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

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.

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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. 

 

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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. 

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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

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.

 

 

Over the last few days, myself and 3 of my students including 1 of my assistant instructors went down to Petaluma, California to take part in the first ever International Kapap Federation (IKF) in America. It was lead by the head instructor of the IKF Amit Himelstein. You may remember him from the last major Warriors Den podcast.

Before moving forward I should clarify that KAPAP is teg cousin of Krav Maga historically although nowadays it is essentially the same thing. For some, it is a distinction of great significance but for others it’s is not.

For Amit, the difference is far less important than providing quality and up to date training. Amit started his martial arts Journey early like many with Karate. He served in the IDF special forces after which he moved to China and studied Kung Fu, Sanshou and Shuai Jiao. He is also an expert in wrestling and modified Jiujitsu under the Machado lineage. Additionally, he has spent time training and developing CQB protocol in the IDF where he continues to regularly teach.

The course it’s self though only 4 days was one of the more intense courses I have taken so far as Amit does not just expect you to know his protocol and techniques but also show your ability to perform physically and mentally.

Days often started with 1-2 hour warm-ups. This may have been general warmups, pad work, body weight exercises or basic tumbling and gymnastics drills.

The range of techniques covered during this time covers all the standard self-defense scenarios from grabs and chokes to third party scenarios. Each day would range between 8-10 hours with a lunch break.

Amit and the IKF’s approach is simple to give you a series of progressive moves for each scenario from a simple escape to a more complex option should the first one fail. Because yes, techniques can and do fail for a variety of reasons. In order to keep it simple their approach sticks to a simple protocol that can be followed in most situations.

For myself, the only complicated part was overriding my muscle memory from the various other styles of Krav Maga I have learned which at the beginning often led to delay but in the end, under stress proved no problem. This shows that the IKFs and Amits approach really is simple and easy to learn.

One thing I will say about the IKF style is that it is much more security, police and military approach with a heavy emphasis on control and arrest. Though all the techniques and approaches showed would work just fine for civilian application through their emphasis should be more on escape and evade.

If you are a security professional or LE and you have limited time and resources to train I highly recommend the IKF course as a must to supplement any training you might already have. It is an affordable course with a wealth of information that will help you stay safe and keep others safe.

As this was the first US course there were many participants from all over the country and of course Canada. In total there was 14 of as and from what I can tell except for some bruises, cuts and my Cauliflower ear we all had a blast.

(If you are squeamish then this video is not for you)

If you do think that this certification is a walk in the park it is as not everyone passes as you must not only show a good command of the IKF style but also an ability to physically and verbally control others. To me, there is nothing more disappointing than an instructor course where everyone passes for just showing up even though it is clear that they shouldn’t be certified. This is, by the way, a big problem in North America as there are so many Krav instructors who class’ look more like a cardio kickboxing class than something that is seriously preparing students for conflict both physically and mentally.

For me, Amit is probably one of the best instructors I have so far trained under. Not to disrespect to the others I have trained with because they all have amazing credentials and back rounds but I found Amit to be the most well rounded not just in skill which is terrifying but in experience and temperament. Amit is humble and is in it for the right reason he clearly loves training and teaching and is not just in it for the money but rather to build something greater than himself. On this course, I didn’t just find a certifying instructor but also a brother.

The UTKM squad after testing and certification. From left to right: Petra Foerster, Jonathan Fader, Amit Himelstein, Jeff Dyble, Oliver M.

I am also pleased to say that all 4 of us from UTKM passed with little trouble and now at the time of this article are the only school in Western Canada with certified IKF Instructors. On top of this everyone seemed to be in pressed with the quality of my students who couldn’t have made me prouder.

This trip also turned out to be a great bonding experience with my students and because of it, there will be some very positive changes to come at UTKM.

So for those who want authentic Israeli style training that is the most current and up to date in relation to what the IDF is doing and is also affordable then IKF is the place for you. Don’t get me wrong I still believe in training with everyone but as most individuals are not me and don’t want to travel a lot and spend a lot of money to train. The IKF is an amazing place to start.

So get up, get training and learn to walk on peace both physically and mentally.

On April 27th, just before 11:30 am at the end of the Jewish holiday of Pesach, a gunman entered, Chabad of Poway the place of worship and began to open fire.

Then on Tue, April 30th, a shooter enters UMS Charlotte (A university) and opened fire with a handgun.

In both cases, the shooters were misled by hate and prejudice.

In the first case, only one person was killed, in the second only 2. Generally accepted US government standards say it is a mass shooting when 4 people or more have been killed. Though both cases are tragic events, the combined death of both is less than this. (It should be noted that over the years this number seems to keep getting lower).

Compare this to other high profile US shootings like the highly publicized Stoneman Douglas Highschool shooting where 17 people died, or the Orlando Night Club Shooting where 49 people died.

thumb_keep-calm-and-1-stop-the-threat-2-counter-attack-as-37629368So what is the difference between 1 or 2 deaths and 17 or 49 deaths? The answer is simple, in the first 2 examples brave individuals quickly and bravely stood up to the shooters.

Though it is often counterintuitive especially to the untrained, if you are able to and you wish to stop further harm or death then the answer is to run to the threat not away. You see, waiting for the police can take some time and in the time a lot can happen. In Metro Vancouver, the call time is usually somewhere between 5-7 minutes for most serious calls. I was once told in Washington state that the call time can be 20-30 minutes. No matter the call time however, if a police officer is not there with a gun shooting back immediately a lot of people can die.

In the Chabad shooting, the rabbi stood up to the shooter with words in a way only rabbi’s can do and another took the bullet for him. Then the gun jammed and it is my understanding that someone charged him which started the shooter and he ran outside. Another person, who was armed, an off duty LE shot and the assailant until he gave up.

In the second UMS shooting a courageous young man by the name of Riley Howard charged the shooter died in the process but this allowed everyone else to be saved.

The specific details of both are a bit hard to follow as the accounts vary from site to site, but the fact is in both cases when the opportunity arose, someone did the bravest thing they could and confronted the shooter.

Believe it or not, this is the Israeli way. This is also what we teach in Krav Maga. If you are unable to or unwilling to stand up to terror or tryany then get to safety. No one is saying be the hero. But if you have it in you and you are willing at the moment to know that the faster the threat is stopped the more lives will be saved.

I often tell students that Israel most likely would get very different results if they studied the bystander effect. For one something happens, you get two groups of people, those running away, and those running towards. Because they know the more people that are able to stop the threat the faster the threat will be stopped. I even have family that on one occasion noticed odd behavior of someone who entered the store they were in. They tackled him and this saved everyone. For you see he had a suicide vest on and had yet to activate it.

In the west, we often have policies in place that tell people to lock the doors close the windows and hide as best as you can. While in some cases this may save lives the reality is if you are able to get out of the building to safety by whatever means necessary then your odds are even better than simply waiting and hoping.

Duck and Cover

Duck and cover practice

Bullets and bombs go through walls and doors. But smashing a window to run home will most likely get you out of harm’s way. Such policies remind me of the cold war when students were told to duck under their desks in case of a nuclear bomb. We now know this is clearly laughable yet why do we still insist on such an approach to dangerous situations.

 

These policies, by the way, are usually for the administrative class. It is easier for those arriving on seen to know who is “the good guys” and “bad guys” it is also easier to count heads. The heads of the dead and the heads of the alive.

In the west, our views on how to deal with these situations seem to be out of touch with reality. If you are unable or unwilling to stop the threat then get away to safety. But if you are able and willing, just know the faster you stop the threat the more lives will be saved.

In the end, the motives of those who would use violence for their own ends is less important in the moment than the fact they are doing it. The why only matters to prevent people from doing it in the future, in the moment the why is quite irrelevant. If one morning someone wakes up and decided to do something hideous, if there were no indicators that they were going to do it then the why is even much less important because the only thing that will prevent tragedy or reduce the tragedy is that in the moment someone had the courage to stand up and stop the threat.

So come, learn Krav Maga, so that you may walk in peace knowing that you have the skill and ability to stop the threats that may enter your life whether you want them to or not.

 

Before my wife and I had children, learning self-defence and being able to protect myself was a personal decision not shared by my wife.  Her philosophy was to never put yourself in risky situations to begin with and if faced with a threat, just run away.  It’s a simplistic way to look at things, but ok, fair enough if that gives her enough peace of mind.  For myself, however, I like to live in a Walter Mitty world where getting myself out of a tight situation using my self-defence training was a real possibility so I signed up for various martial arts through my life, with Krav Maga being on the list.

good parenting quote 1Then, our two daughters were born and I began to look at life a little differently.  I became less inwardly focussed on my self-preservation and my priority turned to how can I best protect my daughters that the brutality of life sometimes presents?  In spite of my desire to want to be around to always protect them, I knew that it was not only impractical but harmful to their own development and road to independence.  As any parent soon realizes as their children grow up, they have their own hopes, dreams, and way of doing things.  In the early days, you can just tell them what to do and they’ll listen, but after too early an age they soon start talking back and want to do things their way.  The best you can do is just introduce them to positive experiences and hope that your examples resonate with them enough that it sparks an interest in them to continue.

In my case, I introduced our two girls to the dojo quite early in their lives, and the Krav Maga kids class was their first foray into the martial arts world.  For my older daughter, the concept of self-protection was so impactful that she then asked if she could take judo to supplement the ground game that is more lacking in Krav Maga.  It turned out to be a good decision on her part, because she soon became quite adept at it and a natural talent that she won many competitions and continues being involved in the sport to this day.  So for her, introducing her to martial arts has been very beneficial for her overall development.  Conversely, however, it hasn’t quite been the same for the other daughter, who is 4 years younger.  While she accompanied us to the BC Winter Games when the older daughter was competing, while I was cheering her on, my younger daughter (9 at the time) was patiently and quietly sitting beside me knitting, reading, or working on her colouring book.  She sat there the entire day, which I recall being 9 hours long, with no complaints at all. But was she interested in martial arts and watching her sister compete?  Not at all.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this.  Well, as a parent we try to do the best for our children, and in spite of our best intentions, we can only do so much.  However, as long as we act as good role models and do what we say we will, our children notice and hopefully, with all the things we throw at the wall, some of it will actually stick.  In my older daughter’s case, even though she hasn’t taken Krav Maga for quite a while now there’s a recent experience which I think is worth telling.  The other week my wife and I took them out for ice cream, and on the walk back up the block to where we parked the car, our older daughter was walking far, far ahead.  Our younger daughter then started running towards her, hoping to surprise her and possibly give her a little scare.  In the end, it turns out that my older daughter sensed that someone was running up behind her, and while having no idea that it was her sister, turned to face the threat while sub-consciously adopting the semi-passive stance.  It’s comforting to know that some good habits are still ingrained.

And for the not-at-all-interested-in-martial-arts-daughter?  It turns out that last year she introduced the “head-touching game” to her classmates, which is a warm-up game she learned years ago in the Krav Maga class.  While its main purpose is to teach the student situational awareness and being able to block a slap to the head, it’s presented as a fun activity.  Now the kids she introduced it to last year spread it to other kids, and now they’ve adopted it as one of the activities they play at recess and lunch.  Unfortunately, my daughter was last tagged as “it” so she now needs to pass it on to someone else.  And the first thing I said to her when she told me that was, “You need to develop your situational awareness better”.  To which she nodded and agreed.

So, there’s still hope for the rest of us.

If you have not already figured it out from the title this post was inspired by The Game of Thrones episode 3, Season 8. At this point, it should be an obvious Spoiler alert but you know what it has been more than two weeks so if you are a GOT fan, to damn bad, you should have seen it already. In particular its this scene and quote that inspired it.

what-do-we-5cc6c4

In the scene, the red priestess, Melisandre is in a room that Arya Stark and company (The hound) barricaded themselves in to hide from the Wights (Undead soldiers of the night king). Melisandre has a habit of mostly correctly predicting the future and it is clear to Arya that she had predicted certain things in her life security. This advice is a foreshadow for a following scene where Arya is the one who kills the Night King.

To me, the entire episode and this scene reminded me of the nature of self-defense. So let’s get some context or a reminder of the episode.

The entire episode was a lesson on how not to plan for battle as basically everything went wrong. A large portion of the defending army got wiped out cleanly in the first 5 minutes of battle. (I bet if Genghis Khan was leading the battle this would not have happened to the horde) and every line of defense was inevitably overwhelmed to the point of futile efforts. I won’t get into the details of what I didn’t like about this episode or battle (The battle of the bastards was a far better episode in almost all ways) but this feeling of absolute dread and futility might be what you feel should you ever find yourself in a self-defense scenario.

Let’s start in the Macro. In the days when wars were fought out of survival or necessity often it only takes one person who is brave enough, bold enough and crazy enough to do something so unpredictable it changes the tide of war. If you look into any of Israels earlier wars where they were literally fighting for existance you can find tones of such stories in every battle. In this case, that crazy person was Arya whos training and skill finally paid off. Though how she snuck up on the night king with everyone surrounding him is beyond me but ok…

Now let’s take it to the micro. Where you have now been attacked, overwhelmed and you feel helpless and weak. Survival means doing something so crazy, so bold that it is completely unexpected by your assailant. All you have to do really is fight back, fight hard, fight to win and destroy them in the process so you can stop them as a threat and get to safety.

You see as overwhelming as being attacked can be I can most certainly guarantee they attacked because they thought you were not a real threat. For when people see you as a real threat those who are smart will rarely attack head-on. Predators attack the weak, both in nature and in the human world. Those who can fight back, or are perceived as having the ability to fight back are less likely to be attacked.

Krav Maga teaches you to turn the tables on your opponent using pure raw aggression in a controlled and strategic fashion in order to disrupt your opponent’s ability to continue their attack. Then you either escape to safety or you finish them off as needed.

To me, this is what this long-awaited episode of GOT symbolized. The spirit of the warrior defending themselves to win against all odds. The spirit it takes to defend your self when all seems lost. The spirit to know that if you do give up all is lost so you must keep fighting until there is nothing left but the victor.

This is what it means to learn to defend your self either in war or in a simple mugging gone wrong. The weak shall prevail over the strong because they were never really weak in the first place.

So train hard, train smart, overcome your fears and you too can defeat your night king (Demons).

P.S. I hope you never have to use such skills in self-defense but if you do channel your inner Arya and not your inner Jon Snow…

Every month I get a new student who tells me they aren’t in great shape and they might not be able to do the class. I usually just tell them to try it out and see how it goes. Over the years I can only think of a handful of people who actually had to re-think their ability to take the class. For most people simply underestimate their ability to perform physical activities. I have heard reasons from, I have never done this before, too, I am too old. In most cases its all in their heads. The truth is most people are not athletic superstars and probably never will be but they still can train. I know this because I myself have never been a standout when it comes to athleticism. I have written in the past about my struggles in the military physically because I am not athletic. I can do what I do because I train, and get better day by day to in spite of my non-athletic prowess. Did I mention I also enjoy training?

Judo Jack 92 year old

92 year old doing Judo

I suspect the reason so many people think they cant train is partially due to our lazy desk ridden culture where lack of activity is common and where people really do not know what they are capable of. In a city like Vancouver which is a little more active than normal, it means that most people who walk in to do a martial arts class will be just fine.

Even if you are out of breath in the first 5 minutes if you ended up finishing the class you are more than able to continue training. Keep in mind, even the regular students often find themselves out of breath and know sometimes it’s ok to take a break. This means you are probably better off than you realize.

Another reason people often think they are physically capable of training martial arts is that in today’s world of easy access everything people are not often used to pushing themselves past their comfort zones. But hey, you have to start somewhere.

I did mention that over the years there have been a handful of people who couldn’t continue. Almost all of the cases these individuals were severely overweight if not morbidly obese. Unlike many others I won’t sugar coat it, this not a healthy or happy way to live no matter what anyone tells you. This does not mean however you cannot train martial arts it just means your approach will be a little different. In these cases, you have a few options.

  1. Show up to class and do what you can little by little and you will eventually get there even if it takes months or years. It’s absolutely ok if you need to sit out or take breaks. Showing up and training is better than not.
  2. Know that you have the goal of training martial arts, consult a nutritionist and find a suitable workout program to go with a healthy eating style so that you can achieve a healthier weight that will allow you to train martial arts.

Either way, if your goal is to train martial arts then you can do it, even if you have to reach a separate goal prior to training. If this is the case you will have a happier time after knowing you achieved multiple goals.

So no matter your age, skills or background so long as you live a healthier lifestyle, or want to change to a healthier lifestyle and have reasonable mobility you should have no reason to think you cannot train. So get on google, find a style you like, and get training.

After all, everyone deserves to walk in peace.

 

I have a feeling this post is going to have many cliche’s. As much as we like to hate on cliches because they are unoriginal, they have much truth to them. They are cliches because they are the things we know but choose to ignore because we are a curious species always pursuit of more. And besides who likes being given the answers directly? According to psychology, no one. People generally prefer to be guided to find their own conclusion rather than be given the obvious answer. As an instructor, it is a difficult thing to swallow and yet its how we operate. As I grow older I seem to be letting people find their own path a little more and I hope one day to have the wisdom to know right away who will learn how.

Mastering-Image-300x193.jpg

On my path to find that wisdom I am re-listening (Yes, I do audio books, so much more efficient) to the Jocko Willink‘s book The Dichotomy of Leadership, the best selling sequel to his original book Extreme ownership. The second book as far better than the first as it clarifies somethings from the first one, but dont believe me even Jocko thinks its better.

As they say if at first you dont succeed, try, try again. Or if you make a mistake it’s ok, just learn from it and do better next time. See Cliches.

Anyways, back to my point. In listening to the book again a line stuck out at me. Since it was an audiobook and I can’t remember the time stamp I am going to paraphrase.

It goes something like this, People often want to learn the advanced tactics over building solid fundamentals. 

This is something I have seen many times, especially in the Krav Maga world. I am fairly sure I have written about this before but since it came up again I guess its time to write about it again.

Krav Maga is known for its firearms and knife related self-defense. These are the things people always want to learn, yet they are not the fundamentals no matter who sells it to you.

Occasionally I will get a student who has a previous Krav Maga or Martial arts background. The question is often, when do I get to do the weapons stuff. Or the stuff I saw online? I usually ask them about their background first and go from there.

If you are from another background, dont you think you should take some Krav Maga classes first to get to know what’s different between the styles? Also just because you saw something online dont presume to understand Krav Maga without actually practicing it. First, unless you have been training for 10+ years it is unlikely you are as good as you think you are. Second I dont go to other martial arts and expect to start anywhere other than the beginning. If you want to take regular classes then do so, if not I suggest private lessons, though I am picky who I teach what.

If you are from a Krav Maga background then I hope you can understand that not all Krav Maga curriculum is the same. Many people don’t know this because they dont usually train outside of one or maybe two organizations. If you did you would know what I teach at UTKM is an amalgamation of different organizations curriculums simplified to be more efficient. Which means no matter your Krav Background if you want to rank up under me then you have to learn the UTKM way. Of course if after assessment it turns out you are as good as you think you are in Krav then I will gladly reduce your hours between each rank. But you still need to understand how UTKM works first.

Either way, the scenario is the same. They dont want to spend time working on the basics. The basics you must remember are the foundations of everything. To me, if you can barely punch, kick, move or fight the gun disarms are not as easy as you might think. You must be sure of your foundations less you regret it later.

Speaking from personal experience learning BJJ I can say not learning and mastering fundamentals early is something you will regret later. In my earlier belts, White and Blue, I jumped around gyms, did open mats and had little structure to my training. I was also injured at blue belt which meant limited training. All these things meant I missed out on developing solid fundamentals, as such now at purple belt I am struggling to catch up to those at the same rank. Don’t get me wrong I fully intend to catch up and train more but its something I could have easily done in the past had I trained properly and focused on the fundamentals.

So, fundamentals are important even if you dont think so. No matter your experience or background when you walk into a new place respect their fundamentals. If you don’t like it then go somewhere else if you do then train and do so humbly.

Another cliche is to lead by example. So I will give you an example. Recently the local Krav Maga Global club held an open seminar for group fighting and multiple attacks. The Instructor was GIT Expert 2 Natasha Hirschfeld who was a wonderful instructor. Both she and the other instructors noted that there were so many new students they were most likely going to start with simple Krav basics. They seemed apologetic but it didn’t matter to me, for when you teach a lot sometimes you dont train as much as you should. Though I couldn’t stay for the whole time I enjoyed reviewing some basics. I even picked up a new warm-up game or two.

You see if you go in with an open mind even if you are practicing the fundamentals you will always learn something new if not simply move your way closer to the 10000-hour mastery principle.

There is a reason that in most martial arts even ones where a black belt takes 8-15 years to get on average that they also say the same thing. That they started to learn more at black belt than they did in all the training before. I think this is because they finally mastered the basics they can see other things they missed before.

The basics like any skill take a lifetime to master in any style yet they are what matter the most. Especially in Krav Maga as its the basics that will most likely save your life should you ever find yourself in an unwanted violent conflict.

So if you regularly train, or are coming to train, respect the basics and practice them until you achieve mastery no matter how long it takes.