Habit. A settled or regular tendency or practice. A mental constitution or attitude.
In his fascinating book, The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg explains the transformative effect of a habit.
His initial case study is a fascinating example. Lisa Allen was a smoker who struggled with obesity, chronic debt and unemployment.
Triggered by a bad breakup, she decided to trek across Egypt. To do this, she knew, she had to quit smoking. That was the first bad habit to go.
As Duhigg writes, “Over the next six months, she would replace smoking with jogging, and that, in turn, changed how she ate, worked, slept, saved money, scheduled her workdays, planned for the future and so on. (p)
Recruited into a study, scientists were fascinated to learn that her habit changes had a deep-seated physiological impact. They noted that “One set of neurological patterns – her old habits – had been overridden by new patterns…(xiv)
In other words, as Lisa’s habits changed so did the physical makeup of her brain.
The implications for self-defense training are fascinating. Over the years we have seen many transformations through habit. Krav Maga might have been the first habit that leads to other healthy habits or it might be somewhere along a sequence of habits that started with general exercise, dieting, or ridding of an unhealthy habit like smoking or drinking.
We have seen Krav Maga training lead to other healthy practices and behaviours. Recently, one woman told us that as she began striking with more confidence and better technique, she became more assertive in her personal and professional life. Other students have talked about how Krav Maga has encouraged habits leading to greater awareness such as looking for exits, being mindful of body language and being less fixated on their screens.
Krav Maga has influenced physical habits. Some students have told us that before their self-defense training, they had not done anything physical or athletic. The resulting confidence inspired some to pursue cross-training, running, weight training, and a variety of sports. Healthier eating is often another cited by product.
For me, I can say the habit of teaching many times a week has lead to a new habit of working out before most classes. The workouts (even for 15 or 20 minutes) make me feel alert, loose and in a good mood.
All essential qualities if you want to offer decent training. (Who wants a dopey, uptight, grumpy instructor?) There is also the fact that on some days my body is like an old car in winter – it takes a while to get warned up.
We are not saying Krav Maga is a cure-all. We can say, however, that training in Krav Maga, along with many other activities can be an important part of habit changes that enhance your life.
Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Doubleday Canada, 2012