Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!


In the end, everyone is aware of this:
Nobody keeps any of what he has,
and life is only a borrowing of bones.

  ~Pablo Neruda

Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tough Krav Maga or Smart Krav Maga - By Moshe Katz

Moshe Katz while serving in the IDF

I am sitting on the plane now, trying to get comfortable, it is not easy. You see I have this sharp pain in my back. I know the exact spot; lower back, left side, just a touch to the right. And I know the exact moment it came about...

It was several years ago. I was still training on a semi-regular basis at the Jerusalem gym, more as a show of support than out of a desire to improve my MMA skills. In this particular MMA class I pared off with a young fellow, about my height but a few kilo heavier.

Now when it comes to a fight - I will do everything to defend myself, I will not allow anyone to hurt me. But with training drills we do not protect ourselves, we allow our partner, (not our opponent) to practice techniques on us. We do not protect ourselves; we trust our partner to protect us.

But my partner that day was young and dumb. He was a "tough guy" and caution and restraint is for the weak, the soft. So we were doing a drill, a takedown, that involved hugging the opponents' waist and an interlocking hand grip, a trip trip and a takedown. Only my partner, instead of knocking me down; he fell on me with his full force. He knuckles against my lower back and our combined weight of over 170 kilo forcing his knuckles deep into my back. I am sure young and dumb does not remember this incident, but I do. I have never recovered.

These days the Krav Maga market is being glutted with many new faces. It seems that every month there is a new Krav Maga "Organization" ( a guy with a facebook page and a video camera).
These guys, in the words of the Talmud, "have not served the master long enough", they are not properly certified, they have not "paid their dues"

In their videos they demonstrate Tough Guy Krav Maga, they showoff their muscles and how hard they can hit and be hit. They are "Dressed to Impress".

They like to hit hard, to brag about "real Krav Maga", and "we go all out". Young and Dumb. But these guys are under qualified, immature tough guys who are playing with your health, your body. It is ultimately you who will pay the price as years from now you will feel the results. as you try to get out of your chair you will let out a sigh of pain and mutter a curse under your breath.."That damn Krav Maga instructor, ruined my...(fill in the blank). Wisdom comes with the years, but often it is too late, the damage has been done.

Years ago at Karate College I saw Joe Hess, former Kickboxing Champion, strong man and simply a kind and wonderful man. He was "walking" down the stairs, actually more like wobbling. His aches and pains clearly got the better of him and every step was a struggle.

I was standing there with my friend and Mentor Professor Arthur Cohen and watching. Prof Cohen advised me to stop the heavy fighting while I still had use of my body and was still relatively pain-free.

Today my friend Arthur is suffering from his old injuries, his "tough years"; hospital visits, hip surgery, aches and pains. This is the lot of the aging fighter, but there is a way to avoid this. This is our responsibility as instructors.

We need to teach Smart Krav Maga rather than Tough Krav Maga. Trust me, your training will be no less effective for dealing with real life situations.

By Moshe Katz - Krav Maga Instructor, Israel

Friday, October 11, 2013

Politically Incorrect, Inappropriate & Insensitive

As our world continues to shrink, diversify and change, the effects on our daily social interactions also change. There are no areas in our lives where this shift isn't felt: Places of work, recreational activities, family gatherings, social events, etc. have all be affected by this incredible shift in social interaction.

The internet has increased the level of interconnectedness between average people to an unprecedented level which in the not so distant past would only have been achieved by a celebrity, or politician. Now-a-days it is as if everyone has their own Conan O'Brien Show. Drama is a drug and there are a lot of junkies running rampant. 

Lately there has been a lot of buzz about being politically correct, inappropriate or insensitive. These social constructs which were intended to protect and respect someones feelings and life value can also be misunderstood, taken out of context and misused.

Sometimes people are Politically Incorrect, Inappropriate and Insensitive. Other times because of our incredibly informal social structure (especially here in the U.S.) we can naively believe that some people are in our intimate social group, click, or inner circle so to speak who aren't. That lack of consideration may drive us to say or do things that would only be appropriate to people close to us, or who share our relative beliefs. This can come in many forms. One example of this would be calling someone your "bitch." This can be said in a number of ways; one would mean that the person is a close friend or com padre or it can be used to try to intimidate, show dominance, or total disrespect someone. Some may think this is a term that should only be used during certain times informally, however I've been witness numerous times where people thought it appropriate to use this term in more formal settings, such as court... or a formal wedding... Yes, people (you know OTHER people, never us) are stupid that way.

Over the years I have seen many people who don't or can't distinguish the appropriateness of what they do or say. I also see others who are quick to judge what might be seen as politically incorrect, inappropriate or insensitive. Now I am no authority: I am not usually politically correct; I have been seen as inappropriate; and have been accused of being insensitive, however I do my best to respect those around me. You might be wondering how I can be both? It seems contradictory.

Let me explain: I am light hearted in my interactions with people, which often includes a fair amount of teasing and antics that could be misinterpreted by some, however I seem to maintain a balance that allows me to get along quite well with most people from all of the cultures I have encountered. That said, let me share my perspective with you:

Politically Incorrect: A fancy term for covering your ass. I don't really believe in this concept. In my view it is a veneer of corporate speak for saying something in a way that will not get you sued or in trouble. The actuality is that the person may or may not have authentic intention of respecting the other group or individual. In my opinion, we have too many people trying to be politically correct and not enough people being authentic in their desire to be respectful.

Inappropriate: This is an easy one: The social group determines collectively what is appropriate within that group. However, everything is not relative, this must be seen through the Dual Life Value perspective that all life is to be protected and respected. The key term respect is in itself relative. The problem is that our groups are getting more and more diverse and larger, so it is increasingly difficult to determine what is inappropriate due to that growing diversity, casual nature of social interaction and false sense of intimacy (thinking someone is emotionally closer to you than they actually are). Some might say that this is "Common Sense," however in my experience there is no such thing. *Please refer to "bitch" example. We would like to believe that there is a certain amount of etiquette that is standard and there is... but it can be pretty broad. 

The holiday season is coming and many of you will be spending time with your in-laws. My guess is you'll see what I mean about common sense (or lack there of) and that many people don't know what is inappropriate behavior, even within the construct of their own family.

Insensitive: This is often said in conjunction with or as a substitute for inappropriateness. This is another simple one in my book. What one may see as insensitive another may find funny, or fine, or tough love, or amusing, or real, or truth, or whatever. So what determines insensitive? To me it is reliant on these things:

1) Intent - Did the person mean to be intentionally hurtful?

2) Interpretation - How was the action interpreted?

3) Communication - Did the offended party clearly communicate acceptable boundaries?

4) Follow up - Did the offender acknowledge, apologize or try to make the situation right?

5) Change in behavior - Did the offender change their behavior?

If I were to say something that you found offensive or hurtful, don't get mad without clearly communicating to me that I hurt your feelings. If you believe that I "should" know better, but do not tell me and clearly explain acceptable boundaries; how do I know how to treat you? 

If you do express yourself and set fair, healthy, most good/least harm, boundaries and I don't change my behavior but continue to do or say what offended you, THEN you can say I am being insensitive. Otherwise how do I know?

The idea is about being respectful to the life value as we cut through the relative differences and beliefs of cultural behavior & communications. We're not perfect and we are not mind readers. The more we work toward most good / least harm for everyone and the more clearly we can communicate to each other the simpler this is. But as I've said many times in the past, simple is not always easy. Especially in this case.

So there you have it: That is my perspective on that.

Keep going!

All the best,

Monday, October 7, 2013

Out From Under From "The Book of Awakening" by Mark Nepo

 "All the darkness! I'm going to walk into the light!" 

Sometimes there's just too much to consider, too much to understand and analyze, too many consequences to play out in our mind, too many things to clean, unpack, or repair before we can go out and play.

Sometimes the simplest and best use of our will is to drop it all and just walk out from under everything that is covering us, even if it is only for an hour or so (like going to Krav Class!) - just walk out from under the webs we've spun, the tasks we've assumed, the problems we have to solve. They'll be there when we get back and maybe some of them will fall apart without our worry to hold them up.

Wouldn't that be nice.

Action (or Non-Action) Steps:
  • Sit quietly and try to stop working your problems.
  • With each breath, put a concern down and feel your being intact without it.
  • Breathe freely and realize that your being is whole whether you solve your problems or not.
  • Breathe, Relax, Let Go.
From "The Book of Awakening" Page 242  
by Mark Nepo

(...most of it anyway!) =)