When people ask me for an opinion as to whether I think they have what it takes to train Krav Maga, I often feel they are missing the point of Krav Maga & Self Defence training altogether. Although Krav Maga originated from the Israeli Defence Forces and is used by military and law enforcement around the world, you don't have to pass a special forces selection before you can train at Krav Fighter. There are no entry criteria to start training, other than minimum age, good character and a reasonable standard of health that would be required for any intense physical activity. However, many people are so focused on the physical side of things and worrying their bodies will let them down, instead of taking a close look at self-imposed obstacles that are not only making it hard to start or progress in training, but also causing difficulties in other areas of life.
In this article, I'll try to point out the most common thoughts and self-doubts that impose serious limitations on how much you can progress in Krav Maga training, and in some cases prevent you from starting altogether.
- I am not fit enough, I'll join the gym first and get fitter and then start training. I am overweight, I'll lose some weight first and then train hard. I feel embarrassed as I wouldn't be able to do your warm-up exercises.
I've heard this more than once, and I have never seen a person that said it come back to start training and be any fitter. In fact, I have witnessed a few people who came twice in the space of 6 months to a year and the second time they were even less fit than the first time around. In some cases, these types of excuses may point to the possibility that that person may not be prepared to work hard for a reasonable length of time to get results. In other cases, there is a genuine lack of confidence and misunderstanding of the fitness level a person should have before being able to train Krav Maga successfully.
So if you do get an urge to think this way, maybe reading this will stop the negative thoughts sabotaging your progress. The only way you get better at something is by doing more of it. You don't get better at swimming by running. Or running by powerlifting. Fighting fitness is quite different from the fitness you may get at your local gym, even if you are committed to daily fitness classes. I am not ashamed to admit that I've been there myself as a beginner. And I was embarrassed that I found it so hard to get off the ground with tactical get-up at my first class. I felt muscles that I didn't know existed for a week afterwards. Yet, I was running and lifting weights at my local gym regularly, but I couldn't get my butt off the ground fast enough, which is an essential skill for survival. I realised, as I recommend you do, that I needed to start Krav Maga training, and keep coming to training, until my fitness wasn't an issue any more. The best way to get fit for Krav Maga training is to train Krav Maga at a reputable training centre that challenges you every training, like we do at Krav Fighter. If you commit to training 2-3 times a week, I can guarantee you will not feel the lack of fitness after 4-6 weeks of consistent training.
- I am only interested in a few sessions or a short course because I already belong to the gym
Often the purpose of Self Defence training is misunderstood. Admittedly, there are global Krav Maga organisations that are promoting their training as something you do for fitness, thus focusing on massive memberships instead of making sure what they teach stands a chance in an actual violent confrontation. However it is a big mistake to believe that your gym membership provides you with the same benefits you'd get from training the authentic Krav Maga consistently. In common gym classes, you move to expend energy, develop static flexibility and balance or improve your physical strength, on your own. However, these movement patterns do not include situational awareness, psychological conditioning to a violent encounter, the dynamics of an attacking person's movement, and do not require much thinking about the consequences of what you are doing at that point in time. In fact, many people 'switch off' while working out at the gym, and this is the last thing you want to be doing when someone is threatening or attacking you. So when you think about Krav Maga & Self Defence, do your research and gain a thorough understanding of how the consistent training will benefit you, rather than thinking of it as being just another class similar to those you already have access to at your local gym.
- I'll start training Krav Maga after my gym membership expires
The reality for the majority of people is that gym memberships never expire. Only the minimum term does, after which the contract can be terminated. And most gyms will try to keep members for as long as possible after the minimum term, which is quite understandable. But as I have already explained, what people get from their gyms is completely different from what they get from training at Krav Fighter. Realistically, there is no need to cancel an existing gym membership, because this facility may have a spa, sauna, pool, weights, zumba, spin, yoga, pilates and other classes, all the things people enjoy doing. No one is saying that you have to stop your pilates sessions if you want to train Krav Maga. However, with Krav Maga training you're developing a totally different set of skills, conditioning and fitness from what you'd get by going to the gym.
- It's too cold or too hot to train
If you train the way we do at Krav Fighter, there isn't much difference whether it's cold or hot outside, apart from how many litres of sweat you leave behind after your training session. Our New Zealand climate is not so extreme that this or similar thinking should ever cross your mind, but if it does, go to the pharmacy and ask for some concrete pills as it seems you do need to HARDEN UP! Seriously now, if your will to train is affected by the weather, what are you going to do if you are attacked on a day that doesn't fit your ideal temperature requirements? Ask the dude threatening to take your life to come back when it's cooler/warmer? That's not really how life works, is it?
- I am not sure how much I can train because I work long/irregular hours
Unfortunately, for many people this is a reality - they work too much. However, this doesn't have to be a win or lose type of situation. If you're really keen to train regularly, having a conversation with your employer and possibly negotiating a number of weekly training sessions may be all it takes to maintain your training consistency and therefore progress. Sometimes starting early, or catching up on less time-sensitive work after hours or even over the weekend would allow you to train, and this may mean the difference between you leading a happier, healthier and more active life while learning to protect yourself, and feeling like you are owned by the business you work for. Having 'me' time doesn't have to be cutting off the rest of the world by locking yourself in a dark room. During your Krav Maga class, your brain focuses on the task at hand, rather than on the problem you have with Joe from accounts, so it does count as relaxation and mental rejuvenation from the nuances of the workplace.
- I have only a few weeks before going on a holiday, so there is no point training now, I'll get back into it from the next year
I hear this usually around November every year in one form or another. During that time of the year the weather is getting warmer, and some people let their social lives, parties, barbecues and work functions get in the way of training. However, what usually happens is that this 'next year' commitment is just an excuse that doesn't sound like one at the time. In reality, the 'next year' often starts after summer is well and truly over, or even never eventuates, since after having such a long break from training, our habits change and training is no longer at the forefront until something horrible happens, or we look at ourselves in the mirror and decide that the beer gut has to go. Interestingly enough, I have never heard someone say: I only have a few weeks before going on a holiday, so there is no point going to this...(pick your favourite: restaurant, night club, party, cafe, brewery, bar) now; I'll do in the next year instead. Since when is having a break in a few weeks’ time an actual reason to prevent you from training?
- I am really keen to train but I'll do it when my friend can join me
Personally, I have never understood this kind of self-sabotage. I mean linking your own ability to learn to protect yourself and train Krav Maga & Self Defence on the whim of another person who may or may not have the same priorities in life as yourself is a bit strange. It's just like saying that you'll put your life on hold and wait until your friend is ready to...(take your pick: meet someone, enrol in university, get a job, lose weight, travel overseas etc.). It doesn't make sense, really it doesn't. If you want something, you may have a shot at it if you work hard and smart to get it. Waiting for someone's agreement, approval or participation before springing into action and working on your goals never got anyone too far.
As you can see, none of the above 'obstacles' making it very difficult or even impossible for people to train have much to do with their actual physical ability and fitness. They're all self-inflicted barriers, the tricks of the mind rather than the inability to endure the physical side of Krav Maga training. The bottom line is, just because you see the obstacles ahead of you, doesn't mean they can't be overcome. How will you ever know if you'll be good at something if you don't try and give it a decent amount of time, effort and will to succeed? While Krav Fighter training will make you mentally tough and much better equipped to react appropriately when life throws you a curve ball, you have to make the first step on your own by not making excuses about why you can't train and focus on why you want to train Krav Maga in the first place.