March 15, 2018, Israel
I was teaching a seminar and a young women, a very serious Krav Maga student all dressed up in military gear, asked a question. What happens next?
The question was a legitimate one although it displayed a lack of understanding of the reality of violence and self defense.
I had taught the group some defenses against common attacks. I had shown them the simple instinctive block and the immediate follow-up but the young woman wanted to know what will happen next.
What she wanted was a play by play, step by step, sequence of events that would constitute her counter attack. Right jab, left hook, upper cut, knee kick etc. She wanted to know what she should do next.
The only true answer is that no one knows.
Bruce Lee explained it as follows: Train your tools well and they will strike at the appropriate time. What does this mean?
It means that in a real situation, i.e. not in the training hall, your body and mind will react very differently. You will not have the same cognitive control over your actions. It will not be a choreographed movie scene. It means if you trained your tools well; your kicks, elbow strikes, punches etc, they will strike at the correct time in a natural and fluid way. It will not be a conscious decision. It will just Happen.
I have consulted with many law enforcement agents on this topic including detectives who interview the defenders after a violent altercation. Their conclusions are unanimous: No one remembers exactly how the attack and defense unfolded.
My student and friend Victor in the USA has been on the force for many years, he is an experienced veteran in the field of violence. He tells me that often the police will have video footage of the attack and the defense, they will then interview the person who was attacked and successfully defended him/herself. The following is always true: They are way off in terms of how long the event lasted, and they can never accurately recall the sequence of events.
What does this mean for us?
It means the event happens very quickly. In our human minds the event lasted much longer than it did in reality. An event of a few seconds may seem like many minutes.
When asked to describe the blows; attack and defense, the defender, although very honest, can never actually match the true sequence of events, the way they recall the event is not supported by the video footage.
Thus we can understand that in a moment of truth, a moment of violence, our minds and bodies function very differently than when we are calm and training with our friends in the training hall. In order to prepare for a real violent confrontation we just totally change our paradigm and perspective.
When I come to teach a seminar I will often find very talented athletes who are very confident in their abilities. I will find well trained sportsmen who have rehearsed their techniques well. I do know that many of them are in better physical shape than I, they are younger and stronger. But I know that they are in no way ready for the reality of life as it is.
I know I have my work cut out for me.
First I need to help them understand that they are overconfident and have a lot to learn from an old veteran like myself. We have to start with humility: to be humble in the face of life, for if we are not humble now we shall surely be humbled by life itself. Life knocks down the arrogant. All the mighty shall fall.
As we say in the Talmud, remember that an insect preceded you in the order of creation: Be humble.
I look at the group and first I need to talk to them, yes I know they want only action, but I need to explain to them that they are training wrong, they are preparing themselves for a performance, an athletic event and not the real life event. The very fact that someone wants a step by step response to a violent encounter shows to me how little they are prepared for an actual event.
Most Krav Maga schools are about nothing but technique. They are preparing for the wrong event. My job is to prepare you for what actually might happen, so that you may arrive home in peace.
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The entire land is the front, the entire nation is the army. Moshe paying respects to Jewish victims of Nazi hatred, Freiburg, German.