Loyalty in the Martial Arts World

When a person feels allegiance, commitment, devotion, and faithfulness towards a nation, cause, or person, we call this loyalty. Being a loyal person means that you keep your promises, and that’s something that has deep value to a functioning society. Loyalty can be a powerful feeling that brings people together to join their voices and energies towards a single cause. Loyalty can make for a very valuable friend, partner, countryman, teammate, soldier, employee, and more.

Loyalty in its core is a good thing. Sports fans can demonstrate loyalty towards a team by not being “fair weather fans” and supporting their favored team no matter what. Businesses love loyalty because it means they’ve created something that “sticks” and they don’t have to try as hard to keep the business of those loyal customers. The same thing goes for politicians, actors, musicians, and sports teams. However, loyalty can also be manipulated when it becomes blind obedience or unquestioning devotion.

Misguided loyalty can cause people to not see the forest for the trees and make hasty decisions without considering long-term consequences. Misguided loyalty can result in people keeping quiet longer than they should when they see something they know is wrong, or cover up the mistakes of others for the sake of the organization. This false loyalty arises when we no longer think critically, ask questions, and when we no longer receive equally in the exchange.

Many of the owners of schools, academies, training centers and dojos will ask for loyalty. “Train only with me.” “Wear only my uniform and logo.” And so on. The “reasons” are endless, but it is all about what number two owes to number one (and we all know who is number one).

As for me as an owner of Krav Maga Institute and being in the world of self defense and fighting for 30 years, I have encountered the use of the word “loyalty” many times before as a young practitioner, a combat soldier, and an expert, from youth to adulthood, and even still today.

How do I know when to be loyal to my parents? friends? country? God? partner? …? What does it mean when someone demands loyalty of me?

My answer is like in Krav Maga: The solution needs to be simpler than the problem. Loyalty is a two way road, not one way. Loyalty is about give and take. Loyalty is a respect and bond between two parties with equal benefit. Loyalty also means always questioning, always asking, “Do they deserve my loyalty?”

I feel loyalty to my customers, students, and members. I feel they deserve the best from me in that exchange, and that motivates me to give them the best product, service, and respect they deserve, without using their faith in me to misguide their own loyalty.

Loyalty is an essential thing. Loyalty is a good thing. Consider your loyalties deeply.

“So that one may walk in peace.”


Danny Zelig

Original photograph by Carles Tomás Martí

9 Responses to “Loyalty in the Martial Arts World”

  1. Doug Handa

    I have always received the best training and advice from you Danny. You have never steered me the wrong way and have always been honest with me which I have always respected. Ever since I have started training under you everyone at my work ( sheriff’s dept.) always asked me where did I learn that or say my demeanor is a lot different. So therefore my loyalty is to you and Krav Maga Institute! Great article by the way.

  2. Richard Haggerty

    I’m glad this idea is being

  3. Rene W. Brignone

    Absence of loyalty is ‘liability’ and that is something none of those aforementioned institutions should be subjected to or become

  4. Sensei yanasa scott

    I am a sandan sensei of a highbred style ni tora bujutsu and a huge fan of kravmaga, I appreciate your site and would like to know if you offer a video roster of instruction, your closest classes are 3 hours away?

    • KMI Team

      Thank you for your comment. We do not offer video instruction yet. Sign up on our newsletter to find out the latest news! We’d love to have you attend our seminars and training courses when you are able to visit the area.

  5. Searching for Krav Maga | Krav Maga Institute

    […] I covered in my article on “Loyalty in the Martial Arts World,” you should always keep questioning. There are many incredible instructors out there. You […]

  6. Wayne Radochonski

    I recently joined KMI Santa Clara. I would to express my sincere thanks for the training that I am receiving. Cal is a patient, kind instructor who is incredibly supportive. I drive from Monterey to attend classes in Santa Clara. I feel that my expenditure of time, money and gas is well worth it. I’m not a young guy (nearly 60), so the training isn’t easy for me but I’m thrilled to learn Krav Maga at KMI.

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  8. T Mauro

    Hi Danny, ran into your article as I was reading about Krav in the webs. Thank you for writing this, as someone who recently made a difficult choice to changed Krav schools this means a lot. lf a particular school/instructor is not working out for a number of reasons and warning signs, which you point out in “Searching for Krav Maga”, and there are other options (which I understand is not true for many people) one should make the change. This can be difficult, specially for those who are just starting, but loyalty is absolutely a two way street.


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