My parents raised me to always think for myself and question the world around me. They never wanted me to follow orders blindly but to constantly learn for myself what’s the right thing to do was. I know it’s much easier to just command obedience but my parents wanted me to have as much freedom as possible.
However, when I turned eighteen, my father sat me down and had a serious talk with me. He explained to me that now that I would be entering the army for basic training. It would not be a time for me to question my superiors. It would be a time for me to be quiet, learn, and to obey orders without doubting. I had to understand I didn’t know anything and my only job was to fix that by learning as much and to adapt as fast as possible.
The army was a whole new world. Because I had to completely change and adjust my methods of learning and practice them on a daily basis, which taught me a lot. A few days before, I was a free high school graduate in a warm and loving family. Now, I was with a bunch of strangers and my “parents” were efficient drill sergeants shouting orders. I couldn’t choose when I ate or when I slept or when I could call home. I had orders directed at me from the moment I woke up, pushing me to my physical and mental and emotional limits. Any deviation from those orders and I was punished. Then HOPEFULLY a few hours of sleep so I could do it all over again the next day.
I took my father’s advice and just threw myself fully into training, seeing this as a chance to grow. This change in environment and learning style benefited me a lot and allowed me to better myself in a unique way. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and had to adapt. I learned lessons I could have never learned in my previous life. Although it was some of the hardest times of my life, it was also the time that I grew the most and became the person I am today.
I just gave that same lecture to my own niece who is entering the army. I’m so proud of her, and I know that the next few months will be a huge challenge for her that will help her evolve her skills and mindset.
We all want to be comfortable. But in order to progress, we need to leave our comfort zone. Having been in a Krav Maga studio since the age of thirteen, mats are a second home to me. There are many benefits to training in a studio. We have our teacher and our fellow students to work with, we have our equipment and we have our space. That is how we do it and why we are showing up to the following training.
There are also downsides. Nothing in life is entirely positive. The studio is a safe and controlled space. There are pillowy mats to cushion falls. There is a sense of community that makes facing scary situations easier. There is an instructor there to motivate and support you. There are also fewer distractions. The phones are off, the gear is on, the mind is focused, and we have an hour of time dedicated to training.
I try to break students out of that comfort level by having them train with their eyes closed, practice under physical and mental pressure, and making them switch quickly between skills, but there’s a limit.
No matter how surprising I can be, the studio does make people feel safer. That’s not always a good thing when the goal is to recreate the flight-or-fight feeling that a real dangerous situation would give people.
As much as I wish I could be back on the mat, I don’t want to ignore the good and miss out on a valuable opportunity to train realistically. So I want to give you the essence of my father’s wonderful advice. Now is a time for growth, and you should take it without question.
Remember, Krav Maga is for real life. In real life, we might be alone when we face situations. The danger appears in the moment which we are least expecting for it. There won’t be a pillow mat under our feet if we fall, and there will be lots of distractions.
Take this chance to cross-train without those comforts that a studio gives you and develop the discipline to keep going when it’s hard.
A few tips I can offer:
Turn off all distractions possible. Put your phone away. You do it during class normally on the mat. Unless you know there could be an emergency, put it in another room.
Set aside training time. I like students to come to class at least 10 minutes before so that they can get into the proper mindset. Since the commute is much shorter, take a few minutes before class to get into the mindset. Here are some ways to get into the mindset:
Sit for 1 minute and become aware, remember why you do what you do.
Do 4 min of easy mobility drills to get your whole body aware and prepared for training.
Do 2 min of cardio like jumping jacks, jump rope, mountain climbers, and rapids to get your muscles ignited.
Dedicate a clear Krav space for yourself. Even if it’s just a few feet, make it a place free of distractions.
Accept it’s a struggle. Training online is difficult, for many reasons and you need to accept you are training at a higher level and it’s going to take effort to adjust and overcome the challenge. If you are training the best you can, you’re doing great and making progress.
Be grateful for the struggle. One thing I try to do in class is up the pressure on situations, to break you out of your comfort zone. The practice of staying focused in a new environment that is not specifically designed for training is an amazing skill to develop and shouldn’t be wasted.
Set goals for yourself. There is plenty of room for improvement in all of us. Work on your weaknesses and the basic techniques, work on your fight stance and footwork. Work on making sure your strikes are technically correct and efficient. (If you need personal feedback, feel free to reach out to the instructors, we can definitely advise you).
Have fun. Krav Maga is hard work, but it’s also enjoyable playtime. When you watch babies playing, they play without wondering how they look. No one is evaluating you but your instructor, so stop being self-conscious and see it as a game. Laugh at your mistakes and try again, leaving your ego behind.