I decided a long time ago that if I were to ever get into any kind of a hand-to-hand defensive training program, Krav Maga would be it.
I don't remember how I first learned about Krav but it immediately appealed to me.
I've heard it described in many different ways but the gist of Krav is dirty, effective, street fighting. There is not a lot of fancy moves or strikes. It's not for sport or for show or points. Krav is about kicking someone's behind quickly and effectively so that you can get away.
At the same time I don't want to say that Krav is 100% about defense either. Whereas that is what you would use it for, Krav is very much into the "the best defense is a good offense" kind of a thing.
Now, I do not come from a martial arts background. I have nothing to compare this training to other than the few one-time-only self defense classes I may have attended throughout my lifetime (mostly within the last four years). In which case it makes sense that I would go ahead and compare what I'm seeing to those and what I like and/or don't like.
1) I love that I get to go back.
In one time self defense classes, you go for an hour, maybe a couple hours, maybe even a couple of days and that is it. You are thrown a ton of information in a very short period of time and given a matter of minutes to try to perfect the move before you have to move on. While good stuff does stick with you it's understandable that a lot of it is lost.
When you are enrolled in a structured program, however, the pace is a lot slower. You get one, maybe two or three moves that you work on throughout the class. You have much more time to work with your sparring partners and work on the skill and even chances to see variations and modify. If/when you forget something, you will very likely be presented with it again in an upcoming class so you are refreshed and reminded and get to work it out all over again.
2) I love the small class.
This may change, but because Krav is very new to the area and there wasn't a lot of advertisement, the class only has four people in it right now, including myself. We all get a lot of attention and a lot of opportunity to work the moves. Of course a few more students would mean a little more diversity in sparring partners but I really hope it stays small. Definitely under ten students.
3) I love what I'm learning.
I'm not spending hours standing there and repeating a move over and over and over again. While I know that has benefit and has its place in training, 100% of the moves I make are against another person.
If we are shown a punch or a jab or a grab or a hook, we are immediately lined up against a sparring partner and told to try it out against them. While I do find myself phantom punching throughout the day (and laughing as my son tries to copy my mad moves) I love that I get to work with other people and not air or a dummy when in class.
I am, however, really liking the idea of a punching bag in my basement for non-class days.
As to what I don't like?
Well, the top of that list would be my lack of strength. I won't waste a lot of time wallowing in self pity and excuses. I need to make a change if I mean to be serious about this. Especially if I'm going to be putting so much money into it every month. Might as well get the most out of it by making the most out of me. While I understand that sometimes sheer determination, willpower and aggression can help you succeed, it doesn't hurt to also be strong enough to back yourself up, too. Lord knows I'll never be big enough.
Second on that list would be the lack of aggression by the guys towards me.
I've complained about this before. I go to male-dominated classes and I watch them kick the crap out of each other. Then we switch sparring partners and they treat me like I'm a crystal vase.
One of the guys in the class whimpers, "My mom is going to be so mad at me," every time he hits me.
But, the good thing about this is that we are going to be seeing each other twice a week for who knows how long and hopefully that means he (and the other guy in class) will get over it and get to the point where he's okay being more forceful with me. The instructor sure is and so is my husband. While the instructor tries not to pair me and my husband up I'm perfectly okay with it because my husband will actually fight me and that's what I want. Guys aren't doing me any favors by taking it easy on me. An attacker isn't going to pull his punches, I don't want my sparring partners to either. Okay, well, maybe just enough so I don't break anything.
As to what I've learned so far?
The sort of Krav Maga motto: Simultaneous defense and offense, drive 'em back and finish with a bang! Then disengage and look for the rest of them (cause we all know bad guys run in packs).
Something else that's being driven home is something I've known for a long time but can't seem to get: Getting in close.
Man, I hate, Hate, HATE getting in close to my attacker. Who doesn't? Right?
Someone starts showing aggression towards me the last place I was to be is at a distance where I can smell his breath and feel his sweat.
I hate it. I loathe it. I want to back away, turn away, run away. I will give almost anything to not get close to my aggressor. When intimidated I tend to immediately start thinking, "Don't hurt me," or "How can I get away?"
The problem is that it doesn't work very well. In fact, it's never worked for me.. at all. I get my butt handed to me every time I try to go completely on the defensive with a "get away" mindset.
Granted, getting away is exactly what you should do when you have a chance to get away, but when the game is on and you are in the encounter, the time for defensive posturing and crawling away is over. It's time to crank up the aggression, go big, get in his face and take the fight to him.
So what do we do in Krav? Well, of course we step in.
If there is a list of steps to take in any Krav Maga move book I think Step # 1 would always be, "Step in."
Okay, maybe not every move but darn near.
Someone's going to punch you? Step # 1: Step in!
Someone's trying to grab you? First, step in!
I spent the majority of the last class with both arms wrapped around my sparring partners, hanging from their necks or waists, using their own bodies to jokey for position and land good blows. I was in their faces, between their legs, under their arms, wiping the sweat of their brow from my neck. I hated it, but loved it because it's exactly what I need to get over my distance phobia that would likely get me killed if put to a real world test.
I'm also digging the simultaneous defense and attack thing.
Deflect a blow and punch him in the nose, or throat, or kick him in the groin or elbow him in the face.
And from there it's game on. There are no rules in Krav.
We've learned a couple of punches, jabs and moves to get out of grabs and a cool neck hold thing that's hard to explain. Not a whole lot of stuff but good stuff (I think).
This is good for me. It intimidates me, it makes me uncomfortable, it emphasizes my weaknesses, but it's what I need so I'll drag myself there next week and probably the week after that, too.