In July 2020, I wrote the letter below to the KME community. I had no idea what the rest of the year would look like. I didn’t know if we were going to survive all Covid restrictions and absolutely couldn’t guess the road bumps and setbacks I had to deal with soon after I published this letter.
“Ten years ago I came to the US with so few resources that I sometimes chose between spending money on food or a subway ride. My lack of funds was balanced by an enormous passion to build a safe place for all to learn Krav Maga—a place where everyone is equally important regardless of race, gender, income, or any other factor. I didn’t have enough cash to rent a studio even on an hourly basis, so classes were held in the park. I used to have to carry a ton of equipment on my back and hope for good weather. In a short amount of time, one student became 5, became twenty, and so on, and I became able to build a permanent home for my cause. I took a leap of faith, was lucky enough to meet a supportive landlord, and the Upper West Side studio was born.
In the early days, I knew all of our students on a personal level, but over time this dream became bigger than I expected. I formed a competent executive team, and very quickly KME became home to so many people that I no longer knew them all personally. That was a turning point; with each new staff member and instructor, I became US. I became WE. We are a team of Experts dedicated to giving the amazing gift of self defense, self-worth, and self-love.
I have instilled in my staff my original mission. We don’t just teach people how to fight; we show them the way to self-empowerment. We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and walk in peace. This is a gift that goes a long way outside the mat. Most students have never had to use their skills to deal with a perpetrator, but many have defeated their own demons. That’s victory and our biggest reward.
I am still unsure how the world will look post-Covid, but I do know I’ve been here before. No doubt, just like in the beginning, I (WE) will be carrying our equipment to parks and hoping for good weather until we are allowed to resume in the studio again. It is still unknown what changes and how many changes will have to take place for our industry to find a “new normal.” We all have to find a new definition of what is our comfort level. There is a lot of uncertainty about the future, but what is very clear to me is that my mission, our mission as an organization, will not change. KME will remain persistent and resume doing what we do best on the mat as soon as it’s possible.
For the time being, keep on moving, keep joining us online, and stay tuned for outdoor classes. Being safe these days means a lot more than just preventing violence; it also means staying healthy physically and mentally. We are a community, and we help keep each other safe on many levels. As students, your participation with the company is your commitment to our team and to our mission. I’m grateful for each and every one of you. I’m available if you need to connect, need advice, or anything else that comes to mind. Please feel free to reach out. “
In June 2021, we reopened our doors. The battle was exhausting. Uncertainty isn’t a condition small businesses can thrive under, and what was left of KME at that point wasn’t even close to what it looked like at the beginning of 2020. Life brought us to a breaking point. I had choices to make; falling & failing or succeeding and growing. I chose the latter. Just like in 2010, I was back to teaching dozens of hours every day for a couple of months without having a day off. KME had to be rebuilt; that wasn’t a question, and when the purpose is clear and the willpower is strong, you find a way to do it. So I did.
We are now on the first day of 2023. A new year, a new hope. But like I always say, “hope isn’t a strategy.” Set goals, make a plan, and go get it. Yes, there will be hardship and pain on the way to achieving your dreams. Guaranteed. That is why the rewards and prizes are collected at the finish line, not in the middle of the race.
I know you have what it takes. I know you will learn from your mistakes and will get up when you fall. Just don’t expect yourself not to fall.
Do something amazing,
Founder & CEO
Krav Maga Experts