Open Minded Krav Maga

Remember Van Damme playing Frank Dux in the film "Blood Sport", "Keep an open mind, use any technique that works." The real Frank Dux lives by those words, that is how he has trained from the very beginning. But not everyone is like that.

It is a common problem among black belt instructors and many high level students. You come in as a white belt, you are an empty cup and you are eager to learn. You listen to the words of your instructor and you work like crazy. You earn your yellow belt and you are even more eager for your next belt. As the years move on you finally attain your dream ? that magical moment when you get your black belt.

And then what happens?

You become complacent. You become comfortable in what you know and you don't really feel like leaving that comfort zone. You have stopped growing. You have reached your destination and you are no longer on a journey. But the journey is where all the challenges are, the journey is where you grow.

During my seminar tours I have met many great martial artists, highly accomplished in their fields and holding high ranks, but, like me, they remain life long students. Unlike the famous story of the Zen master and the university professor, they are willing to 'empty their cup' to make room for more knowledge. They have accomplished much but are still on the journey.

When I am on my trips to the USA I always put aside some time to train with someone who can teach me something. I recall one of my relatives being quite surprised that I, this minor 'celebrity', was still learning. To me it was a surprise that anyone can think otherwise; of course I am still learning, that is a given.

My teacher Itay Gil says we are always 90% student and only 10% teacher, we are always learning, we are always trying to find a better, more effective, way of getting things done.

Sadly I have also come across the other kind of martial arts master, the kind who refuses to leave his comfort zone. I hear remarks like, "This is how we are used to doing it." "This is how we have always done it, why change now?" It does not matter if this old method of doing things can get you killed, it only matters that they have practiced it so long that they can not bear the thought of learning something different.

I know the feeling. There are techniques I worked very hard on, was tested on them, and perfected them. And then, I discovered a better technique. So, sadly, I had to say goodbye to a beloved technique. I know it is not easy to give up an old beloved technique, but sometimes we must, if we hope to grow.

It is said that every black belt should, from time to time, take off his black belt and go into a new studio and learn something, as a beginner. It is good for the soul; be a white belt again, do not be afraid to be a student again, learn to leave your comfort zone.