Of Superheroes and Mere Mortals

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Attitude, Injury, Older

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”
Albert Einstein

One thing I can say about my experiences in Krav Maga so far is that I know my body and its limits pretty well. I like to push myself as far as I can humanly go but am careful about how far I go beyond that. That means shutting out all desire to “keep up” with others all the time or — God forbid — try to show off in class. I am my own yardstick and I stay true to my limits and my progress, always pushing myself to go harder, further, faster but never disrespecting my body’s needs. Hey, this doesn’t mean wussing out during hard drills or avoiding sweat. Absolutely not. It also doesn’t mean being “safe” all the time. There are many times — at least once or twice per training, I’d say — where I have tunnel vision, am steaming like a furnace, and am panting wildly at the end of a drill. When I train, I train as hard as I possibly can and always leave behind a lake of sweat and ghostly sweat footprints on the mat.

That said, all too often in class I’ve noticed people going too far and ending up on the sidelines, dizzy, looking nervous/confused, or even barfing. Yes, the barfing has actually been pretty common and the weird thing is: most every person who I’ve seen in this predicament has been on the “younger side of things”. Say, in their mid-twenties. Why is this? My theory is that the poor soul came into class with something to prove. They are all about external validation. When you’re younger, and in better shape than these old farts around you, you are much more inclined to be the Alpha student, strutting around and trying like hell to run faster, punch harder, and be the overall bigger bad ass. This is all well and good — I really enjoy an enthusiastic partner and will eagerly pair up with this student any ol’ day of the week. What becomes a bummer is when they have to teeter off dizzily partway through class to  hold up the far wall, head between the knees. 

Running off the mat to puke, thereby subjecting yourself to a sort of humiliation in class that probably stays with you for many months afterwards. Is there any benefit to pushing yourself that far past your limits? To the point of no return? Is anyone really admiring you in this situation? Is anyone whispering in hushed tones, “Wow, that guy is a machine!” — even if you don’t barf? Er, I would suspect not — at least not as often as you might wish. Even if they were, does it really and truly matter?

I think it’s important for people to know why there are out there in the first place. To know who they are out there to please. In the end, I would submit that the most successful students (and the most happy and fulfilled students) are those that set their limits based on their own bodies and goals. They shut out all others’ progress and never attempt to compare their progress or skills against fellow students.

In our school we’re reminded time and again that we know our bodies better than anyone else so we should use that knowledge to our advantage when pushing ourselves. Krav Maga is brutal and one of the hardest physical things you will continually put your body through. Yes, you should always give yourself the hardest workout of your life.

But you also should be wary and never forget about the presence of that unforgiving wall.

  1. […] compare your performance or endurance to others, only yourself. You are your own yard stick because everyone is different! You should only be concerned about how […]

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