Welcome back to the KME blog! Today, after doing two back-to-back Krav classes, Strike and Krav Maga, I went over the exercises I improved on since coming here, and the ones that needed some more work. My punches have become stronger and more focused, though the pivoting on my feet could probably use a little less jerkiness. Remember, you’re never going to leave a Krav class without feeling sore or seeing some weird bruisings and scratch marks. As these thoughts were going through my head, I started thinking about what I learned since starting these classes, what took me by surprise, and how did I change as a person within the past year. Below, are several examples of things I did not know about Krav Maga before taking these classes.
1. Heavily martial arts based
Firstly, before taking Krav Maga, I had the smallest bit of knowledge about this fighting tactic, but the only move I was able to witness was the flipping of someone onto their back. My small exposure to Krav shaped my overall assumption of it into a cool, kick-ass Kung Fu-type of fighting tactic. The moment I took my first Krav class, I realized how off my assumption was. Learning how to punch properly, especially the jab-cross and hooks, opened my eyes and I suddenly recognized these movements. Though boxing was never an activity I wanted to pursue, I had seen enough ads on TV of boxing to familiarize myself with the common punches to the face and side of the head. Never in my life could I imagine myself learning the same moves as these scary people who did it competitively.
It wasn’t until some of the stretches we did that I began to use my legs a lot. The side squats, landing into a front kick, or the shadow-boxing and practicing my high kicks in the air all helped with my formation of roundhouse kicks on the kick shield. Then, I thought, that some of the kicks we learned reminded my of typical karate posters of a student performing a high kick in the air.
Finally, ground fighting, my least favorite. Struggling with another person on the ground until one of us makes it on top, well that just made me think of wrestling. All of these fighting tactics were derived from different forms of martial arts, combined together, rules tossed out the window, and there you get Krav Maga.
2. Based off of Instinct
Krav Maga makes you think on your feet, be cautious, but remain calm. Kind of like the way all those cool protagonists act in those Kung Fu movies, but without the flying in the air. In Krav, the element of surprise is stressed in each class, whether that be someone coming from behind you jumping out in front, etc. It’s a scary situation to imagine and practice, but if you do find yourself in a similar situation in real life, you probably won’t be thinking about the steps you learned in class perfectly, if at all. This is the part that I was unsure about. How could you effectively fight off an attacker if you suddenly couldn’t remember the moves and steps you learned? It is at that exact point in time when the order does not matter, what matters is protecting yourself and getting away. When you close your eyes in those simulation attacks, suddenly, your mind is more alert than usual and your instinct kicks in to fight/fight off the assailant in any way possible. Take what you learned and use it!
3. Street fighting environment–no rules!
Adding on to the instinct part of Krav Maga, I had mentioned that the element of surprise is often discussed during lessons and the reasons for this is that there are no rules in Krav Maga! I automatically assumed that Krav, like other MMA (mixed martial arts), had some rules for them. Knowing that Krav Maga is used in the IDF for training the soldiers, I still thought that some rules may apply. I was very wrong. Practically every scenario that is taught in Krav is a dark alleyway, with an attacker sneaking up behind you, or you’re surrounded by others.
4. Includes weapons
The little knowledge I had on Krav Maga only allowed me to picture people using their hands and legs, kind of like a more aggressive version of Taichi. Not that any other object/weapon couldn’t be used, but I thought that perhaps it wasn’t part of the norm and deemed too fancy for this type of self-defense. It wasn’t until taking my first weapons class that I learned about gun safety and how to use my skills to take away a weapon and use it against the attacker. I also learned how to attack someone properly, if need be.
5. Endurance level must be high (it will get there)
This part may seem silly, but when I observed my sister’s class last summer, I thought to myself “I could totally do this. It doesn’t seem too difficult. I’ve been on numerous sports teams and our practices were daily for 3 hours!” I was not expecting to be completely out of breath and drenched in sweat within the first 10 minutes of EVERY class. Not to insult or dissuade anyone from learning Krav, but being fit is key in order to successfully learn how to fight and defend yourself. I cannot stress enough how valuable the many push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and planks are, despite my pains from them. The purpose of all of them, what I eventually came to conclude, is to build up your strength so when you punch quickly or kick quickly, you can do it without tiring yourself out early and your hits will be much more focused. It builds up your endurance level so that you’ll leave class confident and accomplished, instead of dead tired and broken (like I did the first week of starting Krav).
6. Strategize (so many steps!)
When I first heard of Krav Maga, I didn’t have a clear picture of what it really was and how it was taught. So, of course, I was completely floored when I saw how many steps you had to memorize in order to successfully do a back kick from being shoved down, or come out from under someone sitting on you. I didn’t know the importance of each step because it didn’t occur to me that my fighting tactic won’t necessarily work if I were in a panic and forgot the steps. I realized that it was crucial to question why you perform each move, what would happen if you did x instead of y? Everyone is at risk if they don’t execute the moves, but, even in a quick state of stress, if you are still able to follow the steps you learned. Even if they’re not beautiful or super fast, you can still fight back efficiently.
7. Not necessarily meant for killing
Lastly, perhaps the most important one to me–before, when I knew very little about Krav, I thought it was a killing tactic. Given the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, I thought that this fighting tactic was created specifically to take out the enemy. After sitting in on a class and taking my own (I’ve been in it for almost a year now), I put aside my own feelings and was pleasantly surprised at how often I would hear the words “it’s okay to run away from your attacker” or “disarm the attacked and be alert”. I learned that Krav Maga could be used as a way to take out an opponent, but that the mentality of people who are Krav experts is focussed on protecting and defending yourself and loved ones.
- This post was written by a guest writer. Taylor L.