Posts Tagged ‘self defense’

This is part of a series on our instructor training program. To understand this series and how our Assistant Instructor Course and Full Instructor Course work, please start with Part 1. This post is a self-introduction from one of our current Assistant Instructor candidates.

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When I first started Krav Maga about 2 years ago, it quickly became a passion of mine. Krav Maga has since then developed into a way of life for me. My name is Vick and I am a current Orange Belt at Urban Tactics Krav Maga. I grew up in Surrey, BC and have spent most of my life there. Even though Surrey may have a pretty rough reputation, I must say that I love it. That’s my hometown and it always will be.

 

Alongside Krav Maga, another passion of mine is health and fitness. I love hitting the gym and being in the “zone”. Something about lifting heavy weights, having good music blasting in your ears, and getting an intense cardio session gives me a feeling like no other. I believe everyone should experience this feeling. Just getting in some sort of exercise for the day is a great mood booster and gives you that positive outlook on life to solve all of life’s hurdles.

I have had no other martial arts training prior to joining Urban Tactics. I have been built from the ground up and can definitely say that Krav Maga has made me into a better overall person in all aspects of life. Krav Maga interested me as seemed to be more of a tactical self-defense system as opposed to a sport fighting martial art. I love the tactical aspect that Krav Maga brings. It combines the hand to hand combat with firearms training and brings that real-world training that I wanted.

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I have had a great experience training Krav Maga at Urban Tactics. All the instructors have provided me with the best knowledge and their teaching methods are very easy to understand. The ranking tests are my favourite part of our gym. It truly tests you as an individual as you must bring out the most physical, mental, and technical toughness you have. This is something I really enjoy. The most important thing that I have learned while training at Urban Tactics is applying principles and critical thinking. Being in a situation that is unfamiliar and not knowing what to do is scary. That’s why learning and applying the principles is so important and is definitely the most important thing I have learned alongside critical thinking. Critical thinking can be used in all areas of life, not just self-defense. It has taught me to look at situations on a deeper level and get a better understanding. This is helpful no matter what you do in your life. This is how Krav Maga has developed into a way of life for me.

Being in a situation that is unfamiliar and not knowing what to do is scary. That’s why learning and applying the principles is so important and is definitely the most important thing I have learned alongside critical thinking.

IMG_2098Once I was given the opportunity to be a Krav Maga instructor at Urban Tactics, I quickly jumped on it. I really enjoy teaching as a general interest, however being able to teach a field that I am highly passionate about, makes me very happy. I love being able to share my knowledge that I have learned with current and future students, developing them in every way that I can to make them better. My experience with the instructor course has been awesome. Jon is an incredible instructor and highly knowledgeable. It’s easy to keep engaged in the material when it is interesting and the instructor keeps it a fun learning environment.

Over the 2 years, I have trained Krav Maga at Urban Tactics, I have had the best experience. It has developed my physical, mental, and technical abilities and has created an overall better way of life for me. Being an instructor is the best way to share all of this with students and develop them further and create better people each and every day.

-Vick

This is part of a series on our instructor training program. To understand this series and how our Assistant Instructor Course and Full Instructor Course work, please start with Part 1. This post is a self-introduction from one of our current Assistant Instructor candidates.

Petra-My name is Petra and I’m the cat lady on the team. I moved from Germany to Vancouver in December 2012 (my hometown is Seifhennersdorf.) Yes, I’m a German doing Krav Maga.

In 1986, I entered school and my parents decided that I need a balance for all the studying and educating my mind was doing and because the Judo Dojo was the closest sports facility where I lived, I ended up doing Judo. And because we don’t quit, I didn’t quit doing Judo till 2002 when I graduated from university and life kicked in. My knees and other joints are still thankful for that break.

I heard about Krav Maga before but kind of ignored it, only later I read more about it and found it quite interesting. One day my roomie (in Vancouver) was searching the Groupon site and because I was sitting next to her I saw a Groupon for Krav Maga at a gym in downtown Vancouver. I went there and did a free trial class, couldn’t move for a week and came back. This was in December 2015. I knew so little then. In September 2016, the classes got discontinued and I needed a new gym. I asked around and a friend of mine told me about two gyms that offer Krav Maga – one downtown but he said if I wanted to train real Krav Maga I should go to UTKM. And so I did. Now I’m here.

My experience with Krav Maga

I find Krav Maga very applicable for real life situations. It is not only the techniques but also the mental aspect, e.g. assessing situations, recognizing the threat, etc. The big difference in comparison to classic martial arts like Judo is that you don’t have to train for years to apply the techniques. The system is simple and works with natural instincts.

I personally don’t think that most martial arts, as they are usually taught, are that great for self-defense. First of all, there are rules and there is a code of honour that both sides respect, usually you only deal with one opponent at a time and there are no weapons involved. Rules and codes of honour don’t work in a street fight. You always have to expect the attacker to have weapons and/or friends who are going to help them if they are having trouble mugging you. When I was taught self-defense as part of the Judo schedule, it didn’t cover the four stages of a violent situation (avoidance, diffusion, pre-emptive, reactive) or to avoid the ground.

These are just a couple of things right off the top of my head. Don’t get me wrong – I love Judo! And I’m still benefitting a lot from the training that I have received, but as somebody who started out as a more traditional martial artist, I learned that Bushido (武士道) – the way of the warrior – is different from self-defense. But it is great because I can be both – a Judoka and a Kravist. I know I’m getting here a little bit into the philosophical aspect of martial arts and I hope that you can follow my thoughts.

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Moving here from Germany by myself means that I don’t have too many friends or a social network at all. UTKM has a great community and I feel comfortable training here. Yes, I like most of my fellow students.

One day, still with my white belt, our Lead Instructor Jon asked me if I wanted to become an Assistant Instructor. It was definitely something I had in mind, but I didn’t think of myself being ready. There are still so many things I have to learn. But apparently, we will cover many of these things during the course.

I was thinking about why I want to become an instructor. Self-defense is definitely one aspect of it, but I also want to help people to become more confident. Especially, women tend to be very hard on themselves and I want them to know that regardless of age or size – you can learn to defend yourself. Just be patient and take your time. Nothing happens over night and it is better to move forward with baby steps than not moving at all. I consider myself lucky because my parents never told me that there is anything I cannot do because I’m a girl, and my dad (I’m very proud of my dad because although he was born 1930 he always had a very modern point of view) would have kicked my butt if I ever caved before one of those idiots who believed that they are better only because they have the XY chromosome pair. I understand that physically the average women is not as strong as the average man, but that doesn’t mean you cannot put up a fight when getting attacked. And also ladies – get used to the fact that there is no knight in shining armour coming to rescue you. Get your butt up and learn to take care of yourself!

So far, the Assistant Instructor Course has been interesting.

We’ve learned about the history of Krav Maga, different schools, etc. – very confusing BTW. We have also learned a lot of things that happen in the background of a Krav Maga school, e.g. admin work. And of course, we’ve learned about teaching. But most importantly for me, it’s that Krav Maga is a sophisticated system and covers more than physical training.

Once I’m ready to teach (of course supervised at first), I already have some “fun” games in mind and I’m really looking forward to that. But first comes the orange belt test which scares me, but I’m also excited – if that makes sense.

Hope to see you in class!

Petra

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This blog post is written by one of our female students who wishes to remain anonymous. Names in this article have been altered for the sake of anonymity.

I have been doing Krav Maga at Urban Tactics Krav Maga for a few months now. I am a 46-year-old mother of three: a teenage daughter and two adult sons. I started Krav partly because my family does it and partly because I work as a paramedic and occasionally find myself in some tense and even dangerous situations on the job.

Another student in our class recently came across an advertisement online for a women’s only Krav Maga class and asked me what I thought about it and if I would write a post on the subject.

When I consider a women’s only self-defense class, it seems counter-productive to me. I understand women’s only dance or yoga classes. Some people feel uncomfortable exercising in the presence of the opposite sex and that’s fine. Self-defense classes, however, seem to be based in self-defense, first and foremost. That’s the most important thing.

In the first class that I sparred with a man, I hesitated. I was not aggressive. Partly, it’s because I was taught as a girl to be demure and to let the man lead. The thought also went through my head, “what if I hit him hard and he hits me back hard?!” Which is what could happen in real life, of course. It could happen to me at work, or to my daughter who is going about her teenage life in a crazy world. Attackers don’t wait for you to be ready or get over your conditioning just because you are a girl.

I learned that techniques work differently when used on people who are larger – or smaller – than myself. I wonder how a woman who has never practiced against a man would overcome her natural psychological reactions to such a different kind of opponent. How would she learn that some techniques simply do not work the same way on someone considerably larger or stronger than themselves and that those techniques must be modified?

In the real world, things will not go well if your reaction speed is slowed because you face an opponent you are really unfamiliar with or your situational awareness is less because something totally new is happening to you. You will most probably hesitate and get hurt. Krav Maga teaches us not to hesitate and to do whatever it takes to survive against an attacker. Against anyone trying to hurt us. Gender-specific schooling doesn’t really work well with that goal.

I have now practiced and sparred with both men and women and I hesitate less each time. I use different moves depending on size and aggression level of my opponent.

Krav Maga has taught me that self-defense is about awareness and reaction speed before technique and force. Technique and force are important, but great technique doesn’t help you very much when you’re already on the ground due to not being used to fighting a certain kind of opponent.

We all learn best by doing and practicing any kind of self-defense is better than none. However, self-defense techniques should be able to be used reliably, without hesitation, in any situation and against anyone who is trying to hurt you.

This is part of a series on our instructor training program. To understand this series and how our Assistant Instructor Course and Full Instructor Course work, please start with Part 1. This post is a self-introduction from one of our current Assistant Instructor candidates.

My name is Andrew.  Jon made us give our names. Our real names, too. Dammit. I so wanted to be called “Hawk of Hell”.  I’m one of the people up there in the image above. The rest are my family.

I’ve been studying Krav Maga at UTKM for, oh, a year and a half now, barring downtime for work, illness, etc. I’m currently enrolled in the six-month long Assistant Instructor course, which comprises of hours of weekly classroom study, physical practice, many written and verbal tests, culminating in a final exam and an orange belt test.

By the time I’m an Assistant Instructor, I will know plenty more about every aspect of Krav Maga than I’d ever even thought existed. Technically, I volunteered for this process and this blog post is to explain why. Also, I have to write it or else. Fear is the little death. I must not fear…unless you’ve been kicked a lot in the groin. Then fear. Anyhoo.

As a child and young man, I took a fair amount of beatings, being too smart, too chubby and, mostly, too mouthy in a small rural community where none of those attributes, especially combined, were particularly… appealing to other children. This gave me an early respect for what physical harm can do in terms of motivation and deterrent, as well as a serious desire to not be on the receiving end of said harm.

In the 30+ years since I first tried a martial art (Karate of some kind when I was about 12), I’ve enjoyed the idea that there could be a system to not getting beaten up, as opposed to my more generalized don’t-talk-so-much-oh-crap-run-fast methodology. I’ve tried Karate of various kinds, Kung Fu, and Aiki-Jutsu, mostly dabbling in these as life took me from one place to another. I’ve liked all of them. Some I’ve loved, like Tai Chi. My tiny, murderously precise Tai Chi teacher helped as well. Suffering brings focus, kids!  Wait… small, murdery, hyper-fussy… I may have a “type…” Hmm.

I’ve also been in a few (probably too many) real-life fights and I noticed that outside individual techniques (snap kick, straight punch, etc.), relatively little of what I learned in a dojo or studio translated very well to sudden application in the rain or on the cement or while walking home thinking about math classes (math – where getting punched in the face isn’t the lowest point of your day). Sadly, part-time martial arts training wasn’t really helping me fight safely and by the time I’d learned it well enough, I was actually old enough that people had stopped using their angry bits to get me to stop talking. Mostly.

However, I’d long had an interest in Krav Maga, mostly because I’d read the founder, Imi Lichtenfeld used what became Krav to punch Nazis. Nazis.

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The fighting style for Nazi-punching. Hell yes, I’m interested! Sign me up! And my children! And my wife!

This might have gone on as an unrequited love affair forever except my teenage daughter moved to the city with us and (wisely) demanded some self-defense training. A more in-depth study of practical defense systems indicated that Krav Maga was a very solid choice for someone interested not in out-boxing or out-grappling an opponent on a mat, but more in surviving an attempted robbery or rape while on their way home, thinking about math. Also for punching Nazis, should any be so foolish as to rear their dyed blonde heads again. Anti-rape, anti-nazi, so much goodness in one eye-gouging package.

Today, my whole family does Krav – schedules allowing. The young ones for protection, the older ones for fun. Since I’ve already proven I can raise larvae without all of them dying (yet), our Lead Instructor decided that I should be applied to the (theoretically) more durable students. I might have said no, but having been a frequent groin kick-ee has reduced my will to oppose said groin kick-er. It’s a very Krav method of promotion. Just like real life, sometimes “choice” is just a synonym  for “sudden stabbing pain.”

So far, my experience with the Assistant Instructor program can be summed up in that Jon is a cruel bastard with the compassion of a dying wolf spider. Less legs, though.

 

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Our lead instructor, Jonathan among UTKM students after a Yellow Belt test.

 

I hope only to make it through the six (6) two-hour-long exams (no multiple choice, what, are you kidding? You mad fool!), the midterm and the final exam in order to throw up all over my Lead Instructor during my Orange Belt test. Gonna eat hot dogs and clams in oyster sauce just before the test – good luck cleaning that smell out.

Then graduate and do to others what has so thoroughly been done to me. Yesss.

Gotta have dreams, right? Good! Hands up! Look around! Condition yellow, kids. Never know when there’s a big guy with a (padded) bat right behind you…

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*Note: What specifically is taught in class, how it is taught, and examples used are subject to the instructor, their level and experience. These posts are not an excuse to miss class as they are only a snap view of what skills are covered.

Since the internet was made publically available, it has changed the world in so many ways. In general, it has increased the connectivity of ideas and thoughts, which can be positive but also gives the ability for any idiot to have a voice. Don’t get me wrong, I am generally for free speech, but now with so much information, it can make it difficult for the average person to know what’s what.

For martial arts, I think it has been a good thing. For a long time, individual styles have been isolated to specific regions and cultures. Through the advent of the internet, it has allowed a mix of martial arts ideas and thoughts to arise all over the world. The internet is probably what helped MMA expand so rapidly, for instance.

Now, in the world of martial arts, this means that it is time to adapt or die. It also means that anyone can put up their videos, whether good or bad and sell their brand of martial arts.

For some videos like the ones below, it can be easy for the average person to decern bullshit or not.

But for other videos like the following, it can cause confusion to both those in the know and those who are not in the know.

I came across the above video on a page for one of the numerous Krav Maga organizations I follow. This video faced criticism in the comments section and rightfully so. However, some of the criticism had me concerned mildly.

First, let’s start with the valid concerns:

  1. I am generally against women only classes due to the unrealistic nature of the attack scenarios often presented. On the bright side, I did see a male in a demo which seemed to be an instructor, but it is unlikely he was attacking with realistic pressure or aggression which causes an unrealistic expectation for a woman in their ability should they ever need to defend themselves. There are some other males, but again the pace of and training of this class seems to be oriented to the woman. Personally, I see no difference in training women vs. men. It’s just a matter of building every individual into the best version of themselves. I structure my classes the same regardless of the balance of gender in my class. Also, if a woman is uncomfortable training for violence in and around men, it is a consideration that some form of counselling may be advised. Women need to understand that whether right or wrong, most attackers will be male and bigger and stronger and often more aggressive, so they must train for reality and not ideas or fitness. In addition, I refuse to teach people who demand that I cater to their version of self-defense. A colleague of mine was recently asked to teach a Krav Maga class without any reference to violence or anything that may seem traumatic. Remember, as Bruce Lee said, you are ready to learn when your cup is empty.bruce_lee2
  2. It is unnerving fact that many people only seem to want to learn self-defense when violence around them rises, rather than preparing for it even during peaceful times. Remember, Krav Maga is so you may walk in peace. Even during times of peace, you should learn and practice. With that being said, Anti-Semitism against Jews never went away and is on the rise in most countries again. Though in Canada, it has a low occurrence, this is probably why so little Jews (at least in Vancouver) participate in Krav Maga or other martial arts. Remember, it is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.
  3. Praying isn’t going to save you in a violent situation, only violence will. If you aren’t training properly with aggression you may be in trouble. Also, while Krav Maga is not about fitness, being in reasonable shape to act and move quickly is important for proper self-defense. The reality is in a given situation, you may have to run for a few kilometres and the techniques and athletism shown in this video is slow and sloppy. So how prepared are these woman really? This doesn’t mean they cannot become something more, but the training needs to reflect this and in this section of the video at least it does not.
  4. Some of the techniques shown, such as the “cavalier” or knife disarm are old and risky especially for such a group of people. The fact that numerous Krav Maga organizations still use such techniques is shocking to me as to much can go wrong with them.

Now, I have a couple of thoughts regarding some of the comments I saw on the page where I found the video:

  1. Something is better than nothing. Even if this training is mediocre and unrealistic, it is a start.
  2. The people on the page seemed unfamiliar with the older cavalier technique. This is a historical Krav Maga technique and should be known by all practitioners regardless of whether or not you like it. The fact that they were unfamiliar suggests the individuals of this organization very rarely train with other organizations and lack perspective in Krav Maga. It also shows that they are not familiar with the historical development of Krav Maga. To me, this is bordering on an insular and cult-like mentality, which I am strongly against. I always encourage individuals to cross train, even when they are not convicted of another organisations abilities or moves.

Now, of course, the folly of the internet is releasing a video without proper context. I very rarely like to release a simple clip without some kind of explanation. If you show too little of a specific move or concept without full background information it is very easy to pick apart on the internet. I see videos all the time, from people I respect, that I think are ridiculous because there is no context.

Especially for Krav Maga, a move or concept should be fully fleshed out. If it is a move, you should show it both in slow motion and in its full speed application. This way, it solidifies the argument you are trying to make. I get it that people do not wish to give away to much for free, but the reality is if you release one bad video, it can be picked apart easily by those on the internet.

Let’s be honest, the quality of your video matters as well. A flashy, well-produced video, even if it isn’t that great technically, can draw out the sales. But if you have the money for such a video, why not produce something that also shows off technical prowess under realistic stress and conditions?

The internet unified the martial arts community and the world, and yet we are still so divided. Krav Maga, for example, is more fractured than ever. There are so many schools and organizations some which are better than others, but most which are garbage. Too many people pretend to know what they are doing and still get students because of the content they release. In addition, in many cases, the fact is they have a captive audience from a group of people who may not have the proper perspective or background knowledge when it comes to Krav Maga or self-defense.

Beware of videos on the internet, which can make or break you as a self-defense practitioner. Put content out there with some discretion and make sure it doesn’t misrepresent you if you are good, or over represent you if you are not so good. Although, you probably don’t even know…

*Note: What specifically is taught in class, how it is taught, and examples used are subject to the instructor, their level and experience. These posts are not an excuse to miss class as they are only a snap view of what skills are covered.

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The fourth dimension is a complicated concept for many people and you can get a general idea of what it means here and here.

What is the fourth dimension?

Time. In the art of self-defense, the element of time is often a forgotten factor: taking our past experiences into the present while learning new skills in the now. Self defense is to prepare for the worst of the future, while hoping you never have to use what you know now.

The 4th dimension is the often a forgotten aspect of good self-defense

How many styles of martial arts out there have got you practising forms and katas? How many of them teach a set of moves that are solutions to various offensive and defensive strategies? The answer is many, if not most, traditional styles. Now, how many of them are still teaching strategy or the art of war?

Not, many.

In today’s progressive societies which are driven by image and consumerism, even those who claim to be against capitalism often reject violence as a part of the human reality. An individual in a wealthy neighbourhood on the West Coast who has never been exposed to physical violence can easily renounce violence as bad. Unfortunately, the majority of people on this planet cannot do or say the same. Thus, when policy makers who have had privileged lives, no matter their ethnic background, try to dictate to everyone to be peaceful without understanding the nature of violence or use of force, we often end up with pointless documents that don’t always do anything to protect people.

As you may know, I am a big believer in teaching individuals not to rely on law enforcement or others for their own self-defence. If you don’t know, this is because in the moment, a split second is all it takes to change from a survivor to a body bag. In most violent situations, individuals do not have the luxury to wait on the phone and hope someone shows up in time.

So what does any of this have to do with the fourth dimension?

Well, time is relative. Depending on the situation, it could mean many things. Learning proper self-defence is so much more than just learning what to do in a specific physical confrontation. Self-defense is also about learning the strategy to avoid conflict in the future by learning from our past. This is where time and experience comes in.

There is a saying I like, it goes something like this:

“A fool does not learn from his mistakes. A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

This saying has been used in one form or another over the years and it echos truth no matter how it is said. Time is an important factor of self-defense because learning not only from your past, but also the past of others gives you context for violence and how to avoid it. It also teaches that sometimes violence and not peace is, in fact, the best solution to stopping more violence. This is where good strategy comes in, which based in reality in the past, present and future.

Knowing an opponent’s past will prepare you for a future confrontation and will better allow you to apply the appropriate strategy for a higher survival outcome.

A more simplified example could be thinking twice about heading to particular area of a city that is historically known for its crime or violence. (Situtaional awareness!)

A great self-defense program, no matter the style, will consider time in all its forms to teach proper strategy. Because without a proper strategy based on experience and knowledge as dictated by time, a person could easily be overwhelmed by a violent situation because it’s not at all what they were expecting.

Another easy aspect of time with self-defense is of course practice. There is often a flawed idea with regards to self-defense which is “oh, that’s easy to learn” and thinking you can be proficient at it in a very short amount of time. I know we have written about this previously, but it cannot be overstated that this is a flawed belief.

The only way to really be ready for conflict is to continue to practice, even if it is easy to learn, so that you become proficient enough to apply what you know even in overwhelming odds. Thinking you know how to defend yourself just because you took a few classes and broke a sweat is presuming far too much. Sure, we see stories all the time about people, usually woman or girls who took a little bit of self-defense and managed to fend off their attackers. Of course, these are great stories, but the truth is that these individuals got lucky. How many situations did we not hear about where the person wasn’t quite so fortunate. Just like time is forgotten, physics is also forgotten when it comes to self-defense. If you took some self-defense classes, but are not proficient under stress because you didn’t put in the time required and your attacker is someone skilled and considerably larger, then you have failed to account for such an overwhelming strategy and the outcome may not be so desirable.

Signs a self-defense school is not serious
  • If they only ever show set moves and answers for specific attack patterns
  • If they don’t encourage you to come and practice, even only once a week or month

If you’re at a place like this, maybe you are not in the right place for serious self-defense. In my opinion, a good self-defense school should take the time to go over strategy, explain current events regarding violence, and regularly put people of different sizes and skills together to challenge individuals so that they understand sometimes there are situations in which you may not be so lucky.

The fourth dimension in self-defense

Time means experience. Time means practice. Time means perspective. Time means strategy relative to the situation. When it comes to self defense, knowing the element of time can prepare you to deal with reality. Did you think of time as part of your self-defense system? Are you prepared to deal with all possible realities of self-defense?

*Note: What specifically is taught in class, how it is taught, and examples used are subject to the instructor, their level and experience. These posts are not an excuse to miss class as they are only a snap view of what skills are covered.

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