Recently, a friend of mine sent me a video of now-retired MMA champion Khabib Nuragomedov swimming against a river’s strong current in very cold water. The current tested his stamina while the cold temperatures added an extra stressor to the training exercise. A suitable exercise since MMA fights are stressful and uncomfortable (e.g. strikes hurt) and can bring fighters to their physical, mental and emotional thresholds.
Goldilocks, as most of you know, is a character in a children’s fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She wanders into the home of three bears and tries some porridge, trying three bowls, one too hot, another too cold, and another just right. She does the same with chairs then three beds before finally settling into a bed that is just right. There are many interpretations of this tale but I am going to focus on the title character’s quest for comfort.
What do Khabib and Goldilocks have to do with Krav Maga training? It is about mindset. We find practitioners fall in varying degrees between Khabib’s willingness to go beyond his comfort zones and Goldilock’s strong aversion to discomfort.
An example. The pandemic required us to shut down our studio and train outside at a nearby park. Some students were excited about the prospect while others shunned the new experience. Of course, we need to factor in concerns around COVD-19 but we observed social distancing – an easy thing to do in a very large park.
The range of responses is telling. Some people simply stated they “didn’t like training outside.” For them, training inside a controlled setting is the only option.
Others trained outside but complained about various discomforts. The ground was too hard, too soft, too cluttered with twigs, or uneven. Sometimes, it was “just right.” It was too sunny or too cloudy. Other days, of course, the lighting was just right. The temperatures were too hot for some, too cold for others. There were days when we trained in temperatures that were just right (this seems to be between 17 and 22 Celcius).
To their credit, they ventured outside and tried something new.
So, what is the problem?
If people want to train exclusively in a climate-controlled environment with a nice flat floor that is their choice isn’t it?
Yes, it is a personal choice.
So is eating a 12-inch meatball sandwich 10 minutes before class. It is your body. Do I recommend it? No.
There are some vital problems with the Goldilocks approach to training.
One is that while assaults do happen in climate-controlled environments with flat floors, many assaults do not! Assaults happen outside, in environments that are hot or cold. They happen on windy days, on grass, pavement, and stairs.
In short, anywhere.
Second, by training exclusively in one setting you are denying yourself the opportunity to learn to adapt to different settings – an essential part of self-defense training. When I train in boots, with a coat on, on the sand, wet grass, snow, hills, I find I need to adjust my techniques. On wet grass, for instance, decent footwork can make the difference between standing or falling. You need to experience this to understand it.
We don’t expect people to jump into cold fast-moving rivers. We do encourage you, however, to develop your resilience (e.g. toughen up a little!) by venturing outside your comfort zones.
In short, more Khabib less Goldilocks.