Changing your Relationship with Failure: The 80:20 Rule

By: Evelyn Pearcy, Krav Maga Instructor

If you’ve been training in Krav Maga long enough, you’re probably very familiar with the 80:20 rule for training. The 80:20 rule is essentially something that we use to gauge failure and success and to ensure that our students are challenging themselves during training. When we teach punch defenses to our students and allow them to train, we like to make it very clear that they should be successfully defending 80% of the time and missing or failing 20% of the time. If they’re successfully defending every single attack, then their partner isn’t attacking them hard enough and they need to be challenged more in order to grow. If they’re missing every single technique, then their partner is attacking too hard, and they’re not being given room to succeed. 

It’s easy to let a fear based mentality deter you from making strides and decisions that may lead to failure. It’s easy to lean on security and comfort because these two things ensure that you never have to face failure, but they also largely inhibit growth. Humans need to fail to learn and improve. If you never allowed a baby to walk on its own out of fear that it would fall, then it would never be able to walk and would ultimately suffer from that fear. Failure is absolutely necessary for growth and it is an integral part to the Krav Maga system that gives students to own both their failures and the progress that comes with them. 

What I like most about this method of ensuring that students are constantly improving is that it simultaneously shifts the student’s relationship to a perspective on their own failure. This method frames failure as an opportunity for improvement, and constant success as an opportunity for stagnation. I like to apply the 80:20 rule in my life in terms of my goals and development because it challenges me to take a critical look at my own progress and growth. The 80:20 rule can be applied to professional strides, personal growth, or even other types of training. Like other methods and values that you can gain from Krav Maga, the 80:20 rule isn’t something that is restricted to the training space, it’s something that you can take and apply to you life outside of Krav in order to change your relationship with failure.

Rachel Parker