Five years. It took me five years to finally get up the nerve to take a Krav Maga class. If you don’t already know, Krav Maga is a reality-based, self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces.
Pretty badass, if you ask me.
Carson, my boyfriend of the past five years, is a certified Krav instructor. Over the years, I’ve watched him train and listened to him talk for hours — and I do mean hours of detailed description – about his love of Krav. I have met Krav students and instructors, all of whom encouraged me to take classes.
I would think, Yeah, I’m totally going to do this, and then make up excuses about time, money or a number of other flimsy excuses like, I’m 40, I could break a hip or something.
But in the end, I have to admit, I was scared.
Training for Krav is an up-close-and-personal experience. You have to touch people and be touched. You have to get aggressive. Others will get aggressive with you. I have spent my life avoiding boisterous and aggressive people. Deep down, I see myself as an introvert. Even if my friends and family might scoff at this notion.
Also, I’m a flincher. You can be five feet away from me, make a sudden movement and I’m over in the corner like, Whoa, thought you were going to hit me! That comes from years of my older sister, Lena, smacking me in the forehead while growing up. She thought it was hilarious. I’m left looking like I’m constantly in a state of disbelief.
And finally, there’s the sweat-and-smells issue. I have an incredibly strong sense of smell. In another life, I think I might have been a bloodhound.
A couple of months ago, Krav Maga Maryland announced they were offering a six-week course at a Timonium location. This was it. This was my chance.
No long-term commitment, just six weeks. Wait, it’s twice a week! Oh, I don’t know. That seems like a huge commitment. But then my friend, Christy, who was unrelated to the Krav world, saw an ad and mentioned that she wanted to take the class. Finally, I swallowed my fear and shelled out the shekels.
Who am I kidding, I was terribly nervous.
First Day of Class
I was amazed by how many different people were there. Men and women. All shapes. All sizes. All ages! The youngest looked to be in his early teens, and the oldest looked around 65. About 40 people signed up for the class.
A second instructor was needed, who just happened to be Carson. Since I had finally made the decision to take the class, I was kind of excited that I was doing it without my instructor boyfriend. But c’est la vie, I wouldn’t let that change the fact that I was finally facing my fears.
OK, high knees, followed by butt kicks, followed by a whole lot of jumping jacks. Alright, I know these things. They are moves I have done in the past. Relatively distant past. Out of breath. Oh, this is going to be hard.
And that was only the first five minutes of the class. Being in a heightened state, with your heart pounding, is apparently a great way to learn defense techniques.
That first class, we learned how to stand, called a fighting stance. Keep your hands up, kind of like boxing. We learned how to throw a punch, palm strike and an elbow strike. How to hold the pad in order for your partner to practice strikes. Hold strong, ladies and gentlemen. My partner had a mean elbow!
So were there aggressive moves? Yes. But it’s controlled. No one is punching you in the face. And the rush of being in the class far outweighs the sweat and smells.
By the end of that class, I was hooked.
So, Why Krav?
Perhaps it was the many, MANY hours of listening to Krav stories that made me decide on a Krav Maga class instead of another form of martial arts. My nephews took Taekwondo, and they have a heck of a front kick nowadays.
But what really drew me to Krav was its efficiency. I’m not looking to spar with someone. I hope never to be attacked. But if I am, I’m looking to take them down and get away as quick as possible.
There’s no fair fight if someone comes after you. I will learn how to get out of someone’s grasp, whether it be someone who grabbed my arm or has their hands around my throat. You’d better believe I’m going to kick them in the groin or attack back in any number of ways that will make it safe for me to go home.
Overcoming Your Inner Klutz
In my most recent class, we practiced what would happen if someone tries to strangle you while pushing you backwards. I’m pretty good at getting my feet under me at the last minute. This comes from a life time of klutziness, tripping over my own feet. You get better at catching yourself.
I finally branched out and partnered with another woman in the class. She was someone I knew had been in Krav a while, a short and spunky Russian woman.
But what happens when a 4-foot-11 woman tries to put a chokehold on a 5-foot-10 me? Not a lot. She could barely reach my neck, let alone push me over. Although our partnership wasn’t perfect, I did get practice getting into a lower fighting stance. And a lower stance can be invaluable for keeping balance and feeling stable on your feet in a vulnerable situation.
I highly recommend changing partners. We did a round-robin where almost every person in the class tries an attack on you. There is a realization that you can get lazy and complacent with the same training partner. Simulating an attack has to be strong. It’s the only way you will learn.
Since that first class I have become physically stronger, more confident. I discovered that my boyfriend was not being a baby when he complained about sore muscles. I learned I love learning — physical learning. This isn’t going to the gym to do squats or run on a treadmill, something I don’t do.
And while this isn’t a fitness regimen, getting stronger and more fit is the byproduct of taking this class. I’m sad it will be ending in a couple weeks, but I just found out they will be doing another six-week course.
Sign me up!
Molly Blosse is the Design and Layout Manager of Jmore. Don’t screw with her.
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