Hey everyone, my name is Justin, some of you reading this may know me from class as we’ve most likely trained together or I’m sure we will at some point in time if we haven’t as of yet, or maybe you are someone reading this who is just interested in learning Krav Maga. I just wanted to share my experience of Krav Maga with
you and a little bit about my journey. I hope you enjoy the read.
I started Krav Maga with Urban Tactics in the year 2013 and it has been an amazing ride. Amongst going to classes, I have taken part in various seminars and courses around knife survival, knife defense, military krav maga, pistol disarming, and tactical shooting, all of which the UTKM had to offer, and I have also had the pleasure of learning from Moshe Katz who is a 7th dan black belt in Krav Maga and one of Itay Gil’s top students. (I suggest you look them both up if you dont know who they are). I originally joined Krav maga because I have always liked the military approach to hand to hand combat, and what I observed about Krav Maga is that it was very practical, tactical and super effective, and the most applicable self-defense system to get the job done.
Growing up as a kid I have always had this vision of myself being this special forces soldier with a set of ninja skills to take on any opponent, at 8 years old my favourite all-time movie was Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger (a MUST watch if you haven’t seen.. total classic) I used to want to be just like him and would copy him in every way. I used to walk around wearing army pants, a military camo vest, a green beret, I would paint my face with real army paint that I got from my dad (who was in the military when he was younger) and I would strap up toy guns all over myself along with plastic grenades and I would literally walk around like this. My mother would be so embarrassed and tried to stop me but I wouldn’t take NO for an answer!
As for martial arts, around 13 I did Karate for a very short time but didn’t stick with it. Finally, in my 20s, I started Krav Maga. I still have a vision as I did as a kid, but a little less crazy.
Today much like as a kid I draw inspiration from fictional characters. Examples of my adult inspiration are James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer from the show 24. Like them, I aspire to be able to move, think, and enter a combat situation and be able to handle myself like they do and complete the mission!
I think in life it’s great to have a healthy imagination, and I’m a true believer of the quote
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it”
One of my favourite Bruce Lee quotes that really touches the core of my soul is
“As you see in your heart, So shall you become”
and this last couple year I’ve broken through a lot of barriers mental and physical and I feel like I’m living proof of that. Not to mention my vision for who I feel I’m meant to be is definitely becoming a reality. As for being like JasonBourne, James Bond or Jack Bauer; I am already there in my mind and in my heart, I just need to brush up on some techniques and work on some areas to get my body up to speed! I aspire to be the next upcoming real-life JB. Justin Blinkhorn! and be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. So if you see me in person, you can ask me if I am still moving towards this version of my self so that I can stay accountable. Please keep me on my Krav Maga toes!
My Journey in Krav Maga
I will admit, I wasn’t always consistent in Krav Maga from the beginning, sometimes I let life get in the way and had trouble prioritizing it as much as I could have from the start of my journey. Growing up in the city of Vancouver it’s also very easy to fall into the party life style, I eventually started battling with alcoholism and addiction in my early 20s which was the main issue that hindered my growth and slowed my progress. I have hit a rock bottom quite a few times in my life due to those experiences, but I have learned more from those moments than traveling down any easy road in life.
When you endured adversity through moments of darkness, manage to dig deep within yourself, and climb back out, you will find out what your truly capable of.
To me, that struggle and light at the end is extremely beautiful. Despite the road being tough at times, I’m thankful for the setbacks and the mistakes (which can be our greatest teachers) and I truly believe there is no force powerful enough to ever keep me down, as in this journey and through those struggles I unlocked superpowers within myself I could have only dreamed of as a child.
In 2016 I saw a movie that really resonated with my life more than I can explain in words. This movie called Man Of Steel (which is the latest Superman remake). When I saw this movie, I saw a character, that if he decided to, could do so much good in the world and despite evil forces trying to corrupt him and lead him astray. He battled his demons, blasted through resistance and became the man he was destined to be. I can relate that movie to my life in so many ways, and to that character in a sense that I aspire to give people hope. If you are someone reading this who is struggling in some sort of way, hang in there and keep fighting, never give up.
Another favourite quote of mine (and Jonathan uses this in class regarding why we do breakfall techniques) is
“Why do we fall Master Bruce?
..so we can learn to pick ourselves up again..” (Story of my life)..
Despite my journey being treacherous at times. It shaped me into the human being I am today and I’m very thankful for it. Struggle and adversity build strength and make us stronger.
This year has been a special one for me, I woke up one day in January 2018, weighing at 223 pounds, I looked deep in the mirror one morning and said to myself
“The time is now, you know what your capabale of, get after it, lets do this” and since that very day I never looked back.. I’ve currently lost 50 plus pounds,
I am the fittest, fastest and healthiest I have ever been. I have changed my lifestyle in all areas of my life, I’m always eating right, I started running like a mad man, swimming, going to classes and not falling off track, and I tell you one thing, discipline equals freedom! #jockowillink and I am the happiest I’ve ever been. And all because I changed how I saw myself and my approach from what look in the mirror. If I can do it then so can you!
I want to give a special thank you to Jonathan because he has always pushed me to better myself, and earlier this year he said “tell you what, if you keep coming to class as you have been and you reach that weight goal of yours, we will set up your orange belt test” and right at that moment I was like lets do this ! I knew this year I would take my orange belt test, but I had to prove to Jonathan that I had the consistent dedication with no fluctuations, and I’m grateful he gave me that incentive!
I’ll tell you one thing, there is nothing more frustrating than being a yellow or white belt meeting the minimum requirements but being held back from orange belt because I was not consistent or committed in my training to gain the minimum skill and attitude in order to progress further.
I may have been the senior student that took the longest but it made it that much more special.
Everyone’s journey is different, and I currently just acquired my orange belt and I have 300+hours of training with Urban Tactics under my belt and I feel very confident on my abilities. One thing I also do that’s helped me so much in my life, is tracking, everything from my timing of sleep, what I eat, exercises, Krav Maga, daily routines, etc. So, get a pen a paper, it will help you stay accountable and monitor progress in all areas of your life!
The Orange Belt Test
Coming up to the Orange belt test, I met my weight goal of 170 pounds just a couple days before! The exact day I did my Orange belt test also marked my 6 months sobriety date, which made it that much more meaningful! Believe in yourself, back that belief up with action, and you too will see what the universe will give you in return!
The day of the orange belt test, this was a day I had envisioned for so long. I showed up early, there was a yellow belt assessment going on and this allowed me to warm up. Then it was my turn.
The written part was fairly easy for me as I’ve been going there long enough (I would hope to know these things by now) (lol). Next, we worked on techniques from the white belt to yellow belt curriculum for about an hour or so, I went in with extreme energy right from the beginning and gave it my all. I went full force to the best of my ability, then after that first portion I was definitely getting tired but I knew the next section would need full attention.
The famous Circle Of Power, which also has the nickname “Circle Of Death”, basically for 10 minutes straight you’re in the middle of a big circle of about 10-15 students as they each take a turn coming at you with an attack, everything from boxing, knife threats, knife attacks, chokes, bear hugs, anything and everything. Around the 7 minute mark, one of bigger sized students slipped behind me with a rear-naked choke and was super swift and fast about it and I didn’t see it coming or have time to tuck my chin, I could feel the lock, tight as can be around my throat, now at this very moment you have two options:
One, If they don’t lock it in full you can do a basic escape and counter-attack, but if they are skilled and have you fully locked, you’re in a very dangerous position, (at this moment I was already super tired and when that lockset in I could feel the world
shrinking around me)
There is a second move you can do if they lock it in which is also used as a ‘headlock escape’, that involves: striking the groin, getting them to bend down and use your other free hand to try and peel their head back hopefully being able to dislodge their grip and take them off balance.
However, this one student wasn’t going to give it to me easy ! I had to strike the groin a couple times but during that moment I wasn’t able to continue engaging, my face was turning blue, and I was in extreme trouble. He finally let me loose and I fell to the ground choking and coughing, but I got right back up again. A few moments later I felt my adrenaline race, and I fought as hard as I could for the last few minutes with passion and energy.
My whole neck and esophagus were sore for about 2 weeks after and I couldn’t swallow without feeling a lump in my throat.
There is a lesson learned: Rear naked chokes can be extremely difficult to deal with and if the assailant is trained with a skillset, and you didn’t see it coming. I don’t care how skilled you think you are,you are in deep trouble! My best advice is be aware of your surroundings, see it before it comes to avoid being in that position; and if its too late; then you need to rely on speed and aggression!
Despite that, the test wasn’t over yet. The final part of my test was five 2 minute sparring rounds with different opponents who are hungry to lay the smackdown and at this point, you are most likely running on an extremely low fuel supply. But at last it was over, I had made it through the battle and got my orange belt! With blood, sweat, and tears, it was well earned, there definitely was some emotion involved that day, very happy emotions!
Krav Maga has served me very well and really symbolises all the things im fighting for in my life and is something I’m very passionate about and definitely occupies a huge space in my heart. Getting my orange belt is essentially just a launchpad. I’m going to keep up the grind and continue working towards being the best Kravist I can be, this is only the beginning. I’m also very passionate about wilderness survival and the outdoors, I aspire to live a life of adventure!
-Written by Justin Blinkhorn UTKM Orange Belt
As Jonathan suggested I start a UTKM Vancouver running group, so if you want to come running, check out the group on UTKMs Facebook Page. I will be conducting 2-5-10km runs. This year I took running to a whole new level; running up to 50km at a time and I’m looking forward to covering some proper distances this year.. which I find is a huge secret to my success, for body and mind. Jonathan told me recently “When you first came to class, if you had told me you’d be the guy to run 50 kilometers at a time, I would think you are out of your mind!” lol ! #getafterit!