You don’t use it you lose it

International Krav Maga Federation
             You don’t use it you lose it
Alex Pfäffli
March, 2018
Table of content
1. Introduction 1
2. Physical theory 1
2.1 Introduction 1
2.2 Oxygen uptake 1
2.3 Heart rate 2
2.4 Cardiac output 2
2.5 Ventilatory function 2
2.6 Muscle glycogen 3
2.7 Muscle strength 3
2.8 Muscle Memory 3
2.9 Reference to Women 4
2.10 Reference to Children 4
2.11 Conclusion 4
2.12 Reference to Krav Maga 5
3. Mental theory 6
3.1 Introduction 6
3.2 The brain and the learning 6
3.3 Synapse formation 7
3.4 Learning of motor skills for adults 8
3.5 Learning of motor skills for children 8
3.6 Motor memory 9
3.7 Reference to Krav Maga 9
4. How is it expressed in practice (rule of thumb)? 10
5. What is the Time Frame of the Theory in Practice? 10
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1. Introduction
Before I go into the topic I would like to quote what Avi Moyal said last year about how to
write an essay: "It should be something that helps the IKMF to evolve and to get more
So, I will try my best to help the IKMF to continue to be the best.
The theme of the essay is very deep and exciting, because a lot of different aspects come
How long does someone practice Krav Maga? How intense does he or she train? What was
the motivation to start? Is the motivation intrinsic or extrinsic? E.g. does the person train for
him- or herself (intrinsic) or does he or she come just for a friend (extrinsic). Each of these
questions have a direct influence on someone deciding to stop training Krav Maga. From my
personal experience, I can say that if people return to train Krav Maga, they are in the system
again very fast. To have a conclusive answer, I contacted some of our former students (3
woman / 2 guys) and asked them if they were interested in having an hour of training with
me. I did two techniques with them (choke from the front and inside defense vs. straight
punches at a rhythm of one and a half beats). What I found out was that they remembered
the technique, but the motion sequence was not very clear anymore. However, all of them
remembered the principles of Krav Maga: if possible hide, when this is not possible solve the
problem and at the end of the technique, scan.
I asked them why they think that they remembered the principles of the technique and most
of them answered: because they trained these techniques a lot.
I was curious to find out what happens in the brain that they remembered so well. Furthermore,
I was interested in what happens physically when they stop completely with training
(none of the ex-students stopped completely with training, everyone is still doing sports). And
because each of my interviewed people was still training something, I read a lot of studies
about detraining to get an overview of what exactly happens in the body.
2. Physical theory
2.1 Introduction
Regular training leads to various physiological adjustments that improve athletic
performance. It is well-known that interruption or significant reduction of training results in
partial or complete reversal of these adjustments. People have less energy, do not feel so
dynamic anymore, gain weight, just to name a few examples. If you apply this to Krav Maga,
there is no difference compared to other sports or self-defense types. The effects are the
same. The reasons to quit or to stop Krav Maga can also be very different. Some find their
great love and want to focus on the relationship, some move to a different place or injure
themselves or they simply lose their interest in training Krav Maga. I read a lot of sport
studies to get an overview of what happens in the body when people stop exercising. In the
following lines I will focus on what exactly happens in the body and especially after what
period of time. There are no studies about Krav Maga or self-defense concerning what
happens physically when you stop practicing self-defense. So, I switched to existing
detraining studies of other sports (wrestling, boxing, swimming, jogging, etc.) for a good
2.2 Oxygen uptake
Training cessation for a period shorter than four weeks has been reported to induce a rapid
reduction in maximal oxygen uptake. Studies prove that 15 days of inactivity reduce the maximal
oxygen uptake by 4% in well-trained endurance runners. Highly trained athletes reported
a reduction of up to 20% after a 3-8 week break. For wrestlers, a reduction of 9.9% was
observed in maximum oxygen uptake after 12 weeks of detraining. The maximal oxygen uptake
loss during training cessation seems to depend on time and initial fitness level. These
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indicate that maximal oxygen uptake of highly trained athletes decreases progressively and
proportionally to the initial maximal oxygen uptake during the first eight weeks of training cessation.
This decline ranges between four and 20%. Most studies however indicate, that maximal
oxygen uptake ceases to decline thereafter and remains higher than that of untrained
counterparts. It turned out that in normal exercising people (men and women) the maximum
oxygen intake decreases after eight weeks of detraining back to the initial value. In a study
with only women, the same result was observed with the difference that the study lasted not
eight but ten weeks. In young subjects who had previously trained for nine weeks and then
quit training for another nine weeks, the maximal oxygen uptake decreased, but it remained
above pretraining values.
2.3 Heart rate
Researchers found, that endurance athletes had an 11% higher heart rate after 2–4 week
without training. The study was carried out with seven endurance runners. The effects of
longer periods without training on athletes’ heart rate have also been studied. Seven
endurance-trained subjects exercised at the same absolute submaximal intensity in a trained
state and during 84 days of training cessation. The heart rate increased from 84% to 93% of
maximal values during 56 days of inactivity but stabilized thereafter.
Regarding women, they observed increased submaximal heart rates in adolescent (15–18
years) female athletes as a result of 12 and 23 week of training cessation following the track
According to the scarce literature available, resting and maximal heart rates return to untrained
values following short-term inactivity in recently trained subjects, whereas heart rate
during submaximal exercises is not affected. Detraining studies indicate that recently trained
individuals’ maximal heart rate is not affected by training cessation. Forty-four college women
retained to some degree the change in maximal heart rate resulting from 10 weeks of endurance
training during 10 weeks of consequent inactivity. A similar result was observed in a
group of adolescent boys (16–17 years) taking part in a 12-week training, 24-week detraining
protocol. The resting heart rate, on the other hand, increased from 70 beats per minute to 74
beats per minute and from 60 beats per minute to 74 beats per minute in young women, indicative
of a complete reversal of the training effects.
For children, it was found that after a break from training, the values declined but stayed at a
better level than before the training.
2.4 Cardiac output
Studies show that the maximum cardiac output (the volume of blood that the heart pumps
into the circulation per minute) drops by 8% below the previously measured level in
endurance athletes after 21 days. Between the 21st and 84th day, this value stabilized and
did not decline further. (9)
2.5 Ventilatory function
Ventilatory function has been shown to suffer a rapid deterioration when highly trained
athletes stop exercising. Already after 15 days of break, studies detected a deterioration on
endurance runners.
Scientists did not observe a decreased maximal ventilatory volume in male long-distance runners
after 10 days of inactivity, they did observe a significantly lower maximal O2 pulse
(which describes the amount of up taken oxygen O2, mostly in ml, per heartbeat).
Maximal ventilatory volume has also been shown to be negatively affected by longer periods
of training cessation. An impairment of ventilatory function as a result of training cessation
has also been observed in recently trained individuals.
A complete reversal of training-induced improvements in maximal ventilatory volume has also
been shown in young females participating in an 8-week training/12-week detraining protocol.
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2.6 Muscle glycogen
Muscle glycogen concentration experiences a rapid decline with training cessation in highly
trained athletes. Indeed, eight competitive swimmers’ muscle glycogen concentration
declined by 20% in the first week of training cessation after the competitive season and by 8–
10% per week without training thereafter. As far as I know, the effects of training cessation on
recently trained individuals’ muscle glycogen concentration have not been reported in the
2.7 Muscle strength
Lack of exercise causes a catabolic state of metabolism with a marked loss of muscle mass,
especially in the weight-bearing structures and the supporting muscles (chest, shoulder, hips
and thighs). In healthy individuals, a reduction in the thickness of the muscle cross-section at
the lower extremity between 4-10% was noted after 3-4 weeks of bed rest, but no substantial
changes were observed in the arm and shoulder muscle cross-section. This study was
accomplished without any movement, to see what happens when someone is injured.
Therefore, this study is not enough meaningful to apply it to Krav Maga. However, it
implicates that the effects on the subjects of the study might be observed in a reduced
capacity after stopping to train Krav Maga. There are not a lot of studies about muscle
reduction. There was a study on wrestlers, but it did not show exactly how many muscles you
effectively lose, since it only tested the loss of grip and strength.
2.8 Muscle Memory
Previous strength training facilitates subsequent re-acquisition of muscle mass even after
long intervening periods of inactivity. Researchers found something like a cellular memory
mechanism residing in the muscle cells. They observed that the lasting, elevated number of
myonuclei constitutes a cellular memory facilitating subsequent muscle overload hypertrophy.
Since the ability to generate new myonuclei is impaired in the elderly, it can be inferred that it
might be beneficial to perform strength training in youth in order to benefit in older age.
At the beginning of the entire reaction chain is the training itself. The mechanical stimulus of
the movement can lead to an overuse of the muscles, which causes the development of fine
cracks in the muscle. In this context, we speak of a micro traumata. The concept of muscle
growth is that our body takes all possible measures to avoid these cracks in the future. So, it
not only ensures that the cracks heal, restoring the original state, but it also ensures that the
muscle fibers become more resilient, more robust, thicker and larger, so that they can adapt
to the strain. The basal membranes of the muscle fibers contain so-called satellite cells, a
mononuclear myoblast species (sarcoblast). These spindle-shaped precursor cells of the
skeletal muscle fibers are of crucial importance for the muscular regenerative capacity, as
they synthesize, inter alia, the myofilaments actin and myosin. The amazing thing, however,
is that these satellite cells are incorporated in the regeneration process of the muscle fiber - a
type of cell fusion takes place - and these cells continue to exist. Due to the training, we have
the muscle fiber helped to a further control center, which now acts within the fiber.
Thus, whenever we train sufficiently hard - and of course regenerate - the more myonuclei
develop and are available to the fiber.
Muscle cells are in many ways structured differently than other cells (for example skin cells)
and usually consist of several hundred nuclei, all of which have a control function within the
muscles (a skin cell for example, has only one such switching center). Among other things,
hese cores regulate, how much genetic material of the cell is available and thus how much
protein is produced and stored.
In a study with six women, researchers showed that within a 20-week training period, a muscle
fiber increase in the lower extremities of 16-47% took place. In a subsequent 30-week detraining
phase however, the subjects only lost 1 - 14% of their muscle fiber size as a result of
atrophy. After that the researchers wanted to know, what period of time is required for these
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six women to get a nearly identical muscle cross-section as after the training phase. The result
suggested that after a 6-week retraining phase, the women had already developed the
muscle mass that they had built up in 5 months!
Explanation of Muscle Memory
2.9 Reference to Women
Although the number of exercising women has risen dramatically in the last 10 years, there
are just a few studies on what exactly happens to women when they stop exercising. New
studies show that women and men have the ability to increase muscle fiber size and strength
when training intensity and duration are sufficient. Formerly, the assumption was that women
build muscle and strength differently than men, which turned out to be wrong.
Nowadays there are several studies which suggest that women quickly build muscle, endurance,
bone tightness at the beginning of their training career. After around seven weeks of
training, there can’t be expected any significant increase any longer.
Studies suggest that after a long period of inactivity the maximum strength will be maintained
2.10 Reference to Children
With relation to children, they researched (11 boys, 4 girls aged 7-12 years), an 8-week training
(upper and lower body strength training) which was followed by 8-weeks of detraining.
They discovered that after the detraining, the upper body strength decreased on average by
19.3% and the lower body strength by 28.1%.
Current studies report significant improvements in strength, maximum oxygen intake, blood
pressure and motor skills with regular training, contrary to former assumptions. Requirement
for this is a competent monitoring. In addition, the child's parents have a great influence on
the child’s attitude towards fitness and their body. Many studies indicate that after detraining,
the values of maximal oxygen uptake, strength and so on in children are higher than the initial
2.11 Conclusion
Detraining, defined as the partial or complete loss of training-induced adaptations in response
to an insufficient training stimulus, may take place within short periods of training cessation
or marked reduction in habitual physical activity level. Short-term cardiorespiratory detraining
is characterized in highly trained athletes by a rapid maximum oxygen uptake decline,
but it usually remains above sedentary values. Short-term cardiorespiratory detraining
is characterized in highly trained athletes by a rapid maximum oxygen uptake decline, but it
usually remains above sedentary values. Maximum oxygen uptake decreases to a minor extent
in recently trained subjects in the short run, but training-induced gains are most often
completely reversed when training is stopped for a period longer than four weeks. Even
though exercise heart rate increases at both maximal and submaximal intensities, this is not
sufficient to counterbalance the reduced stroke volume and declined maximal cardiac output.
Cardiac dimensions often decrease, blood pressure increases, and ventilatory efficiency is
usually impaired after periods of training cessation. This general loss in cardiorespiratory fitYou
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ness results in a rapid decline in the trained athletes’ endurance performance. Recently acquired
endurance performance gains on the other hand, can be readily maintained for at
least two weeks without training. Finally, muscle glycogen concentration suffers a rapid decline,
reverting to sedentary values within a few weeks of training cessation.
2.12 Reference to Krav Maga
As discussed above, there are a lot of negative consequences when you stop working out.
And as I mentioned earlier, there are different reasons to stop training. Unfortunately, there
are no studies on detraining in self-defense. The existing studies on detraining are mostly
about olympic disciplines like boxing or wrestling.
So you can say that this is an entirely unexplored terrain. On the other hand, we have a lot of
power drills or endurance exercises in Krav Maga which is why we can compare it to other
sports, because the studies were not just about professional athletes, regular trained men,
women or kids were researched as well. I believe that every instructor (provided he teaches)
already has seen a student increasing his physical fitness. If you assume that this student
stopped training Krav Maga and came back after some time, it might be that he is again
totally out of shape if Krav Maga was his only sport. As I mentioned above, students who
come back after a period of time can faster reach their old performance level, due to the
muscle memory.
From my point of view, it's inevitable as a Krav Maga trainer to get into the topic of strength
training (especially the body weight exercises). Only this way, we can guarantee that the exercises
are performed correctly, no damage occurs (including long-term damage) and the
students’ physical fitness and strength increases. By doing this, we have the positive effect
that if a student stops training and returns to training Krav Maga, it will help him, because he
just has to concentrate on coming back to his old performance level. He does not have to
learn the movements of the exercises from the beginning. In the movement teaching you say
that to learn a movement, 300-500 repetitions are required. A change in the movement will
need 3000-5000 repetitions, because it is really hard for the body to change something it did
a lot of times. This can become a problem when you have to adjust a technique, because of
an update, because the technique does not work well or because the student comes from another
organization. In this case, patience and frequent repetition of the technique is required.
The guideline/slogan of the IKMF is to train with the best, and so we (the instructors) should
be ready to get the best out of ourselves. We should be ready to occupy ourselves with the
basic bodyweight exercises (push up, sit up, pull up and so on) and with their variations to
deliver our students what they need. For example, most of the women are not able to do a
push-up in the beginning of their training career, so as a variation we show them a push-up
on the knees. Example: keep attention on their body tension and that they go down not just
with the chest but with the whole body. We should serve our students as a role model that
the students get the motivation to create a better version of themselves and in the best case
to become an instructor of Krav Maga. Kids are different, because we are more concerned
with building their bodies for the future. We do not expect the kids to have exceptional techniques,
because it is not possible. A child is not a small adult, it is different in all aspects.
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3. Mental theory
3.1 Introduction
In the first part we saw what happens physically when you stop training Krav Maga. But the
mental aspect is not to be underestimated.
Even experienced fighters may find themselves nervous and excited in a conflict. Thai boxers
tell from images from their point of view bad fights, what made their mental strength waive, so
that they doubted their skills. Although the research into the effects of competition in different
sports is contradictory, it can be assumed that a high fear of the fight is not conducive. Relaxing
techniques and methods that help students to positively control their mental images help
to reduce this fear.
Sports science studies of martial arts are usually limited to olympic disciplines such as judo,
boxing, taekwondo or wrestling, which makes it difficult to report the detraining on the mental
aspect of Krav Maga.
3.2 The brain and the learning
To understand what happens when we teach a technique to a student, we first have to take a
look what exactly happens in the brain.
The memory is defined as the psychic system that is responsible for:
a) taking up information (understand, learn)
b) saving information over a long period of time (remember, keep)
c) retrieving information when needed (reproduce)
Memory is not a "place" in the brain. It rather is a whole series of psychic processes taking
place in many different brain regions (either in the cerebral cortex as well as in subcortical
brain regions).
Declaration: the term ‘subcortical brain regions’ refers to brain regions below the cerebral
cortex, this means regions in the medulla or brainstem, as well as structures in these brain
In order to recall something from our memory, it must first of all get there. That means we
have to learn. Generally speaking, learning is simply the brains’ response to the experiences
we make. Only when an experience has actually produced a lasting and long-term change in
the brain, we can speak of learning. In general, we can say that learning gives rise to new
neural connections (connections between nerve cells). The more often we do a certain
learning experience, the more stable this connection is and the more input channels (sensory
channels, emotions, motor approaches) are involved in a learning experience, the better it is
Our brain consists of 100 to 150 billion nerve cells, in the technical term: neurons. This
gigantic number of neurons is already present at birth. For a long time, it has been thought
that after birth no new nerve cells can be formed. A part of the nerve cells even "disappears"
again in the course of the first years of life.
So even though we barely have any new nerve cells after birth, the weight of our brain doubles
in the first two years of life.
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This increase in the weight of the brain is due to connections which develop between different
neurons. A single nerve cell can be connected to hundreds or even thousands of other
nerve cells which creates neural networks in our brain. These networks reflect the learning
experiences we make throughout our lives. What we call learning is nothing other than the reemergence
and strengthening of existing connections between neurons as well as the
development of new connections. The more often we make a certain impulse-triggering
experience, the more stable is the synaptic connection between the nerve cells that represent
this experience.
neural network: development until the second year of life
Memory contents that we can consciously remember are stored in the cerebrum. There, different
bark fields can be identified that are related to specific memory contents. Memories
that appear to us as "units" can be stored in different bark fields. The meaning of terms as an
example is stored in a different place than the acoustic recognition of a term or the typeface
of a term or the translation of a term conceptual in a foreign language or the emotional coloring
of a term.
A key role in the permanent storage of content, this means in the transition from short-term to
long-term memory plays the hippocampus (part of the Limbic system). The hippocampus acts
like a filter through which all information must pass, so that it can be stored long-term.
Especially information which is associated with feelings gets easily into the long-term
memory. In addition to emotional intensity however, the type of feeling plays an important
role: information related to positive feelings are processed and stored differently than
information associated with negative feelings. Traumata research suggests that experiences
associated with intense anxiety experiences do not end up in the knowledge-memory but
rather in the images-memory.
3.3 Synapse formation
Synapses are the contact points between nerve cells. The brain processes various types of
information and constantly adjusts itself and its structure to handle new tasks. For a long
time, scientists assumed that the synapses are very static. It has been supposed that building
new synapses in the adult brain is seldom and that once formed contacts stay for indefinite
time. It is now known that synapses are very dynamic and constantly re-emerge or even disappear.
One of the first observations was that synapses can become stronger or weaker.
Scientists currently assume that synapses initially grow out of the dendrites as small processes
- so-called filopodia. Whether or not synapses develop from these filopodia depends
on whether there is a corresponding contact partner in the vicinity. If a filopodia hits a suitable
site of another nerve cell, the two cell parts must first remain in contact, only then a synapse
can arise. In recent years it has become more and more apparent that only thanks to the variable
synapses it is possible for the brain to learn or to create memories. This means, the
more often the students practice Krav Maga and the motion sequences, the stronger the synapses
become. But if they stop training Krav Maga, the brain will weaken the synapse and
after a period of time the students forget the technique.
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3.4 Learning of motor skills for adults
Motor skill acquisition for adults refers to the process by which produced movements – alone
or in a sequence – happen to be performed effortlessly through repeated practice and interactions
with the environment. Such motor behaviors are used on a daily basis and are thus
important for our activities in everyday life (for example playing a musical instrument, grasping
small objects or practicing sports).
During the past few years, a remarkable number of studies with animals and humans have
shown that several brain structures forming the cortico-striatal or the cortico-cerebellar anatomical
systems are crucial for mediating the acquisition and execution of motor skills. The
cerebellum is crucial for the consolidation of a motor adaptation skill. In order to strengthen
most motor skill processes, people are dependent on sleep because the various areas in the
memory can best process what they have learned during sleep. However, there is increasing
evidence that not every form of motor ability necessitates sleep for consolidation. Indeed, it
has been observed that the time during daytime is sufficient to engage the process of
strengthening of a motor adaptation skill. In terms of Krav Maga learning (and strengthening
the process of motor skills), the process can happen during training.
With respect to learning, it's important to take the age of the learning individual into consideration
That the reaction time gets longer in old age is nothing new, but the effect is much
smaller than commonly thought. The delay in responding to a visual stimulus occurs above
all in the implementation from decision to a movement. This does not have to be a deficit, but
it might be a strategy for older people to increase the response threshold, to be more cautious
than younger people. Many age-related performance changes are found in the brain
currents that originate from the front part of the brain, the frontal brain. This brain region,
which is also considered the "seat of personality", is a particularly sensitive area. In children,
it develops very late and shows the first changes in old age. The frontal brain controls and
coordinates various processes like the perception and evaluation of one’s own mistakes. As
American researchers found out, physical fitness has a very positive effect on mental abilities.
For example, jogging - or any other physical fitness training – seems to be remarkably
effective. A young spirit in a trained body, so to speak. Older people do not tire faster than
young people, but they rather get distracted. They are fading out unimportant information not
as well as younger people. The brain can compare itself to muscles. The more we train it, the
better it works.
Explanation Cortico-striatal system
is a component of important neuronal control circuits, which have an elementary functional
value for the frontal (executive) part of the brain, and which realizes the interaction of motivation,
emotion, cognition and movement behavior on a neuronal level.
Explanation Cortico-cerebellar system
The cerebellum contains more than 50% of the brains neurons. It communicates with the cerebral
cortex through increasingly well-understood connections, forming the cortico-cerebellar
system – one of the largest anatomical systems in the primate brain.
3.5 Learning of motor skills for children
As mentioned above, older people are not necessarily worse off than children - but different.
Instead of just trying it out and learning by doing, grown-ups want to understand what they
are doing and why they are doing something. Adults do not learn as linearly as children, who
usually learn one step at a time. Adults always build on other experiences, in movements as
well as in cognitive skills. Children learn faster because they do not question everything, they
just do it. The more a child gets into the Krav Maga training, the better the motor skills get.
After a duration of training the motor skills become better. But for the kids to become even
better, they have to train a lot more, because training skills increase step by step, but after a
while they stagnate (same with grown-ups). You can compare it for an example with golf: in
one study they examined golf beginners. After 300 punts the level became good. But to
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become very good, they had to invest a lot more training. When a kid starts to train Krav
Maga at an early age, it has a lifelong lead. One thing helping to promote motor development
and reduce tension is music.
3.6 Motor memory
The term motor memory refers to the memory we use when we drive a car or play the piano.
It is one of the most mysterious domains of memory and it is a particularly durable kind of
memory. It is like riding a bicycle, meaning that it is something we are not likely to forget,
something that will come back to us very readily, even if it has been a very long time since
we last used the skill. There are two types of motor memory. On one hand we have the shortterm
motor memory which is quite different from the long-term motor memory which makes
its second form. Also, the two are located in different neuro-anatomical places.
Most memory (for experiences, for information) is created in the hippocampus and later
passed on to regions in the cerebral cortex for long-term storage. However, that process of
consolidation and transfer takes weeks. Motor memory moves from short-term to long-term
memory much more quickly — within as little as a few hours, in some cases, or a few days at
Within long-term memory, we usually do not remember all the details. For example: it is more
likely that we roughly remember a move. Similarly, short-term motor memory is quickly lost,
passing on only the rough shape of the process to long-term memory.
3.7 Reference to Krav Maga
When students come regularly to Krav Maga lessons, they learn how to handle stress and
fear in a more accurate way. This is because of the brain’s synapse building. Students learn
to trust themselves and even when they stop training, they remember the principles of Krav
Maga. Of course, this depends on the training intensity as well as on how much and how long
they have trained before. The longer they trained, the stronger the synapses became.
A study examined the reasons why people are afraid of a fight. Four factors could be
1. fear of failure
2. fear of negative social rating
3. fear of injury and physical endangering
4. fear of the unknown
When people start to train Krav Maga these fears will not go away but they will become less.
But if they stop training, these fears can return. Krav Maga is not a sport it is a self-defense
system. In a real situation, we do not have time to warm up for a fight. A fight can start immediately.
The solution for this discrepancy between training and real-life situations should be to
do a lot of stress drills in the classes so that strong synapses can arise. This will help students
to reduce the panic and prevent them from freezing (especially women). An excessive
muscle tension in a fight (the result of a mental unpreparedness) can lead to a loss of motor
skills and result in a higher injury rate in the worst case. Krav Maga practitioners at a high
level do not necessarily have fewer anxiety symptoms than beginners but because the synapses
are much stronger in their memory, they interpret fear more positive, what brings me to
the conclusion that regular training can build up trust in one’s own skills. Thus, students can
react better in a conflict.
In the end I can say that when people stop training Krav Maga they do not lose all their motor
skills immediately. Like I said before, it depends on their training intensity and how long they
have trained. Like we learned above, synapses can also be very short-termed. It may be that
a student learns a rifle technique and masters this technique very well after a few hours, but
soon forgets it because he never needs it and rarely trains it. Furthermore, it makes no difference
if the student who stops training is a man, woman or kid. It only depends on how strong
the synapses became during their training period. As we learned earlier, kids do not learn
faster, they learn differently because they just do it. Thus, theoretically we could train kids in
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a very early age and then they never forget a technique because the synapses are simply too
strong. As mentioned above it is also possible to use music to enhance their skills.
We could say that if we trained people from their baby age on, they would become the best
Krav Maga practitioners we have ever seen. Even if they would stop training as a teenager,
they would never forget how to use Krav Maga because it is equal to riding a bicycle - something
people never forget under normal circumstances.
4. How is it expressed in practice (rule of thumb)?
In practice, it works like this: when a person gets attacked, she reacts automatically with
movements according to her training. This can vary very strongly depending on the training
background of the person. A soldier would react completely different than a housewife or a
kid for example because his mind is differently in a lot of aspects. Of course, in general it
happens more to women that they freeze when they get attacked. Also, kids can freeze when
they feel panic or when they get sexually harassed. For woman and kids, the chance is
greater if they get attacked that they simply endure the process. But in the end the reaction to
an attack depends on the mental readiness of the person. Because of this you cannot
generally say that men, women or children react differently, it depends on the person and his
or her background.
Aspects to consider are:
- age of the person (experience)
- training duration
- training intensity
- mental readiness
- mental strength
- fighting spirit
Therefore, all these aspects have an influence on a fight. Krav Maga could help very well to
sharpen these skills. With stress drills, we train the fighting spirit, the mental readiness and
the mental strength. With sparring, we train the students fighting spirit. And if they like the
training, they will stay for a long time which makes them fitter and they get better in the
movement sequence.
5. What is the Time Frame of the Theory in Practice?
As I said before, the time frame can vary very strongly from person to person. A person who
did Krav Maga for ten years but came very irregularly to training does not have a comparable
motor memory to a person who trained Krav Maga just for five years but did it every day. Kids
have the biggest advantage because they do not overthink something, they just do it. And if
they trained Krav Maga at an early age they would react very good even as a grown-up.
Older people, on the other hand are a little bit disadvantaged, because they overthink too
much and do not concentrate on the important things.
Nevertheless, you cannot say a person who stopped training loses her skills after one year. It
depends on the motivation of the person when they came to the lessons. Some people
maybe came just because of a friend and were not really interested in Krav Maga. These
people will lose their motor skills very fast because the motivation was extrinsic. A person
who trained very motivatedly and was interested in Krav Maga might never lose their motor
memory. Unfortunately, there are no studies about this, so I cannot say with absolute certainty
how it is.
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Kids Instructor Course Manual
Women Instructor Course Manual


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