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I was recently invited to participate in a Krav Maga session by expert Saar Markovitch at his gym X Fighting in Bondi. Krav Maga originated in the Israeli Defense Force, and it is a hybrid martial art building on simple movements and techniques. This style has proven itself to be extremely effective for self-defense, but the physical and mental benefits are also coming to light thanks to modern medicine and neuroscience.
Krav Maga is not limited to the very fit or youthful. It is intended to enhance the body’s natural reactions to a threat, no matter the age, size or shape of the body. The techniques are based on reflexes, instinct and awareness, meaning this style of defense is open to all who wish to learn.
This martial art can be traced back to a man from Slovakia, Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was a talented gymnast, wrestler and boxer. He fled Nazi occupation in 1940 and eventually landed in Palestine. He joined a paramilitary group in the Jewish community, and was asked to work for the Israeli military system. From there, Krav Maga as we know today was developed.1
The link between a healthy body and a healthy brain has been reiterated by science for many years. Practising a martial art such as Krav Maga, can help transform not just your physical appearance, but also your mental state of being.
Krav Maga heightens perception and transforms fear into something more productive.
The positive aspects of practising a martial art often extend beyond simply training the body. These methods help you train your brain, as well. Leaders are expected to deal with complex situations frequently, but is your brain prepared for this complexity?
Our brains are always busy. Some researchers estimate that we make around 35,000 choices per day! When you throw in business decisions that can sometimes mean make-or-break situations for a company, you can see how people’s brains are becoming overwhelmed with this complexity.3
Martial arts such as Krav Maga can help you manage this massive influx of information. We have to make constant decisions, but wouldn’t it be more relaxing to make these decisions with a nimble, agile brain?
If you would like to learn more, contact Saar Markovitch, head instructor at X Fighting Krav Maga. You can train your brain and body to better handle the stresses we face each day using simple techniques which are extremely effective. I had no expectations before my first session, but I was enthusiastic to learn about the many health benefits Krav Maga has to offer.
Leaders who embrace their wellbeing will inevitably possess a healthier mind and body which in turn creates a brain-friendly culture! These kinds of leaders will make better decisions and spur innovation into the future. Check out my other wellbeing article on ‘How Dancing Changed my Mental & Physical State’.
1. Cascio R. The History of Krav Maga: Origins of Lichtenfeld’s Legacy, (accessed 13 December 2019).
2. Witte K, Kropf S, Darius S, et al. Comparing the effectiveness of karate and fitness training on cognitive functioning in older adults-A randomized controlled trial. J Sport Health Sci 2016; 5: 484–490.
3. Krockow EM. How Many Decisions Do We Make Each Day? Psychology Today, 2018, (2018, accessed 28 December 2019).
GM & Chief Creative Officer
About my Brain Institute
Relmi Damiano is the Co-Founder, GM & CCO of the About my Brain Institute. Founded in 2009 alongside leadership expert Silvia Damiano, the Institute’s vision is to democratise leadership & neuroscience by shaking up how we develop the human, the leader and the creative we all carry within.
In 2010, this dynamic mother and daughter team, produced the first “Brain Art Project” as a way to explore people's incipient interest in the brain. This was an international competition and exhibition that over the course of 2 years attracted over 1000 artists, scientists, designers, health practitioners and business leaders from all over the world who shared and expressed their different perspectives on neuroscience, creativity, mental health and wellbeing. The insights gained from this venture, highlighted the relevance of building a more holistic, design-driven and interdisciplinary approach to applying brain science to our daily lives.
With Relmi’s user-centered design, digital strategy and artistic expertise paired up with Silvia’s 20 years of experience in transforming leaders and cultures, they then released the i4 Neuroleader Model, Methodology & Assessment Suite, published the ‘Leadership Is Upside Down’ book and coined the term Brain-Friendly Cultures - all in 2013.
The purpose of their i4 Neuroleader Methodology is to transform current leadership practices and create the leaders of the future, leaders who are more conscious, ethical, compassionate, healthy, integrated, imaginative, intuitive and inspirational. Over the course of 4 years, as part of Vivid Sydney, Relmi & Silvia hosted the annual i4 Tales Conference & Design Exhibition, which attracted over 250 people each year to explore and discuss these topics in a community environment.
Since its inception, the About my Brain Institute has certified more than 800 practitioners globally in the i4 Neuroleader Methodology, ran numerous events and retreats as well as delivered brain-friendly programs in organisations globally.
One of their most remarkable projects was the ‘Make Me A Leader’ film, released in 2018. They self-funded and produced a multiple award-winning documentary that gathered highly regarded experts, professors and scientists who shared the secrets of how leaders can optimise brain and body performance to thrive in the 21st Century.
Relmi has also been a sessional Lecturer and Tutor at Sydney University and Billy Blue College of Design in design thinking, service design, human-centered design, user experience, entrepreneurship, business model generation, branding, communication design, innovation and strategy. She also mentored and created a wide range of student design briefs for live industry projects for film, exhibition design, data visualisation, 3D/2D animation, gaming, digital art and web based projects.