Posts Tagged ‘Martial Arts’

This information may be slightly out of date. It was pulled on the date of writing this article.

Since my entire month of travel has been cancelled and I now have a bit more time on my hands, I thought I would discuss the global outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The blog series I had recently started makes the point that self-defence is not just physical; there are often many other areas of life that require a bit of Critical thinking and self-defense strategy. Living in a pandemic is just such a scenario. I am definitely not a expert on diseases or epidemiology, but I can apply reasoning and critical thinking to know that, while the Coronavirus is definitely cause for concern, the global reaction is very much one of panic in the face of a lack of planning. But don’t just take my word for it, see the stats for yourself in this awesome info graphic (left).

Or, if you want a more in-depth explanation from an actual expert, listen to the Joe Rogan Experience, Episode #1439, with Michael Osterholm, an internationally recognized expert on infectious diseases and epidemiology.

Otherwise, I will attempt to sum up what he said:

  1. Yes, this new Coronavirus is concerning, but this is mainly due to the fact that it is such an easily transmittable viral strain compared to previous ones, like SARS or MERS. This is due to the fact that once you have it you are immediately able to transmit it to others. With previous Coronavirus strains you would not be able to transmit the virus until you already knew you were sick, 4-5 days in. This means that, for the current strain, SARS-CoV-2, you could have it, not know you are sick and transmit it.
  2. Unlike other strains or viral outbreaks children seem to be relatively unaffected by it. While they can contract the virus they are generally less likely to develop COVID-19. In Fact, Osterholm believes that closing schools is unnecessary and will do more harm than good, from both health and economic perspectives.
  3. The early claims about touching the face as the primary means of spreading the virus are not true. This strain is airborne, passed on by breath and breathing. As Osterholm states, trying to stop this strain outright is like trying to stop the wind. Unless you plan on being in a hazmat suit 24hrs a day, you can still contract the virus simply by breathing. His advice was to not panic and LIVE YOUR LIFE!
  4. This strain is essentially a REALLY BAD FLU for most sufferers. This means that, generally, the only people who need to worry are those past retirement age (55-65), those with compromised immune systems, or complicating heart or lung conditions. Essentially, the same people who would need to worry about getting any kind of flu.
  5. You should wash your hands regularly and practice good hygiene… you know, like you normally should…
  6. The best thing you can do, is eat healthy and be healthy. This includes continuing with exercise as normal. The healthier you are the better you can manage COVID-19, or any flu for that matter.
  7. DON’T PANIC! THIS IS NOT THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! THERE IS A LOT OF MISINFORMATION AND BS OUT THERE! CHILL OUT!
  8. I am sure there is more, but it’s a long podcast, so listen to it yourself.

I hope you get the point here; while there is a legitimate concern as the World Health Organization (WHO) has now given it pandemic status, there is a lot of misinformation and fear-mongering out there. So stop panicking and STOP HOARDING TOILET PAPER, it won’t save your life for shit! (Get it? I am punny.)

A more up to date resource for Canada can be found here!

Facemasks and Respirators:

Way back in 2008 I completed my certificate in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). One of the areas of study was knowing how to properly use respirators, for health and construction. WAY BACK THEN, I knew that the generic surgical masks do not protect you from airborne viruses, and yet people and governments still seem to believe they do. This is because they were only meant to stop water or vapor, from a cough or sneeze, from landing anywhere other than the mask; but, because they do not create a tight seal, air and the breath of others can still get through. N95/N99 masks are far better, as they are able to create a better seal and have a more advanced filtering ability. However, the issue with these as that movements can break the seal, meaning that, while they work great for particulates, viruses are very small and may still be able to get through the edges. This is why, if there was an epidemic of an actually deadly nature, you would want a proper respirator with a rubber seal and replaceable filter cartridges. I, myself, have these, just in case, though I generally do not plan on walking around the streets looking like Bane just because of COVID-19. Though I would absolutely do this for a more serious outbreak, because, again, these work. Of course, to be absolutely sure, you should go get your mask “fit tested” to ensure it fits properly on your face.

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020

For some strange reason people have decided that the most important thing in the world is toilet paper. When I have talked to my friends we all are scratching our heads as to why this, toilet paper, is the item people are hoarding in a pandemic. Not water, you know, the thing we need to live. Not food, also the thing we need to live, but rather a thing we have become accustomed to for comfort.

I thought I would take this time to remind people that before toilet paper people managed just fine. Its called water, a leaf, or washable cloths. Would I enjoy wiping my ass with a re-usable cloth that I need to wash? Not particularly. But, am I going to wake up 2 hours before Costco opens to wait in line for toilet paper? Absolutely Not! Or, assuming running water is still there, you can always get in the shower.

Seriously people, what is wrong with our priorities?!

Coming to Krav Maga Classes:

Given that the best defence for this virus is to stay healthy, if Krav Maga, or any martial art, is your primary means of exercise, then you should still come to class.

The only reason you should not come to class is:

  • You have cold/flu-like symptoms.
  • You are coughing or sneezing regularly.
  • You are feeling “sick” in general.
  • You are injured to the point of not to be able to train (though we still recommend you come and observe in this case).
  • You have traveled out of country recently.
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 (Self Isolate!)

Aside from the last two, these are basically the same reasons you shouldn’t come to class under normal circumstances.

Coming to Class:

  • Wash your hands as soon as you come
  • Wipe down any equipment you used
  • Feel free to wear face masks in class

So, in summary; stay healthy, WASH YOUR HANDS (like normal), and come to class.

I hope this clears up any confusion and assuages fears that you might have. As for me, at least at this stage in the pandemic, the existence of this virus simply isn’t a good enough reason to not come to class (unless it mutates, then I might reconsider)

So stay calm and carry on. And, for the LOVE OF GOD, please stop panicking!

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Are you a good training partner?


Are you the guy that as soon as the instructor says pair up everyone looks at hoping you will train with them or are you the guy the people avoid making eye contact with until everyone else has pared up and you get a reluctant partner. So, what makes a good training partner? Here is a list of what I find to be some of the most important points.

Turning Up


In my experience training martial arts as well as working with teams of people in the construction and hospitality industries first and foremost the thing that makes a good partner in any situation is turning up; not just being there, but being mentally focused and physically active. Especially in martial arts, where someone not paying attention can mean injuries, you need to be focused on the task at hand, knowing what both you and your partner are expected to do and executing those duties with enthusiasm and commitment. No one wants to train with the guy who is constantly asking what they are supposed to be doing or just lacks physical commitment to the training; whether that means holding pads or playing an aggressor.

Listening to the Instructors


Secondly, once you have turned up pay attention to your instructor and listen to instructions! There is nothing worse than performing a combination or series of techniques and your partner isn’t where they are supposed to be or isn’t reacting appropriately. I experienced this recently, while practicing getting up from the ground as an aggressive attacker approaches you. The drill goes like this: the attacker pushes the defender with a kick shield, the defender falls to the ground and performs a break fall, the attacker then walks towards the defender, the defender stabilizes themselves and kicks at the attackers knees (of course protected by the kick shield), keeping them at distance, and then gets up, facing the attacker in a fighting stance. My situation was that my partner pushed me with the kick shield, but, as I performed my break fall, stood 4 feet away from me and didn’t move in. So it was impossible for me to complete the technique because my partner was a) in the wrong place and b) standing static not moving forward; all because they didn’t listen to the explanation of the drill by the instructor.

Pad Holding


There is somewhat of an art to holding pads well, and it does take a little time to learn, but there are some basics that you need to grasp; not just to give the best experience to your partner, but also to avoid injuries (yours or theirs).

The two main types of pads we use are focus mitts and kick shields, so I will limit my discussion to these. When using focus mitts, the mitt itself typically represents your opponent’s head, but in some cases their body or groin. With that in mind, hold them in a position that corresponds to those body parts. For example, if your training a jab/cross (1,2) punch combination keep the pads at your head height, and close to where your head would be (though not right in front of your face, as you risk a blow to your face with the back of the pad.) Avoid holding them more than shoulder width apart, as this is not a realistic target for your partner and is a good way to injure you own shoulder. As the strike connects with the mitt treat it like catching a ball; you want to add a little forward force so there is resistance for the person punching, which helps them to avoid hyperextending their elbow.

Kick shields, as the name implies, are typically used for striking with legs and feet. The key with this type of pad is to hold it tight and close to your body. People have a tendency to try holding this type of pad off their body, assuming that the shield will absorb all the force, but what really happens is the shield is slammed back against your body. This also allows for a lot of movement in the shield and often results is your partner’s kicking foot sliding off at an unexpected angle; possibly hitting you and/or causing a ankle or knee injury to your partner.

Providing a Realistic Attack


Providing a realistic attack is another key to being a good partner. If you are training to block a punch to the head I’m not suggesting you try and knock your partner out, but if they do nothing, or offer a weak block, you should make light contact with their chin, nose, or cheek bone (depending on where you were aiming). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve faced punches that were falling short (by several inches) or landing way out to either side of my head. This is obviously not a realistic attack. As a result I have to perform a different movement to “defend” the attack, and this isn’t the muscle memory I want to train. Similarly, if you are putting chokes or holds onto your partner use enough force that they have to fight to get out of it. If you offer no resistance to the defense they are training they will be stuck wondering why its not working, and probably really shocked at how it feels, if it ever happens in real life.

Watch Your Distance


Everyone’s range is different, and all of your natural weapons (legs, elbows, kicks, knees, punches, headbutts, etc.) have different ranges. You need to match your range to the range of your partner and what they need for the weapons they are using. So, if you are working with someone much taller or shorter than you, don’t stand where your range is, stand at, or hold the pads at, their range; so they can correctly train the strikes they are practicing. It is also important to maintain this range when we train in a dynamic mode; if your partner moves in, move back to match, if they move back, move in to match.

Watch Your Power


Power control is one of our most important training concepts, especially when sparring but also when working with pads or holds and grappling. Often, rules set out a 10-15% power limit, but, if you are much larger or stronger than your partner, remember that your 15% is likely more than theirs. So, try to let your partner set the power level if they are smaller or less experienced. Likewise, if you are using pads and unload on a kick shield held by someone 40lb smaller than you, you will probably send them flying across the room.

Final Thoughts

I will elaborate further on each of these points in subsequent blog posts, but the basics are here. If you want to be a good training partner, and always have people happy and wanting to train with you; turn up, listen to your instructors, hold your pads wisely, provide realistic attacks, watch your distance, and watch your power.

And please, for anyone that trains with me, please call me out if I’m not being a good training partner. I promise I won’t take it personally.

Written by: Evan J

UTKM: Yellow Belt

UTKM Krav Maga Gun Disarms.jpgThe gun is the tool that changed the world. Where once only the wealthy and elite had the time to train for hand to hand combat while the rest were to busy just trying to survive when the firearm arrived it made it so that the everyman could more reasonably defend themselves. It also changed how we fight wars, as no longer could war be fought on the bravery of the full-on cavalry charge. It really changed the world and it many ways slowly led to the democracy we have today, as we consider them the great social equalizer.

From a fundamental self-defense perspective though, what is a firearm? It is a straight line attack that offers an attack range greater than that of our bodies’ normal capabilities.

From a technical standpoint disarming guns is easier than dealing with knives. However, it is rarely as easy as you think. What if the opponent resists or you miss the initial disarm. When things go wrong, which we should assume they should, you will need to revert to your fundamental hand to hand combat skills while gaining control of the weapon in question. This, despite what many Krav Maga organizations imply, makes firearms disarms more advanced in nature and should not be for beginners.

Disarming Guns:

You must remember that Guns are a long-range weapon, and thus, you will only be able to disarm them if the attacker has been foolish enough to get within arms reach and has failed to control you in a manner that would prevent you from moving to disarm. This would include both Pistols and Rifles.

Disarming rifles is actually far easier than disarming pistols due to the size difference. Pistols are meant for shorter range engagements than rifles which makes them more dangerous in the closer ranges we need to be to disarm them.

Disarming a gun unlike knives should always be done from the standing position and takedown attempts are strongly not advised as you may lose muzzle control in the process.

How to deal with Gun Attacks:

No matter the type of the gun the main thing to consider is your range from the attacker and what tools you have in your proverbial toolbox. Other things to consider are if the attacker is an active shooter or a static threat.

Active Shooter

  1. Run and find Cover – This is always the best option if you are able to and are unarmed. If they have a You may not be able to though or you may need to protect others
  2. Use a Gun and SHOOT BACK! – In Israel, this is a real knife defense. However, you need to ask your self the following.
    1. Is it legal where you are to have a gun on you for Self Defense
    2. Do you have a Legal gun on you?
    3. Do you have the required skills to operate the gun under duress
  3. Charge them – This does not mean charge them head-on, but this could be a possibility if they are a terrible shot particularly with a handgun. If they have a rifle then charging head-on is not advisable. BUT, the faster the threat is taken down the faster everyone is safe. If more than one person come from different angles and charge and jump on the attacker it is the fastest way to stop the threat. Just know, there is no guarantee you will not be hurt thus this is not a decision to take lightly. Fundamentally, you must overwhelm them by Causing pain, Off Balancing and disrupting all while getting control of the weapon.

Another thing to consider is other people. There is a belief in gun disarms that you must never point the gun at anyone but the attacker. While this is certainly preferably trying too hard not to point it at other people during the attempt may result in hesitation and failure. So long as you do not get shot you can stop the threat which is the main goal. If someone is an active shooter then their goal is to shoot as many people as possible. By going for them and the gun you will 100% reduce the overall casualties and if you think otherwise you may not understand the mentality of such people. If you do disarm a gun from an active attacker and in the process, someone else gets shot, just know it is NOT your fault and you did the right thing.

Static Threat: Disarming a Gun

If you are able to get close enough to actually get a hold of the gun or weapon in question then you are in luck, your attacker has failed to take advantage of their strategic advantage of range.

These scenarios may also be the time you regret not taking acting classes. This is because a person with a gun who is close may not be looking to actually shoot you, but they may also. You may need to act in a manner that allows you to get in range. Some times you have to feign weakness or play along with what they want.

With that being said, the ideology that “Just do what they want”, is always the correct decision is incorrect. It MAY be the correct decision, but it also may mean your death. Only you will know. Sometimes they may leave after you do what they want, sometimes they might just kill you because it’s easier not to have witnessed or sometimes they just might panic and shoot you accidentally. This is why in Krav Maga we must stop the threat before it becomes worse.

It is also important to remember the Gun as a weapon operates on the straight line which means you need to get off the centerline either by re-directing the gun or getting yourself off the centerline or both. One thing to remember is that fine motor movement is not preferred in Krav Maga, yet when it comes to guns you may need to grab the gun. It is important then to remember, you must first push it off the centerline and then grab it. At speed, it looks like one step but it must always be two distinct steps.

Regardless, at all points, you MUST control the Muzzle direction as it is the dangerous part.

  1. Get Off the Center Line by Re-Directing the gun– The first goal is to get off the center line while immediately controlling the weapon. If it is a modern pistol then and it is appropriate based on the range you should have no problem re-directing then grabbing the pistol as you will be grabbing the slide, not the barrel. If it is a revolver or certain long guns, then grabbing the barrel is strongly NOT advised in which case you may consider the next step as your first step. Many disarm, especially with rifles teach grabbing the barrel first. However, this is a deeply flawed strategy especially with a rifle, as grabbing the barrel will not stop the gun from functioning and even if you are off the centerline even after one shot it will be extremely hot which may cause you to let go prematurely. If you cannot safely get a part of the gun that is plastic, composite or wood then move to the next step.
  2. Get Off the Center Line by Re-Directing the Weapon Arm – If you are unable to get the gun in your first move, then you must re-direct the weapon arm. It is also even more important especially if it is a pistol then you get your head and body off the centerline as well. The reason’s this needs to happen is the gun its self is too close to safely re-direct and grab, or you missed the gun and had to go for the arm.
  3. Control the Weapon Arm(s) – Once you are safely off the centerline you must firmly control the weapon arm. While your goal is to disarm the gun as fast as possible against a strong or aggressive person this can be difficult thus it is imperative that you control the weapon arm so that you remain off the centerline.
  4. Disarm the Gun– This must be done as fast as possible as the quicker it is done the quicker the threat is reduced. The individual may still be a threat even without the gun but at least it is out of their hands. There are only a few positions you will end up in with either pistols or long guns so remember what they are so that no matter what happens in a disarm attempt you can identify the position and do the correct disarm. Either way, Control the Muzzle while you are doing it preferably pointed at the attacker when possible.
  5. Create Space and Assess – Once you have the weapon you must immediately create space. Remember the advantage of the gun is a range, if you stay close you could also be disarmed. Disarming a person does not stop them as a threat so you must be ready to deal with them appropriately.  This step can get a little complicated depending on your skillset and the scenario but here are a few:
    1. Back away with your nonshooting hand up in a defensive position, with the gun down. This is best for civilians. Remember, if you disarm the gun and then immediately point it at the attacker and then the police show up who do you think will be the problem? Prior to this keep the space and be verbally dominant.
      1. A. In a situation where you have disarmed the gun but didn’t create sufficient space, use the gun as a blunt force weapon. Metal, composite and wood hurt far more than a fist. This must be a step as the assumption you can always use the gun as intended is not always true. It may not be loaded, or even functioning thus this becomes a great option to do massive damage to the attacker.
    2. Create space and tap, rack and be prepared to use the gun. This is the standard advice often given. If the gun was loaded or had ammunition in it and is functioning this could be the answer. Tapping and “Racking” or chambering a round may act as a deterrent to the attacker. However, if they attempt to call your bluff then you must be prepared to use this option. If you are not, then you better be prepared to move back fast as you attempt to maintain space.
    3. If you have your own firearm after you disarm and create space. Draw your own firearm. It is preferable to use your own as you know what state it is in at all times (or should). This option can be slow especially if there is not a chambered round. It also means you might also only be shooting from one hand which will decrease your accuracy.

Regardless of which option you need to do it requires good assessment. This is a second by second decision-making process based on your skill, the attacker, the environment and many other factors. The correct decision is very relative and can be difficult to make. The one thing to remember is DO NOT hesitate. Make a decision fast, and hope your training if you have any kicks in.

These many reasons are why at UTKM we do not consider anything firearms related as beginner material and are limited to advanced students.

Krav Maga 360 Knife Defense from BelowOften people think the most problematic weapon to deal with is the gun, yet ask most experts and they would say the knife is far worse. Knives are readily available, are easy to create from a variety of things and can be an effective and fatal tool in the hands of anyone.

On average a mass knife attack will see hight casualties than other types as they are silent and require little skill. When a gunshot goes off and there are screams people know to run. But when screams are heard and no one knows what to do, there is often a delayed sense of panic and by then it may be too late.

To deal with knives you must first understand Attack Patterns:

Committed vs Non-Committed as well as blender mode.

After this, the basic knife principles are based on the Attack Type. To Survive an attack know the following

Difficulty Levels of the Attack Pattern:

  • Committed is the easiest to deal with – Basic Techniques will work well, Running is the best option.
  • Non-Committed is more difficult – Basic techniques, combined with faster reaction time and good footwork will be needed. Running is the best option.
  • Blender Moder – Novice and Advance techniques may work if you are committed without hesitation. Running is still the best option.

Disarming Knives:

While many styles of Krav Maga and other Martial Arts will teach a knife to disarm while both parties are standing, UTKM does not teach this nor endorse this approach. A person with a knife may be faster, stronger or more aggressive and attempting to control at the wrist will preventing their advances and disarming the knife is more about luck.

We only teach and practice disarms when the attacker has been taken to the ground and reasonably been controlled. This is because they have now lost a vast majority of their explosive energy. It also makes it easier to run without them catching up as well as allows for control and arrest techniques all while keeping others safe.

How to deal with Knife Attacks:

No matter the attack pattern or type dealing with knives always starts with these options, If they are not an option in this order then you must use your hand to hand combat skills.

  1. Run – This is always the best option if you are able to. You may not be able to though or you may need to protect others
  2. Use a Gun – In Israel this is real knife defense. However, you need to ask your self the following.
    1. Is it legal where you are to have a gun on you for Self Defense
    2. Do you have a Legal gun on you?
    3. Do you have the required skills to operate the gun under duress
  3. Use Weapons of opportunity – Use whatever you can around you to give you an advantage. Use sticks, bags, bricks, jackets, obstacles, and anything you can think of to increase your chances to survive.

Attack Type: Straight Line

  1. Re-Direct the Attack – It is preferred that you re-direct so that you end up in Reference point 2 (Dead Side), but you can also redirect to reference point 1 (Live Side), but you must be quicker and add in an extra attack.
  2. Control the weapon arm – Control the arm holding the knife while Causing Pain, Off Balancing and Disrupting your attacker.
  3. Disengage – Safety and forcefully push your opponents away ensuring it is not easy for them to slash back. Keep your hands up, create space and run.
  4. Takedown and Control – If you are unable to disengage due to the attacker, the environment or your Job then you must take them down. This must be done in a manner in which you maintain control of the weapon arm and take them to the ground while you are still on your feet and have put them into a control position.
  5. Disarm – Only now they may be disarmed. No matter what happens on the ground your focus is to get control of their weapon arm and get the weapon away from them. However, you must still be aware of possible additional attackers. Put the weapon somewhere on your persons that is safe. While throwing it away is an option, it may allow others to pick it up. It should also be remembered that the knife is evidence and should be easy to find after the fact.

Attack Type: Circular

  1. Block the attack – Block the Attack with good technique and structure (360). Ensuring that you are exploding in if it is high, and getting your lower parts out of the way if it is low.
  2. Control the weapon arm – Control the arm holding the knife while Causing Pain, Off Balancing and Disrupting your attacker.
  3. Disengage – Safety and forcefully push your opponents away ensuring it is not easy for them to slash back. Keep your hands up, create space and run.
  4. Takedown and Control – If you are unable to disengage due to the attacker, the environment or your Job then you must take them down. This must be done in a manner in which you maintain control of the weapon arm and take them to the ground while you are still on your feet and have put them into a control position.
  5. Disarm – Only now they may be disarmed. No matter what happens on the ground your focus is to get control of their weapon arm and get the weapon away from them. However, you must still be aware of possible additional attackers. Put the weapon somewhere on your persons that is safe. While throwing it away is an option, it may allow others to pick it up. It should also be remembered that the knife is evidence and should be easy to find after the fact.

Attack Pattern: Blender Mode

At any point the attack type and pattern can switch to the hacking, slashing and stabbing that is blender mode. It also means you may have lost control. If the first 3 options have failed you have limited options as the attacker can switch the attack angle and speed to rapidly to try to control or stop the attack.

  1. Maintain your distance – You must manage the distance between you and the attacker, you often need more space than you think especially against an aggressive attacker.
  2. Cause Pain, Offbalance, Disrupt – You must do something to cause a brief delay in their attack for this is your chance. The UTKM preferred method is a low line side kick, but anything that gives you a chance without serious harm is acceptable.
  3. Explode in with hands up – You must decide to go and when you do you need to move without hesitation. It may look ugly but so long as you protected your vitals and got to the next step you did well.
  4. Control the weapon arm – Control the arm holding the knife while Causing Pain, Off Balancing and Disrupting your attacker.
  5. Disengage – Safety and forcefully push your opponents away ensuring it is not easy for them to slash back. Keep your hands up, create space and run.
  6. Takedown and Control – If you are unable to disengage due to the attacker, the environment or your Job then you must take them down. This must be done in a manner in which you maintain control of the weapon arm and take them to the ground while you are still on your feet and have put them into a control position.
  7. Disarm – Only now they may be disarmed. No matter what happens on the ground your focus is to get control of their weapon arm and get the weapon away from them. However, you must still be aware of possible additional attackers. Put the weapon somewhere on your persons that is safe. While throwing it away is an option, it may allow others to pick it up. It should also be remembered that the knife is evidence and should be easy to find after the fact.

Cliche New Years Resolutions

These are all good goals, But are they objectively achievable and enjoyable in your life. If you really want them to be, they can be.

Another year has passed and its time for another cliche post about the new years and what to do. Cliches are annoying because they just remind us of things we know but often refuse to accept. Sometimes boring is boring because it works and though we love being creative as it makes us feel special we really should just stick to the cliche because then it would not only be easier but we might actually see more results.

As it is the end of the Christmas week, and moving into the new years its time for those cliche new years resolutions. So in the Cliche, Christmas and New Year spirit lets take a look at some cliches to help guide for the New Year.

The first cliche is to remind you of one of the UTKM Core Principles,

“We never stop learning and growing”

this means no matter what your goals, dreams or wishes for the new year are so long as you learn something and get value from the experience it was well worth it. So Empty your cup and start your journey.

It seems that the path to success is different for everyone. Yet one of the most consistent pieces of advice is to learn from your failures because it will only make you better. Refuse to learn and you might find things rarely go the way you want. And choosing not to do, for fear of failure is just as bad. So what are you waiting for? Have you made your new year’s resolution yet? Made your plans for life changes? Are you ready for personal growth?

If that wasn’t full of cliches hear is another one, though it is a valuable one so remember it well.

“Make realistic achievable and measurable goals”

Its a fairly straight forward one. If you make a new year’s resolution or set new goals and you rarely complete them its probably because they are unrealistic. A surefire way to fail is to set a goal that you cannot actually achieve. Either because it’s more than you can handle. You didn’t think it through completely or you were not being objectively realistic.

For example, if you are 200lbs overweight and you say you are going to lose it in 3 months then you have not just set an unreasonable goal but also an unhealthy one. A more realistic one might be to lose 100lbs per year for the next two years. A plan of action would include hiring a nutritionist and personal trainer to help you on your path. Or if the money is not there then the time to do the research on the internet is an alternative option. Though as we are social creatures it is often very important to know that sometimes we need that extra push from some external supportive source.

Easy so far? I hope so. Heres the last one,

“Make it enjoyable and make it a lifestyle”

If you hate every moment of your New Year’s transformation then it is not likely you will stick to it. If you don’t stick to it you will probably just make the same goal as next year. In relation to the previous point part of making something, a realistic goal is to ensure you can do it. Part of that is not torturing yourself over it.

For example if you know sugar is bad for you but you’ve had it most of your life, going cold turkey might be a miserable path to failure. Instead, curb your sweet tooth cravings with healthier alternatives like honey or maple syrup. This way you can still get your cravings but with a better alternative. Eventually, as you cut back your sugar intake you might find you can go days or even weeks without it.

My New Years Plans

So what am I planning for the new years? Nothing crazy or unrealistic. I Will be going at the end of April to some fairly intense training. So with the encouragement of my significant other, I will be doing an elimination diet with them to reset my system. I will also be getting back into a slightly more rigorous training regiment in order to prep for the training in April.

The goal is simply to get healthier and slightly back in shape so I can peak for the actual training without dying. So I have a realistic timeline to stick too, about 3 months.

The diet its self is meant as a re-set diet to curb any inflammation in my body. Starting with 2 weeks of a nordic Inspired diet, mostly fish and greens. Then 2 weeks, Keto and the 1-month paleo. Starting with the most restrictive diet and then moving towards the least restrictive. Often the hardest part of such diets is the social aspects. As I am doing it with my partner we can support each other and enjoy our meals together. This allows me to maintain the social aspect of eating without the strain of making two sets of food. It also helps us keep each other in check. The original plan we looked into is actually much longer but as we want it to stay enjoyable we figure the 2 months leading up to the training will be much more bearable.

The other thing with reset diets is despite the marking fads they are rarely meant to be long term. The last time I did a strict diet, was only about a month but I saw wonders as it completely reset my metabolism and has since then been fairly easy for me to control my weight and physique without to much work.

The other thing that makes this a reasonable goal is that it fits into my lifestyle already. It’s just a matter of being a bit more disciplined than normal. I usually work out or do martial arts every week, and I generally eat fairly well that combined with the timeline will make this a good experience indeed.

So thats my plan for the new years? What cliche resolution will you be making? Just remember, whatever it is. Learn from it, Make it objectively realistic and something that you will enjoy.

Happy Holidays and I wish you all the best in the New Year.

 

rise-and-rise-again.jpg

Find your inner athlete, become the Lion over time what was impossible will be possible with consistency and dedication. Your inner Athlete Awaits.

When I was growing up, I was not much of an athlete. I was put in pre-hockey, soccer, baseball and probably more than I cannot even remember. What I do remember, is I was never picked first and was always on the worst teams. It did not inspire me much to try harder or put in the effort. Eventually, I stopped doing anything athletic and started putting on a bit more weight than I should have as a kid in elementary (grade) school.

At some point between grade 8 or 9, I was getting tired of being picked on. I on my own, cut out most sugar from my diet and started hitting the gym. I lost a lot of weight and got in better shape than I was before. I even when I had the option in Grade 10 opted to take the fitness-based gym class rather than the regular one. Despite this, however, I was far from the athletic prowess of the naturally talented athletes in my high school.

Despite this and despite not coming from an overly athletic home I was always drawn to some level of physical activity. Pre-Army (IDF), I trained a lot to get ready. As things didn’t go the way I had hoped I ended up in the regular Infantry and lost much of my motivation to stay in more shape than I should have been often choosing sleep over physical activity when free time was available.

Once again I watched as the naturally physically gifted soldiers made the rigorous training look easy from a physical perspective while I struggled. I did, however, learn as a consequence that if you are not physically as capable and you are pushed to your limits more often you may find yourself developing a mental strength you never thought you had. This strength that only the best of the naturally talented individuals will also develop while most of them did not because it was never really that hard for them anyways.

Later out of the army, I finally really started my Martial arts Journey. While I had trained Krav Maga prior to the army, and a little in the army it was after when I started to train more seriously as well as adding BJJ and a variety of other styles into my training.

Again, I was never an athlete capable of keeping pace with the best. But I enjoyed it and kept training. While I did start teaching Krav Maga this was not due to my athletic prowess or skill but rather my ability to teach its self and my understanding of Krav Maga and a more modern holistic approach.

Fast forward to today. With 11 years of Krav Maga training, 7 years of teaching and 7 years of BJJ (Almost 8). I find my self being told by individuals who are just starting out how impressive I am athletically.

That voice in my head always tells me that no I am not an athlete as to me if you are not training full time and doing it professionally than I am not an athlete. Yet to the new people who I can often run circles around in their eyes they see an athlete.

It is now only in this past year that I am starting to consider my self an athlete (A casual one, but still). While Life has not gone the way I would have liked where I can focus all my efforts on training I in many cases am finally starting to possess the skills and ability that many consider athletic.

This past year for a few months I was fortunate to be able to train with individuals who I would consider at the higher levels of skill and in many cases during training, I was able to keep up or and excel past what they were doing. This was the first twinkle I had internally that maybe I might just be an athlete.

In BJJ, I find my self outpacing and often beating people who I used to struggle against and whereas I used to have trouble against younger, larger athletic white belts I now can quite handly beat, much to theirs and my own amazement.

While I am still no genetically gifted individual, I am starting to see that yes, I am finally finding my inner athlete.

The thing is it is no secret, and you too can do it. It simply takes time and consistency.

It’s not so much that I am more athletic than I ever was it is simply a matter of my body has learned how to operate more efficiently. My mind has a firm grasp on the skills that I have learned enough that I can finally adapt and modify as I need, rather than waiting for the answers to be given. and that the hours are really started to add up.

The 10,000-hour rule is something I have often talked about and it is quite a lot of time to put into a specific subject. The thing is that it is for mastery. If on any given thing you only put in 3000 hours you will still be far better than someone who has put in only a few hours.

I have also talked about consistency in training. It is simply a matter of never letting to much time go in between training sessions. While many of us would love to train full time, the reality is for must of us making a good enough living off of it is very difficult and in some cases unrealistic. BUT!, those hours do add up and if you never quit and always did some training one day you may realize you have developed your own inner athlete.

So you weren’t born a natural athlete?

That’s ok. Many coaches would prefer to have someone that is mediocre but puts in the time than have a natural athlete that is lazy. Because over time its the person with more practice that usually comes out on top.

If it takes a year, 5 years or 10 years. If you train enough, even if only once a week you too may find your self looking in the mirror and saying. “Hmm, I guess I am an athlete”

Find your inner athlete, keep training, have fun and you too will become that thing you always wanted to be.

And remember, at UTKM, our motto is Turning Lambs into Lions, so if you stick too it long enough you may find a Lion inside.

By: Jonathan Fader (UTKM Lead Instructor)

 

number one bullshit

You started Krav Maga, or a generic self-defense program. perhaps another martial arts style offering self-defense classes. Often they say it is subjective but really it’s easy to determine if a technique is on the better end of the spectrum or the less effective end.

Of course, it should be mentioned that everyone says they are the best or what they are teaching is the best because of well Ego and other factors. If this sounds familiar just know you can objectively determine if a technique is a general good or not and if it works for you in general or not.

This is a topic that can be found all over the internet, entire Instagram accounts are dedicated to asking if a technique is objectively realistic or not. Discounting the standard internet trolls and those who cannot ever be please there is a general consensus of good and bad techniques.

Recently I watched a video posted by a local Krav Maga school, that belongs to a considerably reputable organization. By all accounts, the instructor is quite legitimate with a military background and extensive martial arts training. Yet when I saw the video of the technique being posted I couldn’t believe my eyes at the ridiculous nature of the technique. I felt bad for the students for they were clearly being sold a false sense of security by someone seemingly legitimate. I don’t know if this technique was standard for the organization or just the instructor but I was shocked.

(I will not re-post it so as not to draw attention to that school or instructor or organization so you will just have to use your imagination.) I will, however, post this youtube video of similarly bad stuff.

The technique involves one person being held back by their wrists, while someone else choked them from the front. The technique involved the defended rotating their head out of the choke and then spinning into the person behind or something like that. I may have burned it from my memory slightly.

First off, if someone is holding you from behind the most likely scenario is that they will be beating you, not choking you. but hey never say never so I guess I can let that part slide. The issue is that objectively there was zero resistance from the attackers nor were they being aggressive. Additionally, the attackers were not much bigger than the defender. had even one of the attackers been aggressive with resistance there is not a chance in hell that technique would work 9 times out of 10. But hey never say never I guess. Still a shit technique and delusional but oh well.

If that was me in that scenario I would stick to principles of keeping it simple, be aggressive and use your most effective tools. Largely kicks, head buts and aggression.

Of course, I always ask my students in scenarios like that. HOW THE FUCK DID YOU GET THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! You clearly failed to pay attention, practice avoidance or strike pre-emtively. Unless you are living in Mexico in some perpetual war against the cartel such scenarios are not as common as people would make you think. Either way several poor life choices happened in order to get into such a situation.

This begs the question of how as an uninformed student or potential student objectively asses a good technique. Here are some things to consider, this is not an exhaustive list just some ideas.

bell-curve

Most people are in the middle, whether we want to accept it or not. Thus this is what techniques and training should be aimed at. Working 80% of the time for 80% of the people.

  1. Will the technique work 80% of the time for 80% of the people most of the time? First, one thing that needs to be established is no one technique is 100% foolproof for everyone at every time. Different body times, capabilities and other factors always play in so nothing is 100% that is why aggression training is so important. I like to apply the bell curve model. There are 10% of people who probably should just avoid physical conflict and it won’t matter what technique they use. there is another 10% of people who are so athletically gifted they can rely on that alone much of the time. Meaning that we need to teach to the majority. So if a technique works for most students, most of the time with no pressure and with pressure then it is a better technique than others.
  2. Is the technique relatively easy to perform for the majority of people after a short amount of time? This does not mean master but means can it be done regularly and reasonably well within a few hours of practice. One way to know is if it relies on gross motor movement rather than fine motor movement. Take joint locks. Mechanically sound techniques that take a fair amount of training and skill to pull of much of the time even against mildly resisting opponents. A groin kick, for example, is very easy to learn and will work most of the time. After learning it, its simply a matter of practice to train your nervous system to perform it well under duress. If a technique is hard to pull off under duress or takes a long time to learn well then for basic self-defense purposes it is probably not a good technique.
  3. Will the technique work against someone bigger and stronger than you or work in with a set of other fluid techniques to overcome the size and strength advantage. First, I would like to point out there is a point where someone may be too big and strong to use the technique thus you must fall back on aggression and the will to survive because nothing is 100%. Going back to the joint locks, let’s say a wrist lock. On average if a person is much stronger and resisting it is a very difficult technique to pull off. Contrary a groin kick works 9 out of 10 times at least to cause a major disruption in the attacker for most people.
  4. Are you able to eventually get it to work on it’s own or in a sequence of moves under duress? If you never train the techniques with resistant then you are probably not training good Krav Maga or self-defense. Hitting pads is one thing trying the technique against different sized and strength people is another. So get practicing or go to another school if this isn’t happening. You may quickly find out which techniques work more and which work less.
  5. If and when the technique fails, are you able to fill in the blanks to survive? This is arguably the most important thing. As techniques don’t work all the time no matter how good they are the real key is you knowing what to do when failure occurs. If you are regularly and consistently unable to adapt, you are either not training hard enough or not training properly. This is sometimes a school thing, sometimes an instructor thing and sometimes a you thing. So figure out which it is and make the changes!

The last thing, the ego can be a hard thing to deal with. Especially when as instructors we like to teach the best thing and after all, we are here to help. Except if you never challenge your techniques or make changes accordingly you are only doing your students a disservice. I can say over the years I have probably changed the UTKM curriculum 4 or 5 times to work for the majority of students or fill in technical or training blanks. If you are only ever teaching the same thing that your instructor taught you, you must objectively asses are really doing the right thing or are you just selling a false sense of reality to your students.

If you are a student and love your school ask your self why are you there. If you are there because you like the community then by all means stay. But if you are there to learn to defend your self ask your self, are you really, objectively learning it or just being sold snake oil.

Just think positively and envision your future and everything will be alright. Do lines like this seem familiar? Speakers, motivators, educators, authors and more have been selling lines like this for many years now. So what’s the problem?

Lead-with-Positivity.jpgFirst, let me say having a positive internal dialogue with your self is extremely important. Seeing your self in a positive light and being objective about your strengths and weaknesses and being ok with that will lead to a much happier life. After all, confidence goes a long way.

Beliving blindly in the words of motivational speakers and beliving blindly that simply being positive will get you everything you ever dreamed of most of the time will not achieve the things you think it will. It may just make you happier in your failure but it still won’t achieve the results you want.

Yet, we love to hear it. Be positive…………and you will achieve all. This is what is sold to us because this is what we prefer to hear. If you like many, hear objective meaningful criticisms as an attack on your self and simply as negative vibes then you will try to avoid them and seek out the “positivity”. This is why it has been commercialized. Because much like sex, it sells. And for many, it has taught people that meaningful criticism from our loved ones is only negativity and must be avoided. While sometimes it is, often it is not, yet we avoid it still because our fragile egos have been massaged to seek only the positive. Yet that criticism may be the changes we needed to make to actually achieve our goals.

The thing is between the positive and achieving it, is hard work, consistency, adaptability, and luck. There is also the execution element of any idea or plan.

Planning to be positive and change your life as it has been sold is a noble cause. Implementing it in a meaningful way is the hard part. It requires sacrifice and often many uncomfortable moments with your self, your ego, and interactions with others.

To me, the absolute most important thing in self-defense is critical thinking. This skill set is also extremely important in real life and is also a skill that seems lacking in many even those who feel they have a grasp on it. This skill needs to apply even to those we look up too and ideas we hold dear. Those people we look up too after all are people too, and those ideas we love so much may actually be wrong.

Yet if we think positive it will all be ok right? It may not, but you will be happier in the process. But if things still are not working out then know positivity alone will not get you what you want.

Take Krav Maga or BJJ progression for example. You believe positively that you will get your next belt soon. You come diligently to class and have a smile on your face. Yet you aren’t getting invited for the belt test or your belt isn’t changed when everyone else did. The issue is your execution. Obviously, your instructor/professor feels you have not made the progress they are looking for either technically, spiritually or mentally. Thus your positivity hasn’t gotten you your desired goal because you failed to recognize what you needed to work on and improve thus you failed to effectively execute.

Now instead of feeling positive, you feel defeated and depressed because one thing your positivity didn’t do was manage your expectations. Yet all the books you read, all the speakers you heard said to stay positive. and you bought it and enjoyed it.

What happened is you failed to realize they want to sell you something, hence the commercialization of positivity. YOU failed to realize this because YOU failed to apply critical thinking. Positivity is a great thing for general happiness, but it is not on its own going to achieve anything. It required a combination of many things. One of which is hard work. Thought alone won’t change your world and outcome, but positive thinking, with hard work, critical thinking and a little luck just might.

So next time you are thinking of shelling out big bucks to hear that motivational speaker you always wanted to see think twice. Is that money worth it or would it be better spent on more training that would help you actually achieve your goals?

Positivity + Hard Work + Good planning and execution + consistency + Adaptability +luck will most likely = success more of the time than positively alone.

Long story short, the path to success is always more complicated than we would like it to be, but it is what it so stops resisting and move forward.

 

What is Krav Maga to you?

Posted: October 16, 2019 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga in General, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

A little while ago on the Joe Rogan Podcast, he did a wonderful thing. He further legitimized Krav Maga. He also brought up a great point. That Krav Maga will vary from place to place depending on the background of the instructor. Some focusing on kickboxing or boxing more. Some on wrestling or general grappling more. This is a good thing and this is a bad thing.

It means that yes, Krav Maga is Legitimate, but it really depends on whos teaching because it really can vary from place to place and organization to organization. There are many different philosophies, both in teaching and curriculum in the Krav Maga world. To the uninitiated, it is all the same but in many ways, it is not. This has lead to confusion for the average person as they have often decided what Krav Maga is before even attending a school or looking for one that suits them.

Sometimes, potential students come in and have come in with these pre-determined ideas. Some come in looking to get a good sweat in thinking it will be all action and no talk. Others come in thinking it’s going to be the most intense thing they have ever done, every time. Some come in expecting general self-defense and find it is to many contacts and too hard. It’s not entirely their fault as it can be difficult to do accurately research it online, and often many in the industry put a massive bias on what they think it should be. What we would put on them, is the idea that they have come in with expectations, or rather their cup is full. Thus preventing them from gaining the skills or knowledge they thought they saught out.

What is Krav Maga?

So what is Krav Maga to us? First and for most, Krav Maga is the Israeli approach to Self defense that when done correctly has proven its self to be very effective for the street.

No matter there are a few things that definitively makes Krav Maga:

  1. It should be simple and easy to learn (It will still take a lifetime to master)
  2. It should teach you above all else to be situationally aware and use critical thinking first for all self-defense scenarios (Without this, techniques and aggression may be useless if you don’t know how to use it.)
  3. It should use Aggression when techniques fail (Which they will)
  4. It should choose the most effective techniques for the majority of people the majority of the time (There is no one size fits all but majority is good enough)
  5. Techniques and strategies should change or be abandon as things change and are shown to be ineffective)
  6. It should not be a fitness class but should push you mentally and physically at least part of the time.
  7. It should focus on avoiding the ground, but teach you how to deal with it should you require it.

These are just some basic core ideas (for more see our Self Defense and Krav Maga Principles here) but are ones that are very universal in the Krav Maga world.

Types of Schools

There are many types of schools out there and no matter what our opinion of them you should find one that suits your needs and wants because something is better than nothing. Just remember, you may not be getting the best version or the most complete version of Krav Maga.

  • Military oriented – Often this is what people think of when they think of Krav Maga because this is often what is all over youtube. Hardcore, BOOT CAMP style works out just like in the military. Yes, Krav started in the Military and is used by the military but here’s the thing. Military application is different than civilians. For one, their primary weapon is often firearms and hand to hand combat is their last resort. For civilians, it is their first. These schools are awesome at building mental and physical toughness and grit which is a component of Krav Maga. But they often fail to develop good technique as they rely far too much on aggression. They are also often run by individuals who fail to understand that in the military you are working with physically capable individuals, while the average civilian may need to build their way up. While crazy often beats big, in the modern world there are cameras, courts, and judges in the eyes of the public. Good clean technique will be the difference between obvious self-defense and an assault charge.
  • Martial Arts oriented – These schools are started by individuals who have often spent years in a particular martial arts style. They then learn Krav Maga sometimes extensively and sometimes just a little. While traditional martial artists can do a phenomenal job running a Krav School often run them to much like a traditional style and fail to understand the fundamentals of Krav Maga. They may have a great technique in their students but often fail to develop their aggression and ability to function under duress. Krav Maga traditionally is not a martial art it is a self-defense system. Don’t get me wrong there are many great aspects of traditional martial arts that do well in Krav maga such as respect, discipline, Drilling and body conditioning. But there is often a lack of full-contact sparring or pressure drills which makes these no different than a regular martial arts school that fails to understand the difference between dojo and street. They also struggle to understand police or military application unless they are also in those fields.
  • Fitness Oriented – These schools often know how to market. A lot of people want to take self-defense to feel good about themselves. Which is a great thing and we are all for it. The thing is if all you ever do is hit pads and get a good sweat on then you may not actually be learning krav maga but rather something closer to the fad of tae bo. I have worked with students from these schools from time to time and very rarely have they sparred or actually been pushed mentally beyond their comfort zones. While you can certainly get in shape doing krav maga and you will, if that is the selling point of a school then it is a fitness class with a self-defense spin and nothing more.
  • Hybrid – In a modern world, this is what a good school should look like. A mix of developing people like a traditional martial arts school but while keeping to the principles and ideologies of Krav Maga. There should be a mix of explanation, and hard practice. Aggression training and theory. It should, like the originators of Krav Maga intended to adapt, change and be flexible teaching all aspects of Self Defense like MMA but with a street orientation. It should also include weapons training at an appropriate level as required for self-defense.

Ranking in Krav Maga

Ranking in a Krav Maga is often a highly contested area of Krav Maga. Some argue it is needed for developmental reasons, others argue there is no belts in the street so it shouldn’t matter. Some even choose to abandon belts and use a patch system but still have ranked. Either way, these are the three general types of ranking in Krav Maga. Either way, a concept that is hard for some to understand is that a belt or rank does not equal skill and is merely a measurement of achievement according to a certain set of standards.

Belts- This is the standard ranking in martial arts and was the original under Krav Maga. That is at least the Judo system. White, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Brown, Black. From novice to expert. This system originally developed by Kano the created of modern Judo. Recognizing that in the civilian world far from the warrior cultures of old, a progressive structure was needed. Sometimes Krav schools use belt systems other than this, and it is usually because they were an already established school that did not want to change the system they already have.

Patches – Born out of the great Krav Maga split when in the 90s and oriented towards the military they are used by a few organizations such as KMG and IKMF. Like the belt system they have a structure and requirements, though it seems like there may be many more ranks than we think are necessary, but hey to each their own.

No Ranking – Other organizations have no ranking. They often recognize that belts and ranks do not equal skill and on the street, a black belt cannot stop a bullet. They are of course correct. However, sometimes they fail to understand that the average person requires rank and structure. Something about being human. Sometimes we wonder if they don’t like ranks because running a ranking system that maintains standards globally is very difficult.

Conclusion

While we may not agree with the approach or strategy of many other organizations or school what does matter is if you are getting what you want out if it. But more importantly, do you think you are gaining the skills, physically, mentally and technically to truly be able to defend yourself. If you have never trained with other Krav maga organizations then you may never know. Not all Krav Maga is made the same. What we do ask, is that you be respectful and go on with no expectations. We ourselves have trained with people or schools that just didn’t work for us. We have also had students that just were not the right fit for our school. This is normal but if you find a place that works for you then you may find out what Krav Maga really is and what it can do for you.

Kravmaga.jpg

A famous photo of Krav Maga training long ago in Israel

Master ken seminar

So to should a good seminar!

When it comes to martial arts or self-defense there are many reasons a person may choose to go to a seminar. For some, its because they do not have the time to train regularly, for others they want to supplement their regular training. At UTKM we have attended many seminars on many topics from leadership, how to teach, Krav Maga, Self Defense, Martial arts in General and we have learned what makes a good seminar.

Who is teaching

The person whos teaching is a world champion. The person whos teaching is famous for… The person whos teaching regularly teaches classes. Therefore, they must run an amazing seminar. WRONG! The thing is running a seminar is different than teaching a regular class, with regular students. It is also clearly different than performing.

We have gone to seminars for people who are the heads of seminars who teach all the time and who have developed champions and yet the seminar was mediocre at best. We have also gone to seminars from people we have never heard of and had an amazing seminar.

Don’t just sign up to a seminar because you like the topic, or the person has a name to them. Ask around, do you know anyone who has gone to the seminar with that person. Find out if it was worth the price of the seminar and if they learned anything. (Just make sure your friend isn’t a seminar junky who things they are all great) If they tell you it was worth it and they learned a lot then this person is probably great at running seminars

Content of Seminar

A good seminar, picks 1 topic or maybe 2 or 3 related topics. From there, there should be a clear structure for the seminar. It should start with the basics of that topic and build it up. For example, let’s take a gun disarm seminar. If it doesn’t start with the basics like how firearms work, firearms laws and basic safety then you may be missing out on super important contextual information. If they really know their stuff this can take 5-15 minutes as they will be able to sum it up.

The topic is always great as it is often the reason people sign up, but it is not enough. There must be contextual information allowing you to have a framework to build off of mentally for the rest of the seminar. Often good instructors will lay out how they are going to run the seminar so you have an idea. The structure and context of the material is super important. While we often go to seminars thinking we are going to be constantly going, a good seminar should be a mix of explanation, demonstrations and drill time.

Bad seminars, especially in self-defense, will just teach a bunch of random unconnected techniques. You have limited time in a seminar so there must not be too much information or techniques taught or else it will be difficult to retain the information for most people. Another bad seminar is one where they spend a large portion of their time telling stories without giving much practice time. While this can be educational you should have time to develop your skills. Alternatively, a bad seminar is one in which you are simply doing things the whole time with no explanation at all.

This is why if they start with a basic overview, explain, demonstrate, give drill time and correct as needed it should be a good seminar.

Length of Seminar

A seminar, if it is any good, will almost never just be 1 hour. 1 hour is enough for review of material that you already know and not for new material or material being taught from someone you are not familiar with. A good seminar should be between 2-4 hours. Anything longer than that is more akin to a course which would be 8 hours plus. A seminar needs to be a quick overview, of a topic, idea or concept to be taught in a relatively short period of time.

Anything less than 2 hours then it is unlikely there is enough time to give an appropriate overview of that topic, idea or concept. Anything over 4 hours and peoples attention spans start to go. This is especially true if the seminar is full of people who are new to the topic or have never worked with that particular instructor.

Lead Instructor Jonathan has done many seminars, and courses ranging from 4 hours to 7 days and he can attest that even in topics he is familiar with it can be hard to focus past 4 hours let alone 4 days especially when there is both physical components and mental components.

Even better it is a seminar series, that goes between 2-4 hours each day or in consecutive weeks that expands on a specific topic. With each time review what was done before, adding on too it and allowing for a full review on the last day. Any Seminar is serious that last more than 4 separate days is probably more akin to a full-time course. If seminars are presented in series that it would be important that you attend every single one. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of separate seminars with their own loosely related topics rather than a specific series.one one topic.

Level of Seminar

The level of the seminar should have been advertised prior to it. For example, is it for beginners with Zero experience? In which case it should say Intro too or beginners. Or it could specify must have X amount of experience in X. If it is the former then great, bring one bring all. If it is the latter then it is the responsibility of the organizer to appropriately vet every person entering the seminar to ensure everyone is at the correct level.

A Seminar where the skills are wildly varying can be tough as you either have to teach to the lowest skill level or you teach to the skill level you want to. In the first case, it can be boring for more skilled individuals who wanted to update and progress their skills. In the second, it can be dangerous and frustrating to the new person who can barely keep up. In either case, people are losing out.

We have been too long seminars that covered multiple topics or areas in some we did just fine, then it got to a specific skill we were not familiar or practice in and thus that portion became very difficult and we were unable to keep up. They kept saying its easy a fundamental but as we had no experience in that skill it was neither. Needless to say, it was not a fun section and we ended up just observing.

A good instructor can read the room and adapt the skill level accordingly. There have been times at UTKM that a certain level was expected and a lesson plan was created and either the skill level was too low or too high. So we simply adapted accordingly making it easier or harder. Unless it is a graded seminar requiring a certain level of standards (Such as instructor training) than adapting to the level of the group is extremely important so that everyone stays safe and learning to their maximum efficiency.

Was it Fun!

Lastly, and you can only really know this at the end. Was it fun. Was the instructor or instructors engaging and were they able to read the room well and adapt accordingly? This, of course, is relative as fun for one person is not always for another. The better the seminar the more likely a majority of people enjoyed it. If it was, fun then its usually something you might consider again. This is a simple one, because well, nobody likes a dry seminar.