Long Way to Go, Gratitude, Thinking/Not Thinking, and Taking it Off
The past June I passed my three-year milestone. My training is now a toddler, almost out of diapers. Boy, time flies when you’re laying in groin kicks, doesn’t it? Three years of Krav Maga have gone by performing countless clinches, punches, kicks, breakfalls, knees, elbows, and 360 defenses. Not to mention my share of bruises, fractures, sprains, pulls, cuts, and sore muscles. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve hurt my toes this past year!
Except for 3 weeks out of the year (a week vacation for me and two 1-week shutdowns annually for the school), I’ve been training faithfully an average of 3 times a week. No injuries or illness kept me away — knock on wood. So, as of this month, that’s approximately 500 one-hour classes of training. Of course there were some seminars here and there and sometimes I’ve logged 4, maybe even 5 or 6, classes per week but this is a pretty good ballpark estimate. I’m in it for the long haul.
Such a Long Way to Go
The great thing about training for me (and I think it’s fair to make it the main theme this year) is that the more I know, the more I realize I have yet to learn. It sounds cliché, I know, but it’s a fact. True, this year found me finally getting more comfortable with techniques I’ve performed literally many hundreds of times, over and over, throughout the past few years. These are techniques that have become part of my muscle memory that don’t require much thinking about and it’s pretty exciting. However, for every one of these techniques I feel comfortable with, there are glimpses around the corner to dark recesses of the room that I thought were previously well-lit. I realize there’s still so much to learn and master before I can really feel like I’m, you know, good at Krav Maga. There is so far for me to go on this journey.
Rather than finding that depressing I actually feel quite the opposite. It’s a great thing. I see many fellow students fall by the wayside over time. Just this year I can think of a dozen people who have moved on. For a lot of these folks, I think their interest simply wanes. I guess they get tired of doing bear hugs a thousand times. Or maybe it’s the clinches. Groin kicks? Whatever it is, there’s one day when they show up and there’s a hairline crack in their resolve, they no longer feel the fire. It’s all become too repetitive and nothing can keep them interested anymore. From that moment onward, little by little, day by day, that crack becomes a fissure and eventually a yawning chasm and eventually it’s over for them.
As I’ve reflected in the past (I think it was a Thanksgiving post a few years ago), I am profoundly grateful to still feel that fire raging within me every time I go to class. Krav Maga is still exciting and fresh. Yeah, there are some days where I can’t stand the sight of another choke from the front but I soldier through it and appreciate it for what it is — another opportunity to get better at something that could stand to use some improvement. And those brief moments of dread always pass and are filled once again with that desire to learn more.
This past year has been one of trying to think while I’ve also been trying to not think.
The Value of Thinking
Thinking can be a wonderful thing in Krav Maga training. I have been in drills numerous times this past year, caught up in the technique and completely forgot to think. For example, we were working a drill that focused on rear kicks where you’d step to the side, pivot, chamber your leg, and let loose a devastating back kick into your partner’s kick shield. In one particular session, my partner was crowding me a little. No huge deal but I found I wasn’t able to extend my kick as much as I felt was necessary. I tried and tried but felt increasingly frustrated with myself. I got the attention of the instructor and explained my situation. He looked at me and quietly suggested trying a hammerfist if I was no longer in kicking range. Or perhaps an elbow? <sigh><shake my head>
So many times I get caught up in the technique of the moment and all other training seems to goes out the window. I am learning that, even if a class — or portion of a class — is focused on a particular technique, everything — all moves — are fair game. That’s all of our techniques, just like on the street. And this is how it should be. If we’re trying to lay that back kick in and our attacker crowds us or shifts off to the side, you need to adapt. This is how we should be training our brain and building our self-defense IQ. This is the thinking part that I have been trying to develop more and more over the past year and intend to continue.
Incidentally, I was also shown that even close up and crowded that kick can still be pretty devastating. But that’s beside the point.
Learning to Not Think
Not thinking can also a wonderful thing in Krav Maga training. This is where instinct, muscle memory, and reflex comes in. The beauty of not having to think about performing a simultaneous block, burst, and counter-attack is that it’s just…there for you. This is something I’ve been noticing here and there in my training. Not as often maybe as I’d like but I see it there nonetheless. I don’t think I’ll ever be a coiled spring, ready with an instantaneous response to anything that comes my way — let’s face it, I’m in my mid-40’s — but I am shooting to get better every week, month, and year that I continue. Am through repetition and dedication I hope I can develop that instinct more and more.
Take it Off!
One last thing I’d like to reflect on in this retrospective is weight loss. If you’ve been following my journey all along or if you’ve picked up somewhere along the way, you might know that I’ve been focused on losing weight as one of my goals since the very beginning. Back in June of 2011, when I started down the road, I’m sad to say that I tipped the scales at a whopping 315 pounds. As of this past April, thankfully, I hit my 100 pound weight loss goal. Today, my weight is hovering around 209 pounds, a 106 pound weight loss. As Tony Robbins says, I don’t say this to impress you but to impress upon you that everything is possible if you set your mind to it.
So, onward to another exciting year. Year 4. It is within this year that I am shooting for the coveted Black Belt.
More on that as that goal is in sight.