Posts Tagged ‘UTKM’

Belts: What are they good for?

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

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

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

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

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

So, Belts. What are they even good for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I want to feel I progressed now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Holidays.png

Here at UTKM we almost always close down during the holidays. Partially because we know most people are away but also because it is the time to spend with your family, friends or loved ones.

As much as we harass you to train more, so long as you are reasonably consistent in your training know that it is not the most important thing in your life. Meaningful connections are so spend this time to keep them, make them and be with them.

If they are truly the connections that you need, then in return they will understand if you need to train 3-5 times a week the rest of the year, without guilt or judgment.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, (Chanukah was a while ago so happy belated Chanukah), though it doesn’t really matter what you call this time of the year so long as it enriches your life for the better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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Karis After her orange Belt test. Also how we imagine she feels writing this post.

Did I say forced? I meant given this wonderful opportunity…

So first of all, to everyone who told Jon I should do the Assistant Instructor Course. Yeah. I’m doing it. Thanks. Peer pressure guys, clearly it works. Starting at the beginning though, I’ve been doing Krav Maga for close to three years now. Before that, I did ballet when I was younger and tried some other sports, but I didn’t really enjoy them due to being shy and not good at team sports. I chose to learn self defense because I thought it would help me get into the RCMP and also because my father wanted me to be able to protect myself. He recognized that as a female, my life going to be different from that of my brothers and I would face different threats. I also thought Krav was more of a solo sport, however, on that I was wrong. Anyone who’s been to one of the tests could tell you that at Urban Tactics everyone is very encouraging and we all want each other to succeed.

When I first tried a class at UTKM as a quiet, small fifteen-year-old, I definitely didn’t

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Karis During her orange belt test. Not so quiet now.

think I would ever get this far. I started just going to one or two classes a week and was surprised when I got told I could test for my yellow belt. Side note to anyone going for a belt test, pleeeeease prepare. DO IT. It will be a bit easier if you are physically ready and trust me, on your test day, you will be thankful. I struggled through that first test and while it was rewarding, it was harder than it would have been if I have been physically prepared. Anyways, I’ve come pretty far in the time I’ve been training. I currently have an orange belt in Krav and I’ve been training Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for six months now? I got a stripe for my white belt in BJJ recently! Explaining what that means to my family was interesting, as I’m not totalllllly sure what exactly that is. I was still really excited about it, though I’m not ‘suddenly’ better now like how someone told me would happen.

So, on top of all the training and oh yeah school too, I am now doing the assistant instructor course (help me). If you have ever met me, you will probably have noticed I am not exactly a loud person. Or someone good at stringing together explanations. But somehow people thought I could teach, I dunno what they saw. We’ll see if I can do it or not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I also have a green belt test coming up, for anyone who wants to help, especially big, strong people taller than me, it’s in November. Yup. Show up for tests in November. Don’t worry about any tests before then (unless you’re small, then we need you). Otherwise, don’t come. Thanks anyways. See you in November. Don’t forget.

Okay, what else? Why am I doing this course? Because all of my reasons to NOT do it were shot down, and someone put time and effort into writing a response to my list (That someone was Lead Instructor Jon.) I would feel bad if they worked on that and I didn’t do the program. And that’s the only reason I’m doing this. No, I’m kidding. I love Krav, and I love UTKM. I think they have an amazing program and some pretty awesome people training there. My problem with becoming an instructor is…. PEOPLE. As an instructor you have to control a class, be able teach a technique well, think of creative drills/games, answer any random questions students have (that you may or may not know the answer to), keep everyone safe, oh and, everyone is watching you during all this. Heh. Heh. Help. You tell me to my face that all sounds fun/easy. I will laugh at you (politely). Hey, did you guys know I’m only going to be eighteen when I start teaching? Yay! Very excited to tell people two-three times (possibly four, I don’t know how active old people are) older then me what to do! No. That is not exciting. That is terrifying. Also, if you don’t understand sarcasm, I’m sorry. Can’t really help you with that though.

So, IF everything goes according to plan, I will finish the AIC sometime in December? AFTER eight unit tests, a midterm, a final, teaching 25 classes under supervision, and learning about to talk loudly. Not sure about the last one. Last thing, if you come to a class I teach, please be nice and don’t ask too many questions. Or don’t come at all. You don’t have to come. It is actually okay if you don’t. I will forgive you eventually. Probably. Please wish me luck. I have to go do homework for the course THAT NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT. Heh.

-Karis

Karis Gets her Orange Belt.jpgEDITORS NOTE: Please come to class and be difficult students so Karis can be challenged and learn to be the awesome instructor we know she will be. She was asked by many people to do the course as she is one of the most dedicated students we have despite her age. Assuming she passes her green belt she will also be our first female green belt and we will be very proud of her. We know through practice and the AIC course she will overcome her quiet demeanour and become the person we know she can be so she has all the skills to get into the RCMP one day. Don’t let her age fool you she has some of the best cleanest techniques out of all our students and well gladly try to stab you when we do our knife stuff. Look forward to more sassy posts from karis in the future.

Well, first thing I’d like to say is that Warren (A UTKM Green Belt Student.) lied to me. “The orange belt is easier than the yellow belt!’ You know, for an older, pleasant-seeming fellow, Warren is probably quite, quite evil. It is to be expected, he is a Green belt.
UTKM only really has three belts. Yellow, Orange and Green. There are more above Green, but everyone who has tried, has died. Well, not died, but, you know, not made it yet. Perhaps one day, if they learn immortality.
Editors Note: No one has died at UTKM. This is Andrews dark sense of humour. also, we havent been open that long for anyone to train long enough to achieve the higher belts where we go past the basics of hand to hand combat and start to look into more specific applications like police and military. For most people, the orange or green belt is enough but for those serious about expanding their knowledge in the area of use of force then this is where it’s at. Additionally we currently only have 4 green belts, only warren is regularly still at the school.
Yellow, Orange and Green. I personally think Orange should be Red. Not just because it looks like stop-lights that way, but because the Orange belt test did that to my brain about twenty minutes in. Stopped it. It’s already red (ish) because, you know, brain.
Editors note: Possibly a reference to the awareness colour code? but we are never quite sure with Andrew.
 A Yellow belt test is about mental toughness and determination with basic technique. An Orange belt has you demonstrate the advanced technique, then takes it away from you and sees if you can make it. Then demands technique again. The Greenbelt test is a lovely combination of all this, while maintaining advanced technique at all times.  Good fun.
So the Orange belt is half-way through UTKMs punishing belt regime. After Green, it’s less about testing for physical and mental toughness and more refining and learning. You’ve proven you can take what is dished out and how.
Things like tough belt tests are an excellent motivator not to get in real-life fights.
Andrew does 360

Andrew during testing

Things like tough belt tests are an excellent motivator not to get in real-life fights. You are reminded that not all will go as planned. That training and technique can only go so far when you are winded and repeatedly being punched in the face. You’re wearing a head protector, but that head protector only does so much, as my black eye attested. Looked cool though.

The second reality is the first time it starts to get hard and you have to recommit to pushing through, realising that the only way out -is- through.
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Editors Note: If you have ever wondered why lead instructor Jonathan Fader is the way he is, it is because he takes this very krav approach to life.
Krav is about always learning and re-learning, and about giving up ideas for harsh reality. The harsh realities of a demanding test come in several, equally-delicious flavours. First, you take that first step and make it to the test. The precipice moment. Comes and goes quickly, but you must still psych yourself up in order to get to it. The second reality is the first time it starts to get hard and you have to recommit to pushing through, realising that the only way out -is- through. Finally, when and if you’ve run out of endurance and technique, is the pure guts part. Just keep marching or fighting, one step after another.
Real fighting also has a precipice moment – one we teach you to spot early in Krav and if you do decide to take the step, do it before the other guy does. Preferably you see it coming and turn aside, but if you have to do it, do it fast and commit.
After that commit point, a real-life, no-rules fight can go anywhere. It can be over in a punch or two or be a ten minute struggle for dominance. It can end with a fast stab and you can spend twenty minutes trying not to bleed to death. We can only train you so much for those moments, but what we -can- do is teach you that if you -do- learn to push through and fight on, your chance of success goes way, way up.
 UTKM belt tests are not only a test of your technique and perseverance, but a reminder of how punishing and unpredictable a real life fight can be. And why you should avoid them when possible – and destroy when not.
So that’s what Orange belt tests are like. Learn to succeed through toughness when technique fails. Can’t wait to see what Green belt is like – apparently, you have to have technique even when tall men are repeatedly kicking you around. Should be interesting.
Oh yes and I got my Assistant Instructors Certificate so now I may pois..polish young minds. And old minds. And any mind that doesn’t manage to escape my reach in time…
Editors note: The assistant instructor course takes 6 months-1 year in addition to regular Krav Maga training, Just like our belts our instructor’s course is not for factory instructors but those who are committed to both Krav Maga technique but also and mostly the knowledge that makes a good instructor.

Keep your Hands Up!

Posted: April 26, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Tags: , , , , ,

 

Keep Your Hands Up! Keep Your Hands Up! Keep Your Hands Up!

 

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Hands up in a Semi Passive Stance.

 

If there’s one thing you need to learn on your first day of class when learning Krav Maga other than avoiding the fight it is KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!

Keeping your hands up to protect your head, face and neck is such an important principle that it changes how we do a lot of techniques in Krav Maga as compared to other styles.

A boxing Jab or Cross and thrown from certain boxing guards may be faster or more powerful but they leave your head exposed (such as a low guard) and unless you are a master of head movement it is foolish to drop your hands in this fashion.

The same principles of Cause Pain, Off Balance and Disrupt the mental process we apply to our assailants can also be applied to us. Therefore we must do what we can at all times to protect our head, face and neck.

If we assume there are multiple assailants, this changes how cautious we need to be in keeping our hands up. Your skill as a striker may be sufficient to drop your hands against one opponent but now with your hands down, it is easy for their friend to sneak up and punch you in the side of the face.

The other thing is, keeping your hands up is an easy basic defence if you do not have the skill to apply other methods or strategies. At least you can protect your head, face and neck long enough to fight your exit and escape.

Note: keeping your hands up should never obscure your vision to the point you can no longer see the threat. If you lose track of the threat then your reaction time will be dramatically slower when attempting to deal with it as you must not re-identify the threat via the mental processing model which takes the time you do not have.

If you have never had your Krav Maga instructor tell you Keep your hands up then perhaps you need a new instructor.

As mentioned this concept is so important it changes how we train, as we will sacrifice speed or power in order to maintain at least one hand up at all times. If your hand is not punching, or controlling or doing something to cause pain, off balance, or disrupt then it should be up protecting the vitals as repeated many times.

This idea becomes even more important when knives are involved as that hand up protecting your neck and face could be the difference between life and death as one sharp blade across your carotid artery could mean the end of everything.

So if you haven’t gotten the point yet. KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!

On top of Straight line vs circular attack types, we now expand in to attack patterns. Attack patterns are essential how they are implementing the attack and at what speed and tempo. As a general rule, we have 3, Threats, Committed attacks and Non-committed attacks. For bladed attacks, we add a third called “blender mode”.

  • Threats- A threat is a static motion rather than dynamic. If someone is holding a knife to you, this is a knife threat. If someone has grabbed you but is only holding you it is a threat. They have yet to put any kinetic energy into their attempt other than the initial motion. But don’t get it wrong, if you attempt to do something and mess up at any point their threat can become an attack.

 

  • Committed Attacks – A committed attack is linear. It follows a direct path from the attacker to the intended target on a person. Committed attacks are usually due to an emotional reaction or because an attacker has decided or committed to a specific attack. The 360 defence, for example, is designed for committed attacks like the “ice pick” or “Prison shank” style attack. These attacks go from outside in and downward or upward. Attacks like bear hugs are also committed as the attacker is going from a static, to forward grab and slam and there is a specific attack pattern.

 

  • Non-Committed attacks – Non-committed attacks are any attack which do not follow a linear pattern. A basic Non-committed attack, adds a retraction to the attack rather than a telegraphed “committed” attack. They may start in one direction such as straight, then retract for another attack or quickly change to something else. They can come from up, down, left or right. The intent is the same as a committed attack, that is to harm the intended target, but there is no set way. Hacking slashing knife attacks are an example of a non-committed attack. When dealing with a non-committed attack it can be a battle of Action vs reaction until someone wins. As such you must reset their mental processing and do damage to them as fast as you possibly can prior to progressing to control. 

     

    Because of action vs reaction concepts, the more your brain has to process the harder it is going to be to formulate the correct action to stop the attack or threat. Thus the more complex and non-linear an attack the harder it will be to deal with. Because of this committed attacks are preferable over non-committed attacks when it comes to a defence perspective. However, from an attacking perspective, a non-committed attack is preferable as it has a greater chance of succeeding. If you encounter a non-committed attack the best idea is to simply create distance and run and if you cant run, you must find a way through strategy, technique and aggression to overwhelm your opponent.

  • Blender Mode – Blender mode is reserved for a Non-Committed knife attack which is both stabbing and slashing in a fast motion. This essentially created a wall of “blender blades” which is not safe to approach. The attacker either started like this or you screwed up your initial defence, and they went from a simple committed lunge to a non-commited straight line attack to blender mode. These are the times when it is best to use a weapon of opportunity.

 

Recognizing the attack type of your opponent and understanding how to react appropriately will greatly increase your ability to defend your self. Generally, we don’t have to much time in a split second attack to identify if there is a weapon or if its an unarmed attack but what we can quickly identify what kind of attack is it generally.

To keep it simple and practical we have two general attack type. Straight Line attacks and Circular or peripheral attacks.

  • Eye Flick

    Example of a straight line attack. Eye Flick

    Straight Line Attacks – Straight line attacks are exactly as they sound. Any attack that is a straight line from the attacker to you. If telegraphed these are the lunge type attacks, though they don’t have to be telegraphed.  These attacks are often quite fast as they have little time to travel as it is well, a straight line.

    • Solution – With all straight line attacks you must re-direct, and get off the centerline if possible. With these attacks, we have 300% option. 100% re-direct the attack with, for example, a vertical sweep. 200% Move your body at an angle to get off the centre line. 300% burst at a 45-degree angle to the side of the attacker. Each one of these in the moment will avoid the attack but it is best to do them all, as you just never know.
    • Examples: Straights, and Jabs, Straight knife attacks or lunges, straight kicks, like push kicks or groin kicks.

 

  • Roundhouse Kick No Pad 4.jpg

    Example of a circular attack. Roundhouse kick

    Circular Attacks – These attacks come from an outward angle towards the centre of the body. These are often, but not always considered power shots with the intent of generating as much power as possible.

    • Solution – With all circular attacks you must block first, especially if there is a knife. While you can just move out of the way, blocking directly stops the initial attack pattern. After which we usually must burst into the opponent attempting to apply Retsef and off balance cause pain and disrupt. How we block is also important as we must yous the biomechanical strength of our body by creating angles with the bone structure to deal with the amount of power that is generated by circular attacks.
    • Examples: Haymakers, Hooks, Roundhouse kicks, knees

Training & Muscle Memory

Posted: March 27, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Tags: , , ,

Muscle memory.jpgHow you train in the gym is how you will react in the street. The more you repeat a movement, the more your body will know how to do it. The more you practice, the faster you will react. There is a saying; a true master forgets all he knows. This is due to muscle memory. (It should be noted that it is actually your neurons, and nervous system getting trained how to fire and when, which intern activates the muscles) The more time you take to think on how to move or react, the more likely a situation can go from bad to worse.

Bruce Lee famously said,

I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times. [yes, this quote again]

By continuing to practice the basics over and over your body reaches a point that you will act without fear, instantly dealing with a situation to which you hope never happens but for which you have practised over and over.

Of course, there is some negative aspects to muscle memory. If you practice incorrectly for too long this also will become your muscle memory. Because of this, it is better to practice slowly but correctly than fast and incorrectly. As well, muscle memory may cause you to act in a way that can be inappropriate. The reason we always say to look first prior to attacking is so that you do not just react arbitrarily. You must always identify if something is a threat or not prior to acting. Failing to assess properly and relying solely on muscle memory could result in you injuring your friends or family as they attempt to simply hug you.

We also tell the famous story of the police officer who got himself killed due to muscle memory. He taught how to disarm guns and knives regularly. After every drill, however, they would pass the gun or knife to their partner without even thinking about it. This action was repeated over many years of training. One day an individual pulled a gun on the officer, he disarmed the individual and then without even thinking passed the gun back. The officer was shot and killed. (This story, or versions of the story have been repeated by different agencies all over the world. So it happens.)

Muscle memory is how we get good at the movements but we must always remain conscious of all our actions. Be alert, be observant and always take that split second to decide if an action is appropriate.

For Kravists, a big part of training muscle memory isn’t about just drilling the techniques but training the mind to function under stress. While it is important to first learn the technique and how it works, you must also train the environment that you expect to practice it in as well. Most self defense scenarios are stressful, you may be tired, you may be sore, you may be drunk but you will most likely not be expecting it, and will probably be stressed or have a rush of adrenaline. This is something we must also train into muscle memory.

If your Krav Gym looks more like a Karate class, with Katas all the time, no active sparring and very little stress testing you need to look elsewhere. Good Krav Maga is not just technique, but also strategy and mental training. As our motto says, we Turn Lambs into lions. So know, that to properly train your muscle memory we WILL push you to your limits and expect you to function. Because failing to be able to do so, may mean the difference between life and death.

So train hard, train properly, and train yourself to the point when you can act without thinking and still make the right choice.