Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Gift

The Story of the Angry Man and The Buddha

One day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him, saying all kind of rude words.

The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”

The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

~ Unknown


This story came to mind after I read a couple interesting articles: 

Although the issues the articles raise are more complex, never-the-less the old parable came to mind.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ranks & Techniques by Moshe Katz


Ranks and Techniques
By Moshe Katz

Perhaps there is no more controversial issue in martial arts than rank. People chase after it, some buy it, some quit over it. Friendships are destroyed, relationships are ruined over rank, ego, and competition.

What is the value of rank?

Rank serves several purposes and has several advantages and disadvantages.

Rank serves as motivation for students. You are excited to earn that first yellow belt and are already doubling your effort for Orange belt. You dream of someday wearing the black belt and joining that elite club.

Motivation is important for most human beings.

Rank offers recognition. You worked hard you deserve to be recognized for it. That is why the police and military offer medals for bravery. You did an act of bravery, you deserve our recognition and respect.

Rank is also important within the dojo/club. The yellow belt should respect the brown belt. The brown belt should respect the second dan black belt. It is correct and proper.

But it is not really the rank that matters. An undergrad student recognizes that the graduate student is at a more advanced level. The Grad student recognizes that the doctoral student is even more advanced than himself.

So it is not only rank, it could also be number of years. In some styles of Karate the highest rank is fifth dan but the one who earned his fifth dan ten years ago is more highly regarded than the one who earned it yesterday. So rank has its' limits.

There is also a difference in terms of school. A Yale or Harvard degree is more valued than the local community collage or an on line program. A black belt in BJJ is more highly regarded that a similar rank in certain other styles. I  have seen styles of Krav Maga where in one year or even less you can "earn" your black belt.

In summation rank is at best an inaccurate gauge of ability.

While rank is important and one should certainly feel proud of earning one we should not get to caught up on it.

Allow me an old story.

My high school Talmud teacher, Rabbi Jacob Wehl of blessed memory, gave out only three grades. I think they were 75, 85 and 95. He wanted to teach us not to be obsessed with grades. What really mattered was the long term affect of studying. He used to tell us, If I gave you a 95 and then I see you ten years from now but you are no longer studying the Talmud, then of what use is that grade to you? It is the long term that matters. If you really want a 95, fine, I will give you a 95.

The lesson sunk in for me. Yes, grades matter but true knowledge is more important.

When I travel the world and I am in each country, each town, each school, a short amount of time, I cannot view each student in great depth. So I naturally rely upon my certified instructors. If teacher A tells me that student Y is ready for green belt, I will value his opinion as he knows the student better than me. Of course I shall still observe the student the best I can, and sometimes I will say the student needs more time, but in doubt I will trust the teacher. He has more experience with his own students.
And what if I gave the student a rank that was too high? What would happen? My own teacher would always tell me that all ranks below black are simply for motivation, that do not mean all that much.

So if you have a blue belt but you are really only a little above green, so what?

Many years ago I tested a group of students, children, for yellow belt. All passed but one. He went out and cried his eyes out, he quite and never returned. Years later I saw him as a young man, he said that failing totally destroyed his self confidence, it took him years to recover.

Give the student the yellow belt and he will keep training. Deny him the belt because he is not 100% and you will crush his spirit.  A wise teacher knows when to be flexible. And a wise student respects his teacher's decision.

Ranks are important but techniques, knowledge of self defense, are far far more important. Always remember that the bottom line is your ability, not a piece of paper or a piece of cloth.

by Moshe Katz
Head Instructor of Israeli Krav International, Ma'ale Adumim, Israel

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Boxing and Krav Maga by Moshe Katz

 Boxing is a sport, with spectators, rules, rings and judges. It has little in common with Krav Maga.

Boxing is a sport, a fight sport, a brutal sport, but always a sport. There have always been rules to boxing. There are more techniques that are not allowed that those allowed.

Krav Maga was born for self defense. There can be an exhibit of Krav Maga but no tournaments. There can only be a tournament in the same sense as you can have a tournament of art; i.e. a panel of judges chooses the best piece. But there can be no Krav Maga sport. It is a contradiction in terms.
Boxing and Krav Maga have different roots and different goals. They have certain elements in common such as striking and blocking but just like basketball and ping pong both are played with a ball, yet they are more different than similar.

So why the confusion? Why do I see videos labeled "Advanced Krav Maga" where in fact it is fancy boxing moves? What is going on over here?

First allow me to say I am familiar with boxing and have trained with a few champions. Now I know that some Krav Maga styles feel they are taking the "best of every style" and that that includes Western style boxing.

I strongly disagree with this approach. There is no place for boxing in our style of Krav Maga.

1. Boxing is a skill. It is not just a matter of "throwing punches". The art of boxing actually takes a great deal of practice and it takes a long time to get good at it. Even learning to make a proper fist so that you do not break your hand or your wrist is not a simple matter.

2. Punching must be directed only at certain parts of the body. Great boxers have broken their hands in street fights, unprotected by thick boxing gloves. The bones of the hand are very delicate. The wrist is delicate.

3. We find palm strikes and elbow/forearm strikes easier to execute, less likely to cause damage to the practitioner and more likely to hurt the assailant.

4. Boxing involves strategy, timing, fancy footwork, taking a few blows and dancing around for a better position. NONE of this has any place for the average person just trying to get home. All this bobbing and weaving is difficult for the non-athlete, difficult for older people, and highly impractical outside of professional boxing.

5. Watch any boxing fight. At the end of the match the winner usually looks just as bad as the loser. Both take a lot of blows. Recall the Rocky episode where he applies for a job at a bank? The man asks him why he wants to give up boxing. Rocky answers, Do you know what it feels like when you are lying in bed and need to go to the bathroom but it hurts so much that you want to call a taxi?
That is too much for the average person to endure. And Krav Maga is designed for the average person. A self defense art where the winner looks like he got run over by a truck will not work for most people. We need something more effective.

Boxing involves landing a very small source area (basically two knuckles) on very specific parts of the body (soft areas, to avoid breaking your delicate unprotected hands) in a perfectly timed way. As I said earlier it involves more skill than most people think. While doing those punches most people, even professional boxers, expose themselves to serious damage. Max Schmeling noticed that while punching, Joe Louis dropped his guard. Schmeling used this to defeat Louis in their first match despite the fact that Louis was a better boxer.

We do not use boxing as part of our Krav Maga program. We used to but we evolved past that and only use certain elements sparingly. "Advanced Krav Maga" is not Western Boxing.

Baseball and Basketball are not the same. Ping Pong and bowling are not the same. Krav Maga and Boxing are not the same, at least not the way we do it.

~ Moshe Katz   
   Head Instructor of Israeli Krav International

Monday, January 16, 2017

Don't Be a TryBaby!

In the famous words of the Yoda, "Do or do not, there is no try!"

How many times have you heard someone who was going to do something (fill in the blank), but they never seem to be able to do it? The goal could be a lot of things: lose weight, get out of a bad relationship, go back to school to finish that degree, quit smoking, get in shape, start that business, quit the toxic job they've hated for the last 5 years, go on that vacation, go to martial arts class, spend more time with their kids... the list goes on and on.

Some of these folks are very excited about achieving their goal, so they talk and talk about it. They buy books, watch youtube videos and sometimes even look like they are doing something productive. They are very busy trying, but not very busy doing! They are acting like trybabies.

How do you know if someone is being a trybaby?

First, a trybaby has the wrong focus. They focus on:
  1. The problem & negative things
  2. What they can't do
  3. Busyness vs. effectiveness and efficiency
  4. Blame  
Something or someone outside of their control is always preventing them from accomplishing their goals. I'm too young, I'm too old, I don't have the education, I have too much education, It's not the right market, etc. They might say that "It'll Happen After ... (fill in the blank)." Basically, they put off starting (or finishing) because something has to happen before they begin. It could be money, education, when the kids grow up, after the bills are paid, when I retire, etc. etc.

Another symptom of a trybaby is busyness. They may be so busy being busy that they aren't accomplishing anything toward their goal. "I'm too busy to eat right... I'm too busy to work out..."
Back in my sales days, I knew many sales people who always were scheduling meetings, networking and rushed around like chickens with their heads cut off, but not actually selling anything.

You have to be busy doing the right things!

Some of the most accomplished people I know are busy, but they also seem to have a lot of time. That's because they have figured out how to be busy at the right things. They know how to prioritize, they know what the critical action is vs. just being busy. When you know what the critical point of the critical point is, you can maximize your effectiveness, so your busyness is fruitful and you are more efficient, leaving you more time to do other things.

Just like martial arts. You have to understand what actions are critical in the threat as well as in yourself. Not all actions need to be managed and not all of your movements are necessary. The difference of understanding space, tactical space and critical space is essential. There are certain movements and actions that have varying degrees of critical value in everything that we do be it leadership, defensive tactics, relationships, business, finance, teaching, waging war, inspiring peace, etc.  
It can be frustrating being around a trybaby (whether its you or someone you know). So, here are a few survival tips that could help you through.

Shift focus from wahhh to ahhhh:
  1. Solutions, rather than problems.
  2. What CAN be done vs. what can't.
  3. What's the next step (action), rather than who or what to blame.
  4. Priorities. What are the critical actions vs. any action (busyness).
There you have it! Trybabies be gone! Turn that frown upside down. Find the critical space, stop trying and start doing!

Keep going.


P.S. - GET CONNECTED! Sign up for my [Almost] Daily email, where I'll send you Exclusive Tips & Tactics on Living a Protector's Life! www.peacewalkersubscribe.com 

Forward it to your friends too!!