Posts Tagged ‘Krav Maga’

Belts: What are they good for?

Posted: January 15, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga and Other Martial Arts
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The subject of belts and ranking is like so many things a complicated thing because though they are supposed to be straight forward they can mean different things to different people. In Krav Maga, it is no different. There are those who follow the original belt system developed originally for Judo, like us. There are those who follow the Patch system originally developed in the great split of the 90s when IKMF was formed. There are those who say there should be no ranking cuz it does not matter on the street. And there are those who came from a different martial arts background and simply took the ranking system for that and used it for Krav Maga.

Let’s Start at the beginning. Originally there was simply student and master and some way to indicate the difference other than skill. Then as martial arts started to popularize and become more about sport and less about life or death there needed to be a way to track progress and differentiate both skill and time at practice. At some point in the late 20s or 30s Judo’s founder created more or less the modern belt system. And that was that. From there on almost every martial arts style adopted some form of the progressive ranking system using colored belts or sashes. In a lot of styles each colour represents something other than the physical, it others it simply means the next stage.

Back to Krav Maga. If you have read into UTKM a little more you would know when we developed our curriculum we stuck with the traditional belt system as we believe to the lamen it is easier to understand than the patch system. The patch system was developed to appeal to the more military oriented nature of Krav Maga but to most people trying to explain this system can be a bit annoying. But everyone understands what a white or brown or black belt is. So in following Krav Magas original nature, we decided to keep it simple. Additionally, if Krav Maga is simple then we shouldn’t need so many levels to get through the curriculum. Advanced progress can simply be marked by Dans anyways, which are more an indication of continued progress, skill and dedication than anything else.

To the people who say there shouldn’t be ranks, I would say that they really dont understand humans. People who say this usually come from a special forces background and are already physically, and potentially mentally stronger than most people. They may find themselves in a new school and doing far better than average. Thus, due to ego, they feel they deserve more. But they are forgetting that ranks are far more than just skill. They are right though. There are no belts on the street (unless you are wearing one and use it as a weapon of the opportunity of course!) but this is a two-way street. Being a high rank doesn’t matter if you are overwhelmed and being a low rank doesn’t matter if you escape to safety. But humans are funny creatures and we like to measure everything, including our progress. We also like to compare to other people of similar ranks. We are social creatures and thus we crave a system with earnable measurable progression in relation to those around us.

To the last group of people who teach Krav Maga but use some other or random ranking system you are either being disrespectful or care more about business than the actual style, you are teaching. Just my 2 cents and I’ll leave it at that.

So, Belts. What are they even good for?

The obvious has already been stated; Measurable progression. But what does that even mean? One thing to consider is one of UTKMS main goals, to produce people, not belts. People are the product of a school, not their ranks. A belt usually indicates both the completion of minimum time and practical requirements accompanied by an acceptable demonstration of skill for the level in question.

For example, did they show the required attendance or attitude? Did they show the required skills? Did they pass the test? In some systems, it’s simply a matter of going through the motions. In others like ours, we expect you to be able to show us you can really defend yourself while tired and at each level adding the additional skills you have learned at each new level.

Simple, yes? well no. I could have 2 yellow belts, that both passed the test but one is clearly better than the other. This should not discourage anyone, rather show an individual that there are those bigger stronger and faster and that for them the best self-defense is avoidance knowing there are such people out there. Unfortunately, due to our nature, this often discourages people.

In styles with competitions this certainly can be very discouraging but in Krav Maga, it should not. The difference without the sports aspect, the only reason you should be wanting to progress is for yourself. Though really, this sentiment should be applied to all styles. So if you are stuck at a certain rank for a long time all it means is show up more and train harder.

The reality is, self-defense is for your self. It is so that you know what you are capable of in any given situation and you have the confidence to do something should the need arise.

At UTKM we break the skills up based on rank. Beginner is the white belts. Novice is yellow and orange, and advanced is green and up.

When it comes to Krav Maga everyone always wants to lean the fancy stuff which is what a lot of Israeli Instructors focus on. But again, if you are not special forces then you are not a naturally gifted individual physically and mentally and we need to build you up properly so that you don’t hurt your self overestimating your ability.

This is why I believe in ranks. To let you know where you are at so that you dont get overwhelmed in conflict and focus more on the avoidance and situational awareness.

If you can barely punch or kick, then learning to do gun disarms (though easy from a technical standpoint) may just be dangerous. I know you imagine yourself the next John Wick or Hit Girl (Links contain Violence and language) but being delusional is just plain dangerous. I know it hurts your ego to hear this but when it comes to self-defense and your life, there is no room for such things. If you want to learn the cool stuff then put in the time, show us you can do it and you too can learn.

But I want to feel I progressed now!

7 ranks, as a basic, should seem like enough? Or is it too much? BJJ only has 5 ranks. Yet BJJ is quickly becoming one of the more popular styles globally. One thing they understood, is that people are impatient and want to see marked progress now. So they added 4 additionally tape stripes per rank, and even more for the kids. Unlike the days of old where progress meant surviving a life or death battle today just means feeling useful, and happy with a sense of purpose. Before our purpose was just trying to survive. But now our purpose may mean getting to the next rank in a given style. The thing is people are more and more impatient no thanks to social media.

Enter the stripe or half progression. Now people seem to expect progression from JUST showing up. If I show up I will get another stripe. Thus it feeds our ego and our need for acceptance among other things. Yet going this way often dilutes the style. Fortunately, BJJ is still holding strong but there are concerns that standards will fall if ranks are given out too often and too easily. But does it even matter if it’s not about life or death? I think it does still at least.

For Krav Maga, it still is about life or death, survival and much more. There really is no room for ego. Yet if many schools want to survive they need to give the people what they want? right? Well no. If you as a Krav Maga school do your best to remind people why they are leanrning then it should be less about their next rank and more about how they feel about their own progress.

Are they better today than they were yesterday? Delayed gratification goes a long way especially if you ever need to use Krav in a real-life scenario.

I know you want your next rank, I do too (in BJJ) but I care less about the rank now and more about getting better and so should you.

A rank, a belt, a stripe is simply a milestone in a journey. It is not always about skill, but it is definitely about time and attitude.

If you feel you deserved the next rank but haven’t gotten it just stick to it, remind yourself why you started in the first place. In Krav, the reasons are often a little more than just I always wanted to do it, or I just want to do something fun while getting in shape. Often it is things like, I was assaulted, My house was broken into or I was bullied. If those are any of the reasons you came to Krav then the rank doesn’t matter at all.

So remember, no matter what rank you are. It’s about building people ( yourself) not just about getting another belt color or stripe. Check your ego at the door, and just keep training and like everything in time, your next rank will come.

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This year I swear, I will hit the gym 3 times a week, swear off cookies, and take that new Krav Maga class thing regularly I heard about last Tuesday! This is my new year’s resolution.

Enter March. You bought an overpriced gym membership, that you used twice and are now stuck in a contract you dont even use. You just bought peanut butter fudge cookies because you are depressed you spent money on that contract that you don’t use. And you never bothered to try that Krav Maga class because it looked too scary, and your best friend didn’t want to come because their significant other didn’t want them to get hurt.

The first thing is you probably bit off more than you can chew (Pun Intended) and it is now overwhelming and no longer fun.

A mistake people often make is they make decisions because they should do something but not because its what they would like to do.

Bottom line, if you dont enjoy it, you probably won’t do it long enough to make it a habit or a priority.

Instead of starting with I need to lose 30 lbs, start with finding an activity that you like. It can be going to the gym, taking that krav maga class, or even just going for a walk. Once you have made it something you like to do and have made it habit you can now focus on your other goals.

If your goal was to train more and you say you are going to train 5 days a week in Krav Maga or other martial arts but were barely making one then perhaps it’s not a realistic goal. 2 days a week might be more attainable as it is only one more day than you have been doing so far.

Once something has become a habit it and routine eventually it becomes a lifestyle rather than a task or chore or something you just have to do.

If you say you want to start Krav Maga this year as your goal, great. Take a class first. Then take two. If you like it now you can set your goals. If you don’t and it’s still something you really want to do, try a different school. Sometimes it’s just not the right fit and that’s ok, but if its something you really want to do then try all school options available.

Don’t rely on your friends either. I cannot remember how many times groups of friends started coming and then only one stayed, and eventually, they too stop because their friends were not there anymore. If its something you want to do, then you do it. Make new friends in the gym for when you are in the gym and keep those friends for when you are not in the gym. But do it you not them.

The same goes for diet. If you dont like the foods on your “diet” then it’s going to be impossible for you to stay on it. Consider eating healthy 4-5 days out of the week and hit up the exercise activity you chose to make up the 2 days you have as cheat days. Realistically strict “diets” are hard to keep and keep a healthy social life. So need to go out to that party one day because (Insert Reason), its ok go and have fun. Just know to stay on track the rest of the week and you will be fine. Because a yo yo diet is not a diet at all. Also, diet is relative, when it comes to food there are many great options on how you should eat. Just make sure you consult your doctor or a nutritionist if you are sure ( I would lean heavily to the latter).

New Life

Don’t just say the change. Make the change happen with a lifestyle change.

No matter what your new year’s resolution is, do it not because you are supposed to, but because you want to. Make easy on your self and break it up into smaller parts. If you cannot make it a habit and a lifestyle you will not likely keep your resolution. If you change how you look at it next thing you know its 1 year later and you have met and exceeded your goal and you didn’t even notice because you were to busy having fun. Dont just set another resolution. Make a lifestyle change.

 

 

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Andrew during his Orange Belt Test.

I’d just returned from class after a few weeks absence for a variety of reasons, many of which can be summed up by HOLY CRAP THIS CITY WE LIVE IN IS BUG NUTS INSANE and I was smiling on the drive home. In the rain at night, in Vancouver traffic.

As I piloted my ridiculous Midlife Crisis Truck through the barely-visible streets of the cities from Burnaby to the secret location of my Headquarters for Evil Plans, I was again reminded why I do Krav Maga. Fun. It’s fun to do, with people that are fun to do it with. Like sex, only more intimately eye-gougey and slightly less chance of disease.

Yes, the cardio at the start is a pain, especially if you’re old and dinged-up and composed mostly of suet, as I am. What is “suet”, you ask? Suet is a fancy term for lard. Fat. So many chocolates. I REGRET NOTHING. Except during cardio, of course.

Yes, the subject matter is often deadly serious and has a super-practical focus. We are encouraged to take it seriously.

Yes, you may actually need this for real one day and that is scary.

Yes, human sweat is a disgusting fluid and you will be coated in it. If you’re lucky, the other person smells better than you do.  If you’re -unlucky- the other person has a defensive beard-loofah and they laugh at your suffering. Dave.

And yes, traffic does suck and yes, it is a time-eater. Time, that most precious of commodities.

But. But. Krav Maga at UTKM is also fun. It’s interesting, it’s exciting, it’s engaging. Odds are you will laugh during class. Especially if you see me do a combat back-roll. Ever see a Bantha? From Star Wars? Now picture that doing a rear somersault on the ground. Yes.

You get to hit things. Pads. Mats. Jon, if you’re “lucky” and he’s not careful, heh heh heh. Each other! And you get hit, yes, but that too is kind of fun once you realize the other person isn’t trying to destroy you and is, in fact, just as worried about that as you are.

You get to stab people with pretend knives! And shoot pretend guns! You get to learn all sorts of horrible but also interesting tricks to -not- get stabbed by a knife and/or take away that gun.

You get to laugh with your classmates when one of you ends up pinwheeling across the mats wearing a surprised expression from a screwed-up kick or takedown.

You earn that sense of confidence that comes with not freaking out when someone swings their fist at you – and help that person also learn not to freak out. And that, too, is fun.

And you belong to a select crew of people that put the time in to learn these sometimes horribly necessary skills that some very real, very serious people came up with to protect themselves and their loved ones in bad places and times. And that belonging is also a pleasant thing.

So, Urban Tactics Krav Maga is fun. It’s worth doing and it’s worth doing it with people that are having a good time. Kind of like eating cake, if cake was trying to stab you while refusing to let go of the knife. *^^%!%@ murder-teenagers. You know who I’m talking about, Karis.

 

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Warren getting his black belt, with daughter Christine on left.

Similar to most judokas, I started judo when I was quite young, around 10 years old.  I was born and raised in Victoria so I attended the Victoria Judo Club headed up by Sensei Inouye and assisted by Bill Kovitz, Mark Grant, Mark Kendell, and others whom you may or may not have heard of.  Unfortunately I stopped judo when I went to university and then life took over to the point that I didn’t go back to it for literally decades.  That is, until my then 12-year old daughter Christine asked if she could try judo and that inspired me to re-join the community.  However, even though I was in my 50s I wanted to do more than just practice, and although I loved the sense of competition I was realistic enough to know that it wouldn’t be a wise choice to get matched up against others who had continued training all those years that I had not, so instead I chose to get involved by becoming a referee.  Doing so would allow me two things: One, I would be involved in the competition aspect of judo and two, it could be my avenue for giving back to the sport by contributing my time.

When I checked the Judo BC website for info on how to become a referee, I found some guidance as to the high-level process but many questions remained.  However, it became apparent that the first thing I needed to do was to attend a referee seminar.  Fortunately there was one scheduled in the following months so I registered for it and spent 2 days one weekend in the Abbotsford Club, along with several other participants.  It turned out that most people who attended the clinic didn’t actually want to ref, but they were there as coaches wanting more information on what the refs are taught, and perhaps wanting to take the “secret information” back to their clubs to share with their club’s competitors, or perhaps to give them an edge as to what the refs look for (or don’t).  In any case, it was an interesting seminar given that part of the time was spent watching video clips of several high level matches, seeing a technique performed that caused an opponent to falter, and having the video stopped at that point while the instructor asked the class “So what do you think…yuko, wazari, ippon, or no score?”.  I managed to get some right and some were quite difficult to tell, so it became apparent to me that experience played a great part in being able to make the right call.

The first time I reffed an actual match was at an Abbotsford Inter-Club Shiai, and it was an “interesting” experience.  I had intended to ref but instead found myself conveniently sitting on the sidelines with the rest of the crowd watching the matches.  It was like the tournament was on auto-pilot, it was just happening, and I gave myself every excuse in the book not to go up.  I finally admitted to myself that the hesitation I was feeling was actual nervousness.  Given that I’ve been working in the corporate world for over 30 years, having given numerous presentations to senior management, leading and managing teams, and being closer to the end of my career than the beginning, it was a very strange feeling to find myself in a new, unexplored and therefore intimidating, situation.  Who gets stage fright at my age?  Christine kept asking me to go up and I would say “In a minute”, or “After the next match.”.  I likely would have sat there for the rest of the tournament if Christine didn’t finally say, “If you don’t get out there right now, I’m going to tell Paul (Wishaw) on you!”.  That did it, so I got up, caught Paul’s eye, and asked if I could try reffing a match.  Fortunately, and I’ll forever be grateful to Paul for this, but he didn’t start laughing and instead said “Sure, by all means!”.  I was nervous, yes, and I probably came across as very awkward, but I did it, and I also knew that it would only get easier from there, and hopefully more enjoyable.  And all it took was for Christine to threaten to embarrass me.

As predicted, after the first time I reffed it did get easier, and I started reffing at the larger tournaments with the next one being the shiai held in North Vancouver.  There were only about 150 participants so it wasn’t overly large and the day didn’t go that long, but it was just the right size for me to get my feet wet again.  A Fall Burnaby tournament soon followed, and I was starting to feel more comfortable in the technical aspects of reffing, although I was still nervous before I went out on the mat.  When I told Christine, she asked why I would be nervous and I said all the people are watching me.  Then, in her usual supportive manner she said “Sorry to disappoint you, but nobody cares about the ref.  They’re not looking at you, they’re watching the competitors.”  After that blunt feedback my stage fright dropped right down and I’ve been fine to walk on the mat ever since.

As a fairly new ref, I can tell you that it’s an experience that can be both very enjoyable, and very stressful.  The calls you make will decide whether or not a competitor moves to the next round, or is perhaps out of the tournament.  It is a responsibility that all refs take seriously.  I’ve never forgotten the three most important things that a ref needs to know about a match, and that is safety of the competitors, fairness in the match, and the quality (excitement) of the competition.  To that degree, the ref looks for things that likely the competitor isn’t even aware of.  For example, is the competitor’s hair tied right, or are they wearing any jewelry.  It’s also important that the refs work as a team, with one ref on the mat and the other two judges watching from the side, ready to overrule a call if it’s deemed appropriate.  I’m aware that even international refs have their initial calls overruled from time to time, and that’s ok.  Anything during the match can be corrected, as long as the right competitor wins at the end.

The more I ref, the more I enjoy it, and my refereeing highlight to date was to ref at this past February’s BC Winter Games.  I had competed myself at the BC Winter Games when I was a teenager so I felt honoured to be given the opportunity to ref at such an important event.  Since I’m now comfortable with the basic mechanics of reffing, the feedback that I’m receiving from the higher graded refs has become less general, and more focused on helping me to improve on some specific facets and nuances of refereeing.  I’ve found that I have to work more on calling osaekomi, especially in the female matches.  Some girls are so flexible that their lower bodies can be twisted 180’ and be propped up on their knees, and yet still be in osaekomi.  I continue to be amazed at that when I can barely reach down to touch my toes.  My goal is to be a good, strong ref.  I have made it my goal to try to be the best ref that I am capable of being.  As long as the parents and competitors don’t groan whenever I step onto the mat, then I know I’m still heading in the right direction.

If you’ve ever thought to try reffing, I encourage you to sign up for the next referee seminar and start learning the basics.  Start reffing at your own club and then at Interclub shiais, as these would be venues that give you the opportunity to try out reffing in a less formal environment.  It gives you a different perspective to a competition and also gives you a better appreciation for what the officials contribute to a tournament.  When you’re out there making the calls and the crowd is cheering for one competitor or the other, you can feel the energy and it’s great to know that as a ref, you are helping to make it happen.  And, as I read in another reffing article and to which I totally agree, you get the best seat in the house.

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So you want to train? No, You LOVE to train? At least that’s what your profile says. But if I asked your instructor if that is the truth they might paint a different picture. I can certainly attest that sentiment to many of my students past and current.

If you go to any Martial arts school, Krav Maga or otherwise, you will always find a core group of students who are there 2,3,4 days a week almost every week without fail. They are there because aside from the fact they love the training, they have chosen to make it a priority in their life.

It’s not because they don’t have work, school, family or kids because quite often these individuals have one or more of these things in their lives. It is because they have made a conscious effort to build a life in which they can without guilt, distraction or excuse show up to train regularly and happily.

For so many others though, those same factors, work, school, family or kids have become an excuse as a reason not to train. They can and are of course legitimate reasons not to do something else such as training with your favourite neighbourhood Krav Maga Instructor. However, I want to make a request of you. Stop making them excuses and make them the reality of your life. The reality is that you prioritize those things over training.

It’s not that you can’t make the time for training in your obviously busy schedule its that you simply are not prioritizing it. And you know what, that is totally fine if that’s how you would like to structure your life.

But if training is really something you want to do then make it a priority and stop giving your instructor, your peers, or your family excuses as to why you won’t hit the gym if its clearly something you like to do (or something that is clearly beneficial for you).

Can’t train, or won’t train? Ask your self this question seriously.

In our modern world, both are fine if they can attain happiness and satisfaction in your life. But try instead telling those around you, you know what, it just isn’t a priority in my life.

Trust me, this will garner you a lot more respect from your instructors and peers. Try to use this phrase instead of saying, I want to train but…

The reasons don’t actually matter, its just not a priority and that’s ok. Unless of course you actually want it to be a priority it which case what are you waiting for?

Work schedule in the way? change shifts or job.

Family life in the way? see if you can bring your kids with you, find a babysitter, make an arrangement with your significant other to watch the kids another time so they can do the thing they really want to do.

School and finals? Maybe take one less course next semester because you realize that actually, physical training is a priority for you because taking a break from sitting with your head in some textbook is actually good for your health mentally and physically.

If you answer but I can’t, that’s ok, then training Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate or just lifting some weights really isn’t a priority for you. Just be honest!

so, Instead of saying “I Don’t have time”, try saying “its not a priority” and see how it changes your life for the good.

 

To Act or Not to Act.jpgHesitation can often lead to embarrassment or post scenario guilt or worse. It could lead to much more serious consequences such as permanent disability or death.

For some it can lead to thoughts of why didn’t I make my move, I really liked them. To Act. Or the opposite, why didn’t I do anything to stop them, what they did was not consensual. Not to Act.

In both above examples, there is only regret and/or shame. But when it comes to failure to act in a violent confrontation it can lead to catastrophic consequences.

To Act (Action), or not to act (Inaction) are the dichotomies of Action vs Reaction and Avoidance as well as self-defense in general. In the face of Violence, an action is faster than reaction. One can Act first, to avoid a reactive action. Or you can Choose inaction as an attempt to avoid the scenario altogether. It can be a tough decision, but for Krav Maga, action is usually preferred over inaction even if that means running.

Krav Maga is known for its aggression in the face of violence but aggression is only a tool and means nothing if a person fails to “turn it on”. If in that moment of need, that second you had to strike first or to block or to simply resist you choose inaction then it could lead to your own demise both literally or figuratively (psychological trauma).

Often when teaching students even under light stress they often hesitate to act. Or as is quite common they “screw up” the technique and stop. I will tell them or yell at them “keep going, don’t stop” because that moment of hesitation is all it takes for the attacker to re-coup and re-engage offensively.

When training people, we need to train their aggression to be appropriate and well timed so that when the moment comes no matter what happens even if an error occurs they can fight through and survive. However, if they hesitate and instead of channeling that aggression through retzev, techniques and other strategies and principles their training and aggression is for naught.

This is why situational and high-stress training is very important in Krav Maga or any good self defense training so that we can train the brain and nervous system to recognize situations or scenarios and act or react quickly without hesitation.

To act without hesitation often means to act with confidence. Without confidence in one’s skill then it can be harder to act.

One of the easiest ways to build confidence in your skill, speed or timing is to practice more and practice often. With practice also comes the knowledge of what you are capable of and will help you better recognize when you should avoid scenarios all together so that action or hesitation is not even a factor.

To act or not to act that is the questions, but hesitate to act in the moment of decision and it might not matter at all, philosophically or otherwise.

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Writer’s note:

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

Italicized sentences represent thoughts and inner dialogue.

Why I started Krav Maga

 

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

Finally, a moment alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See, that weekend forced me to realize three things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alright, I think, This looks legit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Journey with Krav Maga

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Why I recommend Krav Maga to you

 

Personal

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

Physical

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

Environmental

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

Social

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

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

Thank you for reading,

Kallie

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Kallie gets her Orange belt

 

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Base, Posture, Structure

Posted: November 13, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Sometimes concepts are universal and are applicable to all styles no matter what your beliefs. One such concept is that of Base, Posture and structure. Though not originally Krav Maga and certainly not one we invented ourselves. Though we loosely taught these, when introduced to this concept by Professor Robert Bernacki and his idea of conceptual BJJ we found ourselves incorporating it more and more into our teachings.

When teaching the concepts of closing the distance, and cause pain, off balance and disrupt we often find our selves talk about the structure of your arms to maintain good control or the posture of your opponent and of course our own stance and base. because these concepts appear so universal not just in self-defense but also in engineering and science it seems fit they also are included in general self defense concepts.

Base

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Conser the base in this picture your legs in fighting stance, and the apex your head.

Base is the ability to generate force and receive force while maintaining your stance or position. If you are in fighting stance you are in good base, as you can generate force by bursting and you can receive a blow within reason without falling to the ground. Without a good base, it will be difficult to fight or defend your self. Often during sparring sessions during our warrior classes individuals still don’t understand this important concept. Sometimes intentionally or accidentally they cross their feet or legs losing strong base and the ability to resist force. Even when they get hit with a light blow they find themselves on the ground. Not because the blow was particularly strong but because it was perfectly timed and had enough force to overcome the weak base of the one who fell. For Krav Maga having a strong base, means having a strong fighting stance. Lose your footing and you lose your base.

Posture

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Here we see the universal nature of posture applied to squats.

Posture is the position of your spine or your opponent’s spine to take a load. When we burst in towards our opponent and get a control position if they have good base and are resisting we can cause, pain and disrupt with a knee or kick ot the groin which will allow us to break their posture. Once we have broken their posture it will be much easier to control them. If they have good base and posture it will be very difficult to move or control any opponent. We can’t cheat physics but we can cheat biology, this is why Krav Maga applies the cause pain, off balance and disrupt because without this work through it will be difficult to take on opponents larger than us.

Structure

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Structure as used in 360 defense

Structure is the efficient use of your limbs. If we have good structure in our limbs then we can effectively resist force pushed against us. Consequently, if we break the structure of our opponents limbs an turn their limbs into a lever we can easily control them. One of the best examples of good structure in Krav Maga is the 360-degree defense where our arms create a super efficient block while our arms are at a 90-95 degree angle. This allows us to absorb the impact of circular attacks with minimal effort (energy). This same angle can be applied when in position 1 (reference point 1) to control the persons forward motion at the head and neck. Other self defense systems such as Tony Blauer’s SPEAR system would call this the outside 90 and have created an entire system around it. Such is the power of structure.