Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, believe or wish life just doesn’t go according to plan and the path to where we want to be is full of discomfort and possibly pain and hurt and yet if we wish to achieve or goal we have to take that path.

Sometimes the answer is just to embrace the suck!

A few weeks ago I went on a hike with someone. Now we had planned to do this hike weeks before. It was a long weekend of which sat and Sunday I was doing 18 hour days both teaching and at an event. This left the Monday. We woke up later than we wanted to because well I was a little burnt out. Then we found out there was a leak in a property that we had to check out. This delayed us heavily.

Normally when you do these kinds of hikes in BC you want to get there no later than 10am. Unfortunately, we didn’t even leave until noon or 1ish. Start the 1.5 hour-ish drive to the hike start.

Of course, the place we went to Garibaldi Park in BC is a very popular destination so our first struggle was to find a spot. Eventually, we found one, a good walk away from the trailhead.

My plan had been to test out the new and mildly expensive backpack that I plan to use when I start hunting. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that, Oh shit…where are my hiking boots….

You see its summer and I like flip-flops. Normally my boots are always in the truck, along with running shoes. But due to the event, the day before I had taken everything out and I guess…shit happens.

I dont know about you but I am not doing a 20km hike in flip flops because I feel like that’s asking to break an ankle.

Now the person I was with was not thrilled. The suggestion was to drive back to the nearest town, Squamish or Whistler and get shoes. However, if we did this by the time we started the hike we would not have time to come down before sundown which was not an option.

Again, they were not thrilled….

To avoid catasrtophy I made the snap decision. Ok not to worry, I won’t take my backpack, Ill just take my light jacket with water pouch and do it barefoot.

“Wait what? No, you cant do that. I won’t let you.” is what I was told or something like that. At first, they were reluctant.

“Not to worry I said, I’ve done barefoot hikes before.” I am fairly sure I claimed confidently. Though the truth is the last time I did it, it was on a soft moss covered path that was well actually not very long at all, maybe only 15 minutes. They, of course, didn’t know this at the time and after I told them,

“If you dont come I guess I’m doing a barefoot hike by myself.” they reluctantly decided ok we can do this.

Mild stretching of the truth aside I made this decision to make someone else happy. I knew it was going to suck, and it kinda did. But I also knew that it would be worth it in the end, which it was.

It for sure took us longer than we wanted to and several fairly in shape elderly individuals with hiking polls passed us on many occasions but we made it. 3 hours up, and surprisingly 3 hours down.

Down is always harder and was actually worse on the feet than up. Not to mention my bad knees.

Anyways, I Often try to teach my students that what you think is difficult may actually not be as hard as you think. The truth is you dont know until you try. The other thing is even if you were right, at least you know your baseline so you can grow.

Also, people have a hard time breaking social norms. Doing a hike barefoot is not normal and may seem crazy but really wasn’t that bad. Though the number of comments made by people passing us was quite high. Because I mean who else would willingly do this barefoot?

But the moral is, that sometimes you have to make hard choices or take harder paths because it is the right thing to do. Too often nowadays, we always want to take the easy path but this is not always the right thing to do.

Just like in Krav Maga. Sure you can take that Krav seminar once in a while and say you know Krav Maga, but really that’s just bullshit. If you want to learn it properly you must, like anything, come often and train with the serious intent of getting better.

Of course it will be uncomfortable and of course, you will be challenged, but if you can never overcome what is uncomfortable or hard you will never truly earn anything worth earning.

So, learn to embrace the suck and be a better person for it.

With out a tough journey the reward will not be quite as sweet.

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When in doubt: Head or Groin

Posted: July 10, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles, UTKM Principles

So you’ve been practising Krav Maga, self defense or another style for a while and you are starting to realize that sometimes under distress you cannot get the technique to work. Sometimes, it’s because the technique you are being taught works for most people but not you. Other times it is a matter of a physical size difference. And other times its because in the end of the day under distress techniques can fail.

It is not that they are bad techniques, they are good high percentage techniques but the truth is techniques can and do fail even if they are more likely to work than not.

A key thing to remember is that Techniques in themselves are the last step to any good Krav Maga or self defense approach. Before you have to actually use techniques you should have practices things like critical thinking and the stages of self defense.

But if you ever find your self either in practice or in the street struggling to do the technique you were taught. Don’t worry just remember this simple principle.

When in doubt hit the groin or the head.

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No matter where you are even if you are dazed and confused orient your self-based on which is easiest to access. If you are going for the head, punches, palm strikes and hammer fists are all good options. Remember that go for the eyes in particular.

If you are going for the groin punches, palm strikes and you guessed it hammer strikes are also appropriate. If you can you can also grab hard but just know this may cause a panic response from the person where they try to end you, rather than a hit and release response.

Either way, if everything goes wrong, remember techniques are at the bottom of the self-defense totem pole and they can fail so always fall back to simple principles like this one.

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Why AM I harder on some people more than others?

Let’s be honest here, first off, I am not a patient person. I have worked hard to become more patient so just imagine me 10 years ago and feel lucky you get the version of me today… so it could be worse.

The short answer is…..Because you NEED IT MORE!

Ok, end of the article. Just kidding

now-you-know.jpgObviously, I could be more patient but you do have to remember I have a lot of students and I can’t give special treatment or time in a group class when everyone else is also needing my attention.

The truth is if its been months and months and you are still struggling to pick something up and I have tried my best to explain it in different ways over and over, and everyone else seems to be getting it but you…TRUST ME, I am just as frustrated as you.

Now before you go blaming me because you aren’t getting it, can you attempt to be honest with yourself for a minute and ask is it actually the instructors or is it a you thing?

I know being honest with your self is very hard. And if you think I am not honest with my self then that’s nonsense because clearly, I started this with saying I am not a patient person so I do acknowledge this about my self so yes I am honest with my self, but are you really?

For example, if you only ever trained under me, and you are not getting something have you tried training with another instructor? If you have and you start to get it then yes you can say Jon may not be the instructor for me and that is ok.

But if you have tried another instructor (we have many fine instructors to choose from) and you still are not getting it then the answer is maybe yes, it is a YOU thing!

The first part of any battle is accepting the objective truth first, and then finding a solution from there.

Perhaps you are simply the type of person that needs to think less and drill more and you only come once a week. Then the answer to getting better is to train more.

Perhaps the answer is you train too much without thinking and you need to slow down and think about what you are doing?

Perhaps you genuinely have a difficult time learning physical things and that is ok, but you must first accept that before any instructor can really help you. If this is the case you will take a lot longer than other people to learn and progress and you really need to come to terms with this. I know it will be frustrating for you but as I said it is frustrating for me to, but as long as you keep showing up I will do my best to help you.

Another reason I am hard on people, especially in Vancouver is that people here are genuinely less willing to be pushed physically and mentally and Krav, self-defense or combative’s require you to be uncomfortable and push through things. So if you are constantly fighting me about not wanting to do things I am either going to push you harder on purpose or quite frankly focus on the people who are serious about training.

I have mentioned before that if our class cannot help you break through to push your comfort zones then perhaps counseling may be an option for you because the truth is I can only teach people properly who are willing to learn and let the process happen.

If you push against me I will push back, or I will simply not push back at all and let you do your own thing in which case you are wasting your own time more than anyone.

Now, I fully accept that I cannot get along with everyone and I don’t expect everyone to like me or my opinions. But I do know I can teach you to be a better version of yourself if you let me. I am going to approach things aggressively because in part that is Krav, In part that is my military training and in part that’s well…that’s just me.

So if that’s not for you that’s ok. You can train with another instructor. You can simply say Jon is an asshole but he can teach me what I want and let me. Or you can fight me during the whole process until one of us gets tired of it.

Remember, even though I am not patient I am still trying to teach more than one person. You, however, can learn from multiple instructors and other students so tell me who has less patience, me or you?

So if you are having a hard time with me giving you a hard time just know that I genuinely want you to learn, and no I don’t think I always have to be nice about it. But if you are willing to learn I am willing to teach. But trust me, I am not just being hard on you because I like it. I don’t, I would much rather be avoiding people than trying to manage them.

So again, if you want to learn do so. Just know if you resist the process you will get challenged.

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Over the past year or so you may have noticed posts on this blog about students who have finished the ranking tests at UTKM. Many of them are written by Instructor candidates before or after they are certified. Of course, the latter group definitely does it out of there own free will and not as a requirement of the course….

Here are a few in case you forgot.

nnnoooooo-youre-not-ready.jpgTo me, these posts are extremely important. They give students an opportunity to express in writing how they felt mentally and physically about testing, but more importantly, give a glimpse into what other students can expect.

In the Krav world, testing and ranking vary from intensive multi-day tests to no testing and no ranking. To me ranking is important. First of all, it is a natural human behaviour to want, crave or need some indication of progress to show consciously and obviously that yes there is a purpose to walking away bruised, tired and sometimes emotionally drained.

If you follow us regularly you will know our tests are not easy. There is a reason for these. While I fully understand the need of people to feel accomplished and have a sense of progress to stay motivated the thing is if you are learning Krav Maga so that you can defend yourself you need to be able to show you have what it takes to really defend yourself.

Our tests focus less on techniques and more on pushing you to your physical and mental limits so that you can show us you truly have what it takes to survive a real unexpected violent encounter. You should not just be learning krav for fun or to get in shape but doing so knowing you may need to use it in a terrible scenario.

Because of this I really dont want people to do the tests who I feel are not ready. I know you want to feel accomplished, I know you want to get to the more advanced classes but the reality is if I am holding you back its because you are not getting a certain aspect of Krav Maga or self defense in general. Maybe you are not aggressive enough, maybe you just are showing sufficient skill or maybe you have not been training consistently.

Without fail, the people who almost always come close to failing are the people who ask to be tested.

I also do not want to see you fail especially as the tests are so hard. So far we have not had anyone fail but that’s because we decide when someone is ready and we are usually correct. Occasionally someone who I didn’t consider for a test tells me they are ready and sometimes I let them do the test. Without fail, the people who almost always come close to failing are the people who ask to be tested.

Trust me I will feel terrible if I have to fail someone, but I will do it if you fail because in the end of the day I am 100% against giving people a false sense of security in a persons ability to defend themselves. If you are unwilling to spar, or unwilling to put in the time to train. If you prioritize other aspects of your life and are not consistent with your training please do not ask to be tested. It is for your own good.

Yes, I will like you to have the ability to defend yourself, and yes I would like to have more advanced students but I am sorry, please do not harass me or the other instructors because you need to feel special that you are allowed to test. Personally, I think I need to get stricter and if you ask to be tested without being prompted to do so I really should just automatically not let you test until a later date.

I dont want to see you fail, but if you do it will be for your own good.

So show up and train, put in the time, don’t argue with the instructors about not wanting to do a certain aspect of the training (Baring injury) and show us you can push yourself past your comfort zones. If you cant, then you may be a forever white belt, or yellow belt because you need to show us you are committed to learning proper Self Defense combatives which also includes your attitude.

So when you are ready, you will be asked to be tested.

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Warriors Den Graphic I tunes

Amit Himelstein with the UTKM Instructor Crew.jpg“Amit has been part of the martial arts world since the age of 8. Started his journey in Karate, and progressed from there into the full contact world. As a teenager, Amit represented the Israeli National Team in competitions in Israel and around the world.  At the age of 18  he joined the IDF Special Forces and served as a Krav Maga instructor. The military experience gave him the best “training” ground for CQB.
After his army service, Amit moved to China and joined a training team of traditional Kung fu, Sanshou and Shuai jiao. He trained and compete there for 3 years.

After returned to Israel Amit opened the “Israel Sanshou academy ”, a martial arts academy for Sanshou, shuai jiao and tactical training. Chose Sanshou as the main focus. Sanshou is a fighting system that is used in the training program of the Chinese police and as the main combat sport in China. Sanshou combines striking and wrestling skills. The academy and Amit himself  keep computing in sanshou, grappling , traditional wrestling and MMA.

In addition, Amit is working with police and army units on kapap and CQB training.

The IKF- Israel Kapap Federation: In 2010 Amit  joined the federation. He added his experience in martial arts and Army CQB to the Kapap methods.

The IKF is working on a variety of projects and seminars around the world.  Special units, police, anti-bulling programs for teenagers and children and self defence programs for civilians.”

Source – http://www.ikf-cqb.com/about

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Karis After her orange Belt test. Also how we imagine she feels writing this post.

Did I say forced? I meant given this wonderful opportunity…

So first of all, to everyone who told Jon I should do the Assistant Instructor Course. Yeah. I’m doing it. Thanks. Peer pressure guys, clearly it works. Starting at the beginning though, I’ve been doing Krav Maga for close to three years now. Before that, I did ballet when I was younger and tried some other sports, but I didn’t really enjoy them due to being shy and not good at team sports. I chose to learn self defense because I thought it would help me get into the RCMP and also because my father wanted me to be able to protect myself. He recognized that as a female, my life going to be different from that of my brothers and I would face different threats. I also thought Krav was more of a solo sport, however, on that I was wrong. Anyone who’s been to one of the tests could tell you that at Urban Tactics everyone is very encouraging and we all want each other to succeed.

When I first tried a class at UTKM as a quiet, small fifteen-year-old, I definitely didn’t

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Karis During her orange belt test. Not so quiet now.

think I would ever get this far. I started just going to one or two classes a week and was surprised when I got told I could test for my yellow belt. Side note to anyone going for a belt test, pleeeeease prepare. DO IT. It will be a bit easier if you are physically ready and trust me, on your test day, you will be thankful. I struggled through that first test and while it was rewarding, it was harder than it would have been if I have been physically prepared. Anyways, I’ve come pretty far in the time I’ve been training. I currently have an orange belt in Krav and I’ve been training Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for six months now? I got a stripe for my white belt in BJJ recently! Explaining what that means to my family was interesting, as I’m not totalllllly sure what exactly that is. I was still really excited about it, though I’m not ‘suddenly’ better now like how someone told me would happen.

So, on top of all the training and oh yeah school too, I am now doing the assistant instructor course (help me). If you have ever met me, you will probably have noticed I am not exactly a loud person. Or someone good at stringing together explanations. But somehow people thought I could teach, I dunno what they saw. We’ll see if I can do it or not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I also have a green belt test coming up, for anyone who wants to help, especially big, strong people taller than me, it’s in November. Yup. Show up for tests in November. Don’t worry about any tests before then (unless you’re small, then we need you). Otherwise, don’t come. Thanks anyways. See you in November. Don’t forget.

Okay, what else? Why am I doing this course? Because all of my reasons to NOT do it were shot down, and someone put time and effort into writing a response to my list (That someone was Lead Instructor Jon.) I would feel bad if they worked on that and I didn’t do the program. And that’s the only reason I’m doing this. No, I’m kidding. I love Krav, and I love UTKM. I think they have an amazing program and some pretty awesome people training there. My problem with becoming an instructor is…. PEOPLE. As an instructor you have to control a class, be able teach a technique well, think of creative drills/games, answer any random questions students have (that you may or may not know the answer to), keep everyone safe, oh and, everyone is watching you during all this. Heh. Heh. Help. You tell me to my face that all sounds fun/easy. I will laugh at you (politely). Hey, did you guys know I’m only going to be eighteen when I start teaching? Yay! Very excited to tell people two-three times (possibly four, I don’t know how active old people are) older then me what to do! No. That is not exciting. That is terrifying. Also, if you don’t understand sarcasm, I’m sorry. Can’t really help you with that though.

So, IF everything goes according to plan, I will finish the AIC sometime in December? AFTER eight unit tests, a midterm, a final, teaching 25 classes under supervision, and learning about to talk loudly. Not sure about the last one. Last thing, if you come to a class I teach, please be nice and don’t ask too many questions. Or don’t come at all. You don’t have to come. It is actually okay if you don’t. I will forgive you eventually. Probably. Please wish me luck. I have to go do homework for the course THAT NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT. Heh.

-Karis

Karis Gets her Orange Belt.jpgEDITORS NOTE: Please come to class and be difficult students so Karis can be challenged and learn to be the awesome instructor we know she will be. She was asked by many people to do the course as she is one of the most dedicated students we have despite her age. Assuming she passes her green belt she will also be our first female green belt and we will be very proud of her. We know through practice and the AIC course she will overcome her quiet demeanour and become the person we know she can be so she has all the skills to get into the RCMP one day. Don’t let her age fool you she has some of the best cleanest techniques out of all our students and well gladly try to stab you when we do our knife stuff. Look forward to more sassy posts from karis in the future.