Are we losing the art of great storytelling?

Every month at Focus Krav Maga Dorset for our kids Krav classes we have a theme. November was the month of questions, where I encouraged them to challenge me respectfully with their questions. That led to some brilliant conversations, and I was really taken aback at how comfortable they were asking tricky things. I also encouraged them to ask other adults things they wanted to know. We’ve had other themes such as improvisation, kindness, fun, mindfulness and December is the month of storytelling.


The end is nigh! 

At the risk of sounding like my Grandma this year has just flown by, I can’t believe it’s soon to be 2018. As we only have a couple of weeks training in December I really wanted to do something that was challenging, a bit different but at the same time fun. So I started thinking about public speaking for the kids classes. At the end of each session I decided I’d ask for volunteers to tell a story to their peers. It was time limited but other than that they had free reign. 


How does this relate to self-defence?  

Ostensibly it doesn’t. Being able to defend against a haymaker strike pretty obviously has little to do with being able to stand up in front of a group and tell a great story. Doesn't it? Well I would disagree. Scratch the surface and dig a bit deeper and consider the following. I think we all remember there was one boy or girl at school who, if it weren’t for their ability to tell a good story, or make people laugh would undoubtedly have been the target of bullies. They used their specific skill set to their advantage and avoided being targeted. I certainly remember a couple of people like that and I think I probably employed those tactics myself at times. 



Then there is the simple fact that as humans public speaking is one of our most significant fears. Even more so than of heights, spiders or deep water. Research study after research study has shown this to be the case, it is irrefutable. I won't go into the psychology and reasons behind this, I'll save it for another day but essentially it's a fear of standing out from the crowd and humiliating ourselves within our tribe. What is really important to note however is that by learning krav maga confidence inevitably grows. I watch children and adults as they come to class and regularly push themselves out of their comfort zones and they begin to change. Over time you see evidence that their confidence has grown. I think it's my favourite thing ever!


Confidence. Confidence. Confidence. 

The more we work on developing our confidence the more we are travelling a road to self-mastery. This is a journey that can and should start young. It seems like a radical step to introduce the concept to children that we aren't slaves to our emotions. They are merely guides. They offer us information about what is happening in our world at that moment. Our behaviour subsequently is what is important. We are not and must not become lost to our emotions as if we have no choice about the things we do when angry or sad. On a related note something I like us to monitor in class is the words we use. Humans tend to have a habit of using definitives. "I am never x", "I am always x". As an instructor, I challenge my students about that. Trust me it's not always easy, it's a slow process and like many I love instant results. However you can find magic in staying the course. 

Where to look for confidence?

This is really important because most of us who want to increase their confidence in a specific area hide away from it. Which kind of defeats the object! Want to get fitter, make sure you avoid the gym! Well I know that is a fatuous comment but you get my drift. We often tell ourselves stories that have zero basis in truth. "I'm just no good at x." "Oh I can't do that I have no confidence at all." Yet we aren't lacking in confidence in every area of our lives. In class we find the things we are confident about and work on transferring it to the areas we need it most. Confidence is like a virus it replicates and grows. It seeps into all that you do, but like all things that grow you need to tend it and nurture it a little bit at times. This is where self-defence and krav maga training come in.


That flaming comfort zone again. 

Every week we do something that pushes us out of comfort zone a little bit because the more you live outside that flaming comfort zone the more you see it's ok. Then the magic happens. Your comfort zone expands to include amazing things that were once terrifying and alien to you. Hence why I invited the mini krav crew to get up and tell a story to their peers at class this past two weeks. It's been amazing to see and what has been pretty awesome is seeing those who are naturally a little bit quieter getting up and telling their story. The grins on their faces as they sit back down are truly glorious to see. That feeling that they have pushed themselves a bit, got a round of applause and nothing bad happened. The world is still turning and they're still a part of their tribe and life is good.


I live for those grins. They make my heart glad, because self-defence, and specifically in this case, krav maga, is so much more than learning techniques.


Jake holding court at the Bournemouth - I love this photo! 

Jake holding court at the Bournemouth - I love this photo! 

Tara Shaul