Posts Tagged ‘martial art’

Why I Fight: Signal in the Noise

Posted: March 7, 2016 by Donna in Krav Maga Philosophy
Tags: ,

One of my supervisors said to me the other day, “You seem like such a nice, calm person.  Why do you want to fight people?”

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an art.  It is fighting, but it is not violent.  To fight a true master (black belt) is to experience complete submission despite all flailing attempts otherwise, but not to feel pain, not to be injured, not to feel out-muscled or forced.  One of Jiu-Jitsu’s foundational principles is that technique overcomes strength and size; for me this was the first true “hook” that established Jiu-Jitsu as a key part of my life.

Jiu-Jitsu is empowering.  Learning to rediscover my body as a product of my own choices reshaped the negative aspects of my self-image.  Like many women, the constant inundation of negative messages about myself and my body created a learned helplessness that shaped my behavior.  While I likely could not have articulated it so clearly at the time, I automatically viewed myself as a victim, someone with no capacity to defend myself – physically, emotionally, or cognitively.  Sadly this played out in a number of my social interactions, which only reinforced this mindset.

Learning to effectively fight has unraveled this, first physically, but soonafter in other ways.  It’s perhaps not surprising that our physical, emotional, and mental selves are tightly intertwined.

My dojo is a community.  We support each other, encourage each other, and share in each others’ growth.  We recognize that students of all levels bring value to the gym, keep us humble, and ensure we are always learning.

Jiu-Jitsu requires continuous physical contact.  I thrive on human touch, but am isolated in many aspects of my life through needing to keep a professional distance. In a gym where sparring is competitive but safe, grappling fulfills this need.

Sparring helps me achieve a healthy work/life balance.  In the past, I’ve struggled with allowing work and work-thoughts to ebb into after-work hours.  One effective strategy I’ve discovered for establishing cognitive boundaries is to create moments of strong focus that root me firmly into the present.  This breaks me free from the worries that chase me, and helps me find signal in the noise that is my day-to-day life.  Sparring does this with ease – there’s no way NOT to be present-minded when you are actively defending an armbar.

Some of these are predicated upon finding a safe and supportive gym, but others are inherent in the martial art itself. It’s no surprise to anyone who’s trained that Jiu-Jitsu has exploded in popularity over the past decade.

//reposted from my personal blog

Advertisements

 

Recently there were several videos of South Korean Special Forces training with knives. Those are some impressive videos, but after all those “Ya! Woo! Ahh!”, we should discuss the reality of knife fighting and it’s military usage. For those who do not know me, I am a Krav Maga instructor certified under numerous organizations, a non-lethal weapon instructor with TASER International, a member of the Canadian Forces for 12 years and a student under the great Sword Master Braun McAsh (famed choreographer of the Highlander TV series).

20150724_121306

Borhan Training with Braun McAsh

receiving my ass whipping in knife combat with Mr. McAsh

Military Use of Knife:

 

  1. It is unlikely in any situation that a soldier, special ops or not, would draw his knife and do face to face dueling with enemy combatants who also have knives. Here I do not mean bayonet charge, sentry removal, or stabb an enemy when tangled up in close quarters combat.
  2. If you have to draw your knife on your enemy it means you have screwed up big time. All soldiers follow rules of engagement as all law enforcement follow the use of force circle. Generally speaking: a soldier can use non-deadly force (hand to hand) then deadly force (rifle). Like it or not, utilising a knife is deadly force. You cannot subdue an enemy combatant with a knife. It is meant to kill, so why are you using a knife face to face when you could just use your firearm. There are still occasions like sentry removal or a bayonet charge where cold steel weapons serve the modern military effectively, but going forward to have a face to face duel? That barely existed in ancient battles when most deaths are caused by arrows, spears and being trampled to death rather than “manly” individual blade vs blade battle.
12191532_1681264042159956_250978790620660602_n

most likely usage of knives in modern military setting

Techniques :

6f2a837156aed4db79cfed1a63fb365e

The techniques in this footage are reasonable and proficient in dueling situation :

Overall, the techniques used in the video are pretty decent and universal in most dagger and knife fighting systems. All the cuts and stabs are within the “box“ and all the attacks are conducted within range effortlessly. That’s the key to using cold steel weapons: let the blade to do its work. The blade with a bit pressure will simply sink into the enemy’s flesh. I think it is a hard concept for non-blade martial artists to grasp, because we generally rely on impact. Even with a one inch punch the power needs to be generated from the hip, but with knife fighting a simple wrist movement will do the trick.

The disarm at 1:40 is not sufficient– simply push the attacker away then deal with the 2nd guy coming from the right. It is too much for show. The wise way would be strike, control the first attacker and use him as a shield against the 2nd attacker.

The counter attack ( 1:48 ) is done right. In a dueling situation, the enemy is not simply going to let you attack their vital parts at center of mass (main torso). It is wise to attack the limbs to cause loss of blood or cut the tender muscles so the enemy won’t be able to hold his or her weapon due to pain or loss of muscle control. The finish is not sufficient. The attack should continue after the first stab. You never know if you have stabbed or cut the right place and the human body can be really tough sometimes.

In conclusion: I wonder what’s the reason the Korean UDT/ SEAL conducts this type of training maybe it is an element of overall hand to hand combat training like hitting the sandbag in Boxing. This type of training might enhance the awareness of knife usage and attack then indirectly help defense against knives in close quarter ?  I would argue this type of training by itself ” alone ” has no practical value in modern military.

00_08_van_thebeat_phyliciatorrevillas

I have the privilege to discuss used of force and self defense with a veteran police officer. She is also a very capable martial artist. We are discussing: would the law judged trained professionals more harshly than average citizens who are not trained and here are her responses. ( noted – this is only her perspective as a veteran police officer does not represent the full picture of the justice system of Canada’s Criminal Code system and we will have other experts’ articles up in the future )

  1. (1) A person is not guilty of an offence if

        (a) they believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person;

        (b) the act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and

        (c) the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.

Bill C-26 Reforms to Self Defense and Defense of Property: Technical Guide for Practitioners

So the optimal wording that you need to get out of the criminal code here is what is reasonable.  That will be determined by what the person believes the threat to be, how they articulate it and also how they articulate what they did in response to the perceived threat. How a person perceives a situation will depend on their experience, skill set (how competent they are with that skill set), size, state of mind, location, what the threat is physically and how they interpret that threat….

So if I come across a person with a knife and they threaten me with it…if I believe that they will use that knife to harm me I am well within my rights to protect myself and if that means using deadly force then that is what it means.  If I am confident that I can disarm him and lock him up till help comes or so I can get away and in the meantime I break his arm or leg, then that is justified too. A smaller stature person may have to use tactics that someone of the same size, weight, strength etc as the attacker may not have to…or a larger, stronger person on the verge of blacking out because he or she is being knocked unconsciousness could use force that is potentially deadly on a smaller, physically weaker person.  Or a larger person facing a smaller person with a knife, pipe or another weapon…Yes/No?  Again, situational…

In a multiple assailant situation…the threat of grievous bodily harm or death has increased exponentially, so would you be justified in creating an unsustainable injury on the parties involved to create an opportunity to get away?  They all had 359 other directions they could have chosen to go but they came at you…so what are you to interpret regarding their mindset? If someone is going for my gun…that is a deadly force encounter.  There is only one thing I can deduct from that action.  They want to take my gun to harm me or someone else.  So can I use deadly force?  Or force that will cause grievous bodily harm?  Yes…but I will need to articulate the reasons…including how I felt during the incident.

There is no blanket answer…each situation will be different with all sorts of unique outliers.  The important thing to remember is the term reasonable force…was what you did reasonable given the circumstances, how you perceived the threat, what was happening to you etc…Beating someone who was trying to take your wallet into a state of unconsciousness could easily be viewed as unreasonable. In a similar scenario however, where you tossed your wallet to the side for them but they continued to come for you, may present a different set of circumstances.

When you are in a situation where the bar star is trying to posture in front of his buddies or girlfriends, you need to show you did everything you could to try and diffuse the situation, including trying to leave.  Then if that is ineffective whatever physical force you use has to be justified…why did you do what you did?  As trained fighters/instructors we have more tools to draw from but we should also be very skilled at articulating why we used what we used and when we used it; what the expected outcome of our actions was etc would also need to be articulated.  We are in a better position than the average person to explain and paint the picture clearly for the courts.  Whether it is an unskilled civilian smashing a brick against the side of the head of her assailant or a skilled fighter who delivers a back kick to the subject’s throat doesn’t really matter…the determining factor is why did you act?

Written by: Officer Y

Edited By: Josh Hensman

Sources:

http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/other-autre/rsddp-rlddp/index.html

UTKM edged weapon training

IMG_3625

An edged weapon training for our advance students is a project that we have been planning to develop for a long time, but due to lack resources and knowledge on the subject, We were never able to start. Lately, with guidance from one of the most influential sword master’s, Braun McAsh, we were able to get some basic ideas on developing our potential edged weapon system. The UTKM edged weapon system has to be relevant to today’s world and practical for current threats requiring self defense. Some might argue that defending yourself with knives, axes or swords is just asking for legal troubles, but in some situations an edged weapon should be used. For example, a single defender versus many attackers; a defender against an attacker with weapons; or simply SHTF situation. In addition, how can one claims to know defense against a knife when one does not know how to use a knife.

Six years ago, I spent about a year with Academie Duello, a well known Vancouver sword school and received rapier and Italian long sword training. At the time, I was already a qualified Krav Maga instructor under International Krav Maga Federation, but aside from dealing with attacks of passion (big, obvious, aggressive attacks) with an edged weapon, I had very little knowledge about the subject. I did not know how to use edged weapons proficiently or more complex attacks. I do not fancy myself a Krav Maga instructor if I do not know how to use an edged weapon properly. At AD I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Braun McAsh and attended most of his seminars. With his guidance and that of other instructors from AD, I came up with three conclusions:

First of all, normal MMA fighters or Krav Maga instructors do not know anything about edged weapons, including knowing how to use them effectively. Edged weapon fighting is a world of its own. Although it is an extension of hand to hand combat, edged weapon fighting is significantly different from hand to hand combat.

  1. If you screw up in edged weapon encounters you are dead.
  2. Both sides most likely will be dead or injured: there is simply no guarantee of survival for even the winner unless the winner outclasses the loser by many levels.
  3. Against people without weapons, people with weapons will most likely win.
  4. Other than a shotgun, an edged weapon is probably the most deadly thing within 21 feet.

Secondly, most edged weapons can be separated into dueling weapons and battle weapons. These edged weapons are made differently and for completely different purposes. Western dueling weapon are more thin and agile and rely heavily on thrust. Whereas, battle weapons are made more robustly and rely on slash and hack rather than thrust.

During my stay with Academie Duello, I find that most of weapons the academy teaches such as rapier, small sword, and long sword belong to an era when people actually carry these weapons on a daily basis and the law of the time permits open carry. This is surely not the case in today’s world. It seems pretty far-fetched for a person today to be walking around with a long sword in a city. Police would show up within minutes.

With these three points in mind, I concluded one of the primary edged weapons we are going to indoctrinate to the UTKM school system should be the Tomahawk. Here are the few reasons I think Tomahawk would benefit students of UTKM.

timthumb.php

  1. You can carry a tomahawk alone with a backpack and some campaign gear. It is most likely the police will not be alarmed nor will you cause panic. It is also much easier to pack away a tomahawk in a bag than a German long sword.
  2. Other than combat situations, you can use tomahawks for many purposes such as chopping wood, clearing debris and the like. During my survival course with the Canadian Army, my survival partner and I used a small hatchet and knife to build our survival shelter.
  3. It is a devastating weapon. Mankind has been using axes for war long before the sword. Stone axe is one of the weapons made by our caveman ancestors. Throughout the centuries, due to the limitation of metallurgy and financial reasons, most people cannot afford swords, but an axe is a lot cheaper to forge and therefore more accessible to the majority.
  4. A Tomahawk is easy to carry. Imagine running in the woods or through city streets with a giant long sword for an extensive period of time. It’s just not going to happen.
  5. The fighting style of Tomahawk is close and dirty. It is very similar to Krav Maga and there should be no problem combining the two.

85337d423a86090334521f29436ddcfc

System choice:

There are many systems such as Silat and Escrima that incorporate axes or tomahawk in their fighting. For the mean-time we will plan to follow Mr. Braun McAsh’s guidance as the base line for our Tomahawk fighting program. We will seek other channels in the future and add the things we like and find practical. Next article we will talk about knife fighting.

Written by: Borki Yony

Edited by: Josh Hensman

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.

1928339_17113505455_376_n

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.
steamworkshop_webupload_previewfile_327754412_preview

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

to stop a theif
http://www.vancouversun.com/Video+Purse+snatching+victim/10032430/story.html

Recently, a purse was snatch from a woman in one of the many crowded malls in Metro Vancouver (see above video). This occurrence may seem fairly common, but what is clearly demonstrated is that despite the fact she’s asking for help, not a single person does.

This is called the Bystander Effect.

The Bystander Effect means that the more people are around, the less likely a person is to act when someone else is in need of help. This could also be considered an offshoot of the Mob Mentality. Statistically, if someone has their purse snatched and there are only one or two people nearby, the bystander is more likely to do something than if there had been a crowd of people. It’s easy for you to sit there and say, “Oh, but if I was there I would do something”, but the reality is that study after study shows that if you are in a crowd you most likely will just sit, or stand and do nothing. Why is this? It’s simply because everyone always thinks that somebody else will do something, but as this collective thinking passes from person to person, in the end, nobody helps.

This had me thinking, does this always have to be the case? Is it simply a cultural phenomenon, or is it universal. What does this have to do with Krav Maga or Self Defense? Well, a lot. A part of self-defense is safety in numbers and, as an extension of this, community safety. This means “How will the community as a whole react in the event that there is an issue?”

In Israel, though it is slowly on the rise, in general, petty crime rates are relatively low despite what you might think from depictions of Israel in the media. On a personal note, I can say without a doubt, that I feel safer walking around in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem at 2 AM than I would walking around in parts of Downtown Vancouver at the same time. Why is this? Israel is a country with a history of war and conflict and yet, on a day-to-day basis, it is relatively safe.

In Canada, I often hear the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) or other city police forces like the VPD (Vancouver Police Department) say that, if there is a problem, to please call the police and let the professionals deal with the situation. Though I know their hearts are in the right place, this is a statement that I struggle with. They often say they are trained and they know how to handle the situations, but as someone who has dedicated his life to teaching people self-defense and, as someone who travels the world to get additional training, I can say that the police in Canada and North America, in general, lack proper training. So, is waiting for a “trained” professional the correct decision? Well, it may be for more serious situations, but for things like petty crime (such as purse snatching) I really do not think it is the correct message to give.

So why is petty crime relatively low in Israel? It could be because there are soldiers, police, and security officers with guns everywhere, or it could be that if petty crime occurs, it does not matter who is around, the crowd will help out. If there’s a bomb explosion in Israel you will often find people running towards the area to help rather than run away in fear.

I remember a story my uncle once told me during the first intifada in the early 2000’s. A suicide bomber walked into his place of work. There were no soldiers, no police officers and no armed security. He and another employee noticed the suicide bomber and, instead of calling and waiting for help to arrive, they acted by jumping on the bomber and prevented him from blowing up the market. My uncle is a man of tiny stature, maybe 5’ tall and 130 pounds, with numerous health ailments, and yet he and his co-worker knew that had they not acted, not only would the market have been blown up but they probably would have also been killed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am by no means advocating jumping in the way of a bullet or in any way risking your life. Whether you act or not in such a situation is your call, and if you think you can do something it’s up to you. However, if there are 100 people watching, and the act is something petty, like a purse snatching, it can be easy to do something. Contrary to your belief, the risk is relatively low. The moment one person acts, the more likely it is that others will also help out. Sometimes acting does not need special training as the police would have you think, it simply requires you to do something. If criminals who commit petty crimes, regardless of the reason for doing it, knew that people would stop them should they commit the crime, I suspect that they would be less likely to commit it.

Safety does not just come from one person, it also comes from a community’s willingness to prevent crime and unsafe situations as a whole. As a Krav Maga practitioner, on average, you actually have more hand-to-hand combat training than the majority of police. So, when they say leave it to the trained professionals, guess what? While you may not be a professional, you certainly are trained. On top of this, police can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to arrive and by then it’s already too late. That purse has already been taken, the person had already been stabbed, or the store has already been blown up.

Again, while the decision to act or not act is completely up to you, based on the circumstances, I simply pose the question to you. Why be simply another bystander when you can do something and make a difference?

Written by: Jonathan Fader

Edited by: Warren Chow

chicken or egg

Often, Bruce Lee (1940-1973) is credited with being the founder of Mixed Martial Arts.
As far as the West and the traditional East is concerned, this is true. Lee became famous in the early 70s because of his movie career. This allowed the world to see Lee’s new style of Jeet Kune Do or the “Way of the Intercepting Fist”. Lee is considered the founder of MMA because he was perceived to be the first person to take pieces of various styles and create his own catered to his style of fighting.

Historians often say that history is written by the victors and, as far as the world is concerned, Lee is the founder of MMA. However, as a Krav Maga practitioner I know this is not entirely true. Often in human history, for whatever reason, something is developed simultaneously at two different locations under different circumstances, yet the end result is the same. As a Krav Maga practitioner I know that Imi Lichtenfeld (1910-1998) actually came before Lee and developed Krav Maga as a system which took pieces of various martial arts to create a simplified self defense system.

While Lee started learning Kung Fu under the legendary Yip Man, a Wing Chung Master, Lichtenfeld started as a boxer and a wrestler, and yet they both came up with systems that were looking to simplify martial arts/self defense and strip down all of the useless techniques. There is, of course, one major difference. Lee developed his style for himself out of passion and sport, and Lichtenfeld developed it out of war and necessity. One (Lee’s) is a beautiful style designed with directness, no form and speed in mind, though I suspect was really developed for a person who has trained many years and who had developed a great amount of speed. The other (Lichtenfeld’s) was designed to work for anyone of any size under any circumstance. It is quite possible that Lee would have continued to simplify his system had his life not been cut short, but we will never know. Krav Maga under Lichtenfeld, however, was allowed to develop under his watchful eye into a simplified version of the original. I can only imagine what might have happened had the two met each other to discuss techniques.

For both, their original dream was the same and their ends, although decades apart, have one glaring similarity. Upon their deaths, there was a mad scramble to assume power as the next in line. While I am unfamiliar about the squabbles in the Jeet Kune Do world, I often hear people discuss how close in lineage their instructor was to Lee. I have heard things like, “Oh, my instructor is three people removed from Lee.” Or, “That style is not Jeet Kune Do but mine is true to the original.” This should sound familiar to all the Krav Maga people out there as now in 2014, 16 years after Licthenfeld’s death, there are at least 10 major Krav Maga organizations, not to mention the numerous independent schools that choose to stay out of the politics.

Personally, I have trained with individuals who can trace their lineage back to both Lee and Lictenfeld, and I have trained with individuals who have learned both Jeet Kune Do and Krav Maga who cannot trace their lineage directly back to the creators. The question is, should the ability to directly trace training lineage to the original creators matter. Personally, I do not think it should. My reasoning is simple. First, NOBODY ever questions the lineage of either Lee or Lichtenfeld because they were innovators. They created systems not seen by anyone else before. Their lineage did not matter, for they themselves were the reason they were famous, not because of under whom they trained. Second, how long after an originator’s death does one need to wait until a system is diluted or completely changed from what it was meant to be.

Take Tae Kwon Do or Judo for example. I am sure the original creators would be rolling over in their graves if they saw how diluted and sports-like their systems had become. For the most part these systems follow the lineage of the original founder, and yet they are nothing at all what they are suppose to be, but rather watered down systems designed for points and not the original simplified self defense systems that they were. It is quite possible that this has, or can happen, to both JKD and KM, but does this mean change of the systems is bad? Again, I do not think so. I think that change, so long as it follows the principles of remaining simple, easy-to-use and effective for real world application, is good. If, however, change of a system turns it into something for points or display, then the creators most likely would be kicking themselves in the head for not being more clear about how they wanted their systems to develop.

I have heard that the reason that Hiam Gideon was named the head of the IKMA after Licthenfeld’s death was because he was also an innovator. He adapted Lichtenfeld’s moves to further simplify them so that they were more likely to succeed. This is not something I can confirm as there are many rumours regarding the question of lineage after Licthenfeld’s death. However, if it is true then for sure it makes sense, for it is my understanding that Krav Maga, or Jeet Kune Do for that matter, were meant to be evolving styles to utilize any and all techniques that existed in the world, regardless of origin. Of course, IKMA now refers to its system as the Gideon system while IKMF, now under Avi Moyel, and KMG under Eyal Yanilov, still call their systems the IMI system. What does this mean? I am not really sure, but it certainly brings into the question of the evolution of the system. There are, of course, Krav Maga organizations headed by individuals who learned their Krav Maga from the Army, or a friend, or whatever, and though they do not follow the original lineage, certainly follow the Krav Maga mentality of keeping it simple, efficient and easy-to-use.

There are certain moves, such as the Krav Maga 360 defense, to which you will see in almost all the Krav Maga organizations. In fact, moves such as this have been spread into other self defense systems whether they realize it or not, such as modern Cimande. Other moves, however, such as how to deal with the front choke, vary from organization to organization. Is this good or is this bad? Well, the answer should be obvious by now. It depends. Krav Maga is meant to be an evolving system, but what direction that evolution takes is still up in the air. Some systems focus more on aggression, some more on technique. Some are very casual and some are very traditional. Some use belt systems and some use patch systems.

No matter what your lineage however, one thing needs to remain the same. The moves need to work and they need to work fast. I have noticed that some organizations use only one variation of a move and I have found that the variation works great for some, but not all. An organization that chooses to keep a move simply because that’s the way the Master did it seems to be missing the point of the original creation of the system, whether KM or JKD. Some moves work great for big people but not small people. Some moves work great for fast people but not slow people. This is part of the reason that aggression is so important in Krav Maga. However, this does not mean you should forget your technique. Our philosophy at Urban Tactics Krav Maga is that at the White Belt and Yellow Belt levels, we teach our students the fundamentals and a few of the various options. We then encourage them to use the move that works best for their body type and fitness level, and choose it as their main reaction under said circumstances. This does not mean, however, that they should forget the other options as you never know what may happen.

Personally I have found myself saying that Krav Maga is a system that assumes you are going to screw up and that even if that happens, you will survive. Another thing I have come to realize, after observing some of my friends whose Krav Maga training comes exclusively from the Army, is that when you remove the option to kill your attacker, your technique becomes far more important than your aggression, as a level of control is required in the civilian or police world.

I think by now you should have figured out what my thoughts are on lineage. It depends on who your instructor is and how good they are at teaching you the fundamentals, regardless of lineage. At the end of the day, at least with Krav Maga if you go home and sleep safely every night then your instructor has done their job. Criticizing an organization just because of lineage is ridiculous, especially if what they teach follows the original principles and, most importantly, works. At Urban Tactics Krav Maga we train with individuals from all organizations in the Krav Maga world, and we encourage our students not only to do the same but also to train in other styles. You can never know too much as we are always learning. Evolution is a part of humanity, and fighting over who came first or who has the closest tie to the original founder of a system seems rather petty to me. At the end of the day, any instructor should not put their loyalty into their organization but should put their loyalty into their students. Getting caught up in the politics of lineage in the Martial Arts I am sure would drive any founder nuts. To me it really doesn’t matter that Lee is seen as the founder of MMA over Lichtenfeld because they both have wonderful legacies and gave the world two great systems and ways of thinking.

So, The Chicken or the Egg? Which Came first? Really, it does not matter, because in the end we are all here, we are all alive and we are all safe.

Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up again. This is one of the better quotes from the Dark Knight Batman movies starring Christian Bale. This not only applies to life, but it also applies extremely well to the military and, of course, Krav Maga. In Krav Maga, if you fall you want to get up as quickly as possibly because we do not like the ground. However, sometimes in life we fall and the best thing to do is laugh about it and find a solution to improve the situation.

Recently we went out to teach one of our tactical shotgun courses. Unfortunately, due to the gun culture in Canada and the attitude of local ranges we have yet to create a partnership with any of them. However, so long as you are using non-restricted firearms, according to Canadian law, you can go out and shoot anywhere in the wilderness that is designated Crown Land (Federal Government). As such, we have our favourite spot to teach. This spot however, is a long drive into the middle of nowhere and really requires a suitable off-road vehicle. Luckily for us, Borhan has a Honda C-RV, albeit an old one but still reasonably capable off-road.

Normally when we do the course at least one other person has an off-road vehicle, however this time what we got was a Mini cooper and an older Toyota Corolla. We only had room for one extra person in the C-RV due to all the equipment, and the rest packed into the Corolla to make the slow trip (for them) up the dirt road filled with potholes and rocks.

I, Borhan, and a student led the way barreling across the road to get to our favourite spot before anyone else took it. Borhan enjoys off-roading as he was trained by the Canadian military to do so. Off-roading is where he can be free to drive without worry of hitting another vehicle or be hit by one…again. Due to the fact that the tires were worn, and the C-RV is old, Borhan decided to play it safe and stick to the side of the road with less potholes. However, what is off-roading without a little speed.

There we were, driving and minding our own business, when suddenly a vicious rock decided to jump in front of the car. “Good thing the army taught me how to drive off-road” he said, but before the period could be placed in the sentence the attack rock made its move. WIth a loud thunk and some poor timing, the next thing we know we are smack in the middle of a ditch in 2 feet of mud. Oh the irony, it’s a good thing the army taught him how to drive! The comic timing was far too perfect, something like the Kodak moments of the 90s that we only wish we could have had on film, lest no one believe us that he actually said it 2 seconds before we were attacked and pushed into the ditch by the devious rock!

At this point we were tilted at an angle in the ditch. Carefully I opened the door, getting out only to sink in the 2 foot deep mud puddle. Making it back to the safety of the road I managed to take this picture of Borhan getting out of the vehicle before Borhan got his revenge on the rock and threw it into the woods.

A man A car A ditch

We had to wait about 10 minutes for the overloaded off-roading Corolla to show up with help to see if we could come up with solutions. Those in the Corolla looked at the vehicle ominously. However, I had seen enough IDF Hummers stuck in sand and ditches to know when a stranded vehicle could be pulled out to safety. My original thought was to use all 6 of us to pull the car out but alas, we had no ropes. Although I suspect even if we did have ropes nobody would have wanted to. I know we could have, as I remember a time in the army when a car had parked in front of our bus. About 7 of us got out and physically lifted the car out of the way. But, being the only one with this experience the others were doubtful.

Then it was suggested we find someone with a truck to pull us out. This area is full of rednecks and trucks so we knew it wouldn’t be too hard. The off-roading Toyota which was faring far better than the Honda in the ditch left on its mission. In the meantime about 3 SUVs passed us without a care in the world. How times have changed.

We began to unload the car to make it easier to deal with when help finally came. As well, we began to find lumber and branches to create a ramp under the right front tire to give it some traction in the mud. Though we did not have rope we took a small bungee cord and lashed together the logs into our small makeshift bridge.

Eventually the Corolla came back with a friend. An old green and grey Ford F250 showed up. The door opened and out stepped an older, bearded, toothless man that looked like he was fresh out of the show Duck Dynasty. The man (of which I never did get his name) handed us two small crane rigging lengths with some shackles. We hooked it up to the frame in the front and got ready. Borhan started the engine only to have it stall; I guess the car didn’t like being in the ditch after all. He popped it into neutral and told the old man to give it some gas. It must have been my light-hearted spirit that gave the car some lift because it literally took 5 seconds to pull the car out. Disaster averted. Checking the car for damage, of which there was none, we loaded up the vehicle, thanked the old man, and headed out to start our now somewhat delayed course.

The Rigging

photo 1

photo 3

In the end this potential disaster turned out to be quite the fun adventure, and not only that it allowed us to bond. Group problem solving can often bring people together, at least when there is success. This really made me feel like I was back in the army. After this near-death rock attack that only slowed us a little, we set up for the course. The course itself ran quite well except for the fact that the delay allowed someone to take our favorite spot, but that’s ok, it could have been worse.

So, why do we fall? Or in this case, crash into a ditch. So that we can pick ourselves up again. Every bad situation has a silver lining. In this case we were fairly lucky, but I am confident that even if things had been worse we still would have had a wonderful bonding experience. Life does not always work the way we want it to, but as long as we keep smiling, find a solution and learn from it, everything works out for the better.

No we are not hunting rabbit.

No we are not hunting rabbit.

Written By: Jonathan Fader

Edited By: Warren Chow

Vancouver Shooting

Vancouver is an international city known for its beautiful scenery and international cuisine. But violent? I remember when I was in the IDF and the Vancouver Canucks Riot happened. I showed the iconic picture of the burning cars to my Israeli-born friends. They could not believe that it was Vancouver; they thought it was another a West Bank riot. This is not abnormal. Internationally Vancouver, or Canada, is seen as peaceful, with no crime and no violence. After all, it’s Canada right?

The reality for anyone who actually lives in Canada knows this is not true. Perhaps it’s no Iraq or Somalia, but for the people living here, at least to our standards, a single stabbing or shooting can be quite shocking.

Recently it seems that mass shootings or stabbings seem to be on the rise in North America. This could be true, or it could just be that the media has really been paying attention to them due to lack of other subjects to report.

To me, being a realist, I know these kinds of things happen all the time, in all cities, to all people, at all times. My question to you is, if you were at school, at work, or just walking down the street, would you;

a. know what to do?
b. if you know what to do, would you know how you would act?

Recently a shooting occurred in a nice area of downtown Vancouver which led to a police chase and a shootout outside a local attraction known as Science World.

For more information about the shooting please see this article:
http://www.theprovince.com/news/Downtown+Vancouver+shooting+suspect+battling+demons+brother+says/9929707/story.html

The shooter, who was clearly disturbed, has been charged with 6 counts of attempted murder.

While I could have picked many of the other shootings or stabbings to discuss, this one was selected as I was fortunate enough to be forwarded an email by one of my students regarding someone he knew who happened to be working at Science World during this time.

One of the great advantages of modern technology is that we can be in contact with everyone at all times (so long as we are in a service area). As such, here is a look at some of those emails that have been obtained with permission of all parties.

NOTE: Some content has been modified to protect the identity of individuals and their companies

Email 1:

“We’ve been under lockdown for about 1.5 hours as there was a shooting in Yaletown, then the 2 bad guys ran to Science World. Window of Whitespot shot out, as well as back window of police car on Science World deck.

One suspect shot, and policeman I hear was shot with minor wounds.

Told to stay away from windows.

Everything OK. No sense of danger on 3rd floor where I am. It’s amazing how news comes so fast on social media.”

The tone of this email seems fairly calm and collected. “no sense of danger”. This is a good example of “out of sight, out of mind”. The individual is relaxed enough to send out emails in a calm manner letting others know he is ok. If there actually was a sense of danger, would the tone be different? Would he be panicking? Would there even be an email?

Email 2:

– Still 3 police cars in front of Science World. The side of deck where shooting occurred is still behind yellow police tape;
– The White Spot glass door has been replaced, but the broken glass not cleaned up yet;
– The water table exhibit on the deck beside White Spot has a numbered chalk circle, which I assume is a bullet hole, as I know it was damaged during the shooting”

Email 3:

“On 3rd floor we never felt in danger, although it was kinda scary when S. rushed in at 11 AM to say there’s a shooter and to stay away from windows (I’m not sure if she said the shooter was on the roof).

Just talked to V., who was outside cleaning windows … . He said he 1st of all he heard maybe 5 scattered shots, then brrrr brrr (which would be the police firing back on automatic). I always thought police fired single shots, but I guess once they started exchanging fire with the bad buy they turned weapons onto automatic. V. took cover on the Green Roof, where RBC was holding a function. He was right outside my window about 5 minutes before S told us about shooter.

SW is still behind yellow tape as it is a crime scene, and lots of police there this morning when I arrived at work. We are only allowed to enter the building through the main entrance. Both sides of the sidewalk leading to main entrance (i.e. KSSP Park and parking side, where Whitespot is) are off limits. Guess we won’t have attendance today being a crime scene, even if they take down the yellow tape.”

This email was to another person the morning after. The one thing that I find interesting about this is about the assumption of automatic weapons fire. In Canada, automatic weapons are prohibited, meaning you are more or less not allowed to have them (except for military). The standard issue handguns of local law enforcement would not have automatic fire. I find it interesting, that of no fault of the emailer, that they do not know firearms laws or enough about firearms to know that it could not have been automatic fire from the police. It is quite common in Canada or even the US for the average person to be misinformed about firearms. Why is this an issue for me? Our philosophy when it comes to firearms is safety through education. You may see this come out as you read some of the questions I asked when I interviewed the person who sent the emails. I will also explain why I asked the questions and why they are important.

An interview with the emailer:

How fast after being told there was a shooting outside was a lockdown initiated? I think within 5 minutes, I didn’t hear the shooting becuz I’m on 3rd floor, but someone ran up around 11 AM and told us to stay away from windows since there was a shooter.

5 minutes is a long time for a lockdown to kick in, a lot can happen in five minutes. If your company or school takes this long do you think you are prepared?

Who initiated the lock down? Science world or the police? Initially Science World, then I hung around away from the windows until 3 PM when the police asked us to meet them downstairs.

If 5 min is a long time, then 4 hours is even longer for an official police lockdown. A common belief is that law enforcement will come rushing in to take control of the entire scene. This is a fallacy. It depends how many officers are on duty and what the situation is. In this case all officers who were there immediately were far too busy (being shot at) to deal with civilians. In major emergencies. for example. it’s quite reasonable to assume you may be on your own from 48 hours to even two weeks. So the same would apply for a shooter. If it is reasonable to prepare food and water for an earthquake is it not also reasonable to get training in the event you are face-to-face with a violent individual?

Have you ever received in house training regarding what to do in a lock down? No, just the regular evacuation drills.

This may seem shocking, but for someone like me who has spent several years in Occupational Health and Safety it is quite normal. In North America the idea of practicing lockdown procedures is quite foreign. It’s hard enough to get companies to do their yearly fire drill let alone a procedure that they may never need to use. Such procedures and practices are quite complicated to set up and regularly practice. As such, companies often only do them as minimally required.

Do you know what to do if the shooter came inside? No, but I would’ve locked myself in office. Afterwards I thought of the recent Moncton RCMP shootings, or many years ago when Viet Cong penetrated the US Embassy in Saigon.

While locking yourself in a room is certainly a good first step as most plans would start with this, as it puts a barrier between you and the shooter, it is not infallible. One thing I learned as a sniper is that you must always have an exit strategy. Putting yourself in the rabbit hole only works if you see the other side. Remember, bullets can go through walls and doors and “bullet resistant” is a relative term.

If the shooter made it close to you, do you think you would know what to do? Definitely not. I’m sure I would freeze mentally even if I had gun training.

This is the answer I expected. Most civilians would not know what to do, and even if they did in theory they do not have enough practice to react without panic. Even some law enforcement occasionally freeze up as they did not receive enough training (Usually due to budget restraints.)

How was the emotion levels in the room where you were for lockdown? 100% calm. We were actually in the IT room following the police officers on security cameras installed outside Science World. Everyone following on their smart phones on Twitter, Global TV sites etc. Being on 3rd floor, we felt safe, although thinking back I don’t think the elevators were shut down so if the shooter entered Science World he could’ve come upstairs.

This was a very fortunate situation. They were far enough upstairs that they felt detached from the danger, however, as it was pointed out there were ways to access the floor. Consider a Die Hard type situation. Buildings can quite easily be taken over by gunmen. Even though it’s something we think about it is something that could happen in a matter of minutes.

Did you have faith in the police ability to stop the shooters? Yes. Although even when social media reported the shooter had been captured, we still heard that there might be a 2nd shooter.

Could you say the same thing in your police force?

How did social media affect your thoughts considering you were in the middle of the situation? Actually kept us calmer, as internally there were no announcements over PA system updating us as the staff were too busy dealing with public and police.

This is actually another reason to like social media. The number one worst thing that can happen is mass panic. Once that happens even the smartest person in the room can make incorrect decisions (AKA the Vancouver Riots).

How accurate were the reports based on your first hand experience? Aside from mentioning a woman (either being shot or one of the shooters) and 2 shooters, reports very accurate.

This is fortunate for us in Canada, but other countries may have media that is manipulated to far greater amounts than here. (I advise you not to watch CNN)

How much do you know about firearms?
Nothing, and I have no wish to being a Canadian who is glad I am not living in gun crazy USA.

I would consider this a fairly standard Canadian reaction. I, who am a gun supporter and owner though, would rather see people educated on guns even if they have no interest in owning or using them.

If a shooter was disarmed, would you feel comfortable handling their weapon?
Yes, but only to gingerly move the gun to the side being careful not to point at anyone.

As a follow up to above, if you are not trained and managed to get the gun away from your attacker, what then? Are you going to shoot them? Do you even know how? Are you going to empty the magazine and chamber for safety like in the movies? Do you even know how?

Many Krav Maga schools teach gun disarms but negate to educate their students on the proper use of various firearms. To us, this is faulty thinking. From a tactical perspective one must have as much information about any possible situation to come up with the best possible solutions. Guns in the hands of those who do not know how to use them can be dangerous no matter what the intent is. Just see youtube for gun fails….

4th Email:

A quick synopsis from start to finish of the day. The following is what I’ve emailed friends today.

Since I never felt in danger being on the 3rd floor, it was more exciting than scary.
– We simply stayed away from the windows (had to evacuate my office as I have a window) as we were told there might be shooter on the roof. When we were told to move, I moved right away, as ever since 9-11 when there are emergencies I don’t hesitate to evacuate;
– We did not lock ourselves in a room, since we didn’t feel in danger;
– Actually saw the police hunting for shooter(s) as the MIS guy was monitoring the outdoor cameras and could see them with their rifles
– Didn’t know what was going on after the initial order to move away from windows at 11 AM. There were no internal announcements as Customer Service was too busy dealing with the public, so never was sure if I could move around until 3 PM when the police brought us all to lobby to talk.
– So in a real emergency situation, it would be mass confusion, having no idea who is where
– the kids who were at Science World (not as many as usual due to teacher’s strike) were moved to omni theatre and given free pop corn and drinks;
– Police ordered us to leave building at 3:30 PM, through the front door as of course Science World was a crime scene and they wanted to do another sweep of the building
– although I didn’t see it personally, I heard that when searching for the shooter(s), it’s just like the movies where the police search rooms with weapons drawn
– when I left I locked the office doors, but then thought it would make it more difficult for police to do their sweep
– A door at the White Spot at Science World was shattered by a bullet, and replaced quickly this morning
– The police tape stayed up until about 11 AM this morning

In our emailer’s case things turned out fairly well and their perhaps normally boring day at work was quite the eventful one. However, with a slightly different set of circumstances this could have been Vancouver’s Sandy Hook. Science World is a very large complicated building that has children, tourists, families, students and everyone of all ages in it at any given time. It really would not take an individual with any kind of weapon much effort to cause a lot of harm. Picture this..

An individual walks into there with an axe and starts hacking and slashing in a crowd of people.

How long until the group realizes something is wrong? How long until law enforcement is called? How long until they arrive?

It could be 30 seconds for security to arrive or 5-7 minutes for police to arrive.

Are you willing to put your life in question in that time?

I think it’s far more prudent for anyone to take their own personal safety in their own hands and learn even some basic skill that could potentially save their lives one day.

If you learn Krav Maga and all you learn is to be more aware then that is still something. If you learned to always be alert and vigilant and you spotted that axe wielding individual before they became a problem then we did our job.

However, if you are the first intended victim of the attacker you will need far more than keen eyes. In that moment you will know real fear and you will know, if you do in fact know, what to do to ensure that you go home safely. Even if that means just avoiding a fatal blow before help arrives.

Remember, no matter what you think, in that moment, your safety and life will only ever be in YOUR hands, not anyone elses.

Stay alert and stay educated.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

Edited by: Warren Chow

Warren Gets his orange Belt Cert

Warren receiving his Certificate of Achievement

20140511_174107

Warren Leading Stretches

I recently took my Orange Belt test and I’d like to share the experience.  I knew that there would be a written portion, but other than that, I wasn’t sure exactly how it would be conducted.  I was told that there would be less cardio than was required for the Yellow Belt test but in the end, that didn’t turn out to be the case.  In fact, there was probably more, but more on this later.

In the weeks leading up to the test, Jon took me through the techniques I needed to know, and he kept saying, with his usual grin, “You’ll be fine.  You should pass it no problem.”, so I was under the mistaken impression that perhaps the Orange Belt test was a more theoretical test than the brute force Yellow Belt test that was meant to challenge your resolve and confirm your commitment to the training regimen.  It was also scheduled for “only” an hour, as opposed to the two hours required for the Yellow Belt test.  He did, however, advise me to drink water throughout the day of the test so I’d be fully hydrated.  Sound advice.

Testing period begins.

The written portion comprised of 20 multiple-choice questions and you needed to get 80% to pass.  Quick math told me that I could get 4 wrong and still pass, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Most of the questions were no-brainers but there were a couple of questions that made me go “Hmmm…”, or to ask for clarification.  In any questions that had poor grammar, Jon said that Borhan wrote them.  In the end, I was satisfied with my answers and handed the paper in.  Next.

Then came the technique portion of the test.  Another small surprise, Jon started to ask me to do techniques that were required for the Yellow Belt.  It made sense, of course, but I hadn’t specifically reviewed them.  As he asked me to do this or that, the hours of training kicked in and it didn’t give me any problems, although I had to ask for clarification now and then to confirm exactly what it was he wanted me to do.  All the while my body is going through the motions and like it or not, you start to get tired.  Also, there were many, many punching combinations.  It was relentless.  Straight punches, crosses, hooks, elbows, uppercuts, kicks…it all gets tested, and in all kinds of combinations.  Meanwhile, my body continued to tire.  After it appeared that I knew what I was doing in the techniques for both the Yellow Belt and Orange Belt, it was time to apply them in an unknown situation.

I’m then asked to close my eyes and (no cheating now) wait for an attack that can come from anywhere.  Front, back, left side, right side…who knows where it’s coming from.  And there may be a knife mixed in with the attack, or there may not.  A choke here, a head-lock there…who knows?  But you need to respond accordingly, not panic, and finish off the move properly.  Now, it’s one thing to see an attack coming, but it’s quite another to lose one of your prime senses and still do the right thing.  Once you close your eyes the adrenaline starts pumping, your heart rate increases, and your fright factor goes up.  Where is he coming from and what type of attack will it be?  Will I know what to do?  Will I freeze?  Suddenly the attacks start, one after the other.  Open your eyes, defend, counter, finish it, then close your eyes again and wait for the next one.  Your body takes over, your instincts kick in, and suddenly you know exactly what to do and how to do it.  As with most things in life, the anticipation of something coming is often more psychologically impactful than the event itself.  It’s the waiting that gets to you.  Then multiple attacker scenarios were tested.  Believe me, when you have three people wanting to beat up on you and swinging punches wherever they can land them, you get very tired very quickly avoiding them and counter-attacking.  It’s truly exhausting and intense.  In the end, I managed to stave off enough attacks to satisfy Jon, and I was very fatigued by this time by both the adrenaline rush and the actual physical activity.  Was that it?  Could I go home now?  Please?

At this point Jon says I can take a breather, rest up, and take a water break.  After the break I was starting to feel normal again, but already the sweat wouldn’t stop streaming down my face. Whatever water I was putting into my body was just as quickly going out again.  Little did I know that what I had just completed was a warm-up to the main test, although it was an important milestone.  If I hadn’t executed the techniques correctly up to this point, I wouldn’t have been allowed to continue and it would have been the end of the test.

It was time to see how I could do under threatening conditions with real-time attacks.  I was placed in the center of a group of other students all decked out in protective head-gear and other protection.  Each of them was assigned a number which represented a specific type of attack with which they were to come at me when called upon.  I stood in the middle, scanning all around and waiting for the first attack.  I was surrounded and felt like I was in a movie, where the camera would start to scan in a circle to show all the threats that were going to come hard and fast.  Borhan started calling out numbers and the attacks began.  After I finished one attack then the next one came.  Then the next.  Then the next.  Someone choked me from behind, someone put me in a headlock.  That knife is coming at me fast, but I time it right and counterpunch right away.  I grab the arm holding the knife and secure it while laying some knees to the body, before I take him down.  What’s the next threat?  Where’s it coming from?  Somebody grabs me from behind.  He’s strong.  I can’t break free as easily as I thought so I start hitting him in the groin (yes, he was wearing a cup!).  The grip loosens and I’m able to come back under the arm and hold it tight while I apply some knees.  On and on it goes until finally, Borhan stops the attacks.  I’m spent, breathing hard, and feeling pretty much done while sweating profusely.  Jon said I did well and survived because I didn’t get fatally stabbed.  Thinking back to the knife attacks it didn’t even enter my mind that they were rubber knives.  In my mind they were a threat.  Fortunately my muscle memory kicked in and I was able to defend myself with the proper technique instead of freezing.  As exhausted as I was, I was then told to get my head protection on because the final test was coming up.

Arrgh.  Time to fight.  The sparring partners appeared to be arranged in a certain order.  I was to spar with the better fighter first, then go on down the line to easier fights.  At this point I had no idea how many people I had to spar, nor did I know how long the rounds would be (I found out later they were 2 minutes), all I knew is that because I was already greatly fatigued, I nearly used up the last of my reserve in the first round.  I finished the round and had a short break before the second round with the next fresh person.  It turns out that I was given only a 30 second rest between each round and in that time, I would throw off my head-gear, spit out my mouth guard, and suck in as much air as I could before I had to go at it again.  I had to think, “Keep it at 30%.  These are your training partners, not real threats.”  I knew that intellectually, but emotionally at that moment they felt like real threats.  I fought the second round, the third, then finally the fourth, which I thought was the end.  To be honest, I don’t even remember how I did in the second round.  I remember the person I fought, but nothing about the round itself, so I’ll have to ask Borhan what happened in that one.  After what I thought was the last round, they said I had one more (!) to do, and that was to go back with the first fighter who was able to rest up for the last 10 minutes while I was sparring with the others.  At that point I wasn’t thinking anymore, I was purely exhausted, and all I could do was let my body take over.  Punch, kick, cover up, keep your hands up, don’t give up.  Don’t give up.  Breathe, breathe, calm down, get your head straight.  Don’t over-think anything, just react.  As I’m in the middle of my own personal Hell, I hear Borhan’s voice in the background shouting, “Go! Go!  You love this s**t!  Do it!!  You LOVE this s**t!!”.  As much as I was disagreeing with that statement at the time, it was oddly motivating.  It’s coming down to the last 30 seconds so everyone starts shouting, everyone starts cheering, I’m doing whatever I can to stay on my feet and continue to fight back…and then….it’s finally over.  I’m vaguely aware of people congratulating me, of saying things like “Well done!” and “Way to go!”, but it doesn’t really register as I take off my head-gear and nearly collapse.  Jon asks how I am, and I reply “I’m too old for this.”.

And that was the Orange Belt test.

It took a while for the accomplishment to sink in, but after some time I started to feel proud of myself.  Not because I thought I did the techniques well, or that I sparred well, because I probably didn’t, but because I didn’t give up, I didn’t ask for a longer rest than what I was given, and I did everything that was asked of me.  No quarter was given, and none was asked.  Also, I had initially thought that a more conditioned person would have done better than me.  Perhaps in the beginning they wouldn’t have fatigued as quickly, however it became very apparent that no matter how conditioned you are, you’ll be beat down until you’re finally tired, and then that’s when you’ll need to perform.  And at that point you’ll really find out what you’re made of.  The other thing is that you really have to know your techniques, or rather, your body needs to know them.  I can honestly say that I was not thinking about what attack was coming, analyzing it, then pulling the counter-attack out of memory and applying it.  If I did that my response time would have been too slow.  My body just responded as it should have.  I do believe that one needs to put in the hours necessary to train their body to respond on its own, and to firm up the muscle memory.  There are no ways of getting around it.  You need to put in the time.

Finally, in most other martial arts getting an Orange Belt is no big deal.  It’s still very low on the totem pole and you have a long way to before you can really protect yourself.  However, in Krav Maga achieving an Orange Belt definitely means you can do some serious damage on the street if it came down to it.  It’ll be another year before I’ll have enough hours to test for my Green Belt, but I’m in no rush.  It’ll take me that long to recover from the Orange Belt test!

By: Warren Chow