BKO Kung Fu: How does one become certified as a Krav Maga instructor? Which organizations are worldly accepted as authentic?
Jarrett: How does one become certified as a Krav Maga instructor? The short answer: blood, sweat, and tears. I can only speak to the certification process of Krav Maga Worldwide, the organization I’m certified through. After attaining a high level of proficiency, and under the tutelage and recommendation from an already certified instructor, you can apply to take your first 7 day certification course. You train about 8 hours each day, and what makes these certification courses unique, apart from the fact a large number of participants don’t pass, is that the focus is split between the physical performance of the techniques, and your ability to transfer knowledge to students…to teach in an effective way. Just because you can doesn’t mean you can teach, and that’s an important distinction. You get certified by level in Krav Maga, so as you progress through the system as a practitioner, you can train for higher and higher levels of instructor certifications. Each course is nothing short of brutal, physically and mentally. But it should be. It’s Krav Maga after all, not Yoga.
The question of worldly accepted organizations is one rife with conflict. Certainly the two most most well known organizations at the moment are Krav Maga Worldwide and Krav Maga Global. Just as in any system there are plenty of hybrids and smaller organizations, but what makes Krav Maga unique is the system allows for slight variations in technique because it’s based on what will work for students, and students aren’t all the same. So you might have one instructor that teaches slightly different techniques than another instructor, and both versions are Krav Maga, and both versions are acceptable based on effectiveness on the street. That being said, there are certainly less reputable organizations and instructors out there. I try not to get caught up in the political b.s. of the whole thing, but instead focus on what is supposed to be the common goal of all Krav Maga organizations and all instructors: to equip students with life saving techniques that will effectively help them survive a violent attack on the street, or in the words of founder Imi Lichtenfeld… “So that one may walk in peace…”
BKO: What are the 3 most common myths about Krav Maga? Can you set the record straight.
Jarrett: I’m not sure I can come up with 3 common myths about Krav Maga. For the most part people who have heard of the system tend to have a good understanding of what it is, although most butcher the pronunciation of the name. I think the single most common myth is that Krav Maga is a martial art. I’m sure some instructors and practitioners will want to argue with me that it is, in fact, a martial art, but I think it’s incredibly important to make a distinction between martial arts, and what I consider Krav Maga to be: a reality-based tactical system. While people learn martial arts for many different reasons (beauty, balance, focus, competition, coordination, discipline, etc.), people learn Krav Maga essentially for one reason, and that is to learn how to effectively survive modern-day threats and attacks. Our philosophies are different, our training styles are different, our training modalities and drills are different, our mindset is different. Krav Maga is not a martial art.
The only other common myth I can think of is that Krav Maga is about hurting, maiming, or killing your attacker. Yes, Krav Maga is an aggressive system and we train aggressively. But not only would those mythical goals be unethical and legally irresponsible, there needs to be the understanding that the longer you remain in the fight, the worse your chances of survival. Our main goal is escape, so when we strike we do so to buy opportunities for escape.
BKO: Why should people join your classes versus other self defense system schools?
BKO: What are the 3 most common things you see women do to put themselves in danger? What do you suggest to avoid them?
Jarrett: 1) Talk, text, or otherwise use phones and other devices while out in public. If I had a quarter for every time I saw a woman walking from Point A to Point B with her eyes down and attention completely on the screen between her two hands I’d be a very rich woman. No matter how important you think your text, call, or email is I can assure you it’s not worth your life. Put the devices down. Look up. Look around. Pay attention. Be aware.
2) Make unnecessarily sloppy transitions into their vehicles. A large amount of violent crime against women happens in and around the transition into or out of vehicles. Carrying huge amounts of gear, many bags, digging in their purse for their keys, not paying attention to their surroundings, sitting in idle cars to organize belongings, and leaving car doors ajar while getting in and getting settled or loading/unloading the car are all ways that leave women particularly vulnerable to being targeted as a victim. Have keys out and in hand before leaving the house, building, or store. Leave one hand free of bags to fight back with, look around as you load or unload the car, check under in and around car before approaching, get in quickly, close and lock doors immediately, and don’t sit in idling cars are all ways to be safer.
3) Run, walk, or hike alone with earbuds in or headphones on and music blasting. I know music is an important motivator during workouts, but save it for the gym. You don’t want to limit your senses when exercising outside, especially solo. Best policy is to leave the music at home, followed by the use of an external speaker, and using only one earbud at a time.
BKO: When do you advocate for a child to fight back against a bully at school? Many schools have taken on the policy to suspend anyone participating in fighting even if it's self defense?
Jarrett: I could honestly write a book about this topic, and in fact that’s on my to do list. But to try and keep it as brief as possible I’ll just summarize my own personal beliefs, my professional experience, and my bullying philosophy.
Bullies have been around forever. They will never cease to exist. Never. Bullies are an important part of our social fabric. Although the topic of bullying has gotten a huge amount of press lately, it’s not a new issue. What is new is (a) the incidences of significant mental health issues and suicide in young bully victims and (b) zero tolerance policies in schools. Our country has taken a huge shift towards what I call a Culture of Passivity. Don’t act, don’t do anything to change your situation, simply passively complain about it on social media, or rely on someone else to fix the problem. How did we treat bully victims in previous eras? We told them to stand up for themselves and fight back. Even if they got “beat up” by the bully, the bullying usually stopped because they refused to be a victim. Now what do we tell them? Whatever you do, don’t fight back. Instead you should ignore them, walk away, and tell an adult. How often does that work? Rarely. Bully victims are getting bombarded with the message that it is WRONG to stand up for themselves, to demand the basic human right of keeping themselves safe from harm by fighting back, that they must rely on others for savior. There is a psychological phenomenon called “Learned Helplessness” which essentially says, the perception that you don’t have control over the outcome of a harmful situation can lead to mental illness such as anxiety and depression. This is what we are doing to our kids. We are taking away their ability to feel they have control over a situation in which they are being harmed. The consequences are devastating, to say the least.
School administrations are in a very difficult situation. They don’t want to advocate fighting back because they don’t want to advocate fighting. Of course those are two very different things: fighting back versus fighting, and martial arts instructors will tell you that training kids to fight back usually leads to fewer incidences of fighting, not more. But nevertheless, in the modern age of lawsuits, schools don’t want to run the risk. So where does that leave us? For ten years, parents have been coming to me and asking me to teach their kids how to fight back. The story is almost always the same: their child has been victimized for months or years, they are suffering from anxiety and/or depression, the principal has done nothing effective, the teachers have done nothing effective, the bully’s parents have done nothing effective, law enforcement has done nothing effective, and they are concerned for the well being, mental and physical, of their child. “We refuse to allow our child to have to subject himself to being a human punching bag. We refuse to allow our child to be terrified to go to school each day. We don’t care if he gets suspended our expelled, the overall health of our child is the top priority.” I have heard this dozens and dozens of times. We equip the child with skills, he effectively stands up for himself or fights back. And more often than not that solves the bullying problem. Sometimes the child gets in trouble at school, sometimes he doesn’t, but he gets empowered from the experience in profound ways.
As parents, you must make a personal decision on where you stand on this topic. If you believe that it is unacceptable to tell a child not to defend himself in the face of physical harm, regardless of school policies, then it is your responsibility to equip your child with the necessary skills, and communicate with your child the exact course of action that is expected of him.
BKO: You have had many high profile guest spots on some major shows. What are a few tips you would give someone before they step in front of a real TV recording camera for the first time?
Jarrett: There’s an element of on-camera success that can’t be practiced or learned. Your dynamism in front of your students might not translate directly to the camera. To a certain extent you either have “it” or you don’t. That being said, practice certainly makes you better, and just like training you can’t only go through the paces in your head and expect a fantastic outcome, you have to physically practice as well. Have friends and family members film you. A lot. Watch the tape back and make adjustments. Film again. Watch again. Practicing your lines or your segment in your head won’t cut it. Nor will practice filming by yourself with the camera on a tripod. You need actual practice in front of actual people.
BKO: With so many fitness experts becoming a popular field of work, how have you raised yourself above the crowd?
Jarrett: I think, I’ve strived to rise above the crowd by not including myself, at least not intentionally, in the fitness expert field. I don’t consider myself a fitness expert, it’s not my primary professional goal, and I don’t think I particularly excel as a fitness coach, at least not at an elite level. What I excel at is as a self-defense instructor, and figuring out how to bring the education and skills of personal safety to as many people as possible. Krav Maga is a seriously excellent way to get in shape, so instead of focusing my work on fitness specifically, for students, followers, and readers whose main goal is fitness, I try to encourage them to include self-defense training within their fitness routines. That way they can continue to work towards their goal of fitness, well being, and physique, while at the same time learning potentially life saving skills. It’s a win-win situation.
BKO: If you could only do 3 exercise in solitary confinement what would they be? Why these 3?
BKO: If you could only eat 3 foods for the rest of your life and you could only spend $6 a day, what 3 items would you choose? Why?
Jarrett: Well, with those limits I’d grow my own vegetable garden, have chickens for eggs, and live near a river to fish. Is that answer cheating? If we’re talking about 3 foods I’d have to buy at a store for $6/day I think I’d go with eggs, a green vegetable such as broccoli (love broccoli), and however much poultry I could buy with what I had left. In my own personal diet I eat a lot of lean animal protein (egg whites, poultry, and low mercury fish) and a lot of green veggies. I know I could easily survive on those staples alone. That and my dark chocolate!
BKO: What future projects are you working on that we can look forward too?
Jarrett: We released my first DVD: Don’t Mess With M.A.M.A., which features the top strategies and techniques of my M.A.M.A. Self-Defense program. I have a ton of exciting projects in the works including ebooks and videos, almost all of which will focus on self-defense for women, parents, and kids.
BKO: Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Jarrett: Reality-based self-defense training is very different from traditional martial arts training. I absolutely love my traditional martial arts training, but as a woman, I can’t imagine existing in the world without my self-defense education and skills. When we’re talking about the street, techniques that might work, or could work, or sometimes work are unacceptable. I see “self-defense” techniques all the time (trips, throws, joint manipulation, pressure points, chokes, tackles, leverage techniques) that I look at as a woman and know in an instant that I would not be able to make it work in a real life setting, with real life speed, intensity, aggression, striking, size and weight differences.
Seek realistic, applicable, effective, street-based self-defense training. Encourage family, friends, and coworkers to seek training, even if just one workshop. Do your part to keep your life and that of your loved ones sacred and safe. And of course a big thank you to BKOKungFu.com for featuring my work and my teachings!
BKO: Thank you Jarrett for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you more success with your future projects.
BKO: Thank you Jarrett for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you more success with your future projects.