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My first Krav Maga class: Carrie, 48

Posted: December 7, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in UTKM Student Corner
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To be honest, I thought that my first blog post would certainly involve sublime musings on clothes, shoes, and purses. As it turns out, fashion bloggers run rampant on the internet.
My FIrst Krav Maga Class Photo

No Groin, No Krav Maga

So, upon the suggestion of my colleague, Warren, a self-proclaimed pragmatic, and a brown belt in Judo and green belt in Krav Maga (he is one of the original students at UTKM), I succumbed to writing a snippet about my brief encounter with this Israeli fighting system. To say that I was apprehensive about my first class would be slightly misleading.  I was quite enthusiastic about it.
Warren had provided me with an insider’s peek into the class through our chats, his blog posts, and the UTKM promotional video.  His approach to personal and general safety was just sensible. As Jon, the instructor points out, living in Vancouver, we are a little spoiled and possibly sheltered.  But that does not mean we are above crime, danger, and random confrontations.  I don’t walk around in constant fear but I do walk around with a sense of awareness and my surroundings that goes with the territory of being small, and a female.  You just want to feel safe.
My husband and I did the free trial class a couple of weekends ago.  We had always been mildly interested in the notion of taking up a martial art that wasn’t just textbook techniques.  That has no real world application for us, being parents of two young girls. Krav Maga, the way Warren explained it to me, seemed like a logical thing to try.
The class started off simply with Jon going over levels of situational awareness, levels of action/in-action, and some basic stances.  Pretty common sense stuff.  We played a cardio “game” that involved the group throwing various sized balls to each other while in motion.  The punishment, for lack of a better word, for dropping a ball was ten pushups.  After the third ball drop, my muscles were sore and weak, and I jokingly asked, “can we do sit-ups instead?”.  Jon was kind enough to switch us to burpees which I admittedly find easier to cheat on than a pushup.  But he did remind the class first that normally you don’t get to ask your attacker if he would go easier on you. I nodded in agreement, happily doing my half-burpee.  During the rest of the class, Jon and Warren demonstrated how to protect yourself and possibly escape from a rear-naked choke hold, and another move which we practised with a belted partner.  The class demographic was mostly male, with one orange-belt female.
Though I did feel self-conscious being a newbie, the atmosphere of the class was not intimidating, and people were friendly.  I felt as if everyone was there to learn and practice an important life skill.  As much as swimming is considered a life skill so should be physical self-preservation.  I would love to assume that I could run away from most danger, but in the event that I could not outrun a scary situation, it would make sense to me that I should be somewhat equipped to assess, diffuse, and, or buy enough time to flee danger.
There is one important aspect of the Warrior class that happens at the end of each class.  For five minutes, members, donning full protective gear, randomly spar with each other, tapping each other in and out, doing full contact punching and kicking. As I watched, I felt amused, fascinated, and impressed.  I was pumped.  From my onlooker’s perspective, I very much wanted to spar for a number of reasons, including tension and stress relief, and really just to see how hard I could punch and kick someone. You don’t get an opportunity to do this every day with a “willing partner”.  It felt real, but not scary.  You will attack and be attacked.  But in a safe and controlled environment.  At that point, it seemed to me that what was being taught was how to use your adrenaline, remain focused, not freeze, and confront what was in front of you, using whatever means necessary to protect yourself.
My only regret with taking the class is that I have not been able to mentally commit to carving out the time to pursue it further and feel guilty for my excuses. Not right now, I guess.  But feels like definitely, hopefully, soon.
By Carrie, 48.

The Blog of UTKMs (Christmas)Future

Posted: December 5, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in Urban Tactics Krav Maga
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Yes, we know Krav Maga is Jewish in origin we get it GEEZ! it’s just a literary reference. 5 points if you can tell us who. (There are no actual points given, you can just feel special that you knew the reference)

 

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Its a ghost of some kind of Future at least…Morbid, we know. but hey it fits the reference. Really it should be a happy ghost because our future looks nothing but bright.

 

Anyways, as with every year, we tend to time the changes for the good and the growth of UTKM with the New year. One of the changes we are making is that we are going to phase out Belt Guides its hard copy and Digital and instead importing all the intro information onto this blog for FREE! Over the next, however many weeks it will take, we will be posting one topic that can be found in the intros of the books. We will then create a new page under the Krav Maga tab called Krav Maga Principles where they will all be easy to find.

One of the reasons we are phasing them out is because they are somewhat out of date and we are not happy with many of the photos in the guides. In stead, we will be re-filming our entire white belt curriculum and re-posting them on our youtube channel. In addition, we will be releasing the basics of the yellow and Orange Belt curriculum in Video form as well.

Eventually..at some point in the “Christmas” future…. we will be having some kind of pay to access website or channel for all the more advanced topics as well as more fleshed out explinations of a variety of topics. So in the mean time you can enjoy our usual shenanigans on this blog or on our facebook page.

 

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In addition to being a Krav Maga practitioner, I train in judo and have always been interested in the competitive and tournament side of the sport. While others may love watching a great football pass that leads to a spectacular 50 yard run resulting in a touchdown, I am equally enthralled when I watch a judoka execute a perfect throw on a resisting opponent.  It can be an amazing sight to see.

One thing that I always found interesting was that at the end of a match, several times the judokas would be splayed out on the mat, seemingly exhausted to the point of not being able to move. They would lie there for several seconds until the referee would motion for them to stand up and bow off, thus officially ending the match with a winner declared.  I would think, “How could they be so active and fighting hard just a few seconds ago and now they can’t even move?  They’re young and they’re fit, so how could they be so tired?”.  I spoke to my daughter about this, who is also a judo competitor, and she said she’s experienced that level of exhaustion many times in her tournament matches, or the training camps.  It wasn’t until I experienced the same level of exhaustion in my recent green belt test that I appreciated even a small trace of what my daughter was talking about.

It is difficult for a person to independently push themselves to the point of exhaustion because usually before they get to that stage, they’ll stop and take a break. It’s like trying to hold your breath until you pass out.  There may be some fitness fanatics who do push themselves to that degree on a regular basis, but I believe that for the average person, which I consider myself to be, there are primarily 3 situations which could drive them to the point of exhaustion and beyond.

1) In a test,

2) In competition

3) In a life-threatening situation.

 I heard people shouting “Get up!  Get up!” but it just wasn’t happening.  My spirit was there, I was fully aware of what was going on, but my body was just not responding.

 

In each of these situations, the timing of when the “ordeal” ends is out of your control, so you have no choice but to fight through the pain and keep on going.  Personally, it’s been years since I’ve been at this level of intense situation, if ever, so in retrospect, I found it an interesting experience to be pushed to the point of exhaustion.  During the green belt test, this point occurred when I was sparring one-on-one with someone in the last few minutes of the 3 hour test.  I was already tired, physically and mentally, and I found myself on the ground.  As I was trying to get back up my body, my arms, my legs, and anything else literally felt like 1000 pounds and I could not lift myself up, as much as I was telling myself to continue fighting and get back up.  I heard people shouting “Get up!  Get up!” but it just wasn’t happening.  My spirit was there, I was fully aware of what was going on, but my body was just not responding.  It was like being in a bad dream where you find yourself running through molasses.  I think that was the point that Jon told me later when he thought I wasn’t going to make it and was going to give up.  But slowly, ever so slowly, while trying to punch at the same time, I managed to get up.  I know now that when pushed to your limit, it truly becomes a game of mind over matter.  It would have been so easy to just lie down and think “Who cares.”, but if you’re determined and you refuse to give up, you will overcome things that your body tells you it doesn’t want to do.

Warren Green Belt Tired

I can’t imagine being in a situation like this again, at least in the near future, but I now better appreciate how competitors will find themselves splayed out on the mat at the end of a match unable to get up. I also appreciate more what my daughter has gone through in her judo training and competitions.  If you get the chance where you will be pushed to this point of exhaustion, you should embrace it and relish the opportunity, because it will likely be in a safe environment where there is minimal risk of injuring yourself, or worse.  It’s an interesting experience and you will be surprised at how much you can tolerate and where you discover the edge of your envelope is.  And then the next time, you can push beyond it.  Push yourself, strive for more, keep going and don’t give up!  You’ll thank yourself later.

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On September 30th I tested for my green belt and, as with most important things in life, while the test itself was only 3 hours, the culmination of events leading up to the test was far more involved.

Warren Green Belt Certificate

Firstly, a bit of background on myself. I joined UTKM when the school first opened, and while I was just one of several students in the first class, I’m pretty sure that I’m now the only one from that day who is still taking Krav Maga with UTKM.  It’s understandable because circumstances constantly change and life throws curve balls, and for whatever reason people move on.  In my case I’m fortunate because I’m at the stage of life where it’s generally predictable, e.g. job, family, home, so I’ve been able to continue learning Krav Maga fairly consistently for the past few years.

In the beginning, I was diligently attending classes twice a week and attending the occasional seminar, took the yellow belt and orange belt tests within the first couple of years, and even earned my PAL license as a requirement for eventually taking the green belt test. However, as time passed and I was feeling more familiar with the curriculum and life became busy with the judo activities for both my daughter and myself, I cut back to just once a week.  Then once a week became once every two weeks, and soon there were occasions in which I didn’t go to class for over a month.  I had plateaued and I knew it.  Interest was down, and I felt like I was just going through a rinse-repeat cycle in the classes.  One instructor understood what I was going through and he advised me to “Finish the mission.”, i.e. get my green belt.  Although the belt levels progress beyond green, attaining the green belt is a significant milestone because it meant that I had passed the physical and technical curriculum of Krav Maga and would then move into the more advanced strategies and techniques. There would be less emphasis on the physical requirements, and sparring would be optional and not mandatory.  Still, I had lost motivation to progress and, truth be told, I was thinking of stopping altogether.

What finally made me start thinking about taking the green belt test was that I was noticing how many more yellow belt and orange belt tests were being scheduled. Soon the “yellow and orange belt class” started growing from just a couple of students to then a handful, and there were more frequent announcements of students progressing through the belt levels.  On one hand I was realistic enough to know that my prime objective in taking Krav Maga was to learn how to protect myself and my family, so officially attaining the green belt didn’t mean much to me, but on the other hand I wanted to be recognized for my experience and the knowledge that I had acquired over the years.  Another (scary) thought that crossed my mind was that I was getting older, and while age shouldn’t be an excuse for not being able to achieve anything, it is a reality that physical activity becomes more challenging with age.  I turned 54 at the end of October, so the window of opportunity was starting to shrink and I knew that if I didn’t take the physically-challenging green belt test soon, it would likely never happen.  Plus, Jon wouldn’t stop hassling me to get it, so I finally relented and scheduled a testing date.

Warren Green Belt RunningI had 6 weeks to train for the test, and come hell or high water, I was going to be ready for it. Jon told me one time that one of his biggest annoyances is when people don’t follow through on what they say they’re going to do, so once I put out the date I was committed to meeting the challenge and not letting him down.  Since I was already confident that I knew the techniques and the curriculum and would only require a refresher, I was aware that the physical requirement of the test would be the bigger challenge.  The warm-up for the test is 75 push-ups, 85 sit-ups and a 2 km run, and that’s even before the technical part of the test begins.  I usually commute to work by bike, and even though it’s only 6 km each way and it gives me a bit of a workout, I knew it wouldn’t be enough.  I despise running so for me, it was a very big psychological barrier to hit the track and start training for the test.  The first time I ran 5 times around the 400 meter track I was tired, but not exhausted, so I knew if I kept it up it would only get easier once the test day came.  I also began doing push-ups and sit-ups at night, and while in the beginning, I couldn’t reach the required number, after a couple of weeks I was doing 90 push-ups and 90 sit-ups.  I also began eating healthier and cut out the junk food, sugary drinks, snacks, and over-eating.  The results began to show, and I dropped 6 lbs while I was training for the test.

My training regimen seemed to be going well, and then a snag happened. During a class another student puts my head in a guillotine choke and wrenched back on it, and after that my right arm started throbbing and hurting.  This also meant that I couldn’t ride to work anymore so I was afraid that my cardio would drop like a rock.  I went to a physio and he diagnosed that I had pulled a muscle in my neck which resulted in a pinched nerve in my arm, and that’s why I was feeling the pain.  With only two weeks to go before the test, I started seeing the physio as often as I could to try and fix the problem.  After 4 sessions I was still feeling pain, plus I wasn’t sleeping at night where I often wouldn’t be able to fall asleep until past 4 AM, but was still having to get up at 7 AM for work.  The last week before the test I was still seeing the physio, and while the pain had somewhat abated, I knew I wasn’t going to be fully healthy come the testing day.  Still, I diligently continued to keep up the push-ups and sit-ups regimen and also hit the track whenever I could.  The main thing that kept me going was knowing that once I passed the test, I could stop training and wouldn’t have to run around the track anymore, hopefully for the rest of my life.

Test day came, and I did the push-ups, sit-ups and 2 km run with relative ease. However, in retrospect from watching the videos that my daughter took, it was apparent that my sit-ups suck and look more like crunches than full sit-ups.  So one takeaway from the test is that I’m now going to do sit-ups on a regular basis and ensure that they’re proper full ones, instead of the sucky ones that Jon graciously allowed as acceptable on test day.  What came as an unpleasant surprise was that going through the techniques took much longer, and tired me out much, much more, than I had expected.  I thought I was going to whiz through those and get quickly to the sparring part of the test but Jon asked me on many occasions to repeat a technique again, and again.  It became very tiring and by the time the sparring section came, I was both relieved because I knew we were getting to the end of the test, but also dreading it because I knew I didn’t have many physical reserves remaining.  In short, I was very tired.

The last part of the test consists of sparring components which add up to 20 min, with a few minutes rest between each of the 3 sections. In regards to physical activity, one thing I noticed about getting older is that the recovery time takes much longer than when you are in your 20s. While a 20-something person may need only 3 minutes to recover from a strenuous physical activity, in your 50s you may not be able to recover to the same degree unless you had 10 minutes or more.  Still, if that was the test requirement, I was determined to abide by the rules and not ask for any special allowances just because of my age.

Warren Green Belt technique.jpgThe first component of the sparring was to fight 5 different opponents for 1 minute each, with body and leg shots only. At one point Jon tagged my daughter as one of my opponents, and unfortunately, my gross motor movements took over and I threw a couple of punches to her ribs that slightly winded her. She told me later that it got her angry so she started swinging back at me as hard as she could, while I regained my senses and purposely held back.  Nothing like a good father-daughter brawl to strengthen the paternal relationship!  I managed to survive with most of my limbs intact, however, the last round was with Jon and he kicked so *hard* that I still felt the after-effects of his kicks for days.

The next component of the sparring I knew would be my biggest challenge, and that was to survive 10 minutes of attack after attack after attack. It would be relentless and I knew that if I could get past it and have enough energy for the last component, I would be home free.  For some reason, perhaps because I was already in a dream state since I was so tired and I was acting purely on adrenaline, I have no idea where the first 5 minutes went.  All I remember was the countdown for 3 minutes left.  However, I was so exhausted and physically drained by that time that whenever I was down on the ground, and people were shouting at me to get up, my body felt like a thousand pounds and I could hardly move.  Jon told me after that he thought I was going to give up but in the end, I fought through the pain and struggled slowly to my feet while throwing feeble punches at my attacker.  I remembered that Jon had told me that the purpose of that part of the test was not to demonstrate clean techniques but to survive.  Keeping that thought in my mind, I was determined to survive while the clock counted down the last few seconds.

The last component of the sparring was to have 5 rounds of 1 minute each with each attacker. One minute went by, and then another, and I knew that I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  While I had zero energy left and nothing more to give, the thought that went through my head was that I was going to dig deep for additional reserves in the last couple of rounds and try to finish strong.  It must have worked because my daughter told me after that I looked stronger in the last two rounds, and my last attacker also said he was surprised that I was still getting some punches through to him even though I was clearly exhausted.  If this was a real-life scenario I still would have been beaten, but I would have had some solace in knowing that I was beaten by a stronger, more rested opponent, and it wouldn’t have been because I gave up and beat myself.

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So that’s the story of my not-so-pretty journey to attain my green belt. I did it, and while I have no doubt that my fellow green belters, and future ones, will be more successful candidates, I faced my limitations honestly, gave no excuses, asked for no allowances, and did what was asked of me.  And knowing that allows me to be content with myself and feel that yes, I earned it.

And in the end, I guess that’s what’s most important.

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Say Hello to our Little friend, I mean our newest Orange Belt

Posted: November 12, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in Testing
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Quinn Gets His Orange Belt

 

UTKM – 3 Animals you should embrace & embody

Posted: November 7, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in UTKM Principles
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Our Slogan at UTKM is “Turning Lambs into Lions.” As humans, our greatest attribute is our intelligence, our creativeness and our ability to adapt. But that does not mean we cannot draw from the animal world and invoke their spirits in times of need. 3 animals invoke the attitudes and approaches that we would like all UTKM Students to have.

The Lion
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Image By: Rafapasta CG

The lion, as they say, is the king of the jungle. They are strong, Courageous and their warriors cry in the form of a roar can be heard for miles away. Just as our slogan indicates, no matter what your skill level we want to make you from a lamb following the herd, someone who needs the protection of the masses to feel safe, into a lion. Someone who is strong and courageous and needs no one else but themselves for their personal safety. So when you cannot run, you cannot hide, and you cannot avoid the fight, Be Strong, Be Courageous like the lion.

 

 

 

The Fox
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Image By: Rafapasta CG

The fox is the main image in the centre of our logo. They are cunning and quick. In a fox hunt, humans are only successful with a pack of hunting dogs and horses in keeping up. Foxes apply speed, agility to avoid harm. The term sly like a fox doesn’t come from nothing. They are small, silence predators that chose stealth and avoidance over direct conflict. So when you choose to avoid the fight or run from conflict, be cunning and quick like the fox and perhaps no one will even notice you were even there.

 

 

 

The Wolf
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Image By: Rafapasta CG

The Wolf is many things, but weak is not one of them. They flourish in the pack but like the lone wolf can operate independently. They are strategic and adaptable. We are humans after all, which means we are social creatures and like the wolf, we need to be able to work in teams but not crumble should we be alone. Like the Wolf, we are also capable of strategy. Krav Maga is far more than just some techniques; it is a way of life and a strategic approach to conflict. So when you want to apply Krav Maga as a complete system, be like the wolf and strategies and adapt and you will always come out on top.