Understand How to Use Knowledge to KNOW Krav Maga

Recently I lectured on the concept of “knowing” with my advanced training group. I’m writing today to share a bit of what I’m teaching. People often laugh when I say: you don’t need all the facts to know the truth. But, I’m dead serious. So, what do I mean by Knowing How to Know?

For our purposes, knowing is applying information in the moment with confidence, often to achieve a specific end.

So, in a very real sense, knowing within the Krav Maga or self-defense context is trusting yourself to quickly know how and where to respond to danger. To get here, we’ll need to backtrack a good deal to explore what types of knowledge are utilized in making decisions.

Nietzsche (a broken watch is right twice a day) once observed that there are fundamentally two kinds of knowledge: “erfahrung,” defined as knowledge based on experience (we will refer to this knowledge as primary knowledge), and “wissen,” defined as knowledge based on consuming secondary information – such as reading books and listening to speeches (we will refer to this information as secondary intellect).

Primary knowledge gained through direct experience might most easily be explained by invoking the time-honored example of “touching a hot stove” – we know not to do this after an experience that demonstrates the simple idea that hot stoves can burn. We can extrapolate this idea to far more complex constructs, but the concept remains unchanged.

Secondary intellect, that is information garnered from various means of consumption, can be explained by pointing to the high and low tides of the oceans. We know, by consuming information that the tides are caused by the moon’s gravitational force. We can also extrapolate this idea to far more complex constructs, but the concept remains unchanged.

While we can argue that there are several subsets of primary knowledge and secondary intellect, the fact remains that these two methods of collecting information are, in fact, totally inclusive.

Today, experience, and the primary knowledge gained, is often debased and under-valued, citing such things as basic survival skills. While secondary intellect is often elevated by science and specialized vocations that require vast stores of secondary intellect. This is a problem, but we’ll circle back to this in a moment.

The importance of “knowing” cannot be understated. Knowing not only facilitates decision-making; it also provides a strength and commitment in acting on a decision. And, if we boil down life into skill sets, solid decision-making is, perhaps, the most important skill you can hope to develop.

So, back to the problem mentioned above. In a perfect world, the productive tension between primary and secondary sources would yield well-thought-out decisions. That is, when the decision maker utilized both sources – leveraging one against the other until a solution presented itself through this internal discourse.

Let’s use a heart surgeon and a specialized attorney as two examples. In each case, there must be a huge volume of secondary information consumed to begin to practice these vocations. But, once the secondary information is consumed, the majority of the most useful information collected comes directly from experience. Ask the most successful person you know what has been the most important means of garnering information and knowledge that led to his/her success (and after a moment of reflection), each successful person will tell you experience counted most.

However, there has been a dramatic shift over the past several decades. The shift, led by scientism (another subject for another time), has taken root and caused the substantial erosion of the essential value placed on experience-based knowledge. So much so, that secondary or information-based intellect has become a dominant ideology.

The coming tragedy is already taking form. With the continued growth of secondary or information-based intellect (and the numerous ways to consume it), secondary intellect will produce many more socially acceptable “truths” than experience based knowledge. This imbalance will grow, and many social constructs will begin to see secondary or information-based intellect as far superior to experience-based knowledge.

This process has already begun. Most people today value secondary intellect above their own hard-won experience-based knowledge. Since when has this prioritization ever worked out for you? Think about it.

Another issue with secondary information is the over-abundance of ways and means to consume it. In the past 10 years, the amount of information available to the average person has increased over 10,000 fold. Consuming isn’t the issue – sifting through the mountains of information has, and continues to be, the challenge. And this isn’t just information – most of it is agenda-based or influenced, pure rhetoric, and/or propaganda. Most of the secondary information available to you and me isn’t reliable – period.

We don’t need any more “intellects” to collect data, analyze, or interpret data for the purposes of telling us what it means – specifically across the Internet. This process has become a trap. And many are hoping you’ll become one of the “useful idiots” that parrot a flawed and agenda-ridden message.

Secondary information is not experience. What you’re reading now is secondary information – filter every word through your vast network of experience-based knowledge. Only then has this letter been vetted and made ready for true consumption. Even when secondary information if presented in a way (e.g. television) that feels experiential – it is not. Do not accept this as truth. A Krav Maga demonstration is secondary information, as is instruction. Feeling the technique and performing the technique are primary or experience-based means of collecting this knowledge. This is why Krav Maga can never be learned and mastered watching videos – period.

In the final analysis, we’re heading towards a powerful social construct that facilitates a most dangerous paradigm. Instead of utilizing our experiences (primary knowledge) to judge the validity of data and information (which is often manipulated), we begin to judge the validity of our own experiences by comparing them to data and information (secondary information). This is madness, and this would be catastrophic.

Yet, many students fail to trust their experiences in guiding their reaction to danger. Train hard, train often, reflect and understand your experiences, and use this knowledge as the filter through which all other secondary information must pass.

In short, give yourself permission to be right.

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