teacher paradigm shift

April 27, 2022, Israel

Many students who begin to train in Krav Maga come from a solid background in other martial arts. Some of these individuals are instructors, martial arts competitors, even great masters, and they face a challenge not faced by the most awkward beginner: the Instructor Paradigm shift. 

Simply put they are trained, conditioned, programmed, to think differently. More than that, they have a different world view. They have a world view that underlies all their methodologies and techniques, and this, in the best instructors, becomes ingrained. It becomes who they are. It is difficult to operate outside of their own paradigm. In the parlance of our times, they will have to think outside the box, or as Bruce Lee said, empty their cup to be open to new wisdom.

Now it is not enough to say, OK, Listen guys, now we are training for real life self defense. This class will not be about tournament fighting or sports, now we are going to learn real life Krav Maga. 

That is pretty simple, and everyone gets it, you don't need to say it twice. But there are parts of us that we cannot change so easily, and usually we don't even realize it. It is the same thing but worlds apart.

Allow me to attempt a couple of analogies to bring the point home, as it is a subtle but vitally important point.

Dating; a guy has been dating for years, but now a change takes place in his life, he might become an Orthodox Jew, or an Amish, Pennsylvania Dutch (mispronounced, it was originally Deutsch, German, not from Holland) but dating is dating? No, it is the same thing but a totally different mindset. For the Orthodox Jew this is more like interviewing a candidate for a job, there is nothing fun about this and the objective is not to spend the night together but to spend a lifetime together. The process may look the same but the intent is very different. Not making this paradigm shift will lead to a great misunderstanding.

You can say, yeah, yeah, got it, but still old patterns of behavior will come out, because it is who you are. 

Another example that comes to mind is language. Many people learn a second language but usually, for a very long time, the thought pattern of the mother-tongue remains, and is detected. That is why translations are often difficult to understand. I recall receiving a letter from a student in Switzerland. It was in English but I could make no sense of it whatsoever. By chance I was with my friend Harry, born and raised in Germany. He read it, in English, and laughed. The writer was using German expression and speech patterns translated literally into English. It took a native German to understand the intent. 

When we advertise our Tour and Train Israel training, I call it Tour and Train Israel Experience. Why? because it is not just a matter of coming here and learning "techniques", it is living here, being with me, learning our painful history, it is the TOTAL Experience. This gives you a different mindset, a different paradigm, understanding the intensity and brutality of attacks here, You FEEL the difference and this affects your training because first it affects your way of thinking. A shift takes place. 

When it comes to real life self defense everything is different, and I mean EVERYTHING.

I began with traditional martial arts, and over the years trained in just about everything other than Monkey style Kung fu and White Eye Brow Kung Fu. It took me a great deal of active conscious mental training to change my paradigm, to FEEL the pain, to connect to the BRUTALITY, to stop playing martial arts games. This was a difficult process for me as I was totally hooked on Japanese Karate, but the feeling that I really could not defend myself gnawed away at me. 

One of our instructors recently remarked to me, "I think teaching Krav Maga requires more than excellent technique, which just about anyone can learn, it is a paradigm shift of what you are facing, how much TIME you have, and what the realistic expectations of what you can pull off, and training for that, and nothing more."

This blog was not only inspired by that remark, but is basically just an expansion of the topic. But his statement says it all. 

When you feel the fear inside you, when you make this mental transition, everything becomes different, the color in your face becomes different, essentially you become a different person. We are not only talking about the defense, we are also talking about the attack. There is a difference between a sports move and a real life violent attack. This difference is not expressed solely in the resistance or strength but in the intent, in the way the attack is done. If one does this in the sports format, which he is conditioned to do, the "attack" will be very different and therefore the defense will also be irrelevant. Our defense is designed for a brutal intent, not a sport attack, as advanced as that might be. 

Sports practitioners will continue to view a technique in terms of professional athletes; this move can be countered by that move, the counter-move can be negated by this or that. However as my student writes, it all changes with the shock of a real attack, there is no time, TIME is no longer something that you have, it is too sudden. There is no move and counter move. All the martial arts step by step stuff goes out the window.

When I was a karate student there was a great deal of opposition to "Open tournaments" as, honestly, they were too risky. I.e. the students can face something unexpected, thus it remained: Kyokushin guys would only face Kyokushin guys, JKA Shotokan guys would only face JKA etc...

Needless to say the street is not like this, but again, explaining this on a mental level is one thing, FEELING it is another thing, it is a total shift of one's paradigm. 

I stress again, many reading this will say, "Got it, simple point, let's move on", but sadly, few will get it, it will take some time. 

Once you truly understand the mindset I am teaching, everything will change, that is why Tour and Train is so important. 

There are many who train in sports martial arts and yet work at the same time in security. Perhaps they are police officers or prison guards, they face potential violence. and yet somehow they do not connect the two. They come to the dojo/gym, put on their gi/martial arts uniform, and do all sorts of sports techniques. They are rolling around on the ground looking for joint locks, arm bars, submissions etc while in reality they will be wearing heavy clothing, belts with weapons and tools, etc. Somehow there is a disconnect between the training and the ultimate purpose of training.

For the instructors it is even more challenging as they are teaching this day in, day out. It becomes difficult to break out of this. It is very easy to fall into the "dojo mindset", you have outstanding students, they are fit, they are committed, they can learn "advanced" techniques, so why teach the simple stuff that I teach? It is almost insulting.

I recall one of my favorite insults, after a seminar in Canada, a guy walked out and said to his friend, Man, that guy only teaches Orange belt techniques and below. If you want to see advanced techniques, come on down to our Ninjitsu school.

Why do I teach this way? Because it works, and it is proven. 'nuff said. 

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