Learning Krav Maga is relatively easy.
But, if you're in the hands of an irresponsible teacher, your Krav Maga training could damage you in ways that many people don't think about.
In many of my blog posts and articles on Krav Maga, I frequently stress the importance of having a higher perspective than just learning how to perform techniques or become tougher or more skilled at combat.
History is littered with tragic examples of people who have wielded power without any responsibility, and the consequences have been utterly and irreversibly disastrous. From large-scale genocides caused by psychopaths masquerading as national leaders, to individual examples of people in various martial arts who have ruined the lives of others (and tarnished the image of whichever discipline they represent) by behaving like thugs and criminals themselves.
Over the past decade or so, both boxing and MMA have notably and regularly been in a position where well-known practitioners (sportsmen) have fallen off the wagon in spectacular fashion, hurting others in the process (and causing death to innocent people in some instances), all because of a glaring character defect that went unchecked.
Krav Maga, by comparison, is not a sport. It's designed to enable a practitioner to realistically be able to maim or even kill an attacker in a legitimate situation where self defense is justifiably warranted.
So, we are teaching skills that are potentially lethal - and this, by implication, carries a vastly greater moral responsibility than training a sportsperson to perform in a ring.
Or so you would think.
Logically, then, we (by which I mean Krav Maga instructors) need to be far more cautious about a number of things. These include:
- Evaluating trainees at every stage of their development, and being careful not to provide training to someone who is obviously unstable or inherently violent.
- Being careful about what we project, and teach: we need to be balancing the "kill skill" with sound teaching on what constitutes moral responsibility, the necessity of self-restraint, the absence of unnecessary aggression, the danger of unchecked ego, and so on.
- Being careful about what we model to our students by way of example. Are we rude, obnoxious, arrogant, provocative? Do we go around looking for trouble all the time? Are we constantly critical, dismissive of others, believing that our skill renders us a superior breed of human being? Getting into altercations and fights because we have a "point to prove"? If so, we should not be teaching Krav Maga - we should urgently be seeking psychiatric counselling.
If you think about it - and I hope you have! - then something becomes immediately obvious when we talk about the "why", or motivation, for learning a skill set like that which Krav Maga offers.
And it's this: if someone is taught Krav Maga as being only a method of causing injury or death to others, then they are being deceitfully misled by whoever is teaching them.
Because there is far more to it, far more to being taught a potentially lethal set of skills. And there is something more, far more, than just learning how to destroy.
And that missing link, that precept, that guiding principle, is the understanding that we are actually in the business of preservation, not destruction.
Violence, of course, may be inherently necessary to accomplish that preservation, even extreme violence - but the overriding rationale behind learning self defense has to be the preservation of life. Your life, and the lives of your loved ones.
That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. And if anyone tries to convince you otherwise, they are lying to you and they have an agenda that is - trust me - going to ultimately be self-destructive.
I've said this elsewhere, and I'll repeat it here: show me a student, and I can tell you everything about his instructor.
Because patterns of behavior are caught, not taught. A Krav Maga instructor may bleat on piously about how wonderful he or she is, but if his or her students are behaving like thugs and bullies, and have no self-restraint, then hey, you've just seen the true colors of that instructor.
At Elite Defence Academy International, we're super-serious about this.
When our candidate instructors enter the Krav Maga Level 1 Instructor Course, they're not just taught techniques or a syllabus. They're taught how to teach - and not only the physical stuff. They're taught how to impart responsible behavior, how to guide students through crises of personality, how to exercise good behavioral leadership, how to inspire and motivate and reward the right kind of progress... in short, they're taught how to form a morally responsible, clear-thinking, and highly capable Krav Maga student.
From Day 1, a student in our system is constantly reminded that our Prime Directive - the underlying, overarching reason for everything we do - is the preservation of life.
What does that mean? It means that preserving life is a far, far deeper skill than just being "hard to kill". It has a direct influence on how we relate to others and to ourselves, an inward process of honoring life that goes beyond just learning cool techniques and deadly skills.
The preservation of life is a mantra, it's a command, and it's a guiding principle for every action and motive in our instructors and students.
And, for the approximately 1 out of every 100 long-term Krav Maga students in our system who reach the level of a Black Belt, it becomes more than that.
It becomes a solemn oath that they swear, before instructors, peers, and witnesses. An oath that binds them, and from which they will never deviate.
A sacred vow, if you like.
Does that seem a bit dramatic? A bit too serious?
Maybe so. But that's because we take what we do seriously.
Want to learn powerful, responsible, step-by-step Krav Maga?
Find out more about our online Krav Maga Beginner Course.