Monday, June 04, 2012

The Frustration of El Halev

El Halev is a non-profit organization in Jerusalem.  It offers classes (various martial arts, WSD and IMPACT) and even counseling and acupuncture.  It is focused on the people who are at the top of the list to be victimized: "...women, teens, children, seniors and people with special needs..."

And the instructors know that population, and know what they face very, very well.  El Halev are good people and they are doing good and important work.  (If you are jaded and wander around their website you will find words that bug you. 'Empower' for instance has been co-opted by so many flakes it is sometimes hard to read.  Just remember that it was co-opted because it was such an accurate expression.  It's not a platitude at El Halev.)

I had twelve hours there and was able to teach two classes...and it wasn't enough.  And that was the frustration.

I'm not an expert in Women's Self-Defense (WSD).  I can't be.  I've never been a woman.  I've never faced the type of violence that women face. Ambushes in the jail shared some similarities, but they were not the same, neither in purpose nor in dynamics, of the violence that women face. The only things that I can really offer are solid information on how the perpetrators act and think and some advice on training-- particularly how to do high-end training safely and effectively.

Teaching most SD seminars, there is very little sense of urgency.  You look over the class and see a roomful of martial athletes and a few old men who carry themselves unnaturally well for their age.  Their victim profiles are negligible.  I will give them a lot of information to help put their training into context.  If a bad thing happens, they will have a better chance, but it is relatively unlikely.

With El Halev students, there is no such luxury.  The people in those rooms are vulnerable.  And the leadership is not only seeking out the people that most need the skills (most martial arts instructors get the people looking for the skills and those are almost never the people who truly need them), the instructors at El Halev are consciously and effectively making a place where the vulnerable feel safe to come and to learn.

Twelve hours.  Eight for students, four for instructors.  It wasn't enough.  Introduction to Violence is a lot of material. Some physical, some mental...but every twenty minutes a series of questions would come up and the answers were in entire programs, like Conflict Communications or Logic of Violence. The students needed everything, the full package.  There was no way to tell what tiny piece of information a student might need to survive.

It was frustrating and scary.  A lot like teaching cops, actually.  Because you know not just that the students will use it, but that they will need it.  The quality of your material and your ability to transmit it will affect who will live, and how they will live physically and emotionally, forever.  I gave it all the energy I had... but it was frustrating.  I wanted to give it all.  Because they need it.  And, if Jill (one of the senior instructors) is representative, the core of El Halev is smart and strong and stubborn enough to take anything I can offer, understand it, adapt it and make it into what they need for their purposes.  And that is the goal.

And there was one other frustration, a personal one:  They had a lot to teach me about aspects of violence I know little about.  It was a community of experts and there simply wasn't enough time to pick their brains properly


Anonymous said...

If you work in law enforcement you quickly realise that it is not good guys versus bad guys.99% of the time it is bad guys versus bad guys, and it is not always big tough bad guys versus little bad guys can be very complicated, Joe public has no idea of this.not a clue

Josh Kruschke said...

Rory -

What is the difference between an Artist and a craftsmen?


Any idiot can can throw shit on a wall and call themselves an artist.

But, A craftsman has pupose. What he makes, builds or designs has purpose. It can be put to use. It it will be easy to use, because it will be well thought out. A craftsman knows his tools and the materials he works with.

You, Rory, are trying to instill in us a sense of craftmenship. To teach us what tools are avalible and the principles of there use.

You, Rory, are not telling us what to build, but guiding us on a journey of how to build.

A lot of the time it is the goal, the purpose, that matters. If something is pretty sparkly crap it is stil crap. With out purpose all to often it's just shit on a wall.

Josh Kruschke said...

Rory -

Now to the topic at hand.


Is there information that can only be transmited face to face, possible. I don't know I haven't been to one of your classes. Trust that they will follow up. Trust that they will find what they will needed.

And remember there are no guaranties in life, but one.