Archive for the ‘UTKM Student Corner’ Category

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I’ve been at the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) training academy, better known as Depot, for two months now.   My experience here so far has been amazing, and a major part of that is due to my Krav Maga training at UTKM.  Krav Maga has helped me in more ways than one while I’ve been at Depot.  Of course, there’s the obvious, such as doing the Police Use of Force classes, that I have an advantage because I am familiar with being in a combative environment and learning the techniques comes with ease.  But the bigger role that Krav Maga has played for me is the mental strength to keep going forward.  Just like when defending yourself, one of the objectives is to keep moving forward (of course with the added continuous strikes to your attacker) and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.  Taking on one task at a time and progressively always moving forward.  Even if I’m not exactly sure what to do, doing something is better than doing nothing.  For example, if you need to defend yourself against a person with a knife and your not sure what to do, its much better to do something, like a punch, kick, bite, eye gouge (even if that’s not the correct defence), than stand there doing nothing.

A moment in training that Krav Maga has been the most helpful for me was overcoming extreme physical pain.  One thing at Depot that all Cadets must go through is getting OC sprayed, commonly called pepper spray.  And that day came for me.  I had a bit of an idea that being OD’d was gonna sting the eyes. My thought was that it was gonna feel like the burn you get when sweat runs into your eyes.  Wow, was I ever wrong.  As soon as the OC spray hit my face it didn’t feel too bad.  I blinked once or twice and then BAM! The pain shot through the roof! My eyes completely shut and stung like acid was just poured onto them and my entire face felt like it was engulfed in flames.  But of course, we are tough RCMP Cadets and must run an obstacle course that combined both physical parts and thinking parts.  Immediately when I felt the pain, my Krav Maga training kicked in.  I pried my eyes open using my hands and moved forward and didn’t stop until the job was done.  In a way, I related this experience to one of my belt tests I had done earlier at UTKM before Depot.  It was essentially the same but trade the pain for exhaustion.  Even though I felt so tired during my belt test that I thought I was going to pass out, I still had to keep going.

The “mental conditioning” that Krav Maga teaches is truly something great.  The ability to overcome, fight through and always be focused is very important.  Not panicking in a situation where you need all your energy and focus to get through is something I’ve learned at UTKM and am truly grateful for my instructors sharing their knowledge, experience and skills with me.  Krav Maga is more than self-defense, it’s your fighting spirit.   ”

Editors note: This is not RCMP Training but a comparable scenario. I have been Bear Maced and had a face full of Military Grade Tear gas, it is not pleasant but can be tolerated if the need arises. However, I do not recommend you try this at home or with out proper supervision and medical personel available.

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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.

This blog post is written by one of our female students who wishes to remain anonymous. Names in this article have been altered for the sake of anonymity.

I have been doing Krav Maga at Urban Tactics Krav Maga for a few months now. I am a 46-year-old mother of three: a teenage daughter and two adult sons. I started Krav partly because my family does it and partly because I work as a paramedic and occasionally find myself in some tense and even dangerous situations on the job.

Another student in our class recently came across an advertisement online for a women’s only Krav Maga class and asked me what I thought about it and if I would write a post on the subject.

When I consider a women’s only self-defense class, it seems counter-productive to me. I understand women’s only dance or yoga classes. Some people feel uncomfortable exercising in the presence of the opposite sex and that’s fine. Self-defense classes, however, seem to be based in self-defense, first and foremost. That’s the most important thing.

In the first class that I sparred with a man, I hesitated. I was not aggressive. Partly, it’s because I was taught as a girl to be demure and to let the man lead. The thought also went through my head, “what if I hit him hard and he hits me back hard?!” Which is what could happen in real life, of course. It could happen to me at work, or to my daughter who is going about her teenage life in a crazy world. Attackers don’t wait for you to be ready or get over your conditioning just because you are a girl.

I learned that techniques work differently when used on people who are larger – or smaller – than myself. I wonder how a woman who has never practiced against a man would overcome her natural psychological reactions to such a different kind of opponent. How would she learn that some techniques simply do not work the same way on someone considerably larger or stronger than themselves and that those techniques must be modified?

In the real world, things will not go well if your reaction speed is slowed because you face an opponent you are really unfamiliar with or your situational awareness is less because something totally new is happening to you. You will most probably hesitate and get hurt. Krav Maga teaches us not to hesitate and to do whatever it takes to survive against an attacker. Against anyone trying to hurt us. Gender-specific schooling doesn’t really work well with that goal.

I have now practiced and sparred with both men and women and I hesitate less each time. I use different moves depending on size and aggression level of my opponent.

Krav Maga has taught me that self-defense is about awareness and reaction speed before technique and force. Technique and force are important, but great technique doesn’t help you very much when you’re already on the ground due to not being used to fighting a certain kind of opponent.

We all learn best by doing and practicing any kind of self-defense is better than none. However, self-defense techniques should be able to be used reliably, without hesitation, in any situation and against anyone who is trying to hurt you.

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.

My name is Andrew.  Jon made us give our names. Our real names, too. Dammit. I so wanted to be called “Hawk of Hell”.  I’m one of the people up there in the image above. The rest are my family.

I’ve been studying Krav Maga at UTKM for, oh, a year and a half now, barring downtime for work, illness, etc. I’m currently enrolled in the six-month long Assistant Instructor course, which comprises of hours of weekly classroom study, physical practice, many written and verbal tests, culminating in a final exam and an orange belt test.

By the time I’m an Assistant Instructor, I will know plenty more about every aspect of Krav Maga than I’d ever even thought existed. Technically, I volunteered for this process and this blog post is to explain why. Also, I have to write it or else. Fear is the little death. I must not fear…unless you’ve been kicked a lot in the groin. Then fear. Anyhoo.

As a child and young man, I took a fair amount of beatings, being too smart, too chubby and, mostly, too mouthy in a small rural community where none of those attributes, especially combined, were particularly… appealing to other children. This gave me an early respect for what physical harm can do in terms of motivation and deterrent, as well as a serious desire to not be on the receiving end of said harm.

In the 30+ years since I first tried a martial art (Karate of some kind when I was about 12), I’ve enjoyed the idea that there could be a system to not getting beaten up, as opposed to my more generalized don’t-talk-so-much-oh-crap-run-fast methodology. I’ve tried Karate of various kinds, Kung Fu, and Aiki-Jutsu, mostly dabbling in these as life took me from one place to another. I’ve liked all of them. Some I’ve loved, like Tai Chi. My tiny, murderously precise Tai Chi teacher helped as well. Suffering brings focus, kids!  Wait… small, murdery, hyper-fussy… I may have a “type…” Hmm.

I’ve also been in a few (probably too many) real-life fights and I noticed that outside individual techniques (snap kick, straight punch, etc.), relatively little of what I learned in a dojo or studio translated very well to sudden application in the rain or on the cement or while walking home thinking about math classes (math – where getting punched in the face isn’t the lowest point of your day). Sadly, part-time martial arts training wasn’t really helping me fight safely and by the time I’d learned it well enough, I was actually old enough that people had stopped using their angry bits to get me to stop talking. Mostly.

However, I’d long had an interest in Krav Maga, mostly because I’d read the founder, Imi Lichtenfeld used what became Krav to punch Nazis. Nazis.

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The fighting style for Nazi-punching. Hell yes, I’m interested! Sign me up! And my children! And my wife!

This might have gone on as an unrequited love affair forever except my teenage daughter moved to the city with us and (wisely) demanded some self-defense training. A more in-depth study of practical defense systems indicated that Krav Maga was a very solid choice for someone interested not in out-boxing or out-grappling an opponent on a mat, but more in surviving an attempted robbery or rape while on their way home, thinking about math. Also for punching Nazis, should any be so foolish as to rear their dyed blonde heads again. Anti-rape, anti-nazi, so much goodness in one eye-gouging package.

Today, my whole family does Krav – schedules allowing. The young ones for protection, the older ones for fun. Since I’ve already proven I can raise larvae without all of them dying (yet), our Lead Instructor decided that I should be applied to the (theoretically) more durable students. I might have said no, but having been a frequent groin kick-ee has reduced my will to oppose said groin kick-er. It’s a very Krav method of promotion. Just like real life, sometimes “choice” is just a synonym  for “sudden stabbing pain.”

So far, my experience with the Assistant Instructor program can be summed up in that Jon is a cruel bastard with the compassion of a dying wolf spider. Less legs, though.

 

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Our lead instructor, Jonathan among UTKM students after a Yellow Belt test.

 

I hope only to make it through the six (6) two-hour-long exams (no multiple choice, what, are you kidding? You mad fool!), the midterm and the final exam in order to throw up all over my Lead Instructor during my Orange Belt test. Gonna eat hot dogs and clams in oyster sauce just before the test – good luck cleaning that smell out.

Then graduate and do to others what has so thoroughly been done to me. Yesss.

Gotta have dreams, right? Good! Hands up! Look around! Condition yellow, kids. Never know when there’s a big guy with a (padded) bat right behind you…

daveyoung2In any martial art, there is always the risk of getting injured. I think most martial art and self-defense students have experienced at least one mild injury during their training. This is the trade-off. Training that is meant to prevent violence requires violence, so it must be imbued with an inherent risk. Yet,being trained allows you to reduce risk in a real fight.

How can you avoid injury in training and avoid injury in a real situation?

As a musician, my hands and my brain are the two more important things that allow me to write, record, and perform. Thus, throwing punches and getting hit in the head may seem counterintuitive towards preserving these body parts. There is a balance between avoiding injury to maintain my ability to work, and taking the risk of injury to be able to defend myself and my family.

First of all, I am NOT a fan of being punched in the face or hit in the head in any manner.  Many studies show that repeated blows to the head, even those that don’t cause concussions, can cause long-term changes in the brain and have lasting neurological effects. That being said, it is very important from a Krav Maga perspective to experience high pressure real world situations and be able to react appropriately.

In a fight, you are going to get hit, so experiencing the real thing in a simulation-type environment is invaluable as a learning tool.  At UTKM, we spar in a very controlled manner, and this is great for safety.  Even so, accidents happen. Everyone is at a different point in learning to control their strikes (and their emotions) so the best way to avoid getting hit and protect your brain is to train hard and improve your technique.

The best way to avoid getting hit and protect your brain is to train hard and improve your technique.

When it comes to protecting my hands, the same idea applies: technique.  I work hard on improving my technique so that I retain thorough muscle memory of the proper movements and positions, whether I’m punching a bag, focus mitts, or sparring with one or many opponents. This reduces my chances of getting injured — remembering to keep my hands up, fist at 45°, elbow slightly bent, and so on. When I ingrain this into my muscle memory, I won’t need to remember to do it in a distressing situation, my body will know it and do it.

Better hurt in the gym, than killed on the street

Perhaps, I will never be required to fight for my life or to protect my family physically. Nevertheless, in the end, I would rather train hard and perhaps break my hands defending myself successfully, than be overly worried about hurting myself in training and ending up seriously injured in a real confrontation.

In a fight, you are going to get hit, so experiencing the real thing in a simulation-type environment is invaluable as a learning tool.

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Hi, I’m #Dangerous Dave! Photo from http://www.hevydevy.com/dtp/dave-young/

I am a musician and a Kravist

For as long as I can remember, I’ve related or equated the things I experience in my life to music.  The ups and down are dynamics.  The quiets, the louds, the transitions in between, and definitely the moments of silence all make up a grand piece of music that plays throughout life.

If this over-arching “music-of-life” concept is like an album, individual events  or ideas or philosophies are like singles. As I got into Krav Maga, I  began thinking of what kind of music it would be.  Many other martial arts have a specific genre that springs to mind, but Krav Maga seems a little harder to pin down.

 

As I got into Krav Maga, I  began thinking of what kind of music it would be.

When I was younger I studied Tae Kwon Do. Similar to many other traditional martial arts, like Kung Fu or Karate, Tae Kwon Do has a distinct classical music feel.  While they have a great dynamic range and power, they are filled with and steeped in tradition and can sometimes seem rigid or inflexible.  Tai Chi has a flow to it, but also a very relaxed feel that reminds me very much of ambient music.  Boxing is like hip hop with the swagger and the attitude.  It can have finesse, but also rawness and aggression. And of course, the world of MMA is rock and metal.  Being mixed, this sport contains a large amount of different techniques from karate, muay thai, BJJ, boxing, wrestling, and so on.  It is a very deep genre.  It draws on many influences and histories.  There is also a lot of aggression and posturing, and the gladiatorial beating of another person in front of a cheering crowd (like a mosh pit).  Of course, there is technical ability involved, but that can easily be overshadowed by egotism (or the “meat-head” attitude).

So then, what genre is Krav Maga?

It contains elements of all other martial arts: the technique, the history, and certainly the aggression.  It has a rich and traceable lineage.  It can be anywhere from smooth and subtle to harsh and aggressive.  I think Krav Maga is the jazz of martial arts.  Jazz involves a great deal of technique and knowledge.  It also involves the ability to improvise, which is a key point.  In jazz, every situation in different. In Krav Maga, every encounter with every person is different.  You need to have the ability to assess each unique situation and react, just like jazz.  Every time you play a piece, the individual parts may be familiar but the song a different version.  Knowing the technique, the moves, the history and the philosophy is very important.  As well, you have to know when to break the rules and improvise.  In Krav Maga, you must know how to fluidly move between attackers. In jazz, you must know how to transition between chord changes.

Krav Maga is the jazz of martial arts.

Finally, in both Krav Maga and jazz music, regardless of whether you execute perfectly or make a mistake, you have to keep moving forward and turn difficult situations to your advantage.

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Dave Young (far left) is a member of the Devin Townsend Project. Photo from https://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

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 works, please start with Part 1.

Introducing Pedro Chong

Pedro Chong is the first student to graduate from our Assistant Krav Maga Instructor Course at Urban Tactics Krav Maga. I met Pedro at the Taiwanese Police University in 2014 through a friend. He is an army officer with the Taiwanese Army (Republic of China) as well as an avid Muay Thai fighter and coach. He also studied International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan. Since we have a mutual passion for martial arts, tactical training and shooting, I invited him to come train in Krav Maga at UTKM. Pedro jumped at this opportunity and flew to Vancouver in March 2015.

At the time of Pedro’s arrival, we were still in the process of developing the curriculum and thus his training was different from our current program. Due to his extensive background in military and martial arts, we put Pedro through a condensed program over 10 days, with him practicing in the gym for 12-13 hours a day.

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Pedro showing Vertical Sweep at his Muay Thai Gym in Taiwan

 

Krav Maga starts when you are completely burnt out, done, tired. That’s when it starts.

… said one of my Krav Maga instructors in the IDF. For Pedro, it seems that his fighting spirit was really tested during his time with us. After the course, he told me that this was more intense and difficult than his Special Forces training in Taiwan. After all, we start each day at 6am or 7am and didn’t stop until 11 pm. Each day consisted of in-class lectures and physical training. Within two weeks, Pedro also went through two 4-hour belt exams – yellow and orange belt. On the weekends, we took him on a series of rifle and shotgun courses in the BC mountains. It was winter and Pedro almost got hypothermia from the unprecedented Canadian coldness. Another new experience for Pedro was sparring with opponents who are much bigger and stronger than him. In Taiwan or Israel, people’s body sizes are quite similar, but in Vancouver where people come from all over the world there is a big size disparity.

Over 10 days, Pedro learned about Krav Maga’s history, psychology, law, combat mindset, firearms training, tactics, kinesiology, and more. He said that he has never encountered a hand-to-hand combat curriculum that is so meticulous about background knowledge, principles behind moves, instructional techniques, tactics, as well as indoctrinating our students with a warrior spirit.

To explain our philosophy, here’s an example from different perspective: iPhone users generally find Apple products pleasant to use for its simplicity, but the engineer knows and understands all the complex technology behind the devices. We strongly believe that at the instructor level, Kravists should know much more than the moves and tactics, they should also understand all the details regarding Krav Maga.

Krav Maga + Muay Thai + Kali + BJJ = Pedro Chong
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Pedro was an avid Muay Thai competitor

As a seasonal Muay Thai and Kali fighter, Pedro has powerful hand movements and solid footwork. Despite sparring against students twice his size, Pedro can maintain his position against anyone at UTKM. He is quite amazing at adapting to Krav Maga techniques.

Pedro’s instructional skills are also undoubtedly well developed. He has been a hand-to-hand combat instructor for the Taiwanese (ROC) army and a Muay Thai coach, and now a certified Krav Maga instructor under UTKM. Once, Pedro taught us some Muay Thai in the gym, most of our instructors joined in, and everyone was impressed by the amount of detail he goes into for each move.

His weakness was a lack of grappling experience. For example, during his Orange Belt test, he was choked out by one of the attackers. We recommended that he train in BJJ when he returns to Taiwan. Often, grapplers are comfortable with chokes, locks, and grabs, but less confident with striking; similarly, strikers can punch and kick easily, but are weak when it comes to relative positions, submitting, and escaping. As such, Krav Maga and BJJ work well together to strengthen one’s overall self-defense ability. Ultimately, it is important for anyone doing Krav Maga to have good awareness of their opponent and their own bodies. Cross training in varying types of martial arts can benefit that.

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Tough and rigiourous Krav Maga is apperciated in Taiwan

Pedro is now back in Taiwan, with the Taiwanese (Republic of China) military. Although he is unable to hold regular Krav Maga classes, he has shared his knowledge with the army, police, as well as forces in Ecuador. He also continues Krav Maga training in other countries, through military and security agencies.

Our experience with Pedro taught us many things about training instructors and has helped us to revamp the curriculum many times since his graduation. Teaching a condensed version of the program is much too exhausting for both students and instructors, and it will most likely not be repeated in the future. As mentioned in part 1 of this series, our current program is a dedicated mentorship in which we train only a few students over the span of an entire year.

At the time of this being published, becoming a UTKM instructor is by invite only. In addition, the FIC is still under development in order to offer the best possible education for our instructors. We will be opening it up in the future to a few applicants per year. If you are thinking about doing this in the future, please inquire by  emailing Josh Hensman at info@urbantacticscanada.com.

Traveling Krav Student – A Perspective in Constant Shift.

I have the pleasure of a job that travels up to 75% of my time and all of the fun, adventure, and pain that can go with it. Traveling alone provides both a sense of freedom and a near constant potential for events to go either positively or negatively in the extreme. A necessity for preparedness for that “worst possible case” has turned my focus to Krav as a highly practical mind and skill set for my life. Through training, I’ve begun shifting how I move through, react to, and think about my surrounding.  Adopting an awareness as well as constantly planning for immediate, violent, and the very real possibility for danger would have driven me to paranoia and edginess in the past, but physically preparing for these events in combination with the mental shift has had the opposite effect; I am alert and aware, but confident, calm, and relaxed in my daily environments.  As a bonus, maintaining that alert state has taken my head out of my phone and into the fascinating and beautiful world we inhabit.  As I travel, I see more, learn more, and interact with incredible people more than I ever have before.  I am dedicated to continuing this forward progress through Krav; both the physical and mental art.

I find Krav establishments wherever I travel, and participate in their classes to learn all I can, from everyone I can.  I place value in learning from a variety of people and perspectives to broaden my own thinking of techniques, situations, and ideas.  At Urban Tactics I found instructors and students who embody all that Krav is, and they graced me with a welcoming and interesting experience.  They didn’t hold anything back, and I am happy to say that I was exhausted by the end of each lesson.  Borhan and Jon are great instructors bringing a variety of new techniques and new critiques to my repertoire that I will continue to develop and incorporate into my practice. Skills and drills can prepare a person, but the sparring was certainly a humbling experience. It was headgear and mouth guards, gloves and very little held back. Call me strange, but I was glad to learn some lessons at the far reaches of an opponent’s gloves. I have a healthy respect for how much I have yet to learn. Yet, I was able to bring new ideas back to my hometown gym and spread some of the lessons among others.  I greatly appreciate the conversations I had with those at Urban Tactics that broadened our scope.  Krav is all about using whatever works, after all, and I certainly learned many variations and adjustments that may be handy in rough situations.

Best of all, it was fun.  Smiles were seen all around through and despite the heavy breathing of all the students.  The culture is one of dedication, respect, and shared goals.  I feel lucky to have been a part of it.  One last lesson to share: it’s humbling, entertaining, and encouraging to hear laughter through a mouth guard.

Written by: Abby Evers

Delta Krav Maga: http://deltakravmaga.com/