Boxing the bear

As humans, it is so easy to do the least amount of work necessary to get the job done. We are optimizers. When faced with a task in everyday life we immediately — whether we know if or not — try to find a way to do it simply. We don’t like over-complicating tasks and we certainly don’t want to spend more energy, strength, or time needed to do something.

This is as true in the gym and training as it is in the “real world”. Take push-ups, for example. Proper form, to avoid injury and strain on the shoulders, is to have your elbows tucked in, rather than flared out to the side. Flared elbows make the push-ups much less difficult, effectively taking strain off the relatively weaker triceps and putting onto larger, stronger muscle groups such as the shoulders and chest. We’re able to bang out a higher number of reps in a shorter amount of time. More ‘oohs and ahhs‘ from the sidelines, if you will. The downside? Pain and injury and an overall “missing of the point” of doing the exercise in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

Red/Black Achieved

Posted: January 17, 2014 in Class

red-black-beltAt the end of December, just before Christmas, I tested for my Advanced Red, also known as the Red/Black belt and passed. As with many people around that time of year, wrapping up things at work before taking some time off, holiday stuff, overspending on shopping, and spending time with my family took the majority of my time so it’s only just now that I’m caught up enough to bring this up.

This was a very momentous occasion for me. As you know, I’m a firm believer in belts as goals, and this was one that I was aiming at for quite a while. Nearly as much as the Black Belt, I imagined what it would be like to have a Red/Black tied around my waist back when I was brand new to Krav Maga. No, I didn’t obsess about it or any other belt but I aspired to it. It was a big goal of mine for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being because it is the last belt you can achieve in class. After this belt you’re off to Boot Camp to get sharpened up for the three grueling, crushing tests to achieve the rank of Black Belt. That belt at our school is awarded at a special Black Belt ceremony held outside the school at a larger venue in order to accommodate family and friends attending the event. So the Red/Black, in some ways, is a bittersweet event, the passing into a new phase of goals.

The moment was almost surreal as I look back and reflect on it now. In ways similar to graduating high school or college. You are sitting there thinking about how it somehow took forever and yet practically no time at all to get where you are at that very moment. It seemed like it would never arrive when you were training week after week but looking back it seems like you only just started. You’ve learned so much yet you feel like you’ve only begun. So it was with this introspection that I found myself sitting in a row at the front of the dojo with the rest of the graduates, anxiously awaiting my neatly folded, completely sweat-free (for the moment), colorful new belt. Read the rest of this entry »

This is basically an advertisement for KMG but it’s also an informative look at the history of Krav Maga and what made it what it is today.

Video  —  Posted: December 6, 2013 in General

Feet_on_scaleWeight plays a huge role in Krav Maga (no pun intended). Who am I to say, you ask? Well, let’s just say that I speak from experience. As you may know, I started Krav Maga training about two and a half years ago pretty darn obese, maybe even ‘morbidly’ obese. I was carrying all that extra weight with me every class, for every push-up, every burpee, every lunge, every squat. And man was it exhausting!

To date, I have lost 82 of those pounds and am shooting for about 18 more before I can consider myself ‘done’ (incidentally, you can see below for an up-to-the-minute view of my progress). As the weight has come off, the change was noticeable. Now I’m not talking about appearance-noticeable, though that certainly was there, I mean noticeable from a physical performance standpoint. The push-ups and squats were getting progressively easier because I was lifting that much less weight with each rep. The running and sprints, I found the same thing. I even stopped wearing my knee brace since I was no longer pounding my knees into submission and getting frequent jumper’s knee. I found it extraordinary how much easier it was not to have to lug all that fat around with me. I was less winded and was amazed at the feeling I got exercising in this new body. Read the rest of this entry »

First Guide is Available!

Posted: November 11, 2013 in Store
Tags: , , ,

market-store-iconI realized a while back that the blog posts are okay but sometimes there are topics for which the format just doesn’t handle adequately. These are bigger topics that I feel require more than just several paragraphs to cover sufficiently. So, what to do? Do I create a series of related blog posts over the course of several weeks? I suppose that’s one way to do it. The other way, the way I chose, was to put together a Guide in Kindle format. Hence the concept of the KMJ Guide was born.

This particular Guide is 54 pages long and is the first of several I have planned over the next several months. It’s focused on what’s always been the most popular topic on kravmagajourney.com, namely “what can I expect when I start Krav Maga?”  It includes a quick overview of Krav Maga and addresses areas like class structure, sparring, and the “elephant in the room” — fear.  It contains tips that will prove very handy in your first 6 months of training (and beyond).

Each tip is inspired by the hundreds of search queries that are performed to land folks on my blog, email questions I get, and questions I see posted frequently on Reddit — so the tips are highly relevant to the kinds of questions new and prospective students might ask. If you are considering Krav Maga, are a new student, or know of someone who is considering giving it a try, take a look and let me know what you think.


Read the rest of this entry »

Getting and Giving Feedback

Posted: September 1, 2013 in Attitude, Class

megaphoneI think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.
Elon Musk

I have been thinking a lot about feedback lately. I’m talking about in-class feedback, the kind you get in the “heat of battle”, in the midst of a drill, in the thick of things rather than post-class feedback. There are lots of ways feedback is given and it can come from all sides — from instructors as well as fellow students (more and less experienced than yourself). Some of it is useful, in fact most of it is, but some can be unwarranted, unwanted, poorly timed, and just plain annoying.

So, in my humble opinion, what constitutes good feedback? Well, first let me describe what I think is bad feedback because — despite what some people may tell you — I believe it does exist. Read the rest of this entry »

belt2-redWell, this is a bit overdue.  I celebrated by 2 years of training a month ago on June 1 and earned my Red Belt last week. Life tends to throw things at you that outweigh the blog. Better late than never is what I say!

So here I am. Another step closer towards the Black Belt and (I’d like to think) wiser by a year. Lots has happened this year, of course. I’ve learned some nice techniques including many knife and gun defenses, takedowns, lots of sparring, bear hugs, chokes, and ground defense. Lots of bruises, bumps, fractures, and other minor injuries but thankfully nothing debilitating. Here’s hoping that trend continues into Year Three. Read the rest of this entry »

Pre-Training Meal of Champions

Posted: May 28, 2013 in Food

A while back I wrote a post about what I eat before sparring. I still do that routine fairly often. Lately however, I had been looking to spruce it up a little bit and ran across the idea of refrigerator oatmeal.


Fill me up and I’ll do the same to you!

It’s a pretty basic idea really: you have a base recipe of rolled oats, milk, yogurt, honey and a dash of salt and get creative with other ingredients as you see fit. You can add pineapple and coconut for a piña colada-type concoction. Or maybe cherries and chocolate to create a bit of an indulgence. Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry Maple, Banana Cocoa. Whatever your choice is, you mix it up and toss it in a mason jar in the fridge overnight. When you wake up the next day you have breakfast ready for you. Well, fortunately for me, what I found out is that the overnight component to the recipe spoke more to the convenience of the meal rather than a necessary part of the preparation. In other words, I found that you can mix the same ingredients up and leave it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so — rather than overnight — for pretty much the same results. This is great because this is a great meal a couple hours before hitting the mats. Read the rest of this entry »

“If your karate is good enough you do not need a black belt to prove it, and if it is not, then you should not wear one.
– Eiichi Miyazato

I think my driver changed. No longer am I motivated so much by belts. The strip of cloth we tie around our midsection. Sure they are a extremely helpful as goals and a visible result of our hard work and dedication that we actually can wear.  What I’m finding though is that I am more driven by the prospect of an increase in skill, a better sense that I’m “gettin’ it”, and a more solid feeling that I can really use this stuff to protect myself if I ever need to.

4z7hNY2Up until fairly recently, I have been focusing on the goal of being a Black Belt as my primary motivation. I have realized that this is all wrong, at least for me. With each new belt stripe and new belt color I get one step closer to Black Belt but I also get less and less jazzed about the belt itself and more excited about what the skills I’m obtaining. I wear mine every class despite the fact that few students at my school do not (except Black Belts). This is not done as a something that I hope triggers envy in White Belts but as a visible reminder to myself alone that I’ve made progress and should always strive to make progress. Every day, every class — without exception.

So why do we want to be Black Belts? That Final Destination. For some it’s a Bucket List item. In fact, I’ve seen a surprisingly high percentage of students bail within 6 months of getting said belt. For others a Black Belt is a personal challenge, like running a marathon. For some it’s to boast to everyone who’ll listen (the vast majority of people who do listen, by the way, will not give a rat’s ass, by the way). For others it might be a way to get recognition and respect (i.e., in a dojo) where they might not get it so easily outside in the real world. Maybe their spouse, boss, siblings, and co-workers think they’re a nicompooop but at the dojo, with a Black Belt, they are respected. Really though, who knows what drives someone else to do what they do? Read the rest of this entry »

The Complete System

Posted: March 3, 2013 in Sparring, Technique

puzzle_incomplete-1I’ve noticed that many martial art styles like to think of themselves as complete systems. For most practical purposes they probably are for the purposes they were designed for. Meaning no disrespect or trying to minimize any of the following arts I’d say that, at their core, BJJ is a complete style for sport ground fighting, WTF style Taekwondo is well constructed for point fighting, and Krav Maga is a complete system for self-defense. Or are they? Is it even possible for any style to be 100% complete?

I’ve heard and read so many times that Krav Maga lacks a good ground game and if you get taken to the ground where “all fights end up” (more on that some other time!) then you are toast. I don’t completely buy into that. My school, and many others I’m sure, focuses a good percentage of time talking about ground defense — how to get up off the ground, out of some chokes and headlocks, and how to prevent getting taken down in the first place. My school also incorporates many CT-707 ground (and other) techniques into the curriculum which helps too. But I don’t delude myself for one minute into thinking that Krav Maga teaches 100% of what I’d need if I were to be tackled by, say, a BJJ Black Belt who’s determined to jump me in a dark alley and throw me on the ground and into a triangle choke. Krav Maga is simply not a “ground fighting” or grappling style at its core just like it’s not known for its nunchaku prowess or its numerous throws and joint locks. This is not to say Krav Maga is incapable of addressing this situation at all but simply that BJJ addresses triangle chokes and ground fighting more thoroughly because of its design and goals. Styles can’t be 100% of what students need for every opponent, for every situation, against every conceivable attack. How could they? It’s impossible. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting Involved

Posted: February 24, 2013 in Attitude, Injury, Legal

The scariest moment is always just before you start. - Stephen King

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we are conditioned by society to try to get along, not make waves, and are pressured not to stand out in social settings. I guess this varies by the rules of your society (e.g., what country or part of that country you’re from) as well as your age, personal upbringing, social circle, and genetic makeup but in general it’s safe to say that we are not in a position to jump up on the middle of a school play or town hall meeting and make a scene, creating a focus and center of attention on ourselves. I know a bunch of people who fall outside this statement but I stand by it being pretty much dead on for the rest of us. Lots of people won’t get involved and it’s been proven that the larger the crowd the less likely people are to get involved and help someone in trouble (see the “Genovese syndrome” for more on that).

These tendencies are not our friend when it comes to defending ourselves or loved ones in trouble. It’s even worse when — in addition to these tendencies — we are also highly prone to freeze when attacked abruptly. A lot’s been written about freezing (Rory Miller’s got some great material on this and some ways you can minimize the freeze) but suffice it to say that it’s when you’re confronted by immediate danger (say, a mugging) and turn into a “deer in the headlights”, unable to snap out of it. As I’ve read it, this happens to everyone, despite their training or preparedness, and can only be lessened, not eliminated. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gatorade Myth, Part II

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Food

20130212_185306A little while back I wrote about Gatorade and my hard realization that it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you read that you’ll recall my lamenting that I don’t live down in a tropical climate with a lemon tree in my backyard. Because of this I was resorting to bottled juices for convenience as well as cost reasons. While this is not a horribly bad thing, it’s just not lemon. I love me some lemon!

Fast forward several months to my discovery of True Lemon. Whoa is it good. They come in little packets and when dissolved in liquid it tastes JUST. LIKE. LEMON. Amazing. My first question was: does it include any nasty artificial sweeteners? That’s usually how manufacturers ruin a good thing. Del Monte No Sugar Added fruit, low calorie flavored waters — heck, even SodaStream has Splenda in its regular sodas! Imagine my happiness when I read the ingredients on True Lemon and saw that it has NO artificial sweeteners (or sugar) at all! Just pure crystallized lemons. Read the rest of this entry »