To be honest, I thought that my first blog post would certainly involve sublime musings on clothes, shoes, and purses. As it turns out, fashion bloggers run rampant on the internet.
So, upon the suggestion of my colleague, Warren, a self-proclaimed pragmatic, and a brown belt in Judo and green belt in Krav Maga (he is one of the original students at UTKM), I succumbed to writing a snippet about my brief encounter with this Israeli fighting system. To say that I was apprehensive about my first class would be slightly misleading. I was quite enthusiastic about it.
Warren had provided me with an insider’s peek into the class through our chats, his blog posts, and the UTKM promotional video. His approach to personal and general safety was just sensible. As Jon, the instructor points out, living in Vancouver, we are a little spoiled and possibly sheltered. But that does not mean we are above crime, danger, and random confrontations. I don’t walk around in constant fear but I do walk around with a sense of awareness and my surroundings that goes with the territory of being small, and a female. You just want to feel safe.
My husband and I did the free trial class a couple of weekends ago. We had always been mildly interested in the notion of taking up a martial art that wasn’t just textbook techniques. That has no real world application for us, being parents of two young girls. Krav Maga, the way Warren explained it to me, seemed like a logical thing to try.
The class started off simply with Jon going over levels of situational awareness, levels of action/in-action, and some basic stances. Pretty common sense stuff. We played a cardio “game” that involved the group throwing various sized balls to each other while in motion. The punishment, for lack of a better word, for dropping a ball was ten pushups. After the third ball drop, my muscles were sore and weak, and I jokingly asked, “can we do sit-ups instead?”. Jon was kind enough to switch us to burpees which I admittedly find easier to cheat on than a pushup. But he did remind the class first that normally you don’t get to ask your attacker if he would go easier on you. I nodded in agreement, happily doing my half-burpee. During the rest of the class, Jon and Warren demonstrated how to protect yourself and possibly escape from a rear-naked choke hold, and another move which we practised with a belted partner. The class demographic was mostly male, with one orange-belt female.
Though I did feel self-conscious being a newbie, the atmosphere of the class was not intimidating, and people were friendly. I felt as if everyone was there to learn and practice an important life skill. As much as swimming is considered a life skill so should be physical self-preservation. I would love to assume that I could run away from most danger, but in the event that I could not outrun a scary situation, it would make sense to me that I should be somewhat equipped to assess, diffuse, and, or buy enough time to flee danger.
There is one important aspect of the Warrior class that happens at the end of each class. For five minutes, members, donning full protective gear, randomly spar with each other, tapping each other in and out, doing full contact punching and kicking. As I watched, I felt amused, fascinated, and impressed. I was pumped. From my onlooker’s perspective, I very much wanted to spar for a number of reasons, including tension and stress relief, and really just to see how hard I could punch and kick someone. You don’t get an opportunity to do this every day with a “willing partner”. It felt real, but not scary. You will attack and be attacked. But in a safe and controlled environment. At that point, it seemed to me that what was being taught was how to use your adrenaline, remain focused, not freeze, and confront what was in front of you, using whatever means necessary to protect yourself.
My only regret with taking the class is that I have not been able to mentally commit to carving out the time to pursue it further and feel guilty for my excuses. Not right now, I guess. But feels like definitely, hopefully, soon.
By Carrie, 48.