What If I Started Training Krav Maga Earlier?

I took my first class at KME in early 2022. I still remember how excited I was. I sat on the train fast approaching the UWS studio, not sure what to expect but ready for whatever lay ahead. As soon as my feet touched the mat, I felt something I didn’t expect, nervousness. I’m a fairly large man standing at about 6’1″ and weighing around 260lbs. I always had a certain confidence that came with my size. I felt my chances were good if I ever were to get into a fight, but as I looked around the room at the other students, that confidence began to waiver. Was I about to get my ass kicked? 

 

As we lined up against the wall (something we as a class are still yet to perfect), I told myself to relax and go with it. What came next was a 15-minute warm-up that, to me, felt a lot more like a full-on workout. I felt so out of shape. Quickly every shred of confidence I had before I stepped on the mat diminished. I was in over my head. As we began our mobility drills, I realized how limited my range of motion was. Struggling to hold a stretch, I looked around the room, hoping someone else would be working as much as I was. Praying that I would see someone else in a sweat-soaked shirt like mine. Instead, I saw a room full of people who made these movements look effortless. Before ever throwing a punch, I was utterly humbled. Maybe I needed this more than I thought. 

 

I’ll never forget the first technique we learned: having an attacker sitting directly on top of you and using the momentum of your hips along with a swift upper body strike to roll them over and gain position. As we drilled this technique, I realized two things. 1) My size again became advantageous as I could easily throw an attacker off me, and it was difficult for my partner to do the same to me. 2) This was fun. All the feelings of inadequacy I felt during warm-ups were wiped away. I was hooked. As class wrapped up I left feeling an inch taller. I felt humility, confidence, and a hunger to improve all at once. Needless to say, I was excited about my next class.

 

Fast forward 7 months and about 100 classes later and that excitement hasn’t faded a bit. In fact, every time I take another class I’m reminded of how much I don’t know and how badly I want to fill those gaps in skill. What I’ve learned in Krav Maga has transcended the mat and bled into my personal life. I’ve learned to react to things more instinctively, I’ve become more firm and decisive, I’m able to stay calm in high-pressure situations, I can multitask more efficiently, and most importantly I know I can defend myself and the people I love if necessary. As I reflect on all the positive changes Krav Maga has made in my life it makes me beg the question: What would my life be like if I started this earlier?

 

Let’s assume I started Krav Maga at age 18 rather than 30. As with most people, my 20s

were a roller coaster of emotions and, let’s face it, poor decision-making. I’ll choose 3 aspects of my life that would have been the most drastically affected by my KME experience and explain what I would’ve done differently with my newfound knowledge and confidence.


  • EDUCATION – My attitude towards education well into my 20s is best summed up by a quote from Sam Raimi’s classic Spider-man 2 “Brilliant but lazy”. I never had a hard time digesting new information and always scored near the top of my class on tests, but when it came to doing homework and other assignments I always fell flat. I was lazy and distracted. I lacked discipline. To me, homework was just a waste of my time. Time that could be spent playing basketball, hanging out with friends, or talking to girls. Besides if homework was just meant to reinforce the topics we learned in school so we could pass tests what did I need it for? I always got a 90 or better on tests without ever attempting to study. These bad habits made my GPA unattractive to the best schools, and I was regulated to a community college. In my mind, I would skate by the same way and in two years transfer to a 4-year university to complete my degree. The only problem was I didn’t skate by in the same way. I began to fall behind on work so much that it was easier to miss class altogether than it was to deal with the stress of sitting through lecture after lecture on topics I didn’t care for. Before I knew it I had dropped out completely and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t ever get on the right track. Not getting a college degree is still to this day my biggest disappointment in life. Had I started Krav earlier I would’ve had the discipline to keep my deadlines and finish my assignments. I would’ve understood that my homework was just like our warm-ups. Small steps to get me ready for the bigger picture. My projects were like our mobility drills each one bringing me closer and closer to mastery of a subject. I would’ve given my professors the same respect I give our instructors asking them questions when I was lost and accepting criticism when I made a mistake. Most importantly I would’ve had the humility to stick with something until the end no matter how uncomfortable it may have made me, just like my first class at KME. 


  • CAREER – When I dropped out of college I really only had one option, get a job. At age 19 I began an illustrious 8-year run as a cashier at my local liquor store. I could go on for days about all the things I witnessed in that store from the hilarious to the horrific. Around the time I was 22 years old, my friends all began graduating from college and starting their careers. I, however, was still in the same place I’d been since 19. I felt so insecure about where my life was headed and those insecurities steeped themselves into every aspect of my being. I found myself angry, confused, ad depressed. It wasn’t long before I turned to drinking alcohol on an almost nightly basis to numb the feelings of shame and inadequacy that my poor habits brought me. The worst part of all this, I had become complacent with this lifestyle. I would wake up at 1pm to get ready for a shift from 4pm to 10pm then stay up till 4am to get just enough sleep to repeat the cycle. The reason for this complacency was simple, I was afraid of change. More accurately, I was afraid of failing myself again. It was easier not to try. Eventually, by age 27 I was able to build up the courage to leave my job and start an accelerated degree program studying hospitality management. Not a day passes where I don’t think of the potential I wasted during that 8-year stretch of fear, complacency, and self-loathing. If I had the confidence then that I’ve gained since I started training at KME then I wouldn’t have hesitated to find something new. I would have had the courage to seek a better opportunity for myself. I would have spent my time training and channeling my emotions into something productive rather than drinking my nights away. I would have embraced the change that seemed so crippling to me before, and I wouldn’t have shied away from the challenges that life threw at me. One thing is for certain, had I known then what I know now I wouldn’t be looking back at 8 years of my life in woeful regret.


  • PERSONAL LIFE – Over the years I’ve had many relationships, both platonic and romantic, end due to simple miscommunications and silly arguments. There are so many examples of this it’s hard to count, but one thing is constant with almost all of them: I rarely saw any fault on my end. I was an arrogant person and I would often make people uncomfortable by raising my voice when I spoke to them or making belittling comments about them around others. I know now that these actions were a product of my own insecurities, but at the time I couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole world was against me. Everything felt so personal when in reality I was just projecting my own feelings about myself onto the people closest to me. So many regrets in my life stem from how poorly I treated people I genuinely loved and cared for. I was so angry and full of hate at the time that my pride allowed me to push away some of the most important people in my life. To this day some of these bridges remain burned, and they serve as a reminder of a time when I wasn’t the person I wanted to be. If I had practiced Krav then, I would’ve been much more humble in these situations. I would’ve respected my friends’ needs the way I respect my partners in class. I would’ve been able to keep myself calm when arguments happened instead of losing my cool and yelling at the people I cared about. I would’ve known what was and what wasn’t worth fighting for. Above all else, I would have been confident enough to prevent my own insecurities from ruining my relationships.

 

Overall, my time at KME has shown me what it takes to be a better person. I leave each class feeling more grounded. Every lesson I learn brings me one step closer to the man I’ve always wanted to become. It’s easy to look back and think about how many things would have changed in my life if I started earlier, but it’s comforting to know that I’m on the right path now. There’s no better feeling than being part of a community like KME where everyone is invested in your growth as much as they are in their own. I look forward to training here for as long as possible and I’m glad that 10 years from now I won’t be writing about what it would’ve been like to start in my 30s instead of my 40s. 

 

Do you remember your first class at KME? Please share with us what was your experience! If you haven’t started yet, what’s stopping you?