Teaching a class the other week, I was banging on about the need for training for those situations that you hope will never occur…
It can be a very unrewarding process, and unless you are someone who believes in the ‘you never know’ principle, then I’d imagine, it’s not high on your priority list.
Having been in the Military, and teaching Krav Maga Self Defence for over 10 years, naturally, I am wired to train for the unexpected…
I teach both Krav Maga Self Defence and First Aid training, to everyday people and to the staff of various organisations around the world. Hoping that they retain a little of what is taught should the worst of the worst ever happen.
Well, I’m sorry to say I have ended up in a situation where I really had to prove my own point!
Last year, my partner and I were second on the scene of a major traffic accident. A serious incident to say the least. I will not share the details as it would be inappropriate…
In an emergency situation, I did all I could to help the people involved and, based on the outcome, I think we did good!
It was a very challenging situation and the phrase ‘keep your head when everyone else is losing theirs’ was very very apt!
I was very pleased that the training ‘kicked into gear’. Could I have done better?
But adrenaline was running, and that’s a major factor in doing what you need to in difficult situations… but nevertheless, our actions influenced the outcome for the better.
There was one part that did scare me though…
And that was the amount of people who stood around, without any idea of what to do, gawping, helpless…
Now, I am not saying that everyone should be a trained doctor (or from a self defence perspective, a black belt)… but having some fundamentals skills, surely… is a positive thing.
If only to myself, I proved a point… training, regardless of the amount of time that you use it, sits in that massive ‘hard drive’ called your brain and will kick into gear when you need it. Fact.
In fact, I get frustrated most weeks. I’ve been told it’s not possible to cure this frustration, but I will keep trying.
You see, Krav Maga Elite was set up to be exceptional.
From the training to the service levels, to the value we offer.
To, most importantly, our commitment to helping our members develop.
But each week as we improve, I still find something I’m not pleased with.
A spelling mistake in a Facebook post (probably like in this one!), a tech error on our (very busy) website, a process that isn’t quite right. There’s always something.
Something to change, something to improve, something to make better.
Many tell me that I should ‘relax’ and accept things as they are and that things are destined to be just ‘okay’…
And when I look at the majority of Martial Arts School, settling for ‘okay’ seems to be very common.
But I just can’t live like that.
First and foremost, our training must be current and up to date. The Instructors must constantly develop themselves and the way they teach. Then it’s about our brand, how we service our membership, and our ability to respond to things.
But as we get busier, more popular and known for what we do, I see the little things even more. The small things, the detailed things that make it just that little bit better.
But it’s never ending.
So, I’m taking on a new strategy, and it’s a daily one where I ask myself these questions.
Did I do all I could today, to make Krav Maga Elite that little bit better?
Did I use my time wisely?
Did I do what I set out to do?
Did I help someone? Whether it was an instructor, a club member, or someone looking to come and try Krav Maga, did I help?
Each day I’m striving for the answer to be a very clear ‘YES’, and if that’s the case, then that’s acceptable. I’ll settle for that.
I can rest peacefully and go to sleep, [naturally with one eye open, always vigilant, always ready] then to rise the following day and repeat the whole process again and again, always slightly better than the before.
Small incremental changes over a sustained period make a huge difference.
Consistent, prioritised action to be that little bit better than you were the day before.
Better in the things that truly matter the most.
Our health. Our learning. The experience of new things.
And spending the time we have with amazing like-minded people.
Content in the knowledge that we’ve done our best to challenge ourselves to be the best possible versions of ourselves we can be.
I was teaching a ‘corporate personal safety’ course at the offices of a very well known internet search engine the other day, and one of the things we discussed was the “legal right to defend yourself”.
And when I began talking about the specifics of the self-defence laws, one of the delegates piped up with something I’ve heard A LOT before…
“I don’t think people defend themselves when they should, for fear of getting in trouble with the law”
“That simply isn’t true!”
Let me explain:
In the heat of the moment, when you’re under stress and threatened and at risk of immediate and imminent danger, the part of your brain that would process if “getting in trouble with the law” is just not functioning.
That’s the intelligence part of your brain.
When you’re in a state of near panic, survival and having to take action immediately, you resort to your hindbrain, your primitive brain: the part that decides whether you will take flight (run) or fight (survive).
You may well do nothing (what’s known as freezing) but this has nothing to do with processing whether the law says ‘it’s ok for you to do something’.
It’s the profound effect of an adrenaline dump on your body.
Following the incident, you might start to reflect and process the event, at which point the legality of your actions might become a concern, but not while you’re resorting to the hindbrain.
What you can do prior to any potentially risky situation is to check your own internal ethics regarding protecting yourself (or somebody else that you care about) by answering these simple questions:
Do you actually want to hurt somebody else unless you absolutely have to?
If you had to hurt someone, would you want to hurt them more than what was necessary to stop things getting worse and so you can escape to safety?
Do you actually want to kill anyone?
The answer to all of the above is, I sincerely hope, a resounding “NO”!
Then congratulations, it is highly likely you would act in line with the principles of self-defence law.
But being in fear of the law will certainly not be top of your list when the time comes (which I sincerely hope is never!) to have to look after yourself or someone else.
Just rest assured that by being a good human being you are following the right principals anyway, without knowing legal definitions word for word!
You may remember in the news last Summer actor Benedict Cumberbatch, known for playing superhero Doctor Strange in the Marvel movies, fought off a group of assailants attempting to mug a Deliveroo cyclist in London
Imagine that, you’ve planned to rob the poor old Deliveroo Driver in the hope of a free meal. It’s all going to plan and next thing you know… a superhero is there busting you up!
Firstly, good on him. I imagine (and knowing London) that there were a fair few people who ‘walked on by’.
But it does raise the continued question about helping others in distress.
What should you do if you witness someone being attacked?
Should you intervene? Should you not? Do you observe and call the police?
.. walking on by is NOT an option!
There is a fancy phrase in the Self Defence world that considers helping others, it’s called ‘by-stander intervention’ that (I imagine) originated in the US.
Being honest, it is something that we should incorporate more into Krav Maga training but maybe not so much the physical actions as there are so many variables. But we could discuss more about how you make the decision to physically help or not.
There will be huge part of your emotional brain that will drive you to run head first ‘towards the problem’ without really taking stock of what’s happening, and that’s what we MUST consider!
What is ‘actually’ happening, compared to what we ‘think’ is happening. There have been far too many incidents where by-standers have gone to assist, and ended up becoming the victim, because the situation turned out to be something different to what they thought it was.
Countless brave, chivalrous stories of by-standers coming to the aid of a defenceless woman being assaulted by a supposed partner, only for the partner AND the woman to turn on the hero and make them the victim!
Some which resulted in death of the by-stander.
Taking a couple of seconds to process what’s going is worth it!
I imagine that’s what Benedict did from the back of the UBER, he had time to see what was happening, rather than walking around a corner and it happening right in front of him.
STOP > THINK > ACT
If you decide to act in a physical manner, to intervene… you MUST consider what we call Impact Factors.
Your relative age, size, strength, skill, physical ability, and experience to deal with what’s happening!
Are you able to physically assist, or might shouting, getting on your phone, calling to others be a better option?
There are two types of people in this world… those who run towards the burning building and those who call people more capable. We need both of those types to survive as a species.
Training in Krav Maga is likely to help your adrenal response stay under control, your physical abilities are more ‘tuned’ and above all, your confidence to do something will be much higher than those not accustomed to training for conflict.
So remember, assess what is happening, work out the impact factors and then do something…
You don’t need to star in a film to be a Superhero, in fact, you don’t even need to be Super, let alone a Hero to help someone… you just need common sense, to be mindful of the situation and take some action, based on who you are, where you are and what you are capable of and, above all… don’t become the victim.
There you go. I’ve answered it right off the bat so you don’t need to read any further.
Actually, that’s slightly misleading, it takes a lot more. Let me explain…..
But first, a little background.
Last year I was on holiday, stomping around Morocco with my other half. Our first stop was Marrakech, an interesting place to say the least.
(Apparently it’s fine to mix mopeds, people and donkeys in very small spaces and see who comes out alive!)
What Marrakech has a lot of is… Thai Massage.
(And before you frown a little, I mean proper/real/traditional Thai massage!)
Keeping myself mobile is a big part of teaching Krav Maga, so regular massage is a sure fire way I keep moving, so I’ve had fair few in my time. So we set off to find a place that had been recommended…
After half an hour of wandering the streets, we eventually found the place we were looking for, on the fourth floor of an apartment block, in the middle of a suburb. We were a little concerned our research had been poor given our surroundings, but once we opened the door we couldn’t have been any more surprised…!
The place was amazing, from the greeting, the explanations and, of course, the massage itself.
(If a massage leaves me feeling like I’ve done 10 rounds with Tyson, it was a good one!)
Once we’d finished, we were giving traditional green tea in their relaxation room, and I sat there wondering, why the massage was so much better than pretty much every other one I’ve ever had…
I then turned to look left… staring right in front of me was the answer!
On the wall were the diplomas and certifications of all the people who worked there… and not one of them had done less than 150 hours of training!
150 hours of massage in an intensive course… now that’s got to be hard work!!!
There are so many cheap, short courses out there, in all types of skills or vocations, and all of them will give you a certificate.
But it’s not the certificate that matters, it’s the time it took to achieve it!
I’ve met so many ‘Krav Maga Instructors’ who have a certificate or a diploma to teach, but they got it in 3 days, or 8 hours…
You simply cannot get to a competent level of skill in that time frame, you are simply ‘buying’ the certificate.
Not to mention their previous experience, their training and continued professional development. As a result, instructors who stay with Elite (and of course our governing body, KMG) are at the top of their game.
Some instructors qualify and then stop training themselves.
Believing you’re so good once you have that instructor patch on your arm that you feel you can actually stop doing what you did to get you there in the first place.
Becoming an instructor in any discipline is a lifelong commitment to ensuring you’re the best you can be – not just for yourself but also for your students.
And careful of those who have a ‘certificate’ in something who promote that they can help you, always do your research.
Search out those who have ‘put the time in’… and for those who continue to improve.
You might end up paying a little more to learn from them, but you can rest assured it’ll be good quality training.
When people stop me at events and ask me ‘How long does it take to become a Krav Maga instructor?’ I usually give them the long answer. And frankly, it’s more than just time – it takes a certain type of person to go on this journey (and stay on it) and I’m happy to call those types of people my friends and colleagues.
P.S Morocco was fantastic and if you haven’t been already, give it some thought. It’s a great adventure.
A couple of years ago I received a very well thought out gift from the NHS to celebrate my 40th year on the planet:
A FREE Health Check.
Admittedly, it wasn’t the most exciting gift in the world, but considering we hear so much bad press about how strapped the NHS are, I was pleasantly surprised. So I took them up on the offer.
If you’ve had one of these checks you’ll know that involves checking everything from your height, weight, heart rate, and cholesterol levels, before going onto to probe you on your ‘lifestyle’.
And during that chat I was able to tell the nurse all about training Krav Maga, and I ended up asking her about the single biggest ‘struggle’ people identify with on the healthcheck. Her answer was simple: when it comes to whether or not people do regular exercise, there’s one answer which is more common than others:
“I used to go to the gym, but I quit”
And it goes even further when she asks them why they quit, it’s nearly always a variation on “it was boring”.
And let’s be honest, it’s true.
Unless you’re a proper statto, then the chances are that the gym will get boring after a while, and you’ll either quit, or end up spending a lot more time in the Jacuzzi than on the treadmill. Just like kids, as adults we’re more likely to keep doing things if we enjoy them and feel like we’re progressing with them.
And that’s why it’s much easier to stick to an exercise regime if it isn’t just plain old ‘exercise’, but something that gives you a skill base.
– it ticks both boxes, keeping me fit AND feeling like I’m still learning.
If you know you need to ‘get fit’ but know full well how boring the gym can become, it’s well worth thinking about a skill you can learn that’ll help you achieve the fitness you want, without the boredom.
Becoming fitter and stronger are both pleasant side effects to training in Krav Maga. And a comment heard frequently from new members after completing their first trial class is how great a workout the training is and how, with a watchful instructor and a good training partner, they feel pushed further in the workout than they would in the gym on their own.
You COULD go and pay for a personal trainer to push you and motivate you towards your fitness goals.
I’ve taught Krav Maga Self Defence to many people around the world, and there’s nothing worse than a ‘Yeah But’ person…
Thankfully, at our Krav Maga National Training Centre in Battlesbridge, Essex… the ‘Yeah But’ person is rarely spotted.
Picture the scene. I’m teaching a group of people a technique or how to deal with a particular self defence situation, and when I ask “Are there any questions?” the ‘Yeah But’ person will appears.
“Yeah But… couldn’t the attacker grab you here”
“Yeah But… couldn’t the attacker change hands with the knife?”
Don’t get me wrong, I love questions and answering them. However, a ‘Yeah But’ question assumes I haven’t considered those (often obvious) potential issues.
Look, everything can be ‘countered’. You do one thing, attacker does something else, so you do this!”
Take Chess as an example, I can play it… But I’m rubbish. The key to chess is thinking 3 or 4 moves ahead. That takes time, focus, experience and whole lot of losing to learn that. Another example would be software, the developers do all they can to stop bugs, intrusions etc… but somebody could hack any system given enough time, money and resources.
However, we all have to start somewhere. One of the starting points in Krav Maga is that we consider it ‘reasonable’ that the attacker, your assailant, hasn’t spent hours and hours learning to counter-attack your Krav Maga Defences.
Granted, there will be a few who train in combat systems, so that they can go out and intentionally hurt people. But I’m pretty sure they are in the minority.
You will learn how to defend yourself against an attacker who manages to by-pass your initial defences and you have to counter that situation. But not straight away. That would be like putting you on a speedway track before you’ve learnt how to ride a motorbike.
Look, anything is possible. The words ‘always’ and ‘never’ in self defence training are of course lies. However, let’s start at a place that’s going to help you progress, not confuse you, and build some fundamental skills that we can develop together.
I asked my girlfriend what she wanted for her birthday!
That’s not me being lazy… I got her some surprise gifts but, I always think it’s nice to receive something that you really want!
So I asked her and she replied…
‘A Tactical Torch’
(For those of you wondering what on earth a Tactical Torch is, think of those very bright lights that come bursting through the door in a movie, when the cops go in to capture a bad guy!)
She is very aware of her surroundings and personal safety, but you may be thinking why she wants a Tactical Torch?
I mean, surely any old torch is going to hurt a would be attacker if you had to hit them with it?
Ah, but no hitting is involved here…!
CHECK OUT THIS BAD BOY… The KLARUS XT11.
This little fellow has a strobe effect, one touch of the button and it seems like 100 cops are running towards you! Totally Disorientating and Distracting – Two Great Principles for Krav Maga Self Defence! Needless to say I am very proud of this year ‘main gift’…! And of course, being in my line of work, you know you’ve met the right women when she asks fora Tactical Torch!
But no doubt she’ll want to test it out… on me!
See you at training!
P.S, Of course, I do not advocate that using a torch will solve every situation for everyone, but it’s a good little preparation strategy!
If you know you need to ‘get fit’ but know full well how boring the gym can become, it’s
well worth thinking about a skill you can learn that’ll help you achieve the fitness you
want, without the boredom.
Krav Maga Elite
P.S. Oh, and you want to know the SHOCKING NEWS from the health check?
I haven’t grown in the last 25 years – I’m still the same height I was when I was 15. Mildly
annoyed about that if I’m honest.