Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fast Easy Safe Krav Maga by Moshe Katz

While sitting on the bus during my trip to Morelia I noticed the advertisements on the screen in front of me, hard not to notice during the long trip. It read Rápido, Fácil y Seguro, (Fast, Easy and Safe).
There were referring of course to their bus line, and I have to agree with their assessment; indeed it was fast, (on time) easy and very safe. It was comfortable, and they even served a lunch, which I could not eat,  but I appreciated the gesture.

Of course those words hit home. This in fact summarizes our goals with IKI Krav Maga; we want to keep our techniques and our training fast, easy and safe.

Fast - We want our students to be able to pick up the techniques fast. Most people do not pursue martial arts or self-defense training as a full time endeavor. They do not have the time. As such most martial arts training becomes useless for them, if they cannot pick it up in the time that they have available, they are in fact wasting all the time they invested in their training.

Easy - We believe the techniques should be easy to learn. If not, you will never be able to learn them properly, it will take too long. An easy technique can be mastered and used when needed. A complex technique will not serve you well when you need it. Easy is not about being lazy, it is about being practical.

Safe - Many styles of Krav Maga teach techniques that are actually not very safe. They will not work in a real life situation for most people. They were created by powerful muscular men in the prime of their lives but will not work for anyone else. We do not believe in "Military Krav Maga" , we believe in one Krav Maga that applies to everyone: Military, civilian, law enforcement. Our Krav Maga must be safe for everyone.

When traveling on the bus to a new destination, using a new route, one wants to know that he will be safe. He wants to know that he can trust the company; the driver is licensed, the bus is in good condition and is properly maintained. This is the right of every passenger.

It is the same with life. As you travel through the journey of life there will be many unknowns, but hopefully when it comes to self-defense you have a style and a teacher that you can rely upon, that you can trust to teach you a system that is Fast, Easy and Safe.

We believe that IKI Krav Maga is in fact such a system.

by Moshe Katz, IKI Krav Maga Instructor, Israel

Krav Maga Kill or Cure? by Moshe Katz

Moshe Katz doing a pistol disarm at his training facility in Maaleh Adumim, Israel

Waiting at the train station yesterday I saw a sign that read, "Kill or Cure?", it was relating to certain plants and how sometimes they are poison and sometimes they are used as medical cures.

I realized the same can be said of martial arts training.

During my many years of teaching I have seen how Martial arts/Krav Maga training has transformed the lives of many. I am not speaking only of the physical knowledge of self-defense and the ability to survive a violent encounter but of the emotional transformation that often takes place.

I have seen souls arise from the dead to take on new lives. I have seen people recover from broken, shattered lives; Divorce, illness, obesity, abusive relationships and trauma.

This was something I had not planned on nor expected, but it happened.

I have seen children and teens overcome their violent tendencies. I have seen people cured of bullying others, of uncontrollable outbursts of violence. One student used to throw chairs at his classmates during recess, go berserk at them. Today he is an instructor. Our IKI instructors as well have told me stories of young men and women whose lives have taken on new meaning, how they have learned to overcome their violent outbursts.

Now if you were to suggest to a parent to enroll their aggressive problem child in a Krav Maga program you might very well encounter the following reaction: "You want to take a child with a violent tendency and train him in the deadly art of the Israeli commandos? Have you lost your mind? You want to teach violence to an already violent child?"

Well, like the plant that can kill or cure, depending on how it is used and prepared, and in what doses, so too Krav Maga can be used or abused.

In the hands of a bully, an ego-maniac or a criminal it can be used to train for violence and intimidation, and we certainly have seen some of that. We certainly have seen the ugly side of the arts, boxing champions beating up their wives and girlfriends, instructors behaving in criminal ways. However in the hands of a responsible instructor, these tools, these combative skills can be used to empower, to calm the soul and create a peaceful warrior, a man of peace, a gentle man and a gentleman.

With strength comes confidence. With confidence comes peace. With peace comes the power to give. The power to kill or cure is in our hands, lets use it responsibly.

by Moshe Katz, IKI Krav Maga, Israel

Monday, January 20, 2014

Not Everyone Who Walks On Two Legs Is Indeed a Human Being

"Not Everyone Who Walks On Two Legs Is Indeed a Human Being."

Yes, I have an issue with this statement. It makes me think of what goes through the heads of those people who dehumanize or demonize others to the point of justifying doing terrible things to them.
What's worse is that this statement was taken from a website of a Krav Maga defensive tactics/martial arts school. This type of mentality is like a virus. It has killed hundreds of millions of people and will continue to if left unchecked.

The website goes on to read:

...Our path is always one of non-violence and humility, always seeking peace and to be upright citizens. Regardless, we realize that some among us will try to do harm and violence to us or our loved ones. 

So, let me get this straight, after saying that basically all humans aren't really human, they go on to say that they are striving for non-violence, humility, peace and to be upright citizens... (reading between the lines) however if someone crosses some unclear line then all of a sudden those people are "less than human," insinuating that they can or should be dealt with in a different manner than "our" people, you know, people "like us."

In some twisted way that statement may sound right, it may even feel good on the surface, but in reality it's pretty messed up, unhealthy and creates more violence!

I would like to think that the organization who posted this started with good intentions, however somewhere along the way those intentions got corrupted by fear and confusion. Before they know it, they are teaching people the same dehumanizing perspective that is used by the perpetrators of the violence. The idea that some other people aren't human like "us" lends itself to the justification of the disrespect and violence that can be done toward another person or group. It's a little too easy to begin justifing trying to "out thug the thugs" so to speak. This mentality is a slippery slope that we have to be careful of.

The ethic of Choosing Life is simple, but not easy.

Life is a Universal Value. Meaning that unless something is really wrong with you, you value your life and the life of your loved ones... just like everyone else does. Physiologically speaking it is called homeostasis. Overall, Life wants to live.

You would stand up for yourself if you had to wouldn't you?

Do you have anyone in your life that you would protect?

Is there anyone in your life that you would put yourself at risk for?

Yea, me too...

...and so do the people that we are in conflict with.

Think about it, if we are willing make life a relative value based on behavior or beliefs that you don't agree with or like, then someone else can make OUR life and the life of OUR loved ones a relative value as well based on differences that they have with us. This is the beginning of a big problem.

So, if you believe that "Not everyone who walks on two legs is indeed a human being," you have lots of company with people who would agree with you:

Pol Pot
The thug who is willing to kill you for his next drug fix
(...and many others)

I understand that we want to protect people we love from those who would harm them, but adopting the same dehumanizing value that created the violence is not the answer! We have to separate the Life Value from someones relative behavior and beliefs. It can be difficult to respect the Life Value while professionally and appropriately managing negative and possibly even violent behavior (especially under stress), but as WWII Iwo Jima Marine and former State Department conflict resolutionist Dr. Robert Humphrey says, "It's a better life."

Learn to more effectively Protect LIFE, appropriately deal with the behavior, while respecting the life value. Strive for Most Good / Least Harm for EVERYONE as much as you can.

Keep in mind that most good / least harm doesn't always mean no harm: Sometimes people need to be disciplined, detained, arrested, fired and yes, even killed, but for only one reason: Because their behavior is threatening another life and that we did everything we could to resolve the situation in the least violent way possible for the situation. Strive for the least amount of force necessary to create a safe environment for everyone when possible.

This ethic has to be clarified and constantly reactivated, because it fades. How do we reactivate this protector ethic? Keep training the right things with the right perspective...What perspective? That you are a protector of LIFE!

I think Dr. Humphrey said it best in his Warrior's Creed:

Where ever I go everyone is a little bit safer because I am there.
Where ever I am anyone in need has a friend.
Whenever I go home people are glad that I am there.

It's a better life.

Keep going,

Saturday, January 11, 2014

What If?


I have been teaching to some capacity for over 30 years and I would be a millionaire many times over if I had a dollar for every time I have heard this one single question:

What if?

What if this? What if that? What if there were two guys? What if he gets you in an arm bar? What if he has a sniper rifle? What if he sneaks up on you? What if he's 400lbs of raw muscle? What if the joint lock doesn't work on him? What if? What if? What if?

It's endless!

In the past I used to answer every single "What If" question. I would show variations and variations of variations. I would debate, explain and attempt to convince someone of every nuance of their question, skepticism or argument.

It took a lot of time... More to the point it took a lot of time away from training. It took a lot of time away from that student's education and being able to work to get THAT technique down well.  

"What If" questions can be a distraction to your training!

I have to admit, I used to kind of like it when people would ask me these type of questions. I got the chance to show off a bit, or I felt that I had to try to convince them to agree with me or sell it in some way. At the time I didn't even know that by doing this I wasn't being a very good instructor. As I gained experience, clarity and confidence I changed my approach to these "What If" questions.

I no longer try to "sell" the techniques to people. I rarely debate. I share and explain pro's and con's. I may demo at full speed under more "realistic" circumstances, or I may not. I will listen to what people have to say but typically I will tell the student that they came to learn and they are going to have to first be able to do the technique correctly before they try it with a resisting attacker. After they are able to do that, then they will have a better idea whether or not their "What If" question needs to be asked, not to mention they probably have a much better chance of learning something from the answer.  

I often say, "Don't believe me, go try it yourself." What I mean is practice it, get good at what we are working on and then go try it yourself. You have to "own" it so to speak. You have to develop confidence in what you are doing. In order for something to work, especially under stress, the better you know it and the more confidence you have in it (not to be confused w/over confidence), the better your chances it will be of use to you.  We are all responsible for our own training!

I want to clarify that questions can be good. I like it when people are comfortable enough to ask questions that help them understand something better. However sometimes questions regardless of how innocent, are not an attempt to understand something better. Unknowingly some questions are a wolf in sheep's clothing; they are distracting the student (and in this case the instructor as well) from learning.

Now when someone asks a "What If" question that is outside of asking how to better perform what we are working on, I will ask... "First, can you do what I asked?" If they cannot competently perform what we were originally working on, then I don't let them ask their "What If" question.

Why, you wonder?

My answer is this: Some people are used to distracting themselves from concentrating on getting the One Thing We're Working On Correct. If they cannot competently perform what we are working on, they don't need to be distracted by other things that would divert their attention from getting good at that.


Maybe, but it's better training, better learning which hopefully leads to the student being a better protector under the pressures of life.

Our attention span and level of patience seem to be getting shorter and shorter and often times we don't realize it. That coupled with the fear based "what if" questions become a detriment to one's own learning.

So remember questions can be good, but only if they are not distracting you from learning what you are working on. There is more than one way to skin a cat so-to-speak, but you can only work on one thing at a time.

Simple, not easy!

Keep going!

All the best,