(written March 2011, during Krav Maga North American Tour Winter 2011)
Sitting aboard my Delta flight, waiting for a cup of coffee, I reflect upon the training I have experienced so far on this North American Krav Maga tour. I have trained civilians and law enforcement personal, college students, even kids, and I have seen many different levels of ability. More importantly, I have seen many different levels of motivation.
Very gratifying to me has been seeing the motivation of our IKI (Israeli Krav International) instructors and students. Some have consistently driven eight hours or more to train with me. Craig Gray of Michigan, Michael Weingratz, Tim Tharp, Tim Garrett, John Liptak, Gary Brielmayer, Dave Cox, Joshua Caputo and others have spent many hours on the road to take advantage of this opportunity to train with me during my US visit. This striving for constant improvement is what IKI is all about. These instructors want to be on top of what is being developed in Israel.
In the martial arts I have seen many instructors who at a certain point feel, "I have made it.", "I have reached the top of my game, there is no longer a need to strive." Sadly, this is the mark of a person totally disconnected from reality. This is a person without the warrior spirit. This is a person who should be looking for a different sort of job.
In Israel the warrior spirit is alive and well, that is because we have constant reminders; we are surrounded by enemies who seek our destruction, and we are well aware of this.
I find that in the USA much of the martial arts training involves "Personal empowerment" – helping people gain a sense of confidence, developing a "can do" attitude, the ability to face personal challenges. All this is certainly important but I feel it is not enough.
The feeling of empowerment must be backed up by real ability. In our case it must be backed up by the ability to fight back, to defend ourselves, to survive.
During our recent Tour and Train program in Israel, our participants got an invaluable taste of this. We attended the Counter Terrorist course at the world renowned "Caliber 3" school in Efrat.
Our instructor, Steve, (a Jewish immigrant from South Africa), told us a little about his life. He is a volunteer in the "Readiness group" in his community. He is on call for immediate response to any terrorist activity in this town. He explained this could be an attack on a group of worshipers in a synagogue or children in a playground. There would be panic, people running around. He and his fellow volunteers must be quick and accurate. There is no room for error. As he said, "We simply have no choice".
Our instructor, Steve
In all our wars, in everything we do, we know that we have no choice, we must prevail. The alternative is unthinkable.
Steve guiding Sgt. Ted, US Military, Krav Maga student
Steve did a little demonstration for us; he simulated an actual terrorist attack, he responded to the call and went into immediate action. He ran to the 'scene', identified the terrorists and opened live fire, first with an M-16 and then with a hand gun.
Together we examined the results: his accuracy was amazing. Under great stress, with rapid fire shooting, nearly all his bullets found their mark. Our group was visibly impressed but Steve was not.
"Look at this bullet hole! It is off the mark. This bullet hole might represent a dead child. It might be my neighbor's child."
His evaluation of his remarkable performance? "Not good enough."
"Not good enough." Now that is not a real confidence booster, not a great slogan for a "personal empowerment" program. It is insulting, offensive, blunt and in your face! and it is the Israeli way.
We had a student from America, he had a green belt, felt pretty good about it, he joined us but I did not recognize his rank. My students said, "If he is a green belt, than the rest of us should be black belts third dan!. He had to wear a white belt.
Empowerment without ability to back it up is like having a full check book but not much money in the bank. You feel empowered to write as may checks as you want but if you do they will bounce back right at you with the message "Insufficient funds". When it comes to your Krav Maga training make sure you have sufficient funds, make sure it does not come back at you with "Insufficient training".
Always look at yourself and say, "Not good enough". Somebody's life may depend on it. It could be you, your wife, or your child.
Train hard, be ready, stay safe.
Upcoming Dates for Tour and Train Israel