Many times I’m asked, “What do you do?” Normally, I just respond, “I’m a martial arts instructor.” If they inquire as to which, I tell them and that usually leads to a more specific discussion. If they’ve heard of Krav Maga then we discuss and compare/contrast with other martial arts. If not, then a brief history lesson usually ensues. I try to make it brief since I don’t want to bore anyone with minutia unless they seem truly engaged in the conversation. What I don’t get to tell them is what I actually teach in the process of helping someone learn how to defend themselves against someone who would do them harm.
- Discipline & Focus – It takes effort and dedication for someone to take time out of their day to learn a new skill. They have to take time away from family, friends, TV time, video games, etc., and deal with traffic in order to make it to class. This takes discipline. Focus comes into play by challenging the student to focus their minds, bodies, eyes, ears, and hearts into the lesson being taught that day.
- Courage/Confidence – Many students start with a lack of self-confidence. This may come from a traumatic past experience or just a lack of it because they’ve never been physical before. Others have been physical in the past but have lost a step or two and want to get it back. All are good reasons to learn Krav Maga. But beyond the physical learning of the self-defense techniques lays the discovery that the student is much more capable than they previously believed. They are capable of getting up in front of a group and performing regardless of uncomfortable it may be. They are capable of doing what must be done no matter how exhausted they think they are (relates to discipline as well). They are capable of making a mistake and learning from it. NOTE: I’d rather a student make a mistake during training that can be corrected instead of on the street where I can’t help them. They learn to take constructive criticism and use it to make themselves better. They learn to stand up for themselves and their convictions. They have the confidence to stand up to bullies and tell them “no more” knowing that most will back down and those that get physical will learn a quick lesson while having complete control of themselves.
- Leadership – Be a moral compass. Depending on the situation, I can go from “Disney to Deadpool” meaning I can be whatever the situation calls for. I can be the sweetest person in the world or I can be the most devious. I temper my responses appropriately to bring credit to myself and have empathy to those to whom I’m speaking. I won’t use emotion to justify my actions and do my best to look objectively at situations and topics of discussion no matter my beliefs on the matter. Secondly, just because I’m capable of violence, I only do so for the preservation of life. Leadership is also developed by the student when using their skills to help lower level students achieving their goals. This translates into the workplace as an essential skill that can only be developed over time.
- Respect – This is closely tied to empathy but it goes so much deeper. Respect stems from a belief that the student is no “better” than anyone else regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what they do. Respect is about removing prejudice from our minds and treating people like we would wish to be treated. Having that belief in mind, the student should be the catalyst for respect. Give respect without expectation. Many will come to realize they will freely receive the same.
- Goal Setting – One of the reason that ranks are involved in Krav Maga is not only to allow students to become proficient in a skill before moving onto the next but it’s also have something to have a goal to achieve. Our goal setting should be SMART: S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Attainable, R – Relevant, T – Time-bound (or Trackable). Goals should be ever changing and ever challenging. Like many martial artists, my initial goal in learning Krav Maga was learn how to defend myself effectively. This then progressed into earning my first rank, then earning my graduate rank and becoming an instructor. My goal then shifted to opening my own school and teaching part time. It then progressed into teaching full time and earning my Expert 1 rank. My next goals are to attend additional training and learning additional skills related to Krav Maga and to earn my next rank. While the COVID 19 epidemic had put a damper on the time line, the focus is more on growing the school.
- Memorization – Though repetitive, methodical, and focused movements, the student is better able to retain that which is being taught and the proper application. This methodology of instruction has been proven to be the most effective way to learn a new skill.
- Accountability – It’s too easy, sometimes, to blame others for our misfortunes. While I would agree that there are things that occur despite our best efforts, not many of those instances occur outside our realm of control. We have to take responsibility for our own actions (or lack thereof) and look internally at what we could’ve done better or differently first before we look to blaming someone else. In the scope of Krav Maga training, this is realized primarily during testing phase of training and going over the feedback of the test with the instructor.
- Physical Fitness – A by product of Krav Maga training is the student will get in better physical condition. Surprisingly enough, this one of the top two reasons why students get involved with Krav Maga. They’re either tired of the gym or looking for a fun activity where they’ll learn something and get in better shape. Some, once they begin training, use it as a catalyst to jumpstart a physical fitness journey. Either way, every time they leave the school, they will be sweaty and smiling.
- Community – Krav Maga is a small family. Through training, we have an opportunity to come together and work for the betterment of each other regardless of personal beliefs. It doesn’t matter if you’re spiritual or atheist, liberal or conservative, gay, straight, or somewhere in between or skin complexion, everyone is welcome as long as they are capable of leaving their agendas at the door. This community experience exposes the student to a necessary life skill of acceptance and inclusion. Bigotry and racism are dealt with swiftly.
While these are the primary things that I teach other than the obvious self defense techniques, my duties are much more extensive. These include but are not limited to:
- Counselor (should anyone need to events that led them to me)Physical Therapist (should someone need help rehabbing an injury)
- Physical Therapist (should someone need help rehabbing an injury)
- Personal Trainer (each individual needs to be able to work to their capability. It’s up to me to find the best way to get ‘er done)
- Purveyor of wisdom/Sage (learn from my fails)
- Drill Instructor (if additional motivation is needed) Accountant
- Program Director (someone needs to know what we’re doing)
- Secretary (gotta get those files in the right places)
- Accountant (have to set up student accounts and make sure the bills get paid)
- Janitor (no one likes to train in a dirty school)
Justin Buford, Expert 1
Chief Instructor, Acadiana Krav Maga