Archive for the ‘Krav Maga in General’ Category

Parachute.jpgWhen I first started Krav Maga I did so because I wanted to get ahead of my training prior to joining the IDF. Little did I know I would barely be trained during my time in the Infantry. Either way, it was clear to me and apparently others I took to it like a fish in water and it was something I really understood. Its simplicity and its purpose where why I loved it in the first place. I am not a natural athlete and I always struggle to keep up physically with some of my more athletic friends so Krav for many reasons seemed like a right fit. Early on I was asked by some people to teach, back then I did not think I had what it took to be a teacher as I was too fresh. Eventually, I caved and started to teach and once again I found that I seemed to understand it better than I thought.

Inevitably in Krav, you start to get exposed to different organizations and the different ways they approach it. You also find that sometimes if an instructor had a background in another martial arts style for years prior to Krav they inevitably tried to incorporate it into there teaching. Some do this masterfully and some do not.

You see, Krav Maga is based on principles, and if you deviate too far from them are you even teaching Krav Maga anymore? It must be remembered, Krav Maga is meant to be simple and easy to learn. It is meant for the street and is meant for as many people as possible that can learn it.

What I noticed was that many Organizations had overcomplicated ranking, overcomplicated their technique lists or just didn’t get it. It wasn’t until I trained with Nir Maman of CT 707 that I realized that Krav Maga should be simple and the curriculum should not be too complicated.

So like many at the time, I simplified my curriculum and went back to the basics. This was the beginning of the UTKM curriculum. My self, other instructors and students really paired down just the basics. For a while, I was very rigid in sticking to teaching things simply and purely in a manner that was self-defense oriented.

Once I worked out the kinks in that aspect I really started to pay attention to how students were progressing. How students were learning and how students of all sizes were managing all the techniques.

A few things I noticed right away is that while you definitely need a core curriculum, there really is not one size fits all. In the end, everyone finds there style best suited for their capabilities. And so long as students stick to the principles I am never too strict if they start to fill in their own gaps.

This also shows that my emphasis on critical thinking really does matter.

However, there were certain areas I noticed my students were struggling in. Primarily developing their fluid striking skills and basic grappling skills. These two areas on their own can take years to master, so the problem was how do I train the students in these without straying too far from the Krav Maga principles.

Grappling can be difficult to incorporate into Krav Maga especially if the instructor has no background in grappling. Grappling is complicated and hard and has so many details it boggles the mind. Not to mention Krav Maga avoidance of the ground means many people dont see the need to learn it. The truth is you do because you never know when you might be overwhelmed and end up on the ground. While our goal on the ground is to get up as fast as possible it is a myth that this can always happen without some kind of real fight or struggle. Thus the better you are at grappling the better you are at getting up when you fall or get knocked down.

So we problem solved this in 2 ways:

  1. We introduced the fundamentals of grappling early on in our program yellow belt and up. However, it is a simple program talking about things like Base, posture, and structure. The different positions and basic ways to get out of them. We then add in strikes when needed and tell people to fight there way out. Keeping to the Krav Maga tradition we are keeping it simple at UTKM.
  2. For most this may be enough. But with the rise of grappling globally no matter the style you never know when you might run into someone really capable. Then you really need to know how to move. So how do you get good at grappling? Well, you train with grapplers of course. To get a UTKM black belt, which will take you a long time anyways you also need to get a BJJ blue belt or equivalent. For example, if you did high school wrestling competitively then that’s also fine. We essentially split it so as not to confuse the mentality. In our Krav groundwork it is simple and lots of repetition. Then you can also go train the sports variation separately so you can condition your brain to really know the difference and when to apply separately.

The other issue was the issue of fluid striking. This one is a little easier to solve in Krav Maga. Again, at the yellow belt and up the level we start to explore sports styles of striking and training. We separate it out of the white belt classes so as not to confuse new students. Once they get their heads around Krav Maga, then we introduce other aspects of combat.

I noticed that the students who also did kickboxing or Muay Thai in conjunction to their Krav Training rapidly improved in their striking skills in all aspect. Unfortunately for many people, they do not have the time to train multiple disciplines.

Now when we come to the stand-up modules we will both practice Krav striking combinations, ones that employ Retzef, explosive movements and closing the distance to control. And more traditional sports style combinations with retracting roundhouse kicks, and combinations that have a lot of head movement and footwork.

Since introducing this there has been even more improvement in students striking skills. I have found that the two in conjunction really improve people rapidly. I think this is because being able to do rapid fire Muay Thai style roundhouse kicks improves balance, speed, endurance and power which means their bodies are more capable of throwing more devastating Krav style kicks.

I do, however,  always make the extra effort to verbal make the distinction in the type of combo we are training. I also ask the students to verbally explain the difference and when the appropriate application might be for either.

As UTKM grows, our curriculum which is based on principles more than techniques will also heavily be focused around teaching methodology to get the best results.

In Krav Maga is super important to stick to the principles. Otherwise, you are no longer teaching Krav Maga and maybe starting the slippery slide to the path of McDojo. However, if you care about your students progress you also need to keep an open mind and teach enough to develop your students as much as you can. The real trick is not to overcomplicate things.

Finally, if you as the instructor are not also diversifying your training outside of Krav Maga is will be difficult to prepare your students for potential conflicts with individuals in styles you are not familiar with.

So keep on training, always be adaptable and keep an open mind and of course, learn to walk in peace both mentally and physically even if its only day by day.

 

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Assuming you watched the video and have trained or taught this scenario may be all too familiar.

For some, it is a very easy thing to understand and for other very difficult, in Krav Maga it is even more so problematic than in other styles due to its inherent aggressive nature.

When someone is looking for a new style often people will look for the best person with the most championships, most titles or medals. In some cases, this is certainly warranted as they may very well be the best not only in practice but also in teaching. But the truth is sometimes the best instructors are not at all the most winningest of all.

In boxing, for example, Freddie Roach, widely regarded as one of the best boxing coaches was actually a mediocre boxer (though still a very impressive record). Mike Tyson was one of the best, if not the best, boxers of all time. One of these individuals produced many great boxers and one was just a great boxer. It is likely that in any style you can find examples of both types of individuals.

If I was a student wanting to learn, while it can be tempting to search out for the winningest person the reality is I would much rather find someone that I connect with and whom weather is better than me or not can help me be the best version of myself that I can be. In Jiu Jitsu, for example, I have trained with many champions but there are many that I don’t really want to learn from because I just don’t click with them. There are of course other that even if I don’t connect with personally still are incredibly beneficial to my development. Then, there are those whom with I both connect with and can learn from. The latter is, of course, the ones who I will train with more often when time and other factors permit.

Enter Krav Maga. There are no competitions. Not only this Krav Maga is known to be an aggressive style that beats the crap out of people and can be very intimidating to start for some. So how do you know who is good to train with or not? Do you simply challenge them to a fight? The answer is NO!

Trust me, if you do this, even if you can beat the instructor in a fight it will not impress them. Personally, I have had many students walk in the door that it is likely they could beat me in a fight. They are faster than me, fitter than me, more athletic than me and may have more training years in another style than me. Yet the good ones stay and learn because I have something to teach them just as it is likely they have something to teach me.

As the video points out, in the event of someone really resisting the truth is as the instructor you can simply go passive, you can hurt them, or worse both individuals get hurt. If a student who is 200+lbs 6 foot plus wants to challenge me for real as an example I am in big trouble. I am only 5 foot 6 and about 160lbs so I would be on the losing end of physics. If I cant quickly stop them with a strike that would be considered illegal in most sports fighting the outcome of such a fight is not very hard to predict.

So why learn from someone who you can beat? Simple. If it wasn’t already clear, they may be the person who can make you not only better in your style but also a better person. In the end, shouldn’t that be the main goal of any form of training?

I think so.

If you think always going balls to the walls crazy because that’s what you like, or that’s what you think Krav Maga is then you won’t have to wait long until no one wants to play with you. Either because you have injured all your training partners or you simply have an over-aggressive, overcompensating shitty attitude.

FACT: Nobody likes such a person.

Then there is the simple thing that one of the founding principles of Krav Maga is to Avoid Injury. Which applies both to yourself, your instructor, your training partners and using only the required force to stop any given threat.

So how do you know who to train under, and how to behave when you are training with your partners? For the former its a simple matter of trying different places out and seeing what you like. For the latter, if the environment of the gym is good your training partners will be open and communicative and will always let you know if there is an issue.

No matter what the case is for you, please leave your ego at the door. As Bruce Lee famously said:

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Belts: What are they good for?

Posted: January 15, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga and Other Martial Arts
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The subject of belts and ranking is like so many things a complicated thing because though they are supposed to be straight forward they can mean different things to different people. In Krav Maga, it is no different. There are those who follow the original belt system developed originally for Judo, like us. There are those who follow the Patch system originally developed in the great split of the 90s when IKMF was formed. There are those who say there should be no ranking cuz it does not matter on the street. And there are those who came from a different martial arts background and simply took the ranking system for that and used it for Krav Maga.

Let’s Start at the beginning. Originally there was simply student and master and some way to indicate the difference other than skill. Then as martial arts started to popularize and become more about sport and less about life or death there needed to be a way to track progress and differentiate both skill and time at practice. At some point in the late 20s or 30s Judo’s founder created more or less the modern belt system. And that was that. From there on almost every martial arts style adopted some form of the progressive ranking system using colored belts or sashes. In a lot of styles each colour represents something other than the physical, it others it simply means the next stage.

Back to Krav Maga. If you have read into UTKM a little more you would know when we developed our curriculum we stuck with the traditional belt system as we believe to the lamen it is easier to understand than the patch system. The patch system was developed to appeal to the more military oriented nature of Krav Maga but to most people trying to explain this system can be a bit annoying. But everyone understands what a white or brown or black belt is. So in following Krav Magas original nature, we decided to keep it simple. Additionally, if Krav Maga is simple then we shouldn’t need so many levels to get through the curriculum. Advanced progress can simply be marked by Dans anyways, which are more an indication of continued progress, skill and dedication than anything else.

To the people who say there shouldn’t be ranks, I would say that they really dont understand humans. People who say this usually come from a special forces background and are already physically, and potentially mentally stronger than most people. They may find themselves in a new school and doing far better than average. Thus, due to ego, they feel they deserve more. But they are forgetting that ranks are far more than just skill. They are right though. There are no belts on the street (unless you are wearing one and use it as a weapon of the opportunity of course!) but this is a two-way street. Being a high rank doesn’t matter if you are overwhelmed and being a low rank doesn’t matter if you escape to safety. But humans are funny creatures and we like to measure everything, including our progress. We also like to compare to other people of similar ranks. We are social creatures and thus we crave a system with earnable measurable progression in relation to those around us.

To the last group of people who teach Krav Maga but use some other or random ranking system you are either being disrespectful or care more about business than the actual style, you are teaching. Just my 2 cents and I’ll leave it at that.

So, Belts. What are they even good for?

The obvious has already been stated; Measurable progression. But what does that even mean? One thing to consider is one of UTKMS main goals, to produce people, not belts. People are the product of a school, not their ranks. A belt usually indicates both the completion of minimum time and practical requirements accompanied by an acceptable demonstration of skill for the level in question.

For example, did they show the required attendance or attitude? Did they show the required skills? Did they pass the test? In some systems, it’s simply a matter of going through the motions. In others like ours, we expect you to be able to show us you can really defend yourself while tired and at each level adding the additional skills you have learned at each new level.

Simple, yes? well no. I could have 2 yellow belts, that both passed the test but one is clearly better than the other. This should not discourage anyone, rather show an individual that there are those bigger stronger and faster and that for them the best self-defense is avoidance knowing there are such people out there. Unfortunately, due to our nature, this often discourages people.

In styles with competitions this certainly can be very discouraging but in Krav Maga, it should not. The difference without the sports aspect, the only reason you should be wanting to progress is for yourself. Though really, this sentiment should be applied to all styles. So if you are stuck at a certain rank for a long time all it means is show up more and train harder.

The reality is, self-defense is for your self. It is so that you know what you are capable of in any given situation and you have the confidence to do something should the need arise.

At UTKM we break the skills up based on rank. Beginner is the white belts. Novice is yellow and orange, and advanced is green and up.

When it comes to Krav Maga everyone always wants to lean the fancy stuff which is what a lot of Israeli Instructors focus on. But again, if you are not special forces then you are not a naturally gifted individual physically and mentally and we need to build you up properly so that you don’t hurt your self overestimating your ability.

This is why I believe in ranks. To let you know where you are at so that you dont get overwhelmed in conflict and focus more on the avoidance and situational awareness.

If you can barely punch or kick, then learning to do gun disarms (though easy from a technical standpoint) may just be dangerous. I know you imagine yourself the next John Wick or Hit Girl (Links contain Violence and language) but being delusional is just plain dangerous. I know it hurts your ego to hear this but when it comes to self-defense and your life, there is no room for such things. If you want to learn the cool stuff then put in the time, show us you can do it and you too can learn.

But I want to feel I progressed now!

7 ranks, as a basic, should seem like enough? Or is it too much? BJJ only has 5 ranks. Yet BJJ is quickly becoming one of the more popular styles globally. One thing they understood, is that people are impatient and want to see marked progress now. So they added 4 additionally tape stripes per rank, and even more for the kids. Unlike the days of old where progress meant surviving a life or death battle today just means feeling useful, and happy with a sense of purpose. Before our purpose was just trying to survive. But now our purpose may mean getting to the next rank in a given style. The thing is people are more and more impatient no thanks to social media.

Enter the stripe or half progression. Now people seem to expect progression from JUST showing up. If I show up I will get another stripe. Thus it feeds our ego and our need for acceptance among other things. Yet going this way often dilutes the style. Fortunately, BJJ is still holding strong but there are concerns that standards will fall if ranks are given out too often and too easily. But does it even matter if it’s not about life or death? I think it does still at least.

For Krav Maga, it still is about life or death, survival and much more. There really is no room for ego. Yet if many schools want to survive they need to give the people what they want? right? Well no. If you as a Krav Maga school do your best to remind people why they are leanrning then it should be less about their next rank and more about how they feel about their own progress.

Are they better today than they were yesterday? Delayed gratification goes a long way especially if you ever need to use Krav in a real-life scenario.

I know you want your next rank, I do too (in BJJ) but I care less about the rank now and more about getting better and so should you.

A rank, a belt, a stripe is simply a milestone in a journey. It is not always about skill, but it is definitely about time and attitude.

If you feel you deserved the next rank but haven’t gotten it just stick to it, remind yourself why you started in the first place. In Krav, the reasons are often a little more than just I always wanted to do it, or I just want to do something fun while getting in shape. Often it is things like, I was assaulted, My house was broken into or I was bullied. If those are any of the reasons you came to Krav then the rank doesn’t matter at all.

So remember, no matter what rank you are. It’s about building people ( yourself) not just about getting another belt color or stripe. Check your ego at the door, and just keep training and like everything in time, your next rank will come.

Editors Note: Judo is just one Martial Art that can be practiced well into the late ages. You could just as easily replace the term Judo with BJJ, Wing Chung, Tai Chi or even Krav Maga. When Reading this article do not fixate on the fact it is originally talking about Judo but that it is possible to practice many martial arts well into your later years.

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A screencap from Judo After 40

The other day I became aware of a YouTube video titled “Judo after 40”.  It’s a 10-minute long video that captures the thoughts of the head instructor of the Kamloops Judo Club, who is a 7th-degree black belt, along with one of Canada’s top female judokas who just turned 40.  They were discussing how it’s possible to continue practicing judo well into your 70s, 80s, and 90s, as long as you make some adjustments along the way to compensate for the changes in your body as you age.

What caught my attention is that they used the age of 40 to delineate the age at which people would traditionally determine is the difference between being “strong and healthy” and “over the hill”.  Personally, I would rather not have any delineation be made, especially regarding age, and instead talk about how you need to make adjustments to your training as you age, regardless of whether or not you’re still competing.  I’m not sure about other martial arts and their competitions, but in judo, you can continue to compete as long as your body allows you.  Judokas in their 50s can still compete in randori (sparring) in tournaments and if that’s too hard on their body, they can compete in kata (forms), well into their 60s and older.

Watching the video prompted me to think about what I would tell someone who asked me if they could still take up judo as an adult and progress to eventually attain a black belt.  I would respond “Absolutely”, and would encourage them to do so if that’s what their goal is.  From past blogs I’ve written, you may already be aware that I went back into judo after a 30-year break at the age of 51, having stopped when I was 19 at a blue belt level and was graded to a black belt in December 2018 at the age of 55.  So yes, it can be done, and trust me, I’m nobody special.

As I went through my journey to get my black belt, many things became apparent to me.  As an adult, it’s a very different journey than if you were a teenager.  As a youth competitor you’re full of energy, aggression, and drive, so if you compete and ride the wave with your fellow students, you’ll be able to get your black belt before you’re 20.  It will also be well-earned and well-deserved because you’ll have been promoted based on your performance at tournaments and how you rank amongst your peers. As an adult, however, it’s a very different experience.  You may compete in the odd tournament if you like, but in general, your journey is one of learning more about yourself and you’re also mature enough to know that the only person you’re in competition with is yourself.  It becomes a personal challenge to progress because you want to prove to yourself that you can do it.

When I received my black belt and people were offering their congratulations, my usual response was that it took me so long.  And then I was surprised at how similar the message was from most people, that it didn’t matter how long it took because the important thing was that I didn’t give up.  When I heard that response after the 3rd time it started to sink into my head that persevering and not giving up was what people were noting and respecting and that as a result, I was able to achieve my goal.  Nobody cared how long it took except for me.  I’ve seen a video of a disabled person who had no legs and he eventually received his black belt in judo.  How was this possible?  It’s because he demonstrated to everyone that he wouldn’t let his disability be an obstacle in his quest and that he had the grit, the spirit, and the determination to not give up.  He exhibited the higher-level character traits that a black belt in judo should have, almost more so than knowing the techniques themselves.

If you’re older like I am, you may remember a TV show from the 70s called “Kung Fu”, where the student Caine had to try and grab a pebble from his master’s hand.  Once he was able to, then it was time for him to leave the Shaolin Temple.  It’s similar to what it’s like when you know you’re ready for your black belt.  In a sense, you don’t care anymore.  Yes, you still want it, but because you feel you’re “there” and you’ve earned it, then the formality of the belt being awarded becomes a lower priority.  It’s truly the epitome of the journey being more important than the destination.

I used to think that to earn a black belt it meant that you needed to be an expert in all the techniques and that your skill level was very high.  Yes, I know more techniques than the lower belts, but that’s not what matters, and I am certainly not an expert in all the techniques.  As a black belt in judo, you have a responsibility to ensure that you’re passing on knowledge and direction to the lower belts and to set an example by being humble, gracious, and free of arrogance.  If you have the wrong attitude and you don’t personify the traits that a black belt should demonstrate, then you will not be awarded it no matter how strong your technique is.  Brown belts with enough points to be graded to black, who do not display the qualities that a black belt should have, will never get it because they don’t have the recommendation or support from their sensei who are looking for these specific traits.

People generally think that achieving a black belt is the end goal, whereas in fact, it’s the point at which you just start learning about judo.  Shodan, which is a 1st degree black belt, literally means “beginning degree”.  Given that, I look forward to starting to learn what judo is actually all about.

 

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Andrew during his Orange Belt Test.

I’d just returned from class after a few weeks absence for a variety of reasons, many of which can be summed up by HOLY CRAP THIS CITY WE LIVE IN IS BUG NUTS INSANE and I was smiling on the drive home. In the rain at night, in Vancouver traffic.

As I piloted my ridiculous Midlife Crisis Truck through the barely-visible streets of the cities from Burnaby to the secret location of my Headquarters for Evil Plans, I was again reminded why I do Krav Maga. Fun. It’s fun to do, with people that are fun to do it with. Like sex, only more intimately eye-gougey and slightly less chance of disease.

Yes, the cardio at the start is a pain, especially if you’re old and dinged-up and composed mostly of suet, as I am. What is “suet”, you ask? Suet is a fancy term for lard. Fat. So many chocolates. I REGRET NOTHING. Except during cardio, of course.

Yes, the subject matter is often deadly serious and has a super-practical focus. We are encouraged to take it seriously.

Yes, you may actually need this for real one day and that is scary.

Yes, human sweat is a disgusting fluid and you will be coated in it. If you’re lucky, the other person smells better than you do.  If you’re -unlucky- the other person has a defensive beard-loofah and they laugh at your suffering. Dave.

And yes, traffic does suck and yes, it is a time-eater. Time, that most precious of commodities.

But. But. Krav Maga at UTKM is also fun. It’s interesting, it’s exciting, it’s engaging. Odds are you will laugh during class. Especially if you see me do a combat back-roll. Ever see a Bantha? From Star Wars? Now picture that doing a rear somersault on the ground. Yes.

You get to hit things. Pads. Mats. Jon, if you’re “lucky” and he’s not careful, heh heh heh. Each other! And you get hit, yes, but that too is kind of fun once you realize the other person isn’t trying to destroy you and is, in fact, just as worried about that as you are.

You get to stab people with pretend knives! And shoot pretend guns! You get to learn all sorts of horrible but also interesting tricks to -not- get stabbed by a knife and/or take away that gun.

You get to laugh with your classmates when one of you ends up pinwheeling across the mats wearing a surprised expression from a screwed-up kick or takedown.

You earn that sense of confidence that comes with not freaking out when someone swings their fist at you – and help that person also learn not to freak out. And that, too, is fun.

And you belong to a select crew of people that put the time in to learn these sometimes horribly necessary skills that some very real, very serious people came up with to protect themselves and their loved ones in bad places and times. And that belonging is also a pleasant thing.

So, Urban Tactics Krav Maga is fun. It’s worth doing and it’s worth doing it with people that are having a good time. Kind of like eating cake, if cake was trying to stab you while refusing to let go of the knife. *^^%!%@ murder-teenagers. You know who I’m talking about, Karis.

 

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Warren getting his black belt, with daughter Christine on left.

Similar to most judokas, I started judo when I was quite young, around 10 years old.  I was born and raised in Victoria so I attended the Victoria Judo Club headed up by Sensei Inouye and assisted by Bill Kovitz, Mark Grant, Mark Kendell, and others whom you may or may not have heard of.  Unfortunately I stopped judo when I went to university and then life took over to the point that I didn’t go back to it for literally decades.  That is, until my then 12-year old daughter Christine asked if she could try judo and that inspired me to re-join the community.  However, even though I was in my 50s I wanted to do more than just practice, and although I loved the sense of competition I was realistic enough to know that it wouldn’t be a wise choice to get matched up against others who had continued training all those years that I had not, so instead I chose to get involved by becoming a referee.  Doing so would allow me two things: One, I would be involved in the competition aspect of judo and two, it could be my avenue for giving back to the sport by contributing my time.

When I checked the Judo BC website for info on how to become a referee, I found some guidance as to the high-level process but many questions remained.  However, it became apparent that the first thing I needed to do was to attend a referee seminar.  Fortunately there was one scheduled in the following months so I registered for it and spent 2 days one weekend in the Abbotsford Club, along with several other participants.  It turned out that most people who attended the clinic didn’t actually want to ref, but they were there as coaches wanting more information on what the refs are taught, and perhaps wanting to take the “secret information” back to their clubs to share with their club’s competitors, or perhaps to give them an edge as to what the refs look for (or don’t).  In any case, it was an interesting seminar given that part of the time was spent watching video clips of several high level matches, seeing a technique performed that caused an opponent to falter, and having the video stopped at that point while the instructor asked the class “So what do you think…yuko, wazari, ippon, or no score?”.  I managed to get some right and some were quite difficult to tell, so it became apparent to me that experience played a great part in being able to make the right call.

The first time I reffed an actual match was at an Abbotsford Inter-Club Shiai, and it was an “interesting” experience.  I had intended to ref but instead found myself conveniently sitting on the sidelines with the rest of the crowd watching the matches.  It was like the tournament was on auto-pilot, it was just happening, and I gave myself every excuse in the book not to go up.  I finally admitted to myself that the hesitation I was feeling was actual nervousness.  Given that I’ve been working in the corporate world for over 30 years, having given numerous presentations to senior management, leading and managing teams, and being closer to the end of my career than the beginning, it was a very strange feeling to find myself in a new, unexplored and therefore intimidating, situation.  Who gets stage fright at my age?  Christine kept asking me to go up and I would say “In a minute”, or “After the next match.”.  I likely would have sat there for the rest of the tournament if Christine didn’t finally say, “If you don’t get out there right now, I’m going to tell Paul (Wishaw) on you!”.  That did it, so I got up, caught Paul’s eye, and asked if I could try reffing a match.  Fortunately, and I’ll forever be grateful to Paul for this, but he didn’t start laughing and instead said “Sure, by all means!”.  I was nervous, yes, and I probably came across as very awkward, but I did it, and I also knew that it would only get easier from there, and hopefully more enjoyable.  And all it took was for Christine to threaten to embarrass me.

As predicted, after the first time I reffed it did get easier, and I started reffing at the larger tournaments with the next one being the shiai held in North Vancouver.  There were only about 150 participants so it wasn’t overly large and the day didn’t go that long, but it was just the right size for me to get my feet wet again.  A Fall Burnaby tournament soon followed, and I was starting to feel more comfortable in the technical aspects of reffing, although I was still nervous before I went out on the mat.  When I told Christine, she asked why I would be nervous and I said all the people are watching me.  Then, in her usual supportive manner she said “Sorry to disappoint you, but nobody cares about the ref.  They’re not looking at you, they’re watching the competitors.”  After that blunt feedback my stage fright dropped right down and I’ve been fine to walk on the mat ever since.

As a fairly new ref, I can tell you that it’s an experience that can be both very enjoyable, and very stressful.  The calls you make will decide whether or not a competitor moves to the next round, or is perhaps out of the tournament.  It is a responsibility that all refs take seriously.  I’ve never forgotten the three most important things that a ref needs to know about a match, and that is safety of the competitors, fairness in the match, and the quality (excitement) of the competition.  To that degree, the ref looks for things that likely the competitor isn’t even aware of.  For example, is the competitor’s hair tied right, or are they wearing any jewelry.  It’s also important that the refs work as a team, with one ref on the mat and the other two judges watching from the side, ready to overrule a call if it’s deemed appropriate.  I’m aware that even international refs have their initial calls overruled from time to time, and that’s ok.  Anything during the match can be corrected, as long as the right competitor wins at the end.

The more I ref, the more I enjoy it, and my refereeing highlight to date was to ref at this past February’s BC Winter Games.  I had competed myself at the BC Winter Games when I was a teenager so I felt honoured to be given the opportunity to ref at such an important event.  Since I’m now comfortable with the basic mechanics of reffing, the feedback that I’m receiving from the higher graded refs has become less general, and more focused on helping me to improve on some specific facets and nuances of refereeing.  I’ve found that I have to work more on calling osaekomi, especially in the female matches.  Some girls are so flexible that their lower bodies can be twisted 180’ and be propped up on their knees, and yet still be in osaekomi.  I continue to be amazed at that when I can barely reach down to touch my toes.  My goal is to be a good, strong ref.  I have made it my goal to try to be the best ref that I am capable of being.  As long as the parents and competitors don’t groan whenever I step onto the mat, then I know I’m still heading in the right direction.

If you’ve ever thought to try reffing, I encourage you to sign up for the next referee seminar and start learning the basics.  Start reffing at your own club and then at Interclub shiais, as these would be venues that give you the opportunity to try out reffing in a less formal environment.  It gives you a different perspective to a competition and also gives you a better appreciation for what the officials contribute to a tournament.  When you’re out there making the calls and the crowd is cheering for one competitor or the other, you can feel the energy and it’s great to know that as a ref, you are helping to make it happen.  And, as I read in another reffing article and to which I totally agree, you get the best seat in the house.

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So you want to train? No, You LOVE to train? At least that’s what your profile says. But if I asked your instructor if that is the truth they might paint a different picture. I can certainly attest that sentiment to many of my students past and current.

If you go to any Martial arts school, Krav Maga or otherwise, you will always find a core group of students who are there 2,3,4 days a week almost every week without fail. They are there because aside from the fact they love the training, they have chosen to make it a priority in their life.

It’s not because they don’t have work, school, family or kids because quite often these individuals have one or more of these things in their lives. It is because they have made a conscious effort to build a life in which they can without guilt, distraction or excuse show up to train regularly and happily.

For so many others though, those same factors, work, school, family or kids have become an excuse as a reason not to train. They can and are of course legitimate reasons not to do something else such as training with your favourite neighbourhood Krav Maga Instructor. However, I want to make a request of you. Stop making them excuses and make them the reality of your life. The reality is that you prioritize those things over training.

It’s not that you can’t make the time for training in your obviously busy schedule its that you simply are not prioritizing it. And you know what, that is totally fine if that’s how you would like to structure your life.

But if training is really something you want to do then make it a priority and stop giving your instructor, your peers, or your family excuses as to why you won’t hit the gym if its clearly something you like to do (or something that is clearly beneficial for you).

Can’t train, or won’t train? Ask your self this question seriously.

In our modern world, both are fine if they can attain happiness and satisfaction in your life. But try instead telling those around you, you know what, it just isn’t a priority in my life.

Trust me, this will garner you a lot more respect from your instructors and peers. Try to use this phrase instead of saying, I want to train but…

The reasons don’t actually matter, its just not a priority and that’s ok. Unless of course you actually want it to be a priority it which case what are you waiting for?

Work schedule in the way? change shifts or job.

Family life in the way? see if you can bring your kids with you, find a babysitter, make an arrangement with your significant other to watch the kids another time so they can do the thing they really want to do.

School and finals? Maybe take one less course next semester because you realize that actually, physical training is a priority for you because taking a break from sitting with your head in some textbook is actually good for your health mentally and physically.

If you answer but I can’t, that’s ok, then training Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate or just lifting some weights really isn’t a priority for you. Just be honest!

so, Instead of saying “I Don’t have time”, try saying “its not a priority” and see how it changes your life for the good.

 

To Act or Not to Act.jpgHesitation can often lead to embarrassment or post scenario guilt or worse. It could lead to much more serious consequences such as permanent disability or death.

For some it can lead to thoughts of why didn’t I make my move, I really liked them. To Act. Or the opposite, why didn’t I do anything to stop them, what they did was not consensual. Not to Act.

In both above examples, there is only regret and/or shame. But when it comes to failure to act in a violent confrontation it can lead to catastrophic consequences.

To Act (Action), or not to act (Inaction) are the dichotomies of Action vs Reaction and Avoidance as well as self-defense in general. In the face of Violence, an action is faster than reaction. One can Act first, to avoid a reactive action. Or you can Choose inaction as an attempt to avoid the scenario altogether. It can be a tough decision, but for Krav Maga, action is usually preferred over inaction even if that means running.

Krav Maga is known for its aggression in the face of violence but aggression is only a tool and means nothing if a person fails to “turn it on”. If in that moment of need, that second you had to strike first or to block or to simply resist you choose inaction then it could lead to your own demise both literally or figuratively (psychological trauma).

Often when teaching students even under light stress they often hesitate to act. Or as is quite common they “screw up” the technique and stop. I will tell them or yell at them “keep going, don’t stop” because that moment of hesitation is all it takes for the attacker to re-coup and re-engage offensively.

When training people, we need to train their aggression to be appropriate and well timed so that when the moment comes no matter what happens even if an error occurs they can fight through and survive. However, if they hesitate and instead of channeling that aggression through retzev, techniques and other strategies and principles their training and aggression is for naught.

This is why situational and high-stress training is very important in Krav Maga or any good self defense training so that we can train the brain and nervous system to recognize situations or scenarios and act or react quickly without hesitation.

To act without hesitation often means to act with confidence. Without confidence in one’s skill then it can be harder to act.

One of the easiest ways to build confidence in your skill, speed or timing is to practice more and practice often. With practice also comes the knowledge of what you are capable of and will help you better recognize when you should avoid scenarios all together so that action or hesitation is not even a factor.

To act or not to act that is the questions, but hesitate to act in the moment of decision and it might not matter at all, philosophically or otherwise.

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Base, Posture, Structure

Posted: November 13, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Sometimes concepts are universal and are applicable to all styles no matter what your beliefs. One such concept is that of Base, Posture and structure. Though not originally Krav Maga and certainly not one we invented ourselves. Though we loosely taught these, when introduced to this concept by Professor Robert Bernacki and his idea of conceptual BJJ we found ourselves incorporating it more and more into our teachings.

When teaching the concepts of closing the distance, and cause pain, off balance and disrupt we often find our selves talk about the structure of your arms to maintain good control or the posture of your opponent and of course our own stance and base. because these concepts appear so universal not just in self-defense but also in engineering and science it seems fit they also are included in general self defense concepts.

Base

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Conser the base in this picture your legs in fighting stance, and the apex your head.

Base is the ability to generate force and receive force while maintaining your stance or position. If you are in fighting stance you are in good base, as you can generate force by bursting and you can receive a blow within reason without falling to the ground. Without a good base, it will be difficult to fight or defend your self. Often during sparring sessions during our warrior classes individuals still don’t understand this important concept. Sometimes intentionally or accidentally they cross their feet or legs losing strong base and the ability to resist force. Even when they get hit with a light blow they find themselves on the ground. Not because the blow was particularly strong but because it was perfectly timed and had enough force to overcome the weak base of the one who fell. For Krav Maga having a strong base, means having a strong fighting stance. Lose your footing and you lose your base.

Posture

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Here we see the universal nature of posture applied to squats.

Posture is the position of your spine or your opponent’s spine to take a load. When we burst in towards our opponent and get a control position if they have good base and are resisting we can cause, pain and disrupt with a knee or kick ot the groin which will allow us to break their posture. Once we have broken their posture it will be much easier to control them. If they have good base and posture it will be very difficult to move or control any opponent. We can’t cheat physics but we can cheat biology, this is why Krav Maga applies the cause pain, off balance and disrupt because without this work through it will be difficult to take on opponents larger than us.

Structure

360 block

Structure as used in 360 defense

Structure is the efficient use of your limbs. If we have good structure in our limbs then we can effectively resist force pushed against us. Consequently, if we break the structure of our opponents limbs an turn their limbs into a lever we can easily control them. One of the best examples of good structure in Krav Maga is the 360-degree defense where our arms create a super efficient block while our arms are at a 90-95 degree angle. This allows us to absorb the impact of circular attacks with minimal effort (energy). This same angle can be applied when in position 1 (reference point 1) to control the persons forward motion at the head and neck. Other self defense systems such as Tony Blauer’s SPEAR system would call this the outside 90 and have created an entire system around it. Such is the power of structure.

Krav Maga has an image problem

Posted: November 6, 2018 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga in General
Tags: ,

Krav Maga is a Brutally effective system taught by the Israeli Military and used by police and Military all over the world. Its focus on aggression makes it ideal for taking out those who would do you or your loved ones harm.

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If this is the only image that comes to mind when you think of Krav Maga then perhaps you don’t know what it really is.

Have you ever heard something like that? I have many times.  Videos on youtube that get the most views in Krav Maga are usually some hard-hitting, fast-talking person who gives you goosebumps while you are watching it.

Until I started running a school in Canada I did not see anything wrong with this. When I first started I refused to call what I was doing anything other than Krav Maga. Over the years I have softened my views. Krav Maga really is just a name for Israeli Style Self Defense that follows a general set of principles.

The problem is most people still dont even know what it is.

Using only the term Krav Maga may limit your ability to draw people in.

While I still say I am teaching Krav Maga I now add in words like Self Defense, or Martial arts (Even though it is not a martial art). I do this because if most people dont know what it is they won’t know how to search for it. If they dont know how to search for it how can they possibly learn it?

Nowadays Google is king so if you use keywords like martial arts then you are more likely to be found so that you can teach people what Krav Maga really is.

Now back to the image issue.

Imi Lichtenfield is famously quoted as saying “So one may walk in peace”

Aggression, Affective, Military, Special Forces. These are all words often used when describing Krav Maga. While they are all true you must remember that the founder Imi Lichtenfield is famously quoted as saying “So one may walk in peace” with regards to why he created it.

The idea of walking in peace doesn’t bring up images of aggressive military special forces it conjures the image of inner and outer peace and happiness. And yet, Shows like Fight Quest, Human Weapon and others really continue to portray that hardcore approach only. The truth is Krav Maga is for everyone and anyone who wants to learn self-defense. A good self-defense program Krav or not can build someone up to be tough and this is what we need to show people.

Unfortunately, most people still dont know what Krav is and those who do are often too intimidated to try. This is because, well you guessed it its hardcore image.

Yes, Krav Maga was made famous by its use in the Israeli Defense Forces

Yes, Krav Maga is used by Police and Military globally

Yes, Aggression is a big part of Krav Maga.

The problem? People seem to always forget that Police and Military units that are often portrayed doing Krav Maga are the top of the top of physically capable people on this planet.

They are the exception and not the rule.

Those who have been beaten and abused, bullied or harassed, assaulted and much worse. These are the people that need to learn and yet our own image often scared them away.”

So if Krav Maga is meant so that everyone can walk in peace, why do we always use these exceptions to the rule to showcase Krav Maga. If this is its only image publicly how can we possibly attract those who truly need to learn Krav Maga Self Defense? Those who have been beaten and abused, bullied or harassed, assaulted and much worse. These are the people that need to learn and yet our own image often scared them away.

Don’t get me wrong, you cannot take away the aggression and hard training and call it Krav Maga but what we need to do is make it so those who need it the most are not scared to start in the first place.

I can take anyone who is willing to come in and train and as our motto says Turn them from a lamb to a lion. But if they are too scared to come in and train in the first place then I will never be able to show them their inner lion. And no, I dont expect every one to reach Black belt as some people may not be capable but that’s ok. Because my goal is to make them the best versions of themselves so they can properly defend themselves. If this means they are forever a white belt but learn to run and avoid as their strategy then I have succeeded.

I have Over 10 years of Krav Maga practice and I have been teaching since 2012, I still get far too many people asking me to make the classes harder.

For the record, I have made grown men and women Cry, Puke, pass out and push themselves harder then they thought they could all in an hour or two. So when I say I can make the classes, tests or train hard, I can. In fact it’s easy.

The hard part is training every one all the time without injury. Which means you cannot realistically train hardcore all the time. Not when people have day jobs, not when they have families and not when they aren’t the top 5% of humans with regards to physical capability.

So if the Goal of Krav Maga schools and instructors is to teach people the most effective type of self-defense in the world and give everyone the skills to walk in peace we really need to change or view on how to portray Krav Maga. The real trick is how do we change the image without watering it down.

It’s hard I know.

But if we as Krav Maga instructors cannot find the balance so that those who truly need it are not still scared to come train then I think we have failed.

Despite what some think, Teaching Military, police and civilians are all different as they require different skills sets, but in the end of the day it is all Krav Maga and its the same for everyone because after all, we want everyone to be able to walk in peace.

So I ask, you out there when selling Krav Maga, don’t always focus on the aggression or the fact it is used by the military. Because for those of us who love Krav Maga this is a selling point, but the truth is for most, it is not.