The instructor will find his place

After training, I was so excited that I got my instructor pin and returned to my unit. My dream has finally come true.

Well, at least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first.

When I returned to my unit, they were placed in a relatively dangerous area. There was little time for Krav Maga training. We have spent the vast majority of our time operating, such as arresting terrorists and peacekeeping. The little time we had was desperately needed for sleep and food. I was able to teach one hour of Krav Maga a week, but otherwise I returned to the role of a combat soldier who went on patrols and operations.

I remained proud to be able to serve as an operational soldier, but I knew I was not being used to its full potential. The military had just invested a lot of time and money to train me for my new role, and I was determined not to waste their resources. I contacted the instructors I mentioned in the IDF competition article. They knew me and they knew my skill level. They invited me to train new recruits with them. This meant completely abandoning the operational duty and teaching full time.

My new responsibilities

It would not be easier to send. My work would be different, but no less intense. I would switch from teaching one class a week to twelve classes a day.

It was an exhausting job, but it was one of the best times of my life, spent immersed in Krav Maga and working with incredible people. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished.

We have worked on training recruits in basic skills such as using basic blows, using rifles in both offensive and defense, and how to defend against attacks such as bear hugs, head restraints, strangulation and knife attack. I was able to use my previous fieldwork to give my lessons a real sense of realism.

I was proud of my work. I was not just an instructor, I had field experience. I knew what awaited them when they left the base, and I made sure I did everything in my power to prepare them. I say them because men and women serve in Israel.

In the video below you can see some examples of training that we had to discuss. Some were the duties of soldiers, such as how to work as a team in arrest, search and safely arrest a suspect. The aim was to make sure that we act both safely and humanely, and to make sure that we use only as much force as is needed to complete the mission without causing further harm.

We also worked on the right blow, protecting our hands from damage with elbows and palms. The soldier must use his hands correctly so that he can use the weapon if necessary. They needed to keep their hands on delicate work, such as grabbing a suspect and conducting a search. The injuries in the service also made the soldiers useless and a lot of money went into their training.

Other lessons included how to defend against an attack or kidnapping on duty and how to rescue a fellow warrior or civilian who is being attacked.

We only had a few hours to work with these soldiers, so we worked very hard to make the lessons as practical and simple as possible. I am deeply honored that the senior officers did increase the amount of Krav Maga training and cited my professionalism as one reason.

Making It Count

I remember those times very fondly, but the soldiers I trained certainly remember it completely differently. I know they have gone through a difficult period of growth, and I was a clear catalyst that tolerated nothing but the best.

It was clear to me from training that I had to create a distance from the recruits. It wasn’t my job to be their friend. I was there to strengthen them and make them warriors. I couldn’t be nice because I had to prepare them to take on responsibilities in highly dangerous areas. Their uniforms made them targets, and they needed to know how to defend themselves.

Unfortunately, all our lessons were based on real life events. During my years of service, there have been many cases of attacks on soldiers. There was one in 2010 when Israeli soldier Ihab Khatib was attacked and stabbed while sitting in traffic and later died of his injuries.

The uniform also changed their duties. In Civilian Krav Maga you run from the attacker. In the Krav Maga army, you attack the attacker to stop them and perhaps arrest them. Soldiers would have to be brave and able to protect civilians and face terrorists who could be armed with knives, weapons or suicide belts. That’s why there was so much work with aggression training.

I had to be really tough when they made careless mistakes in training. In real life, these mistakes could cost them lives the very last thing I wanted any of them to come back in a body bag for something that can be prevented by good training. It was better for me to put some sense in them when they were safe at the base.

I also wanted to build trust and competence in them under pressure. The army placed great responsibility on them and gave them weapons and authority. I wanted them to be able to behave professionally and not allow them to come under pressure when it came to life and reputation.

In another blog post, I talk about how people would try to summon soldiers, aggressively insult us and shove our cameras in our faces, and hope that the video will lose our nerves.

Remember that the soldiers are nineteen-year-old boys who were under incredible stress, had weapons and had to do with people who deliberately guided them. Incorporating this discipline would be crucial to ensure that it does not escalate with one hot-blooded soldier who loses his temper and humiliates his uniform through misbehavior.

It was up to me to teach them to fight, but most importantly, not to fight. The only way I could do that was to instill a sense of discipline.

How I put that meaning into them, we will talk about that next month in the penultimate article of this series.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t miss the previous article in Raz Chen’s series “A Soldier Who Became an Instructor”!

David Berry

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