Self-Defense is a bit like insurance: when you don’t need it you don’t need it all, but when you DO need it, you need it more than anything else in life.
This is an idea that I have talked about for some time, but let me explain it in more detail. The basic idea of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is that more basic needs are at the bottom, while the needs higher up on my pyramid usually only happen after the lower ones have been met. Let’s look at a few of these in a small bit of detail as a refresher:
These are the physical requirements for life: Air, Water, Food, Clothing and Shelter. Basically if you don’t have these items, you may die.
There are a few buckets in this group: Personal Security, Financial Security, Health and Well Being, Safety Net against accidents or illness
Love and Belonging
These are the interactions that we all experience daily: Friendship, Family and Intimacy
This is basically the need to feel accepted by others and yourself. At this level a persons hobbies, enjoyable work, and social groups come into play. We like to feel respected and important. We all have some need for recognition and approval that can improve our self-esteem and make us feel useful.
People come to us to learn Krav Maga (and our other programs of course) for lots of reasons. Fundamentally, we are teaching self-defense, but those lessons and the community we have created at Crucible cross all of these needs.
When you are in a serious life-threatening situation, your self-defense skills will be THE most important thing in your life. Self-Defense will be more important than esteem, love, or even your need for food, air and water. Suddenly, you will find yourself cashing in on that self-defense policy that you invested in, and it will payoff (hopefully) by allowing you to take your life or limb with you.
There is an understated aspect of learning self-defense (which we will address in a future blog in detail) that we don’t talk about nearly enough: situational awareness as it relates to non-dangerous interactions. What does that mean? The ability to break-fall if you slip. Not stepping in front of the car that drives by without noticing you. Not running into someone who walks by. Helping other people around us who don’t notice the accident they are about to have. Anyone who has studied self-defense for a decent period of time develops into a master of his or her own body, and is able to prevent a great number of potentially dangerous, or just embarrassing, situations. If prevention is the best medicine, then self-defense training is the medicine for the quirks of daily life. I have never been robbed at gunpoint and used a Krav Maga technique, but I have used break-falls more times than I can count to save my bacon.
In my mind, the first and second levels on Maslow’s hierarchy can interchange depending on the situation. Many students come to us because they intuitively know that the world has gotten more dangerous and they want to do what they can to control that. As a single data point: when I was a child (70’s and 80’s) my parents would let me walk out the door, get on my bike, and wouldn’t hear from me until the sun came down. We rode our bikes all over the city when we were only 7 or 8 years old. And I grew up in a very rough part of town! Today, even in the relatively opulent and safe city of Plano, Texas, if you lose track of your 7 year old for even a minute parents are sent into a panic! Why the change? The world has gotten more dangerous and there are a lot of weirdo’s out there.
Rather than just hoping things will work out well, many of us want to try and put as many odds in our favor as possible. Here is the thing about self-defense: you have to invest in learning it well before you ‘need’ it. Regardless if it is a simple slip on ice (which can be fatal), a violent ex-boyfriend, or a random attacker, if you haven’t properly invested the time before you need to use your skills they won’t be there for you to use. Those of us that are at relatively advanced levels and have trained for years know this. We have worked with hundreds of victims, we have seen the trauma that can result, and we know how hard it is to become proficient. We also know that the alternative to not training is to live with an unrealistic expectation that things will just workout. I sincerely hope no one ever needs to use their self-defense skills, but if the day comes when your or a loved ones’ life or well-being is on the line, I hope that you have invested your time wisely.