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No Fear; Know Fear

September 28, 2014

By Moshe Katz
CEO
Israeli Krav International


September 28, 2014, Israel


I believe that most martial arts will not help you in a real life situation. I am saying this as one who has spent thirty years studying martial arts.

I immersed myself in the arts and totally bought the entire package; the gi, the belt, the traditional approach, the power of the Kiai, the Japanese and Chinese masters, the myths, the death touch. And I still admire and respect all aspects of traditional martial arts. But honestly, I do not believe that they are equipped to handle the reality of a life and death situation today. I have to be honest. I do not feel confident with these skill sets.

I once believed that if I only mastered the kata, the konto‘s, the forms, the breathing etc…I would have it all. But I no longer believe this.

The elements are all there, yes, true. When I have traditional martial arts masters participate in my Krav Maga seminars it gives me great joy to see them identify the techniques and concepts that I teach and tell me that these are the same as the teachings of the great Chinese and Japanese masters. I am honored and excited to hear such words. And I always say…the song remains the same. I am just applying what makes sense to me.

The elements were all there before but I am taking our history, the Jewish history of pain and suffering and persecution, the Israeli history of fighting back, and I am taking this spirit and infusing it into modern urban combatives.

I am taking the dry bones and infusing new life into them.

Techniques are never enough. Most of our training is irrelevant because we are in the wrong paradigm. We are training the wrong way. We are training for the dojo, and then trying to bunkai it, to apply it to the street. This, I believe, is totally incorrect.

I want to begin someplace else, I want to begin on the street, with the reality of the street, the fear, the adrenaline, the freezing of all our senses. I want techniques born in combat, as Israel itself was born in a struggle.


No Fear

For a while we were hearing the slogan, No Fear. The idea being that through hard training we would overcome fear. Let me be clear. This is total nonsense. Unless you are insane you will always have fear. It is part of our God given nature, in fact it is a gift and part of our inborn warning system. You cannot undo this, other than by using drugs or alcohol.

As Mr. Miyagi wisely states in the Karate Kid movies, “Always afraid when fight“, that is simply natural. We cannot overcome fear. We simply have to learn how to work with it.

So I think we can safely dismiss the “No Fear” slogan.

Know Fear

The next clever slogan was a play on this phrase, same sound but different spelling, and different meaning. I must admit it was quite clever. The idea is an acknowledgment that we can never conquer fear but one can learn to know fear, to understand it and cope with it. This is an improvement but still rather useless for actual self defense.

The fact is that most attacks will catch us totally by surprise. There will be no time to either overcome fear (no fear) or to know fear by coming to terms with it.

It will all happen to fast and your normal body functions and normal thinking process will not be functioning.

That is why our system is not built on overcoming fear or learning to cope with it. Rather we focus on building automatic reactions, we deal with the element of surprise. We assume the attack will catch us by surprise.

I am not talking about a threat, i.e. a situation where you are given time to think and act, that is an entirely different situation. I am referring to cases where someone comes out of nowhere with a weapon. Thinking it out, planning is out, all we have is trained reaction, the same as pulling your hand out of boiling water. That is how we train because that is the reality of an attack.

Our defenses are build upon the foundation of our natural reaction, that is why they are fast and work under realistic tense situations. We neither overcome fear nor do we Know Fear. We are naturally relaxed because we did not expect anything, same as that second before a car accident; there is no time to plan our response.

Our techniques are built into our natural physical responses. We do not anticipate attacks because that is not the reality. So why train with anticipating an attack? no matter how good and proficient you become you will still not be prepared. No matter how fast you are you will still not be ready.

In order to properly protect ourselves we need to change our way of thinking and our way of training. And that is what IKI Krav Maga is all about. We are constantly studying new situations and evaluating our responses and training.

We will never rely on yesterday’s training.

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