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“Embrace fear, learn to control and manage it better” Leadership Lessons With Krav Maga Champion, Amir Perets

Just like the butterfly effect, a positive message continues far beyond the first point of contact...


“There are many great examples of amazing and inspiring feedback I have received throughout my career. It is incredibly fulfilling, rewarding and humbling. Just like the butterfly effect, through large scale media platforms, military or law enforcement academies, or an individual private lesson, a positive message continues far beyond the first point of contact. For instance, a police officer who saw me on National Geographic decided to start training in Krav Maga. He had convinced his partner to come train with him and while training at the same school, his partner met the woman who would become his wife! In another example, a few years back, a police officer in Washington DC reached out to me to express his gratitude for, as he put it, “saving his life”. He went on to share a story about a Krav Maga gun defense. The suspect had pulled out a gun and his training allowed him to prevent a shooting and eventually arrest the suspect. Today he now runs a school of his own and certifies law enforcement instructors nationwide.”


I had the pleasure of interviewing Amir Perets, a former Israeli Mixed Martial Arts champion (Dennis Survival Skills), Fourth Degree Krav Maga Blackbelt and former lead instructor in Krav Maga, Hand to Hand Combat and Combat Fitness for the Israeli Defense Force’s Sea Commando’s (Navy SEALs). Amir has been an instrumental figure in helping to popularize the self-defense system Krav Maga around the world. He was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2009 for his Outstanding Contribution in Defensive Tactics.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Thank you so much for your interest and doing this with me. I was an athlete from the very beginning, but more than that, I have always felt like sharing life-enhancing knowledge was built into my DNA and I have been humbled that my passion and physical skills have allowed me to do so as a vocation. In high school I excelled in physical fitness. Just recently a friend tagged me on Facebook in a photo where I was receiving an award for distinction in physical education as a senior in high school and shortly after that I fought my way to become the Heavyweight Mixed Martial Arts Champion of Israel under the Denis Survival Skills system. From there, I was recruited to the Israeli Defense Forces. It was there that my passion for fitness and hand to hand tactics reached a level that humbles me to this day. I had the distinct honor to train soldiers and operators of the elite counter-terror unit, to certify instructors from all units and all levels of the Israeli Defense Forces and to modernize the Krav Maga and Combat Fitness program while serving with the Israeli Sea Commandos (Navy SEALs).

After the military, I continued to pursue my passion for knowledge and training in Thailand in the sport of Thai Boxing. Shortly after that, I immigrated to America where my career became as diverse as the country herself. I had the continued and distinct pleasure to teach and train with elite military counter terror units, law enforcement agencies, professional fighters, the entertainment industry and civilians all over the world.


Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

There have been many very funny moments we have had along the way. I love to laugh and greatly appreciate a good sense of humor. I believe it is almost a sort of requirement when teaching life saving methods and discussing life and death topics.

I remember one time I was teaching a seminar in Germany, instructing and shouting for 5 hours, and at some point I noticed that when I asked the class to follow what I felt was very basic instruction, some of the students did not follow the instructions. When I asked my host why, he answered that most of them did not understand English but that I should continue anyway because they really liked my facial and body expressions!

Another time, as a new instructor teaching in the United States, with a thick accent and poor command of the English language (not that my accent has gotten any better, LOL), I was teaching Krav Maga Defensive Tactics in a multi-agency law enforcement instructor course. After demonstrating an exercise on how to defend against an imminent threat with gun and knife, to a room full of police officers, I finished and asked if everyone understood. Upon hearing them reply “Yes!”, I told them “Great! Now Try it! Go ahead and play with yourselves!”. LOL


What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m very excited to be in the midst of an ongoing worldwide seminar tour. I feel very fortunate and grateful to have found my calling. It is such a privilege to share knowledge, touch life and inspire people from all walks of life. When I was featured on National Geographic’s show Fight Science we were able to reach tens of millions of homes in over 150 countries! Additionally, I am lucky enough to continue my work on exciting movie, TV and video game projects like The Accountant, True Memoirs, Warrior and Grand Theft Auto. I am even working on a inspirational book combining my physical training with life-enhancing philosophies.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

There are many amazing, fascinating and inspiring people out there from all walks of life that I have been fortunate to work with. The US Navy SEALs are incredible! Their outstanding attitude, diligence, work ethic and professionalism is second to none and every time I ask how it is possible, the answer I get is a very humble “We are just ordinary people doing extraordinary work”. This never ceases to amaze me.


What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?

Keep learning and educating yourself. Keep a positive attitude, stay active and dynamic. Train smart and train hard. Make sure your surroundings and your environment are also positive, healthy and encouraging. Whatever your passion is, search out the knowledge that will make you better and train!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

There are many great examples of amazing and inspiring feedback I have received throughout my career. It is incredibly fulfilling, rewarding and humbling. Just like the butterfly effect, through large scale media platforms, military or law enforcement academies, or an individual private lesson, a positive message continues far beyond the first point of contact. For instance, a police officer who saw me on National Geographic decided to start training in Krav Maga. He had convinced his partner to come train with him and while training at the same school, his partner met the woman who would become his wife! In another example, a few years back, a police officer in Washington DC reached out to me to express his gratitude for, as he put it, “saving his life”. He went on to share a story about a Krav Maga gun defense. The suspect had pulled out a gun and his training allowed him to prevent a shooting and eventually arrest the suspect. Today he now runs a school of his own and certifies law enforcement instructors nationwide.


Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?

I was lucky to have such great martial arts instructors throughout my whole career. These teachers and mentors have all inspired and influenced me substantially. They have even helped me through many different phases of my life. There is a saying, “It is your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude.” I think that gratitude and appreciation while choosing to be positive is a key to a healthier and happier life. It is so important to look out for good mentors, instructors and teachers along the way. I am very grateful.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Ask any of my friends! I love good quotes and clichés I follow so many of them!

  • “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the Key to Success”
  • “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence”
  • “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”
  • “If you fall 7 times get up 8 or as many times as you need to.”
  • The race is not always to the swift but to he who Persevere”
  • “If you believe you can ruin believe you can rectify.”
  • “If there is a spark, there is a chance.”
  • “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”
  • “Correct repetition makes perfect”
  • “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
  • “An entire ocean can’t sink a ship unless it “allows” the water inside. Just as negativity can’t drag you down unless you allow that negativity inside.”
  • “What is The largest room in the world? The room for improvement.”
  • “If you love life DO NOT SQUANDER/waste TIME FOR time is what LIFE IS MADE OF.”
  • “When you change the way you look at things the way things look change.”

….to name a few LOL



What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each)

  1. Never Stop Learning. Seeking more knowledge and education may be the one thing you are most grateful for in your whole life. The largest room in the world is the room for improvement. So never stop learning!
  2. Fear is natural and a good defense mechanism. Embrace fear. Learn to control and manage it better. If we reach too high a level of fear, we may freeze. Through training and understanding, we can build our courage, determination, and confidence.
  3. Team work! So much more powerful than the sum strength of each member alone
  4. Time, management and efficiency! We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Use them wisely! Stay Focused on your short term and long term goals.
  5. Harmony, synergy and symbiosis with yourself and your surroundings. Part of my philosophy consists of four elements I refer to as the Four Horses: The Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. If each horse is allowed to run in different directions, it will tear you apart. But if each of those horses are aligned and communicating together, you can ride to your goals with efficiency, speed and health!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

We have mutual friends but I believe I would very much enjoy a lunch with Dwayne Johnson. His work ethic, drive, determination and character are inspiring.

Originally published at medium.com

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