Archive for the ‘UTKM Student Corner’ Category

Getting a workout in could be as easy as challenging the kids to a “sit-up contest” (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

When my first daughter was born, my martial arts training faded into the rear-view mirror, and my overall fitness with it. It is a big adjustment to have another human being be more important than you in your own life. At some point you have to make serious changes to compensate for the new stresses, obligations, and pitfalls, otherwise you are in danger of becoming someone who you don’t want your children to look up to.

Finding the “Time”

I am a firm believer that, as a parent, you don’t “deserve time to yourself” (“deserving” things is a marketing ploy, an appeal to emotion in order to sell you spa packages and chocolate), in fact, sacrifice is your new normal. However, as parents we are still human (mostly), and therefore still NEED to take care of our bodies, maintain social ties, express creativity, and pursue passions; otherwise what type of role model are we?

Let’s be honest, we all “found” the nearly 3 FULL DAYS it took to watch all 8 seasons of Game of Thrones, so we aren’t really talking about “time” here, we are talking about “energy.” At the end of a long day you are tired; work, life, and the kids/partner have drawn the life force from your body, and the last thing you want to do is expend more of it on exercise.

Ironically, multiple studies have indicated that as little as 20min of low-to-moderate intensity exercise, just three times a week, can reduce feelings of fatigue. Whereas more committed regimes (30-40min of moderate-to-vigorous) will improve on your mood and fitness, in addition to your energy levels.

Logically, if you improve your energy level (and mood) you will find that you have more “time” for your family and a greater willingness to attain the balance we all need between Family and being human (ie. your physical, emotional, mental health)

Beyond energy, overall fitness is important for a few reasons:

  1. Maintaining your fitness means you will be around longer for your family.
  2. Physical fitness contributes to mental and emotional fitness, allowing you to contribute positively to family interactions.
  3. Teaching your family good health habits will mean they are happier and around longer too.
Finding the Actual Time

“I don’t have time to ______, I have kids!” is a classic excuse for not doing … anything. Once we have tackled the real, underlying problem of energy, it can, depending on your family’s schedule, be difficult to find the minutes or hours to engage in non-parenting activities. (Remember that “sacrifice is your new normal” concept?)

Step 1 is to make good health a priority. Not just “make time for it”, but actually make mental, emotional, and physical fitness a family value; talk to your kids about what you are doing, and teach them why it is important (especially as you get older), and invite curiosity.

Common tips for carving out this time:

  • In the morning
    • Get up before everyone else and fit in a work out, read, or meditate. Everyone else is asleep, so they won’t miss you. (Sleeping in is bad for you anyway!)
  • At night
    • As above, but hit that 40min routine after the kids are in bed.
  • Break into small chunks
    • If you cannot find a solid 30-50min span during your day, then sneak in exercise in the smaller gaps without being totally absent. I find that opportunities for an elevated heart rate arise throughout the day with my kids; running beside them on bike rides, playing tag, swimming,etc.. HIIT routines are great for utilizing gaps in the day, as they can be done effectively in as little as 20min (though you may need a quick clothes change and wipe-down if you are doing it properly).

Remember, this isn’t just about “working out.” While exercise has knock-on effects for your emotional and cognitive well-being, you should be seeking opportunities to maintain balance in the non-physical aspects of your life as well. If you can make time for exercise, you can make time to call an old friend, draw, meditate, etc..

Make Self-care a Family Activity

A fourth tip (more of a philosophy), for finding the actual time for your health and wellness is to involve your family in the activities you are engaging in. Combine any or all of the first three tips and incorporate the rest of your clan, directly or indirectly. For some families this becomes a bonding experience, a point of pride, or even a family tradition.

Whether you are sharing time in calm silence, challenging each other’s creative skills, cooking (a great way to teach nutrition, self-reliance, and science/creativity), or starting a basic exercise routine, you need to be aware that you are working in a group with varying levels of ability. Make sure that your expectations are realistic and plan accordingly. For example, have variations of each exercise that your kids can do safely, give time to your less proficient readers and have material they can work with, allow kids to “help” you if they can’t do something themselves. (I got lucky, both of my girls are very physical and are fascinated by the martial arts)

There is plenty of advice out there for how to tweak the activities you already love so that your “new recruits” can participate: Icy Mike, over at Hard2Hurt, has a great video on pad holding when training martial arts with inexperienced family members. And horror/B-movie superstar, Bruce Campbell, espouses the benefits of “Lollygagging” as a means of mental health maintenance. He defines Lollygagging as “the act of doing exactly what you want for an indeterminate period of time (preferably outdoors) for no particular reason.”

You will likely find that there are a lot of options for getting your crew into full-body health. The earlier you instill good habits in your young people, the easier it will be for them to maintain those habits throughout their lives, seeing these as an essential art of life (as we all should!). Children often don’t know the difference between play and exercise; you can use this blissful ignorance against them!

Be Wary of the Two “Busy Parent Fallacies”

Two common imbalances that I have seen among my fellow parents come in the guise of good choices, but are, in truth, thinly veiled excuses for neglecting yourself or your family:

  • Hiding from Family via Self-care
    • This occurs when you are never around due to the over-prioritization of your own health. You are always escaping family obligation and time with your kids (which can be tedious!) by forever having a workout, training session, or other “me time” requirement. Your brood needs you. Yes, working out or engaging in self-care is harder when you have to schedule it around others, but, re-read the above tips and you will be able to figure something out. Often you will end up with a hybrid (balanced!) approach, where some activities are done together, and some are on your own. Having a supportive and informed partner helps A LOT!
  • Hiding from Self-care via Family
    • This comes in the form of justifying the lack of action on your health and mental/emotional stability (and that of your family’s), due to claims that you are over-prioritizing “quality time” with your kids, or putting their needs first. While this may be noble in intention, it is often a socially acceptable excuse to let yourself go. I’ve been there, I know! It is really easy to say “I don’t want to be tired when I have to deal with the kids tomorrow.” But, eventually I discovered that shirking my workouts resulted in it being difficult to keep up with them and lift them over my head, plus I fell out of shape I became irritable (that’s not good for me or them). Again, re-read the sections above; exercise gives you the energy and mood stability to keep up and be chill!

Ultimately, this is a balancing act (the theme!), you will find that it is probably best to transition slowly at first; do some things early, some things late, and some as a group. This is a process, don’t be afraid to re-start, re-assess, re-think, and you WILL find something that works to get you back in the gym while fulfilling your duties as a parent, or back in the family while staying fit and sane.

In Summary

The goal is balance. Doing what you need to do to maintain your family life, while at the same time ensuring that you maintain yourself (so that you are of use to said family). Let’s not forget, as a parent you are now responsible for the well-being and development of a Human. They are famously complex creatures, and, like it or not, they are looking at you as the model for how to live and act; so it is of the utmost importance that you figure out how to maintain balance between improving their mental, emotional, and physical wellness, and your own. Ask yourself, honestly, what do you want them to see when they look up to you? For those moments when you feel weak, find strength in the example you are setting.

Written by: Corey

Editors Note: This post was originally written on November 9th, 2016, As we are currently doing a series on injuries we thought we would re-post some past articles on this topic. This one was written by Assistant Instructor Dave Young who is a professional musician as well as martial artist. Like many who train martial arts, injury is a big concern, especially if it can affect your ability to do your other hobbies or your job. Yet, many musicians train in the martial arts without issues, like David Lee Roth of Van Halen. The discipline and consistency needed for music is much like that of the martial arts, so it should be a natural draw for musicians, but fear of injury can often prevent many from learning something they always wanted to learn. See our previous post on Injury Anxiety. This, however, has never stopped Dave, who has since moved out of the city and we wish him the best. We know he will continue his martial arts journey no matter where he is, so keep an eye out for this bearded warrior.

Audio By Jonathan Fader
daveyoung2

In any martial art, there is always the risk of getting injured. I think most martial art and self-defence 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 most important things that allow me to write, record, and perform. Thus, throwing punches and getting hit in the head may seem counter-intuitive 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: Hone your 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 injury — 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. 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.

Written by: Dave Young.

Hey everyone, my name is Justin, some of you reading this may know me from class as we’ve most likely trained together or I’m sure we will at some point in time if we haven’t as of yet, or maybe you are someone reading this who is just interested in learning Krav Maga. I just wanted to share my experience of Krav Maga with
you and a little bit about my journey. I hope you enjoy the read.

About me

I started Krav Maga with Urban Tactics in the year 2013 and it has been an amazing ride. Amongst going to classes, I have taken part in various seminars and courses around knife survival, knife defense, military krav maga, pistol disarming, and tactical shooting, all of which the UTKM had to offer, and I have also had the pleasure of learning from Moshe Katz who is a 7th dan black belt in Krav Maga and one of Itay Gil’s top students. (I suggest you look them both up if you dont know who they are). I originally joined Krav maga because I have always liked the military approach to hand to hand combat, and what I observed about Krav Maga is that it was very practical, tactical and super effective, and the most applicable self-defense system to get the job done.

Growing up as a kid I have always had this vision of myself being this special forces soldier with a set of ninja skills to take on any opponent, at 8 years old my favourite all-time movie was Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger (a MUST watch if you haven’t seen.. total classic) I used to want to be just like him and would copy him in every way. I used to walk around wearing army pants, a military camo vest, a green beret, I would paint my face with real army paint that I got from my dad (who was in the military when he was younger) and I would strap up toy guns all over myself along with plastic grenades and I would literally walk around like this. My mother would be so embarrassed and tried to stop me but I wouldn’t take NO for an answer!

As for martial arts, around 13 I did Karate for a very short time but didn’t stick with it. Finally, in my 20s, I started Krav Maga. I still have a vision as I did as a kid, but a little less crazy.

Today much like as a kid I draw inspiration from fictional characters. Examples of my adult inspiration are James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer from the show 24. Like them, I aspire to be able to move, think, and enter a combat situation and be able to handle myself like they do and complete the mission!

I think in life it’s great to have a healthy imagination, and I’m a true believer of the quote

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it”

One of my favourite Bruce Lee quotes that really touches the core of my soul is

“As you see in your heart, So shall you become”

and this last couple year I’ve broken through a lot of barriers mental and physical and I feel like I’m living proof of that. Not to mention my vision for who I feel I’m meant to be is definitely becoming a reality. As for being like JasonBourne, James Bond or Jack Bauer; I am already there in my mind and in my heart, I just need to brush up on some techniques and work on some areas to get my body up to speed! I aspire to be the next upcoming real-life JB. Justin Blinkhorn! and be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. So if you see me in person, you can ask me if I am still moving towards this version of my self so that I can stay accountable. Please keep me on my Krav Maga toes!

My Journey in Krav Maga

I will admit, I wasn’t always consistent in Krav Maga from the beginning, sometimes I let life get in the way and had trouble prioritizing it as much as I could have from the start of my journey. Growing up in the city of Vancouver it’s also very easy to fall into the party life style, I eventually started battling with alcoholism and addiction in my early 20s which was the main issue that hindered my growth and slowed my progress. I have hit a rock bottom quite a few times in my life due to those experiences, but I have learned more from those moments than traveling down any easy road in life.

When you endured adversity through moments of darkness, manage to dig deep within yourself, and climb back out, you will find out what your truly capable of.

To me, that struggle and light at the end is extremely beautiful. Despite the road being tough at times, I’m thankful for the setbacks and the mistakes (which can be our greatest teachers) and I truly believe there is no force powerful enough to ever keep me down, as in this journey and through those struggles I unlocked  superpowers within myself I could have only dreamed of as a child.

In 2016 I saw a movie that really resonated with my life more than I can explain in words. This movie called Man Of Steel (which is the latest Superman remake). When I saw this movie, I saw a character, that if he decided to, could do so much good in the world and despite evil forces trying to corrupt him and lead him astray. He battled his demons, blasted through resistance and became the man he was destined to be. I can relate that movie to my life in so many ways, and to that character in a sense that I aspire to give people hope. If you are someone reading this who is struggling in some sort of way, hang in there and keep fighting, never give up.

Another favourite quote of mine (and Jonathan uses this in class regarding why we do breakfall techniques) is

“Why do we fall Master Bruce?
..so we can learn to pick ourselves up again..” (Story of my life)..

Despite my journey being treacherous at times. It shaped me into the human being I am today and I’m very thankful for it. Struggle and adversity build strength and make us stronger.

Justin in 2013 or 2014

Justin is the farthest face in the background that is visable.

This year has been a special one for me, I woke up one day in January 2018, weighing at 223 pounds, I looked deep in the mirror one morning and said to myself

“The time is now, you know what your capabale of, get after it, lets do this” and since that very day I never looked back.. I’ve currently lost 50 plus pounds,
I am the fittest, fastest and healthiest I have ever been. I have changed my lifestyle in all areas of my life, I’m always eating right, I started running like a mad man, swimming, going to classes and not falling off track, and I tell you one thing, discipline equals freedom! #jockowillink and I am the happiest I’ve ever been.  And all because I changed how I saw myself and my approach from what look in the mirror. If I can do it then so can you!

I want to give a special thank you to Jonathan because he has always pushed me to better myself, and earlier this year he said “tell you what, if you keep coming to class as you have been and you reach that weight goal of yours, we will set up your orange belt test” and right at that moment I was like lets do this ! I knew this year I would take my orange belt test, but I had to prove to Jonathan that I had the consistent dedication with no fluctuations, and I’m grateful he gave me that incentive!

I’ll tell you one thing, there is nothing more frustrating than being a yellow or white belt meeting the minimum requirements but being held back from orange belt because I was not consistent or committed in my training to gain the minimum skill and attitude in order to progress further.

I may have been the senior student that took the longest but it made it that much more special.

Everyone’s journey is different, and I currently just acquired my orange belt and I have 300+hours of training with Urban Tactics under my belt and I feel very confident on my abilities. One thing I also do that’s helped me so much in my life, is tracking, everything from my timing of sleep, what I eat, exercises, Krav Maga, daily routines, etc. So, get a pen a paper, it will help you stay accountable and monitor progress in all areas of your life!

The Orange Belt Test

Coming up to the Orange belt test, I met my weight goal of 170 pounds just a couple days before! The exact day I did my Orange belt test also marked my 6 months sobriety date, which made it that much more meaningful! Believe in yourself, back that belief up with action, and you too will see what the universe will give you in return!

The day of the orange belt test, this was a day I had envisioned for so long. I showed up early, there was a yellow belt assessment going on and this allowed me to warm up. Then it was my turn.

The written part was fairly easy for me as I’ve been going there long enough (I would hope to know these things by now) (lol). Next, we worked on techniques from the white belt to yellow belt curriculum for about an hour or so, I went in with extreme energy right from the beginning and gave it my all. I went full force to the best of my ability, then after that first portion I was definitely getting tired but I knew the next section would need full attention.

The famous Circle Of Power, which also has the nickname “Circle Of Death”, basically for 10 minutes straight you’re in the middle of a big circle of about 10-15 students as they each take a turn coming at you with an attack, everything from boxing, knife threats, knife attacks, chokes, bear hugs, anything and everything. Around the 7 minute mark, one of bigger sized students slipped behind me with a rear-naked choke and was super swift and fast about it and I didn’t see it coming or have time to tuck my chin, I could feel the lock, tight as can be around my throat, now at this very moment you have two options:

One, If they don’t lock it in full you can do a basic escape and counter-attack, but if they are skilled and have you fully locked, you’re in a very dangerous position, (at this moment I was already super tired and when that lockset in I could feel the world
shrinking around me)

There is a second move you can do if they lock it in which is also used as a ‘headlock escape’, that involves: striking the groin, getting them  to bend down and use your other free hand to try and peel their head back hopefully being able to dislodge their grip and take them off balance.

However, this one student wasn’t going to give it to me easy ! I had to strike the groin a couple times but during that moment I wasn’t able to continue engaging, my face was turning blue, and I was in extreme trouble. He finally let me loose and I fell to the ground choking and coughing, but I got right back up again. A few moments later I felt my adrenaline race, and I fought as hard as I could for the last few minutes with passion and energy.

My whole neck and esophagus were sore for about 2 weeks after and I couldn’t swallow without feeling a lump in my throat.

There is a lesson learned: Rear naked chokes can be extremely difficult to deal with and if the assailant is trained with a skillset, and you didn’t see it coming. I don’t care how skilled you think you are,you are in deep trouble! My best advice is be aware of your surroundings, see it before it comes to avoid being in that position; and if its too late; then you need to rely on speed and aggression!

Despite that, the test wasn’t over yet. The final part of my test was five 2 minute sparring rounds with different opponents who are hungry to lay the smackdown and at this point, you are most likely running on an extremely low fuel supply. But at last it was over, I had made it through the battle and got my orange belt! With blood, sweat, and tears, it was well earned, there definitely was some emotion involved that day, very happy emotions!

Krav Maga has served me very well and really symbolises all the things im fighting for in my life and is something I’m very passionate about and definitely occupies a huge space in my heart. Getting my orange belt is essentially just a launchpad. I’m going to keep up the grind and continue working towards being the best Kravist I can be, this is only the beginning. I’m also very passionate about wilderness survival and the outdoors, I aspire to live a life of adventure!

-Written by Justin Blinkhorn UTKM Orange Belt

Justin Orange Belt.jpg

P.S.

As Jonathan suggested I start a UTKM Vancouver running group, so if you want to come running, check out the group on UTKMs Facebook Page. I will be conducting 2-5-10km runs. This year I took running to a whole new level; running up to 50km at a time and I’m looking forward to covering some proper distances this year.. which I find is a huge secret to my success, for body and mind. Jonathan told me recently “When you first came to class, if you had told me you’d be the guy to run 50 kilometers at a time, I would think you are out of your mind!” lol ! #getafterit!

 

Andrew does 360

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.

 

Writer’s note:

I’m writing this in hopes to connect with others who may have similar stories. I admit that I am uncomfortable having this published, but feel that it is important to start the dialogue – even if it is only with your self. If anything, I hope this will give insight into one of the many paths that draw people to Krav Maga and why it is important to push yourself past your boundaries.

Italicized sentences represent thoughts and inner dialogue.

Why I started Krav Maga

 

Kallie post orange belt test.jpg

When life’s got you down, Surround your self with those who can support you. Kallie post orange belt test.

Finally, a moment alone.

I crumble onto my bed, exhausted after a rickety flight home. Ugh, I think, Why do I still taste tequila. It’s a typical post-Vegas-with-the-girls moment.

I take in the feeling of my room: safe, warm, and silent – a much needed hug after a distressing weekend. I give myself a moment, lying there in peace until an urge begins to nudge my brain. Ignoring my nausea, I roll over to grab my laptop.

Good ol’ friend, I think, how I missed you and your stoic personality.

I open it up and launch the search engine. Before I can begin typing, I flash back to a dark and booming Vegas nightclub. It’s alive with bodies drenched in purple and pink light, and the murky scents of tequila, B.O., and sexual tension settle thickly over the dance floor. Disorienting strobes of white flicker to EDM music as I make my way through the crowd – alone – trying to find my friends. I clench my phone tightly, the text on the lock screen reading “We’re outside! <3”.

I’m afraid, suddenly afraid, as thirsty eyes follow me through the club. It’s a pit of coyotes and I am a lost sheep. A catcall here, a slap on the ass there, followed by a thirsty touch, and then another, and another… I don’t know what to do and my voice has decided to run, strength has hidden from my muscles. By the time I shake myself out of the shock the culprit has already scurried back into the crowd, another dark, haunting figure joining a throng of anonymous bodies. I look around. No one took notice, not even the bouncer standing in clear view.

I keep walking, swaying now – not from the alcohol but from the tears welling up in my eyes. Why didn’t I do anything? I think to myself. But even if I had managed to say something, what good would it have done? Too many times has an attempt at self-preservation been misinterpreted as an enticing invitation.

I’m trying not to run and I’m trying to keep my cool but it seems like I can’t get out fast enough. My breathing is shallow, my head is spinning, and there is no one I know in sight.

The worst part of that night was that I didn’t feel like what happened deserved any sort of acknowledgement. In the end, my clothes were on and I wasn’t hurt. However, I realized that it was unpunished moments like these – passing instances of unwelcomed hands and unwanted advances – that have made this behavior “normal”, ignored, and even acceptable. The memories of these ghostly interactions deeply affect one’s psyche and sense of security, lasting long after the flight home.

See, that weekend forced me to realize three things:

1)   I do not feel confident enough to stand up for myself.

2)   Instead of running or fighting, I freeze in situations that scare me.

3)   I cannot rely on other people to look after my own safety.

That last point was pivotal, especially since I had lost the majority of my drunken friends in the crowd that Vegas evening.

I’m aware that I’ve grown up in a bubble of security that is my suburban neighborhood. As a young, female millennial hoping to travel the world and blaze my own path (yes, the millennial cliché), I know that changes must be made if I am to be both safe and successful. The trip to Nevada only solidified this sense of false security. I cannot – and will not – remain the ignorant lamb that trusts in the protection of others. I have to ensure my own safety, like a lion defending its territory.

So, in my room, I type into the search bar the name of a self-defense technique I had heard brutal – yet effective – things about: “Krav Maga”. Thanks to the stalker-like location monitoring on my browser (thanks Google!), Urban Tactics Krav Maga appears as the top result.

Alright, I think, This looks legit.

The first thing that catches my eye is a flow chart depicting when or when not to use lethal force. I give it a read and am pleasantly surprised – it seems like this gym really cares about real life solutions. I was concerned that I would attend and get beat up continuously. As someone who works in the entertainment industry, I can’t very well show up to work with a black eye.

I keep browsing and begin to read the class descriptions. This “Defense Class” might be the best start to my training – bonus: it’s free on your first day! The “Warrior Class”, however, looks rather intense and includes full contact sparring – something I’ve never done before. Indeed, it’s something I’m quite afraid to do.

Wait, I think as something catches my eye, there are discounts for military personnel? How advanced are the students if they are ex-military??

I quickly reconsider my decision, my stomach twisting more in its already warped state.

Maybe I’m not ready for this, I think, I should find another place that has women’s or introductory classes… That would be better for someone with no martial arts experience, right?

I take a deep breath to steady myself as my heart beats rapidly. I tell the finicky organ to calm down, though it rarely obeys. Stop shying away from discomfort, I say. If you do, you will never grow – you will never become the lion that you need to be.

I exhale, calmer now. Might as well give it a try with the Defense class, right? It’s pretty close by anyway.

My Journey with Krav Maga

 

I ended up trying both classes on my first day. The Defense class was a great fit and the Warrior class wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. It’s been two years since that online search and I must say I’m tremendously happy I did it. I’m now an Orange Belt and have received my first stripe in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. I have also completed all the available firearms courses available to date.

That first Summer after Vegas I trained hard – I trained with the intention that I would use these skills, be it years from now or that very evening. With that immersed mindset I quickly learned how to apply situational awareness to my everyday life. I felt brave, not solely because I felt stronger or trusted that I could push myself farther, but because I learned how to avoid situations that could be potentially dangerous. Reducing the opportunity of these situations has proved pivotal for my safety.

In class, I’ve been in instances where I’ve been extremely uncomfortable, where I felt like I wouldn’t make it to the end of the session. I’ve been caught in suffocating holds in BJJ close to puking or feared I would never breath again. However, with the Krav Maga mindset I learned to push past the freeze instinct and fight my way out. It’s moments like these that have taught me to believe in my own strength – both mentally and physically – especially when fighting men and women much larger than me. It’s a stilling feeling when your instincts begin to alter and you understand just how unpredictable any situation can be.

The saying, “Krav Maga, so one can walk in peace” has become a truth to me. I used to be afraid of walking alone in the city or in clubs, but now I feel an odd tranquility. The training I’ve undergone has conditioned me to be mentally and physically alert, to operate at “Code Yellow” when I’m out in public. For this, I feel that I can look after my own safety, something I had never been close to a couple years prior.

Of course, I am slowly and steadily continuing my training. Like any skillset, mental awareness and physical responsiveness must be sustained by consistent training. Though I’m not in the gym as often as I’d like, Urban Tactics has become one of my safe spaces for self-exploration and transformation.

 

Why I recommend Krav Maga to you

 

Personal

I’ve already spoken about personal growth but I have a few points remaining here. I’ve seen students overcome panic attacks, emotional turmoil, excess weight gain, and physical restrictions by willpower and commitment. The individual transformations I have had the honor to witness have been awe-inspiring – a daily reminder of how much any one person is capable of.

Physical

Needless to say, Krav Maga is a work out. From the least active to the most conditioned athlete, the training can be modified to fit your needs. I’ve seen retirees, mothers, fathers, and children all on the mats, working hard and breaking a sweat.

Environmental

In such a tumultuous time, it’s easy to see why the ability to defend yourself is vital. Climate change and political distress will quickly change the social and physical landscape around us. Learning how to quickly analyze a stressful situation, understand the operations of a firearm, or being physically fit may save your life or the life of a loved one.

Social

This one was unexpected. I found that those who join Krav Maga have a mutual understanding about the world; specifically, that the world isn’t as safe and wholesome as we always like to believe it to be. Because of that, you find a large array of individuals from different ages, genders, races, and careers that you may have never met otherwise. I was fortunate enough to meet a group of individuals who have filled my past two years with support, laughter, and friendship. From Dungeons and Dragons nights to beers at pubs, it’s been a remarkable and rewarding time.

If you join any Krav Maga institution, I highly recommend starting up conversations with your peers. I wouldn’t have found these friends without going to class and we only pushed each other to improve. The staff and students at Urban Tactics make it a safe place, and they are only one of the reasons why I recommend Krav Maga to you.

Thank you for reading,

Kallie

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Kallie gets her Orange belt

 

And here we go..

Let’s be uber honest; I’m a 36 year old woman with zero martial arts training. Before I joined Urban Tactics and for the last six years, I was hyper-focused on my academic achievements. Sadly, I let my health and weight drastically decline, consequently gaining 45 pounds because, well, balancing life is difficult. I tired of the gym thing; it felt empty and to be frank, an absolute waste of time. Being that I’m a woman who has no time for useless activities and with a long-standing interest in Krav Maga, it made sense to try it out.

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Jen During her yellow belt test

 

With a bit of research, Urban Tactics seemed like the only place in the lower mainland offering an authentic Krav Maga training system and it turns out to be true in my opinion. I started Krav Maga in February 2016. From the first free trial class, I was hooked and at times I still feel like all I can think about is KRAV. What kept me coming back is the supportive and knowledgeable instructors, being pushed both mentally and physically and the comradery/sense of community emanating at UTKM. More importantly is the fact that Krav Maga is an extremely effective self defense system that combines my love for firearms and martial arts. Also, I am benefitting from the positive side effects of being 20+ pounds lighter with more muscle mass! No matter your shape or size, Krav is doable!

A quick google search and you can find evidence of shooters or knife attacks on public transit. Keep your head up and assess, assess and assess because your life is more important than a tweet.

Before I talk about the epic yellow belt test that nearly broke my mental capacity to fight, I want to touch on the real everyday reason to train in Krav Maga. Violence! In the words of Jonathan: “Situational awareness!”  We’ve all heard him utter those words and laughed, but it’s important.. very important. In this day in age, people are so consumed by their smart phones that it makes for easy targets in public. A quick google search and you can find evidence of shooters or knife attacks on public transit. Keep your head up and assess, assess and assess because your life is more important than a tweet. Krav Maga has opened my eyes a bit more and may have made me slightly more hyper-vigilant, but I see that as a positive side effect of training.

Declaimer: Please don’t take what I am going to say as a sweeping generalization of people suffering or struggling with mental illness because I in no way shape or form want to perpetuate stigma. In truth, anyone well or unwell has the potential for violence! If anything, people under the influence of illicit drugs/alcohol can be the most unpredictable and dangerous.

As a Psychiatric nurse, I am faced with the real and raw truth of violence. I’m not going to get into details; you can let your imagination do that. That said, in the short time I have been a nurse I have been physically assaulted three times, once leaving significant bruising. Nurses are at high risk of being victims of violence at work due to the close proximity in which we deliver care. Although my number one weapon against violence or potential thereof is my communication skills, Krav has given me more confidence in my nursing practice. Because of Krav Maga, I am more aware of my surroundings, constantly assessing and hands UP! In a semi-passive stance if need be!

Please note that we also have the luxury of security guards who are there to protect us. Thank you to them each time they respond to our calls! Shout out to my fellow Krav-Mate and a guard I worked with at St. Paul’s; Thanks Marco! Funny enough, Marco and I tested for yellow belt together!

Now, the yellow belt TEST..

Well, after a year of training, and being somewhat content to continue as a white belt, I was invited to test for yellow belt. My first thought, “EEK what? “ I have to admit, I wanted a bit more knowledge and to time to practice the curriculum and I’m aware I can’t hold a candle to some of my classmates’ technique and physical stamina, so the test invitation literally terrified me. That said, mentally I am not a quitter; if I set my mind to something – it’s as good as done. I had one month to prepare, so insert more training than normal, running, conditioning, practising at home, trying to eat clean and NO Drinking (well, I cheated on that one day).

The body will try to tell you to give up, but you have to just keep fighting, running, defending.

Fast forward to test day! To anyone preparing for the test, I honestly don’t know what to tell you, other than train harder! Yes, you will test with others, but it’s honestly a solo trip that will have you digging deep into your mental strength and stamina. The body will try to tell you to give up, but you have to just keep fighting, running, defending.  My first round of sparring, I was delivered some pretty heavy damage to my shin. I almost gave up, my face was leaking tears but I just kept thinking:

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Jens Leg, post test, Mostly curtesy of her Bf. Also a UTKM student. (It was all during the test don’t worry)

 

Retzef! (Hebrew for continuous attack)

Don’t stop attacking!

In real life you don’t get to give up. You have to fight for your life, and isn’t that what Krav Maga is all about..

On February 3rd 2018, myself and three other students tested and received our yellow belts from Urban Tactics Krav Maga. Each of us was pushed to the limit of our physical conditioning. We were tested, not only on our technique but also on our perseverance and willpower to fight through the fatigue and keep going. It was a sweet victory for the four of us, one that came from many months of preparation and training. Luke Testing for his Yellow Belt.jpg

I first attended a class at UTKM about seven months ago. After my first lesson, I was hooked. The gym has a very welcoming and inspiring atmosphere. The classes are structured very well, allowing newcomers to immediately participate in fun conditioning exercises and combat practice. The fundamentals are clearly explained and demonstrated, and the class is put through a series of exercises to practice the techniques. Newer students are often paired with advanced students, who help them out with tips, and the teachers are always near-by to offer specific advice.

The Warrior classes end with light sparring matches, which gives the students the opportunity to practice against each other in a controlled and supervised setting. I found this part of the class to be very helpful for improving confidence and stamina. Sparring offers a simulated reality that allows the student to practice under stress, in a paradoxically comfortable environment.

There is a strong sense of community at UTKM. A certain essence of camaraderie is formed after hours of training together and leaving our hearts out on the mat. Students are not only encouraged to participate; they are encouraged to contribute, and that inspires us to help each other learn and excel.

I first heard about UTKM through some friends who had trained there. I decided to take Krav Maga lessons after having a close call with multiple potential attackers. The situation was luckily defused before any punches were thrown, but the unexpected hostile encounter was an eye-opening experience, one that left me realizing how vulnerable and unprepared I was to defend myself in a violent situation. It made me realize that avoidance is sometimes not an option when it comes to confrontation, and being caught unprepared to fight is tantamount to being at the mercy of your attackers.

Violence is real and everyone has a relationship with it. Most of us try to ignore its existence. Many of us fantasize about it, or live it vicariously through movies and video games. Because we think of ourselves as peaceful people, we tell ourselves that violence could never happen to us; that we are morally above it and can simply choose to opt out.

If we do however find ourselves staring face to face with a would-be attacker, it is only through exercising our own violence that we may reclaim our peace.

Violent situations force us to become either Warriors or Victims; there can be no in-between. Training in Krav Maga is the ultimate equalizer against any evil we may face. Don’t allow your attackers to have a monopoly on violence.

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Become a Lion. Become a Hero.

-Luke Olson

My first Krav Maga class: Carrie, 48

Posted: December 7, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in UTKM Student Corner
Tags: , ,
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.

rcmp

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.

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 M