[Resolution] #67 Take a Class

I love when things just fall into your lap.  A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine decided she wanted to take self-defense classes and the general Facebook consensus was that you just couldn’t beat Krav Maga.  It’s an Israeli self-defense system that’s boasted as being one of the most “battle-tested” and highly used in law enforcement.  It looks a little something like this:

That, by the way, is Fit and Fearless, one of my new favorite places.  After hearing Day talk about how awesome the workout was and how much she was learning, I took her up on her offer to join her for a free intro class.  You can’t dispute free, really.

When I showed up, the teacher for the class that day pulled me aside for a few minutes just to catch me up on basic stance and technique since I would be taking a Level 1 class, one step above the Beginners class that takes you through the basics.  What immediately struck me though, was that each stance and movement wasn’t just about how to do it correctly, but why it’s done that way.  I’m immediately more attracted to things when there’s underlying logic and reason to each aspect.

For example: In your ready stance you hands are always up, 6-8 in. from the face, with palms open.

My instinct after 2 years of childhood karate was to make fists, which I’m still doing a week in just out of habit.  But, this is not defense. The teacher explained that fists automatically incite aggression. Krav Maga is to neutralize threats, not create or advance them. Open hands are more passive, but still guard your face in case things escalate.

Even in my first class I was hitting things.  No shadow boxing here (unless it’s to warm up). I learned to punch, how to move around the room, and to finish out I learned how to get out of a headlock and drop a grown man to the ground.  Theoretically at least.  I was actually throwing my 97 pound best friend to the ground, but I’m hoping the technique will translate.

Of course, after class as I’m sweating and riding an endorphin high, I couldn’t resist when they asked if I wanted to sign up. It’s expensive, yes, but good lord it’s a good use of the money.  It’s self-defense first of all, which can easily be invaluable if you ever need to use it, but it’s also the hands-down best workout I’ve ever had in my life.

The goal was to take a class, but this is quickly looking like it could turn into more of a lifestyle.  I’ve already been to my second class and a quick private lesson with one of the instructors. I’m now kicking, learning ground movement and….working on some serious abs.

62 thoughts on “[Resolution] #67 Take a Class

  1. Oh that I could, but my even if I had the time, my body gave up the ability long ago beyond learning or executing very basic techniques.

  2. Love it! hope you do well. I first saw this method on a documentary, the master was an old boy and he dropped half a dozen young special forces lads with no problem. When I talk to people about this form of Martial Art, they look at me blankly…

  3. Thanks for the encouragement everyone. I’m into week 3 of training now and still going strong. There’s really something to be said about feeling like I could very well drop a guy twice my size to the ground. Not that I ever hope I get to test it out in real life, but you know, it’s empowering.

  4. I have never heard of this discipline.

    My son is in martial arts and I drop by his class from time to time. Being a fitness type, I find it interesting that a lot of his warm up moves in Kung Fu are the same as modern excercises. I watch and then notice he is doing a split squat or another move and he says, “No dad! It is the (insert chinese word here) move. Amazing that something that is thousands of years old is still in practice today.

    Keep at it!

  5. Sorry, I don’t rate krav maga, or capitalise it. It takes all its techniques from somewhere else and doesn’t have any strong tradition. It is the young upstart of martial arts, being taught in gyms everywhere and charging more than it is worth, like boxercise or that other one, bazumba/zumba? I’m not sure why people get so excited about it. Maybe because its from Israel, so it must be effective. Or maybe because its new to them, and hasn’t been around forever like Jiu-Jitsu or Kung Fu. It is the shallow martial art of hollywood, disarming gunmen and punching henchmen in the throat.

    Martial arts in general are a compromise between the time it takes to learn techniques, and how effective they will be in real life. Wing Chun is said to be one of the most effective arts, but it takes as much as 5 years to learn the basic principles. While ‘learning’ 4 techniques in your first session feels great and is really interesting, just understand that it takes a minimum of hundreds of correct repetitions of a single simple technique to learn it well enough for it to be an effective reflex or response. The many repetitions help you teach your brain which muscle movements are needed to perform the technique fluidly, and also strengthen and condition the muscles used.

    Its great that the instructor is teaching you why you make certain movements, and it sounds like he will probably teach you about appropriate levels of response (ie its inappropriate to break someones wrist before finding out why they lightly grabbed your arm. Maybe they are saving you from a traffic accident, etc).

    Personally, I just don’t like martial arts that cash in on popularity when there are often cheaper but more rigorously taught (and so ultimately more beneficial) martial arts around the corner that just dont market themselves as well, and don’t have air conditioning.

    As you are enjoying the class, are willing to pay what it costs, and any extra exercise is always a good thing, please don’t let me put you off! But please also don’t forget to see what else is available in your area, almost all martial arts clubs let you try the first session for free and why let the first one you tried be the winner.

    • @ Peter Parkorr:
      Krav Maga is not a martial art. It is also not a sport. It is a military personal defense system. And it has indeed taken the best of all kinds of martial arts in order to get a system as effective as possible. Krav Maga was designed for the men and women who enter the Israeli army to learn to defend themselves as quickly and as effectively as possible. It is designed to survive.

      I understand that you feel ambivalent about mixing fighting with aerobics and that you want to comment on that. And I do agree that commerce is not the best thing that happened to martial art in general. But before critisising Krav Maga as a ‘martial art’ you should inform yourself a bit better…

      • Learn about Imi Lichtenfeld, he is the person who developed Krav Maga. By the way, Krav Maga can be described as a martial art as it was developed by Imi Lichtenfeld who was a martial artist. As with Jeet Kune Do and any of the other martial art fighting techniques, so called experts have begun teaching these classes and know very little about what they preach. I laugh when I hear people bragging about taking Jeet Kune Do or Krav Maga because they have probably been convinced by some “authority” with every kind of award and trophy sitting in their store front window that they are an expert in what they teach. Two simple facts…Krav Maga is not a competitive sport or something you will learn in an aerobics class. And Jeet Kune Do as it’s original concept is only taught by a very very few individuals in the U.S. If you’re happy with your instructor and your getting something out of it thats all fine and well. Just be careful who you brag to about your fighting styles, you may find yourself in an embarrassing situation with someone who actually knows the fighting styles and may take issue with your abilities. A true martial artist has spent years of his or her life to master an art form that few can achieve. Krav Maga can be taught to anyone, but only properly taught by someone who has many years of dedication to the concept.. I personally am not trained in Krav Maga but was a student of Jerry Poteet and have been involved with martial arts since age 13. I am now 58 years young and have retired from full contact fighting back in 1999.

      • @ Kuona
        Oh please, ‘we’re a military personal defense system’. Yet Ami is learning it in her local gym. Funny that, I missed the part where she moved to the middle east and joined the israeli army.

        At no point did I feel ambivalent and I’m perfectly well informed. You can call a turd ‘a collectors item’ if you like, but I prefer to refer to it as a turd. Ami, I look forward to your next post on how to clean a sniper rifle, infiltrate enemy territory, and set a claymore booby trap! lol

      • @J Roycroft
        Aha, someone who is very well informed!! Thanks for your comment. I trained Jeet Kune Do for a few years (not recently tho) with a guy called Steve Powell in the UK, and he is supposedly a good exponent (probably near age 70 now I guess) and part of the organisation that train under Dan Inosanto’s guidance and other people in america that I can’t remember the name of.

        But the one thing I tell people if I am talking about Jeet Kune Do is exactly what you say, the syllabus and subject matter varies widely from club to club and is usually just whatever that particular instructor trained in.

        Sorry to overuse your comment section Ami 🙂

  6. As a self-defense discipline, I think Krav Maga is just fine. Trendy or not, sometimes you want a skill you can use right away, and since aggression is a tough thing to teach and practice, I like a class that imparts that up front.

    As a sometime security employee, I worry a bit about Krav Maga, but not nearly as much as I worry about people taking the even shorter routes to “self defense” (knives, guns). A drunk trying to punch me in the throat I can handle. A drunk waving a gun… shudder.

  7. Wow, guns. At first, when I saw the guy with the gun, I thought/said, “Wow, does THAT GUY HAVE A GUN?” Later, I saw that there were other guns, and that they were obviously fake. *oops.*

    Personally, I think Krav Maga looks awesome. I’ve heard of it a little before, but I had no idea that it was Israeli, and no idea that it involved guns, but now I’m even more impressed.

    I just started Karate. I enjoy that pretty well, too, and they teach you the underlying logic of certain moves too. But I agree with the above, “it takes a minimum of hundreds of correct repetitions of a single simple technique to learn it well enough for it to be an effective reflex or response”. (Personal note to me as well: Don’t get cocky.)

    I’ve taken two lessons in Karate so far, and though I’m not exactly struggling, it doesn’t feel far off from the truth, either.

    If I had anywhere near me that taught Krav Maga, of course I’d be curious to try it, as I’ve always been curious before, and it looks like it could get you out of some close scrapes that I, as a writer, could easily imagine. But also, a girl’s gotta know how to kick some ass.

    • University is one of the best times to learn martial arts. You will never have so much free time again, regardless of your subject. And university clubs are usually extremely cheap, because all the other students in the class are university students too.

  8. Krav Maga is a lot of fun!
    Keep it up– and so what about the Martial Artists getting worked up about it? It’s not a competitive sport– it’s freaking self defense. Hello? Hence, cops, military, ISREALI MILITARY train in the system, use the system, and are highly effective in fighting hand to hand when needed with the system to stay alive on the street. Geez.
    The deal is, you’re sending a bunch of young soldiers onto the street–where they are inevitably outnumbered, in close quarters, and likely, heading into a very bad situation. Did any of these guys have years to spend in martial arts, prior? Unlikely. Ay one know Kung Fu? Highly unlikely.
    Months before, they were civilians, screwing around at home. Now, they’re on the street, patrolling some tricky streets. Law enforcement officers daily are on some tough streets. Krav Maga, in a short period, prep’s a soldier/ police officer to defend themselves, at a highly effective level, quickly and without years of deep training and conditioning. This stuff saves lives.

    Amazing that folks with little to zero experience with Krav Maga have the most to say, and of course, downplay it, needlessly. Get of your soapbox: this is a blast, and I applaud you!

    Keep going, get empowered, and have a fun. Cheers!

  9. As what I heard, Krav Maga is considered as the best form of self-defense today. I don’t know if its true but with the intensity of the training, I can say that that explains it. If I would be able to fix my schedule, hopefully I could start my own Krav Maga training as well.

  10. This looks like so much fun man! There is another self defense technique called Hapkido that they are teaching in our school. After watching this video, I’m inspired to take that up!

  11. I think the main benefit of Krav Maga is that it is used in a vety real way the lives of those trained in it depend on its effectivness and therefore if it would not work they would be forced to use something else.

  12. Best Of Luck!!!! I Actually Took Krav-Maga In Isreal In 2009 And Had A BLAST, I Still Continue To Train To This Day! Fantastic Workout And A Phenomonal Tool!!! I HIGHLY Recommend It To Anyone!

  13. serious abs are so much better than laughable ones.

    I’ve wanted to take self defense classes for a while; there’s nothing more difficult than thrilling than fighting humans, the most dangerous things on earth.

  14. I know the owner of a Krav Maga club, and my kids have both been students of tae kwon do. My son is now a black belt and my daughter will be graded for black belt this May, so I am familiar with both forms of “arts”. You can’t really compare the programs because the movements and techniques are completely different and there’s different reasoning behind why you do a certain move over another.

    I tried a couple of Krav Maga classes myself and found it to be very informative and, strangely, fun. In as little as an hour, I learned how to respond to being taken down by my hair from the back. I also learned how to remove myself from underneath someone. I tried it when I got home with my husband and I asked him to put all his weight on me. He was skeptic at first but obliged my request. I was able to get out and he was shocked. He asked me to try to get out from the other side, i.e. right as opposed to left, and I was able to do that to. He had no comment.

    I also tried a couple of fitness classes at the Krav club. This was the first time ever I felt like I was going to throw up once I was done (I had just completed a 3-month boot camp course and thought I could handle it).

    In summary, I love Krav Maga. It’s total body conditioning and it’s strenuous, but most importantly, it teaches you how to say safe.

    Oh, before I forget…one of my favourite Krav stories told by the instructor. One of his students was standing at a bus stop at night after finishing a college class. A guy grabbed her and tried to assault her. Her skills kicked in and she hit him in the nose completely knocking him out. The cops laughed when they arrived. He was still in la-la land. 🙂

    • Ha! See, I think every class about how I hope I never have to try these techniques in real life, but that’s a perfect example of why it’s good to have them in your pocket.

      I’ve been impressing my boyfriend with the techniques too. I’m actually trying to get him to go with me sometime but he hasn’t yet. lol. He better hurry, it won’t be long before I’m tougher than he is. 😉

  15. I’ve been curious of Krav Maga ever since I read about it in a list of “deadliest martial arts.” Maybe I should start looking to see if there are classes for it around my area. 🙂

  16. I’m tangentially interested in Krav Maga just because of its practicality aspects. I don’t want to waste time bowing and meditating or any of that junk. I just want to have a fighting chance if someone attacks me. I’m not looking for inner peace, just outer safety. But every time I hear it, it says it’s for average people … and is accompanied by pictures of enormous healthy, young males with bulging arms. *sigh* I’m built like a garden rake and fairly weak. What good is another martial art that requires me to be huge and male?

    And how prepared are these instructors to deal with the psychological freakout reaction of a female student who has a lot of garbage to overcome about Not Hitting Back and Being Nice? I’m not some gung-ho jock type who can just punch without thinking about it. Like most women, I’ve got some shit to deal with first, and if they’re not ready for me to deal with it on the mat, it won’t help.

  17. Despite all the excuses I’ve been coming up with, like at 52 being too old, I’ve been slowly inching towards trying a Krav Maga class. This cool post and shoved a few more inches forward.

  18. I know some Krav people who know Krav people in Austin! lol. Saw your post featured on WordPress home page just now.. caught my eye. . We live in North Texas. I don’t think I’m fit enough to even qualify to start taking Krav, but do want to learn some self defense soon! Maybe if I start with Tai Chi I can work up to it!

    • Small world! I wonder if any of them go to the same place? Tell ’em to keep an eye for me. I’d love to meet them. I looove Tai Chi, I did it in college to help keep all the stress in check. It’s good for mind, body, and soul. Go for it!

  19. Done Ju-Jutsu and Muay Thai and everyone said Krav Maga is just crazy compared to that, in the meaning of effectiveness on your opponent… did you catch that spirit in your fist classes?

    • Interesting post and comments, and I now wonder the following. Which is better, to have a person with absolutely no notion of hand to hand combat techniques, and therefore, fully aware of their vulnerability and act in consequence? Or, to have a person who “thinks” they know how to fight, because they’ve taken self-defense classes, and expose themselves to greater harm by actually trying to use these techniques in a dangerous scenario. It’s a little bit like “thinking” you know how to swim, because you’ve tirelessly practiced all the arm and leg moves as well as “read up” on it, but once you get into the pool things get real very fast, and, I am sure some people here will agree with me, swimming in a pool is a far cry from doing it in a river that has a strong current and this is also very different from swimming out in the open ocean. I think fighting can compare to this: dojo or gym practice is different from actual contest or ring fights, and contest fights are different from street fights, and these in turn, are very different from hand to hand combat in which those fighting are trying to make it out alive.

      Having said that, I will add the Krav Maga is one of the few disciplines available to the public (it is not a martial art, it has no rule of conduct or respect for the opponent), which is very efficient not only at teaching defensive but also offensive actions, and it is these offensive actions that will permit the combatant to understand the nature of aggression and also to quite effectively size up his/her opponent in the first few seconds, establishing may not be better to just follow PCC Advantage’s technique (see her comment above).

      Lastly, I personally never met a practitioner of Krav Maga who had not learned it in a military o police elite unit under very strict, physically demanding, and expert supervision. I respect them, not only for the dedication required in acquiring the skill, but also because of what is implicitly understood when they chose their career path.

      Thank you Ami….

  20. Pingback: [Resolution] #67 Take a Class « Wake Up, Ami « Tuan Kacang.

  21. This is cool stuff! Taking classes and sweating it out. Trust me, martial arts is one the best ways to stay fit, both physically and mentally.

    I learned basic Taekwondo in school, and have been in touch ever since, practicing at home, just for fun. I even have nunchucks! They’re pretty cool too…as long as you don’t hit yourself! 😛

  22. Greetings! I’ve been reading your site for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

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