“How Krav Maga Changed My Life”
Yes, I know, you think you’ve read it before. How I did “x” and it made me so much better, I ended up where I always wanted .
Nope. This isn’t one of those A straight to Z stories. This is a story of a battle that I fight every day, but now have the tools to keep going . So let’s begin-
I started out as a gregarious and social kid. Then some major life changes saw me in a shell of never ending anxiety and timidity for about a decade. Nevertheless, I was always fascinated by stories of courage , as although I was a timid kid, I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by brave men. When I say anxiety , I mean constant panic attacks that resulted in me changing schools, twice, in a period of four years. Funnily enough, the first time I went through a panic attack was when I survived the pressure of my P1 test. The panic at its worst , finally went away, and I felt a relief I hadn’t had yet my entire life . More on that later:
As an overweight teenager who had endured bullying, fed up, I knew I needed to change. I wanted to get fit, but also learn to stand up for myself. A military history nerd, I googled Krav Maga in NYC, thinking it was laughable there would be anywhere to train near me. Much to my surprise , a studio had opened up in nyc recently, and it also was close to where I then lived.
Signing up, I expected to be dissapointed. I had tried martial arts before and felt the intricacies and ceremony weren’t for me.
However, with a simple bow, the class started, as we found ourselves running, doing push-ups , stretching, and then immediately learning basic techniques.
That’s right. Immediately. This is because Krav Maga is designed to be simple and follow natural reflexes. No, you won’t be learning how to deal with active shooters on your first day, or sparring full contact, but you will start with the foundations that will get you there after hard work.
Fast forward many hours of sweat and constant training, and I found myself in better shape than I ever thought possible. And a new me emerged. I stood taller, with my back straight, chin up, having learned a valuable new skill- “Situational awareness.” In other words , keeping your head on a swivel. Not constantly looking over your shoulder in fear, but looking, listening, and keeping aware of your surroundings. Loe and behold, I realised how much in my life growing up in nyc that I had been lucky to miss. I found myself avoiding groups of young men causing trouble, street fights, and other potential dangers, even speeding cars running red lights, simply by being aware . Trust me, it’s not possible to spend very long in Krav without developing eyes on the back of your head. You’ll learn why that is quickly enough. That and you discover a lot about yourself when drills have you collapsed on the floor, not because you gave up , (the instructors don’t let you use that excuse ) but because you physically collapsed from the push-ups , and oh wait, you’re under attack and need to get up. (Because what will you do if you’re at the end of your jog in Central Park, exhausted , and someone decides to mug you then ? Exactly.)
After two and a half years of training, I started my nearly decade long journey overseas, studying and working, and spending extended periods in Canada, Russia , England, and Estonia .
And my experience in Krav followed me in all experiences of my adventures there, good and bad. Whether it was the courage to politely approach beautiful women who I would have been too intimidated to approach pre-Krav, some of whom I had very pleasant relationships with, or the courage to speak up when I saw something wrong happening , (I was the anonymous author of a post several years ago regarding my defence of a young woman one night in Moscow’s metro, which thankfully I de escalated without violence , as thankfully in this case, standing up literally to the two men was enough to get them to back off,) or lastly, the one , and hopefully last time I ever had to defend myself, in London, more on that below.
In London, I was shocked to see thousands of hours of training came out naturally in the first time I had to defend myself on the street, and hopefully the last. While the groin kick did not affect his drug-addled mind, the punch to his jaw knocked him to the ground, and I ran away screaming for help. Not macho , no ego, but it got the job done, and it got me safely out of there.
So case in point. If I could go from the overweight kid too scared to do anything but apologise for absolutely nothing , to someone who doesn’t take shit, but does his best not to start it either, so can you. I’m not perfect, I’m not anxiety free, but I’ve been around the world enough to know being courageous doesn’t mean you don’t feel fear, but you push through it anyway . The panic attacks now are extremely rare , but now when they come, I know they’re not only familiar, but this familiarity and the fact I pushed through one without running out of a room before, means I can do that again, and again. Courage takes time and practice . And I’m ready for them now, when and if they do come. Because nothing bad is guaranteed .
Go train. Krav needs you, and you need Krav.