Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Krav Maga-Combat for a Modern World

About eleven years ago my weight ballooned up to 207 pounds, my blood chemistry was off the charts and I could barely make it up the stairway without gasping for breath.  Oh, and I smoked too.  I was definitely not the paragon of health.  I had two food groups, fried and deep-fried.  I love to cook, love to eat and didn’t care much for exercise.  After struggling to fit into size 38 jeans, I decided to get fit.  But what? Running? Boring. Walking? More boring. Swimming? Wet and boring.  Then Sal and I saw an article on television about Krav Maga.  What?  It is a form of self-defense developed by the Israeli Defense Force to teach everyone how to fight.  Remember, national service is compulsory in Israel for both men and women.  Judo and Karate, while great sports, take a long time to master.  The founder of Krav Maga, Imi Lichtenfeld, took the best of boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, Mui-Tai,  Karate and other disciplines and packaged them into a no holds barred, easy to learn system. 

Looked like fun and I’m a hobby junkie so Sal and I decided to give it a try.  Twenty minutes into the first class and I was ready to be sick.  Forty minutes into the class and I was sick. One hour later and we were hooked.  We decide to sign up for lessons.  Intense cardio combined with punching, kicking, and blocking.  Practicing situational awareness by fending off multiple attackers.  How to get out of choke holds, and bear hugs.  Kicking a pad for one-minute straight, resting for a few seconds and doing it again... and again.  During the summer I could literally wring the sweat out my shirt.

In eight months I lost 30 pounds.  Sal lost 20 pounds, toned up and was going against and besting, guys twice her size.  Amazing.  We did this for years.  Granted it’s not for everyone.  Many people tried it out and left for various reasons.  I remember one guy that strutted in, told everyone he was in great shape and ten minutes later was puking his guts out.  So much for being in great shape.  My first test to pass onto level two lasted four hours.  I was never so tired nor more proud of myself when I passed. 

The cool part of self-defense and fighting is knowing what to do when the SHTF.  You have the confidence and the skills to at least level the playing field.  I’ve never had to use it and hopefully never will.  Sal and I made some great friends during our time with Krav.  It’s hard to describe the intense camaraderie you develop with the people you train with.   Martial arts bonds people together in an almost “us vs. them” mentality. We train hard, you don’t.  Some of the people that we studied with went on to become instructors themselves.  

Unfortunately, time takes it’s toll.  ACL and spinal fusion surgery dampened my desire for contact sports. Sal’s knees are wrecked so we leave Krav to the younger generations.  Great memories, great fun and great skills to know. Krav Maga, Combat for a Modern World.

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