Weight 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.
With the positive benefits came some unexpected downsides. When I was at — cough, cough— “full weight” my kicks had profound power. I built this sort of reputation in my class with some folks as a heavy kicker, a pad destroyer! And I was. I’d launch my pad holders nearly across the room when I was laying into them my side kicks and 180’s. The problem was, it was that excess weight that was giving me an extra degree of oomph. Remember from high school, force = mass x acceleration? I had mass alright. I’d like to think that those kicks had power due, to some extent, to my technique but as I lost the weight it became apparent to me that that wasn’t the only reason. The same went for punches. Today, partnering with some large guys I’ve partnered with in the past, I find myself getting pushed around a bit more. Their punches and kicks, whether in pad-holding drills or in sparring, tend to give me more of a jostle than before due to the lower mass I have. You know what though? It is more than a fair trade-off and I don’t regret it at all.
So, how was it done? If you’ve been a reader of the blog for a while, or if you read my post where I celebrated my first year of training, you will recall that I was initially surprised that the weight didn’t must “melt” away like those advertisements promised. According to sites on the Internet I was burning almost 1,500 calories per hour. Wasn’t that sufficient to lose weight?! Well, sort of. Provided that you adopted a lifestyle that included you diet. It took a while for me to really accept this harsh reality but eventually it sunk in. So, starting in January of 2013 (and not because of some flimsy New Years’ resolution, by the way) I started including my fork and knife in my training and you know what? The weight started dropping and dropping fast. Some weeks up to 5 pounds lost. There was no magic pill, no fad diet, no starvation. Simply “Eat Less, Move More”, as I like to tell people. There’s a bit more to it than that, obviously, but that’s the general gist of it.
As I look around me, it’s amazing to me how many people choose to rely on just their training in an effort to manage their weight. Sure, Krav Maga is great exercise. It might be one of the best exercise routines you ever undertake. Yes, it will burn calories. However, if taking Krav Maga class a couple times a week is your only effort to lose weight — and you love food anywhere near as much as me — you aren’t going to make a dent. Ain’t gonna happen. And I’m walking proof of that.
My belief is that you need to get down to “fighting weight” to be truly effective in Krav Maga. Although I know more than a handful of folks who are very effective students in class, who can take care of themselves on the street, who are great a sparring, who are embodiments of good technique — if they aren’t at their most effective weight, if they are carrying around 10, 25, 50 lbs. or more of extra weight, then they are short-circuiting their training and will never be able to achieve their fullest potential. Speed is lost, endurance is cut short, and overall effectiveness is far less than it could otherwise be. When you are thrown into a violent encounter and your body experiences the inevitable adrenaline dump you will lose a significant amount of physical control, stamina, and power. You need to have your body in as good a condition as possible to increase your odds and give yourself more to work with.
Unfortunately, weight loss isn’t a “won and done” situation where you lose the weight, have a party, and celebrate by eating a food truck’s worth of chili dogs with cheese. Especially in your 40’s and onward, it’s a daily battle. It’s a battle you wage every time you have a hunger pang or sit down in a restaurant. It’s an enemy you stare down every hour of the day. You can never let your guard down. I lost 44 pounds several years ago and thought that was quite the achievement. I let my guard down and promptly fell off the wagon. In about 6 months I was back up to my original weight and added about 15 pounds to it just for good measure. Needless to say, I won’t let that happen again.
But when you finally wrestle that beast into submission the feeling is indescribable.
|I have been keeping track of my weight loss since starting Krav Maga in June of 2011. The image to the left is my up-to-the-minute progress on my plan.|
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