Posts Tagged ‘Training’

Every month I get a new student who tells me they aren’t in great shape and they might not be able to do the class. I usually just tell them to try it out and see how it goes. Over the years I can only think of a handful of people who actually had to re-think their ability to take the class. For most people simply underestimate their ability to perform physical activities. I have heard reasons from, I have never done this before, too, I am too old. In most cases its all in their heads. The truth is most people are not athletic superstars and probably never will be but they still can train. I know this because I myself have never been a standout when it comes to athleticism. I have written in the past about my struggles in the military physically because I am not athletic. I can do what I do because I train, and get better day by day to in spite of my non-athletic prowess. Did I mention I also enjoy training?

Judo Jack 92 year old

92 year old doing Judo

I suspect the reason so many people think they cant train is partially due to our lazy desk ridden culture where lack of activity is common and where people really do not know what they are capable of. In a city like Vancouver which is a little more active than normal, it means that most people who walk in to do a martial arts class will be just fine.

Even if you are out of breath in the first 5 minutes if you ended up finishing the class you are more than able to continue training. Keep in mind, even the regular students often find themselves out of breath and know sometimes it’s ok to take a break. This means you are probably better off than you realize.

Another reason people often think they are physically capable of training martial arts is that in today’s world of easy access everything people are not often used to pushing themselves past their comfort zones. But hey, you have to start somewhere.

I did mention that over the years there have been a handful of people who couldn’t continue. Almost all of the cases these individuals were severely overweight if not morbidly obese. Unlike many others I won’t sugar coat it, this not a healthy or happy way to live no matter what anyone tells you. This does not mean however you cannot train martial arts it just means your approach will be a little different. In these cases, you have a few options.

  1. Show up to class and do what you can little by little and you will eventually get there even if it takes months or years. It’s absolutely ok if you need to sit out or take breaks. Showing up and training is better than not.
  2. Know that you have the goal of training martial arts, consult a nutritionist and find a suitable workout program to go with a healthy eating style so that you can achieve a healthier weight that will allow you to train martial arts.

Either way, if your goal is to train martial arts then you can do it, even if you have to reach a separate goal prior to training. If this is the case you will have a happier time after knowing you achieved multiple goals.

So no matter your age, skills or background so long as you live a healthier lifestyle, or want to change to a healthier lifestyle and have reasonable mobility you should have no reason to think you cannot train. So get on google, find a style you like, and get training.

After all, everyone deserves to walk in peace.

 

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Vancouver Winter

Vancouver is known for many things, but handing the snow is not one of them. Every time it snows in this city it practically shuts down. Transit struggles, people don’t go work and your favourite martial arts gyms close.

First, off before I get on the point, safety first. If you really cannot get to your local gym because of weather conditions then for a day it may not be worth it. But what happens in Vancouver when we start to have longer and longer winters. Can we hide and shut down for that long without suffering various consequences? I think not.

Remember, Winter is coming!

Snow or other factors through an easy explanation is still just an avoidance to train. Its It is an easy way to decide to be lazy. Again, one day is fine but multiple days? It is of course about priorities and yet safety is first, but why can so many other cities still function just fine in the snow? Aside from municipal preparedness, it really is just about attitude and unwillingness to let the weather stop us from doing what we love to do.

Part of leaning good Krav Maga is learning to prepare. Avoidance cannot be the answer all the time after all Krav Maga sometimes means confronting. So if you want to train, confront the snow and plan accordingly so you can still train,

I was very happy to see that many of my regulars still showed up for class. They simply planned appropriately and gave themselves extra time to make it to class.

If you don’t have an AWD vehicle all it means is you have to drive a little slower. If you have to take transit, check to see which routes are having difficulty and pan different route with lots of extra time. Or perhaps contact your fellow student and see about starting a carpool.

I was also very happy that the gym we rent from in Burnaby, Budo Mixed Martial Arts Burnaby also has a similar attitude as most of the BJJ students still showed up.

Remember, if you really want to train then train. Don’t use the weather as a reason not to train if you can practically and safely still train.

 

A while ago, this video about gun disarms popped up on my feed, and while I think their disarm are a little sloppy overall this is a very well made video for many reasons. Because of the recent pistol attack in Toronto where 12 were injured and 2 were killed I thought this was as good a time as any to analyze this video.

On a side note, compared to USA Canada has very strict gun control laws and yet this can still happen. Making laws stricter does not stop people from getting weapons to do harm to others. In high school, I knew individuals who could get illegal handguns for $500. Some people, do not care. The reality is, it is the duty of the community and police to identify high-risk individuals and keep them off the streets or away from the public. If it’s not guns, they will just use some other means to cause harm. At the end of the day, should loan wolf attacks happen that cannot be predicted the only thing that can stop them is the people who are there in the moment. The faster the threat is stopped the less damage can be done.

With this being said, I DO NOT consider gun disarms to be beginner techniques as you need to have base firearms knowledge and be fully capable of using your body as a weapon. If you can barely punch or kick or move or think or react to changing circumstances then as you can see by the video gun disarms can easily be fatal. Before I say more watch this video.

First off thanks for the video and the guys at UF PRO, production wise it’s excellent and I appreciate the effort these guys put into this video and I wish more people would do similar things. One day, with enough financial support I hope to put out such videos regularly, but until then the internet will be full of hit and miss videos…pun intended.

Ok, so let’s talk gun disarms in general. They only work if the person takes away their main advantage of range. Most trained individuals will be very difficult to disarm as they will be keeping the gun away from you unless they are attempting to conceal the weapon from witnesses. A person who is foolish enough to get close to you within arms reach may not always know what they are doing or are underestimating you completely. With this being said, any person with a gun can panic and pull away the moment you make your move. This reaction is normal with regards to any weapon, whereas if you go for it and failed to distract them they will attempt to keep it away. This and many factors again make gun disarms not a beginner skill. Though from a technical standpoint gun disarms are easy the reality around them is not.

After all good gun safety starts with assuming the gun is always loaded and ready to fire.

At 13 seconds they hold the slide and shoot a round. With most modern semi-automatic pistols this works just fine and is perfectly safe. Remember, if there is a chambered round it can still fire once and then will have to be manual re-cocked. Do not think just because you have the barrel it cannot shoot. After all good gun safety starts with assuming the gun is always loaded and ready to fire. However, I have yet to see a person attempt this with a revolver as it may not be a good idea. With modern pistols, you are not actually grabbing the barrel or chamber but the slide and body. With a revolver, you will be grabbing the actual barrel, which would be hot and may end up putting your hand around the cylinder which is ejecting the hot gas. As such, while it is preferable going for the gun over the hand/arm given the choice with revolvers going for the gun itself may be a bad idea.

Above: On the left is a single action, 1911 and on the right is a double action Glock. Dont worry if you can’t tell the difference as they both have slides.

When it comes to Krav Maga at least we want to avoid fine motor movement when possible. That is the use of the fingers and grabbing as under stress this can fail you. The problem is grabbing is very natural and keeping things natural is also something we want to do. This brings up a bit of a contradiction when it comes to gun disarms. As generally, we want to use gross motor movement. Big motions in simple linear paths. Of course, as mentioned it is preferable to go for the gun rather than the weapon arm which means we may need to end up with a grab. 

My solution to this is focusing on the re-direct first, as a primary motion then the grab as a secondary or tertiary movement if there is a bursting motion needed. This is hard to explain in words I know, but maybe one day I will do a video explaining it. But in my experience, this makes a world of difference against someone aggressive who is retracting their weapon arm.

Which brings us to the stages of gun disarms at least as I teach it. No matter which technique you are using you should follow these three steps in order if you expect to be successful in any disarm.

  1. Re-Direct and get off the center line of fire.
  2. Control the gun/weapon arm or person if needed
  3. Disarm the firearm.

With gun disarms though at any point we can disarm the gun we should as speed is of the essence especially if we have not caused the weapon to malfunction due to our actions, like grabbing the slide or covering the ejection port.

Ok, now I’ll actually get to the video. This video is good in the sense it makes a differentiation between a single action gun and a double action gun. What this means is how many mechanical actions the gun takes to fire from a trigger pull. Without getting into to much detail, a single action means a trigger pull only releases the firing pin but does not cock the hammer, while a double action does both. Because of this single actions can and usually do fire quicker due to a shorter trigger pull. The video does discuss the fact it is easier to disarm a double action than a single action. Of course, unless you are knowledgeable on pistols just assume its a single action when it comes to disarms so you learn to move faster.

At 36 seconds the first disarm is shown. This motion is fairly standard in gun disarms although the way they are doing it is not something I would teach. The first thing I want to mention that the gun is fairly close in the first disarms this can make it very difficult to speedily and accurately get the gun. When they are touching or very close to I dont always think its a good idea to go for the gun first, rather re-direct the weapon arm to control to get your self to safety first. The other thing I dont like, is he is not moving or blading his body very much or at all. His arm is also fully extended, which I suspect is for dramatic effect but this takes away your ability to follow up if needed. Generally, you should keep a bend in your arm at 95-100 degrees so that if they retract you can drive in to stay off the center line of fire. In the follow up with the double action these were successful due to the longer trigger pull, I suspect with some clean up of technique they may also have a higher success rate with the single action as well.

In the next series starting at approx 1:33 they looked at the gun to the head with six trials total with both single and double action 3 were successful and 3 were not. The funny thing was though he was 1/3 on the single action and 2/3 on the double action in both casses there was a fatal shot. Did I mention I dont think gun disarms are for beginners?…

One thing to mention is that if a shot does go off but you survive you may be startled by the fact guns are loud and you may have a very annoying rining in your ears for quite sometime.

This disarm or something very very similar (cleaned up) is one I teach, though I know many people dont like it. Again if the gun is touching your head it may be to close to realistically go for the gun first so again focus on the re-direct. In all of the successful ones, he didn’t just go for the gun but also moved his head off the center line. Remember grabbing the gun does not stop the chambered round from firing. You must get off the center line of fire and in this case, simply re-directing is not fast enough. The way I teach this technique is by going for the gun I also move my head to one side and start to drive forward so that I am both re-directing the gun with my hands and moving my head and body off the center line increasing the changes. I also drive forward to maintain structure in my arms and avoid locking them out. One thing to mention is that if a shot does go off but you survive you may be startled by the fact guns are loud and you may have a very annoying ringing in your ears for quite some time. However, you cannot let this throw you off as when weapons are involved hesitation means death.

At 2:48 approx we look at gun disarms to the lower back. I teach essentially the same movement for both guns and knives with some technical differences. But fundamentally if something is behind we can’t always know what it is. But in this case, all were successful because he focused on getting off the centerline FIRST! and then control. Funny how that principle works….

With the previous disarms there was a focus on the control a little bit more than the re-direct and getting off the centerline which meant a lower chance of success. Principles do matter when it comes to these things so dont forget.

Again All in all Great video though.

One thing I can say is that when it comes to gun disarms I have seen it all, but when it comes to the techniques there is often dispute as to the best option. While I have my preferred methods as I teach no matter the technique so long as they follow the principles mentioned above if the technique doesn’t get you killed it should be fine.

If you want to learn from me dont forget I often teach gun to disarm seminars, so check out THIS LINK to see when I am teaching my next one.

No matter what, the more you train the better you will be able to avoid these kinds of situations in the first place but if you can’t avoid, be happy you practiced, practiced, practiced.

 

 

Over the past year or so you may have noticed posts on this blog about students who have finished the ranking tests at UTKM. Many of them are written by Instructor candidates before or after they are certified. Of course, the latter group definitely does it out of there own free will and not as a requirement of the course….

Here are a few in case you forgot.

nnnoooooo-youre-not-ready.jpgTo me, these posts are extremely important. They give students an opportunity to express in writing how they felt mentally and physically about testing, but more importantly, give a glimpse into what other students can expect.

In the Krav world, testing and ranking vary from intensive multi-day tests to no testing and no ranking. To me ranking is important. First of all, it is a natural human behaviour to want, crave or need some indication of progress to show consciously and obviously that yes there is a purpose to walking away bruised, tired and sometimes emotionally drained.

If you follow us regularly you will know our tests are not easy. There is a reason for these. While I fully understand the need of people to feel accomplished and have a sense of progress to stay motivated the thing is if you are learning Krav Maga so that you can defend yourself you need to be able to show you have what it takes to really defend yourself.

Our tests focus less on techniques and more on pushing you to your physical and mental limits so that you can show us you truly have what it takes to survive a real unexpected violent encounter. You should not just be learning krav for fun or to get in shape but doing so knowing you may need to use it in a terrible scenario.

Because of this I really dont want people to do the tests who I feel are not ready. I know you want to feel accomplished, I know you want to get to the more advanced classes but the reality is if I am holding you back its because you are not getting a certain aspect of Krav Maga or self defense in general. Maybe you are not aggressive enough, maybe you just are showing sufficient skill or maybe you have not been training consistently.

Without fail, the people who almost always come close to failing are the people who ask to be tested.

I also do not want to see you fail especially as the tests are so hard. So far we have not had anyone fail but that’s because we decide when someone is ready and we are usually correct. Occasionally someone who I didn’t consider for a test tells me they are ready and sometimes I let them do the test. Without fail, the people who almost always come close to failing are the people who ask to be tested.

Trust me I will feel terrible if I have to fail someone, but I will do it if you fail because in the end of the day I am 100% against giving people a false sense of security in a persons ability to defend themselves. If you are unwilling to spar, or unwilling to put in the time to train. If you prioritize other aspects of your life and are not consistent with your training please do not ask to be tested. It is for your own good.

Yes, I will like you to have the ability to defend yourself, and yes I would like to have more advanced students but I am sorry, please do not harass me or the other instructors because you need to feel special that you are allowed to test. Personally, I think I need to get stricter and if you ask to be tested without being prompted to do so I really should just automatically not let you test until a later date.

I dont want to see you fail, but if you do it will be for your own good.

So show up and train, put in the time, don’t argue with the instructors about not wanting to do a certain aspect of the training (Baring injury) and show us you can push yourself past your comfort zones. If you cant, then you may be a forever white belt, or yellow belt because you need to show us you are committed to learning proper Self Defense combatives which also includes your attitude.

So when you are ready, you will be asked to be tested.

Being a Cop: Train First, Apply Later

Posted: November 14, 2017 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga Opinions
Tags: , ,

 

 

So you want to be a police officer.jpg

Are you Ready? Because he was.

 

So you want to be a cop? If this statement applies to you, then you need to ask your self if you are properly prepared to become a police officer. You should know it is one of the most stressful jobs with a very high rate of PTSD, stress, alcohol abuse and more.

Every year I get numerous people tell me they would like to be a police officer. Half the time they are fresh out of high school, I usually roll my eyes as they are idealistic and still believe the law and justice are blind as it is supposed to be. The reality is not. Thankfully in Canada, the RCMP and almost all police forces will not take people fresh out of high school. They usually want people 25 and older with life experience and bachelors which are all great requirements to set in place. This is because, with such requirements, the individual has had time to grow, experience and get a bit of an education. After all, no one wants a meathead cop with no life skills or education.

The average young person who wants to be a cop usually has between 5-8 years before they will even be near a gun and badge (again I can only speak for Canada, though I know much of the USA has issues with low standards for being a police officer). So what is an ambitious young person to do with all that time? Aside from the obvious which is get a BA, the less obvious is get trained in some form of hand to hand combat style and shooting for tactical purposes.

Unfortunately not enough people do the later of the two as they assume wrongfully they will get enough training in the police academy of their choosing.

In my experience, this is a dangerous mentality as most police academies do not spend sufficient time on hand to hand combat and when they do are often teaching antiquated or terrible techniques. I say this because almost everyone I know who goes in with previous training is often shocked at what is taught and can think of a million reasons why it is garbage. I even know one individual who was a high-level grappler with MMA experience tell me they had to sit them self out during that hand to hand because the refused to do what was taught. (They still became a police officer, so don’t worry.)

With regards to shooting, while all candidates need to qualify on their pistol, in Canada at least, after they become police officers they usually get little range time to keep their skills up. Assuming that once you are an officer of the law, you will time to continue to train is also false.

In Canada, the RCMP at least are subject to 4 days of 12-hour shifts with four days off. However, they end up doing a lot of overtime, due to the poor way in which the organisation is structured. Add on family obligations, rest and other general tasks and training usually falls away as a priority. This is a dangerous mistake, as skills can be lost and is not beneficially to you as the officer, or the public you are sworn to protect.

So what is an ambitious young person who wishes to be a police officer to do right out of Highschool? The answer should be obvious by now. Train! Get that BA if it’s a requirement, and get some general life skills or field experience such as volunteering for community policing or do security. But above all else TRAIN! If it is going to be 5-8 years maybe even longer before you become a police officer that is more than enough time to attain a Blue, Brown or Black Belt in any particular appropriate style.

Of course, I prefer, Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo or other styles suitable for policing but the reality is training in combatives is important for you to understand violence and be competent enough to apply it appropriately as a job when under duress, which you will be constantly.

In the end of the day, Grades mean nothing when you are approaching a violent suspect or criminal and will do nothing to protect you but proper training will. In addition to hand to hand combat, it is advised you put in the time at the range or at the very least practising dry fire with pistols, shotguns and carbines as these are the platforms most police will need to know.

So you want to be a cop? Great, I hope you make a great one. But if you are fresh to the adult world put together a proper plan to give you the correct skills that you may not actually get in the police academies even though they are ones you need. And Trust me, you will not get proper training to the level you require. Much of the training you will get is to do with the laws and paperwork. If a training academy is only 3-6 months long how can you possibly attain proper proficiency in hand to hand combat or shooting when mastery takes far longer than that. So would you risk putting your life on such a limited amount of training? I certainly would not.

Your plan should include, getting an appropriate education, getting into shape and achieving high physical fitness and training yourself properly in Hand to hand combat and shooting PRIOR to becoming a cop. Again, trust me, you probably won’t have much time after, and by then it’s too late.

So you want to be a cop? Train now, Apply later.

This video has been circling my Facebook feed for a while. There is much wrong with this scenario and I would like to discuss it, but first, watch and contemplate.

Here are a few things that come to mind:

  1. Never draw a weapon you are not willing to use –

    The police officer had already given the man numerous warnings. The man had already attempted to physically steal something from someone indicating he may be violent. When he drew his taser he gave several warnings and was almost in arms reach. Yet he hesitated. Why he did so I can only guess but the reality is from the moment you draw any weapon lethal or not you must do so knowing that you may have to use it in a matter of seconds. I always teach that hesitation can mean death with it comes to life or death situations. This perhaps is one of the reasons I dislike indecision. In Canada when it comes to firearms safety there is a rule that you should never point a gun at something you are not willing to shoot and the same goes in this case. The officer gave far too many warning for my liking and got far too close to a man who had his hands in his pockets and a history. Thus if you aren’t willing to use the weapon no matter its lethality then drawing it will only make things worse.

  2. Always assume they have a weapon –

    This is one of the basic concepts I teach. Along with assuming they have friends. In this case, a police officer should assume this 100% especially when they refuse to take their hands out of the pocket after so many warnings. Even if it had been a knife the individual would still have been close enough to launch forward with it, remember the 21-foot rule. In failing to make the decision that this individual had a weapon it could have delayed the response of the officer who could have clearly shot the taser in time to at least stun the attacker prior to pulling the trigger (though this would not be a guarantee.)

  3. The proximity is concerning –

    The officer got very close. Drawing the taser means he could have shot from a farther distance, again I bring up the knife scenario. Being this close, however, and with a free hand (not on the taser. The officer could have if he knew how used his free hand to re-direct the firearm or the assailant’s arm just long enough to avoid a shot and deploy his own weapon. It is, however, quite common for police officers to be lacking such skills. Which is especially dangerous the closer to someone you are as with this case. Had he been farther away also it is possibly more shots would have missed due to the fact pistols are hard to shoot and the nature in which the assailant was holding the pistol.

  4. Luck had every thing to do with survival –

    Luck had every thing to do with survival – This officer clearly misread this situation and was extremely lucky. As mentioned above pistols are difficult to be accurate with out training but at point-blank range which this was can be deadly. THe officer is lucky that he turned in time to avoid any fatal shots. Sometimes when you make the wrong decision, or even if you make the right one the difference is only ever luck and nothing more. Never forget this.

 

If you have more videos you would like me to analyze or comment on sent the links to info@urbantacticscanada.com

 

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.

nazipunching

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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If you are a regular audience of my Warriors Den podcast, then you know that I have a long-standing battle with depression. No, I am not talking about the kind that SJWs have because they can’t handle a bad grade or the reality that shitty behaviour can get you fired in the real world and makes you unhireable. I am talking about chronic depression which I have had my whole life. I always recognized that I have experience some problems throughout my life, but I couldn’t figure it out. It took a manic depressive episode several years ago for me to finally realize the issue.

Now, some years later and 2 years on SSRIs have helped me to get my depression to a reasonably manageable point that is allowing me to move forward with my entrepreneurial aspirations.

First off, I would like to say that if you are what I would consider “functional with a diagnosed mental health issue” (by functional I mean employable and or capable of going to school or operating fairly normally), then I don’t think you should ever use your mental health as an excuse to skirt responsibility, which a lot of people do. Sure, it’s ok to have a down day or even a week, but if you use it as an excuse to get out of homework, work or other issues, then you are either just fall into the category of non-functional or you just need to learn better coping mechanisms. At the end of the day, your problems should not always be the problems of those around you. Just saying. Moving on.

Some of you may also know that 2016 was not a great year for me with regards to physical health. Early 2016, I tore the cartilage in my left foot, which made it very painful to run or jump or move properly. Also, I do not believe in medicating the pain away, so it was a great discomfort. When that was finally clearly up, I tore my ACL in my right knee, which basically killed my ability to move forward in my BJJ training. Last December, I finally got surgery and have been recovery rather speedily thanks to the fact I have projectpower.ca attached to my UTKM gym giving easy access to rehab tools and advice. This helped me to keep up with my rehab training, even when I didn’t really want to because it was right there in my regular training environment. Convenience helps!

Recently, I have been amping up my training with running. Finally! After well over a year of no running, I can run again. As well, I’m doing more regular weight training.

Here is where the factor of depression comes in. I noticed that my recovery and increased training coincided with the weather having finally started to warm up and be nicer. I realized, here I am as someone battling with clinical depression and heavily affected by SAD (seasonal depression) and heavily injured and unable to train properly for the last year or so. Man, 2016 was a shitty year! (And not because Trump won because I actually won a bet because of that.)

I have been told by countless people that they are  astonished by how unfazed I am by major complications in my life. I am generally fairly steadfast, and while I may be super disgruntled during a moment of crisis or when a problem arises, I always think that I need to keep on trucking. Resilience is a skill that so many people today have forgotten about. Personally, I can’t say why I’m particularly skilled at resilience, but I know now how important it is to general success.

Anyway, I have been thinking about why I am so motivated to train now. I did not realize how much the injuries had affected my general motivation, mainly due to the aforementioned attitude about resilience. I also don’t think I realized how much the seasons affect my motivation.

It’s easy for experts to say, “Exercise helps with depression and makes you happy!” For the most part this seems to be true, but when I am depressed, I generally don’t want to exercise at all. Add that to the fact that I couldn’t do much physically…

A big wake up call for me happened when I was holding my last Yellow Belt Test in March. Most people didn’t notice, maybe a few probably did, but holy shit was I out of breath! I often write about how being an instructor should not be about how great you are as a practitioner, but how great your students become from your training. Yet, I think in this case, my students are my motivation to become better. Realizing how out of shape I was made me think to myself, “For my student’s sake, I cannot be this out of shape.” Not that I was ever really an athlete, but you know…

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You guys keep me going.

 

 

With my regular depression mildly under control and seasonal depression nearing its end and my crippling injuries behind me, I now find the motivation to train from my students (and the sun), which is something I did not fully appreciate until now.

I am not sure what I am really trying to say about this topic other than that living with depression can be tough, especially when you are high functioning. At least in my case, so many people depend on me and my ability to function. It’s especially hard in this industry when there are so many hyper athletic, super motivated people around me getting better and better as I watch and think, “Man, I wish I could be that motivated.” What is your motivation? No matter what level of intrinsic motivation you have and no matter the condition of your mental health, people still need to find their motivation.

rawI supposed I have found mine in my students and those who depend on me. It is good to know because without knowing that this motivates me, I would only be a facade of an instructor, telling my students to do something that I struggle to find on a daily basis. Though my students may not realize it, I am grateful that they are there to continue to drive me forward so that I can offer them the best training experience possible.

If you struggle with a mental health issue, don’t let it get you down (pun intended). Don’t let injury cripple you and keep looking for what keeps you motivated. Slow and steady is better than nothing at all. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress.

Krav Maga is not a quick fix

Posted: December 22, 2016 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Philosophy
Tags: , , , ,

There is a popular belief that learning Krav Maga is fast and easy, that it only requires a couple months of training, and that you can quickly be ready to defend yourself for life. Yet, many instructors mention the decades of Krav Maga training they have done to become masters. Krav Maga techniques are built upon natural human reflexes, which means it has a very short learning curve for the average person. However, it’s not a quick fix.

Then, why do people advertise this?

Historical Reason. In the Israeli Defense Force, average combat soldiers might get 10-60 hours of Krav Maga training during their service. For Krav Maga instructors, their course could only take about 6 weeks long.

Business Reason. It is an easier business practice to go around the world, teaching short and intense courses. Israeli Krav Maga instructors tend to choose this method instead of taking the time to develop students from scratch.

Cultural Reason. At the core, people are different from country to country and region to region. The Krav Maga mentality that people in Israel or Serbia have is that they train knowing that they will likely need to use it. In addition, the Israeli military is a conscription army, which allows them to choose the best of the best citizens of the entire country to make their army strong. Which means that the level of Krav Maga they display is definitely not reflective of the general population. In peaceful countries, like Taiwan or Canada, people don’t have the same kind of mental and physical toughness, at least in the urban areas. There are certainly rough neighbourhoods or bad weather, but there is a lack of day-to-day dangers. Their priorities are not the same. Thus, it takes a much longer time to educate and train students into the Krav Maga mentality.

UTKM lead instructor, Jonathan Fader served in the IDF in Givati. This video is published by the Israeli Defense Force and depicts baseline combat soldiers, but they are not the elite, which is what most people visualize. These infantry soldiers probably have about 10-60 hours of Krav Maga, but just physical training.

The Krav Maga Mentality

Muscle memory: If you don’t use it, you lose it.

One thing that Israeli instructors fail to understand is that the fight or flight instinct takes a long time learn how to control, and then it takes longer to learn how to maintain control. The same goes with instinctual reactions and fighting spirit. Sure, six months of proper fight training can enhance one’s ability to protect him or herself, but what about after six months? Students here will lose what they learned because they live in a much more peaceful society than Israel. Thus, in order to maintain their abilities and control, they should train a certain amount per week.

Krav Maga is unlike traditional martial arts. It’s not because it’s easy to learn. It’s not because it doesn’t take time to practice. It is because time is not wasted on forms or preparing for competition, which are useless in the real world. Despite what most major Krav Maga instructors advertise, you need to train hard to keep some of the most fundamental moves, such as 360 defense. Krav Maga techniques are built upon human instinct, but it does require years of practice to ingrain it into your muscle memory. The more you practice the more confident you are with them.

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It’s all about the mind

For people in war-torn countries, the warrior spirit comes naturally to them because of their experience. For people in peaceful countries, the warrior spirit takes longer time and more consistent training to develop. Training should be a lifestyle – a warrior lifestyle – not a short cut or quick fix.

daveyoung2In any martial art, there is always the risk of getting injured. I think most martial art and self-defense students have experienced at least one mild injury during their training. This is the trade-off. Training that is meant to prevent violence requires violence, so it must be imbued with an inherent risk. Yet,being trained allows you to reduce risk in a real fight.

How can you avoid injury in training and avoid injury in a real situation?

As a musician, my hands and my brain are the two more important things that allow me to write, record, and perform. Thus, throwing punches and getting hit in the head may seem counterintuitive towards preserving these body parts. There is a balance between avoiding injury to maintain my ability to work, and taking the risk of injury to be able to defend myself and my family.

First of all, I am NOT a fan of being punched in the face or hit in the head in any manner.  Many studies show that repeated blows to the head, even those that don’t cause concussions, can cause long-term changes in the brain and have lasting neurological effects. That being said, it is very important from a Krav Maga perspective to experience high pressure real world situations and be able to react appropriately.

In a fight, you are going to get hit, so experiencing the real thing in a simulation-type environment is invaluable as a learning tool.  At UTKM, we spar in a very controlled manner, and this is great for safety.  Even so, accidents happen. Everyone is at a different point in learning to control their strikes (and their emotions) so the best way to avoid getting hit and protect your brain is to train hard and improve your technique.

The best way to avoid getting hit and protect your brain is to train hard and improve your technique.

When it comes to protecting my hands, the same idea applies: technique.  I work hard on improving my technique so that I retain thorough muscle memory of the proper movements and positions, whether I’m punching a bag, focus mitts, or sparring with one or many opponents. This reduces my chances of getting injured — remembering to keep my hands up, fist at 45°, elbow slightly bent, and so on. When I ingrain this into my muscle memory, I won’t need to remember to do it in a distressing situation, my body will know it and do it.

Better hurt in the gym, than killed on the street

Perhaps, I will never be required to fight for my life or to protect my family physically. Nevertheless, in the end, I would rather train hard and perhaps break my hands defending myself successfully, than be overly worried about hurting myself in training and ending up seriously injured in a real confrontation.

In a fight, you are going to get hit, so experiencing the real thing in a simulation-type environment is invaluable as a learning tool.