Last week’s article seems to have sparked many questions and responses about fear as a barrier to starting training. So, I’ve decided to share my approach to training, offering readers a glimpse into my methodology.

Fear, an integral part of the human condition, manifests in various forms. It can arise as a rational response to danger or as an anxiety-driven reaction. This emotion significantly influences our mental well-being and life trajectory. How we manage our fears can profoundly shape our journey. It’s important to understand that feeling fear doesn’t equate to cowardice. The absence of fear isn’t courage; it’s a lack of awareness. Fearing negative consequences is a normal part of the human experience.

Krav Maga, known for its direct approach to self-defense, transcends physical safety. It provides a unique perspective for understanding and confronting our deepest fears. It offers more than self-defense techniques; it’s a path of personal growth and empowerment.

How do we accomplish this?

Let me introduce you to “Written Exposure Therapy” (WET), a progressive method for treating PTSD and other trauma-related mental health issues. This therapeutic approach involves repeatedly writing about traumatic experiences to reduce the emotional charge that comes with these memories. This confrontation doesn’t numb the trauma but fosters a sense of peace and mastery.

My teaching philosophy in Krav Maga mirrors this approach. The training mat becomes a space to confront internal fears and anxieties in a safe environment. Similar to vaccinating the emotional immune system, this method allows for confronting fears in a controlled environment.

It’s common for students to unravel hidden fears or acknowledge anxieties through their practice. Training in a safe environment provides an opportunity to pause, self-reflect, and adjust the intensity of the encounter, enabling a mental shift from panic to composure and transforming fear into familiarity.

This psychological aspect of Krav Maga mirrors exposure therapy’s principles, offering a gradual, controlled way to face discomfort and fears, which is invaluable for individuals with anxiety disorders. The training provides a “different ending” to a possibly bad scenario, and the learned sense of control leads to a reduction in anxiety.

In my experience as a Krav Maga instructor, I’ve seen transformations that transcend the physical. Just recently, a student who was initially daunted by any kind of confrontation mentioned how she uses each session to overcome her fears and how helpful each training session is in building her self-confidence and mental resilience.

Another student, experiencing a panic attack during a choke defense drill, revealed a forgotten childhood trauma. She walked into my office and thanked me for providing a safe space to confront and process these memories. Witnessing violence in the NYC Subway led her to seek self-defense training, which evolved into personal growth and healing through Krav Maga.

Many avoid combat sports or self-defense training due to various fears – from physical contact to concerns about appearing inept. However, Krav Maga addresses and dismantles these fears.

Community is central to this journey. Training together in a discipline that simulates real-life confrontations builds deep connections and a sense of belonging. This support is crucial for mental health, providing a buffer against stress and anxiety.

Krav Maga leads to improved mental health, empowerment, and reduced anxiety. It instills a sense of control and strength, vital for those who have previously experienced trauma or violence. The psychological benefits, including confidence, resilience, and a sense of safety, are as significant as the physical skills acquired.

Krav Maga is more than self-defense techniques; it’s a holistic journey toward resilience, empowerment, and psychological wellness. It emphasizes the importance of mental fortitude, the power of community, and the impact of physical and emotional strength.

The journey of mastering Krav Maga parallels the journey of mastering oneself. As instructors, we teach techniques for physical defense and set an example of mental and emotional resilience. The mat becomes a microcosm of life’s broader challenges, where each drill and sparring session teaches lessons that extend far beyond the dojo. Students learn to face not just opponents but their inner doubts and fears, turning each class into a lesson in self-discovery and personal evolution.

The benefits of this training reach much more than the eye can see. It extends into everyday life. Students often report feeling more equipped to handle stressful situations at work, more confident in social settings, and more at peace with themselves. This holistic improvement in quality of life is what makes Krav Maga not just a martial art but a life skill.

The training mat enables one to transform fears into strengths, catalyzing personal growth and empowerment. Remember, while you can’t rewrite your past, your future is unwritten. What you do now shapes it. Take the pen and write a better story for yourself, transforming fears into a source of strength and embracing them as part of your journey towards personal mastery and mental well-being.

Do something amazing,

Tsahi Shemesh
Krav Maga Experts


  1. Something happened to me during the pandemic that was worse than Covid, I got soft. I also experienced several instances of Asian hate and although it never got to the point of physical I felt threatened and it affected my overall outlook in life and I’ve confined myself to my apartment 90 percent of the time in the last 3 years. There are even times my husband had to force me to go out. This wasn’t me pre Covid. I used to run A LOT. l’d spend hours outside enjoying the park, the east river and although l’m paranoid I was never beset with overwhelming fear like I did during the pandemic. Im slowly trying to regain my independence and also courage to be fearless like I used to be when I first arrived in nyc. It sucks that I have to enrol again in self Defense but surprisingly I have renewed my love for it. I did taekwondo in college but to me that was an exhibition sport. No offense meant on tkd practitioners since the sport still made me feel strong. But in real life, In the face of danger I would rather use my track and field skills and take off Imao. On a serious note it would be nice to arm myself with the know how in case I’m confronted with inevitable aggression. My happy place is now in this gym. I hope I never have to use this like insurance but if I need to I want to be ready. Thank you for making this a safe space.

    1. I am sorry I missed your comment!
      Thank you so much for sharing this. Your words not only echo the message of this article but are also heard louder by other people who need our help. Sharing your success is helping others.
      Thank you!

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