Well, 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.
It’s been a very demanding year, for sure, but it’s become more of a mental game than physical this past year. That’s not to say that the classes have been one iota less grueling — in fact, the opposite is true. It’s more a statement that I have gotten a little more comfortable in my body as a tool and don’t feel quite so awkward and uncoordinated as in the first year. I still sweat, push myself, and feel soreness like I did in my first year of training but I am now more about thinking through techniques and the context of the moves than fighting my awkward balance and soldiering through foreign body machinations.
Following last year’s form, I’d like to take a minute to put down some of my reflections at this time. These are things that I’ve either learned this year or thoughts/lessons I’ve revised as I’ve gone further in my training.
You lose weight if you look at the overall picture. This is a follow-on from last year where I stated that I was disappointed that Krav Maga wasn’t the fat burning regimen that it is often marketed to me. The problem was, I was looking at my work in class to be the miracle weight loss while stuffing my face between classes. Earlier this year I committed to looking at the whole picture and striving to be healthy in and out of training. As a result, since January, I’ve lost over 40 lbs. — bringing my overall weight loss to over 50 lbs. It’s like they say: you can’t outrun a bad diet.
Krav Maga is always improving. It’s amazing to me that, even in the relatively short time I’ve been training, moves and techniques are improved and change. An example is Gun From the Front. When I learned that as an Orange Belt we were told to slowly raise our hands to a level just below the line of the gun to make the disarm more effective. Problems was, they found that this movement is usually enough to cause a nervous, gun-toting villain to panic and fire away. Now the disarm begins with the hands down.
The ranks are thinning. Life happens. People change jobs, lose jobs, get divorced, get injured… Stuff changes. As a result, many people, despite their best initial intentions, are unable to complete their journey. As I’ve continue my training into Year Two I’ve been bummed by the number of people who drop out. Some have been friends and fellow partners, some…um…I didn’t mind too much to see them go. But in either case I was continually reminded that the ability to keep on training is a blessing. To have the disposable income, understanding spouse, health, and interest to continue is something no one should ever take for granted.
You can’t overdo the basics. I’ve learned that you just can’t work on the basics — or any technique for that matter — too many times. Despite having thrown thousands of right crosses, jabs, and hooks, I still find myself striving to make it better, whether faster, more powerful, or less detectible. Same goes for every technique. Despite everyone hitting the mat for their first time thinking they know how to throw a punch or a kick, a week or two in training makes them realize how little they know. The second year of training, even more so.
You have to listen to your body. It’s so easy to get hurt. And it is almost as easy to think you should power through everything. When you are having as much fun with Krav Maga training as I am, and when you are ulta-dedicated to consistent training and learning more every day, it is difficult to take a brief break to heal an injury. The tendency is to keep on truckin’. We’re tough, right? We bring it and never quit. The problem is: the more you power through an injury that needs time to heal, the more likely you are to lose even more time in the long run. I’ve had times when I had to grit my teeth to take several days off. It was annoying as heck but in the end, with a repaired injury to show for it, I was able to rejoin the training with peace of mind, knowing I did the right thing. My thinking is that you should push through exhaustion but never through outright pain or injury.
These are only a few of the bigger things I’ve been thinking about lately as I reflect on this lastest milestone. I continue to train with dedication and am truly lucky to have such great instructors and fellow students and such a great martial art to train in.
So here’s to another successful year. If you are celebrating a milestone of yourself, drop me a line and we’ll celebrate (virtually) together. Onwards through Year Three!