Archive for the ‘Krav Maga in General’ Category

This is the second of three sections expanding on the original piece titled, Self-defence is Not Just Physical.

In the modern world, being financially stable can be harder than ever, especially when the vast majority of people are living paycheque to paycheque. One of the biggest mistakes the average person makes is not thinking long term, but rather choosing instant gratification; getting something now and having nothing for later. A common belief is that our school systems do not spend enough (or any) time on financial literacy. Basic education should include simple things like how to put together a rudimentary budget, how to prepare your taxes, or how basic investing works.

While we often blame the rich for getting richer as the poor get poorer, one of the reason this trend continues is that either “the rich” understand how to make their money work for them, understand the financial system and how to protect their money, or they have the resources to hire the people who do.

For most of us though, it’s really a matter of understanding we are starting with less. So unless you happen to have the next “big idea” it’s going to be a long term thing. Work hard when you are younger and invest smart, then maybe you can retire in your 40’s or 50’s.

While I am no expert, I can certainly tell you the things that I have learned (mostly from screwing up and being broke). What I can say for certain is that part of personal self-defence is the ability to be ready, financially, to deal with the inevitable financial blows that life will throw at you. Even if that means you had solid enough financials to have a line of credit on hand in case of emergencies. Though having money in the bank is ideal, having financial buffers will save you from the deep hole that is financial ruin. So be smart, and include financial planning in your self-defence plans.

Don’t Spend Past Your Budget

As a martial arts instructor teaching a style that is not overly popular in my region, living on a tight budget is something I have become used to. However, as the world is increasingly difficult to survive in with less money, managing what little you have is key.

A question I often ask myself is, “how do people who make 4, 5 or 6 thousand dollars a month, after taxes, still manage to be broke (or at least say they are)?” It’s probably because they seek instant gratification and buy everything they can rather than preparing for the future. They seek experience and the “now” over anticipating the future. While that’s fine sometimes, do it too much and you may be on the path to financial disaster.

Of course, the less money you have the harder it can be to stick to your budget, because you may have to make important decisions on what to buy or which bills to pay (especially in with complications like Covid-19).

It’s at these times in life when budgeting comes in handy, or rather it would have had you done it. One of the hardest things for people to do, especially when they don’t have much money in the first place, is to include in their budget a “rainy day fund” and retirement savings. They may not seem important now, but they are! (I’ll come back to this.)

A basic budget should include necessities such as housing, food, and, in most cases, transportation. Anything beyond that, at least according “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” may in fact be a luxury. If you have the money to spend more, then have at it. But if you don’t, think, do you really need the newest iPhone?

Ok, so enough talk. In the absence of credit, a budget is simply the act of planning your finances so that money coming in can cover the costs of money going out. If you have no credit, or options similar to this, then a budget is a MUST. If you do not create and follow one, then you may find your self not eating.

Lets look at something simple.

Mike has $3,000 after taxes every three months.

  • Rent = $1,200
  • Food = $500
  • Transportation = $800

After the basics are covered Mike has $500 extra a month. Most people would spend that on eating out or “toys.” A smart planner would take some of that and put it away, even if it’s only a little. Lets say he puts $100 a month away into retirement savings and $100 into a emergency fund, that now leaves $300 for entertainment and toys.

What if Mike works hard and earns a raise? He now has $3,200 every three months. If Mike was already financially stable, why not put the extra money directly into savings or investments. If he was doing fine without it, then he will have a $200 boost in savings without noticing a change in his lifestyle.

While most people these days do not like to operate in a frugal mindset, in the long run planning investments and emergency funds into your budget is crucial; so that in the hard times you are not destitute. So be smart, start early and reap the later benefits of a well planned budget.

Invest Early and Consistently

Assuming you manage to put something away for investments and retirement, the earlier you do it, the better. Have you heard of something called “compound interest?” Essentially it’s interest on the interest. This is the key to long term savings and building your early retirement.

If I put $100 into my retirement savings, and it averages a 3% return annually, then after one year it’s $1236 (depending on the frequency interest is compounded). The next year I put in another $1200, which would also receive the 3%, but so would the original $1236, resulting in $2509 rather than just $2,472. Which basically means that first $36 in interest, which you didn’t invest from your pocket originally, is continuing to grow for you. The earlier you do this the more the interest stacks, and the longer you have the more you earn.

If you started saving for retirement in your 20s vs your 30s the difference in the end number can be quite staggering. The amount of money you would need to put in during your 30s, to get the same results you would have gotten if you started modestly in your 20s, is quite a lot more than you think (the math is out there). I say again; Start early, even if its only $50 per month.

The best way to start early is of course as a parent. Start saving for your child’s future, (and not just for school) in a trust and your child will have an amazing head start. of course don’t just give it to them when they turn 18, make them wait and ensure they have learned financial literacy and good spending habits early.

Another important consideration in favour of investing early, and consistently rather than lump sum, is the ability to average out your costs of purchases across lows and highs in the market. The idea of “buying low and selling high” really isn’t what you think. Even the worlds greatest investor Warren Buffet, doesn’t try to time the movements of the market; he does his research and plays the long game.

Even when the market crashes it can be an excellent time to buy, if you are planning for the long term, that is, if you are buying more conservative “blue chip” funds, rather than trying to play the actual stock market. Which is not advisable, unless you have lots of disposable income and really know what your are doing. For the record, most people I know who play the regular market with only a few thousand dollars (which they can’t really afford to lose) typically lose. So play the long game and be smart about it.

Remember, even if you had invested in Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon early on, only to sell a year later and make some money, it is nowhere near the amount you would have made if you had held on. Of course, there is also no way of knowing which companies will be the next big ones, so if you aren’t sure I suggest leaving it up to the experts.

Nowadays, due to online banking, you can manage your money on your own. That being said, buying the professionally managed funds, in the long run in most cases, is going to give you a higher return than simply guessing and playing the lows and highs. Why? Compound interest and people who know better than you.

So start early, be consistent, and don’t just gamble, play the long game.

Diversify

Unless you happen to get lucky with the next big stock, and cash out just in time for you to see the crash, it’s best to diversify. In reality, even the best investors can’t time the market and may lose billions in one big market swing or crash. Those who come out on top tend to do so because they play the long game and have diversified portfolios, they still have money working for them, somewhere, when a crash outright destroys others.

Diversifying basically means “do not put all your eggs in one basket.” Even if you are playing conservatively and sticking to large professionally managed funds, you should have your money spread out between a variety of categories. Though what percentage is split how is totally up to you. Maybe you have 50% of your money in funds tied to your country, 30% to precious metals, and the remaining 20% in highly volatile, high-risk-high-reward, stocks. Maybe you have a different break down, really it’s up to you and your money managers to decide based on your own comfort and goals. Diversifying will almost always give you more protection if one area does poorly, and can help you with that dollar-cost averaging in the long run, making you come out on top even if times are tough.

Remember, the Dotcom bubble of the ’90s, or the more recent Crypto currency bubble? People lost everything because they put everything into a single venture and lost it all. Consider that if you are hearing about it on the news chances are the people who made the real money are already out and you are just a sucker.

Of course, if you want to put 20% of your money into such risky endeavors, no one is stopping you. You may make a killing, but it is all about when to sell, and most people sell too late. But, if the rest of your money is tied up in safer funds, then at least that 20% loss wasn’t everything.

Be smart, diversify, and (you guessed it) play the long game.

Conclusion

I should remind you at this point that finances are not my expertise, and I, admittedly, I do not have much money. These ideas are based on the lessons I have learned the hard way. Wisdom that only now have I realized I should have known and acted on years ago. But, if you don’t have a lot of money the banks rarely give you the best advisors; you usually only have conversations with sales people at the lower level. If no one in your family or circle of those who you look up has a good grasp on financial literacy, you may find yourself drowning in debt.

The earlier you learn these skills the better. Remember, most “get rich schemes”are just that, schemes. They fail for almost everyone and result in large financial loses. So try not to get swept up in the hype.

Protect yourself and your finances through smart financial self-defence. This includes knowing enough to know when someone is feeding you bullshit. For if you simply give your money to someone to manage outright, and you don’t know enough to check, you could actually find yourself losing it all to the next big Ponzie scheme (read up on Bernie Madoff).

Become financially literate, learn enough to play the long game, and start early. If you do, you will be in better shape than the majority of the population.

Remember, self-defence is not just physical. What other skills might you need to properly defend yourself in the modern world?

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This information may be slightly out of date. It was pulled on the date of writing this article.

Since my entire month of travel has been cancelled and I now have a bit more time on my hands, I thought I would discuss the global outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The blog series I had recently started makes the point that self-defence is not just physical; there are often many other areas of life that require a bit of Critical thinking and self-defense strategy. Living in a pandemic is just such a scenario. I am definitely not a expert on diseases or epidemiology, but I can apply reasoning and critical thinking to know that, while the Coronavirus is definitely cause for concern, the global reaction is very much one of panic in the face of a lack of planning. But don’t just take my word for it, see the stats for yourself in this awesome info graphic (left).

Or, if you want a more in-depth explanation from an actual expert, listen to the Joe Rogan Experience, Episode #1439, with Michael Osterholm, an internationally recognized expert on infectious diseases and epidemiology.

Otherwise, I will attempt to sum up what he said:

  1. Yes, this new Coronavirus is concerning, but this is mainly due to the fact that it is such an easily transmittable viral strain compared to previous ones, like SARS or MERS. This is due to the fact that once you have it you are immediately able to transmit it to others. With previous Coronavirus strains you would not be able to transmit the virus until you already knew you were sick, 4-5 days in. This means that, for the current strain, SARS-CoV-2, you could have it, not know you are sick and transmit it.
  2. Unlike other strains or viral outbreaks children seem to be relatively unaffected by it. While they can contract the virus they are generally less likely to develop COVID-19. In Fact, Osterholm believes that closing schools is unnecessary and will do more harm than good, from both health and economic perspectives.
  3. The early claims about touching the face as the primary means of spreading the virus are not true. This strain is airborne, passed on by breath and breathing. As Osterholm states, trying to stop this strain outright is like trying to stop the wind. Unless you plan on being in a hazmat suit 24hrs a day, you can still contract the virus simply by breathing. His advice was to not panic and LIVE YOUR LIFE!
  4. This strain is essentially a REALLY BAD FLU for most sufferers. This means that, generally, the only people who need to worry are those past retirement age (55-65), those with compromised immune systems, or complicating heart or lung conditions. Essentially, the same people who would need to worry about getting any kind of flu.
  5. You should wash your hands regularly and practice good hygiene… you know, like you normally should…
  6. The best thing you can do, is eat healthy and be healthy. This includes continuing with exercise as normal. The healthier you are the better you can manage COVID-19, or any flu for that matter.
  7. DON’T PANIC! THIS IS NOT THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! THERE IS A LOT OF MISINFORMATION AND BS OUT THERE! CHILL OUT!
  8. I am sure there is more, but it’s a long podcast, so listen to it yourself.

I hope you get the point here; while there is a legitimate concern as the World Health Organization (WHO) has now given it pandemic status, there is a lot of misinformation and fear-mongering out there. So stop panicking and STOP HOARDING TOILET PAPER, it won’t save your life for shit! (Get it? I am punny.)

A more up to date resource for Canada can be found here!

Facemasks and Respirators:

Way back in 2008 I completed my certificate in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). One of the areas of study was knowing how to properly use respirators, for health and construction. WAY BACK THEN, I knew that the generic surgical masks do not protect you from airborne viruses, and yet people and governments still seem to believe they do. This is because they were only meant to stop water or vapor, from a cough or sneeze, from landing anywhere other than the mask; but, because they do not create a tight seal, air and the breath of others can still get through. N95/N99 masks are far better, as they are able to create a better seal and have a more advanced filtering ability. However, the issue with these as that movements can break the seal, meaning that, while they work great for particulates, viruses are very small and may still be able to get through the edges. This is why, if there was an epidemic of an actually deadly nature, you would want a proper respirator with a rubber seal and replaceable filter cartridges. I, myself, have these, just in case, though I generally do not plan on walking around the streets looking like Bane just because of COVID-19. Though I would absolutely do this for a more serious outbreak, because, again, these work. Of course, to be absolutely sure, you should go get your mask “fit tested” to ensure it fits properly on your face.

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020

For some strange reason people have decided that the most important thing in the world is toilet paper. When I have talked to my friends we all are scratching our heads as to why this, toilet paper, is the item people are hoarding in a pandemic. Not water, you know, the thing we need to live. Not food, also the thing we need to live, but rather a thing we have become accustomed to for comfort.

I thought I would take this time to remind people that before toilet paper people managed just fine. Its called water, a leaf, or washable cloths. Would I enjoy wiping my ass with a re-usable cloth that I need to wash? Not particularly. But, am I going to wake up 2 hours before Costco opens to wait in line for toilet paper? Absolutely Not! Or, assuming running water is still there, you can always get in the shower.

Seriously people, what is wrong with our priorities?!

Coming to Krav Maga Classes:

Given that the best defence for this virus is to stay healthy, if Krav Maga, or any martial art, is your primary means of exercise, then you should still come to class.

The only reason you should not come to class is:

  • You have cold/flu-like symptoms.
  • You are coughing or sneezing regularly.
  • You are feeling “sick” in general.
  • You are injured to the point of not to be able to train (though we still recommend you come and observe in this case).
  • You have traveled out of country recently.
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 (Self Isolate!)

Aside from the last two, these are basically the same reasons you shouldn’t come to class under normal circumstances.

Coming to Class:

  • Wash your hands as soon as you come
  • Wipe down any equipment you used
  • Feel free to wear face masks in class

So, in summary; stay healthy, WASH YOUR HANDS (like normal), and come to class.

I hope this clears up any confusion and assuages fears that you might have. As for me, at least at this stage in the pandemic, the existence of this virus simply isn’t a good enough reason to not come to class (unless it mutates, then I might reconsider)

So stay calm and carry on. And, for the LOVE OF GOD, please stop panicking!

  Mental and digital attacks can be as harmful as physical ones. (©Photo: PIxabay)

Once upon a time, learning to defend yourself was a simple matter of fending off wolves and stopping physical violence from others. OK, not so simple, but still much more black and white than the kind of things we need to defend ourselves from in the 21st century. Where it was once only about the physical, now we need to consider many other factors.

Don’t get me wrong, physical self-defence is still very important, as it is so fundamental (and I have, after all, dedicated my life to teaching others to defend themselves from physical violence). Even though the physical aspect is what would be considered more my area of expertise, I am aware of, and often talk about, other aspects of life that require a kind of self-defence strategy (in addition to the knowledge and skill to deal with them).

I will be discussing three areas of interest that I think people often need help in understanding so that they can properly defend themselves. I will expand on each of these topics in subsequent posts.

These are;

  • Digital Self-defence
  • Financial Self-defence
  • Mental Health Self-defence

Digital Self-defence

Everything that was once pen and paper, to be found only in specific buildings now forgotten, called libraries, is now stored digitally on computers or in the cloud, accessible to anyone with enough skill or patience to trick the systems.

While we often think it’s mainly about having a strong password, many people still use Password01 or 123456 (terrible ideas!). Digital security is so much more complicated than that.

Do you know what a “phishing” scam is? They are very common, yet many people still fall prey to them. In fact, the famous “Hillary Clinton email hack” was traced to someone falling to such a scam (and should have known better); as case in which phishing changed the course of political history for all to see.

Or how about a “porting” scam, in which scammers transfer your phone number to another carrier so they can reset all of your passwords. So much for 2-step authentication.

It can be easy to fall prey to these if technology is not your thing. Best case scenario, you simply have to change a few passwords. Worse case scenario, you have your entire savings cleared out in seconds.

So have you done everything you need to do to preemptively protect your digital self?

Financial Self-defence

Did I mention you can have your savings wiped out if you fall prey to digital scams? That is to say, if you in fact have any savings in the first place.

More and more, especially in the younger generations, people are struggling to defend themselves financially. Either because they can’t manage to save any money or they are not sure what to do with what they have.

Investing can be scary, and preparing for your retirement is something that can be put off for a long time because you feel like you have forever until that day. However, the earlier you learn financial self-defence, and thus the earlier you save and invest, the better of you will be.

Yes, financial literacy is extremely lacking, and it is increasingly harder to manage things yourselves without, ironically, forking out loads of cash to pay an expert. The thing is, the more financially literate you are as soon as possible, the easier choices will be in the future. That is, unless you happen to start during a black swan event, like what’s been going on in the market recently. Then its just bad luck.

Either way, how financially prepared are you to deal with the inevitable ups and downs you will face throughout your life?

Mental Self-defence

This is a topic which I have discussed before, and for many it may in fact be the hardest thing to deal with. How you address it will also depend on where in the world you are when you read this; it may or may not be considered a culturally acceptable topic, or there may not be support readily available for mental health.
Additionally, mental health, realistically, is relatively new topic in its own right, and as a result there are many aspects we are still trying to figure out, which means finding meaningful and closer-to-correct answers can be difficult.

“Difficult” becoming “seemingly impossible” if you are in the middle of a specific mental health crisis. On this I will argue, like all self-defence, that, if you are able to, you are the one most responsible for regulating and rebuilding your mental health; even when you have strong support networks. If you don’t have a support network, then know that you are not alone in the world.

This topic is very sensitive and it is often connected to experiences related to physical self-defence. Or it may be connected to other considerations, such as genetics, family history, or particular non-violent events in your life. Either way, it is a complicated subject and requires a certain level of understanding and knowledge to truly delve into.

Yet day-to-day mental health and happiness may be more important than physical self-defence, assuming you are in a safe country. If you are somewhere that physical self-defence is still a big part of your daily life, then often your mind may be too preoccupied to even realize that you are suffering a mental health problem.

Just know, as with physical self-defence, there are training options for both preventative measures and coping mechanisms to deal with such issues.

Conclusions

One thing to remember, in this world that is increasingly more and more complicated, is the importance of understanding that everything is interconnected. Only focusing on one area of your self-defence really is only looking at one part of the picture. It can be hard to understand it all, but if you are oblivious to the workings of your life, your emotions, and the world around you, then it will be even more difficult to overcome hardships when you are blindsided by events that you could have done something to stop, had you been aware.

Remember, no matter what type of self-defence you are practicing, at the end of the day the only person who can really protect you, is you. Waiting for others to step up may often just mean disappointment, which means further conflict, both internally and externally, which means you may not feel like you have any power at all, which is the farthest thing from the truth.

So what are you going to do to improve your ability to defend yourself, physically, digitally, financially, or mentally?

Turning Up

With Krav Maga classes, as with almost everything in life, turning up is the first key to success. Now, by this I don’t simply mean being physically in the room, yes, getting to class on time is important, but turning up for your classmates and instructors means more than that.

Come to class regularly. This is important. Often concepts and techniques build on one and other, and if you consistently miss classes you will eventually fall behind. You won’t be able to keep up with the more complex techniques or concepts, which means that either your partner or the instructor will end up having to stop and explain things to you; which means less active training time for you and your partner. This also means that you may struggle to perform more complex movements, as you have not adequately practiced the basics to a level where you can build on them.

Pay attention. You need to ensure that you are mentally switched on while training; meaning pay attention to your instructors. Once again, just because you are there, and there regularly, doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to learn anything (lets face it, not many of us can learn through osmosis). Actively listen when things are being explained, and while chatting with the person next to you might seem like fun, it’s rude to your instructor; and if you disrupt class then it’s rude towards your fellow students as well. Furthermore, if you are chatting or daydreaming, you aren’t listening. As noted above, if you don’t listen when drills are being explained you might find that you are wasting valuable time trying to play catch up, or worse, you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up getting kicked or punched by your partner (though this often makes for a quick learning curve).

Actively participate. If you’re in a classroom or lecture hall raise your hand and ask or answer questions, if you’re in a Krav Maga class speak up when you’re asked for input, and then do the drill. Sure, no one likes to be the dummy that’s getting kicked in the groin, but that’s a part of Krav Maga training. You take the fun with the not-so-fun. If you’re not giving every part of the drills the same attention and enthusiasm, on every drill, then you’re not really actively participating in the class. If you don’t understand something, ask; just keep the questions relevant.

Keep the energy up. Now, I know we don’t all have the energy of a 5yr old after their 5th espresso everyday, but you need to turn up to class ready to commit to a full class. If you’re not providing a committed and energetic attack for your partner during drills, then you’re not giving them the opportunity to learn what a realistic attack feels like, and if their technique could successfully defend against it. Even in between drills, whether it’s getting pads or putting on gear, do it with a bit of pep in your step; don’t waste everyone’s limited training time just because you’re feeling like taking it a little easier today. I don’t mean you have to be rushing every time you go to do something, but keep the tempo up, act with a sense of urgency, and don’t let your heart rate drop too much.

Be prepared. “Turning up” can begin before you even get to class. Make sure you have all of your protective gear; groin guard, mouth guard, helmet, and gloves, and bring a water bottle (tip: try to show up hydrated!). Periodically check that your uniform is clean, no one wants to train with the guy who’s shirt smells like B.O., and if you’re anything like me (who sweats) bring a towel. Because, while I don’t expect to come out of class without getting a little of someone else’s sweat on me, it’s a good option to be able to wipe down yourself or the equipment you’re using.

Help out where you can. If you’re working with a newer or less experienced person and they are having trouble, help them out if you can; just be careful not to start teaching. At the end of class help clean up and put away the equipment used. Being a good student and good classmate doesn’t start and stop when you bow in and out; if you are “turning up” for your school, take a little pride and do your part.

These are some of the things that “turning up” means to me. It may mean more or less to you, but if you have never thought about what it means, or wondered if you are, this should serve as a starting point for you to decide what type of student you want to be.

Goodhart’s Law and Progression

Posted: February 25, 2020 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga in General
Tags: , , ,

Have you ever heard of Goodhart’s Law? I had not until a few months ago, when I heard it explained on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The concept made such an impact on me that I made a note of it, something I rarely do.

Coincidentally, a colleague of mine posted the above graphic (from Sketchplanations) on their podcast’s Instagram page, BJJ Mental Models, and I decided to expand on this for my own students.

Goodhart’s law discusses the natural human tendancy to meet the standard being measured. As the graphic demonstrates, if you say you will be measuring (or perhaps paying a bonus on) the number of nails made, the subject will make as many nails as they possibly can with a given amount of material. Conversely, if you are measuring success by the weight of the nails, then it would be easier for the subject to meet the measure by making a few, very large nails. Focused on the measure, the subject has misunderstood that you actually wanted a specific type of nail.

This means that if you do not set clear expectations and standards then people will simply meet what they are being measured on, interpreting that measure as the abstract target for success. In one or both of the examples above, the results are unlikely to have been what the boss wanted.

For martial arts this law can be easy to see.

The people “making oddly sized nails” are called “belt chasers.” That is, a person who is simply seeking belts because they represent progression in the form of a tangible measurement system. Thus the “belt chaser” believes that simply receiving a belt is a measurement of their skill, and therefore they expect that they have achieved an understanding of concept and application by merely demonstrating the techniques required for that belt level.

The truth is, it is not always about the belts but rather an individual’s ability to improve and progress. Some people may take longer than others, especially when there are clear and specific standards in place.

My approach to belts and promotions is that, if a person is simply seeking the next rank but lacks the nuanced skill, I would hold them back; because they have failed to understand what is actually being measured. This often means they have met the minimums, performing the techniques, but have failed to show what is actually expected, conceptual understanding.

This individual may be distaught when they are held back, as they will say “I have met the minumums thus I deserve to be tested/promoted.” They are falling prey to Goodhart’s Law. They are focusing on what’s on paper, a list of techniques at this belt level, what is being measured, rather than what was actually expected of them to learn.

For Krav Maga, the goal is making people capable of defending themselves, and a belt on its own does not do that; you need the skill, the concepts, and the ability to apply both. In the world of Krav Maga, simply being a “belt factory” is far more catastrophic than for other styles, as our focus is specifically self defense and not sport in any way.

This means that if you are a school that would rather promote someone because they are belt chaser, and you want to keep them as a customer, rather than delaying until they are actually where they should be, then you will be doing your students a great disservice; they may not be able to defend themselves as well as they think they can.

So, if you are a belt chaser, stop and think about the fact that you may be failing to understand what is actually being measured. While the tests and belts are literally about measurements and standards, a good Krav Maga school (or any martial arts for that matter), while be looking for far more than just techniques before they consider someone ready for a test or promotion.

Consider this, might your school be assessing other qualities like:

  • Physical Skills improvement
  • Mental Strength
  • Verbal Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Dedication to the school or sport

While these may not seem like things that should be measured when it comes to Krav Maga or martial arts, the real goal is self improvement; physically, mentally, and spiritually.

If you simply seek the belt, then perhaps you are not in fact ready and you are falling into the black hole that is Goodhart’s Law.

Are you a good training partner?


Are you the guy that as soon as the instructor says pair up everyone looks at hoping you will train with them or are you the guy the people avoid making eye contact with until everyone else has pared up and you get a reluctant partner. So, what makes a good training partner? Here is a list of what I find to be some of the most important points.

Turning Up


In my experience training martial arts as well as working with teams of people in the construction and hospitality industries first and foremost the thing that makes a good partner in any situation is turning up; not just being there, but being mentally focused and physically active. Especially in martial arts, where someone not paying attention can mean injuries, you need to be focused on the task at hand, knowing what both you and your partner are expected to do and executing those duties with enthusiasm and commitment. No one wants to train with the guy who is constantly asking what they are supposed to be doing or just lacks physical commitment to the training; whether that means holding pads or playing an aggressor.

Listening to the Instructors


Secondly, once you have turned up pay attention to your instructor and listen to instructions! There is nothing worse than performing a combination or series of techniques and your partner isn’t where they are supposed to be or isn’t reacting appropriately. I experienced this recently, while practicing getting up from the ground as an aggressive attacker approaches you. The drill goes like this: the attacker pushes the defender with a kick shield, the defender falls to the ground and performs a break fall, the attacker then walks towards the defender, the defender stabilizes themselves and kicks at the attackers knees (of course protected by the kick shield), keeping them at distance, and then gets up, facing the attacker in a fighting stance. My situation was that my partner pushed me with the kick shield, but, as I performed my break fall, stood 4 feet away from me and didn’t move in. So it was impossible for me to complete the technique because my partner was a) in the wrong place and b) standing static not moving forward; all because they didn’t listen to the explanation of the drill by the instructor.

Pad Holding


There is somewhat of an art to holding pads well, and it does take a little time to learn, but there are some basics that you need to grasp; not just to give the best experience to your partner, but also to avoid injuries (yours or theirs).

The two main types of pads we use are focus mitts and kick shields, so I will limit my discussion to these. When using focus mitts, the mitt itself typically represents your opponent’s head, but in some cases their body or groin. With that in mind, hold them in a position that corresponds to those body parts. For example, if your training a jab/cross (1,2) punch combination keep the pads at your head height, and close to where your head would be (though not right in front of your face, as you risk a blow to your face with the back of the pad.) Avoid holding them more than shoulder width apart, as this is not a realistic target for your partner and is a good way to injure you own shoulder. As the strike connects with the mitt treat it like catching a ball; you want to add a little forward force so there is resistance for the person punching, which helps them to avoid hyperextending their elbow.

Kick shields, as the name implies, are typically used for striking with legs and feet. The key with this type of pad is to hold it tight and close to your body. People have a tendency to try holding this type of pad off their body, assuming that the shield will absorb all the force, but what really happens is the shield is slammed back against your body. This also allows for a lot of movement in the shield and often results is your partner’s kicking foot sliding off at an unexpected angle; possibly hitting you and/or causing a ankle or knee injury to your partner.

Providing a Realistic Attack


Providing a realistic attack is another key to being a good partner. If you are training to block a punch to the head I’m not suggesting you try and knock your partner out, but if they do nothing, or offer a weak block, you should make light contact with their chin, nose, or cheek bone (depending on where you were aiming). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve faced punches that were falling short (by several inches) or landing way out to either side of my head. This is obviously not a realistic attack. As a result I have to perform a different movement to “defend” the attack, and this isn’t the muscle memory I want to train. Similarly, if you are putting chokes or holds onto your partner use enough force that they have to fight to get out of it. If you offer no resistance to the defense they are training they will be stuck wondering why its not working, and probably really shocked at how it feels, if it ever happens in real life.

Watch Your Distance


Everyone’s range is different, and all of your natural weapons (legs, elbows, kicks, knees, punches, headbutts, etc.) have different ranges. You need to match your range to the range of your partner and what they need for the weapons they are using. So, if you are working with someone much taller or shorter than you, don’t stand where your range is, stand at, or hold the pads at, their range; so they can correctly train the strikes they are practicing. It is also important to maintain this range when we train in a dynamic mode; if your partner moves in, move back to match, if they move back, move in to match.

Watch Your Power


Power control is one of our most important training concepts, especially when sparring but also when working with pads or holds and grappling. Often, rules set out a 10-15% power limit, but, if you are much larger or stronger than your partner, remember that your 15% is likely more than theirs. So, try to let your partner set the power level if they are smaller or less experienced. Likewise, if you are using pads and unload on a kick shield held by someone 40lb smaller than you, you will probably send them flying across the room.

Final Thoughts

I will elaborate further on each of these points in subsequent blog posts, but the basics are here. If you want to be a good training partner, and always have people happy and wanting to train with you; turn up, listen to your instructors, hold your pads wisely, provide realistic attacks, watch your distance, and watch your power.

And please, for anyone that trains with me, please call me out if I’m not being a good training partner. I promise I won’t take it personally.

Written by: Evan J

UTKM: Yellow Belt

Krav Maga – Weapons of Opportunity

Posted: February 13, 2020 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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Krav Maga – Weapons of Opportunity: A basic Guide

In any martial arts there is a lot of time spend developing the unarmed hand to hand combat components of they style. The reason for this is that in most cases the lack of weapons whether for practical or legal reasons makes this kind of scenario the most dangerous situation requiring the most amount of training.

Some styles even work on specific weapons uses from pistols to bow staffs. In many cases carrying such weapons for self defense may be illegal or may be a simpler matter of it is not practical to walk around with a bow staff in modern society.

This does not mean however, that there are not weapons to be found. In fact weapons of opportunity as we call them in Krav Maga are only limited by your imagination, your willingness to use them and of course the legal ramifications of the specific choice of weapon.

When opportunity arises, weapons of opportunity should be used if it is appropriate and avoids further harm to your self. For the sake of simplicity we divide weapons of opportunity into a few categories. “Sticky”, “Whipy” “Pokey” “Throwy” & “Smashy”

Sticky

These are weapons that can be wielded like a stick, they could literally be a stick made for it like a Kali/Eskrima Stick or something close enough. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Umbrellas
  • Rolled up Magazines
  • Rolled up News Papers
  • An actual stick (from a tree)
  • Batons

Whipy

These are weapons be used in a whip like fashion whether it be an actual whip or something more like clothing. Because their weight is not balanced and they are usually have a great level of movement and flexibility these can be hard to control but are quite readily available. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Jackets
  • Sweaters
  • Belts
  • Purses
  • Backpacks
  • Ropes
  • Towels

Pokey

These are weapons be used in a stabbing motion, weather they are literally able to penetrate or not is less important but know that if they can break skin then they may be lethal. With these types of weapons the eyes are your best target. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Umbrellas
  • Sticks
  • Fingernails
  • Jewelry
  • Keys
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Chair legs

Throwy

These are weapons are anything you can and more importantly are willing to throw. Generally you should be throwing it at their head or eyes as this will get the best results. However, throwing could be relative and this could also mean pushing or shoving things in the path of would be attackers. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Keys
  • Coins
  • Bags
  • Chairs
  • Rocks
  • Cups

Smashy

These are weapons are anything you can hold that gives your striking power more bang for its buck. Just know depending on the mass of the object and where you hit your opponent with they can be quite lethal. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Rocks
  • Bricks
  • Bugs
  • Bottles

Legal Considerations

It should be noted that the authors of this are not legal experts and this does not constitute legal advice.

While we cannot speak for every country we can assume that many westernize countries have similar laws than that of ours in Canada.

Carrying weapons for self defense can be a very risky thing here. If you use something that you had on your persons for self defense that was designed as a weapon then it is likely that if you face court then they will attempt to make the case that you had intent [to seriously injure, maim or kill] even if it was in self defense.

This is why it is a safer bet to use things that were designed for other purposes and are not obviously a weapon. For example a purse which would be a “whipy” thing if used from the strap would not generally be considered a weapon on its own but rather a “weapon of opportunity”.

However if you were to say add a brick to the purse then as this is an odd choice to carry in a purse it could again indicate intent. As adding the brick added mass and the likely hood of doing serious damage to any attackers.

“With a pencil”

Consider an alternative. Lets say you are a student and you need a pencil case for your pens (if you still use those things), then perhaps a pencil case that is hard cased with some mass. The intent of it being in your purse would be for pencils or pens but it can increase the ability of your purse to do damage with out seeming suspicious or out of the norm. Additionally, you now have some pens or pencils which are also great albeit somewhat deadly weapons of opportunity.

After all the boogeyman, John wick himself is known for killing several men with a pencil.

The Importance of realism

Posted: January 31, 2020 by evanjex in Krav Maga Opinions
Tags: , , ,
Surprise! Attackers can be anywhere.

The importance of realism in Krav Maga, Martial arts and self-defense training

Whether your goal for training in self-defense or martial arts is to be able to defend your self on the street, competition fighting or merely to get into shape or learn a new skill one thing that should be present in your training for it to be in any way successful is realism with in your training.

Now there is a time and a place for this along with other aspects of your training for it to be successful and I am not suggesting sacrificing one for the other. When a new technique is being learned at first taking things slow and easy is the best way often to figure out body movements, dynamics and train mussel memory but then comes time to drill and stress test.

Now as anyone who has been attacked in the street can tell you it is extremely uncomfortable and stressful both physically and mentally, and for you to be able to react effectively in a real-life situation you must be able to train under conditions as closely resembling those in real life as possible. Like wise if you are training for a competition whilst the stakes might not be life and death you can guarantee your opponent is going to be giving it there all and expecting you to do the same. And if your goal was simply to get into shape the metabolic demand of an energetic and committed opponent is going to be a lot higher than that of a luck luster one.

Witch brings me to my point I have trained with lots of different people over my years in the martial arts world ranging from security and law enforcement to the odd soldier (or ex-soldier) and even a few pro fighters, and then everyone else from the committed students to the casual attendees. One thing that makes the biggest difference in my experience as to Whether or not your training partner is helping you get the best out of your training is there ability to bring realism to the situation or technique, and by this I mean if you are training to get out of a choke they better be putting a good choke on you or your training isn’t going to be doing that much for you.

Once again there is a time and a place for everything and if you are a seasoned practitioner and your training with a newbie or less experienced partner I don’t mean go balls to the wall and leave them without any hope of actually executing the technique they are supposed to be learning, you obviously have to match your power and intensity to an appropriate level but make sure it is challenging for them, there is usually less of a problem here for the more experienced person but as the less experienced person you better be bringing your all to the drill. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a newer person try to put a hold or choke on me the more resembled a neck massage or hug and then as soon as I started to resist at all they just completely let go.

This becomes very frustrating as the whole drill becomes largely useless for the person being attacked, it doesn’t remotely resemble a real attack for those wanting to learn to defend themselves or jump into a competition fight and as far as getting into shape or learning something new goes, your burning little to no calories and not learning much either.

So, here’s a word to those whom I’m talking about

  1. People come to classes to learn to fight that means the expect to get grabbed kicked punched your not going to offend anyone by being physical
  2. Use this time when you are playing the attacker to work on your own punches kicks grabs foot work look at the technique from the other side and what you might be having trouble with or how you can improve.
  3. If you are going to hard your partner will tell you as long as there is mutual respect this shouldn’t be a problem.

As a new person this can take a minute to get used to and figure out but don’t take to long because in the meantime you’re not doing yourself or anyone else and favors

Written by: Evan

UTKM Yellow Belt

Krav Maga – Multiple Attackers

Posted: January 30, 2020 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Tags: , , ,

Krav Maga Multiple attackers

In the world of the movies, it seems easy for a reasonably skilled individual to deal with multiple attackers or opponents at the same time. This assumes that every one of the would-be foes patiently takes their turn to fight you. This also assumes you are in peak physical condition with unlimited stamina. Both of these things most of the time are simply not true. You might find your self surrounded and drunk because you made the wrong comment in a bar. In such a case your balance, depth perception, and timing will most likely be compromised. Additionally, they may try to grab and hold you while one of them or many of them take turns beating you into an inch of your life.

The reality of situations where there are multiple attackers is that you cannot fight forever, they will not fight fair and there may even have weapons.

The other scenario is you just happened to find yourself in a situation where one person hit someone and due to the confined nature of the space and the overcrowding a brawl breaks out. In these wild scenarios, you were not specifically the target but may none the less find your self fighting or defending against multiple attackers.

No matter the situation your best practice is to avoid such situations.

These strategies also are not covering ground fighting or weapons. As in order to add these into this strategy, you must first understand these topics in depth. If these scenarios are added in just know, Fight hard, Fight Fast and do not stop!

Preventative measures

First off, as mentioned avoidance is key. If you do not find your self in such situations you have done well. Or rather you have done what most people do and do not find themselves in such situations.  While there are many factors to consider that lead to these dangerous situations here are a few thoughts on how to avoid them:

  • Make good life choices
  • Practice good awareness
  • Do not piss people off in crowded scenarios
  • Don’t go to places you feel unsafe (Bars or nightclubs you know to be dangerous)
  • Don’t be part of gangs
  • Learn good diffusion skills
  • Recognize when things are going sideways and leave early

 

The Basic Multiple Attacker Strategy for Krav Maga:

Your goal in multiple attacker situations should always be to create space, find your opening and run. In a basic scenario, your would-be attackers are less aggressive perhaps not that aggressive or simply do not know what they are doing. While these situations are not great they are easier to deal with than a full-on swarm. If in doubt follow these principles

Basic multiple attacker strategies

  1. Avoid it all together– First and foremost do everything you can to avoid these scenarios. This includes practicing proper avoidance and generally acting in a manner that does not create violent enemies or put you in places where such situations are likely. Additionally, do your best to diffuse the situation verbally. You might be surprised how often this might work.
  2. Run – Just Run! really it’s just that easy. Of course, if you do not have decent cardio you may have a problem. Truly though running and getting to safety is your best bet.
  3. Do not get cornered – If you are delayed in running or your did not realize what was going on until there are multiple aggressive opponents do not allow your self to be pushed into a corner or a wall or any other place where your back is against something. Try to keep your self moving so you can always turn and run.
  4. Identify your exits – If you were cornered or you are not moving yet make sure you identify the easiest places to run to or which of the attackers will be the easiest to deal with. Keep these options available so that when you do have to fight you can do it with a plan.
  5. Keep your attackers aligned – If you are able to by your own movement or theirs keep your opponents as close to a single file line as you can. If they have to fight over each other it will make it harder for them to get at you in a meaningful way.
  6. Strike first, Cover and Move Fast– When all else has failed, strike first! Strike with whatever means you deem appropriate and go for the closest target available. Cover and strike as you need to find your exit.
  7. Run – If you did not run before, now should be the time to run again. You created your exit while disrupting your opponents so now is the time to move and move fast.

Understand that these basic multiple attacker situations can at any point get bad fast in which case jump to the advance strategy below.

The Advance Multiple Attacker Strategy for Krav Maga:

In this scenario, the attackers are aggressive, malicious and are definitely not taking turns. When these happen it will seem like a flurry of punches, kicks or who knows what that thing was. These situations its a mix of fighting and running while being as effective as possible. The goal of such situations is to eliminate as many of the threats as possible so that they cannot or do not want to continue attacking. So how do you deal with this scenario? here’s a strategy.

  1. Avoid it all together– This has not changed. Except if you are in this situation you probably screwed up.
  2. Run – The moment you can. RUN. Do whatever it takes to get to this point.
  3. Identify your exits – If you did not already or at any point are able to find your exits. These are what you should be working towards the entire exhausting time you are fighting.
  4. Get Control of one person and do damage – Try to get a hold of a person in a meaningful way, while doing damage that will stop them from fighting like knees to the groin or head, eye gouges head buts all while you keep moving.
  5. Switch Opponents –The moment another attacker gets close switch to them (We use the “monkey bar” method) and start applying your damage as per the above point.
  6. Run and Assess – The moment you can, create space and run. You must assess as they may still be coming but at least you have space now.
  7. Continue to fight if needed– If they are still coming then apply 4 and 5 repetitively until they are not a threat or you have found your safe exit.
  8. Use weapons of opportunity – If at any point you are able to use weapons of opportunity. Whatever you can use, use. These scenarios are not time to be thinking about the laws, it is simply a matter of survival.

Krav Maga - UTKM - The Ground Attacker-has-knifeIt is a well-known fact that in Krav Maga we want to avoid the ground as much as possible. Despite the fact, the first rule in Krav Maga is don’t go to the ground we also need to expect it as a possibility. The ground is a horrible place to be on the street as you can be more easily injured depending on the environment. You will have a far more difficult time escaping to safety and if other people jump in that are not your friends or if weapons are introduced, which you should always assume as a possibility, it can go sideways faster than the blink of an eye.

In Krav Maga it is often assumed that simply through aggression, groin strikes and targeting the eyes we can easily fend off any attacker from the ground. The problem is this assumes too much in a bad way. It assumes the attacker isn’t hyper-aggressive, on drugs (cannot feel pain), and is not putting aggressive forward pressure on you preventing you from getting up. Unfortunately for much of the history of Krav Maga, most instructors were focusing more on the stand-up portions and did not develop their ground skills. Only in recent years have life long Krav Maga practitioners realized that ground fighting was our greatest weakness.

Preventative measures

The best way to stop any situation from happening is to understand it. If we accept that Krav Maga has a weakness when it comes to the ground then it would be a good idea to train ground specific styles. At UTKM it is believed that all Krav Maga practitioners should achieve a minimum of a BJJ Blue belt or equivalent. For example if you did competitive wrestling for 5 years, it is reasonable to assume you understand how to control another person on the ground.

While a good Krav Maga program must incorporate ground fighting as part of their training, due to the vast amount of knowledge needed to cover it is difficult to dedicate the appropriate time to ground training. Additionally, the approach to the Ground in Krav maga as laid out below does not always allow for good grappling skills to really be developed should you encounter someone who is very competent. Because of this, it is best to train outside of your Krav Maga training with ground specialists.

Understanding the ground and what someone is trying to do will give you the time to stop them even briefly to begin to apply the Krav Maga ground strategies.

So what are you waiting for? Get training!

The Basic Ground Strategy for Krav Maga:

Your goal on the ground should always be to create space, get to a neutral (non-grappling position) and get to your feet. However, if this is not possible follow the order of operation. Just know that no matter where you are in this sequence if, at any point that you can get to your feet, you must do so.

Ground fighting order of operation

  1. Do Not be on the Ground – First and foremost do everything you can to avoid the ground. This includes things like work on your balance, train in grappling, strengthen your core, practice proper avoidance and really anything that does not put you there. If you are not on the ground you do not need to worry about it.
  2. Learn to Fall – If you do end up on the ground there is a good chance you fell or were thrown. It is also likely that the surface you fell on was considerably harder than the mats you train on in the gym. If you don’t know how to fall properly there is a good chance you will not be getting up again. Because if you did not pay attention during break fall training it is likely your head has now bounced off the pavement, or you posted your hand when you should not have and you broke your wrist. Learning to fall is just as important as learning to pick your self up again.
  3. Get up – If you fell or were thrown but the opponent is not controlling you, it is not being overly aggressive or there is ample space to get up and do it fast. While you should use the correct techniques as taught to you in class really any method you use that gets you up on your feet is the correct one. So make a decision, make it fast and get to your feet.
  4. Be Defensive & Offensive – If the attacker is putting some pressure, but is still on their feet then you need to take a defensive position that allows you to protect your self and also attack. We recommend kicking the knees as this will cause them to back up giving you the space to get up. You can kick the groin if it is available but this may also cause them to fall on to you. If they do put their head in their range then good old fashion up kicks will do nicely. We do not recommend putting everything you have into a single kick as if you miss and they are aggressive you may find your self in a worse position.
  5. Use a Sweep – If they are moving in and you are able to use a sweep that puts them on the ground, and or in a worse position and you on your feet and or in a better position. Sweeps should be used before they start a grappling fight. While sweeps can still be used, they should be done prior to it being a full ground fight.
  6. Ground Fight – If you are now both on the ground its a ground fight. Use all your skills to go from a worse position to a better position with the goal of getting back to your feet. The only time you should choose to stay here is if it is life or death, or professional requirements dictate you stay here (Such as arrest and control protocols). However, if you stay on the ground to control a person remember, they may still have friends and even in Security and Law Enforcement scenarios, if you do not have back up right near you it may be best to get to your feet and control the person.

Weapons on the ground

If there is a weapon involved in a ground fight it complicates things dramatically. In particular knives and guns. You first must understand what weapon you are dealing with before you can safely manage it on the ground. See The Gun, The Knife and The Stick for more details.

But if you find your self in a ground fight with a weapon, follow the below strategy.

  1. Control the weapon arm – At all points, you should be controlling the weapon arm to prevent its use against your self. While we strongly do not recommend the Kimura grip in a standing position now is certainly a good time to implement it. Otherwise, use whatever methods you know that keep’s you safe and the weapon arm controlled so it cannot easily be used against you. This however is often a struggle, is messy and will really be about who wants it more.
  2. Disarm if possible – If you are able to disarm the weapon from the position you are in doing so. Whether you choose to use it against them will be a matter of personal choice. Sometimes it is required some times it is not. Just make sure you understand weapons and use of force laws where you are. However, consider this. It is better to be judged by 12 (a jury) than to be carried by 6 (in a coffin).
  3. Get to a better position– If you were unable to do a disarm, or if you were it is still time to get to a better position allowing more control and a path to escape. If you did not do a disarm then switching to a better position requires also controlling the weapon or the weapon arm. If you did do a disarm, then you will have to ensure you maintain control of the weapon while you get to a better position. How you get to a better position will largely depend on your skill, knowledge and what the attacker is doing. Just know that while you should use the techniques you were taught anything you do that gets you to a better position safely is good enough.
  4. Disarm if possible– If you are now in a better position that allows dominant control disarm the weapon using the methods you know. If you are unable to control the person enough to safely disarm the weapon then skip to the next step. If you can safely disarm the weapon then you should keep it on your persons to either use or present as evidence later on. If you also choose to maintain control of the attacker then you must keep your wits about you as there could still be other attackers.
  5. Create Space, get to your feet and Assess – Once you either have the weapon, the attacker has stopped, or you are losing control create lots of space by backing up. You then must asses what to do next. In most places, if you just took a weapon away from an attacker, you should call the police or appropriate authorities. Do not wait as the attacker could call first and lie about the scenario. You may also need to be prepared to continue fighting and now may be the time to use the weapon in your defense.