On May 5th this year, after more than three hours of running, walking, and sweating, I crossed the finish line of the 2013 BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon. WhoooHooo!!! My 220+ pound body had never raced before…never did a 5K, never did a 10K…but finished this 21K race. The race is the most gruelling physical feat I have completed in my life – and it was through my involvement with Burnaby Krav Maga that I got the courage to take on such a challenge.
I did a trial class in late September 2012 on encouragement from my former manager and now Krav Maga classmate Warren C. By the end of the trial session, I was convinced I would continue the classes to improve my physical fitness and mental discipline, and learn more about self-defence. In the rest of this article, I will speak to these three aspects of my experience with Urban Tactics Krav Maga.
My overall fitness has improved immensely since I started Krav Maga training. In my first class, I panted and gasped so much that I had to go outside the training studio to regain my breath and composure. In January when Borhan suggested I train for the half-marathon, I opted to take on the challenge expecting I would improve my physical fitness and conditioning. After two months of training for the race, my cardio had improved so much – I was comfortably getting through warm-up exercises and sparring rounds.
I appreciate that the Krav Maga training instils the mental attitude of pushing to the end, adapting to different situations…of not giving up. Our two instructors, Borhan and Jon, will push a student to get to that 30th push-up or sit-up when he is already caving in at number 18. During sparring sessions, they push the student to continue fighting when he is backing down from a nice ass whooping. For the half-marathon, I did run/walk intervals of 3/2 minutes respectively. After completing the 17th kilometer, my calf muscles cramped each time I started a run interval. This was when I had to draw on the mental resolve needed to push through to that final push-up – of getting to the finish line. I heard Borhan’s voice in my head, “Don’t stop Richard! Keep Fighting!.” I persevered – power-walked and ran – there was no stopping – no giving up – and oh what a feeling it was to get through to the finish.
From a self-defence perspective, what we learn is practical for threatening situations one could encounter on the streets – in the real world. Learning to defend against assaults such as chokes and knife attacks has made me more confident in the ability to protect my family and myself. I will always remember the fear I felt about 5 years ago when a drugged-out guy threatened me on East Hastings Street in Vancouver. I was standing at a bus stop, waiting for the bus and looking in the guy’s direction. “Why the *$#% are you looking at me?” he shouted at me. He got so close to my face and in the moment I was unsure how to respond. I recall thinking that I would punch at his windpipe if he touched me. But this was my reliving movie scenes and what I had read in novels. Luckily, I kept calm and the bus arrived before the situation escalated from threat to assault. I did not have the training or practical knowledge that I am gaining now with Krav Maga. I am confident now that if faced with such a situation again, I’ll be more aware of how to act and adapt to the situation. I also have learnt from the guidance of our instructors – that the only fight you are sure to survive is the one that does not start.
Written By: Richard M