Archive for the ‘UTKM Student Corner’ Category

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.

jen test.jpg

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:

jens leg.jpg

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.

Luke Olson a UTKM Yellow Belt.jpg

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.



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.