By Yevgeniy Grigoryev
My leadership skills are continuously tested in the role of a martial arts instructor. Krav Maga is a practical and effective self defense system, which I see as a real life problem-solving system based on the logical application of natural reactions to identify the safest and most effective solution. The problems that our system addresses, however, usually involve violent people who try to cause us physical harm, sometimes even death. The safest solution, thus, entails effectively resolving the problem by neutralizing the threat and going home unharmed.
The greatest challenge for me as an instructor is to transfer this practical knowledge to a diverse audience of my students, which in New York includes business professionals, college students, retirees, people with martial arts experience, as well as people with no prior physical or martial arts training. No two people are exactly the same and each person responds differently to a stressful situation. Therefore, I am challenged to come up with the most effective way to transfer self defense knowledge to these individuals, knowing full well that the final stake represents their safety. My goal is to make our techniques accessible to the general public by communicating the logical principles inherent in Krav Maga to my students, and demonstrating that these principles are adaptable to an infinite number of situations and individuals.
The idea is not to teach 100 solutions for 100 possible problems, because in real life you will go outside and be confronted with the problem #101…
Krav Maga addresses how to resolve potentially dangerous situations and so I teach my students to identify where the immediate threat is and react without procrastination. I train my students to operate under stress by finding the most efficient way to address the problem while keeping the solutions simple, as in KISS (keep it simple, stupid). However, many people tend to shut down under stress. By emphasizing problem-solving under stress from a position of disadvantage, the students learn to find the most effective and simplest way while avoiding hesitation. During training, I want my students to learn the fewest number of general solutions that would address the greatest number of problem variations. The idea is not to teach 100 solutions for 100 possible problems, because in real life you will go outside and be confronted with the problem # 101. The idea is to teach the students to adapt the techniques they know in the most effective way. I help the students understand that the simpler the system, the more decisive its application will be, because they will not be distracted by a myriad of options. For this purpose, I continuously introduce stress drills that develop the students’ ability to function under duress and fatigue, outside their comfort zone, to overcome obstacles, go around, over or even through them to achieve the final goal – get home safely. In a way, we learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Finally, I teach my students to always anticipate possible dangers and to be aware of an exit strategy without exposing themselves to additional dangers. The idea is not to be constantly afraid, but to maintain awareness of potential problems and resolve them without being distracted from the ultimate goal, getting home safely.