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Accepting Failure
By Hailee Meyers 
March 7, 2019
My training process becomes more and more introspective as I approach the start of my third year at KMS. I can’t tell you how many times I have used the car ride home after training to walk myself through a difficult skill, give myself a pep-talk, or unravel something an instructor said during class. I have mentioned several times in previous blog posts about how obsessive I can be about the things I want to be good at. That obsession often bubbles over in unhealthy ways if I don’t occasionally try to give myself a little grace to fail. Learning that I can’t do everything perfectly in a discipline like Krav Maga has been a steep mental climb, more so since I passed my yellow belt.

Part of the reason why this blog post is overdue is because I have been frustrated and discouraged with training over the past few months. It felt like nothing I was doing during classes was good enough because the same skills didn’t seem to be getting better, no matter what I changed or tried, or skills I thought were fine needed to be tweaked. It didn’t matter if my training partners or instructors thought I had done well that day. It still seemed like I was failing constantly. I was still going to classes all the time, but training became more of a frustration than a joy. I have short term and long term goals that I want to reach, and it was hard to see myself achieving them in the time frame I wanted to. That coupled with my never-ending ambition to be “perfect” at Krav Maga pushed my training into a rut. Missing one defense several times in class or one critique from someone would wreck my evening of training, if not discourage me for a few days after as well.

Obviously that isn’t a sustainable mindset to have for training long-term. I didn’t want this to become something I hate. I love training and learning at KMS, but I also knew that feeling this way for too long would kill any joy I have for Krav Maga. Training anywhere should be something positive. Being there, putting in the work, and seeing the results should lift you up, even if there are down periods. I’ve been in situations and activities that didn’t lift me up anymore, and forcing myself to stay with it was worse for my mental health than quitting and trying to find something else I could enjoy again. I never reached the point where I hated training and wanted to quit, but sometimes I did wonder if this was hurting more than helping. I would have one good day of training that would be followed by another day that would discourage me for days. It was an exhausting loop to be stuck in.

I began snapping out of it about a month ago. I was watching these two professional fighters beat the crap out of each other, and a light bulb went off. This is their job. They train all day, every day on these skills, and they still get beat up when it’s time to fight. They dodge some hits, but they also take a fair amount of hits. So why the hell am I upset when I miss things during class? This isn’t my job. I don’t spend all day, every day training (although it certainly feels like it some weeks). 

Honestly, it sounds like such a dumb realization. It really does. But this was a big moment for me. I had been getting so upset over messing things up in class and not doing every defense or fight perfectly when there is no perfect. Self-defense is messy, and I will mostly likely still take some hits if I ever do find myself in a self-defense scenario. Training like I can avoid every single strike and scenario (especially at my level of experience right now) is insane. Perfect fights don’t exist. I can’t predict every variable. No self-defense experience will probably ever go the way I think it will or even necessarily train for. I’m training to maximize my chances at getting out alive, not to become a ninja (though it would be nice).

I need to mention here that quit a few people told me this before that I had that realization encourage me about training. I knew they were all right, and that I was being obsessive and emotional. I just needed the right moment and mindset to begin accepting it, and apparently that moment involved two people beating each other up.

From that light bulb on, I started seeing this everywhere. I paid attention to people I consider advanced, talented fighters and watched how successful or unsuccessful they were at not getting hit. I applied that to people at the gym, videos of real fights, or tv shows/movies. Literally everyone got hit, at least once if not a few times. They missed a dodge or were taken by surprise or just got hit. Not a single person missed every single strike, and I began viewing the few that didn’t get hit at all more critically. The best fights or choreographed scenes involved both sides taking damage. It didn’t matter how good of a fighter either person was. I was increasingly reassured as I saw more and more examples of people who fought and made mistakes or didn’t dodge every single strike.

Being good at Krav Maga or something like it has been a dream of mine for a long time. I have always wanted to do something like this and feel more confident about handling myself. I got too caught up in being better than everyone else in the room instead of just enjoying the training for what it is and what it does for me. That doesn’t mean I can’t train as hard as I have been or put off my goals, but it does mean that I need a mental shift. It’s a shift I have been trying to work on since I had that light bulb moment. I still get frustrated and discouraged (I’m fighting off 27 years of self-imposed standards of perfection) but I’m out of the rut where training makes me feel like crap instead of empowered. Actively working on not putting so much pressure on myself has helped me get my footing again.

If there’s one thing I want you to take out of this post, it would be this: it okay to make mistakes on techniques. Mistakes are going to happen even when you move up levels. They will happen less frequently on some things, and more frequently on others. That is part of the learning process. It does not mean you suck at training or that your progress is stalled (though please ask your instructors if that is something you are concerned about). It just means you are going through exactly what everyone else does. Push yourself to do your best and learn as much as possible at KMS for whatever your goals are. That’s all we can do.

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Krav Maga Spokane has been the Inland Northwests's leader in reality based self-defense training since 2009. At Krav Maga Spokane, we believe the key to self-defense is a well-rounded approach. You can't run until you learn to walk and you can't fight until you know how to throw a punch or land a kick. And you can't do either if you're out of shape. That's why we offer classes that focus on self-defense, fighting, and fitness.
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