Next week marks the start of my fourth month taking krav maga. It’s an Israeli self-defense system meant to be extremely practical and easy to learn. When attacked, your goal is to defend yourself and destroy your opponent as fast as possible. Dirty groin kicks included!
I remember my first day of krav — I was so nervous walking to the gym that I wanted to back out. As luck would have it, I ran into my college buddy Jay, who’d also been taking krav for a few weeks. I felt much better seeing a friendly face.
It only took one class to get me hooked. Krav was fun, not just in the physical techniques but the logic behind them. Defense involves your body’s natural reactions, the psychology of an attacker, and sometimes outright common sense. Every technique is well-explained and practiced over and over, culminating in a final drill where you’re attacked in full speed and full force.
My first month was the most difficult. All my insecurities and fears came out! Years ago, I was told by doctors to stop taking any contact sports (because of two car accidents that injured my neck, and a few other reasons) — it’s why I moved from boxing and body combat to yoga. For years, I’d been very careful not to put my body in harm’s way. But I’d always been curious about krav, and I missed martial arts. During my first weeks of krav, I was so afraid of getting hurt. I didn’t want to hit hard. Every bruise I sustained was a big deal. It got to a point that the instructor came over and told me: “Your form is good. Now you need to work on your strength.”
I’m not sure exactly when my mindset changed, but it did finally reach a point when I said to myself: “Fuck it. I should give this all I’ve got.” I hit the pads with all the fight I could muster. I took the beating that comes with being paired with a guy at drills.
There was one pivotal class when we learned how to defend against a front choke, and the guys were told to choke us full-force. We had to take the choke for two seconds before fighting back. (It takes about four seconds to pass out.) I remember my partner looking at me, and then asking the instructor, “Full force? Are you sure?” When his hands closed around my neck and I couldn’t breathe, that was the first real time I felt PANIC. And that gave me the adrenalin and aggression I needed to fight against someone twice my size.
Three months later, I’m still enjoying krav immensely. I still make a lot of mistakes, but I don’t beat myself up over them anymore — I love the fact that I keep learning something new. My body feels leaner and meaner now (though I’m not really shedding fat, just gaining “shapely fat”). This week, I joined an anti-rape seminar for women, and brought two friends along (they loved it). I also helped the group demo krav maga on TV5 for Good Morning Club. I’m usually very shy around people I don’t know, and I’m grateful that the other krav maga practitioners treat me as one of their own. I’m just the geeky quiet girl in the corner, but yesterday, I got to kick ass on TV!
The best thing I’ve learned from krav is the will to fight. It doesn’t matter if your partner is bigger or stronger than you, or if you’re tired, or if you make a mistake. You need to get up and fight. It’s something I’ve learned to apply in all aspects of my life as well. Don’t give up, and don’t stop fighting!
For more information on krav maga, you can visit International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF) Philippines here. You can also follow them on Facebook. We train MWF in Makati and THSa in Ortigas. The first class is free — try it! I bet you’ll like it 🙂