The Companion Safety App

The Internet is abuzz with stories of the new Companion App that could increase safety. It’s an app (available for both iPhone and Android) created by five students from the University of Michigan that allows you to ask a friend (or several friends) to virtually follow along with you between your current location and your final destination via GPS. This person keeps tabs on you and can respond right away if something happens to you.

screenshot4The app also proactively asks if you’re okay if it notices specific movements.

If you stray from your destination, start running, or have your headphones pulled out of the phone, the app asks if you’re okay. You have 15 seconds to indicate you’re okay. If you don’t select “Yes” (you’re okay), a loud alarm sounds from your phone to deter assailants and you’re given the option to call the police.

If you feel unsafe or need assistance, it’s just a single tap to call the police. Your friend can also call the police on your behalf. Since they can see where you’re phone is located, they can easily give directions to the police.

When one of my friends sent me a link to the app, I was intrigued. The app is a great idea. I’ve always done something manually via text (without the added GPS functionality).

But I have to admit I have a lot of questions about the Companion app. At the risk of sounding crass, I question it’s effectiveness at keeping people safe. I wonder if it’s a way for people to pass the buck on their own personal safety. By using this app, are people more likely to plug both their headphones into their ears and reduce situational awareness? Or are they likely to become more aware?

If something bad happens, how effective would it be on getting you the help you need quickly?

I’m clearly conflicted. Technology can be a beautiful thing, but I’ve read too many studies that show the intended result produces the opposite outcome.

Does it create a safer society or a false sense of security? Does it create the illusion of safety?

I’m trying to reserve judgment. The intentions are good and I commend these students for creating something worthwhile and compelling.

I look forward to seeing the effects and consequences (good or bad) of the app.

What are your experiences with the app? Do you think it’s a good idea or a bad one?

Review: SISU 2.4 Max Guard (Mouth Guard)

I’ve been on the hunt for a new mouth guard. My current mouth guard is this chunky thing that I can’t speak, drink, and barely breathe through. Kaci's mouth full of mouth guardI look like a monkey when I wear it.

I did some research for the best mouth guards on the market. My requirements were:

  • The mouth guard should—first and foremost—protect my teeth.
  • I should be able to breathe.
  • I should be able drink water.
  • Ideally, I can speak. I give feedback and ask questions all throughout class. In a perfect world, I’ll be able to leave my mouth guard in my mouth at all times. When you’ve been sweating (and sweat on by your partner) the last thing you want to do is reach into your mouth to pull out your mouth guard.
  • My final nice to have is that the manufacturer’s logo or name shouldn’t be written across my teeth. I’d like to choose when to advertise. Thanks.

Last week the new mouth guard arrived: the SISU 2.4 Max Guard (in blue)! It came completely flat. At first I was a little confused, but it only took a quick look through the instructions and I was on my way. I’ve done the boil-and-fit scenario with previous mouth guards. The instructions were similar to those experiences and very straight forward. It’s not very complicated and I doubt many would have any issue with it.

The main difference with this mouth guard compared to others is you fit the entire piece of plastic around your teeth. It is 100% customized to your mouth. There’s very little base design that you work around. I should mention I also have a pretty small mouth. Most guards feel oversized in my mouth. The SISU is slim, but sturdy. There’s plenty of plastic to completely cover your teeth, but not so much that it overpowers your mouth.

As soon as the guard started to set around my teeth, I knew I was going to be a satisfied customer.

Just listen to the difference:

Tonight was my first Krav Maga level 2 class with the new mouth guard. It was so comfortable. I could breathe, drink, and speak! I didn’t have to take it out of my mouth once and my partner could understand me the whole time.

We sparred at the end of class to practice our defenses and my partner was vicious. She let me have it. The guard was snug and secure. I could bite down without any issues and I never once thought about it while we were sparring.

I’m sold.

The one tiny downside is that the mouth guard is more expensive than any mouth guard I’ve ever purchased. It ranges from $22-35 on Amazon, but, in my opinion, was completely worth it. This is mouth guard number four for me and I’d buy the SISU 2.4 Max Guard again.

Let me know if you have any experience with the SISU mouth guard or if you end up buying it! I’d love to hear your experience.


Note: If you follow the links in this post and purchase this mouth guard from Amazon, I will receive a small affiliate commission. SISU did not pay me to write this review. I’m just legitimately excited to tell everyone about it.

 

Review: Mouth Guards for Krav Maga

Mouth guards are officially a required piece of equipment for me in Krav Maga. I purchased and began training with two mouth guards after the tooth incident. While I haven’t found the perfect mouth guard, I at least have something to protect my teeth.

I wasn’t sure what to expect or which features would be useful. I stood in the boxing/mma aisle for 20 minutes feeling a little overwhelmed. In the end, I chose to start at the most economical side of the spectrum and work my way up until I find a mouth guard I like. At $3-5 per mouth guard, I can’t really go wrong.

The Everlast Single Mouthguard is, by far, the cheapest option (less than $3!). I purchased this mouth guard in black.

The instructions were easy to follow to mold the guard to my jaw and teeth. I have a small mouth and it’s a little bigger than I think I need. I had to cut off the two edges around my molars to get it to fit without rubbing uncomfortably. I also notice there’s a lot of space between the mouth guard and my teeth, no matter how many times I boil and fit it. I’ve used it for a month now and it seems fine. I’ll probably keep shopping around, but the price is right for a simple mouth guard.

I also purchased this Everlast Double Mouth Guard (also in black).

The difference between the Everlast Single and the Everlast Double is that the Double protects your top and bottom teeth, compared to just your top teeth with the Everlast Single. This guard was also easy to shape to my mouth.

If you’re really concerned about your upper and lower teeth, this mouth guard is an acceptable option.

A few downsides: it’s a little difficult to breathe even with the center breathing channel. It’s also distracting. I catch myself biting down on it and clenching my jaw.

For both of these mouth guards, there are additional down sides worth mentioning. I have to remove the mouth guard to speak and drink water. Because of the nature of Krav Maga, I have to pull it out of my mouth with the same hands that have been attacking and defending my fellow (sweaty) trainees. Not exactly sanitary. I’ve seen a few people get around this by removing their mouth guard with the inside of their shirt (near their collar) for the brief moment they need to take it out of their mouths. Not an ideal scenario, but definitely doable. The design isn’t elegant, but it’s usable.

If you need a decent mouth guard and you want to spend less than $5, these are fair options. I don’t think you can beat the price.

I’ll keep you in the loop as I try other options. I would really like to find a guard that doesn’t require me to take it out of my mouth when I speak. Stay tuned!

8 holiday gifts for someone training in Krav Maga

These are just a few holiday gift ideas for the special Krav Maga fanatic in your life!

Hand wraps make a really good stocking stuffer, because they’re relatively inexpensive (ranging from $5-10) and there are a ton of colors to choose from. Make sure you buy the 180″ wraps so there is enough length to properly cover both their hands and wrists.

Leather or gel hand wraps are an excellent alternative to the cloth hand wraps, because they offer protection and speed of application. Whereas it takes several minutes to put on cotton hand wraps, it takes just a few seconds to put on these. There is more protection and comfort, but with that comes a price. (Between $15-25.)

Sigg water bottles are a good bet too, because we all know Krav-ers need to replenish the gallons of water they sweat out during class. They are environmentally friendly and healthier because they don’t have any of those creepy chemicals like bisphenol A. (Ranging from $20-30.)

Workout clothes are always a welcome idea. I’ve had a few shirts stretch out from being the target of knee drills… so I could personally always use a few extra Krav Maga shirts.

Focus mitts are great to have for practicing punches, hammer fists, and open hand strikes. Plus, you have to get someone else involved to hold them for you! (Ranging from $17 and up.)

Tombstones (otherwise known as punching shields) are the medium hand-held size bags that are perfect for practicing strikes, including elbows and kicks. This is the bag we use most in my class. ($50 and up)

Kick shields are those big bags (about twice the size of a tombstone) that are great for throwing knees and kicks, not to mention all manner of other strikes. ($50 and up)

Punching bags are great if you have the space for it, because you can use it to practice nearly any strike you learn in class and you don’t need a partner to hold it for you. It does take up a bit of space though and these bags tend to be more expensive. ($60 and up, plus a stand if you don’t have a place to hang it from the ceiling.)

Note: These are not endorsements. All links are meant for illustrative purposes only. As always, do your homework before you buy any equipment.

What to wear to train in Krav Maga

 

What exactly do you wear to train in Krav Maga? I’ve seen some interesting wardrobe choices, but there are some items that will help or hinder you.

So! Without further ado, here are some tips to make your Krav experience even more successful.

Do wear/bring:

  • Loose, comfortable, lightweight, quick drying clothing. Not only is this a self-defense class, it’s also a great way to get in your cardio. You will be sweating.
  • Shorts. Again, I can’t overemphasize that part about you sweating…
  • Comfortable running shoes.
  • If you have long hair, you certainly want it off your face and neck.
  • Don’t forget to bring lots of H20! (To drink, not to wear!)

Don’t wear/bring:

  • Rings or dangle-y jewelry. Your rings will carve up the punching bags and your jewelry will probably just get in the way.
  • Any clothing you care about. You will be tugged, pulled, punched, kicked, etc. It generally won’t hurt, but when you start learning some attacks, your shirt could get stretched.
  • If you can go without your glasses, I’d highly recommend it. I wear glasses to class and they have been sent askew on my face more than once. If you have a spare pair of glasses, I’d recommend wearing them. Contacts are even better.
  • Anything that could get in the way. Remember: you’re here to learn self-defense, not how to be a beauty queen (or king!)
  • Your cell phone. Yeah, leave that baby in the car. Nothing is more annoying than someone yackin’ on the phone while everyone else slaves away. It’s distracting for everyone.

Optional, but highly recommended:

  • Guys should wear a cup. Your partner will be kicking, kneeing, and punching at a pad in your groin area. One little mistake and your guy parts could be feeling the effects.
  • Hand wraps are a good idea if you don’t want nasty bruises, scrapes, and sores on your hands. They aren’t necessary, but they help you minimize any visible aches and pains. Trust me on this one, you’ll thank me later.

A Krav Maga class can be super rewarding if you come prepared. If you follow these suggestions, you’ll learn self-defense, improve your strength, lose weight, and increase your self-confidence.