Writer’s note:

I’m writing this in hopes to connect with others who may have similar stories. I admit that I am uncomfortable having this published, but feel that it is important to start the dialogue – even if it is only with your self. If anything, I hope this will give insight into one of the many paths that draw people to Krav Maga and why it is important to push yourself past your boundaries.

Italicized sentences represent thoughts and inner dialogue.

Why I started Krav Maga

 

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When life’s got you down, Surround your self with those who can support you. Kallie post orange belt test.

Finally, a moment alone.

I crumble onto my bed, exhausted after a rickety flight home. Ugh, I think, Why do I still taste tequila. It’s a typical post-Vegas-with-the-girls moment.

I take in the feeling of my room: safe, warm, and silent – a much needed hug after a distressing weekend. I give myself a moment, lying there in peace until an urge begins to nudge my brain. Ignoring my nausea, I roll over to grab my laptop.

Good ol’ friend, I think, how I missed you and your stoic personality.

I open it up and launch the search engine. Before I can begin typing, I flash back to a dark and booming Vegas nightclub. It’s alive with bodies drenched in purple and pink light, and the murky scents of tequila, B.O., and sexual tension settle thickly over the dance floor. Disorienting strobes of white flicker to EDM music as I make my way through the crowd – alone – trying to find my friends. I clench my phone tightly, the text on the lock screen reading “We’re outside! <3”.

I’m afraid, suddenly afraid, as thirsty eyes follow me through the club. It’s a pit of coyotes and I am a lost sheep. A catcall here, a slap on the ass there, followed by a thirsty touch, and then another, and another… I don’t know what to do and my voice has decided to run, strength has hidden from my muscles. By the time I shake myself out of the shock the culprit has already scurried back into the crowd, another dark, haunting figure joining a throng of anonymous bodies. I look around. No one took notice, not even the bouncer standing in clear view.

I keep walking, swaying now – not from the alcohol but from the tears welling up in my eyes. Why didn’t I do anything? I think to myself. But even if I had managed to say something, what good would it have done? Too many times has an attempt at self-preservation been misinterpreted as an enticing invitation.

I’m trying not to run and I’m trying to keep my cool but it seems like I can’t get out fast enough. My breathing is shallow, my head is spinning, and there is no one I know in sight.

The worst part of that night was that I didn’t feel like what happened deserved any sort of acknowledgement. In the end, my clothes were on and I wasn’t hurt. However, I realized that it was unpunished moments like these – passing instances of unwelcomed hands and unwanted advances – that have made this behavior “normal”, ignored, and even acceptable. The memories of these ghostly interactions deeply affect one’s psyche and sense of security, lasting long after the flight home.

See, that weekend forced me to realize three things:

1)   I do not feel confident enough to stand up for myself.

2)   Instead of running or fighting, I freeze in situations that scare me.

3)   I cannot rely on other people to look after my own safety.

That last point was pivotal, especially since I had lost the majority of my drunken friends in the crowd that Vegas evening.

I’m aware that I’ve grown up in a bubble of security that is my suburban neighborhood. As a young, female millennial hoping to travel the world and blaze my own path (yes, the millennial cliché), I know that changes must be made if I am to be both safe and successful. The trip to Nevada only solidified this sense of false security. I cannot – and will not – remain the ignorant lamb that trusts in the protection of others. I have to ensure my own safety, like a lion defending its territory.

So, in my room, I type into the search bar the name of a self-defense technique I had heard brutal – yet effective – things about: “Krav Maga”. Thanks to the stalker-like location monitoring on my browser (thanks Google!), Urban Tactics Krav Maga appears as the top result.

Alright, I think, This looks legit.

The first thing that catches my eye is a flow chart depicting when or when not to use lethal force. I give it a read and am pleasantly surprised – it seems like this gym really cares about real life solutions. I was concerned that I would attend and get beat up continuously. As someone who works in the entertainment industry, I can’t very well show up to work with a black eye.

I keep browsing and begin to read the class descriptions. This “Defense Class” might be the best start to my training – bonus: it’s free on your first day! The “Warrior Class”, however, looks rather intense and includes full contact sparring – something I’ve never done before. Indeed, it’s something I’m quite afraid to do.

Wait, I think as something catches my eye, there are discounts for military personnel? How advanced are the students if they are ex-military??

I quickly reconsider my decision, my stomach twisting more in its already warped state.

Maybe I’m not ready for this, I think, I should find another place that has women’s or introductory classes… That would be better for someone with no martial arts experience, right?

I take a deep breath to steady myself as my heart beats rapidly. I tell the finicky organ to calm down, though it rarely obeys. Stop shying away from discomfort, I say. If you do, you will never grow – you will never become the lion that you need to be.

I exhale, calmer now. Might as well give it a try with the Defense class, right? It’s pretty close by anyway.

My Journey with Krav Maga

 

I ended up trying both classes on my first day. The Defense class was a great fit and the Warrior class wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. It’s been two years since that online search and I must say I’m tremendously happy I did it. I’m now an Orange Belt and have received my first stripe in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. I have also completed all the available firearms courses available to date.

That first Summer after Vegas I trained hard – I trained with the intention that I would use these skills, be it years from now or that very evening. With that immersed mindset I quickly learned how to apply situational awareness to my everyday life. I felt brave, not solely because I felt stronger or trusted that I could push myself farther, but because I learned how to avoid situations that could be potentially dangerous. Reducing the opportunity of these situations has proved pivotal for my safety.

In class, I’ve been in instances where I’ve been extremely uncomfortable, where I felt like I wouldn’t make it to the end of the session. I’ve been caught in suffocating holds in BJJ close to puking or feared I would never breath again. However, with the Krav Maga mindset I learned to push past the freeze instinct and fight my way out. It’s moments like these that have taught me to believe in my own strength – both mentally and physically – especially when fighting men and women much larger than me. It’s a stilling feeling when your instincts begin to alter and you understand just how unpredictable any situation can be.

The saying, “Krav Maga, so one can walk in peace” has become a truth to me. I used to be afraid of walking alone in the city or in clubs, but now I feel an odd tranquility. The training I’ve undergone has conditioned me to be mentally and physically alert, to operate at “Code Yellow” when I’m out in public. For this, I feel that I can look after my own safety, something I had never been close to a couple years prior.

Of course, I am slowly and steadily continuing my training. Like any skillset, mental awareness and physical responsiveness must be sustained by consistent training. Though I’m not in the gym as often as I’d like, Urban Tactics has become one of my safe spaces for self-exploration and transformation.

 

Why I recommend Krav Maga to you

 

Personal

I’ve already spoken about personal growth but I have a few points remaining here. I’ve seen students overcome panic attacks, emotional turmoil, excess weight gain, and physical restrictions by willpower and commitment. The individual transformations I have had the honor to witness have been awe-inspiring – a daily reminder of how much any one person is capable of.

Physical

Needless to say, Krav Maga is a work out. From the least active to the most conditioned athlete, the training can be modified to fit your needs. I’ve seen retirees, mothers, fathers, and children all on the mats, working hard and breaking a sweat.

Environmental

In such a tumultuous time, it’s easy to see why the ability to defend yourself is vital. Climate change and political distress will quickly change the social and physical landscape around us. Learning how to quickly analyze a stressful situation, understand the operations of a firearm, or being physically fit may save your life or the life of a loved one.

Social

This one was unexpected. I found that those who join Krav Maga have a mutual understanding about the world; specifically, that the world isn’t as safe and wholesome as we always like to believe it to be. Because of that, you find a large array of individuals from different ages, genders, races, and careers that you may have never met otherwise. I was fortunate enough to meet a group of individuals who have filled my past two years with support, laughter, and friendship. From Dungeons and Dragons nights to beers at pubs, it’s been a remarkable and rewarding time.

If you join any Krav Maga institution, I highly recommend starting up conversations with your peers. I wouldn’t have found these friends without going to class and we only pushed each other to improve. The staff and students at Urban Tactics make it a safe place, and they are only one of the reasons why I recommend Krav Maga to you.

Thank you for reading,

Kallie

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Kallie gets her Orange belt

 

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Base, Posture, Structure

Posted: November 13, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles, Uncategorized
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Sometimes concepts are universal and are applicable to all styles no matter what your beliefs. One such concept is that of Base, Posture and structure. Though not originally Krav Maga and certainly not one we invented ourselves. Though we loosely taught these, when introduced to this concept by Professor Robert Bernacki and his idea of conceptual BJJ we found ourselves incorporating it more and more into our teachings.

When teaching the concepts of closing the distance, and cause pain, off balance and disrupt we often find our selves talk about the structure of your arms to maintain good control or the posture of your opponent and of course our own stance and base. because these concepts appear so universal not just in self-defense but also in engineering and science it seems fit they also are included in general self defense concepts.

Base

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Conser the base in this picture your legs in fighting stance, and the apex your head.

Base is the ability to generate force and receive force while maintaining your stance or position. If you are in fighting stance you are in good base, as you can generate force by bursting and you can receive a blow within reason without falling to the ground. Without a good base, it will be difficult to fight or defend your self. Often during sparring sessions during our warrior classes individuals still don’t understand this important concept. Sometimes intentionally or accidentally they cross their feet or legs losing strong base and the ability to resist force. Even when they get hit with a light blow they find themselves on the ground. Not because the blow was particularly strong but because it was perfectly timed and had enough force to overcome the weak base of the one who fell. For Krav Maga having a strong base, means having a strong fighting stance. Lose your footing and you lose your base.

Posture

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Here we see the universal nature of posture applied to squats.

Posture is the position of your spine or your opponent’s spine to take a load. When we burst in towards our opponent and get a control position if they have good base and are resisting we can cause, pain and disrupt with a knee or kick ot the groin which will allow us to break their posture. Once we have broken their posture it will be much easier to control them. If they have good base and posture it will be very difficult to move or control any opponent. We can’t cheat physics but we can cheat biology, this is why Krav Maga applies the cause pain, off balance and disrupt because without this work through it will be difficult to take on opponents larger than us.

Structure

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Structure as used in 360 defense

Structure is the efficient use of your limbs. If we have good structure in our limbs then we can effectively resist force pushed against us. Consequently, if we break the structure of our opponents limbs an turn their limbs into a lever we can easily control them. One of the best examples of good structure in Krav Maga is the 360-degree defense where our arms create a super efficient block while our arms are at a 90-95 degree angle. This allows us to absorb the impact of circular attacks with minimal effort (energy). This same angle can be applied when in position 1 (reference point 1) to control the persons forward motion at the head and neck. Other self defense systems such as Tony Blauer’s SPEAR system would call this the outside 90 and have created an entire system around it. Such is the power of structure.

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Krav Maga has an image problem

Posted: November 6, 2018 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga in General
Tags: ,

Krav Maga is a Brutally effective system taught by the Israeli Military and used by police and Military all over the world. Its focus on aggression makes it ideal for taking out those who would do you or your loved ones harm.

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If this is the only image that comes to mind when you think of Krav Maga then perhaps you don’t know what it really is.

Have you ever heard something like that? I have many times.  Videos on youtube that get the most views in Krav Maga are usually some hard-hitting, fast-talking person who gives you goosebumps while you are watching it.

Until I started running a school in Canada I did not see anything wrong with this. When I first started I refused to call what I was doing anything other than Krav Maga. Over the years I have softened my views. Krav Maga really is just a name for Israeli Style Self Defense that follows a general set of principles.

The problem is most people still dont even know what it is.

Using only the term Krav Maga may limit your ability to draw people in.

While I still say I am teaching Krav Maga I now add in words like Self Defense, or Martial arts (Even though it is not a martial art). I do this because if most people dont know what it is they won’t know how to search for it. If they dont know how to search for it how can they possibly learn it?

Nowadays Google is king so if you use keywords like martial arts then you are more likely to be found so that you can teach people what Krav Maga really is.

Now back to the image issue.

Imi Lichtenfield is famously quoted as saying “So one may walk in peace”

Aggression, Affective, Military, Special Forces. These are all words often used when describing Krav Maga. While they are all true you must remember that the founder Imi Lichtenfield is famously quoted as saying “So one may walk in peace” with regards to why he created it.

The idea of walking in peace doesn’t bring up images of aggressive military special forces it conjures the image of inner and outer peace and happiness. And yet, Shows like Fight Quest, Human Weapon and others really continue to portray that hardcore approach only. The truth is Krav Maga is for everyone and anyone who wants to learn self-defense. A good self-defense program Krav or not can build someone up to be tough and this is what we need to show people.

Unfortunately, most people still dont know what Krav is and those who do are often too intimidated to try. This is because, well you guessed it its hardcore image.

Yes, Krav Maga was made famous by its use in the Israeli Defense Forces

Yes, Krav Maga is used by Police and Military globally

Yes, Aggression is a big part of Krav Maga.

The problem? People seem to always forget that Police and Military units that are often portrayed doing Krav Maga are the top of the top of physically capable people on this planet.

They are the exception and not the rule.

Those who have been beaten and abused, bullied or harassed, assaulted and much worse. These are the people that need to learn and yet our own image often scared them away.”

So if Krav Maga is meant so that everyone can walk in peace, why do we always use these exceptions to the rule to showcase Krav Maga. If this is its only image publicly how can we possibly attract those who truly need to learn Krav Maga Self Defense? Those who have been beaten and abused, bullied or harassed, assaulted and much worse. These are the people that need to learn and yet our own image often scared them away.

Don’t get me wrong, you cannot take away the aggression and hard training and call it Krav Maga but what we need to do is make it so those who need it the most are not scared to start in the first place.

I can take anyone who is willing to come in and train and as our motto says Turn them from a lamb to a lion. But if they are too scared to come in and train in the first place then I will never be able to show them their inner lion. And no, I dont expect every one to reach Black belt as some people may not be capable but that’s ok. Because my goal is to make them the best versions of themselves so they can properly defend themselves. If this means they are forever a white belt but learn to run and avoid as their strategy then I have succeeded.

I have Over 10 years of Krav Maga practice and I have been teaching since 2012, I still get far too many people asking me to make the classes harder.

For the record, I have made grown men and women Cry, Puke, pass out and push themselves harder then they thought they could all in an hour or two. So when I say I can make the classes, tests or train hard, I can. In fact it’s easy.

The hard part is training every one all the time without injury. Which means you cannot realistically train hardcore all the time. Not when people have day jobs, not when they have families and not when they aren’t the top 5% of humans with regards to physical capability.

So if the Goal of Krav Maga schools and instructors is to teach people the most effective type of self-defense in the world and give everyone the skills to walk in peace we really need to change or view on how to portray Krav Maga. The real trick is how do we change the image without watering it down.

It’s hard I know.

But if we as Krav Maga instructors cannot find the balance so that those who truly need it are not still scared to come train then I think we have failed.

Despite what some think, Teaching Military, police and civilians are all different as they require different skills sets, but in the end of the day it is all Krav Maga and its the same for everyone because after all, we want everyone to be able to walk in peace.

So I ask, you out there when selling Krav Maga, don’t always focus on the aggression or the fact it is used by the military. Because for those of us who love Krav Maga this is a selling point, but the truth is for most, it is not.

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I Must Not Fear 1

Pull yourself together! Just overcome your fear! It always sounds so corny or easy when people tell you that but it actually can be very difficult.

Last weekend I participated in my first BJJ tournament and I sucked, I lost my two matches and still got away with a bronze medal. But even though I lost, that bronze medal means so much to me – over 20 years ago when I competed in Judo I always dreaded competition day. When I stepped on the mat I was scared and I often blanked. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing so I often did nothing. You remember the colours we always talk about in krav maga? White being oblivious, all the way through yellow, orange and red and the colour we always try to avoid – black. This is where I was, code black, frozen, unable to do anything. I didn’t enjoy competition at all and tried to avoid it like Satan the holy water.

So why would I sign up for a BJJ competition to begin with? We were talking about cross training for Krav Maga and how competition can help you to get better. When rolling mostly with the same people you are getting used to their style and it limits you. When I signed up I was hoping others in my club would follow. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but it doesn’t really matter.

I was incredibly nervous and anxious, like for my orange belt test. It was my first competition in decades; I read the rules over and over again to make sure to understand them and not to do anything that could get me disqualified. When I stepped on the mat for my first match I tried to focus only on my opponent and also to be active. And I somehow managed to not go into black but was able to do something, I faked one way, used my opponent’s reaction to throw her and got her to the ground. I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to submit her and we went into overtime. Each of us had to take the back of the other and we had to try to escape out of the seatbelt grip with the hooks in as fast as possible. My opponent was a bit faster than me.

Editors note: Though we fully understand the ruleset of the competition she was in (a submission only tournament). Petra should be proud as in a points tournament petra would have dominated as control is an important aspect in these styles. We want to give props to her opponent who showed excellent defensive skills.

I was disappointed in myself. I usually tend to be very hard on myself and that’s not always easy to deal with because it is in my head, my inside voice(s). When somebody else is yelling at me or gives me a hard time I can go away, close the door or hang up the phone. That is impossible with my inside voice. After I also lost my second match I was sad, disappointed and then also relieved because it was over. And then I realized that I also had a bit of fun. I have to train more, put in the effort but it also means that next time I’ll be better prepared, I’ll know a bit more about BJJ competition, the rules etc. It won’t be completely new for me. If I had given in to my fear I would not have made that experience and learned something. Every failure is also a learning experience, unless you die, of course. After the matches were over I started to feel excited because I had stayed and seen it through and this is what that bronze medal stands for.

if you let fear run your life, you don’t have a life.

 

Fear can be good, it makes us more cautious. I’m an analytical person. When I’m in a difficult situation or have to make tough decisions I analyze everything and try to be as rational as possible. When I’m able to understand what makes me feel scared I can somehow handle it better. It doesn’t take the fear away but it helps not to drive me insane.

Petra wins bronze.jpgI also had a little bit of an epiphany when I was in my early twenties and working as a travel rep in Crete. I got into an argument with a co-worker who lost his cool during that argument and started threatening to kill me. He got fired right away and had to leave Crete. I went to the police but they couldn’t do much. It didn’t take long and that guy came back, he had gotten another job at a car rental place. He started stalking me and one night he slashed two of my tires. My car was parked right in front of my apartment. The knife marks on the tires weren’t pretty and it was a shock for me. At night I kept my windows closed, my door locked. I was incredibly scared! Also because he came back couple nights later to slash my other co-worker’s tires. It took me a long time to get over that fear but it taught me a valuable lesson – if you let fear run your life, you don’t have a life.

 

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Above: What Judo can be!

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Warren in 1980

Some of you may be aware that I am currently in the final stages of being graded to my black belt in judo.  I first started judo several decades (!) ago when I was 10 years old, and then I had to stop at a blue belt level once I entered university.  I was never that enthused about judo when I was younger so when I had the time after I finished school I went onto other things and left judo behind.  Fast forward 30 years and my then 12-year old daughter started taking it, and surprisingly enough she started doing so well in competitions that it inspired me to get back on the road to getting my black belt.  I should mention that I’ll be 55 at the end of the month so it’s never too late to accomplish something!

The first step was to get my brown belt so I started attending the adult classes and slowly, ever so slowly, dusted off the techniques and began to get my timing back.  I was promoted to brown belt within 3 months of my return and then the official clock started on the path to a black belt.  In judo there are very specific requirements as a brown belt in order to be graded to black.  You need a total of 120 points, accumulated through a combination of competitions, time in training, attendance at seminars, volunteering at tournaments, etc.  For older judokas such as myself, you aren’t required to compete and you can gain 30 points per year just by attending regular classes. However, I wanted to speed up the process so I trained to be a referee and began reffing at tournaments several times a year.  The points gained by being a referee probably knocked off at least a year from just attending classes to gain points.  Also, I wanted to give back to the competition community since I fought in tournaments when I was younger.  Although refereeing can be very stressful, it can also be quite enjoyable.  The highlight of my career to date was when I reffed at the BC Winter Games this past February.

Once a brown belt accumulates enough points then there’s one more hoop to jump through before being graded, and that’s having to attend a 10 week kata clinic where you learn 9 specific throwing techniques.  Although it’s not mandatory to attend, it’s highly recommended and serves to make grading that much easier.  You also need your club’s sensei to write the grading board a recommendation letter on your behalf, so if you pull off the attitude that you won’t be attending the clinic then you likely won’t get your recommendation.  So not wanting to leave anything to chance, I signed up.

The kata clinic is held in Steveston every Monday night from 8:45 to 10:15 PM.  I live in Burnaby close to New West, so Steveston is not close and it takes me about 40 min to get there and back.  Plus, it’s at a time when it’s prime time for kicking back and winding down for the day.  Needless to say, I find it a struggle to get my butt to the class.  The clinic started in September, will end in November, and I have 3 more classes to go.  Learning kata isn’t difficult because it’s just a prescribed set of moves, like choreographed dancing, however, if you’ve never done it before then it can be very confusing.  While you’re trying to remember exactly how to pull properly for the throw, you forget that your foot needs to be planted and pivoting instead of moving.  And since there are kata competitions, it’s very important to get it right because it’s well known how good the kata can actually look.  However, the reality is that, like many things in life, it just comes down to practice, practice, practice.  The instructors know the moves like the back of their hands and have been doing the kata for literally decades, so it’s easy for them to demonstrate it.  However, for newbies like myself, we’re doing well if we can replicate the moves without looking like complete idiots.  Learning the kata will also improve my general judo as well, since I’m now being shown more accurately what makes the throws effective.

If all goes according to plan, I will finish the kata clinic on November 5th and be graded

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Warren today

to shodan (black belt) on November 18th.  It will have then been a 3 year long journey from my brown belt, and a 45 year journey since I first started judo, and it will be very rewarding once I can put it on for the first time.  And as proud as I should be, it’s difficult to overlook the fact that my 16-year old daughter got her brown belt in only 3 years and is already on her own journey to get her black belt.  Kids!

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