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Why we think Krav Maga is good for mental health

As we shared last week, Rencounter has become a signatory for Scotland's Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport. You can find us at #202 on the list of signatories. We'd like to take this opportunity to tell you why we signed up, and what we're committed to doing as a club.

Charter Action Points

  1. Actively promoting inclusive practice and ensuring a positive and welcoming environment.

  2. Developing inclusive policies and practices informed by the inclusion of mental health and well-being in strategic planning.

  3. Actively encouraging participation and promoting messages focusing on the benefits of physical activity on mental health and well-being.

  4. Participating in Scotland's Mental Health and Well-being Charter Network supporting meaningful collaboration, sharing resources, and best practice.

  5. Routinely reviewing performance and identifying ways to improve and take positive action in relation to mental health and well-being.

How we support the Charter

We know that training Krav Maga can have a significant positive impact on our mental health. For us, signing up to the Charter is a great way to kick-start the conversation about that, and tell people about something that can help.

Our declaration of support, that we submitted to SAMH, reads as follows:

“We regularly see, and have personal experience of, the positive impact training Krav Maga can have on people's lives: it builds their confidence, self-esteem, and mental resilience, alongside all the physical benefits of training. We strongly believe that physical activity can have a powerful impact on people's mental health, and are keen to promote the benefits.

We are an inclusive and friendly group who do our utmost to make everyone feel welcome, and we are keen to break down any barriers that may prevent people from training. We are proud to support SAMH's Charter for Sport and hope that by doing so it will encourage more people to get active, and get talking about mental health.”

Ultimately, we care about our members, and are committed to making Rencounter an awesome club to be a part of. So if people are struggling, we want to help them still make the most out of training, because training itself can be hugely beneficial.

“In the past years, people use to come up to me and say 'Krav Maga saved my life'. This happened after they used techniques or tactics of KMG in reality when attacked. These days, much more often, people come up to me and say 'KMG changed my life'. This is a higher compliment and achievement.” —Eyal Yanilov

For people that have never trained, we want them to know that trying Krav Maga can help them. Studies have shown that physical activity can help mental well-being. But further to the exercise component, Krav Maga offers many more benefits: it is empowering, it builds your confidence, and gives you the practical capabilities to defend yourself. There is a focus on determination and mindset that actively builds your mental resilience1; it's genuinely fun and enjoyable to train; and finally there is an awesome community of people that train Krav Maga who make you feel welcome and want you to succeed—and this is true globally, although obviously Rencounter is the most awesome :-P

Not to mention the massive stress-relieving benefits of kicking the crap out of a strike shield after a long day at work!

We're not suggesting that we have a magic fix for mental health problems, but what we are saying is: this is something that can help.

These are the steps we have committed to taking

  • We will be adding a page on our website telling people about the Charter for Sport and about our commitment to being an inclusive and diverse club.

  • We will continue the conversation about mental health by regularly sharing relevant information on our social media.

  • As a way of offering practical support we will have a designated contact person who can be approached in class if members have concerns or need additional support in training. This is in addition to the instructors who are also happy to be approached.

  • Where necessary we will partner with other agencies to offer further support where appropriate and signpost to other sources of support (we have already done this for some of our Women's workshops).

  • We are committed to providing a welcoming and encouraging atmosphere to train in, and we will continually seek feedback (including anonymously) to ensure this is the case, and make changes if needed.

If you have concerns about your mental health, we would encourage you to please seek further help. Your GP should be your first port of call, check the list of contact numbers and further resources.

There is so much more that could be said and further reading we can suggest, but we hope that talking about mental health will make it easier for other people to join in the conversation, and to reassure people that there are things that can help and that other people do understand.

So if there's something we can do that would make it easier to train, please get in touch.

—The Rencounter Team

Rorion Gracie on self-defence

  1. If you'd like a longer read about mindset and mental conditioning read this article from KMG Expert Ole Boe ↩︎

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