Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

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..

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Warriors Den Podcast

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Project Power Logo

Project Power Performance Center is a new athletic performance facility that is conveniently located in the UTKM main gym in Richmond. 2 of its three founding members Ed Leung and Jai Iyer sat down with Jonathan to discuss fitness, personal training and the poor environments that are at most commercial gyms. In addition as usual we go off topic and talk about other things.

To give you a little better idea who is project power here is a little about the three:

Ed Leung:
Ed began weight training in 2008 and has never looked back since. His personal journey involved working with numerous trainers and included body building, functional strength training and, more recently, power lifting.

As a coach, Ed:

  • Uses various training styles to cater to individual goals
  • Maximizes training output while reducing stress on joints
  • Works with clients with mobility issues
  • Utilizes myofascial stretching to help release muscle tension

Ed is currently studying Kinesiology with the long-term goal of becoming a physical therapist of chiropractor.

Jai Iyer:
Jai (pronounced Jay) is a competitive body builder and non-competitive powerlifter. He placed first in the 2013 NPAA Novice, and second in the 2014 Sandra Wickman Open. If you’re interested in the numbers, his raw max lifts: Bench 315, Squat 495, Deadlift 523. But Jai isn’t all about getting him and his clients huge, he has also worked with older clienteles and takes more pride in making them realize their hidden potentials.

As a coach, Jai focuses on:

  • Martial arts focused strength + conditioning
  • Powerlifting
  • Competitive level body building, including competition preparation
  • General fitness + weight loss

Jai is a certified personal trainer and also holds a Masters of Electrical Engineering from UBC and is currently training for the BC Provincials to be held on July 9th, 2016.

Mandeep Khatkar:
Mandeep started out as a track and field athlete for 5 years from grade 8-12, which later lead to his interest in powerlifting. After suffering from an unfortunate hamstring tear he switched his focus while recuperating to lose weight and lost 135lb of bodyweight in a healthy sustainable way which he is still maintaining. Currently Mandeep is pursuing his adventures in Olympic lifting after having a brief stint with wrestling.

As a coach, Mandeep focuses on:

  • Developing strength and speed in youth athletes
  • Sustainable Weight loss
  • Strength and conditioning for Track and field athletes
  • Olympic Lifting coaching

Mandeep is a certified personal trainer. He is currently looking to complete his level 1 for Track and Field and Olympic Lifting and has a long term goal of becoming a RMT.

gatorade

So do you? Well, it depends…

Whenever I am at a gym, martial arts school or fitness centre I see guys (yes, mostly males) gulping down sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, or something made from a powder. I often ask myself, is that drink necessary in this situation? To answer this I usually observe the individual’s activity, and more often than not, I answer my own question with a resounding ‘no’. I want to be clear though, there is a lot of confusion about sports drinks and hydration in general. Hopefully this brief article will clear-up some of the misinformation to help you understand how to drink effectively, and what to drink when you do.

Sports Drinks as a Marketable Product

Let’s be honest. We all know that nutritional supplements and ergogenic aids (performance enhancing supplements) are big business. They are huge in competitive and elite sporting circles, as they genuinely can give an edge to a competitor, and also because when the public see their favourite athletes slurping on a cold sports brew at half-time, this is good for sales. The companies that make them know that the real money is in marketing these products to the general population. So, companies have a vested interest in seeing sports drinks sold to Joe and Josephine Public in order to increase profit. Does that mean sports drinks don’t work or are unnecessary? Read on…

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What is a Sports Drink

For the purpose of this article a sports drink will be considered to contain electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and carbohydrates. Most commercial sports drinks contain both, but sometimes the electrolytes are missing. Typically a before and during exercise sports drink should contain 6-8% solutes, so a 500mL drink would 30-40 g of carbohydrate plus electrolytes. A post-exercise recovery sports drink would likely have a higher carbohydrate load.

The Importance of Being… Hydrated

Water has a number of important roles in your body. With 60% of your total bodyweight made up by water, suffice to say, if you run out of water you die. With only 1-2% of body water loss your heart has to work harder and your aerobic endurance decreases. Continued fluid loss ensures further consequences. When exercising, fluid loss is most likely from sweating, particularly in hot climates. The highest recorded sweat rate was 3.7 litres per hour, by Alberto Salazar when preparing for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. Replacing fluid lost from sweating when exercising is very important. Rule of thumb, the more you sweat, the more you should drink.

When to Drink

It is a great idea to start drinking before you begin your exercise. During exercise a consumption rate of approximately 250mL every 15 minutes should be sufficient for really intense or long duration, sweaty training. For lower intensity or shorter exercise periods, periodically sipping water is fine. Remember not to wait until you are thirsty! Once you feel thirsty you are already 1-2% dehydrated. Continue drinking once you have finished exercising to ensure adequate recovery.

What to Drink

If you are going to be exercising for less than 45 minutes, then water alone is probably sufficient. Should that 45 minutes be high intensity, high sweat yielding exercise, it will be important to replenish both electrolytes and macronutrients soon after exercising, and a sports drink during/after the session might be worthwhile to decrease your recovery time.

Have you ever experienced muscle cramps during or after exercise? This is likely due to  a loss of electrolytes from your body through sweat. If you are anything like me, you will have noticed that sweat tastes salty. This is because it has a high concentration of sodium. Electrolytes are essential to effective muscle contractions, so when you are losing them quickly through sweating, you will need to replace them reasonably quickly. The fastest way – a sports drink. Longer duration vigorous exercise, high intensity exercise, and exercise in hot climates are three contexts in which using a sports drink does make sense.

Where sports drinks truly come into their own is competition events. If you are competing in a long duration (+45 minutes) event or have multiple events on the same day sports drinks can be vital to maintaining high performance. This is even more essential in hot climates or events that require high intensity physical work.

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Please use re usable water battles when possible.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

Definitely drink! If you are trying to decide whether that drink should be water or a sports drink, ensure that you consider the ambient temperature of the climate you will be exercising in, the intensity of exercise, and the duration of exercise, before making your choice.

Josh Training

While I highly advocate using training aids, I have designed a workout that is accessible for people who do not have their own equipment or belong to a facility with such equipment. Therefore this workout simply utilizes body weight and the amazing natural force of gravity! The goals of this workout are to:

>increase muscular endurance for the whole body – enabling you to move your own body with more ease and efficacy

>improve the body’s performance at high intensity workloads (metabolic conditioning) – enabling you to function effectively for longer at high intensities

>improve power edurance – enabling you to perform more explosive movements before critical fatigue hits

When you take a look below you may recognize the format of the workout – that’s right, it is a circuit. Why a circuit you may ask? Three reasons: it provides a structure with variety to keep things interesting; moving through a sequence of exercises that work different parts of the body means you don’t have to rest as much but can stay in the anaerobic/subanaerobic heart rate zone; and finally, it keeps the workout relatively short. There is nothing revolutionary here, just a great workout that will get you on the path toward being fit for Krav Maga.

*Please remember, if you have not worked out for a while or have medical complications, this workout may not be for you. If you partake in this workout and start to experience nausea, light-headedness, tightness in the chest or any other symptoms of concern, please stop exercising. If the symptoms persist please seek medical advice.

The Warm-up:

5-10 minutes of light calisthenic or cardiovascular exercise (jogging, jumping jacks, skipping etc) that gradually increases in intensity so that you are breathing somewhat heavily and are experiencing a slight sweat at the end of your warm-up.

The Workout:

Do the workout provided below (see ‘What do do’) 2-3 times each week for four weeks using the following guidelines. You are not counting the number of times you do each exercise, but focusing on the amount of time spent doing it:

Week 1 – 30 seconds of work:30 seconds rest per exercise.
Week 2 – 40 seconds of work:20 seconds rest per exercise.
Week 3 – 50 seconds of work:10 seconds rest per exercise.
Week 4 – 60 seconds or work: no rest per exercise.

If you cannot complete the specified time for an exercise, spend the remaining time resting until the next exercise starts. In week 4 you can take 60 seconds rest between each cycle of the circuit.

What To Do:

Do ‘Circuit 1’ three times (60 seconds per exercise each time). Follow immediately with three sets of ‘Circuit 2’ (60 seconds per exercise).

What You Need:

Water bottle
Sweat towel
A timer – stopwatch, watch, smart phone, tablet etc

Circuit 1

Burpees
Mountain climber
Jump squats
Fast jab-cross in the air (use a bag if you have one)

Circuit 2

Surfer pop
Rope climber
Spiderman crawl push-up
Shuttle sprint (10 metres back and forth)

Do this workout 2-3 times/week with 48 hours between each workout. For demonstrations of the exercises above, please see the video clip provided: Krav Maga Basic Conditioning Solo

Practice and improve!

As a  strength and conditioning coach, students in our school often ask me what they can do to be more fit for Krav Maga (KM). My first thought when anyone asks me what they can do to be fitter, is why? Or more precisely, what is it you are going to be doing that makes you want or need to be fitter? In the world of fitness training, context is king. “I need to be fitter because I have young kids and I can’t keep up with them anymore”; “I want to be fitter so I can train more effectively in my sport”; “I am having trouble lifting and carrying my groceries these days, so I want to get stronger”. The reason, situation or context here is vital and plays a large part in guiding the components of your subsequent training program.

pushup

To come back to martial arts, conditioning performed for one martial art is often  very different to that done for another, based on the physical demands of the discipline. For example, having trained for high level sport karate competitions I know that developing speed and explosive power is essential, whereas overall strength and explosive power are higher priorities for wrestling. As many of you probably know, unlike most martial ‘arts’, KM  is not a competitive or artistic discipline. In fact, it is more accurately a martial system than an art. So to decide what type of conditioning is best suited to improving the fitness of KM practitioners, I need to know what demands will be placed on their bodies when using KM.

When KM practitioners have to use their skills it will either be in a school training situation or real life. Unlike other martial arts which involve competitions there is no specific time frame for which a KM practitioner needs to prepare. No five-minute round that is finished with the ringing of a bell. If you are attacked in real life, that engagement could last five seconds or five minutes. While most street fights tend to end pretty quickly, if confronted with multiple assailants you could be facing an ongoing skirmish until you can break free and make your escape. So should a KM practitioner be training for every situation? Ideally yes. Most of us though do not have two hours a day, seven days a week to work on our fitness in addition to our skill based training. Those sorts of numbers are only achieved by professional fighters or the obsessed. We can, however, train to develop the appropriate energy systems and improve our overall muscular strength, power and endurance.

To better illustrate what I am trying to achieve with this training plan imagine a real life situation where you are confronted by three would-be assailants. After being threatened for money and sensibly tossing your wallet to their feet, they decide to attack. You assess and react to the initial attack (5 seconds) and then run for it. After a short five second sprint (10 seconds), one of the assailants catches you by the shirt and pulls you to a stop. Again you defend and strike that individual while attempting to maintain good positioning and awareness of the other assailants (20 seconds). You break away a second time and start running, but get surrounded as you reach a wall (30 seconds). This time you have to engage with all of the assailants, pacify two of them and repel the last  (50 seconds) before starting to run again. You finally stop running when you can no longer see or hear the last assailant (120 seconds). From start to finish the encounter lasted two minutes.

Now, aside from making the mistake of disengaging too early, which enabled the attackers to catch you again, what can you observe or speculate about the movements in this example?:

–          many full body movements occurred

–           there were bursts of more intense movement

–          heart rate and breathing rate were high

–          there were very few times when rest could be achieved

Now I know that not every encounter will be the same or even similar to this. If, however, we consider this to be a worst case scenario as far as the length of time involved, then we can use it to guide our training. Based on the above analysis, the training for such a situation would need to include the following:

–          full body movements

–          explosive movements [1-10 seconds]

–          short intense bursts [10-30 seconds]

–          longer, semi-intense efforts [30-90 seconds]

–         few or no static rest periods within the work phase

KM requires training that shares common elements but is different to other martial arts, as it is not a sport in which rules and regulations help to define necessary training areas e.g. five minute rounds in the UFC. The real-life practice of KM is highly variable but will certainly involve short bursts of intense full body movement, interspersed with somewhat less intense activity, along with potentially fast paced running. In the next article I will suggest ideas for structuring an initial solo workout program and provide an example program, that could be used to begin training.

Written by: Josh Hensman

situational-awareness

While Krav Maga is by no means new, it is still new to many people, especially in North America. When I am asked, which is often, what is Krav Maga, I usually go into some long unending history of it  to the unfortunate individual who was silly enough to ask me that question. I usually say it’s complicated, but it is basically self defense that works with an Israeli twist. However, I think I can simplify it even further. It is the art of awareness.

After being asked to describe the importance of awareness in sports psychology, the first thing that came to mind was Krav Maga. As most Krav Maga practitioners should know, Imi Lichtenfeld,the man essentially responsible for creating Krav Maga famously said, when asked what Krav Maga was created for, “So one may walk in peace.” Add this to something I picked up from Nir Maman, “You win 100% of fights you are not in,” You begin to realize that the essence of Krav Maga is awareness. You may walk in peace because you know avoiding the fight is the best way to be safe and the only way to do this is by being aware.

Situational and environmental awareness is probably the most important thing you should get out of a good Krav Maga school. If you are only learning a set of moves, or just losing weight you should probably start looking for a new instructor or school. Now granted, being situationally aware may sometimes be seen as paranoia, it really is not. On the awareness colour code originally created by Jeff Cooper, being slightly aware is where most animals are at the yellow awareness level. This means you are calm, but still paying attention, while a person who is paranoid spends most of their time at the orange level which for most people would simply burn them out.

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Being aware simply means paying attention to what is going on around you. In today’s modern world, largely due to the smart phone,most people spend their time looking down at some kind of digital display and not paying attention to the world around them. This means that countless generations are losing that spatial and situational awareness that was crucial to early human survival in the wilderness. While I understand we are not in the wilderness anymore, the world once again is getting very violent. Being aware of your surroundings could literally be the difference between life or death. This means that if your Krav Maga training has made you aware of what’s going on around you then it is doing its job. I would like to think that we at Urban Tactics have put together a good program to get our students thinking. I mean I guess we are, since I regularly have students tell me that they are now paying attention to things they never used to. As teacher, educator, instructor, this makes me happy. It lets me know that my students are truly learning to be aware so that they may walk in peace. To sum it up, in the future when someone asks me what is  Krav Maga, I can now answer with ‘It is trained awareness for self defense, or simply awareness.” I realize that I will most likely end up giving another Krav Maga history lesson as it is my passion but I think it’s a good place to start.

Written By: Jonathan Fader

If I say Urban Tactics Krav Maga is one of the most diversified and dynamic Krav Maga schools in North America, I think there would be very little dispute. Other than having been certified under 4 International Krav Maga Federations, one of our specialties is firearm training and Krav Maga techniques related to firearms, from firearm disarms, tactical shooting to military Krav Maga. We are privileged to have extensive knowledge from our military background as combat arms soldiers and shooting instructors in the Defense Industry.

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50 cal, the author’s favorite gun during his service with CDN Army

However, sometimes when we ask our civilian students at our Krav Maga school here in Vancouver if they would like to participate in some of Krav Maga seminars related to firearms or Firearm Possession Course, some of them ask “Why? What’s the point to learn about guns ? I will never use it.“  ” what’s the point of using guns as cold steel weapon? I will just shoot the guy. ”  Many Vancouverites do not own firearms nor have an interest in it. I was amazed with these students’ response that they do not want to participate because they think any form of firearm training is not useful in a real life threat.

Let us be clear about something:

  1. Armed robbers or other bad guys do not attack their targets with their bare hands. They always want to achieve superiority by having either a knife or a gun; only honorable people fight in equal amount of forces and let their skill determine who the winner is. Bad guys are not looking for a fair fight; they are looking for an easy pay day. If, unfortunately, you end up at the end of barrel and you faint at the first sight of a gun, the chance of you acting calmly is pretty slim. Knowledge is key to calmness and being collective under pressure. To know what type of firearm and the condition of the firearm is vital to survival in dealing with an armed assailant.
  1. If you disarm someone‘s firearm you need to know how to use it, even if you want to disable the gun to prevent the bad guy from using it again. You need to know how to do so fluidly and accurately under stress. Over and over again I see Krav Maga schools or other Krav Maga instructors teach people how to disarm attackers with a gun, but their immediate actions after the disarm makes my heart skip a beat.  Most of them clearly do not know how a real firearm functions, different functionality between a revolver and semi-automatic pistol, nor how to point the gun at the person if they chose to take lethal action. Just because you point a gun at an attacker does not magically make this person stop from taking the gun back or to attack you again. Do you have the will and skill to fire a gun if you chose to and, if you can hit accurately the bad guy, without hurting the bystanders or yourself? If you do not wish to shoot someone, how do you use guns as cold steel weapon and combine with Krav Maga moves ?
  1. Since almost most Israelis have served in the IDF; firearms have always been part of general Krav Maga curriculum from Day One in Israel. After all, almost every 18, 19 old Israeli youth can take apart, put it back a M-16 and be confident with it on the range. Most North American Krav Maga students and instructors cannot rival Israeli Krav Maga student and instructors’ firearm experience. Nonetheless, In order to learn the full system of Krav Maga, you better be good at firearms. You need to learn how to shoot it, disassemble it, then finally disarm it if you have to. Firearm training is a serious issue and takes lots of training time; more so than any other aspects in Krav Maga. People generally need lots of range time with guns to eliminate the fear of the “Boom Stick“, but also be confident that guns are merely tools and be comfortable with them as extension of their limbs.
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Are you Ash or Villagers ?

Last but not least, we do Krav Maga for a reason. We do it not for fitness or completion but to protect our lives. My friend, you want to ask yourself: Is there ever enough training when it comes to protecting your lives, especially about the most efficient killing tool created by man?

Written By: Borki Yony

Edited By: Warren C

Ottawa Shooting 20141022For those who do not live in Canada, last week there were two separate attacks against Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec. The one in Ottawa especially hit home for me. The death of Cpl Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, Hamilton upset me deeply.

I have worked in a similar position as Cpl Cirillo at Parliament Hill from 2005 – 2007 as I was a member of the Capital Ceremony Gun Detachment. We provided ceremony gun salutes for diplomatic occasions and important events such as Police Memorial day on the right side of Parliament Hill.  For three years, I did that about twice or three times a month on top of my regular army duty as an army reservist. All of the soldiers who work at the Parliament were unarmed and the most dangerous thing to us was the chilly wind of Ottawa during the winter, or the hot sun during the summer. Life was good and peaceful. You felt pride and sense of duty wearing your uniform representing Canada. The dying and pain of our brethren in Afghanistan seemed very far away from where we stood.

The death of Cpl Cirillo changes all that.  A terrorist hits home and we were not prepared; not at our home, not at our nation’s capital. Canada is one of the most peaceful countries in the world. Except for the War of 1812, almost all of our military operations were launched on foreign soil instead of against foreign invaders on our soil. We Canadians do not know what the meaning of being scared is. We do not worry if the bus is going to blow up or if there will be a rocket landing on our roof. We are naive and innocents We live our lives not worrying if someone will deprive us of our lives in the next few seconds. Canadians who dare to venture outside of our comfortable nation know that we Canadians are fortunate and blessed. We live in Elysium.

Everything has changed now, and I have to admit that I am scared. We are facing a new type of enemy who do not wear uniforms and they live among us. They are not criminal. They are not cowards and they have very little regard for other people’s lives. How do you combat that?

 By not giving in, we can be fearful of the events but we do not fear those who wish us harm. If we are fearful of the event then we are aware of the situation. Emotion is normal and those who say they have no fear are either ill-informed or lying. As living creatures we fear death, but that makes us more careful or  allows us to cherish our time on Earth more. Those who train will train even harder and be thankful for everyday we have on Earth. Now we have a purpose for why we train Krav Maga. We do not rely others to protect us and we are the guardians of our safety and captains of our fate. We are not lambs but lions. We fear for our lives but fear will only drive us to move faster, scan wider and punch harder. We want to live, and we want to save lives. That is why we will triumph over terrorism by doing exactly what terrorists expect us not to do; to live under the sun with our chin high. 

Written By: Borki Yony

Edited By: Warren C

In this video there are four of my buddies from Military Krav Maga Instructor course. I have to say this is probably one of the best demo video I ever seen. The quality is superb.

You guys can read about my Serbian adventurous at here.

http://urbantacticskravmaga.com/2013/09/17/from-serbia-with-love-military-krav-maga-instructor-course-in-belgrade/

By: Borhan Jiang

holding cellphones

I noticed a funny thing the other day that I have never put much thought into. I had forgotten something at the grocery store so at 11pm at night I headed back out to walk to the store.

I currently live in a relatively nice area of one of the suburbs of Vancouver, Cars lined the street and the trees grow tall hanging over the sidewalks. It was a clear mild night perfect for a late night outing. I looked up and about 200m down the sidewalk I saw a young woman. Her hands were out, and she was walking at a comfortable pace. As we got closer and closer she pulled out her smart phone and looked down at it as she walked passed me.

It dawned on me. Our technology is increasingly giving us a false sense of security. In this case, her looking down at her phone would do nothing to prevent me from attacking her if I was a bad person. Not only this, from a self defense point of view, the fact she has taken her eyes off of me for the perceived safety of the phone has actually put her in a worse situation.

If she had been looking at me and I attacked she would be able to have some kind of normal human instinctual flinch response, such as throwing her hands up to protect her face. However, now with her eyes down, focused on the screen pretending I was not there she would have no time to even do that. Technology has gotten in the way of our ability to even react with our normal instinctual reactions. This is bad.

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I thought about it even further and I am partially guilty of this myself. I know that if I am walking and I have my phone in my hand, while I am always paying attention it will drastically reduce the speed at which I can react. Why? because in the back of my head I think, this phone is my life, I run my business from it and it is expensive thus, I must protect it. I even may try to justify this fact by suggesting that the phone cannot defend itself so I must protect it.
This of course is not a good mentality, as a phone is just a thing and my life is well, mine and I would like to stay alive.

I know that with the phone in my hand I am at least initially operating as if I only have one good hand as my other will be holding on to the phone. Instead of the dropping it immediately or throwing it like I know I should it is likely that I will protect it first. Again, this is bad.

Granted, If I am in an area that I am really not comfortable in I always put it away and remain observant, but complacency can happen and I could still potentially be in a bad situations and not know it because I am still focused on my phone.

Imagine this, you are on a crowded subway or light transit system. What will you most likely see now in the 21st century?

You will see the same thing, many people looking down at their phones. If someone is attacked or being aggressive the only thing people will do is look up, see what’s going on and then look down back to their “safety”. There may be even one so bold as to film it and post it on YouTube for later viewing. Of course this is the Bystander effect at its greatest. The advantage now, compared to 50 years ago, is that there is evidence for later prosecution or arrest, but for those being attacked this is too little too late.

So I say to you, stop using your phone to avoid paying attention, it does not make the situation safer. If you see someone or something your are unsure of or do not like, pay attention. Put your phone in your pocket or purse and observe. You do not need to look at the person or thing in question, simply pay attention. Your phone will not save you in the moment but your situational awareness will.

Written By: Jonathan Fader