Mr. Paul’s thoughts on Krav Junior

From the Blog

Paul Besterman Krav Junior Lions Krav Maga

Mr. Paul’s thoughts on Krav Junior

A few weeks ago, I asked one of our Krav Junior instructors, Paul Besterman, to write up a little bit about what he thinks the purpose and value of Krav Junior is. I told him that I didn’t need anything formal… stream of consciousness was fine. I just wanted to get his thoughts on it.

When I got his email a couple of weeks later, I was moved to tears.

I thought you all might like to read his thoughts as well….


Someone at work yesterday said, “He teaches kids how to fight.”

And I said, “I don’t teach kids how to fight! I teach them how to keep themselves safe!”

That’s true, but I also DO teach kids how to fight. I just didn’t like the way that sounded. It sounded like I was training kids to run off and fight people, which is not the case. My goal is to keep them from being victims – to fight if they have to, not just because they want to.

I remember being a kid and not knowing how to fight. In an environment where boys sometimes fought, I felt like I had to pretend that I could fight in order to save face. This didn’t always work, and sometimes I would find myself in a fight that I didn’t know how to win.

If I had know how to defend myself, I don’t think I would have had to posture up like I did. If I hadn’t felt like had to posture up, I wouldn’t have gotten into those fights in the first place – especially fights I didn’t know how to win.

Also, it’s not only that I didn’t know how to win, but my entire mentality was fake. I said I was willing to fight, but when I actually was in fights, the only things that played in my head were the things I had been conditioned to believe:

  • Violence is not the answer
  • Don’t hit people
  • Uh oh, I’m getting hurt, but if I fight back it might make them hurt me even more

From teaching Krav to adults, I can see the results of this conditioning in the hurdles students go through in their early run with us, like pulling strikes [weakening their punches and kicks on purpose] even if they are just hitting a pad, or panic attacks or extreme discomfort after roaming attacker drills, etc.

I want the kids in my classes to know that violence isn’t always the answer, but there are answers to the question of violence. I want them to have these answers, because most people don’t. I want them to have answers to questions like, What do I do if someone is hurting me? Pressuring me? Trying to take me somewhere I don’t want to go by force or by coercion?

I want them to have the inner power to say NO! I want to teach them that, because it is a learned skill. Saying no is something that should be natural, but it is conditioned out of us pretty early. I want them to hear the opposite message in my classes – I want them to internalize that they can say no. They have a right to speak up for themselves, and they have a right to know how to protect themselves.

I am grateful for the strength I have gained at Lions. Not just physical strength, but also the courage to say no, and the confidence to walk in dark places…lonely places. But also, I’m grateful for the knowledge that if I can avoid danger, I should.

Secretly sometimes I DO want to fight. I’m human, and sometimes my ego can get the better of me. But, I also have the knowledge that I CAN fight, and in the situations I’ve found myself in since I’ve started training, that knowledge was enough. I no longer feel like I need to prove anything to myself or to anyone else.

I’m grateful because now I get to walk my girlfriend to her car at night… I have the privilege of knowing how to keep the people who are important to me safe. I’ve been taught so many powerful things training at Lions, and I want to pass that knowledge on.

Am I always safe? No. Can I win any fight? No.

But, will I fight for my life if I’m threatened? Absolutely! I will fight dirty, and I will do everything in my power to be the one who gets to go home to my loved ones at night. I know I will do this because I train it, and because now I know that I deserve it. This is what I want every single one of my students to take away from my classes.

I want to make children strong, and confident, and happy. Kids are already going to go through a lot emotionally as they grow. That’s just part of growing up, but I want them to have the tools to troubleshoot some of that hardship. I want to save them from some of the mistakes that I made. I can’t be there constantly to help them, and I don’t want to.

Instead, I want to be the one who teaches them to help themselves.