Take downs, fall breaks, squats, and push ups… It was a hard Thursday

Last week, I was at the gym for two hours. The first hour was a typical Krav Maga level 2 class. I learned double leg take downs for the first time. It was brutal, but mostly because I need to spend a little more time opening up my hips and warming up my knees before doing take downs over and over again.

It was also a great opportunity to practice my fall breaks. A few months ago, I took a lesson with four other ladies to focus on fall breaks. It was a great hour, but I don’t use fall breaks enough regularly for it to be committed to muscle memory yet. Every time I attempt one I feel like I’m starting over. Luckily, it’s one of those things that I can work into nearly every practice. I just have to get over the fear of throwing myself backwards.

After the level 2 class, I went right into a Krav Fit class, a Krav Maga and Crossfit hybrid. We did two circuits. The second circuit lasted 20 minutes and consisted of five pull ups, 10 push ups, and 15 squats.

Over the course of the hour, I probably did 150-200 squats and 100-150 push ups. It’s been awhile since I’ve had to push myself to keep going like that.

I’ve been reading Ronda Rousey’s book My Fight / Your Fight (official review coming soon) and I found myself thinking about her as I ran out of steam doing push ups. They were the hardest. I had to dig deep to keep going.

Down, up, pause. What would Ronda do? She’d do another push up! Do it!

Down, up, pause. Oh god. Ronda wouldn’t give up. Another!

Down, up, pause.

Near the end of the hour, I lost ability to think coherent thoughts. It was just a steady stream of “Okay, one more squat. Good. Okay, one more squat…”

That was three days ago. My quads still hurt today. It’s one of those pains that let me know I did good work. I’m building muscle. I’m getting stronger.

Study: Women trained in self-defense far less likely to be sexually assaulted and experience less sexual assault ATTEMPTS

A Canadian research team has found that first year college women who undergo a sexual assault resistance program are less likely to be sexually assaulted and (here’s the kicker!) they’re also less likely to experience sexual assault attempts. Attempts!

The 1-year risk of completed rape was significantly lower in the resistance group than in the control group (5.2% vs. 9.8%; relative risk reduction, 46.3%). The 1-year risk of attempted rape was also significantly lower in the resistance group (3.4% vs. 9.3%).

John Moore reported this in an article at the Bangor Daily News and he refutes a lot of crappy reasons why people think it’s a bad reason to train women in self defense and I agree with him 100%. Definitely worth a read!

My favorite quote from his article:

Self-defense isn’t about defeating somebody in a ring, like in the UFC. It is about escape. The goals are much different, and the means to achieve them are too.” 

Bottom line: take a self-defense class. 🙂



Today a woman was attacked in my work parking lot

Updated: June 14, 2015 at 8:44pm

An unidentified co-worker was attacked in our work parking lot at 2pm in broad daylight. She was told by her (possibly high) attacker to get in the backseat of her car and she wouldn’t get hurt. She (from reports) valiantly fought him off and suffered no major physical injuries.

A security guard came to her aid and chased the perp off. He suffered non-life threatening injuries in the altercation. Unofficial reports say those injuries were from a knife.

The attacker was later chased over four blocks by additional security guards. This happened in the same parking lot I walk through and park in nearly every work day.

This happened in the same parking lot I walk through and park in nearly every work day.

When I hear reports like the one I’ve described I subconsciously think about how this happens at night in dark parking lots in sketchy parts of town. It’s a great reminder that you can be attacked at any time, by anyone, for any reason.

Tonight, when I was in my Krav Maga level 2 class, I hit a wall. It was early in the hour. I didn’t drink enough water throughout the day and I haven’t been to class in two weeks.

Then I remembered what happened to this woman. I thought about being in her absolutely terrifying position and I dug out an extra ounce of energy to put a little more effort into my kicks.

Use inspiration—anything at all—to eek out additional stamina. Know that you can overcome anything.

Stay safe, friends.


What training with a male Krav Maga partner can be like for a woman

Every once in awhile I have a night that transcends a typical class and I leave feeling buzzed.

I arrive at the 6pm class just as it’s starting. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder to bow in and I look down the line at the other trainees… all men.

Let me just take a little detour here to say I’ve noticed a lot more women doing Krav Maga in this gym compared to seven years ago. I would be the only lady in a lot of classes back then. Nearly every present-day class has at least two girls. It’s not that uncommon for half the class or more to be women. It’s an exciting transition and I appreciate the effort my gym makes to introduce more women to these self-defense techniques.

Anyway, it’s rare to be in a class with 100% dudes.

After we bow in, I look to the guy on my left. He’s roughly my height, but significantly more muscled. I point to him and he nods silently acknowledging our new partner status. One of the other instructors, Drew, asks if he can partner with us too.

I put on my 16 ounce boxing gloves and insert my mouth guard. Matt, our instructor, tells us to start shadow boxing and then light sparring for our warm up. The sparring is fierce. Usually, it starts off light. Guys will go a little easy on me to start. These two don’t give me a second to breathe.

We transition into a defense with sparring. As two of us spar, the third partner tries to put the sparring partner of his choice in a head lock. Your job as the defender is to recognize a headlock as it’s coming on and slip out of it. Since the person who tried to put you in a head lock has just attacked you, you start sparring them.

I can feel my arms start to windmill. I have to pull my chin back down and focus on the balance between shooting in and letting my feet do some of the work, and using my long arms to my advantage. Some days it feels like I’m fighting myself as much as my sparring partner.

Some days it feels like I’m fighting myself as much as my sparring partner.

My chin juts up as I swing wildly at N’s head. He blocks and—seeing the opening—clocks me in the jaw. It doesn’t really hurt since we’re using 16oz boxing gloves, but it doesn’t matter either way. No time to apologize or stop or think. I swing my arm up in a fast hook and catch him in the chin. We break apart briefly and then Drew is on me with a head lock.

We’re a swirling mass of arms, trying not to get pummeled in the face, trying to get out of head locks. It’s exhausting.

After the first two minutes of this, my high pony tail has transformed into a rats nest at the base of my neck. My face is beet red, a sure sign I didn’t drink enough water today. 30 second rest period is over. Back to it.

When I have to exert more aggression than usual, when I’m pushed to my upper limit and I have to dig deep to channel my inner warrior princess, I have so much more fun. I discover what I’m made of and I see my (current) limitations. It’s a different kind of training. Less technical. It’s a training in permission. I give myself permission to fight hard.

We work on defending head locks from the ground and the guys continue to push me. They put their full weight in each attack. They pretzel me and twist me up. They force me to try hard. I challenge them too. I lock my wiry arms around their necks, sink my weight, and pretend my lady arms are more powerful than reality. While I’m waiting for my turn to attack or defend, I think of ways to make it more difficult. I watch how they defend and I look for weaknesses.

The positions we defend from still feel scary sometimes. I trust these guys, but when I get flipped onto my stomach and their weight is baring down on my back, my lizard brain pumps extra adrenaline into my system. Get out of this! Get out! 

In those moments, I stop thinking about the defense and I just defend. It doesn’t even have to be what we’re practicing. Sometimes, what you’re doing doesn’t work anyways and you have to try something else. You might get a couple tries or you’ll get approximately one second and one shot before the moment has passed and you have to adjust your strategy.

This is one of the beautiful things about level two classes compared to level one. In level one, you’re learning the basics of throwing strikes and defending attacks. When you get to level two, you have the human component. You’re working against someone else. Someone who has a smart brain and wants the same thing you want—only for themselves.

I took some licks tonight, but I gave some too. There’s power in training with guys willing to push you. You can more easily see where you need work.

This is why I go to Krav Maga. To learn something useful and to have my ass handed to me, but to leave feeling a safer.

Giving thanks to Krav Maga

Along the same lines of the advantages of Krav Maga post I made last week, I also want to give thanks to all the personal benefits I’ve experienced since starting Krav.

Thank you Krav Maga for:

  • Educating me with the knowledge and self-confidence to defend myself. That alone is pretty priceless.
  • Providing me a place to blow off steam. The economy has been in the crapper and unfortunately I’ve felt the effects. I’ve been frustrated and angry these past few months and Krav has given me an appropriate place to manage those frustrations.
  • Helping me cope with depression. I know this is similar to giving me a place to blow off steam, but really it’s very different. I’ve been fighting mild depression off and on for a few years now. One way I treat it is through exercise. As you have probably read over and over, I hate gyms. So the fact that Krav has given me a place where I actually want to exercise is a miracle all on its own.
  • Getting me into shape. I don’t mean to brag, but… wait… yes, I do mean to brag. I made several health decisions this year that led me to losing 12 pounds (I became a pescatarian in April and started Krav Maga in July). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not overweight, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been making healthy decisions. Since going to Krav Maga my arms, butt, and tummy are toned. I feel better. I look better in my clothes! And I’m really proud of myself.
  • Giving me a place to make new friends. Moving all over the country was fun, but it killed my social life. I’ve met a bunch of really great people by going to the gym-sponsored events…
  • Encouraging my expressive self. After I go to Krav Maga, my creative juices start flowing and I get in “the zone”. I’ve started writing, designing, photographing, and constructing more for myself. It’s a great feeling.

In what ways do you have to be thankful on this delightful Thanksgiving?

Getting angry

So far, headlocks make me the most furious. The idea of someone wrapping their arms around my head, trying to get me down to the ground… What is that potential attacker trying to take or accomplish? A headlock doesn’t seem like a purse-snatching sort of maneuver. It’s more personal than that. And to be quite frank with you, the thought of someone wanting to take something so private pisses me off.

Sometimes, it’s hard to recognize the implications behind the defenses when they’re in a controlled environment. Especially when your “attacker” is a middle-aged woman who looks more likely to bake you a fresh batch of cookies than put you in a headlock. But once you adjust your thinking and employ your imagination, it’s easy to become furious.

I think my partner can always tell when this connection happens inside my brain. I’ll often hear “Woah!” or ” Wow, you hit hard!”

I think their reaction says more about the energy I put towards Krav Maga, because I allow myself the right to become angry. Anyone can learn this. In fact, learning the defenses are shockingly easy once you get the hang of it.

You just have to want to learn it and be willing to put all your energy into it. But mostly, and I think this is key for women, you have to allow yourself to get mad.

So, go on. Get angry!