March 10, 2019, Israel
I met a woman, a normal woman, average height, intelligent, fit, responsible. It came up in conversation that I teach Krav Maga. As is often the case in such conversations, someone says, "Oh, I once took a lesson".
And so it was. She told that a female friend invited her to attend a Krav Maga class in Jerusalem. The story that follows could have come directly out of one of my speeches or blogs, but it was true, unrehearsed, personal and honest.
She said, "The group was already well trained, they were clearly all quite advanced and had been training together for some time. The instructor handed out rubber knives, my friend attacked me so aggressively that I just wanted to leave as soon as possible. The entire experience was quite intimidating, I was only a beginner, I was in fact very interested but the environment put me off. I left and I never returned. The sad thing is I was actually quite interested.
This is indeed a tragic story. I do not know whom the instructor was but I assume he was a good guy who thinks he is actually helping people, in fact he is doing the opposite for the most part. He is hurting people. He is turning people off from Krav Maga, he is disarming them in the face of the increasing danger the public faces. This is most unfortunate.
Now I know that these instructors feel they are the "real deal". I know they will look at me and think, what a fraud, he is too easy going, "real" Krav Maga is tough!
How little they know. How sad indeed.
These instructors are more concerned about making an impression as a "real bad ass" than actually saving lives. The needs of our students must come before our own fragile ego. Hurting students is easy, acting tough is easy, it is your class, you have total control, what are you proving?
These woman who came into class to learn to defend herself will not try another class. You have failed her. You have fallen short and found lacking as a teacher, no matter how highly you may think of yourself. You have failed.
Tonight in our class I saw one of our veteran students/instructors, Laizer. He was working with a relative newcomer, a visitor from Germany. This visiting student is not here for the long-run and yet, without being asked, I noticed that Laizer took him aside and patiently taught him the basics so that he could understand what is going on in class.
I am proud that my student sacrificed his own training tonight to help a new comer. I am proud that we have a training environment where I don't have to ask the veterans to help the new comers. I am proud that we are gentle enough not to scare people away.
Can we hurt others? Do we have the skills, the aggressiveness, the ability? The answer is clear, and has been proven. But we do not prove this on our students who came to find a place to train. Hurting students, being aggressive too soon in the training, is the wrong approach. How many have walked away due to this incorrect approach? How many lives could have been saved with a more mature attitude towards beginners.
We will never know.
Peter Sandford This was a big concern for me and kept me from starting Krav Maga a lot sooner in my life. Due to various bad injuries in my shoulder and spine as well as the stigma that come with being somebody who works out at the gym, i was worried about the "ego's" wanting to show me how tough they are or how they could take me out in just a few seconds. All i need is someone to go too far with my spine, or my shoulder and I'm on my way to hospital. It was so far from anything like this learning the IKI style with Righteous Warrior, i could kick myself for not joining sooner. There is a genuine sense of well being and care. It's not about how to be a bad ass and look good on you tube, it's all about keeping yourself and one another safe. In the beginning, you are taught the foundations of how to keep yourself out of harms way, you are taught you do not need to live in fear, or fear learning. You then get to a point where you can't wait to practice what you know and test yourself with your training partners as you now have confidence in your ability and you have the tools to keep yourself safe. Well done IKI and Righteous Warrior, for training confidence and peace rather than macho ego's.