Krav Maga Is Not in the Heavens

On Quora, a reader asked me, does one need to be physically fit to learn and progress in Krav Maga?

I want to quote my incredible teacher, Raz Chen here.

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Krav Maga is for everyone.

One of the ideas I loved most from the Talmud was the idea that justice and wisdom were not in the heavens, above us. Mankind was endowed reason to and only needed to learn how to harness it to do good.

Well, Krav Maga is not from the heavens above. It is based on modifying natural instincts, and therefore, can be applied or modified to suit every person. Everything you need is already wired into you, you only need to know how to use it.
The mat is open to everyone, and it is especially open to those who feel they don’t belong.

They might think that they are too old to try. They may face physical disabilities which make them feel like there is no hope for mastery. They may face mental challenges, like depression and PTSD, which make training feel impossible. They may struggle with their fitness and think that they are too out of shape to bother. There are so many reasons to say “I don’t belong here.”

The only answer I can offer is my own journey. Fifteen months and five hundred classes have passed since I began my journey, and I look back at the skills I earned.

There were so many days where I doubted I belonged. I saw myself as broken, uncoordinated and a hopeless case. I looked around me at those far more talented and less problem-stricken. I would wonder, why did I bother? I wasn’t in shape. I was full of fear. I struggled so badly, taking so many lessons to pick up what everyone around me seemed to grasp in moments.

My doubts pounded in my head.

You don’t belong.

In the first days, I couldn’t finish a class. I was so physically unfit I would cry on the way home because I felt so frustrated. I would hear about tests for higher rankings and laugh. “Just try to survive.”

It was a slow journey, but it was a steady one. Each month, I improved a little bit more, an inch at a time. I may have been last, but I was still on line. I had everything I needed inside me, I just had to keep going.

I need to shout out to Raz, who supported my ambitions every step of the way. When we met, I considered myself so untalented that I would be a waste of his time. However, the fact that it would be a hard journey for me only won me his respect. Krav Maga wasn’t a divine favor for the few, but a gift for everyone who was willing to labor for it.

I was very willing to pay the price. I put my heart and soul into training, building up to multiple times a week. I practiced hard, and made my schedule revolve around getting on the mat. No matter how horrible I felt after a class, I went back the next day.

Five hundred times, I got out on the mat and I refused to give in. I would claim my prize of improvement, no matter how long it took.

Looking back, I can see the gradual improvement and now, I actually feel somewhat confident in my skills. I have a lot more to learn, but I have found my place.

No matter how hard my time on the mat is, I know I belong. I have the strength and the skills to succeed. As long as I keep working, I will keep improving.

Now, when a new student comes, and feels lost, it’s an honor to tell them that Krav Maga belongs to them too. It’s not the provenance of the most gifted. No matter how awkward or hopeless, no matter the challenges, the mat is open to them.

Krav Maga is not given in the heavens, but earned in hard work.

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