Archive for the ‘Krav Maga and Other Martial Arts’ Category

Knowing how to avoid danger increases your chances of survival dramatically! (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

The “4 stages of self-defence,” as taught by UTKM, is the basic order of operation for what you are doing when presented with conflict; be it physical, social, or otherwise. The order, moving from best option to worst, is; Avoidance, Diffusion, Preemptive Self-defence (Strike First), Reactive Self-defence (React Last). Understanding the basics is easy, but, like all concepts, understanding when and how to apply them correctly can be trickier.

The major reason for this is the simple fact that if you do not truly understand what you are doing and you lack the experience to make a quick and correct decision (and you do not have your instructor whispering the answers into your ear), the real world situation is suddenly more complicated than it was in training.

Grasping the nuanced application of a technique, how and why it works, and when to employ it, can be the result of you being fortunate enough to possess an innate ability to understand intricate contexts, or, as is more common, it can be accomplished through consistent training. Consistent training makes up for talent by internalizing the details, purpose, and application of a given technique (or reaction in a scenario), to the point that your nervous system and decision making process will, more often than not, fire correctly under duress.

To help foster a better understanding of these key concepts, I, and others at UTKM, will be sharing real world experiences relating to the four stages. Each week we will expand upon one of the concepts and give examples.

This week it is the first and arguably most important stage: Avoidance.

“You win 100% of the fights you are not in.” – Nir Maman

First you must accept the fact that you cannot always avoid. For example, applying avoidance as a self-defence tactic for interpersonal conflict will most likely result in further problems. The concept of Avoidance simply suggests that it may be better to avoid than to confront in most situations However, and this applies particularly when it comes to bullying or active violence, sometimes the best option is to directly confront the source of conflict. After all, Krav Maga was built on the idea that sometimes running is not an option. So, please, do not interpret this stage as permission to be passive-aggressive or to never deal with life’s problems, that is not the correct application of this concept (and, honestly, if avoidance is always your chosen option in life, this may be indicative of other, deeper problems you are struggling with.)

So, lets start with some examples from my youth:

  1. It was Halloween night, and, like most young teens (I was maybe 15 or 16), I wanted to go out. In our area, big house parties were not a common occurrence, but what was all too common were hoards of teens and young adults roaming the streets like a hungry packs of wolves, looking for fun and perhaps trouble. I was with the group of friends I usually ran with at the time, and we ended up crossing paths with another pack of teens. Walking together with them, in costumes, masks, and painted faces, with candy and fireworks in hand (legal then, but illegal now, likely due to these same ravenous packs of ne’er-do-wells getting up to yearly mischief) we were on the boredom-fueled prowl. Some confident and bold, others just trying to fit in. In my case, the latter seems like it was the appropriate category. I mean, is that not what one of the best features of Halloween is; You get to dress up and pretend to be something else, something grander, something more powerful? It is after all, “All Hallow’s Eve,” where dressing up as something scary was meant to fend off the roaming spirits and demons that walk the earth on this night, every year (so the legend goes). But masks and make up can only mask you for so long. One of the older boys in a mask, I did not recognize. Clearly a leader, out front, loud and obnoxious, identified himself to me. It turned out this masked individual was someone whom I had issues with in the past. He was also dangerous, in the literal sense, much like that of a hungry alpha. He regularly got in fights (and won), regularly had police interactions, the circumstances of which were anything but innocent fun, and he “may or may not” have had ties with even more violent individuals who were known to police. He was also much bigger than me, a good bit stronger, and far more athletic. Which, through a child’s eyes, was a terrifying thing, even though I considered myself tougher than perhaps I was and, like most males, overestimated my skills. I had no training and no experience, just an over inflated ego. It was, of course, dark, and I did not like the things coming out of this guy’s mouth, nor the energy in the air. The feeling of fun turned to a dread and an uneasy churning in my gut (yet to be filled with candy.) It was uncomfortable. Concerned that the hoard was full of individuals who did not in fact like me, not to mention the de facto alpha, this was not ideal for an enjoyable night. So I decided to listen to my instincts; it was time to leave. My pace slowed, I fell to the back of the crowd, then quietly, but swiftly, faded into the dark, walking to my home a few blocks away. Later, when I was asked by my cohort where I had disappeared too, I made up some plausible story. The reality is, it was probably the right decision. Those uneasy feelings we have may be wrong sometimes, but it is often better to err on the side of caution, as we never know how things will escalate. There is one thing for certain; if you are not feeling your best, or you are uncomfortable, it can be easy to do or say the wrong thing and cause a situation to quickly shift from manageable to disastrous. So, in that case, with those personalities, avoidance was the best choice. No harm, no foul, no hospital.
  2. I was an awkward teen with no sense of who I really was yet. Which meant I was not so great with the opposite sex. So, when female friends came into the mix, it was always a joy, and an uneasy excitement (the kind only a teenage boy knows.) For a time, I frequently hung out with two girls who were a year or two younger than me. Feelings were always mixed, as I liked them each at a different time; which meant I would often go out of my way to spend time with them. Lacking experience and confidence, of course, things never went the way I had imagined. Nevertheless, it was fun at the time. Like many youths lacking good mentoring and guidance, I had trouble controlling my temper. I would never hurt anyone, but it was obvious to those all around me. Like a tornado striking down in an open field, I was loud, boisterous, and, to some, terrifying, as the fear that the destruction might come your way. (This is something I still work on daily, though with calmer mind, maturity, and fewer raging hormones it is much easier to manage.) One of these girls had a cousin, equally attractive in my eyes. Someone who I had met previously, at a random community party. She was troubled. If I am informed correctly those troubles continued to impact her in adulthood. Whenever she came around to join us, it never went well. I was POSITIVE she would intentionally say or do things to illicit my temper and unleash the tornado for her amusement. I was cold, dry air, she was warm, humid air, the inciting words and actions were the required updraft. Everyone said I was either crazy or imagining it. Nonetheless, there came a point at which I could no longer stand to be around her. So the strategy I employed was avoidance. Anytime she randomly showed up, I would find a reason to leave. If she was already there with my friends, I would make other plans. Everyone thought I was being unreasonable. However, I did not like having my fun outings turned into episodes of anger, thus, to me it seemed like the better choice. It also prevented me from hitting a breaking point and actually doing something I would regret. Despite the fact it made me look even more weird and unstable, socially, in many respects I probably made the right decision by practicing avoidance. (In hindsight, and perhaps re-framing the situation, it turns out that this girl may have actually liked me. I was told by someone, later down the road, that she was very likely trying to illicit my aggression on account of a secret, let’s say, fetish for violence. Had I been more confident, then perhaps I would have handled it differently and allowed my cold dry air to meet her warm humid air, but given my lack of knowledge at the time, avoidance was still the best strategy. Lest the tornado met the hurricane and all hell broke lose. It probably wouldn’t have been good for anyone.)
  3. If you think bullies disappear after high-school you may have practiced avoidance a little too much, and may in fact be a shut-in who is living in a perpetual state of self-imposed exile. As the internet has shown us, most people are not as stable and confident as you think, and many have bully-like tenancies at the very least; trying to use force, intimidation, or aggression to get what they want. Or, they simply have not learned to manage their anger like others and emotionally lash out at people when they are challenged, or whenever things do not go their way. I learned to deal with these people early in my youth, and as an adult I tolerate it even less. I, of course, generally employ Stage 2, diffusion, as much as I can; using my words and avoidance, as Stages 3 & 4 (outside of physical violence) are not at all appropriate in day-to-day life in a Civil society. Which means, as an adult, mastering the first two stages is that much more important. Especially when you live in a strata (eg. a condo or townhouse). Personally, I despise stratas, as it is all to easy for a bully, or someone who has a bully-like attitude, to get on the council and try to tell others how to live or act, or has a personality that leads them to take issue with being challenged (due to their perceived powers.) I personally think stratas have been nothing but a disaster, and will go the way of the dinosaurs eventually, but until then, you, like me, will likely have to deal with them at some point. Without getting too detailed, there was some conflict between me and those on a strata council. Whether I was in the wrong or the right isn’t important, sometimes I was, sometimes I wasn’t. However, several members of the council seemed to think it is acceptable and appropriate to yell and scream at people when they don’t like what was said or done. This is, of course, utterly inappropriate, and in the adult world could constitute bullying and harassment. Obviously, this is something I will not tolerate. Extensively researched, well-worded letters where sent! The goal of these letters was not to demand compliance one way or another, but rather to make it clear that I am not the kind of person to pick a fight with, verbally, physically or otherwise. Initially they got the hint and basically stopped bothering me. Later, another incident occurred where a member of council, once again, decided to scream at me. After making it clear that this was an inappropriate (and futile) tactic it didn’t seem to matter, they saw me as a threat to power, and continued. As an adult, I made the decision that, clearly, these individuals are old, unstable, and have never resolved their personal issues. I understand, but I still have no patience for it. I privately told another, calmer strata council member that their fellow’s outbursts were boarding on harassment. Moving forward, I just ignored the problem individuals and do not engage. Clearly they have problems, and those problems are not mine to solve. I made it clear that I will not be pushed around, they all seem to have gotten the hint. I avoid conflict with them, they avoid conflict with me, and we now all live in a cold peace where, so long as we don’t bother each other, all is well. While it is certainly not an ideal situation, I would rather have good relations with my neighbours, it is, in modern times, often quite impossible to get along with everyone. So, practicing a peaceful yet aware avoidance strategy will, in the end, help keep things calm, and less stressful.

Whether you are a teen, an adult, or a senior learning to practice good avoidance (and when to move to the next stage) can be extremely useful, not just in literal sense of physical self-defense, but also to help you manage the hardest part of life: Other people. These skills can be innate or learned. In my case, it seems to be more of the former, though through practice I refine them as I go along. Perhaps as an Ashkenazi Jew it is in my genes to be cautious, and avoid whenever I can, as thousands of years of oppression and living in fear is likely to impact your genetics a little bit. (Think Woody Allen, the stereotypical, nervous Ashkenazi Jew, albeit a extreme case.) Regardless of how you come to learn these skills, learning it early, and learning it well, will only mean one thing; a happier, more peaceful life. One in which your visits to the hospital due to violence are low, and your conflict related stress is that of calm waters rather than a raging storm. For if you find yourself raging too much, too often, you may find yourself battered, bruised, and broken; because you failed to manage your mental state (see awareness colour code.)

Written by Jonathan Fader

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.

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

Having a tough time in life? Do things feel out of control? This is a feeling we as humans have all felt. A moment in time, even if only for a moment, where we felt absolutely helpless and without control. As much as we fear, loath or hate this feeling of dread and helplessness, know this. There is something you can do. You can take control of body and mind and start training today.

Often I remind my students, that the attacker is always right. Not morally, ethically or in general but by the fact they are imposing their will on you for whatever reason right or wrong, their actions at the moment are not wrong. There is only what will you do about it and will you respond in a way that is beneficial to your self both physically and mentally or detrimental.

No one has the right to attack you requiring you to defend your self, it does not mean however they won’t and can’t. In such moments you may feel weak, helpless or without hope but not if you have taken control of the one thing you could have. Trained for such moments as these.

Warrior in a gardenThe myth is that learning to do violence makes you violent but it is far from the truth. Learning Krav Maga or any other martial arts that are for self-defense is so in those moments you have the control over your fears, and the situation so that you may defend yourself and those around you. Usually, those who have this kind of control are less violent for they understand the consequences of both using violence and defending against it. It is control over the fear that might sweep over you and cause you to freeze. It is control over the physical will over those who would impose it on you. It is the control to know when you can safely defend your self or when you must flee to live another day. True control is actually that of balance so that you can live safely, and healthily both physically and mentally. It is also the control over whether you will ever need to use your skills by making the correct decisions.

This is why training now so that you can have this control should you ever need it is more important than you realize it. How many times as an adult did we wish we had put in the time when we were children developing a skill that we wish we had today. While as an adult that wish is still there but we are bogged down by the perceived chaos that is adulting.

The thing is you can always take control now! start now and don’t put it off, For you never know when you may need this and as the saying above states. “It is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in a war.” What this saying means is that it is better to have the skills and not need them, then to not have them and need them.

This means that whether you are an 18-year-old 100lbs girl, or a middle-aged out of shape male 220lbs. Someone in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s.., White, black, Asian, Straight or gay. You all have something in common. That it is never too late to learn and never too late to take that control.

Whether it is because you have already experienced that loss of control or you are planning for it. Prepare today for the future or the next time you may need it. Learn Krav Maga ( or any style) now so that you can say that you did something to control that feeling of no control.

Remember, the modern founder of Krav Maga, Imi Lichtenfeld said Krav Maga was so that one may walk in peace. Are you willing to challenge yourself to learn to walk in peace, Physically and mentally? if so, train now, prepare for later. What are you waiting for?

 

Empty your cup

Posted: September 24, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga and Other Martial Arts
Tags: , ,

empty your cup.jpgWalking into a classroom of any type can be a daunting task. You walk into a room knowing you will leave havier than you did before. Heavier in knowledge, or doubt, or pride, success, failure and weighed down further by the growth you will have achieved one way or another. This is however if you went into the learning environment with an empty cup. Or rather you went in to learn with an open mind. This applies to academics, or martial arts, or any place where there is someone offering something in the way of knowledge or skills.

Yet why do so many fail to understand that if you want to learn you must go in with fewer expectations, not more?

In martial arts, krav maga or otherwise, you would think this is a given yet there are always so many with too many expectations and full cups.

One such group is locked heavily on personal preference or experience, whether it be personal or what they have seen. Some especially in Krav Maga, come in and think they know how a class oaught to be because they saw it on the internet. Or they know what they like and it doesn’t matter that there may be others in the class. Or they come in with experience but the new school is not like their old one and they remind every one about it.  This is one group of people whos cups are not empty. They came in with preconceived ideas about how their class or school should be without bothering to actually learn openly.

Another group is locked little more in their minds and a little bit in the experience. Even when standards are clearly laid out they often feel like they are ready, or not ready for a particular promotion or role. Some think they are ready to be promoted, yet they have not met the expected standards yet. Others have met the standards and have been told they are ready and yet for one reason or another they feel they are not. One of these is an overestimation and the other an underestimation. Both each with their flaws in different ways and yet they both are examples of not having an empty cup. In both, they think they know better than those who are measuring progress, have set the standards or are the ones responsible for grading. While in some cases there may be specific examples of malicious intent, in most it is simply a matter of the question, do these people meet the standards? Yes or no. While these types should not follow their instructors blindly they also show a lack of trust in the judgment of their instructors. For they have determined internally that they know what is best, even if they may not entirely.

The last are the ones who are not even willing to learn at all for they are too trapped by their own minds to start with an empty cup. They think they cant do it, and then they psych themselves out of progress. They demonstrate they can do the technique, the skill or pass on the knowledge yet they have convinced themselves they cannot. In many ways, these are the hardest to teach for there is something going on that the instructor may not be equipped to deal with. It is often something deeper in the person such as trauma or social issues. It is probably not their fault, yet they need to empty their cups of those block lest they feel even more helpless with their lack of progress in knowledge or skill and stop themselves altogether from any learning or growth at all.

These three groups while wildly different all have the idea that they want to learn. Yet they start with their cups full. The hardest part of learning is often just stepping in the door and getting started. The second hardest part is opening your mind so that you can actually enjoy the learning process. If you enjoy the style, the skill or knowledge you are learning but you are not enjoying your self, then perhaps its the instructor or the school. But if the problem follows you where ever you go. Ask your self if you fit into one of the groups mentioned above and ask your self, is your cup really empty. Or was it full the entire time.

Either way, knowledge is power, and knowing is half the battle. So which is it, is your cup empty or is your cup full?

 

Know your self.jpg

Sometimes the answers we seek have already been learned but we are too proud, to scarred or too weak to accept the reality. Sun Tzu knew this thousand’s of years ago in ancient china. The full quote goes as such:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There are two aspects of this quote, one the good strategy of studying your enemy is something I can talk about another time as I want to focus on knowing your self.

Fear is a powerful thing. It is a built-in biological mechanism designed to protect us from harm and death. Once upon a time, this was good when the threat was lions and tigers and bears, Oh My! But now in the modern world, we are still using these mechanisms designed to protect us from predators against things like homework, large social structure, modern workplaces, social media and generally far too much stimulus than we are really designed to handle.

What this means is that we often create fear where none need exist.

but did you die.jpgI often say when teaching the only real fail in self-defense or in general is death.

So you are worried about being judged, even if you are judged, did you die?

So you lost your match, but did you die?

So what, you failed your final exam, but did you die?

We often for one reason or another either from external pressure or internal ones activate the fear mechanism to not do something or to stress out when we dont need to. This is not good. If you are stressed due to a perceived fear then you will not be able to focus or perform as well as you can. Which means it might just actually all be in your head. This is what the knowing your self aspect of the quote means. If you are unable to control your emotions and fears in any given situation you will not be able to do the best that you can. If you take every “Failure” as a learning experience then you will ever grow stronger. But if you perceive every “Failure” as a near-death experience your body will treat it as such and you may just spiral into an unproductive fear loop that paralysis you and prevents you from the growth you know you are capable off.

Ask your self honestly, how well do you really know yourself. If you look deep and dont like things about yourself or your life then change it. If you learn what the issues are that are causing the fear it may even help you move forward. One thing is for certain is that if you only ever dwell in your fears than it won’t be better. For you and you alone have the power to change how you perceive things. Whether your fear something or not ask your self honestly, will fearing that thing or not fearing that thing cause you immediate death? If the answer is no, then guess what you have nothing to fear but fear its self.

So how well do you know your self? and what are you afraid of?

P.S. If you lived a full fruitful life, then death is not even something to fear for you will have left a lasting legacy behind you that hopefully caused the growth and development of the next generation of humanity.

I’ve been training for almost four years now. And there’s something that has often happened to me that I didn’t recognize as a problem until recently. People are afraid to hit me or don’t want to spar with me, simply because I’m female. Well. That’s annoying. I’m not going to break, jeez. I can’t speak for all the other women who train as to what their experience has been like, but I am so tired of having to constantly reassure people. I feel like I’m telling people that “you can hit harder”, “it’s okay to hit me”, “no it isn’t too hard” almost every class. Recently, I’ve just been getting really frustrated by this. So to everyone who is afraid of hitting me, here is why you should.

10089527-mma-ufc-212-galelha-vs-kowalkiewicz.jpeg

Women fight professionally too you know! They can take a punch.

It hurts me and my chances of survival. The reason I come to Krav every week, sometimes transiting for several hours even when I’m exhausted, is not because I want to make friends and giggle (Which I do). It’s cool if you do want to talk and laugh with others, but I’m trying to get the skills that will allow me to protect myself and potentially others. Considering my future career plans (law enforcement), being proficient in Krav will probably save me one day. Now obviously being attacked in class is very different than being attacked on the street. You have no idea what someone might do, and unlike in class, they might actually want to murder you. Hopefully, no one in class is actually trying to kill you. If it is, then it might be time to rethink your life if that’s happening… So let’s say I’m in class sparring and my partner is going slowly and not actually hitting me. When I get attacked on the street, I’m not going to be used to be punched and might drop the first time I’m hit. So much for Krav Maga…. Oh well, if I die, I won’t be alive to worry about it. Have fun living with THAT guilt. For the training to actually be effective, I need to be able to react to anything that might happen. Refusing to hit me, or not going as hard as you would normally is going to make things worse in the long run. 

It’s also a part of the class. I wouldn’t be in Krav if I didn’t want to be hit. We all signed the waiver and know the risks. If someone doesn’t like getting hit, they probably won’t stick around, or they’ll let you know. I don’t need someone constantly asking if that was too hard, or not hitting the pad or whatever. Lemme explain how pads work to y’all, cause I feel like some people don’t get it. Pads are these cool things that absorb the hit so that by the time it reaches the person holding it, you don’t feel it as much. Isn’t that amazing? Now, pads work the same for males and females. If I pass the pad to a male student, it will not change and suddenly work better. And after all the years of holding pads, I know the super top secret way of holding them to absorb the hit the best. Trust me, I can take it. 

It’s also disrespectful. I am a green belt. Yay? It’s been almost four years of training with UTKM. And if you think I was given a green belt because I was gently tapped on the head a few times and smiled at, you are so very wrong. I had to fight for it. Not one or two, but THREE TESTS, increasing in difficulty. So I hate writing blogs, but I literally wrote an entire post about the green belt test just so I could complain about how hard it was. But I went through the same test the other green belts did. People didn’t hold back during the tests because of my gender (It was after all attempt to murder Karis day but you know, only in a metaphoric way). Trust me, I had the bruises to prove it. When people come in and don’t want to spar with a girl or keep asking if it’s too hard, it’s spitting on everything I’ve accomplished. You are telling me that despite everything I’ve been through, I still need to be protected and coddled. I’m not going to break if someone hits me. Seriously. I’m honest I do recognize that sometimes people are raised to not hit females, but I would like my rank and what I’ve done to be recognized. Please get over it so we can move on with class. For the other women at Krav, we have so many awesome different colour belts who train hard and deserve to be treated the same as the guys. 

 

IMG_8436.jpg

Karis in action

This all kinda ties into another problem. If someone going too hard in class, you have to let them know. As someone who has been forced (Voluntold) into teaching classes, it’s not easy trying to make sure that

1) you are teaching the right thing,

2) everyone is doing the technique correctly

3) think about what you are teaching next OH AND THEN make sure no one is killing each other.

Come on. You guys can figure this out. Going too hard with each other in class or not speaking up will just lead to injuries. Classes can get pretty big and your instructor can’t be everywhere at once. Just a warning, if you EVER go full force in a class I’m teaching, prepare for death >:D. Also a tip, size reeeeeeeeeallly matters. If I’m hitting at five percent, I probably will hit harder then someone else who is smaller than me. When I’m the smaller one, I won’t be able to hit as hard as the other person. This should be obvious. Remember this in sparring, and adjust for who you are fighting. We do try to avoid injuries if we can. It’s a little difficult to train with a concussion. Just a little bit.

 

So those are the thoughts of a NOT SASSY teenager. I’m not even really a teenager JON. DROP IT. Joking aside, this is important to me. I’m getting more and more tired of this. And I’m only eighteen (Teenager). I haven’t been alive that long. This obviously isn’t my experience with everyone. I’ve had some awesome teachers and classmates over the years. So if the remainder could just stop worrying about hitting me, that would be great. However, if you just come up to me and try to punch me in the face or something, I will react and the results may be unpleasant. 

AMIT and JEFF

Can you see how tired they are after the 4 day course. But great success! Amit and Jeff.

I recently went down to Petaluma California to attend the IKF instructor course. I completed the four-day course and was honoured to be given the IKF instructor tag. I have been training since I was sixteen in the gym and at nineteen I was introduced to Krav Maga. Due to jobs, I have had in my life I have not been able to always be in the gyms training with instructors or be there for the tests to take the next level or belt. I have constantly been held back because of this. I was getting told by instructors and fellow students I don’t show up enough, I need to make sure I’m there for the tests and put in the hours, etc. What killed me is that no one ever acknowledged that I trained every day. When I was out on the rigs for weeks or months at a time. Every day I was in the gym whether it was the small little camp gym or I had to drive an hour into town to train 5pm or 3am I was there. Putting in those hours practicing everything I learned in the classes that I was able to make it too. The reason I’m telling you all this is that it may just be another certificate or belt or badge to you, but this one means the world to me. It means that all those hours, days, months were worth it. It finally allows me to feel proud of what I had been doing and all the effort I put into my training. Yet as much as I’ve been holding this tag close to me I truly love what Amit Himelstein( IKF head instructor) said to us. He said to enjoy this day, feel proud but then go home find a nice place to hang it and get back to the gym! He said this tag or a belt or badge is only worth anything the day you receive it. After that, it’s on you to keep it up, keep bettering yourself every day. Don’t show me your belts and badges show me what you can do! This hit me hard cause it’s how I have always felt. Everyone had more badges, better belts, etc. And to be honest it sucked to see someone who can afford private classes or that had a regular job could acquire what I was chasing for years in months…. but as far as I’m concerned the belt is just to hold up your pants. What you put in is what you get out of everything in this life. People are always gonna be able to look at the wall of your accomplishments in awe, they will never appreciate all the time it took you to get them or truly earn them. These four days were the hardest days I’ve ever experienced and at times I honestly thought maybe I wasn’t cut out for this but I pushed myself to new levels and left every ounce of myself on those mats. I didn’t care if I got the instructor badge or not. I was already just so truly proud of myself, I had won the battle against myself. I am one of fourteen in Canada who have this certification and I am not one to gloat but I earned this and I’m damn proud of it! Thanks to some new found friends and a heart to heart with the brothers and sisters from my own club Urban Tactics Krav Maga I realized I needed to allow myself to enjoy these wins and stop being so hard on myself. I wish all who read this to have a challenge like this come your way that allows you to learn something new, mostly about yourself and show you it is possible and all the time you put in when no is looking means everything! Keep training, keep growing and celebrate yourself!

Written by – Jeff Dyble

@Teamg.ijacked on Instagram

http://www.gijacked.ca

JEFF IKF dogtagNo matter what kind of hobby you have, if it is painting, repairing cars or, as in my case, self defense/ martial art – the key to be successful is to keep practicing, keep learning and have an open mind. And also be humble – everybody can teach you something.

At the beginning of June, I went with Jon (Lead Instructor of UTKM @theponderingkravist), Jeff Dyble, and Oliver M. to Petaluma, California. They drove down, for the sake of our friendship I decided to buy a plane ticket. In Petaluma, we trained for four days straight, usually 7-9 hours a day. The heat was intense but so was the training, keeping myself hydrated was only one of the challenges I faced.

I signed up for the IKF Seminar couple of months ago and kept asking myself if I really want to do that. Whenever I watched videos of previous seminars the participants always seemed to be those big special forces guys. I try to be realistic with myself – I’m not a very athletic person and it took me long enough to accept the fact that I’m not 20 anymore which means my recovery period is longer. I was worried if I survive the seminar but I also wanted to push myself to see how far I can go.

Day 1 – the four of us arrived at the gym. I was the only women in the seminar and I was aware that I’ll be watched. Then training started with a little bit of a warmup and Amit started demonstrating techniques for us to train. There was a lot of choking and eventually coughing that day. At the end of the day my throat hurt, I could barely swallow my food. The soreness would kick in the day after. And I learned that not only rugs can cause a rug burn.

Day 2 – I was sore, my thighs were hurting when I discovered the rolling pins in the gym. They use them for shin conditioning, but they also help with sore thighs.                     When training I made sure to switch partners and train with different people. After our regular hours of training, Amit added 2 more hours of groundwork which was a lot of fun, although getting up got harder and harder. My legs were sore and quick movements were not an option that time of day. I still tried my best – I wanted to learn as much as possible!

Day 3 – Subconsciously my body accepted that’s what it is for the next days and I felt surprisingly chipper. Another day of fun in the gym! What I really liked were the different warmups Amit made us do. That day we did a lot of punching and kicking, Amit showed us some fun combos and Jon and I are now bruise buddies. He kicked me in the elbow which then quickly gained in size and colour. And I think my leg left a mark on his upper arm. In the late afternoon, Amit made us do a trial run for the street test (it is a bit like the gauntlet for our yellow belt test but inside and without sparring). At the beginning, Amit spun us (which I struggled with, the mat almost got up and hit me in the face) and the first thing we had to do hit the pads – have fun aiming for them! After we all went through that Amit gave us shit for our bad performance.

Day 4 – I enjoyed especially the warmup. We did a lot of tumbling and gymnastics. Back when I was half my age I did a lot of that like handspring etc. I was always curious to see if I can still do that but was hesitant. Being pushed that day actually helped me to give it a try and after a couple of failed attempts, I was back in the game! Amit also showed us a wrestling drill called The Cross – you know when we always say “Don’t roll over your head!” – for The Cross this is exactly what you do. It was one of those Fu** it moments when you don’t think much about it and just do it. The big finale was the Street Test, this time we had to go twice, each time being spun before we went. This time the mat stayed down.

And then we received our dog tags.

Amit as an instructor is straight forward and will tell you honest to your face if you suck. After living in Vancouver for 6.5 years I found that very refreshing. He is fair and of course very knowledgeable. He will explain why he does things a certain way and is there if you have any questions or need help. He is not for millennials who have that need of instant gratification – you have to work hard, there is no short cut and to get good at something it takes lots of training, lots of repetition and there is not a lot of praise. I enjoyed his style of teaching a lot, I have a new technique I really like – the Russian Twist (I know, it sounds like a cocktail).

It was a great experience for me! Our group was just awesome – I really enjoyed hanging out with those guys after training, watching the UFC fights or simply have dinner! They called us the four Canadians and I’m very ok with that. Our group was very diverse – all kinds of backgrounds, everybody was super nice and I felt welcome.

The four of us also represented our school well which makes me proud and I’m also very happy with my own performance. I don’t care much if I’m the only woman in a group, I only want to be treated like everybody else, no special treatment. I worked just as hard as everybody else. It gave me an idea where I stand and what I have to work on. I also had a great time with Jon, Jeff and Oliver – thank you guys – for sharing your food on the first day with me and Jon for picking me up in the middle of the night and later dropping me off at 3 am at the bus stop.

At the end of the seminar, Amit said that we are now part of the IKF family and that we will be there for each other. It made me think – as long as I can remember I’ve been told to be self-sufficient, independent. After a shitty relationship and other disappointments, I was so busy holing up and keeping everybody at arm’s length that I totally missed the fact that I’m already part of a family – as corny as that sounds – but UTKM has become a family to me. Now I only have to get used to it.

I also feel grateful because the seminar brought me closer to my community at UTKM, I finally understand that there are people who care about me and I can rely on. I also feel grateful for my Judo background – it helped me a lot!

A big thank you to all participants of that sweat marathon – I loved hanging out with you! See you next time!

This year I awarded my 5th and 6th Krav Maga green belt under our UTKM curriculum. For the 5th (Click here for the experience) It was a special occasion as it was not only the first women to get a green belt at UTKM but also the youngest person.

If you had told me that when she first walked in our doors at age 15 she would be the first female green belt I probably would not have believed it. A non-athletic teen with bad posture who was fairly quiet.

They say first impressions matter, but in this case, my first impressions were very wrong.

Yet we did not scare her away and she kept coming, again and again. Yes, I am talking about Karis. Whether she likes it or not she has become an inspiration for many of the other women in our gym. She is always there, always training and always pushing…with only minimal complaints (lots of sass though).

Consistency is key.jpgSo how did Karis go from point A to point B? Simple, she was consistent and regular in her training. It is no secret. If you are consistent and you put in quality time, you will get results. period.

My 6th Green belt was also given out to Quinn. When we still had the Richmond school he was one of the most consistent and regular students we had. Coming to Krav Maga, BJJ and Muay Thai. (Karis did too btw). Quinn is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Naturally athletic, Cycling everywhere, hiking all the time and living a super active Vancouver lifestyle. He too has made much improvement as he no longer relies on his strength alone. This is a challenge that many bigger stronger men have yet if they learn early to use more technique they will be even better for it.

So what does Quinn have in common with Karis? You guessed it Consistency. Even after the days he can train with us was reduced he still comes regularly to progress his training.

By the way, the previous 4 green belts also go there through constant regular training with extra classes, private lessons and 3-4 days a week of regular classes.

Yes, you guessed it, like any martial art UTKM Krav is no different. If you want to get good. If you want to progress. If you want to achieve your goals. Then you must understand that consistency is the path of the warrior. So quit talking, show up and train.