Fear and Krav Maga

Posted: June 6, 2014 in Attitude, Class, Injury

Recently I was given the opportunity to post an article on the blog over at the Krav Maga Institute. In return, today’s post is courtesy of Josh Greenwood.


by Josh Greenwood

kniferAt some point in all of our lives we’ve experienced this dreaded feeling. It’s creeped up on us, surprised us, and even punched us right in the gut when we least expected it. Fear is something that is never going to go away. But why would we want to live without one of our bodies’ original self-preservation mechanisms!

As fighters and Kravists fear is a daily battle and something that we learn to harness every time we step onto that mat or venture out into the world around us.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should be scared of everything around us! Fear, False Evidence Appearing Real. I’ve heard that from many people I’ve met in my life and from all different walks of life. We need to realize that fear is nothing more than a tool we can harness. It is then when we can truly progress to that next level past someone who just does something to someone who embodies that something. Here are five fears that most people have when training, fighting, and defending oneself.

Fear to freeze and not speak up

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! It’s easy enough to type out but if I asked you to go out into a crowded intersection and scream at the top of your lungs a vast majority of people couldn’t do it! That could be the difference of going home or getting drug into a side alley and assaulted. Getting others attention to a violent situation is key to the first step of prevention. We have a fight or flight response, but what people don’t talk about as much is the response that can take over when we experience immense and sudden fear, freezing. Your body shuts down and you can’t move let alone call for help. The only way to experience this is through intense stress inoculation drills. In Krav Maga we train every scenario as if our life is on the line. This is the only way to learn to harness that fear and turn it into intense focus for survival.

Fear of failure

This isn’t the same as not being able to defend ourselves and freezing up, therefore failing. This fear is more seeded in our competitive roots and need to succeed at what we do. As fighters we push ourselves to a place that most people don’t ever experience. Going to that next level can be scary and when we test those skills out against others or going into a test can bring a lot of stress on someone. We all want that validation that we’re getting better at what we’re doing. But we can’t be afraid to fail a test. That fear might be the thing that causes our failure but any great fighter that sheds blood and sweat daily for their cause will never be a failure. I’ve known people that have gotten so frustrated after failing a test that they quit altogether and they’ve let the fear of not being great force them to bow out. Any great inventor, artist, or fighter has failed. And not just failed once but many times! It’s how we learn. If I’m fighting and I keep taking overhand rights to the face I’m learning that I should work on my body defense and head movement. A fear of failure is not fear at all; it’s not trusting yourself to earn what you want instead of expecting something you haven’t put the time in for.

Fear to take a blow and keep on fighting

Getting hit is one of the biggest fears I hear on a daily basis from my beginner students. This is a hurdle that we all must overcome at some point. Some of us get used to the pain real quick and realize that it doesn’t last forever and each time we get back up it empowers us and gives us mental strength. It can also scare people off and keep them from coming back if they don’t get introduced to it in the right way. Everyone is different but the constant that doesn’t change is that EVERYONE GETS HIT at some point or another! It’s ok and we need to learn to pick ourselves back up and continue to fight. The warrior spirit or fighters mentality as some call it is vital to survival. If we let the fear of us getting hurt in a violent confrontation stop us from moving toward the danger such as an overhand icepick knife attack or someone trying to hit us with a bat it puts us at a greater risk and be counterproductive to our survival of that situation. The adrenaline rush we get from initial contact in a fight can be the catalyst we need to spring to action so don’t fear it, embrace it!

Fear of change

This is something in the Krav Maga world that can make or break us as fighters. There are many people who have a different view of the same situation and therefore have different defenses and responses. Some organizations stick to what Imi originally taught and won’t deviate techniques at all. Others have decided to introduce kata and other traditional martial arts to their curriculum. The one thing that sets Krav Maga apart from everything else it our ability to adapt to real world problems that are happening right now in the world. I’m a big fan of using the most effective and natural way to deal with a violent high stress situation because it will be the only one that works. If I find a technique that can be tried and tested and ends up being better than what I had originally learned I will adapt and integrate it into my routine. Don’t be stubborn and fear change. Change is a constant that brings around better and greater things everyday and is the only way to evolve as a fighter and as a person.

Fear of the unknown

The unknown is one of the scariest things I can think of. Whether it’s not knowing where you’ll be in ten years with your professional life or what’s at the end of the dark long hallway during a blackout it’s a scary thought! During the course of our lives we may think that we have things that are black and white or are definitive. There’s nothing in this world that’s going to be definitive! A massive storm or disaster could come along tomorrow and turn your whole world upside down. When we take into account that something’s are out of our control and we take account for what’s important to us is when we can set the fear aside and move on confidently. As a fighter we might not know what’s going to be thrown at us but if we’re fearing something that hasn’t come yet then we’re setting ourselves up for immediate, and painful, failure. Keep your hands up, chin down, eyes and ears open and stay light on your toes and you will survive anything that comes your way.


Josh Greenwood is an instructor with the Krav Maga Institute in New York City and has been fighting for over 10 years in different martial arts. He’s served in the USMC and now devotes his life to Krav Maga and its continuance to save lives and impact people worldwide.



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