seminars, what the mind can absorb

August 17, 2017

I have been conducting Krav Maga seminars around the world for many years. Before that I was an educator for the Tagar Zionist movement, speaking to college students all over the USA, Canada and Israel. Before that I was a student, spending years in universities and Rabbinical academies. I have been able to learn a thing or two about how much people/students can absorb during a seminar. Usually it is not very much.

In general people tend to overestimate how much they can retain and be over confident in their own abilities to reproduce information. When I attended Karate College in Virginia I kept careful notes of every class I attended, accompanied by detailed photographs. Others did not. At the end of the session I would ask others how much they retained. Usually the answers were; "Not much, but it was great fun!"

I do not train for fun, I do not teach for fun. I teach in a way that will produce maximum results for the participants. I truly want them to walk away actually having learned something. As we say in IKI, it must be: Easy to learn, Easy to apply, and Easy to remember. Otherwise what are we doing here?

One person who truly gets my message is my friend/student/colleague/Consultant Hal Herndon, and here he is in his own very wise words... 

Seminars, What the Mind can Absorb

by Hal Herndon

There are times that some students are hesitant to sign up for seminars out of concern that it might be "just the same old stuff", and that the same topics might be covered with little that is new and exciting.

Seems to me that these complainers should re-study the basic premises of the IKI system and think about this for a while. IKI deliberately limits the number of different techniques it teaches, although the relatively few IKI concepts and principles can and do apply to a literally infinite number of situations. At Georgia Mountain Krav Maga we deal "What -ifs" almost on a daily basis (some pretty bizarre) and have only found a few that our knowledge of IKI principles couldn't easily and effectively resolve. Those few were filmed, sent to Moshe for review and within a few days we had solutions. 

The human mind can absorb, store a great deal but under extreme pressure (e.g., fear of loss of life, massive injury, etc.) it can only handle a limited amount. That limited amount must be simple, effective and all but totally instinctive to enable survival or even safety in many instances. 

That being offered, the IKI techniques are fine-tuned, "tweaked" and simplified all the time, thus they concept of IKI being a system that continually evolves.

There are systems which tout hundreds and even thousands of techniques. These systems keep things interesting for the students by teaching something new in every class and/or seminar. The real question there is how well does any student really learn what is being taught and can he or she, under extreme pressure, sort out the technique that is specified as appropriate for that attack? And what if the attack is a bit different from what was taught (bad attacker, I suppose)?

A part of reality is simply that repetition helps a person develop instincts that will be instantly usable under pressure. The old adage "practice makes perfect" was long ago replaced with "perfect practice makes perfect". That is fine but nobody I know is perfect at anything, no matter how much or how well you train. Under pressure, what you did in class will be a "hot mess" at best on the street when thugs or gang bangers are trying to destroy you. 

Moshe has often said that IKI is the Perfect System for Imperfect People...Think about that. Imperfect is pretty much all of us, at least those of us who are honest with ourselves.

So...back to the seminars...A house with the finest and most expensive framing, trim, decoration, marble floors, etc., which has poorly built foundation will look great but be weak and will ultimately very likely fail in many areas and will sometimes end up being destroyed.

Our foundation, in the world of self defense, is the basics, no more, no less. Even with almost two decades of a very complex and excellent martial art, when the fecal matter hit the rotary device I have found that I always instantly dropped back to the most basic and simplest things in that system that I learned. Not enough time or presence of mind to catalog and sort out options. 

IKI, being based totally on principles and concepts, takes the idea even further. The system gives you the basics which, interestingly, are only the first step of a technique which could result (preferably) in an escape or (when warranted) significant damage or destruction of your attacker. It does NOT dictate what you should or must do once you (hopefully using nothing but ingrained instinctive response) execute that first step...At that point nothing (in the real world of survival) will be as planned or even as imagined. The reason that the basics must become (through training and repetition) total instinct is that when you executing them you must be scanning for other threats and scanning for targets or opportunities to enable you to either escape or continue controlling the situation.

With IKI we do teach follow ups, counters and all the rest but these must literally fit the party using them. Thus there is no specific "Do this at this point" because we will never know where that point will be happening (think dynamics, not statics) at that time.

If a student (or particularly an instructor) finds reviewing basics boring, that is a problem. Every time I see "the same old" thing at one of our seminars I find something that I had not thought of before or that I had forgotten about or maybe one little new "tweak" that even MDK didn't realize was new.

There was a very popular song, decades ago (likely before anyone reading this was born) titled "Little Things Mean a Lot", by Kitty Kallen. Forget that it was actually a late 50's love song and think about the title.

Here I will close by offering something I have stated in class probably far too many times..."The little things make the big things work." 

Stay aware, stay alert and stay safe.

Hal Herndon, Chief Instructor, Georgia Mountain Krav Maga, USA

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