Within the discipline of Krav Maga, the first principle of self-defense is: Address the Danger. As a Kravist, you likely know this concept.
Before anything else can or should happen, effective and powerful self-defense starts with the addressing of the danger. Some may believe that launching a counter-attack is the best and first priority, but that’s misguided. And while a simultaneous addressing of the danger and counter-attack is ideal, it is often not an option.
The truth is, when danger emerges, we all move from our prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of our brain, often called the executive brain) to a small part of the brain called the amygdala (the instinctive, reactive part of our brain, often called the frog brain).
The amygdala is hard wired with a host of instinctive reactions to danger. In Krav Maga, I often refer to a basic two-handed choke to illustrate this point. Imagine someone is aggressively choking you with his or her hands. He or she is enraged and committed to hurting or killing you. It’s clear you are in very real danger. That’s intense, but what happens next is highly predictable.
Once a choke with two hands is aggressively applied around the throat and esophagus, the brain instantly shifts control centers to the amygdala (due in large part to the nervous system sending signals that the air flow and blood flow necessary for life are being compromised), and the body fires out movement based upon our hard-wired instinctive responses. In this case, the defender’s hands fly to the choking hands.
The genius of Krav Maga can be seen in what happens next. With a desire for self-defense to “fly from the body” during an attack, the Founder for Krav Maga Imi Lichtenfeld decided to utilize the natural, hard-wired, instinctive responses of the amygdala as the basis for initiating the self-defense process. In doing so, Imi took an approach that was pragmatic, realistic, and highly effective. By simply leveraging what was authentic and consistent within the human biology, Imi revolutionized both the means of approaching self-defense and the application of accessible self-defense across a wide swath of people.
Imi’s goal was to develop a highly effective system of self-defense that could be accessed by the masses. In this case, necessity was the mother of invention, as the system was designed to support an entire nation of people all of whom would serve a mandatory tour of duty in the armed forces. To describe this facet of Krav Maga to newcomers, I often say that Krav Maga was developed for “men and women, big and tall, short and small.”
In other words, with such a wide variety of people serving in the military, Imi knew it was absolutely critical to develop a self-defense system that virtually all the recruits could effectively utilize. Just like the origins of Krav Maga, our individual and collective approach to the fight for our souls (and meaning in this life) must also recognize and leverage those things that make us human (akin to an instinctive response leveraged in Krav Maga).
In this process, our personal reclamation, we must use an understanding of our limitations and proclivities to develop a means to leverage our knowledge of these things in developing a defense to “address the danger” that increases as each day passes.
You can think of this danger as the increasing likelihood that your “your current state” will become more and more rooted into your “internal code” to the point that making meaningful, lasting, and deeply satisfying change is terribly unlikely.
You know people for whom this is true. Do not be become that person.
In the remaking of ourselves, we must first be brutally honest about who we are, what we do, why we do what we do, and the resources (not money or influence but capacity and willingness to change) that we have at our disposal.
We are going to learn see ourselves as others see us, capture and hold different perspectives, and create in ourselves an honesty that excludes judgment. After all, if you’re going to set off down the path of self mastery, that process will demand honesty, and that honesty – while uncomfortable – is a vital tool in pushing past your growing edge. In this, you understand that judgment cannot exist on the same path as self-mastery.
What is, perhaps, even more enlightening about the first principle of Krav Maga is the very concept of danger. To address the danger, one must first clearly understand the source and the various elements of the danger. Otherwise, how could anyone possibly expect to effectively address a danger of which little is known? In fact, addressing the danger by improperly focusing and efforting to resolve irrelevant issues can make the danger (and the resulting injury) much worse.
If you apply this concept in your intention to move to a more meaningful and deeply satisfying life, you will quickly arrive at the realization that your process for addressing the issues that are destructive in your own life must be (1) well designed, (2) well executed consistently, and (3) practiced over a period of time to have the desired effect. In the coming pages, I’m going to outline a series of daily practices to support that effort.
For now, consider the analogy of addressing the danger during an attack where the aggressor uses two hands to choke his/her target. The specific danger that needs immediate addressing is the opposing pressure the thumbs create when crossed at the esophagus or neck. Ever try to grab something powerfully without using your opposable thumbs? Try it. You will see why the thumbs are the focal point in addressing the danger presented by a choke with two hands. It’s vital to consider this point – danger is specific, and knowledge of that specificity facilitates an effective and powerful solution.
Armed with this information, a Kravist (someone who trains in the method of Krav Maga) or warrior can begin to apply the natural response the amygdala produces (the defending hands flying to the choking hands) during this specific choke with the need to remove the thumbs from the throat to effectively address the danger. The Kravist uses the instinctive response with speed, leverage, and opposing force applied at specific angles to address the danger – just as we can utilize the specific understanding of danger to develop a relevant and specific response to the danger our current state represents.
In our own lives, the patterns we repeat, the habits we have formed, and the destructive paths we have forged must be addressed. We must each resolve to do what is necessary to discover and assess these issues, hold ourselves to a standard of absolute honesty about our current state in this world, practice non-judgment, strive to change, and become warriors for ourselves and for the benefit of those around us.
WARRIOR EXERCISE #1
In the context of your authentic reclamation, can you pinpoint the dangers you face in becoming rooted in your current state? What “bad code” has become fixed in your “internal operating system?”
Answer these questions honestly and with substantial consideration. Try journaling as you contemplate these questions. Write as much as you can. Capturing streams of consciousness is encouraged. Let’s start digging in, and know that your personal reclamation has begun.
Your training as a warrior is officially underway. As you move through the exercise above, commit to non-judgment, and release any notion of a desired outcome or answer. Warriors call this the concept of non-attachment. Specifically, do not attach yourself, your feelings about yourself within the context of the answers and ideas that surface as a result of this exercise, or any desired outcome to the process. Instead, simply accept that you have begun to travel the warrior’s path to self-mastery.
It’s time to begin to identify and address the danger.
You can do this. You are becoming a warrior.