Krav Maga Midlands, UK
I am currently reading a very informative book entitled The Little Black Book of Violence by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder. It has the subtitle “What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting.”
This book was lent to me by a fellow practitioner at my club, Krav Maga Midlands.
While perusing it last night, something struck a chord that is fundamental to the principles of Krav, but is sometimes oh so very easy to overlook in favor of the “sexy” bits of what we do.
A preface by Rory Miller (a police sergeant in the US when the book was published) states that he believe most people reading the book will simply cherry pick the parts they like. He goes on to say, “I don’t think you can see past your own ego. I think that you will risk your own life and piss away good information to protect your daydreams.”
Something that has occurred to me a lot lately is how violence is best stopped by anything other than violence.
I used to be a UK police officer and the experience was soul destroying in its stupidity, lack of basic common sense and political correctness over officer safety. We weren’t trained to fight, only to subdue through holding and baton strikes absolutely COULD NOT be aimed at the head, regardless of what the Bad Guy might be coming at you with at the time. We spent 6 weeks on Race & Diversity training, but a measly 4 hours on use of baton and 1 hour on how to fire pepper spray (the only weapons 95% of UK cops carry on patrol).
Krav Maga to me is what the English police should be about. It teaches you to avoid conflict. That “F**K OFF! STAY AWAY!” shouted at the top of your lungs is the best method to try first, if you have the distance and time. Krav talks about avoidance, de-escalation and getting the hell out of there if it can be achieved. It says violence is a secondary alternative that is played only when less confrontational options won’t work.
But as we know, Krav also teaches us to be as brutal as possible, as quickly as possible with the minimum of effort and THEN get the hell out of there.
It’s how the English police should be. Common sense and a lack of ego but able to be badd asses if the occasion demands it.
Problem is for me that it’s very easy to get enticed by the funky side of Krav. We’ve all seen sparring sessions at our clubs where two good fighters go hammer and tongs on each other with grace and power. I personally imagine being whoever is the victor.
Then there’s the everyday interactions we see where we wonder exactly what we would have done had someone called us a “c**t” in traffic or pushed in front of us in a queue. I personally imagine them being humiliated, maybe even working in an Educational Block like Krav Vader, to make certain they keep their distance.
Problem is that my daydreams quite often cloud my judgment.
I don’t like sparring cold bloodily, although I’m not bad at it when I actually have a go. I can assess threat reasonably well and I’m not a coward. But all my badass fantasies, as I move further into Krav Maga and up the grades (currently P4). I got a busted finger 6 weeks ago in training for trying to block a stomp kick with my fingertips (I was tired, error in judgment…that I’m still paying for). Having see movies where people simply pop dislocated joints back into place I never envisaged in a thousand years, having to be on restricted duties at work for 9 weeks, repeated visits to the fracture clinic and a special splint being made at Warwick hospital.
The least useful appendage on my entire body has affected my ability to train and means my cardio is so out of practice that I get out of breath running up the stairs.
Ego can be a killer. I’ve had it for most of my life and always imagined it to be a friend, mistaking it for confidence. Ego isn’t confidence. Confidence is feeling that you are able to deal with what is in front of you. Ego is feeling that you can not only do it but do it perfectly and then have loads of women want to shag you because you’re such an awesome bad ass.
It has taken 30 minutes of Yoga a day for over 2 months before I’ve become supple enough to kick higher than the belly button level of an opponent. My lack of flexibility was something I worked around until I became a teaching assistant at a Kiddy Krav class, and was having rings run round me by 6 year old girls (not to mention wincing as my back strained every time I bent down to pick something up during the class). I now have flexibility again, like I did in my twenties. But it’s through adherence to a regime of stretching instructed by someone who know more than me on the subject.
I see rude or threatening people in public a lot and 10 years ago I’d have jumped in to tell them to leave Mrs A or Mr B alone and be on their way. On some weird level I used to take all obnoxious behavior as being somehow directed at me, if I was around when it happened. I think my logic was, “You know I’m here and are still doing this in front of me. Therefore you must think I’m a pansy who won’t try and stop you.”
Krav (plus a few other things) has helped me to mold and tailor my ego so I no longer feel that I’m a superhero. When I’m drunk, all bets are off, but over this past year particularly I’ve got involved in things that have made me realize my own limitations and not to be ashamed of them but work with them.
Nick Maison and Jose Silva’s Air Safety seminar was a sobering experience and as close to a hijack on a plane as I ever want to get. Forget being a hero, you are lucky if you can even see straight as the “terrorists” shove you around, order you not to look at them and do their best to disorientate you. Nick even said before we started, “If any of you feel like taking on any of the hijackers then feel free…but we WILL give you a kicking and then throw you off the plane”
Having met both Eyal Yanilov and Zeev Cohen they are both softly spoken and humble men who appear without ego BUT are bad asses. After the second day of P Weekend in December I was in reception at Harlow Leisure Zone when they both left for the evening. They did not stand out at all, did not swagger and would have blended into any crowd.
Ego can be dangerous. It ties me into adolescent fantasies about vanquishing the evil hordes and being the bully hunter I always wanted to be. It’s only be accepting the drab reality of my own limitations that I can now build upon that and walk through life in a way that means I will assess situations logically and with my mind, not my ego.