Know When to Fold ‘Em

Posted: December 6, 2011 in Attitude, Older

The following is a comment I read in the Krav Maga section of Reddit recently. It was posted by one m1foley.

After 5 years, I’ve been through the stages of a Krav practitioner:

  1. Beginner: “Why are these people wearing groin protectors? Oh. Oh my god…”
  2. False sense of mastery: “I hope someone tries to mug me in the street!”
  3. Wisdom: “I’m no idiot. I know some stuff, but will never use it unless my life is in danger. If Stephen Hawking threatens me, I’ll throw him my wallet and run away.”

All too often people get caught up in the aggressiveness of Krav Maga and lose sight of the big picture outlined above. I think it’s understandable and I am guilty of it as much as the next guy. We are pushing ourselves in class in an environment designed for intensity. We are barked at to “GO! GO! GO!” and trained to go full bore. We are always pushing forward, never retreating. We are driving through drills, smashing through our walls. This is pure, adrenaline-fueled intensity.

What I am trying to keep in mind, and I think I have arrived at stage three above, is to keep Krav Maga in context. Out in the real world it is possible that these techniques might be needed, especially if your safety or that of a loved one is threatened. In cases of more minor confrontations, which I would hope would be the vast majority, we should remember that disengaging and retreating are the way to go. In many classes this option isn’t — in my opinion — given much credence. It all comes down to destroying anyone who messes with you, becoming the “second attacker” as it were. This is all well and good I think but there should be some mental judgement going on at the same time. Yes, I need to disable my attacker but above all, I need to get my ass outta here safely ASAP.

There’s a book by Rory Miller called “Facing Violence” that talks about the consequences of street fighting. We can imagine punching, kneeing, and kicking someone into a pulp with our skills and aggressiveness and, if faced in real life, can probably pull it off but there’s a line that can be crossed where self-defense becomes assault. There’s an art of “not-fighting” to be learned that deals with deescalating the situation and avoiding the brawl.

Heavy stuff to ponder. Are most people really equipped to make that instantaneous ‘fight or flight’ decision when faced with an attacker? Again, we are conditioned to instantly GO! and there’s little doubt that this is probably the best option when your safety is in question. There are so many possible consequences, not all of them good, that can stem from this very instant, however.

This is something that I will be aiming to keep in mind are the lessons in Mr. Miller’s book and Stage Three above while I train hard, at least in the back of my mind. I believe this is the area of martial arts that too often gets ignored as we are trained so it’s up to us practitioners to educate ourselves to the reality of a real world confrontation.

  1. CBJ Music says:

    Love this post! It is a very challenging aspect of the martial journey. We train so diligently for events that we hope to never have happen. These concepts are so important to think about and keep perspective on yet I agree, many martial arts schools/training centers don’t challenge their students enough with critical questions, philosophies like you list above.

    Great article!

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