Archive for the ‘UTKM Testing Prep & Experience’ Category

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!

 

Advertisements

IMG_8505

If you are just reading this as a stand-alone, please make sure to go and read “The “Hell” That Was the Dreaded Green Belt Test” by our Student Karis who recently completed the test. This was her account of the test and this post is coming from an instructor perspective and response to her post.

Before I break down Karis’s assement I should Note that at UTKM the green belt test is the hardest tests with regards to basic hand to hand combat. It covers the white belt-Orange Belt curriculum which focuses on unarmed combat and control. It does cover sticks and other weapons of opportunity as well as basic knife defenses. The main goal of the test is to push you physically and mentally and still see if you are able to defend your self when tired and under duress.

For some, this is a nightmare and others just another day, either way, we scale the tests to push each individual according to their limits. What I want to try to do is get you do quit, even though I dont want you to quit. Because of this, it is a hard 3-3.5 hour test that only has a few minutes here and there for rest. Because of this, short of being completely oblivious to the techniques one of the only real ways to fail is to quit. So far out of all 5 people who have done the green belt test, though we broke their spirit they all ended up finishing the test. Karis just happens to be the first woman to do it and she sets the pace for every other female who follows as looking at our student base there will most certainly be more in the coming years.

The other thing is if after reading Karis post you can’t see the angst all over the writing then I will tell you, Karis is still young at 18 so for her, someone who grew up in soft Canada, and still has yet to experience much, this test was particularly difficult. But I am very proud that she didn’t quit and completed the test.

Before the Test

 

In response to her comment “but the test was very painful and I never want to do anything like that again.” She will, of course, do many many more things like this perhaps even harder. Eventually, the higher belt tests will come and oh you know that thing called life which she has barely started…

And yes, our classes really are fun, even though we are pushing you all hard. Especially in the Warrior classes.

Her first hardship with this test was the fact she was supposed to do it in December. She had been diligently preparing training 4-5 days a week including running. She was ready both physically and mentally. Then a few days leading up to it she tripped and sprained her ankle. I recall she was more upset because ” I don’t get hurt.”, some of us found this amusing. I think most of the older people said, “You do now, welcome to aging.” or something along those lines.

Injury can wreak havoc on the psyche, especially if you are used to training all the time. Aside from the fact we had reduced class offerings due to our Richmond location shutting down, it is clear that the injury affected Karis in a way she might not have expected. She lost some motivation and energy. This is normal. Anyone who has ever been injured knows this feeling. But those of us who bounce back fast know you can’t let it get you down and you just have to get back into things as fast as comfortably possible. This was her first mistake. Using the lack of classes available as a reason to let her cardio, and other physical attributes suffer.

When you are less physically ready for a test it means that the inevitable will happen. The mental will be all the harder and for Karis it certainly was.

In a real war, if I quit, people die.” 

This Physical Vs. Mental strength phenomenon is something I learned about in the army. Those who were physically gifted rarely really pushed themselves, thus they knew not what it means to feel the pain that someone who is not physically gifted felt. For someone like my self who is not an athlete, I was constantly fighting a mental battle and fighting through everything just trying to keep up. Those who were physically gifted the odd time they were actually pushed to their limits acted like petulant little children and could barely handle it. For me and others like me, this struggle was real. I remember being told once they looked up to me because they saw how hard it was for me and were surprised I never quite. Which I usually responded, “In a real war, if I quit, people die.” 

This attitude in many ways is what Krav Maga is really about.

The Test

 

Bar-Or: This is a standard IDF test, at least when I was there. You are required to do push-ups, sit-ups and then a 2km run. The 2km distance can be tough because you can’t sprint it but it’s not exactly long distance. Thus if you push yourself it usually quite difficult. For Karis, this was probably the hardest part. She started out great but then nerves, her mind and lack of running prep got in the way. I would say though it was mostly nerves and her mind as I had not run in…I dont know..ow my knees and it wasn’t too bad at all. Thus the mind becomes the killer of dreams sometimes. I had to give her a pep talk, something I am not great at in order to get her not to quit right there.

Written Exam: Compared to everything she has written for the instructor course this was easy but due to her nerves it was harder than she would have imagined. Hmmm, I wonder what kind of sadist makes someone write a test right after they just jacked up someone’s heart rate. WHO DOES THAT!? Well, me of course.

Simple, in the military, police or in life you may encounter a stressor, your heart rate goes up but you still need to function. You still need to write that report, coordinates or work after a fight with your significant other. So really, I guess this part is a test of life and adversity. YAY!

Also in response too “I AM SO SORRY INSTRUCTORS WHO HAD TO TRY TO READ AND GRADE MY TEST, I THOUGHT JON WOULD BE GRADING IT.” Why do you think I made them mark it? I is so SMRT. But no seriously, I need to make sure the other instructors are capable of marking and running these tests as eventually everyone will need to be able to run them without me..so sad :(, I mean GREAT!

Review: Now that her heart rate is down again, time to jack it up. AGAIN! Of course, she doesn’t remember doing the white or yellow belt techniques. Thats because she has done them so many times they are like second nature. Funny how training works like that. Ideally, you get to the point where you no longer think, you just do.

The Orange belt curriculum focuses more on takedowns and controlling the other opponent. So if you dont MAKE THEM COMPLY WITH PAIN COMPLIANCE!!!!! Then this part will be hard. Yes, they are wearing cups, so if they dont react, HIT THEM HARDER because they clearly didn’t learn their lesson the first time! A lesson to everyone who helps out on a test. I dont want you to make it easy but if you aren’t responding at all even after they hit you hard then clearly you have nothing there worth hitting. Just saying… And to anyone testing in the future, there is a reason they are wearing cups. HIT HARDER!

When it came to the Judo she did just fine, of course, it helps Petra does Judo which makes it so much easier. There is nothing harder than doing Judo with new people who are bigger than you. It is oh so much more painful than it needs to be. Lucky Karis!

Body shot only sparring: This is basically a 5-minute Karate style Kumite to soften you up for the rest of the test. Yes, it will hurt, it’s fairly hard hitting with no shots to the face. I don’t know what the complaints are for, its not like I made her do a 100 man Kumite! The more aggressive you are back the more difficult it is for your opponents to be aggressive on you. If you just take it, you will have bruises. Lots of them!!

Notice how being aggressive stops your opponents faster….Just saying. Of course, we are not looking for head kicks or strikes in our Kumite but you know. AGGRESSION!

Circle of Power: This is a fairly standard Krav test. Stand in the middle as people take turns attacking with various attacks. Unlike the Orange Belt one, this one involves taking downs. Get stuck on the ground and you might be there for a while. This is where mental fortitude matters especially if you have no BJJ or grappling background. Say…I remember it says somewhere that you need a BJJ blue belt or equivalent to get a UTKM Black Belt. This may take most people a while, but if you start it early BEFORE your green belt then it’s much easier. Of course, Karis did BJJ but has not continued since we shut down the Richmond school so I guess she is rusty…

Yes, some people are bigger than you but that doesn’t matter. I regularly roll with guys who have 20-30-40-50 lbs on me and I still give them a challenge because I am not going to let them just sit on me for an entire round because who the hell wants that. AGGRESSION! Even if you are exhausted by this point in the test. Additionally, I STRONGLY encourage ALL women students to take of BJJ early in their self-defense training. Combine it with your Krav and you will be unstoppable.

Sparring with Takedowns: My test evaluation grading book thing says I got one, but I got two. That’s all I have to say. “I dunno I saw one…maybe 2 but you know I have old eyes… This part of the test is Hard. Because not only are you tired, you need to attempt to use all the techniques you have to control opponents in rapid succession. The record for this section is 3 out of 5. OH, and you need to control them on the ground for 3-5 seconds before you get to rest. Take the entire round and you get no rest.

Conclusion & Advice

 

There was most certainly blood sweat and tears. I will deviate from her post and give my own conclusion and advice. Karis is one of the most dedicated and hard-working students, if not the most dedicated and hard working students we have ever had. She more than anyone deserved this belt as for her the entire journey was a struggle. YES WARREN (Warren Chow is a contributor and UTKM Green Belt student), this includes you. Unlike Warren, Karis did not have a lifetime of experience and martial arts to draw from when the test became difficult mentally.

Karis is an inspiration to any of the other students because she is always there and always training. Like me, I would not say she is physically gifted or naturally athletic but she puts in the work and thus she gets the results. To any students who think they cant do they test then you dont know its simply a matter of showing up and training. Eventually, you too will get there.

If you had asked me when Karis first showed up if she would have been our first female Green Belt I wouldn’t have believed it. Karis came to us when she was 15 and despite living so far from the school (often bussing 2-3 hours to train) she still kept coming. She was a scrawny teen with bad posture and yet she has come so far.

She now stands up straight and kicks ass like no other. We did and do have other females who are Orange belts and started well before Karis but they either stopped training, moved away or take far to much time off. This is a classic example of the Tortis and the Hare. Constant, consistent pace will get you there in the long run and that she did.

If you have not also read her other posts she is also working towards being an Assistant instructor at UTKM. A process that is arguably harder than the green belt because IT TAKES SO DAMN LONG! Sucks that I have standards. OH WELL, better instructors for all you students. YAY!

Anyways. Karis did great despite the setbacks at the beginning. She overcame and didn’t Quit and thats what matters. She has a lifetime ahead of her to continue growing and improving and by the time she’s my age, she will probably be kicking my ass.

Let her be an inspiration to you all and I wish that you to may all learn to walk in peace.

Note: IF YOU DONT WANT YOUR NAME SPELT INCORRECTLY ON YOUR CERTIFICATES MAKE SURE ITS SPELT RIGHT IN THE SYSTEM….Just saying.

Sept 2018 Seminars

Posted: September 1, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Seminars, UTKM Testing Prep & Experience
Tags:

Gun Disarm Seminar

WHEN: Sat Sept 22, 2018 10am-2pm

WHERE: UTKM Richmond, BC

COST: $50 Members/$80 Non-Members

*Hours count towards advanced belts

Rifle Dry Fire Course

WHEN: Sat Sept 29, 2018 9am-2pm

WHERE: UTKM Richmond, BC

COST: $150 First Time -$75 Second Time +

*Hours count towards advanced belts

Well, first thing I’d like to say is that Warren (A UTKM Green Belt Student.) lied to me. “The orange belt is easier than the yellow belt!’ You know, for an older, pleasant-seeming fellow, Warren is probably quite, quite evil. It is to be expected, he is a Green belt.
UTKM only really has three belts. Yellow, Orange and Green. There are more above Green, but everyone who has tried, has died. Well, not died, but, you know, not made it yet. Perhaps one day, if they learn immortality.
Editors Note: No one has died at UTKM. This is Andrews dark sense of humour. also, we havent been open that long for anyone to train long enough to achieve the higher belts where we go past the basics of hand to hand combat and start to look into more specific applications like police and military. For most people, the orange or green belt is enough but for those serious about expanding their knowledge in the area of use of force then this is where it’s at. Additionally we currently only have 4 green belts, only warren is regularly still at the school.
Yellow, Orange and Green. I personally think Orange should be Red. Not just because it looks like stop-lights that way, but because the Orange belt test did that to my brain about twenty minutes in. Stopped it. It’s already red (ish) because, you know, brain.
Editors note: Possibly a reference to the awareness colour code? but we are never quite sure with Andrew.
 A Yellow belt test is about mental toughness and determination with basic technique. An Orange belt has you demonstrate the advanced technique, then takes it away from you and sees if you can make it. Then demands technique again. The Greenbelt test is a lovely combination of all this, while maintaining advanced technique at all times.  Good fun.
So the Orange belt is half-way through UTKMs punishing belt regime. After Green, it’s less about testing for physical and mental toughness and more refining and learning. You’ve proven you can take what is dished out and how.
Things like tough belt tests are an excellent motivator not to get in real-life fights.
Andrew does 360

Andrew during testing

Things like tough belt tests are an excellent motivator not to get in real-life fights. You are reminded that not all will go as planned. That training and technique can only go so far when you are winded and repeatedly being punched in the face. You’re wearing a head protector, but that head protector only does so much, as my black eye attested. Looked cool though.

The second reality is the first time it starts to get hard and you have to recommit to pushing through, realising that the only way out -is- through.
157213-Fight-Through-The-Bad-Days.jpg
Editors Note: If you have ever wondered why lead instructor Jonathan Fader is the way he is, it is because he takes this very krav approach to life.
Krav is about always learning and re-learning, and about giving up ideas for harsh reality. The harsh realities of a demanding test come in several, equally-delicious flavours. First, you take that first step and make it to the test. The precipice moment. Comes and goes quickly, but you must still psych yourself up in order to get to it. The second reality is the first time it starts to get hard and you have to recommit to pushing through, realising that the only way out -is- through. Finally, when and if you’ve run out of endurance and technique, is the pure guts part. Just keep marching or fighting, one step after another.
Real fighting also has a precipice moment – one we teach you to spot early in Krav and if you do decide to take the step, do it before the other guy does. Preferably you see it coming and turn aside, but if you have to do it, do it fast and commit.
After that commit point, a real-life, no-rules fight can go anywhere. It can be over in a punch or two or be a ten minute struggle for dominance. It can end with a fast stab and you can spend twenty minutes trying not to bleed to death. We can only train you so much for those moments, but what we -can- do is teach you that if you -do- learn to push through and fight on, your chance of success goes way, way up.
 UTKM belt tests are not only a test of your technique and perseverance, but a reminder of how punishing and unpredictable a real life fight can be. And why you should avoid them when possible – and destroy when not.
So that’s what Orange belt tests are like. Learn to succeed through toughness when technique fails. Can’t wait to see what Green belt is like – apparently, you have to have technique even when tall men are repeatedly kicking you around. Should be interesting.
Oh yes and I got my Assistant Instructors Certificate so now I may pois..polish young minds. And old minds. And any mind that doesn’t manage to escape my reach in time…
Editors note: The assistant instructor course takes 6 months-1 year in addition to regular Krav Maga training, Just like our belts our instructor’s course is not for factory instructors but those who are committed to both Krav Maga technique but also and mostly the knowledge that makes a good instructor.

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..

Road To Orange Belt

Last year in March I started the assistant instructor course at UTKM, together with my fellow sufferers Andrew and Karch. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Friday classes, I definitely learned a lot and I also enjoy teaching. I even like most of the students. But it is a lot of commitment.

Recently Jon sent out the monthly Warrior News by email. He is almost ready for the next batch of aspiring assistant instructors but he also requests that if you are interested in becoming an assistant instructor you have to talk to either Andrew, Karch or myself to get an idea of how much commitment we are talking here.

I’ll be honest, It is a lot!

Not only are you still attending regular classes, you also have to add a minimum of 4 hours per week dedicated to the course. And when I write minimum that means that it is actually more. Get used to the idea that one night or more a week, will be dedicated to endless PowerPoint Presentations. Not to forget the extra days where review and catch up is needed as one or more of the participants missed a regular class. And the Saturdays that you are going to spend doing firearms’ or other seminars.

And then there are the written tests, Did I mention there are tests? Many of them, some which took at least 3 hours to complete. While you are busy writing your hands off, Jon circles the table like a shark always trying to distract (because, you know, Krav Maga). Did I mention test? I would say more like endless “Essays” that test your ability to critically think without a hint to help with memory recall.

Just memorizing is not enough, you have to come up to your own conclusions, explain your own thoughts. I still have to write my final exam which will cover everything we’ve learned so far. Not intimidating AT ALL!

Picture: Petra Helping out in a yellow Belt test, knowing one day she two may have to run a test.

And then the orange belt test.

The last few months I’ve been dealing with some health issues and I’m not Feeling on top of my game. To be honest I haven’t Felt on top of my game for quite a while. I sometimes even feel I’ve peaked already which is, of course, not true. At least I won’t allow myself to think like that.

But I still Need to get a reminder that I still can do it, kick peoples’ asses and spar even with the heavy hitters like Quinn or Jeff (chose one). But that means work, again. And commitment. Jon is helping me a lot by offering conditioning classes and while I’m huffing and puffing on the assault bike distracting me by rambling about the city or politics.

Why am I doing this? I like the teaching but also the physical aspect of Krav Maga. Learning to fight and how to defend yourself is very important. At least for me, I was raised to be independent. I’m definitely not a Pilates Person. I like throwing or hitting People. The idea that women are inferior to men is bullshit and if there are male students who think they don’t have to take me seriously will be taught otherwise. And I hope to encourage more women to join the gym.

Krav Maga is helping me also with my mental Problems – I’m off my medication for almost half a year now. It wasn’t always easy but working on becoming an assistant instructor, teaching and now working on my conditioning for the orange belt gives me purpose and helps get me out of bed in the morning. The conditioning classes with Jon are tough but they remind me that I’m still strong. It might take me a bit longer to get back into the game but I WILL get there!

I also understand why Jon is doing this to himself and us – he wants to give us as much Information as possible so that we can be confident on the mats, knowing what we are doing and that the techniques we are teaching to you make sense and also to Keep the high Standards of the School. I myself decided to Train at UTKM because of the good Reputation that the School does have.

If you want to become an assistant instructor at UTKM – please go ahead, but be warned, you will Need lots of Stamina to get through. But is it worth it? The answer is a big fat YES!

Editors note: The Assistant instructor course is currently only available to local UTKM students.