Improvements at Kravazon headquarters!

Notice anything different around here? Chris and I have been hard at work tweaking the design and adding a few more features (some for me and some for you)!

  • As you can see, you can now search my posts using the search form to the right.
  • I’ve also added (duh duh duuuuuuh!) some ads. If you’d like to place an advertisement on my site, go ahead and shoot me an email at kravazon [at] kravazon [dot] com.
  • You can also now make a secure donation through Paypal by clicking the donate button at the top right, above the search form. (Krav Maga isn’t free, ya know…)

If you have any problems or spot any bugs, let me know!

Sick and sore = no Krav Maga

Hello all! I’ve been fighting a sinus infection and a sore back this week, so things have been a little slow on the Krav Maga front. I’m starting to feel a lot better though and I’ll (hopefully) be back to training on Monday! In the meantime, I thought I’d update you on some of the latest news:

  • My gym has recently expanded their operation, by adding nearby 3,000 square feet of space dedicated to Crossfit. This is great news, because it allows for more (and hopefully smaller) Krav Maga classes!
  • Chris and I attended our gym’s Krav Maga Halloween Party last weekend and met a bunch of really great people. It was a ton of fun dressing up, seeing people outside of class, and casually chatting about chokes and other defenses. I’ll have more on that next week!
  • My Level 1 test was rescheduled to December 6, giving me an extra month to train. I can’t say I’m upset, especially since the test would have been today! I don’t think a sore back and a sinus infection are optimal conditions for putting my body through the stress of an eight hour test… so I’m just thanking my lucky stars that it was postponed!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Hopefully I’ll have more to report on Monday, when I head back to the gym!

Back-to-Back Krav Maga Classes

Last night was the first time I’ve ever taken two Krav classes in one night.

I took W for the first class. He’s well-known for being intense and this class was no exception. It was non-stop action. One strike after another. We did advancing front kicks, roundhouse kicks, knees, palm-heel strikes… and that wasn’t even the defense!

I teamed up with a guy two inches shorter than me, but all muscle. I think he may have been reluctant to partner with me at first, but I proved myself by the end. He seemed shocked by a lot of my kicks, but still gave a lot of positive, constructive feedback about my technique.

The only issue came when we started doing knees. He would knee me so hard the wind was knocked from me. Then my stomach started hurting. It hurt so bad I had to ask an instructor to hold the bag for him. THAT’S how hard he kicked. You know me. I don’t just give up. I’m always all in. But he kneed me so hard, I’m 100% positive if I didn’t have a pad, I’d have broken ribs today. Moral of that story is if you throw knees correctly, you will deal a lot of damage.

I decided to wait it out and see if I’d be okay to go to the next Krav class. After I had a chance to cool down, drink some water, and stop shaking, I felt alright.

In MT’s class, I teamed up with V. She was worn out from Crossfit right before, so we were both exhausted and weaker than usual.

We learned how to defend ourselves if we were on our back with a heel kick and then how to get up from the ground. I felt like I was doing okay, but then my stomach started hurting again. I wanted to stay in class and practice getting up (it’s the first official class I’ve had where we’ve worked on this), so I tried to take it easy and focus on my technique rather than power or speed.

Although I had a 45 minute wait between the two classes, all I can say is Oh. My. God. I really just can’t imagine eight hours of that for testing. My brain was goo. My hands were shaky. And my stomach hurt for most of the night. For the future, I definitely need to pace myself.

Even today, my arms feel weak, my stomach has felt off, and I’ve just been really low energy. Sort of what it feels like when you get sick, but without the sick. I’m just going to continue to take it easy today and hope I feel better tomorrow.

Krav Maga in a New Gym

This is the first opportunity I’ve had to go to a Krav Maga class with my boyfriend, Chris. We’re both in the same city now (I moved! It was sort of a sudden thing…) and it was his first time to experience some Krav lovin’.

I told him all about Krav Maga and what he should expect. More importantly, I explained what makes a really great partner. I told him before about wanting to get an accurate feel for someone attacking me. I don’t want to feel like I’m being massaged when someone is trying to put me in a choke hold. I want the real deal.

So you can imagine my surprise when Chris grabs me hard to choke me from the side. I’m immediately startled by the power in his strike, even though I know it’s coming. I try to recover and go through the defense. I don’t move as fast as I should. I can’t wait for the day when these defenses are part of my muscle memory; when I just move and defend without thinking about it.

W, our trainer, comes over and shows me how to drop my body down into a crouch for this particular attack. Apparently in Europe it’s a popular offensive move to choke and head butt simultaneously. By dropping down into a crouch, I create a little more momentum for my groin strike and defend myself from those pesky head butts.

Aside from that, the class was almost exactly the same from my previous gym. I was worried it would be too different, but W explained that all instructors are taught by the same professionals in Los Angeles. No matter where I go in the United States, the classes should be formulaic: Bow in, exercise to get your cardio up (translation: wear you out), stretch, practice strikes (punches, kicks, etc), learn to defend a particular assault (chokes, bear hugs, etc), execute defenses in a drill scenario, bow out, become a puddle in the middle of the floor.

It all sounds easy breezy just saying it like that. In reality, I genuinely just want a sandwich and a nap right now.

My first class with a male partner

This is my first Sunday class and I feel pretty confident walking in. On Monday, I finished up not feeling like I was going to die from exhaustion.

We do the usual stretch and B, the owner and today’s trainer, tells us to do 20 push-ups and 25 sit-ups. I’m immediately a little anxious. The last time I tried to do the most push-ups I could, I was able to do… oh… ya know… seven. I surprise myself though. I’m pushing my body up and I’m suddenly past 10. Then 15. 20 push-ups? Please. That was almost easy. Almost.

I partner up with H for openhand strikes. I’m excited, because he’s the first guy I’ve worked with so far. He’s at least 2 inches taller and 50lbs heavier than me, but I feel pretty confident about my ability. B pushes us hard. We quickly make our way through straight openhanded strikes, groin kicks, and by the time we get to elbow jabs, I’m ready to pass out. I actually consider stepping out of the room. We must be getting to the end of class. I look at the clock. We’ve only been at this half an hour. It’s only half over.

Oh. My. God. I think I may die.

I look over at H. Sure, he’s tired. We’re all sweaty and exhausted, but he looks ready to start practicing the strike. I get a little boost of energy. Must keep up with the boys…

I’ve never done elbow jabs before and I immediately tell the difference between H’s and my own. He knocks me back a little with each strike. I don’t really think I’m doing them right. I’m stepping and twisting and not getting it. B comes over to help, but I’m so exhausted I can’t make my back leg push off like he’s instructing. I keep at it though. I can’t learn everything perfect the first time.

Now for my favorite part, learning to defend.

New scenario: Someone’s choking you from the side, most likely to either head-butt you (this is popular in Europe) or to drag you off (I’m sure you can fill in the gory details on your own). In this case, you rip your attackers hand away from you in a plucking motion, but keep a good grip on his hand. You don’t want him going anywhere. At the same time, give him a solid hit to the groin with your free hand. Bring your arm up through his arms and elbow him in the face. Give him a “little tickle” (B’s words) of a kick to the groin and then knee the crap out of him. Mmmm… Attacker down.

I practice this with H and he gets a little anxious defending against me. He accidentally clips my jaw once and immediately stops. It doesn’t hurt and I’m all “I’m still attacking, yo!” He finishes the combination and instantly starts to apologize. “I’m not bleeding and nothing’s broken, so keep going!” I tell him. He doesn’t let up any more.

Moral of the today’s Krav story:

  1. B knows how to hand my ass to me on a lovely Sunday morning (I’m so coming back next week),
  2. Guys tend to be great partners, because they motivate me to really work,
  3. I’ve just got to get serious and level them. I may be a girl, but I’m not gonna let up on you any. Give me all you’ve got.

Good news! I don’t feel like I’m going to die after class!

I still have a nasty scab on my right middle knuckle from class last week. I walk into Krav and promptly show the guy who manages the front desk. “So… this is what happened last time I was here,” I say with fake shyness. (Really, I’m super psyched about it…) “Is that gonna be an issue?”

He glows with pride—his face lighting up like a 10 year-old who’s just found out Christmas came four months early. “Good! It’s in the right spot! You want any scabs to be on your first two knuckles.” He assures me my hands will toughen up and tells me to throw open hand strikes for class tonight. A girl who’s signing up for her first class looks at me apprehensively, but I give him a big grin and go watch the class before mine. I have to admit, I’ve been staring at my knuckle with pride all week. Every time I look down, I remember what it means: I’m learning what I am capable of.

I’ve only been going a few weeks, but I can already feel myself getting into shape. After the initial warm-up, I’m not nearly as out of breath as I was before; I don’t feel like I’m going to die. My kicks are stronger, my punches are harder.

The instructor has us close our eyes. You have to train yourself to react as if you were on the street, he explains. You won’t always be prepared. My partner takes the rectangular bag and gives me a firm push and then prepares for my attack. My eyes fly open and I deliver a solid kick to her groin.

Again, I close my eyes. I force my mind to think about something else, allowing my weight to shift lazily to my left leg.

I seriously need to find a new job soon. She gives me a firm push from behind and simultaneously yells “HEY!” I open my eyes and deliver two solid open hand strikes. Left, Right.

I close my eyes… What should I eat tonight for… She shoves. Groin kick, groin kick.

When I leave, I feel great. I’m alert, strong, determined. I get on the crowded train to go home and catch a glimpse of myself in the window. I look like I’ve been manhandled, but I feel awesome! The guy sitting in front of me must think I look bad too, because he offers me his seat, even though there’s another woman in a suit standing closer to him. I smile and politely decline. There’s no way I could sit right now.

Quote of the week: “If you want to go home alive, play dirty.”

My First Krav Maga Class

My first official class was yesterday. I was a nervous wreck. Would it be mostly guys? Would they all be 6’3″ professional boxers? Would I hold them back?

Walking into class, I was surprised by the numbers. There’s maybe a dozen people in my class, half of them women. I’m instantly more at ease.

We start with some simple warm-ups and then a solid stretch.

The instructor demonstrates a roundhouse kick and directs us to a line of punching bags in the center of the room.

I give it a go, shooting out my leg for my first kick.

Now, I’m a thin girl, blessed with a high metabolism rate, but I’m far from toned. My body fully refuses to cooperate with my already inflated self-image as a bad ass, crime-fighting dominator. The black punching back bag barely moves.

I watch my partner—a shorter, thinner girl—throw her own roundhouse kicks. The bag obligingly scoots across the floor. Holy crap! If she can do it, surely I can too.

, Hips! Extend, Leg! Put some power behind it.

My mind is totally into it, but my body is completely unprepared to put power behind anything. Reset my stance. Try again. Ugh. My ankle starts to twinge a little. This… is hard.

How my obsession with Krav Maga started

About a week and a half ago I took a four hour women’s self-defense class at a local Krav Maga Training center. I saw women who, with every punch and kick thrown, have a story. A raw, hot anger boiling up inside of them. Stories that I’d rather not ask about and I’m sure they’d rather not tell. Stories I’d never want to claim as my own.

My boyfriend, Chris, first told me about Krav Maga after watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother. I just moved to a big city without really knowing anyone here. We figured it would make us all a little less paranoid (especially because he’s on the other side of the country) if I knew how to defend myself.

The thing I already love about Krav Maga is the ability for it to be a serious workout that is fun. We played a version of tag. We raced. We dodged, kicked, laughed, grunted, breathed. We sweat.

I left feeling empowered.

I walked all the way home with a sense of calm and excitement. I started looking people in the face as I walked by them, acknowledging their presence. I’m guilty of staring at the sidewalk as I walk by or deadpanning past people. “Acknowledge their presence,” B, our trainer, said. “It will make them think twice about attacking you.”

I can’t wait to start going to real classes.