall (Bob Dylan). The teacher is still a student and that is how he leads.
Every day is a new lesson, for those who stand strong and do not fear Fake News. "You and I we have been through that and that is not our fate. So let us stop talking falsely now, the hour' is getting late" , (Robert Zimmerman)
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