How Very Little Krav Maga in January Affected Me

My January focus was to be a professional coach for 20 awesome ruckus-makers (an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world). It required a fair bit of time and decreased my priority to be in the gym.

As the month progressed, I could feel something different happening. I was tired. I was doing all this great work with and for other people, but it was draining.

Then I was handed a major, high-impact project at work. The stress mounted. My grumpiness increased.

“You okay, Kaci?” a co-worker asked. “You seemed so happy earlier this month and now you’ve lost that glow.”

I could feel it too. I didn’t have my usual outlet for breaking the tension. I wasn’t taking care of myself.

My first Krav Maga class back was amazing. I could feel the pent up energy in my limbs slowly releasing with every punch, kick, drill, and combo. By the end of the class I wasn’t even tired. I could have kept going. I wanted to keep going.

The very next day, several people noted how buoyant I seemed.

The major, stressful project at work suddenly seemed like not such a big deal.

When you find something that keeps you level and happy, make room in your schedule to keep it a priority. 

I could have chosen to go Krav Maga once or twice a week, instead of not at all. Lesson learned.

The sweet and generous gift of mitt holding

Before we get too far away from the moment, I wanted to tell you about something really, really cool that happened to me a few weeks ago

I took a ground fighting class. I was worn out afterwards, but I wanted to stick around for the yoga class an hour later. I ducked into the bag room, put my 16oz boxing gloves on, and stared at the punching bag.

Hands up.

Chin tucked.

Rotate. Strike. Step. Repeat.

I took my time at the bag thinking through combinations. If my weight is distributed to the right, can I throw a right round kick, I’d ask myself while playing with my strikes and weight distribution. Is it better if I do a right side kick here instead?

A few of the regulars were holding mitts for each other. The mitt holder would call out combinations and the striker would rotate into the fastest, smoothest combinations they could manage. It was background noise to me. I tried not to draw attention to myself or take up space.

It wasn’t their room, but I was self-conscious. I kept my eyes on my bag: hyperfocused on my own breathing, my head movement, my weight distribution.

I stepped out a few times to get some air or just watch the two Krav Maga classes in progress.

Omar pokes his head out of the room, nods to me, and says quietly, “hey, we can stay on one side of the room if you want to keep practicing.”

“Oh, thanks!” I return and keep hitting the bag.

A few minutes later, Ron, the striker at the time, steps over to me. “Do you want us to hold for you?”

I thought for sure I’d heard wrong. “Sorry?”

“We can hold mitts for you, if you’d like. I could use the break,” he says with a laugh.

“Oh, yeah! Sure! That’d be great!”

Omar calls out a simple combination and I focus with all my effort to execute it properly. I fumble some of them and laugh nervously.

“Again,” he calls. We do it over and over until I get it.

“Okay, rest,” he says softly.

I’m grinning like an idiot.

“What?” he asks.

I don’t understand.

“The smile. What’s funny?” he asks.

“Nothing! I just love this so much,” I tell him. He smiles back.

They hold pads for me once more.

30 minutes later I gather my stuff to head to the yoga room. Before I do, I walk back over to them.

“Thank you,” I say. “It means a lot that you’d hold mitts for me.”

“If we’re in here and you want to fold into our routine, just ask. If we’re not doing anything specific we can hold for you.”

It was the nicest, most awesome thing. They never had to do any of that, but they did. It made me feel like a part of the gym, a part of the community. I’m still feeling warm and fuzzy about it. To those guys, a deep and sincere thanks.

This simple act of kindness also reminds me that I can do more to help the folks new to the gym feel more welcome. They’re part of this community. As a higher level student, I have a responsibility to encourage that feeling of belonging.

How I Use Krav Maga to Ease My Restless Leg Syndrome

I have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), a disorder that makes me feel the urge to move my legs. I only feel these symptoms while I’m trying to go to sleep at night. My legs twitch, kick, and thrash (much to Chris’s amusement and annoyance).

It never hurts, but it is irritating. It feels like I have too much energy in my legs and I need to let it out by moving. The less I exercise, the twitchier I feel.

The symptoms eased a few years ago while I was training for a half marathon, but never completely went away. It wasn’t until I started taking Krav Maga that my Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms almost completely disappeared. In fact, if I take a break from Krav Maga the symptoms return. In some ways, I use RLS as a gauge for when I’ve been away from the gym too long.

I mention this, because I gain more from Krav Maga than just being in shape and feeling confident in myself. This is one of those peripherals in Krav Maga that’s important to my overall happiness. It gives me peace. Emotional, mental, and physical peace.

Do you have Restless Leg Syndrome? How do you manage it?

Will I get hurt in Krav Maga?

Bruised wrist

Bruises and scrapes on my wrist from krav magaWon’t I get hurt in Krav Maga? I hear it all the time.

Like any sport, martial art, or self defense system, injury is possible in Krav Maga. I come home with bruises and scrapes on my hands, arms, hips, and knees regularly. When you practice something this physical and real, it’s inevitable. It’s part of the training.

Honestly, the bruises and scrapes don’t bother me. These minor injuries tell me where I need to improve my technique. They also condition my body. I find a little pride in these bumps and bruises too (and I know I’m not alone in this).

Occasionally, people are injured in other, more serious ways: pulled muscles, fractures, and sprains. It’s like any sport. If you practice safely (start slow, communicate with your partner, and wear a mouth guard, cup, and other protective equipment), you’re not likely to suffer much more than bruises and scrapes.

I’d like to ask you a question though:

Would you trade receiving scrapes and bruises in a safe, learning environment for the knowledge and skill to defend yourself?

To walk to your car at night without fear. To gain confidence in yourself (in life, not just in self defense). To get in shape?

For me, I find that trade acceptable.

How to Defend Yourself in High Heels

Ever since I started learning Krav Maga, I’ve been thinking about how self defense might change depending on my situation.

Me in 2015 wearing my favorite heels at my good friend's wedding
These high heels pass the test (and they’re my favorite!)

What if I’m wearing high heels? Or what if I’m out dancing with a group of my lady friends? I’m the only one with Krav Maga experience and I’m the only one actively training in any sort of martial art.

Imagine me and four of my closest friends against who knows how many assailants.

Yes, this is what I think about. I want my friends to be safe and it’s one reason I’ve tried so hard to get and keep more of my friends in Krav Maga.

Anyway, Avital posted a video in July about how to defend yourself in high heels. She lays out four possibilities:

  1. Can I take off my heels?
  2. Can I run away in my heels?
  3. Can I fight in my heels?
  4. Can I use my heels a weapon?

I really love how down-to-earth and real she is. She takes this question seriously, but she also clearly has a sense of humor.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

Remember: it can be as simple as choosing cute heels that you can run and move in when you head out for the night! Plus, it’s so much nicer to have heels you can dance in, amIright?

Why I Watch UFC and You Should Too

I didn’t always watch UFC fights. In fact, there was definitely a time in my life when I looked at boxing or MMA and I’d think how barbaric it all was. Our present day version of Rome’s gladiators. Savages.

At some point over the last few years, something in me changed.

I don’t watch every UFC fight and I don’t even watch them that often, but when I do I sit perched on the edge of my seat, fingers twisted in knots, eyes wide as saucers.

I’m entranced. I’m studying. I’m looking for clues and hints.

It’s a similar experience to watching a higher level Krav Maga class work through a move. I’m watching to understand and to learn.

When I watch UFC fights, I’m constantly taking mental notes. Sometimes those notes come spewing out of my mouth and I point and exclaim “Did you see how fast Ronda moved her foot to trip Correia? That’s when the fight was over! That was the moment!” Everyone nods at me and then they go back to staring at the screen.

Sometimes I’ll see a move I’ve learned and I’ll nod knowingly. Chris and I might exchange a glance. Did you see the pluck she used to get out of the choke? we’d silently say to each other. What we’re learning works.

Over the years, I’ve learned to appreciate the sport, but I’ve learned to appreciate it even more for what it can teach me.

I practice Krav Maga for many reasons, but first and foremost is to be safe. These days, I watch UFC because it’s entertaining. But I’m also there to study the people who fight for a living in the hopes that if the time came for me to defend myself, I’d be able to pull something from their experiences.

At your next opportunity, I ask you to look at UFC with different eyes. In this moment, what can I learn from observing the professionals?

3 (More) Reasons Why I Do Krav Maga

I’ve started noticing something about my weeks. By Wednesday, I’m grumpy. I mean exceptionally grumpy. At first, I thought it was because I’m dissatisfied with work. By Wednesday, I’m ready for the weekend. Not every week is frustrating though and I still feel this awful anxiousness. This antsy-ness. I can’t keep still. I can’t shake this feeling.

By Friday morning, I’m happy again. Calm.

A few weeks ago, I started taking two classes on Thursday. I noticed in the middle of the second class, I was grinning like an idiot, frolicking around the gym like an elated puppy having her first off-leash experience at the park.

Esther, my partner, looked at me with surprise: “You’re so happy today!”

That’s when I realized the people at my gym don’t usually see me like this. By the middle of the second class, I’m usually prancing and smiling around my house. I’m trying to funnel all my energy into writing for this blog.

With Krav Maga, I have a place to blow off steam. When I get mad, I can’t push out that negative energy in a physical way. I love yoga, but it doesn’t let me be angry. They teach you control, breathing, centering yourself, mindful meditation. I love yoga, but I need to feel my anger and Krav lets you be angry.

With Krav Maga, I push myself. When I work out, I don’t sweat or work as hard. I do plenty of other types of exercise, but nothing makes me feel the kind of giddy relief that Krav does. In other non-Krav gyms, “tough” work out classes are nothing to me. I know I can do more. Krav Maga makes me do more.

With Krav Maga, I let the proper, polite lady I’m supposed to be take a break. This is probably the most important one. In Krav, there are expectations. You’re taught that on the street, walking to your car, coming out of the grocery store, “you take care of you.” But society is filled with silent social contracts. I’m supposed to smile. Be polite. Not say hurtful things. Even when someone is acting in a threatening manner, I have to fight the societal pressure to be polite. Not in Krav. In Krav, I get to be loud, obnoxious. I can make Amazon sounds. I can shriek like a banshee and it’s okay. Encouraged even.

So by Friday morning, I’ve let my inner Amazon out for two hours in a safe environment. By Friday, I’m happy because the me that needed let out got to punch and kick and roll around on the ground. It feels good and it’s turned me into a walking Krav Maga advertisement.

The unseen benefits of learning Krav Maga (Part 2)

We all know exercise is good for you physically. But what you may not know is that exercise greatly benefits your mental and emotional health too.

According to the Mayo Clinic,”exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, which may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.”

I’ve been fighting bouts of depression for a few months now (who hasn’t in these economic times, right?). There are nights when I don’t want to go Krav Maga. I want to stay at home and bum around.

But when I go to Krav Maga and get in a really good workout, I’m more focused. I feel more successful and creative and I just feel so much better about myself.

Half the battle is wanting to exercise. As many of you may know, I hate gyms. I hate treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, weight lifting… yeah. I hate it all. I always feel like a hamster in the exercise wheel—going nowhere real fast.

Krav Maga gives me the motivation to go the gym, because not only am I getting in some valuable exercise, but I’m learning something useful and making friends at the same time.

It’s a win-win-win!

And Krav Maga doesn’t just boost endorphins, it also decreases stress and helps release muscle tension. Think about it. What better way to de-stress about that obnoxious client/co-worker/boss/spouse/friend/
family member/stranger-who-cut-you-off-on-your-way-home-and-
nearly-killed-you-because-they-were-on-their-%!@*ing-cellphone, than by beating the crap out of a punching shield?