Recently I’ve become a shameless consumer. You know who did it? Yep, REI. Originally I would just go in for outdoor/hiking shoes to use for the occasional short hike or outdoor law enforcement training. But recently I’ve tipped the scales (and the bank account) with clothing, backpacks, first aid kits, outdoor cooking gear, mountain bike accessories, maps (yes, maps!), hydration systems, and anything else that screams “I’m ready for nature!” It’s getting to be a problem, really.
But I’m not alone in this. Our entire culture seems to have fallen in love with self-sufficiency and survival. Even as we are finding an unprecedented opportunity for pampering (do you own this?), others are pushing the DIY agenda in all areas. I’ve written before about on-screen entertainment providing a vicarious struggle for survival that gives our lives meaning. But that trend has grown. “The Walking Dead,” “The Revanent,” and even “Naked and Afraid” are bigger than ever. Even popular blogs such as “Art of Manliness,” “Mr. Money Mustache,” and “Instructables,” all emphasize a DIY resurgence with rugged self-reliance.
Yet people are more unprepared than ever.
We like to feel prepared without actually doing the work to be prepared. Building pallet furniture may be a nice way to upcycle some scrap wood and rely upon yourself for home furnishing, but it won’t get you un-lost, keep you warm, or fill your stomach if its empty. First-aid, basic building construction and maintenance, food sourcing, water sources, clothing, communication, education, entertainment, transportation, and personal safety are all areas of proficiency that in centuries past were considered essential, but that we now basically rely completely on others to provide.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t encourage, support, and rely upon society’s institutions which provide these things on a larger scale. I’m saying it’s all a matter of who you ultimately expect to be responsible for these things. Is it you, or is it someone else?
We even have a pejorative term for some who have made a lifestyle of anticipating future dangers and catastrophes. “Preppers” are viewed as paranoid, reactionary alarmists because in a violent attack, the cops will save us (they won’t have time), in a natural disaster, the federal government will save us (they won’t), and if I’m lost, I can just use the GPS on my phone (you can’t).
But there’s another issue at stake that is relevant for everyone regardless of their confrontation with extreme circumstances. While our lives may be easier, they are definitely not happier. A deep satisfaction resides in being self-sufficient, capable, prepared. “What if” questions are answered satisfactorily. Choices are separated into what I can take productive action on, and what is outside of my control. And in the process, one gets to see themselves growing, which some would say is at the heart of enjoying life.
And I think this is why Krav Maga is also so fulfilling – more than almost any other workout program or martial art. Krav training is not primarily just a self-defense system, but a method of making life or death decisions under extreme pressure. Sometimes that means fighting, but other times that means talking, distracting, fleeing, enlisting the help of others, etc. But it always means having a settled confidence in one’s own capability, whatever that might be.
Aside from the fact that your fitness level goes up (it does) and it’s just plain fun to hit and kick things (it is), the same deep satisfaction resides in the knowledge that one does not need to have a question lingering around some areas of personal safety. I CAN deal with a larger attacker choking or punching me. I CANNOT deal with twelve gunmen armed with AK-47s. I CANNOT YET deal with a handgun threat, but I will be able to soon. That can only come from realistic training that corresponds to actual dangers. And that is Krav Maga’s stock and trade.
Not only that, personal preparation through training has a quality that home alarms, personal weapons, armed guards, police forces, pepper spray, workplace violence policies, cell phone apps don’t: no one can confiscate, mitigate, or change the preparation you have already acquired. No one can alter or make choices or legislate what you have internally. It is only perishable through neglect, denial, or complacency.
In an age of great interest in preparedness but little real knowledge for how one might become prepared, Krav Maga is a training solution that brings self-sufficiency when it comes to personal safety.