Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Krav Ma-OMG: Part I

Posted by Lissa on January 26, 2012

For years I’ve meant to get involved in a martial arts. I always thought it was a worthwhile proposition: to be able to defend myself when or if attacked. Why else do I carry a gun? But in addition to my firearm, I still think that force-on-force training was a good idea. There *are* times when I can’t carry, you know. Furthermore, if my situational awareness fails me and someone sneaks up on me before I can draw, what am I going to do? Roll over and play dead?

So I made the decision to stop procrastinating and went to my first Krav Maga class on Saturday.

Why Krav Maga? Because I’m not interested in how pretty my forms are; I’m not interested in belts; I’m not interested in learning how to fly through the air. I’m interested in knowing how to break out of a headlock, rupture my attacker’s testicle, elbow him in the head, scratch or poke his eye out and then run screaming for the cops. That’s what I’m interested in. Furthermore, since Krav Maga was developed for and by the Israeli army, it’s pretty gender neutral, and it definitely works for fending off an opponent that’s bigger than you.

Some observations from my first class:

I. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I’M OUT OF SHAPE. I’m coming off the bench from the stupid sesamoiditis thing, so I knew I was out of shape and I thought this would be a good and fun way to get back into shape. (I’m much more likely to go on kicking and punching after I’m winded than do another stupid three miles on the exercise bike.) But I was actually so winded after one sequence of punches, falls and rolls that I was dizzy. I told the instructor I might have to sit the next one out and he told me to just go slow. Smart guy; I slowed down, concentrated on my forms and regained my wind at the same time.

II. I need to stop clenching my fists when we’re practicing. Half-tensed, half-relaxed open hands in front of you can be maintained a lot longer, and therefore make you less tired and more able to fight, than cranking into tight fists and holding that pose.

III. A wedding ring is your friend! (I think I picked this tip up from LawDog, actually.) Fiddling with my wedding ring allows me to have my hands up in a good self-defense area – they can be raised to ward my face much more quickly than if I had them crossed or at waist level – but is not threatening or aggressive in any way.

IV. My sparring partner is afraid to hit a woman.

Don’t misunderstand this one; I think men who are Men should in general be reluctant to hit women. That’s a good thing. But it’s one thing to hold that attitude in everyday life. It’s another to just be throwing lazy, looping punches so I can practice blocking, but your punches are such that if I didn’t block them they would a) barely tickle my skin; or b) not even touch my body at all, ’cause you’re not aiming.

More on that in Part II. I will say that it was more fun sparring with the instructor; he had no problem demonstrating to me (and ON me) throat strikes, eye gouges, groin strikes (though he whacked my upper thigh instead), choke holds, etc. Perhaps coincidentally, he’s no more than an inch or two taller than I am, though he carries what looks like an extra sixty pounds of muscle.

In summary: Loads of good stuff, tons of exercise, fun practicing, and the knowledge on how to break out of a choke hold, seriously f*** someone up and get free, all in less than five seconds. Yay!

Stay tuned for Part II . . .

5 Responses to “Krav Ma-OMG: Part I”

  1. Ruth said

    good for you! And yes, though guys who won’t hit girls can be fun to beat up on they don’t actually help you practice much.

  2. guffaw said

    GOOD FOR YOU! Keep at it. And when he finally hits you, hit him back!

  3. A couple of thoughts.

    A friend of mine, who was in his mid 50s at the time, took up Krav Maga for much of the same reasons you did. He’s a big guy, carries a gun, but wanted another option. From his experience I decided I didn’t want to take up Krav Maga. He’d show up for social functions with black eyes, abrasions on his face and hands, and other injuries. He finally quit when is partner pointed out he’d be no good as a dentist if he broke an arm or hand. Be careful.

    As to being winded. Charles Barkley (I think) once said “You can’t play your way into shape.” The reason pro athletes (and even people like me) lift weights, ride bikes, run, skip rope, and use rowing machines is to build up strength and endurance for other activities. You might want to think about getting back on the bike to build your wind and endurance up. Any sort of martial art is likely to be too episodic to give you the stamina you need.

    Just my thoughts, do with them as you will.

    Did I mention that you should be careful? Please do.

  4. Lissa said

    Thanks, Ruth and Guffaw!

    TOTWTYTR, thanks for the caution and words of wisdom. I’m also doing the bike to build up my endurance. As far as physical injuries, I’m not going to strap on pads until I’m ready. Serious sparring is done with exercise gloves (not boxing gloves, just stuff to protect your knuckles); mouthguards; and headgear (wrestling type helmets). I don’t want to get marked up on a regular basis, but I also think I need to practice taking hits, at least a little. I don’t want to freeze up if I ever get clonked in the head by a mugger; I want to immediately transition to fight or flight.

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