Giving Up

(Gershon Ben Keren - Sun 12th May)

As Human Beings we like to compartmentalize things and create categories etc. it’s how the brain organizes all the information that it holds, and how it is able to recognize, process and assess new pieces of information so quickly. It is also how certain things such as phobias work/operate e.g. a snake is a long, curvy thing, so are hoses, electrical cords etc. A quick glance that sights a garden hose, can create an emotional response that noticing a snake would.

Attitudes however are different to pieces of information, and yet we have a tendency to categorize these as well. We convince ourselves that giving up in one area of our lives, is restricted to that area and that in others we wouldn’t, or we make excuses for ourselves, explaining that what we gave up at, wasn’t really important – if it wasn’t important to us why did we start it? We may look at others around us, succeeding at the things we find difficult and have to work so hard at, and say to ourselves that things are easy for them, and that we are justified in walking away and/or admitting defeat; that we will find something else to succeed at – I see this all the time with people coming to the school and hoping that “this time” they have found the thing they can be good/excel at, only to walk away and either give up that hope, or go to another school, and repeat the same process.

Giving up is always a choice (and one that everybody has), and often the consequences of doing so are small. You stop doing continuous push-ups in part of a class, and there really are no consequences, in fact there’s an instant reward for doing so – the exhaustion and fatigue stop. But the real reward is lost and a negative attitude/behavior is reinforced. Determination and Tenacity are best built where there is a choice and where there is an absence of fear and punishment. You must want to continue, to push yourself forward, despite the odds against you, regardless of what everyone else around you is doing. Quitting is a choice, and so is continuing.

We must all develop a zero-tolerance approach to this, in both our training and our lives. We must not excuse ourselves in one area, in the belief that we wouldn’t in another. An attitude is an attitude, a state of mind a state of mind. We have a tradition in our school of “recycling” belts – this is something that I took from my Judo school. I first studied Judo at a traditional school, where it was taught that the belt’s position when tied is over your “center”, which contains your KI, or spirit/energy, and that some of this is passed into the belt. When you pass your belt on to someone when you move up a belt (inheriting somebody else’s belt who has gone before you), you pass some of your spirit on to them.

When you train, without giving up, you are developing and building your own spirit, and one that can be passed on to others, to help them develop the same tenacity and determination. When you pass on your belt to the person following you on this journey, make sure it has been well drenched in sweat, hard work, and contains a part of your spirit you’d like to pass on.

Congratulations to everyone who graded and received their new belts this week.

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What\'s Your Krav Maga?!

(Gershon Ben Keren - Mon 6th May)

What’s Your Krav Maga

This weekend’s seminar with Roy Elghanayan, reminded me that many people in the US (and elsewhere) have some misconceptions about what Krav Maga actually is e.g. some believe that Krav Maga is a distinct style, others that it is a self-defense system that needs supplemental training etc. Some of these misconceptions have been created and promoted by those high up in the Krav Maga community, in various associations, to further their own ends and to make excuses for their lack of knowledge in certain areas of combat.

Firstly, Krav Maga is not the name of a singular system but a term that the IDF, Israeli Defense Forces, gives to the various approaches of hand-to-hand combat that is taught to its soldiers and operatives, and although there may be many similarities between what different Krav Maga instructors teach there can also be significant differences. The important question to ask when assessing whether what you are learning is Krav Maga or not, is to ask who trained your instructor. If their instructor didn’t/wasn’t trained in Israel, and their instructor’s teacher wasn’t etc. and the line has to go a long way back before they can come up with a name of someone who was trained in Israel then it’s very likely that what you’re training in is out of date and possibly obsolete. The fact that Krav Maga is an evolving system means that anyone teaching Krav Maga needs to stay up to date with the changes in approach and techniques etc. either by going to Israel, or making the effort to train with those who come from Israel to teach.

I have also heard of one high ranking Krav Maga instructor, tell students and prospective students that Krav Maga is limited in its scope, and that it is necessary to train in other systems in order to become a complete fighter. I don’t know how limited this instructor’s training was, but when I hear such people say that people need to learn Muay Thai, to become a complete stand up fighter, or BJJ to be competent on the ground, I have to shake my head in disbelief. If you look at Roy’s Krav Maga, you see how complete and technically complete his kicking and striking is, with all the necessary technical details present. We were both amazed by the lack/absence of throwing and takedowns that many Krav Maga associations and systems outside of Israel neglect to teach – as one of my old instructor’s used to say, “Nothing hits harder than concrete” – to not teach this aspect of fighting is criminal and shows a real lack of understanding at what is effective in a real-life conflict. The mantra of Krav Maga being easy to learn (that is repeated so often outside of Israel) has resulted in many Instructors and Associations failing to teach Krav Maga as a complete fighting system, and reducing it to a few escapes from various holds, with some technically poor striking thrown in – all of which they try and hide by covering it up with a cardio workout and a lot of aggression training.

There is a new generation of Krav Maga Instructors who understand the importance of training in a way which emphasizes the development of fighting skills such as correct movement, power generation, threat recognition/assessment and decision-making in dynamic settings etc. i.e. teaching Krav Maga as a complete martial art. It was an honor and a privilege to have the best of them at our school this weekend. Sensei Roy. OSS!  



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