Archive for the ‘Krav Maga Instruction’ Category

Being a parent in today’s world can be harder than ever, not only are the choices more than ever but also the financial considerations. What decision should you make with regards to your child in trying to give them the best and most supportive childhood you can.

Recently I was listening to the Sam Harris podcast Episode 137 title safe spaces, in it the guest Jonathan Haidt discuss his new book the codling of the American mind. Though I am loosely paraphrasing (listen to the podcast if you want the actual conversation) what they talked about, they essentially talked about the toxic nature of the helicopter parent of the 90s and early 2000s that led to a generation of unconfident anxiety-ridden individuals with no confidence who struggle to make decisions and explore the world. They also discuss the “new” movement of free-range parenting, which to me shouldn’t be a NEW anything, it should just be good parenting.

To martial artists, the answer has always been clear. Put your kids in martial arts from an early age. No matter what you think about the school system it seems they are increasingly scared to allow children to be physical even in a healthy manner, being too concerned with lawsuits or costs children are no longer getting unstructured play time and good physical activity. So what is a parent to do if they feel their child just is not getting enough of what they need in school? well its simple, find a good reputable martial arts school and enroll them. Of course, my preference is Krav Maga, BJJ but in today’s world, something is better than nothing. While I dont want to be to cliche. Here are 5 reasons you should enroll your kid in martial arts now than later.

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  1. Build Confidence & Self Esteem – One of the biggest struggles that children have today is building intrinsic self-confidence. Not everyone fits into the cookie cutter models of most schools today and it can be hard to stay motivated and find drive and purpose. Martial arts can give children goals to build themselves up, and I am not talking about participation trophies I am talking about real goals that take work and effort to achieve. If your child works and trains hard they can build their confidence by working their way up a ranked system. Having a sense of purpose is key to any person no matter the age, and if your child doesn’t find it in school or other organized sports then perhaps this is the option for them. Additionally, because of the physical nature of martial arts, they will build confidence in their body image by working hard to achieve more. Through martial arts, they will see themselves and the strong, intelligent child they are. Especially as most serious martial arts instructors end up being more than just a teacher, but also a role model and sometimes a mentor.
  2. Build a healthy lifestyle – As I mentioned earlier many school systems are slowly winding down their physical training programs either due to overblown liability and safety concerns or budget concerns. Kids are meant to be active, and with less emphasis on physical health from the regular school system it is one of the contributing factors to our obesity epidemic. Just like mentioned about through martial arts kids will learn how to use their bodies and learn to listen to it. They will know when they feel good and when they do not. Anyone who lives a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise can tell you they feel much worse the day after they decided to have a binge day with no physical activity. If you teach your children young to have an active lifestyle it becomes a pattern that is built into them and is something they will continue for most of their lives even if they grow out of martial arts.
  3. Build social skills in a new environment – In the regular school system, it can be tricky for children to develop social skills. Some students excel and some do not. One of the best ways to build their skills further is to introduce them to another group of peers. Sometimes in school friend/peer options are limited and without extracurricular activities exposing your child to other peer groups, it can be hard especially if you dont fit in. I can tell you from my own personal experience that I did not have much exposure to other peer groups outside of those in my school, and looking back I really wish Id had, as perhaps I would have had a better time if I had friends doing a mutually enjoyable activity like martial arts. I started later in life, give your child the opportunity to learn early so even if they dont keep it up later in life they still learned social skills as well as practical self-defense skills.
  4. Learn discipline – This seems to be a popular idea. While the days of hitting your children are gone and rightfully so, it can be hard to find ways to keep your child properly disciplined especially if you are not familiar with various learning and teaching models. In martial arts children usually, learn that if they do not focus pushups (or other physical activity) will ensue. Either way, they are building something positive. They learn to focus because they dont like the push-ups, or they like the pushups and they get more physical strength. Additionally, in martial arts you can learn discipline through leadership. As your child grows in a program they may be asked to help out with classes and they will then learn to the importance of being well behaved in classes.
  5. Learn teamwork and community – Most children’s martial arts classes usually have some sort of teamwork involved. Whether it be the classical group punishment of if one child misbehaves every one does push-ups, or because the games and drills require all children to participate in partners of groups. They very quickly learn they would much rather work with partners who are serious about training and that if they want to partner with those people they better work well with others as well. Often in regular education group project are few and far between and often individuals care more about the grade than actually working well in a group. In martial arts teamwork is encouraged every class. Additionally, they are introduced early into a positive healthy community that they can be proud to be part of.

While there are certainly many more reasons to have your child join martial arts there are many others. Of Course one of the biggest concerns many parents have is the safety of their child. Always do your research and find a reputable school for your child. One suggestion I have is to make sure they separate kids 5-7 from 8-12. As far as teens, it’s usually ok for them to train with the adults pending the style. The reason for this is that the mental development of kids at these stages is different and the approach to learning is different.

For kids 5-7 the focus should be more on body awareness and fitness. and for kids 8+ of course pending the style they can learn usually just like the adults although in an age-appropriate manner.

This post is, of course, appropriately times as we at www.urbantacticskm.com recently expanded our kid’s program to include the age 5-7 age group. UTKM’s Richmond, BC, Kids program combines Krav Maga, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiujitsu, wrestling, and judo all in to one program. So if you are in my neck of the woods feel free to inquire by emailing us at info@urbantacticscanada.com 

Richmond Kids Martial Arts Age 5-7.jpgIf not get on google, do a search and find a reputable martial arts school near you and get your child started now not later. Build their confidence,  self esteem, Social skills, team skills and show them what a healthy life style looks like. Remember, something is better than nothing but of course I recommend Krav Maga/Kickboxing and BJJ.

 

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Why AM I harder on some people more than others?

Let’s be honest here, first off, I am not a patient person. I have worked hard to become more patient so just imagine me 10 years ago and feel lucky you get the version of me today… so it could be worse.

The short answer is…..Because you NEED IT MORE!

Ok, end of the article. Just kidding

now-you-know.jpgObviously, I could be more patient but you do have to remember I have a lot of students and I can’t give special treatment or time in a group class when everyone else is also needing my attention.

The truth is if its been months and months and you are still struggling to pick something up and I have tried my best to explain it in different ways over and over, and everyone else seems to be getting it but you…TRUST ME, I am just as frustrated as you.

Now before you go blaming me because you aren’t getting it, can you attempt to be honest with yourself for a minute and ask is it actually the instructors or is it a you thing?

I know being honest with your self is very hard. And if you think I am not honest with my self then that’s nonsense because clearly, I started this with saying I am not a patient person so I do acknowledge this about my self so yes I am honest with my self, but are you really?

For example, if you only ever trained under me, and you are not getting something have you tried training with another instructor? If you have and you start to get it then yes you can say Jon may not be the instructor for me and that is ok.

But if you have tried another instructor (we have many fine instructors to choose from) and you still are not getting it then the answer is maybe yes, it is a YOU thing!

The first part of any battle is accepting the objective truth first, and then finding a solution from there.

Perhaps you are simply the type of person that needs to think less and drill more and you only come once a week. Then the answer to getting better is to train more.

Perhaps the answer is you train too much without thinking and you need to slow down and think about what you are doing?

Perhaps you genuinely have a difficult time learning physical things and that is ok, but you must first accept that before any instructor can really help you. If this is the case you will take a lot longer than other people to learn and progress and you really need to come to terms with this. I know it will be frustrating for you but as I said it is frustrating for me to, but as long as you keep showing up I will do my best to help you.

Another reason I am hard on people, especially in Vancouver is that people here are genuinely less willing to be pushed physically and mentally and Krav, self-defense or combative’s require you to be uncomfortable and push through things. So if you are constantly fighting me about not wanting to do things I am either going to push you harder on purpose or quite frankly focus on the people who are serious about training.

I have mentioned before that if our class cannot help you break through to push your comfort zones then perhaps counseling may be an option for you because the truth is I can only teach people properly who are willing to learn and let the process happen.

If you push against me I will push back, or I will simply not push back at all and let you do your own thing in which case you are wasting your own time more than anyone.

Now, I fully accept that I cannot get along with everyone and I don’t expect everyone to like me or my opinions. But I do know I can teach you to be a better version of yourself if you let me. I am going to approach things aggressively because in part that is Krav, In part that is my military training and in part that’s well…that’s just me.

So if that’s not for you that’s ok. You can train with another instructor. You can simply say Jon is an asshole but he can teach me what I want and let me. Or you can fight me during the whole process until one of us gets tired of it.

Remember, even though I am not patient I am still trying to teach more than one person. You, however, can learn from multiple instructors and other students so tell me who has less patience, me or you?

So if you are having a hard time with me giving you a hard time just know that I genuinely want you to learn, and no I don’t think I always have to be nice about it. But if you are willing to learn I am willing to teach. But trust me, I am not just being hard on you because I like it. I don’t, I would much rather be avoiding people than trying to manage them.

So again, if you want to learn do so. Just know if you resist the process you will get challenged.

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Krav Maga is a system based on reality, or at least it should be. The real world is dirty, and our continued belief that people are all good, or they are all stable, or they are perfect is a false narrative. Its just not real, and we need to stop believing such things.

Sure. Some people don’t drink, do drugs, party or do anything that some people might consider enjoying life. The reality is, however, anything but as the majority of people are not “pure” in the traditional conservative sense. Look at the current scandals in Hollywood. These people who are the “leaders” of culture at least in North America and being uncovered to be real people, with faults and dirty secrets. and not the pure people we keep pretending they are.

My point is that life is messy, people are messy, and things are rarely what they seem.

Krav Maga is no different. Though there are many problems in the Krav Maga world one of the issues, I would like to discuss is the idea of the puritan Krav Maga Instructor.

Often, traditional martial artists who have been doing it for years find Krav Maga. For one reason or another, they decide they are going to teach it or integrate it into their programs. Of course, if you taught any traditional martial arts, your mentality and school culture will be heavily ingrained in that styles culture, which may not be realistic in nature.

Take the Bushido code, for example, an ideology that is more modern in many ways than we like to think. If you as instructor adhere to it strictly in your life and school and yet teach Krav Maga, I am not sure if you understand how to teach Krav Maga.

“Do you really understand the reality that is Krav Maga and the violence associated with real self defense scenarios?”

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting people go to any of the following. However, if your life is too pure I ask, do you really understand the reality that is Krav Maga and the violence associated with a real self defense scenario?

If you have never had a drink. If you have never done any drug(s) (coffee is a drug ) or even have never been around drugs. If you have never been in a fight or have seen a fight in the street. If you have never been exposed to the harsh realities or hardship that so much of the world has to deal with like being broke, being hungry or you have never exposed your self to the abuse that some people have had to endure, are you really equipped to teach real Krav Maga?

Real self defense is dirty, real self defense isn’t preatty because real life is neither of those things. If you don’t at least understand these aspects of life I am not sure you are equipped to teach any form of self defense let alone Krav Maga.

Again, I am not saying go on a bender so that you can understand what so many people have experienced but what I am saying, if you were never exposed to the real world then perhaps you do not understand as much as you think you do.

A saying that I like in one variation or another is as follows.

“A fool repeats his mistakes. A smart man learns from his mistakes. But a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

 

In the context of this article, it means that you don’t have to experience it personally but at the very least expose your self to the harsh realities of the real world that so many people have to deal with.

If you have never gone hungry for a few days, if you have never even been around people on cocaine or other drugs. If you have never left your suburban neighbourhood and taken a walk down a dark alley where it’s not so nice, then I ask again. Do you understand the harsh realities of the world? I think not.

If your life has been too pure, you may be lucky, or you may be a fool, but I think you shouldn’t be trying to teach self defense of any kind because I genuinely believe you don’t understand.

One of the reasons this is an important thing is because many people are attracted to Krav Maga because they have been exposed to these realities and they want to learn how to protect themselves from the real world better. So if you have never been exposed to any of it and you live your life according to any kind of puritan code then how can you possibly relate to the majority of your students? I just don’t think you can, and I think you are doing a disservice to them.

Of course, if you only teach to people like you then perhaps you are ok, but I just don’t think these kinds of schools properly prepare people for violent conflict of any kind.

If you are a student, ask your self, does your instructor really understand the real world?

If you are an instructor, ask yourself, do you really understand the real world?

If you are honest and the answer happens to be NO, then perhaps you should either get some more experience or do something else for a living. and for the record, age is not always a factor when it comes to experience. Though it is a correlation, remember correlation does not equal causation. I have met some 12 year olds who have experienced more in their lives than some 50 year olds, for good or bad.

Just my two cents.

 

Krav Maga teaches aggression which allows you to over come your opponents no matter the size? Sound familer? Or how about this. Learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will allow smaller people to beat bigger people every time?

While partially true statements they only show part of a much larger picture. Believing either of those two statements out right can be dangerous. Like everything else, we must approach it with realistic eyes and not beliefs that baseless in reality.

So let’s start with the basics.

Time for some Newtonian Physics! Which I am by no means in any way shape or form an expert on considering I didn’t even take high school physics and yet some how came to understand through practising martial arts. Yay Practical experience!

Newtons Second Law: In an inertial reference frame, the vector sum of the forces F on an object is equal to the mass m of that object multiplied by the acceleration a of the object: F = ma.

Newtons Third Law: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.

So what does this mean? It means, there is a reason there are weight classes in professional fighting. Of course, if a person who is 100lbs has 5 black belts and has been training for 30 years, they will most likely win a fight against a person who is 200lbs with 0 fighting experience.

However, an individual who is heavier and has more mass can because of physics exert far more force with relatively less energy. If a person who is 100lbs hits a person twice their size, they will have to hit considerably harder to do significant damage compared to the opposite. For them, the larger opponent with out even doing anything is exerting and force back simply by having mass.

This is the reason we target soft targets in Krav Maga, like the groin, the throat and the eyes. By using Biological weak spots, we are not ignoring physics just finding a “cheat” around it.

However, in training, we should never intentionally be trying to hurt our training partners. As such, we should always take physics into account to avoid mass related injuries and unnecessary head trauma like concussions.

In Sparring, we often tell our students to go 10% as we want them to work on range, speed, technique, movement etc. rather than trying to kill each other every time. This means that a 200lbs person’s 10% when sparring a person who is 100lbs also going 10% they are not equal in force due to their mass and size difference. So really to encourage a healthy training environment the larger person might actually need to go 1% of their power

So what does this mean in real street situations? It means that just because you have training and skill that aggression and speed alone cannot always overcome larger opponents. And believing anything to the contrary can be dangerous.

Imagine a scenario where you are 100lbs, and for whatever reason, you cannot use the biological cheat to down your opponent, it will be a momentous feat if you can overcome a much larger opponent with strikes alone. While not impossible it may take far too long for practical self defense.

It also means that for smaller practitioners it is probably a good idea to cross train Krav Maga or other forms of practical self defense training with some kind of Grappling. I recommend BJJ of course, but other types are also acceptable. This is because with little effort a much larger opponent will have an easier time putting you on the ground either intentionally with skill and technique or unintentionally with simple physics.

So remember, because of the laws of physics size DOES matter in hand to hand combat situations. The smaller you are, the more you need to train to raise your overall skill level to cheat physics safely.

Don’t feel bad though, being smaller or shorter as a human I have heard means you get to live longer as your heart has to work less against gravity through out its life. (Fact Check Please) Though, even if its proven wrong I will still like to beleive it to justify being short…

So remember, No Groin, NO KRAV MAGA!

This is part of a series on our instructor training program. To understand this series and how our Assistant Instructor Course and Full Instructor Course work, please start with Part 1. This post is a self-introduction from one of our current Assistant Instructor candidates.

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When I first started Krav Maga about 2 years ago, it quickly became a passion of mine. Krav Maga has since then developed into a way of life for me. My name is Vick and I am a current Orange Belt at Urban Tactics Krav Maga. I grew up in Surrey, BC and have spent most of my life there. Even though Surrey may have a pretty rough reputation, I must say that I love it. That’s my hometown and it always will be.

 

Alongside Krav Maga, another passion of mine is health and fitness. I love hitting the gym and being in the “zone”. Something about lifting heavy weights, having good music blasting in your ears, and getting an intense cardio session gives me a feeling like no other. I believe everyone should experience this feeling. Just getting in some sort of exercise for the day is a great mood booster and gives you that positive outlook on life to solve all of life’s hurdles.

I have had no other martial arts training prior to joining Urban Tactics. I have been built from the ground up and can definitely say that Krav Maga has made me into a better overall person in all aspects of life. Krav Maga interested me as seemed to be more of a tactical self-defense system as opposed to a sport fighting martial art. I love the tactical aspect that Krav Maga brings. It combines the hand to hand combat with firearms training and brings that real-world training that I wanted.

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I have had a great experience training Krav Maga at Urban Tactics. All the instructors have provided me with the best knowledge and their teaching methods are very easy to understand. The ranking tests are my favourite part of our gym. It truly tests you as an individual as you must bring out the most physical, mental, and technical toughness you have. This is something I really enjoy. The most important thing that I have learned while training at Urban Tactics is applying principles and critical thinking. Being in a situation that is unfamiliar and not knowing what to do is scary. That’s why learning and applying the principles is so important and is definitely the most important thing I have learned alongside critical thinking. Critical thinking can be used in all areas of life, not just self-defense. It has taught me to look at situations on a deeper level and get a better understanding. This is helpful no matter what you do in your life. This is how Krav Maga has developed into a way of life for me.

Being in a situation that is unfamiliar and not knowing what to do is scary. That’s why learning and applying the principles is so important and is definitely the most important thing I have learned alongside critical thinking.

IMG_2098Once I was given the opportunity to be a Krav Maga instructor at Urban Tactics, I quickly jumped on it. I really enjoy teaching as a general interest, however being able to teach a field that I am highly passionate about, makes me very happy. I love being able to share my knowledge that I have learned with current and future students, developing them in every way that I can to make them better. My experience with the instructor course has been awesome. Jon is an incredible instructor and highly knowledgeable. It’s easy to keep engaged in the material when it is interesting and the instructor keeps it a fun learning environment.

Over the 2 years, I have trained Krav Maga at Urban Tactics, I have had the best experience. It has developed my physical, mental, and technical abilities and has created an overall better way of life for me. Being an instructor is the best way to share all of this with students and develop them further and create better people each and every day.

-Vick

This is part of a series on our instructor training program. To understand this series and how our Assistant Instructor Course and Full Instructor Course work, please start with Part 1. This post is a self-introduction from one of our current Assistant Instructor candidates.

Petra-My name is Petra and I’m the cat lady on the team. I moved from Germany to Vancouver in December 2012 (my hometown is Seifhennersdorf.) Yes, I’m a German doing Krav Maga.

In 1986, I entered school and my parents decided that I need a balance for all the studying and educating my mind was doing and because the Judo Dojo was the closest sports facility where I lived, I ended up doing Judo. And because we don’t quit, I didn’t quit doing Judo till 2002 when I graduated from university and life kicked in. My knees and other joints are still thankful for that break.

I heard about Krav Maga before but kind of ignored it, only later I read more about it and found it quite interesting. One day my roomie (in Vancouver) was searching the Groupon site and because I was sitting next to her I saw a Groupon for Krav Maga at a gym in downtown Vancouver. I went there and did a free trial class, couldn’t move for a week and came back. This was in December 2015. I knew so little then. In September 2016, the classes got discontinued and I needed a new gym. I asked around and a friend of mine told me about two gyms that offer Krav Maga – one downtown but he said if I wanted to train real Krav Maga I should go to UTKM. And so I did. Now I’m here.

My experience with Krav Maga

I find Krav Maga very applicable for real life situations. It is not only the techniques but also the mental aspect, e.g. assessing situations, recognizing the threat, etc. The big difference in comparison to classic martial arts like Judo is that you don’t have to train for years to apply the techniques. The system is simple and works with natural instincts.

I personally don’t think that most martial arts, as they are usually taught, are that great for self-defense. First of all, there are rules and there is a code of honour that both sides respect, usually you only deal with one opponent at a time and there are no weapons involved. Rules and codes of honour don’t work in a street fight. You always have to expect the attacker to have weapons and/or friends who are going to help them if they are having trouble mugging you. When I was taught self-defense as part of the Judo schedule, it didn’t cover the four stages of a violent situation (avoidance, diffusion, pre-emptive, reactive) or to avoid the ground.

These are just a couple of things right off the top of my head. Don’t get me wrong – I love Judo! And I’m still benefitting a lot from the training that I have received, but as somebody who started out as a more traditional martial artist, I learned that Bushido (武士道) – the way of the warrior – is different from self-defense. But it is great because I can be both – a Judoka and a Kravist. I know I’m getting here a little bit into the philosophical aspect of martial arts and I hope that you can follow my thoughts.

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Moving here from Germany by myself means that I don’t have too many friends or a social network at all. UTKM has a great community and I feel comfortable training here. Yes, I like most of my fellow students.

One day, still with my white belt, our Lead Instructor Jon asked me if I wanted to become an Assistant Instructor. It was definitely something I had in mind, but I didn’t think of myself being ready. There are still so many things I have to learn. But apparently, we will cover many of these things during the course.

I was thinking about why I want to become an instructor. Self-defense is definitely one aspect of it, but I also want to help people to become more confident. Especially, women tend to be very hard on themselves and I want them to know that regardless of age or size – you can learn to defend yourself. Just be patient and take your time. Nothing happens over night and it is better to move forward with baby steps than not moving at all. I consider myself lucky because my parents never told me that there is anything I cannot do because I’m a girl, and my dad (I’m very proud of my dad because although he was born 1930 he always had a very modern point of view) would have kicked my butt if I ever caved before one of those idiots who believed that they are better only because they have the XY chromosome pair. I understand that physically the average women is not as strong as the average man, but that doesn’t mean you cannot put up a fight when getting attacked. And also ladies – get used to the fact that there is no knight in shining armour coming to rescue you. Get your butt up and learn to take care of yourself!

So far, the Assistant Instructor Course has been interesting.

We’ve learned about the history of Krav Maga, different schools, etc. – very confusing BTW. We have also learned a lot of things that happen in the background of a Krav Maga school, e.g. admin work. And of course, we’ve learned about teaching. But most importantly for me, it’s that Krav Maga is a sophisticated system and covers more than physical training.

Once I’m ready to teach (of course supervised at first), I already have some “fun” games in mind and I’m really looking forward to that. But first comes the orange belt test which scares me, but I’m also excited – if that makes sense.

Hope to see you in class!

Petra

This is part of a series on our instructor training program. To understand this series and how our Assistant Instructor Course and Full Instructor Course work, please start with Part 1. This post is a self-introduction from one of our current Assistant Instructor candidates.

In the beginning there was darkness, a black hole of nothing. Then in the light, there was Krav Maga. As silly as this may sound, this is Krav Maga for me. My name is Karch Tan, and this is my crazy reason to why I decided to listen to our Lead Instructor, Jon and become an Assistant Instructor.

It all started in a far away time, in the summer of 2010. It was a summer like all summers, you know the kind. The summer where you find yourself and discover new things. This was the summer I found out how big of an asshole people could be, it was the summer in which I got mugged. Without getting into too much detail, I’ll sum up the whole experience with two feelings: fear and frustration.

Fear. You hear about these kinds of things happening to other people, but you never expect it to happen to you. I grew up living a safe neighborhood, where nothing really ever happened. Deluded in my self-awareness of the world, I always thought the best of people, and boy, was I ever wrong.

Frustration. I was angry. I was angry at the people who took my money, the people who threatened to spray me with bear mace and beat me up. I was angry at myself. I was mad because I was helpless to do anything. I was mad because I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened and what I could have done. I was mad at all the “what if” scenarios going across my head. What if I was with my girlfriend and they wanted something more than money, what if they did attack me without provocation, what if I did attack them, would I have won?

This led me to a fun road to some extreme paranoia and anxiety. I started to become more secluded, never wanting to leave the house. I was afraid of the people at my school. I knew it was becoming unhealthy for me, and I had to do something about it. A friend suggested on taking martial arts, which began another fun journey with me bouncing around from one martial art to another.

It began with Taekwondo, which I did for half a year. While I enjoyed what I was learning, it just didn’t seem practical and felt too traditional. Then I went and tried a couple of months of kickboxing and Muay Thai. This felt more like my style, but I still felt like it was missing a certain… Je ne sais quoi? After months of trying to find a martial art to satisfy my refined taste, I was ready to give up. Until I saw a rerun episode of Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior, the episode pitted the Navy Seals against the Israeli Commandos. The show talked about the aggressive martial art that the Israelis used called Krav Maga. Remembering that I had seen a couple of gyms during my search, I decided to look for a gym and try out a class.

 

Fast forward to my first day of Krav Maga. We were asked to drill a situation where a person has a knife pointed at you. The instructor quickly demonstrated slapping the person’s knife hand away and quickly kicking them at the groin. And that was it. It was simple and it made sense. No extra complicated moves. He wasn’t giving us 4 other different ways to do it from different angles. It was simple and effective. With that I knew, Krav Maga was going to be different. What they were teaching was practical. Anybody could do it and it was easy to remember. With that, I knew I had found my cup of tea.

walkinpeaceSo why did I decide to become an instructor? The generic answer would be to tell you that I want to teach people to be safe, and so they could safely get home at night to see their loved ones. However, in reality, nothing is that simple. I hated the feeling that I had to go through after getting mugged. The frustration, the self hatred, the fear. I would never want anyone to go through that kind of pain or experience and I know that I’m no superhero. I can’t simply appear where ever someone is about to get mugged or about to get into a violent situation. The best I can do is to teach someone to protect themselves and to give them the confidence they need so they can walk in peace.

The instructor course is incredibly humbling. It tells me that I have a long way to go and that I still have tons to learn. It’s eye opening to see how much an instructor has to keep in mind when they teach. Diving deeper into the ideas and constructs on what a UTKM instructor is suppose to teach to their students: not only technical and physical aspects, but also mental aspects. This helps to put into place the puzzle pieces in my head of what I have been learning about becoming a better martial artist. My only complaint about the course is the lack of multiple choice questions on the tests.

Martial arts and kicks go hand and hand. Some martial arts have even dedicated the majority of their training to practicing spectacular kicks. To ignore the two strongest limbs on our body would be ridiculous. Kicks have various uses. High and low kicks, fast kicks and hard kicks all have their application.

Sometimes, I find in my social media feeds videos of high kicks in practice from Krav Maga and self-defense colleagues. For most of them, I have the utmost respect, but I still wonder how they come to the conclusion that this is practical self-defense method, let alone Krav Maga.

How practical is applying kicks in a self-defense situation?

My belief is that when it comes to Krav Maga, kicks should generally be kept below the waist, with the exception of maybe a push kick to the gut. There is one reason I don’t teach high kicks. One basic concept I have been taught and teach my own students is to avoid the ground at all costs, and if you end up on the ground you get up as quickly as possible. While our legs are the most powerful limbs of our body, and can certainly land a powerful one-hit KO, a poorly delivered kick would leave you exposed to a counter. A successfully landed kick reaps a high reward. A failed or sloppy kick poses a high risk. This basic Krav Maga philosophy is why I do not endorse high kicks. On the street, with weapons and multiple attackers, it is an unnecessary risk.

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Great high kicks are possible, but are you a Bruce Lee?

High kicks also compromise other important things: balance and stability on your feet. Sure, if you train for years it is possible to throw accurate and well-balanced high kicks, but the reality is that you take a huge risk again. If your opponent uses a good counter or you simply slip, there goes your kick (and possibly your life). I have witnessed countless black belt fighters fall on their ass when attempting high kicks. On the street, in a survival situation, it is simply an unnecessary risk.

In Krav Maga, we teach students to attack with aggression and commit to strikes in order to attempt to stop the threat. However, overcommitting with a power strike like a knockout kick is just a bad strategy. It also ignores another basic Krav Maga philosophy of retzev, which is Hebrew for continuous attacks. An overcommitted attack breaks the ideal retzev pattern, which forces you to reset your attack strategy and allows your opponent to advance their strategy.

Many argue that if you can do the kick, then why not do it? Well, sure you can. People train for it and they can have very high accuracy and success rates. If it works for you, then it is certainly an option for you. Unfortunately, the reality is that high kicks take a long time to train and are not realistic for everyone. Take me, for example, a fairly small individual standing at 5’6 ft (167cm). While I might be able to pull off a front snap kick to most people’s faces, I do have a limit as my legs are fairly short for my body. Thus, if a would-be attacker is standing at say 6’5 (195cm), it is obviously unlikely I could even pull off a kick to the face, let alone a roundhouse kick to the head.

Another type of kick I don’t like much

Matt Riddle Spinning Back Kicks John Maguire UFC 154.gifBack kicks. While I teach upward heel kicks toward a person who has gotten behind you, I don’t like to teach or endorse kicking behind you. It looks fancy and works sometimes, but I would rather teach someone to be alert and think, rather than throw blind kicks that may not succeed. Your body is not optimized for back kicks. Also, if you have time to kick behind you, then you should have time to turn around to face your opponent.

A person who has successfully gotten behind you not only has applied more successful tactics from the get-go but is also positioned much more ideally to succeed in their attack. If your back kick fails, then you have now sacrificed your balance and ability to stay on your feet since many attacks from behind will result in one or both of you ending up on the ground.

Let’s recap

The benefits of kicks:

  • Comes from the strongest limbs of your body
  • Powerful
  • High reward if successful
  • Aiming below the waist is ideal

The disadvantages of kicks:

  • High risk – compromises balance and stability
  • Possibility of going to the ground
  • Fancy, but not practical

Because of these reasons, when I teach kicks in Krav Maga (roundhouse, groin kick, push kick, etc.) I keep them practical. Kicks are initial attacks, from your personal long-range or just outside your range, and used to close the distance or keeping the distance between you and the opponent(s). They should target vulnerable parts of the body that have greater chances of immediate results, such as the knee or groin. In addition, if you are going to throw a kick, it should be with retzev in mind. The aim of a kick should be to close the distance from long to medium range, then move to close range, and then a control position so that you can better assess your situation while also keeping the threat at bay.

While I am sure many will disagree with me, I truly believe that it is impractical to learn and teach kicks that are difficult and compromise balance. No matter what style of self-defense you practice or teach, a priority of practical self-defense should be movements that are quick and easy to learn and keeps you well balanced.

I have trained with many of the top Krav Maga practitioners in the world, those who have trained under the masters, and under many of the major Krav Maga organizations.One way or another, I have come into contact with high-level Kravists and it’s clear that there is a wide array of philosophies when it comes to Krav Maga. Some organizations, in my opinion, have stayed away from the basic fundamentals of Krav Maga. Some are overly aggressive, some underwhelmingly lack aggression. And of course, the politics are all over the place.

There is one thing I have heard repeatedly from my students, training with other instructors, or simply observing others practice:

“Nobody attacks like that.”

I find this attitude rather confusing…

Humans can attack however they want. Anybody who has the capacity to attack anybody can attack in any way that is possible. People say that nobody attacks like X or Y, or that all attack start off with no aggression, or that they start with all out aggression, and so on. That’s not realistic at all. The reality is that you simply do not know what will happen and how it will happen when it comes to any situation involving physical conflict and/or self-defense.

Many people have this idea that training for violent conflict on the street must always be violent in the gym. However, the vast majority of people do not pick up the details of a movement under chaotic circumstances. Some elite individuals may learn quickly, but we’re trying to train the general population. For example, if I am teaching a wrist grab, it is only logical to start with the simplest movements and practice casually. As students get the hang of the fundamentals, then you ramp up the intensity and complexity of the scenario and do it again.

Always training hardcore is not helpful for the vast majority of people who are trying to learn to defend themselves. There is a military saying about combat in urban environments that goes…

“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”

If you practice a move fast, it will most likely be sloppy and incorrect when you use it under pressure in real life. It’s better to practice slowly but correctly, which builds good muscle memory of the proper movement.

In addition, preferred attacks vary between cultures as well as the specific attacks that are trending. Just because a particular style is not popular in one country does not mean that it should not be taught. A proper Krav Maga or self-defense program should give a person the ability to defend themselves in whatever situation they end up, whether it’s facing a different style of attack or an attack in a different country.

Just because you don’t attack like that doesn’t mean other people don’t. Yes, it is true that there are attacks and moves in our curriculum that certain people won’t do to others. For example, I find it hard to believe a man would do a basic wrist grab to another man. However, it is common in other cases, such as a man attacking a woman. Gyms that are too macho tend to forget that size matters, and it changes attack styles. Men are typically bigger than women and would attack in certain patterns that they would not use against someone their own size. The same goes with women vs women scenarios.

One of the reasons I dislike teaching women only classes is because the biggest threat to most women is men, with some exceptions. When a class consists only of women who don’t attack like men, they don’t get to experience reality. Thus, it creates a false sense of understanding about self-defense, and a misconception regarding how aggressive attacks take place.

Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to produce an aggressive, professional female fighter through women only classes. However, unless you have a Ronda Rousey, a Holly Holm, or an Amanda Nunes as your training partner, it’s unlikely you will be preparing or prepared for the kind of attacks you might face.

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“Nobody attacks like that!” Back to this blanket statement. It’s false. When you learn or teach Krav Maga, you need to start from the basics. All students build up from the simple movements to more complicated and aggressive scenarios. Imagine you’re an instructor and you refuse to teach something based on the idea that “nobody attacks like that” only to have your students face it in real life and not know what to do. That’s bad instruction and a disservice to your students.

Again, people must realize that they cannot possibly know all the possible outcomes in a conflict. To say “nobody attacks like that” is limiting in nature. In the end, you cannot prepare for everything, and thus you should train to anticipate anything. Krav Maga teaches you to expect the unexpected, keep it simple, be aggressive, and think critically in the moment. Students must enough to be able to fill in the blanks. That is what makes the difference between life and death.

There is a famous line in George Bernard Shaw’s play, Man and Superman (1903) that says “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” This was also made popular by the film Annie Hall (1977), in which one of the characters says, “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

Although hilarious in a drama or movie, these one-liners form the negative stereotypes about certain groups of people. Imagine if someone said, those who can do Krav Maga, do Krav Maga, and those who can’t do Krav Maga, teach Krav Maga.

Say what?

If those who can’t do teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym… Then, who will teach Krav Maga?!

It’s not about what you can do, but what you can teach your students to do.

In this modern world of fast pace marketing and short attention spans, this concept can be difficult to swallow for many people. I have often discussed why someone should be an instructor in Krav Maga (or any martial art for that matter), but today I want to share some more profound thoughts on what I believe a great instructor should look like.

The quality of my teaching is not dependent on my personal skill, how tough I am, or how well I do Krav Maga. How well I teach is reflected in how well my students are understanding and retaining information, and how well they practice Krav Maga. I started thinking this way after watching a video clip by Tony Blauer about teaching self-defense. Although I have never had the opportunity to meet or train with him, his ideas have truly resonated with me, and I’m thankful. What and how I teach is more important because, at the end of the day, people learn Krav Maga so that they can be better prepared to defend themselves if needed. This means that how well I defend myself is meaningless if my students cannot defend themselves. For some, this may also be a hard thing to wrap their head around.

Many people expect that instructors should be phenomenal athletes, powerful, explosive, and fast. For many top level instructors around the world who I’ve met and trained with, this is the main point of their businesses: selling the image of top fighters.

Yes, it is important to stay in shape and be skilled as an instructor in order to set an example.

But fitness and skill alone does not a great instructor make.

Those who can teach, teach. What does it mean to be able to teach?

An instructor who dedicates him or herself to be amazing at Krav Maga, but doesn’t take the time and effort to ensure all their students receive proper guidance and also become amazing, are basically not doing their job properly. At this point of UTKM’s development, we have had numerous students with various backgrounds. Many have trained at other Krav Maga organizations or schools, or have practiced other martial arts, and we have been told that some instructors at their previous gyms do not pay much attention to them. Sometimes, students who come to learn martial arts or self-defense do not look tough, hardcore, strong, or move athletically, but I can see that they have great potential. It is sad for me to hear many students making statements that they were glossed over in the past, because that means their previous instructors have failed to maximize the potential of ALL of their students.

Don’t get me wrong, great instructors should be proficient at what they teach and should be constantly improving their skills. However, the fact is that not everyone wins the genetic lottery (myself included) that gives them freak athletic capabilities, like the kind you would only see in special forces. People need to stop creating and perpetuating this false image that great instructors have godlike physiques and abilities. It’s a terrible lie. When it comes to self-defense in the real world, it doesn’t matter how physically gifted you are because anything that can happen will happen, as Murphy would say.

An instructor’s quality of teaching is measured in his or her ability to pass knowledge and skill onto others. The goal should be to provide students with the physical and mental abilities to be able to properly defend themselves, and to adapt (within reason) to your students’ needs and wants.

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Ultimately, a truly great instructor should want and hope that all their students surpass them in both skill and knowledge. This is an absolute because as an instructor, you cannot escape death, no matter how hard you try. Thus, if a legacy is what you really want, use your students to demonstrate it. If you can replicate yourself in your students, only 1000 times better, then you just might be a great instructor.

If you are a student, which instructor would you rather choose? (1) An instructor who is a world champion, but has never produced a single champion themselves, or (2) an instructor who is mediocre in practice with no grand titles, but has produced many champions?

The answer should be easy…

If you are an instructor, do you want to show off what you can do, or do you want to make others great?

Only you know.

Now, get out there, better yourself every day, and more importantly better your students.