Why we train?

Writing the KM blog is something I have been threatening to do for a while now and when recently in Israel (in between counter-attacks and sweating like a camel!) I found the opportunity to put my first ideas down on paper.

The aim of this blog is to share my experiences, opinions, ideas and theories on Krav Maga (KM) in the hope it may assist you in achieving your training goals.

This first ‘blog post’, entitled Why We Train, and was inspired by a conversation I had with Israeli Instructor Tal Kvores at the last UK grading. We were discussing the importance of recognising that all KM techniques and tactics hold equal levels of importance, regardless of where they appear in the syllabus. Unfortunately, at times some people training in KM tend to measure the importance of a technique or tactic, and whether they should practice it or not, based on where it appears in the syllabus. For example…“I am an experienced trainee, why should I practice XY & Z techniques as they are in the early grades of the system and I know them!”

Here is my opinion….

We all begin Krav Maga training for a variety of reasons, such as, an alternative to the gym, to learn effective self defence, to grow in confidence, as progression from a more traditional system or to protect loved ones. Of course it is common that our desires to begin learning KM are a combination of these.

My personal journey in KM began after spending many years in a sport based system that was portrayed as being self defence. However, knowing what I know now, this was in no way the case.

This is not to say that all sporting systems are not useful from a self defence perspective, after all KM was created from sports. However, I firmly believe that learning a system governed by rules, training by those rules and then attempting to directly transfer those skills to a self defence perspective leaves gaps and produces mental limitations that may leave us vulnerable in unpredictable or uncontrolled ‘street situations’.

I did not begin KM to attain a grade or to attain an Instructor status, however due to discovering a passion for KM I migrated in this direction. I began because I wanted to develop skills and a mindset that would assist me (and possibly my loved ones) to be as safe as possible in a difficult situation.

Without going into too much detail, my own personal journey in KM began when my years of training in the previously mentioned sport based system let me down in a difficult ‘street situation’. This is not to say that it was only the fault of the system, the environment of course played a large part, but my lack of understanding of how people behave in uncontrolled environments was something that seriously affected my ability to react.

After this situation, I discovered KM and began training as it met the 3 core needs of what I was looking for:

1. Belief in what the Instructor was telling me

2. Enjoyment, and

3. Knowledge that the skills would still be there for me when it mattered in an uncontrolled environment.

This brings me to why I continue to train. I train for survival – to be able to protect myself and others when we have been unable to avoid, deter or prevent a situation of serious danger. In addition, I believe in what I am training in to the point where I took the decision to teach others.

With this in mind, I train in a way that does not place some techniques or training methods as more important than others. They all hold very equal value regardless of when they were learnt in my KM ‘career’, what grade they are within, and for what situation they could be applied.

A professional boxer lives and breathes training with 4 punching techniques. They repeat those techniques when they are moving forwards, moving backwards, when tired and when being hit, over and over again. They are continuously trying to improve, striving towards the unachievable goal of perfection, or to be as close to it as possible. But why? It is so those punching techniques do not let them down when it matters during an important match.

Similarly, every KM technique should be practiced from all angles, in all directions, in varying environments and with differing limiting factors such as darkness, confined spaces, with multiple assailants, on the ground, sitting down, using the ‘non dominant hand/leg’ and when having to protect another…this list is by no means exhaustive!

Therefore, my advice is train with the same mindset as the pro-boxer. Of course be proud of your grade, work hard to achieve your next grade to measure your progression and retention of skills, but do not bring an ego with the new badge…bring humility. Train for that moment in time when it matters, when you need the skills to be there for you, that skill could be a basic punch, a release from a dangerous hold, a defensive technique against a weapon. We can never predict which technique we might need, we can only analyse what types of situations are occurring more frequently and include this within our training. But that is by no means a prediction as to what technique or tactics we might need one day!

To conclude, consider training every technique in its own merit, with its own benefits and treat each one as an individual tool, with the same level of importance as the next. If we allow some of those tools to become rusty, and we do not keep them sharp and well oiled they will never work as well as they used to, and may let us down when we really need them!

I hope that was not too painful for a first post!

See you all soon!

Jon Bullock

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