August 4, 2022
When I was a child, if I were dissatisfied with something, my dear mother would say, If you are not happy with something, come up with something better, but not complain.
These wise words of my dear mother became a motto for life for me. I wrote books, I produced music, I took initiative socially and politically, I struggled for change and improvement, and I created a system of self-defense which I feel is an improvement over what existed earlier. If I am not happy with something, I try to make it better or I try to come up with something better. Rather than protest what exists, create something better, at least try. This attitude, combined with my grandmother Moe's attitude of, "Would have, should have, could have, the cry of losers"(as quoted often by my dear father) imbibed me with an attitude of Just Do It. Don't sit around feeling sorry for yourself, don't complain, put on your big boy pants and do something. And so I did.
Often I am frustrated, dissatisfied, and perplexed by self-defense techniques that seem very ineffective to me and yet are popular. Why can't others see the flaws that I see? I am not here to criticize or make light of other people's well-intentioned efforts, only to explain my approach and what I see wrong in approaches that I have rejected. As my mother advised, I am not criticizing, I am creating something different and explaining why.
What I want to focus on today is rather technical; the starting position of the body, both hands and legs, with which we begin a self-defense technique. I shall explain.
The inspiration for this concept, at least my way of explaining it, comes from a Biblical verse. Abraham was having women trouble, which can happen when you have two wives. Long story short Hagar and her son Ishmael are kicked out. Ishmael gets thirsty and Hagar calls out to God for help. And this is the verse that answers her call;
"And God heard the voice of the the young man, and an angle of God called out to Hagar from the heavens, and he said to her, Do not be afraid, for God has listened to the voice of the young man from where he is right now (or, from the place wherein he is)." (Genesis, Chapter 21, verse 17)
Now as we all know Ishmael did not turn out too well, and the Biblical commentators ask, why did not God simply allow Ishmael to die at that moment? Why save the boy and provide him with water. As God knows the future He should have let this troubled youth die before bringing trouble upon the world.
The answer is profound: Although God knows the future He does not judge people based on their future bad deeds, He only judges them upon their current actions. At this point in time Ishmael is merely a young man in distress, so God saves him.
Now the Krav Maga application. When a students enters, I evaluate them and teach based on "where they are right now". I have a friend who takes a different approach. He will tell a student, Lady, you have got to lose 30 pounds. When you have done that, come back and I will train you.
"Wherein he is right now".
We take the same approach with every self-defense situation. I shall explain. Often I see a video where the defender begins in a perfect position. Sometimes that is a rather...convoluted position. Meaning, he has his hands exactly in the perfect position to grab that gun or knife. But when you analyze the technique you will see that this technique will ONLY work if the Defender has his hands exactly in this position. And yet, that is not the normal position for a person to stand.
I often look around the room at a seminar and say, don't move, everyone freeze, now where are your hands? in your pockets, by your side, behind your back etc.
We need to address the self-defense situation from "where you are right now", not from where you would like to be ideally. The aggressor will not give you "one free move, on the house" to get your hands into your ideal position. No, you must be able to defend yourself from "where you are now", and if that defense cannot work from where you are now, it is not a good technique, and we will drop it.
I saw a technique being advertised, a knife threat on the ground. The defense involved the Defender moving both his hands to one side in a "don't hurt me" motion, and from there he was able to execute, sort of, some defense. But my problem with that, is that no one would naturally have their hands in that position, and no self-respecting street criminal would allow the Defender/Victim time to move his hands. The defensive technique was not designed to work from "where you are now" but rather from "where you would ideally like to be. "Being that we see that world is less than ideal, we prepare for the worst, not the best.
Mickey critiquing Rocky. Why not just praise him and make him feel good? Because Micky wants the best for Rocky, he wants him to win. He wants him to change, to grow, that is what a teacher is all about. Micky is old, weak, can't talk English too well, lots of broken bones and broken dreams. But he's got the wisdom. He insults Rocky, mocks him, ridicules him and loves him. He is the force that drives Rocky to success. He finds the faults, the little mistakes in Rocky's stance, his punch, his drills. This is the job of a true teacher.
We all need a coach, we are need that loving rebuke to get us straight.
For more detailed information on our approach, our techniques, why we do what we do and why we do not do what we do not do, join us.
We have our DVDs and the short daily clips we send out. However please remember: As good as that is, it is sometimes not enough. Little mistakes creep in and then...like the batter in the slump suddenly they are striking out. Suddenly the magic is gone, suddenly nothing works.
The answer is simple; go back to the Krav coach and say, "For some reason this is not working for me anymore, can you watch and tell if I am doing anything wrong?"
When in doubt...talk to your coach. Everyone needs a Mickey in his corner.
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