Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Krav Maga

Okay, so like it or not, I am in many ways "The Gun Guy." I'm fortunate to live in a state where the gun laws are even more relaxed than Texas (we have open carry, as well as legal carry of a firearm in the glove box without needing a license, among other things), but still, there will be times when I do not or cannot carry my weapon with me.

Then what?

I recently asked a Secret Service officer what his preferred method of hand-to-hand combat was. "My gun," he replied dryly. This is the same agent who, when asked if I could carry my weapon with me on the bus as we campaigned for the United States Senator, gave a stern "absolutely not." (I managed to make friends with him as the day progressed. And I didn't bring my gun.)

As a student, a large portion of my time is spent on a college campus, where I can be penalized for carrying defensively. (If I did my job of concealment, they would never know, but I tend to follow the rules while seeking to change them, so I don't carry on campus.) And again, there will be times when I can't utilize a firearm.

Enter, Krav Maga:
Krav Maga is the official self defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces, and has been taught to hundreds of law enforcement agencies and thousands of civilians in the United States.

Krav Maga is a simple, effective self defense system that emphasizes instinctive movements, practical techniques, and realistic training scenarios.

So why Krav Maga? Well, first of all, it's extremely practical. So am I. I had absolutely 100% worthless karate lessons when I was younger, which focused on doing a fight move exactly the same way every single time. The abiding memories from that are freezing cold feet (from doing exercises barefoot on a gym floor in winter) and playing foosball with the other kids during the break.

I checked out a martial arts class or two on campus, and couldn't stand the ceremonial aspects of it all. This whole "high and noble art", "respect your opponent" and "bow to the arena of combat before you leave to go to the bathroom" all had me raising an eyebrow; I wanted to learn how to throw a punch, or land a kick...to emerge the victor if someone had the bad judgment to consider me an easy target. In fact, the motive for checking those classes out in the first place was because weeks before, I'd been walking in downtown Chicago with some friends and family when some deranged nut came up and threw his arm around a female member of our group. It was crude and offensive though not violent, but still, I locked up. I would not have been able to fight effectively if I had to. I hated myself for it afterwards, and decided I needed more than my intimidating size in a fight; I needed to learn a few fighting basics. The Karate class's emphasis on grace, poise and regimented motion turned me off to the whole thing for some time.

A friend in New Zealand recommended Krav Maga to me, and it sounded good, but there was as yet no local outlet for the discipline, and my class schedule didn't help. I finally saw an article in the local paper about an area Krav Maga class opening up, and I went for it. I didn't bring exercise gear but, never the passive spectator, I jumped right in and participated in my regular jeans and everyday shoes.

Who knew jump rope could be so grueling? And these push-ups and sit-ups were taxing me far beyond my normal limits. By the time we were through, I was puffing, sweating...and loving it.

That was in June. I've recently become eligible to test up to level 2.

This stuff is intense, and like I said, extremely practical. Not only do you learn how to punch (kick, knee, elbow, etc.) and utilize the body mechanics to maximize the power and impact, but by virtue of holding the "tombstone" pad while your partner goes through the exercises, you learn what it's like to take a punch or kick. The pad absorbs the worst, but you absorb the impact. And sometimes, it's tooth-jarring.

I've enjoyed plenty of injuries as a result of it. I was limping for more than a week after one grueling workout a few months ago. I've sustained multiple cuts, sprains and abrasions, and usually see a minor bloodletting at least once every two weeks.

As I type, I have an abrasion on my elbow (more of a friction burn, really), a cut on one of my fingers from where the little finger bent over and sliced it, bruises on my forearms from external defense exercises, a rather large bruise on my right leg from where the punching pad didn't quite catch a kick the right way and a scrape on my neck from strangling exercises.

But hey, scars and bruises are badges of honor, and I'm proud to have purchased them with hours of hard work and training. And, in addition to being far more skilled to fight, I've built up endurance and lost about 13 pounds.

But hey, it's bound to happen when you have current and former military/law enforcement as instructors. One is a drill sergeant that trains state police full time. One flies a helicopter for the city police, and one of them is a trooper.

In short, the kind of people you want showing you how to fight.

Krav makes no bones about being brutal. It's not a martial art, and there is no sparring. You can't do clean sparring with this. This is self-defense training. The situation is, you've been attacked, so you respond with enough force to neutralize the threat posed to your life. Since most attackers are men, guess what? That means hitting or kicking a man where it hurts the most. Some may protest that this isn't honorable, but this is a guy who just attacked you and wants to have his way with you. How much honor does he deserve?

I'm a big advocate of being prepared for emergencies -- of saying "never" rather than "never again." That's why I recommend people learn how to defend themselves, both armed and disarmed, and why I commend Krav Maga classes to your attention.

If nothing else, you'll get fit.

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1 Comments:

At December 20, 2009 at 4:02:00 PM PST, Blogger kacey said...

I have gone through PPCT and SSGT classes for my work in law enforcement and played around with a few karate classes as well. I agree hands down my experience with Krav has been the most beneficial for real life circumstances on the street and in the jail I work in. Glad to see another satisfied Krav student.

 

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