A side benefit to Krav Maga: better mood

I almost didn’t go to Krav tonight. I had a rough day at work and wanted to veg in front of the TV. Instead, I pulled my butt up off the couch and went anyway. And I am so glad I did.

We started off with the shoulder tap game, switching partners a few times.

The shoulder tap game is where you try to lightly, but firmly hit your partner’s shoulder, while blocking or dodging their attacks on you.

I almost always try to pair up with guys that are bigger and stronger than me for this exercise, because:

  1. I want to be challenged,
  2. I want to know where I stand on technique and speed, and
  3. I want the boys to know that just because they’re up against a girl, it doesn’t mean they can go easy. Tonight was a prime example why I choose to do this.

I paired up with a guy I haven’t seen before. He was pretty buff and more than a little cocky. We started circling each other. He would tap me, but instead of falling back into an active fighting stance, he would continue to tap my shoulder like a little kid trying to get my attention. He kept smirking like he was so much better than me and it was infuriating.

My aggression and speed instantly increased, but I still maintained the best fighting stance I could.

When Sir Smirks-alot would tap my shoulder with his multiple little taps, he’d drop his protecting hand, exposing most of his side. So I’d block his obnoxious tapping and throw a fast, firm slap to his shoulder. Rinse and repeat.

As far as I can tell, the major reason to do the shoulder tap game is to work on perfecting your fighting stance and movement (and get more cardio in). On more than one occasion the instructors have stopped class and had everyone freeze in their current position, so they could point out our poor fighting stances. Guess my irritating partner didn’t realize what an ass he was making of himself.

We also worked on front chokes with a push. They’re pretty different from stationary chokes, but they are a ton of fun to practice. As your assailant lunges at you, you lift your right arm up over your head, rotate your body to the left, and bring your right arm down to meet your left arm, temporarily pinning their arms. Of course, this is when you start delivering blows until they’re down and you can safely get away.

As Chris and I were practicing, W came over and made some minor tweaks to my technique. It felt good to have him only talk about small, optional corrections. I definitely feel myself improving and now that I’ve stopped putting so much pressure on myself, I feel more successful in my skill.

When we got home I also noticed a complete transformation in my mood. I’m happier, have more energy, and feel better prepared to tackle these work issues… Man, I love Krav.

Krav Maga in my own backyard

Okay, quick post before I go do fun Friday night things. Just finished up a good workout with Chris. I’d been feeling really low energy since my class on Wednesday night, but I was anxious to use my new focus mitts.

There are some things I want to note here. Before I started going to Krav, running was painful. I hated it. I’d start huffing and puffing within the first few minutes. I’d get a terrible stitch in my side. It was just generally miserable and I was really out of shape. This time, Chris and I both ran between one and two miles (a large portion of it uphill) without getting too tired. What a feeling of accomplishment!

After we ran around the neighborhood a few times, we pulled out the focus mitts and worked on straight punches, palm heel strikes, and then practiced some of our defenses from class. I’d close my eyes while Chris attacked using one of the billion assaults we know. I’m starting to react instead of trying to over-think my defenses. I’m becoming more successful at getting up from the ground, but it’s definitely going to take some getting used to. AND I’m fully loving my new focus mitts (thanks for the suggestion, Kimberly)!

Now I’m back to full energy and ready to go out and do something fun! It’s amazing what endorphins will do!

Also, (and I don’t mean to brag, but) I’m well on my way to abs of freakin’ steel. And it’s all because of Krav. If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is…

Not every Krav Maga class is awesome

This is going to be a bit of a gripe-fest. I went into class tonight at any earlier time, in hopes I’d beat the mad rush to the later class. There were fewer people, but we were also in a smaller room. I always feel like there’s not enough room to move around.

I know what you’re thinking. The likelihood of being attacked in a nice, spacious area is slim–to–none. But there’s definitely something to be said about a smaller class size. I just hate tripping over other people (and other people tripping over me). They should consider expanding the physical gym size and/or find a way to create more Krav Maga classes throughout the week.

And although tonight was a really great workout, I also don’t feel like I’m learning anything new. We practiced front choke holds… again. I know they’re important, but I also know there are a billion other ways to be attacked.

I’m going to send my gym an email and see if we can switch up the curriculum a bit. Even if we work on front and back chokes with a push… it’s something besides just stationary chokes!

Great instructors make a difference

I’m standing outside the gym room, watching an upper level class. M, my instructor, sees me, waves, and then jogs over. “Let me show you how to get up from a ground fight!” he says. (I’d told him last week that I wanted to learn how to get up from the ground properly, but he didn’t have time to demonstrate then.)

I was super psyched he remembered on his own.

The movement feels so unnatural. You have to rotate your hips and swing your leg underneath you in a big arc; it’s like making the letter ‘C’ with your leg. I know I’ll have to work on it more to get it right.

In regular class, we learned 360 defenses—blocking attacks with your forearm. At first, my partner couldn’t figure out how to hold the medium-sized pad to hurl at my head. She’s sort of throwing it at me and I feel like I might be blocking it. M comes over, takes the pad, and shows her how to hold it correctly. He indicates to me he’s going to throw it for real as a demonstration.

He. Nearly. Takes. My. Head. Off. My glasses go completely askew. He stops the class.

Really block these strikes coming at you. Get angry. They’re trying to hit you! And bag holders, let your partner know what it feels like to be seriously hit. Give them all you’ve got!

She starts hurling it at my head at full power. I still don’t think I really get it, but maybe I am. It’s too soon to tell.

I go to one side of the room and everyone else lines up at the other. This is the drill: Each of your classmates run at you, one after the other, with a medium bag, and launches it at your head. You have to block it with your 360 defenses. Ready? Go!

Guys twice my size deliver blows at me.

Boom.
Boom.
Boom.
Boom.

It’s scary. Intimidating. Intense. But it gets you riled up—adrenaline pumping. This was definitely one of the most fun—and simultaneously—one of the scariest defenses I’ve ever learned.

As I’m getting my stuff together, M asks me if I remember how to get up off the ground correctly. I don’t feel confident. He gets down with me and goes through it a few more times.

That’s how you know you’ve got a great instructor: when they’re willing to go above and beyond to teach you what you need and want to know. I probably stayed an extra 15 minutes after class with M just showing me, Chris, and a few other students extra defenses.

Training a good partner

Tonight was a good refresher night… “Refresher” is probably not a word I should ever use to describe Krav Maga. I don’t want to confuse you… there’s nothing refreshing about it.

There was a gaggle of new people in class, so I ended up with a new girl. She was pretty good considering it was her first time. She told me, out of breath and sweaty, that she came to Krav to learn how to be more aggressive. Which I interpreted as a green light for me to help her overcome her passiveness. I showed her what I wanted in a partner as we teamed up to practice front choke holds.

“Really choke me. I want to know what it feels like to really get out of these situations. Don’t stop unless something is broken or bleeding,” I told her. How’s that for aggressive? She nodded, smiled, and then choked the crap out of me. She got it alright.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when I realized this was her first time. (Why am I always with new people??) But it turned out to be really good, because she’s in Krav Maga to gain self-confidence and learn to be more aggressive. Win-win!

The yellow belt test is coming up sometime in September. I’m not sure I’m ready for it, but W gave me confidence that I may be ready by then. As I look over the booklet of things I need to know tonight, I feel a little less confident. I still plan on going to the all-day testing event (literally like eight hours) just to try to learn anything I might be missing when I go to class twice (or more) a week. It would be pretty awesome if I could level up then too.

Something else that occurred to me tonight was that I really, really want to get a full size punching bag. I could easily get a 10-15 minute cardio workout in everyday by practicing what I already know. My birthday is coming up…

What is a Badge in Krav Maga?

Bruises and scrapes on my wrist from krav maga

I think I might actually enjoy torturing myself.

This thought legitimately crossed my mind at Krav tonight. The gym here seems to be a little more intense on the cardio than my previous gym. We did the usual push-ups, crunches, and squats. Instead of just leaving it at that, however, W decided we should hold our squats for ten second intervals.

Squats = the devil. My legs have never burned like that. Ever.

For the defenses, I paired up with a much younger girl I’ve seen in previous classes. I think I beat her up pretty good… Not on purpose, of course, but I accidentally clipped her once or twice while we practiced getting out of front choke holds. The look on her face as she went back to her two friends was one of pure terror. Poor kid. I should probably pair up with people my own size from now on.

Aside from that, I’ve got some pretty mean scrapes on my right hand from the open palm strikes. After class, I asked J, the owner, if that was normal or if it meant I was striking incorrectly. He said I should try to strike higher up on my hand. Next class, I’ll ask the instructor to pay attention to my open hand strikes, so I know I’m delivering the most strength.

New vocab: “Badge” — A feature or sign that reveals a particular condition or quality; In Krav Maga, this refers to any injury sustained from learning to defend yourself.

Ladies and gentlemen… my badge from class tonight:

The importance of a good Krav Maga partner

The room was packed tonight. We had a sunny weekend, so I imagine everyone was trying to get in their Krav fix.

I partnered up with, A, a girl completely new to Krav Maga. I want to preface this by saying I have no problem with new people in class. In fact, I want to see more women learning to defend themselves. But I can definitely tell a difference in my workout tonight from class on Sunday.

I didn’t break a sweat and I only vaguely remember getting a little out of breath. Half the time I was trying to help out A, correcting her form—pushing her to put her weight into her strikes.

I tried to concentrate on my own strength and speed, but a lot of what we went over tonight depended largely on our partner being aggressive. She was too new to realize what the difference being aggressive can make.

On Sunday, I looked to H to push me. He probably didn’t even realize he was pushing me, but just looking over at him and realizing he was ready to continue on… I was able to dig down deep and find some tiny speck of energy.

So, I was really disappointed in my lack of a workout tonight. I only started to get the defenses, because of my lack of using them. Is it weird that I want to be manhandled? I want to know what it would feel like if someone were to attack me. I want to know I can defend myself.

As with everything, I’m sure there will be classes where everything doesn’t go perfectly. Next class will be better.