There are countless reasons to train in any really demanding discipline. We’re given so many opportunities to be sedentary, and, as human beings, we like to default to the lowest energy output that we can in order to get the job (any job) done. It makes sense that we’d need to have some strong, compelling reasons to leave the luxury of rest of behind and continue to train.
Any fresh start is a good opportunity to consider your “whys.” As we move into May (hard for many Ontarians to believe, given that we were under a layer of ice and snow about a week ago), give some thought as to why you train. Perhaps you’ll see some familiar motivation here:
Improve My Fitness
Krav Maga rests on symbiotic principles: fitness, mental readiness, and technical skills. We say symbiotic because they all draw from, and bolster, one another. You can have mastered the intricacies of the techniques with total precision, but if you have minimal cardiovascular endurance and “gas out” after only a few seconds of sustained effort, your technical knowledge is of dangerously limited value. The same applies to muscular endurance and the ability to generate bursting force. Similarly, without mental readiness, your capacity to perform under stress will be reduced. So, fitness is a critical component of Krav Maga performance; perhaps it is your why. There’s no getting out of class without burning a couple thousand screaming calories…and for many, the connection between fitness and appearance is the deciding factor.
Improve Your Health
What’s the difference between health and fitness? As above, there’s an association of fitness with appearance. “Health” encompasses less obvious markers of well-being, including an overall feeling of sustained vitality, long-term mobility, pain-free movement, and, especially as we age, sustained strength, coordination, agility, and balance. There are, of course, “medical” measures of good health, including appropriate blood-sugar and blood-pressure levels, hormonal balance, joint function, muscle tone, circulation, and more. As we know, exercise, good nutrition, and social networks play an enormous role in maintaining all of these aspects of good health, and tend to prevent or mitigate the need (in a general sense) for surgical/pharmaceutical intervention. Important goals, indeed!
In the wider world of training, this is a “why” that’s fairly specific to disciplines like Krav Maga. You can improve your cardiovascular health in any high-intensity class. Zumba, kickboxing, track and field: all of these will yield improved cardiovascular outcomes. For muscular strength and power, there’s weightlifting in any well equipped gym. So why Krav Maga?
If you’re a student, the goal of effective self-defence was and is invariably one of your whys. That’s what we do, what we teach, and what we advocate.
You realized that it is possible to act in situations of danger. It is possible not to be a victim, and it’s the skills that you’re learning and practicing that will be the deciding factor. That’s such an important point, and one that we often brush off at some point in our KM journey because it becomes so self-evident, we begin to take it for granted. Take another look at that statement, though, and recognize that it was a realization that took time to dawn on you.
For you to be a Krav Maga student, most especially a long-term one, your mindset had to change. Think about it – the vast majority of people on the street would have no idea how to react to a gun or knife threat other than to raise their hands or fall to their knees. Crying, pleading, or shock – that would be the extent of the reaction. Most people on the street cannot fathom that there is something effective and proactive that could be done. Perhaps unwittingly, at some point in time, you went from that mentality to one that refused to accept that there is nothing to do but endure victimization. You began to believe that your safety is your concern and is in your hands. Don’t make the mistake of discounting how significant that shift in thinking is. What you take for granted (i.e. “of course I can act! I can act to keep myself and loved ones safe.”) is something that most of your neighbours and contemporaries can’t even imagine.
That is a powerful why.
Family and Community
Being part of a like-minded group is not only pleasurable, it’s good for our sustained mental health. Numerous studies point to the importance of social networks (not the same as social media!) and shared activities in maintaining a positive outlook throughout life. Ever had difficulty explaining Krav to non-practitioners? Feel a sense of camaraderie in the studio when you’re training with fellow students? That can be a very profound why for a lot of us. Knowing that you’re building friendships with people who care about your progress and well-being is one more reason to look forward to class.
There’s also the family component. Perhaps you want to set a good example for your children. You may want them to see you “put your money where your mouth is” in terms of exercise and good health, or in terms of being proactive with regard to self-defence. Don’t discount the impact that your training will have on your children’s understanding of what is normal – adults persisting in challenging pursuits, overcoming setbacks, achieving goals – what they see you doing in class is worth ten-thousand words of encouragement, guidance, or even cajoling. Perhaps the family component of training means to you that your children will make friends with those whose parents share your values, and that kind of community is very important, too.
There’s a certain sort of confidence that grows as a result of accomplishing personal bests. Sometimes, corporate culture being what it is, we don’t have opportunities in our working lives to stand out and let our talents shine. It’s up to us to find pursuits outside of work that allow us to challenge ourselves to do, be, and experience more. Perhaps your why is to discover how much you can really do. In a community like ours, achievement of goals leads to greater, often life-changing, self-confidence. That’s a priceless perk of training.
Me-Time & Self-Improvement
Instead of trying to catalogue the amount of time that you spend on others, a far shorter list to compile may be the activities that you undertake for yourself. Perhaps your why for training is that it’s the one activity that you pursue for your own happiness, growth, education, and/or good health and fitness. An empty pitcher, to play with the cliche a little, pours nothing. Eventually we need a refill. Each and every one of us needs something that revives us, that puts back a little of what we give, not only so that we can continue to give, but so that we ourselves are fulfilled. If you’ve accepted our culture’s fixation with obsessive production at the expense of self, you may have difficulty believing that personal fulfillment is a valid goal in and of itself. That’s a why very worth working on.
As above, there are a number of interrelated outcomes of long-term training. There’s improvement of mental health, physical health, fitness, personal fulfillment, self-confidence, family and community, and, of course, self-defence. All of the above come together under the umbrella of lifestyle. Training is a positive lifestyle choice with lasting, far-reaching benefits. Your why may be quite broad in scope.
Because You Can
Most of us have come across small-minded people – the type who make a habit of saying things like “you can’t do that” or “you’d never be able to do that,” etc. Sometimes that voice is our own, and it’s self-doubt that we need to battle. Either way, choosing to train is an affirmation that the “cant’s” are all wrong. It’s the most decisive, concrete, explicit way to prove to self (and sometimes others) what you’re absolutely capable of…and more. Your why may be a matter of simple, defiant proof. Of course, in that proof is a lot of growth.
Another motivation to train that is specific to disciplines like Krav Maga is the desire to overcome the effects of assault and to prevent it from recurring. After surviving an attack or serious threat, you may feel the overwhelming need to reassert your autonomy, regain a sense of strength, and ensure that you’re never again victimized. There are so many stages of recovery that each person experiences differently, but the desire to be safe is universal. Your why as a survivor is deeply personal and can be the most profound source of growth available. Be reassured that, as a valued part of our training community, your goals will be upheld and supported.
Perhaps your primary, overriding why isn’t on this list, and that’s perfectly alright. There are as many reasons to train as there are dedicated students, but we’re united by the belief that we, our friends and families, our neighbours, and communities have the right to be safe and free from harm. There’s nothing more compelling than that. Right now, at the start of the month, take a moment to reflect on your very powerful, very positive whys. We’ll see you in class!
The Academy Team