Monday, 20 April 2015

Learn a martial art (an update)

Two months ago I finally decided to do something about my plan to learn a martial art.

You see last November, at the end of the first year of what was supposed to be a one year project, I made a ten point list of things that I wanted to achieve in the second year of the project. You can see the whole list: HERE.

Learn a martial art was something I was very keen to put onto the list. However, at that stage I hadn't decided what martial art I wanted to learn. Something I actually didn't decide until this time two months ago. To understand why I decided to sign up for Krav Maga lessons, instead of Karate or one of the other dozens of martial arts, check out this blog post: HERE.

So with a little help from one of my favourite tv programmes:

I had not only finally chosen a martial but I had also spontaneously paid for classes that I couldn't really afford haha. I'm doing my classes with Krav Maga London, the UK's first and therefore longest running Krav Maga school (other good organisation available... I think?). So once I'd booked the classes, the only thing I had to do then, was to wait a couple of months for the the first class to come around. But obviously it came around insanely quickly. It's amazing how fast time sometimes flies - when you're having fun right - for example I can't believe it is nearly two weeks since I returned from my little Easter trip to Italy, which you can read about: HERE. And I find it amazing that it is already 2 months since I booked my Krav Maga lessons.

So last night I headed to the JW3 centre on Finchley Road. A newish and fairly impressive looking building which felt a bit like it should have been on a university campus but which is in fact the "New Postcode For Jewish Life". So it kinda makes sense that they hold courses teaching you a self defence system designed for/by the Israeli Army.

Krav Maga is used by a lot of people for self defence purposes, however, within Krav Maga there is definitely a large emphasis on attack. One of the Krav Maga "philosophies" - I don't think that was the exact word the trainer used but I'm sure it will suffice - is that attack is apart of defence (he didn't used any of these words either but my memory is bad - you can read about that: HERE - and from these words you get the gist of what he said). Basically if you were to be attacked you block said attack and strike out at your "opponent" in one swift movement.

In many respects Krav Maga is quite brutal, or at least this is the impression they want to give you (and in the right hands it no doubt is). You are repeatedly taught to go for the head - the phrase
"you want to give them brain shake" was used several times - the throat and the balls. There seems to be a big emphasis on going for the balls - whether it be with the foot or the knee - and I'm pretty sure that everyone who has a pair understands why. Although a kick to the groin is no doubt also pretty effective on somebody who doesn't have a pair too.

The main element of the first class was to learn how to strike your attacker - or as they were described at one point in the lesson, as someone who is annoying you haha - correctly, using your full body weight. It was all about the turn of the knee and a fast recoil.

We started off my learning how to hit somebody in the face/head with the palm of our hand. We then moved on to using our elbow to smash someone in the face. Before we went "downstairs" and learnt how to knee and kick somebody in the groin.

Once we had hit, elbowed, kicked or kneed the pad enough times to make us feel completely exhausted - slight exaggeration - we would get a rest by holding the pads for our partner:

Except that's what I thought was about to happen. However, when I swapped places with my partner for the first time I found out just how wrong I was. In fact it turned out that holding the pads was almost as tiring as the act of striking them.

On top of everything else Krav Maga is certainly a workout. I was definitely aching a little when I got up this morning. I was aching in similar places to when I go climbing - read my climbing blog post HERE - the arms and across the top of the back. Also in some new places like down my sides and in and around my hips.

I think it is very possible to go to classes - especially beginners classes like the ones that I am currently attending - without being overly physically fit. Being in shape will help but the classes are going to help your fitness as you go and so I think you'll be ok. That said, if you're going to do it properly - which of course I want to do - it will certainly help to be in good shape. Which from the state of me in this picture taken after the class - looking all pink and sweaty and lovely - although I'm fairly fit and I didn't actually find it too tiring, I could be fitter:

I'm probably going to have to start cutting down on these:

The sweets. As far as I know, watching 90's comedies doesn't make you fat?

Before we had a stretch down and finished for the evening, there was also enough time to practise how to get out of a choke hold. Something I will no doubt be practising a lot. In fact I'm sure that over the coming weeks I will be getting pretty much everyone I know to attempt to strangle me. Something some of them will no doubt enjoy haha.

So anyway. I love Krav Maga! I really enjoyed myself last night. I couldn't recumbent it more. Obviously if you're just looking to kick the hell out of someone, I'd say that you should maybe invest in CBT instead? But if on the other hand, you're looking for a fun way to learn self defence and also get a little fitter while you're at it, maybe Krav Maga is the way to go? I had such a great time that after only one class, I've got it in my head that at some point I would like to become a trainer haha I do enjoy getting carried away!

But who knows, it might be the perfect way to compliment my swimming teaching and home tutoring? Undoubtedly before I can even begin to think about that, I have the matter of a further 12 beginner classes to contend with (and then all the further training after that haha). But seriously, who knows?

Wish me luck!

Ps. As I am attempting NaPoWriMo again this year - read about last years attempt: HERE - I thought it only fitting to finish with a poem inspired by last nights class.

#NaPoWriMo (Day 19)

He has me by the throat.
He doesn't hold me too tight
but I know that his hands are there.

He has me by the throat.
But I know how to get out of it,
how to loosen his grip and get some air.

He has me by the throat.
But in a real life situation
I have no idea how I would I fare?