Archive for the ‘Injury’ Category

The Damaged Warrior

Posted: March 13, 2016 in Class, Injury

edit-21749-1390451296-9If you’ve been training for a span of more than a week, you know all too well that injuries are a part of life in training. They range from the minor (scratches, bruises, and bumps) to more serious (breaks, fractures, pulls, tears, and the like). Whenever I am injured, in or out of class, one of the top three questions that pops to mind — frequently the top question, actually — is “how will this affect my training?”. No, I am not obsessed, living for my training. I do have a life outside the dojo, a job, and a great family life. But for me, Krav Maga and exercise is a lifestyle that I am very passionate about. It’s only natural that this involuntary thought flashes in my mind. If I can’t train, I fall behind. I also lose conditioning, muscle mass, valuable time to work on my motor skills and techniques, and even social time with my compatriots. Having talked to others at the school, I know that this is a common thought in many students’ heads when they get injured too. (more…)


As I’m sure you’d agree, push-ups are a great way to increase your fitness level.  Problem is, it’s way too easy to cheat by flaring out your elbows or not maintaining a straight alignment during the motion.  Cheating is hardly the worst part of it as improper elbow alignment can (and usually does) cause some pretty painful damage to your shoulders.  I know this because I used to card carrying member of the Bad Posture Push-Up Cheaters Club for Men.  It wrenched my shoulders pretty bad and took several weeks to get back to normal (much of it involving lacrosse ball therapy on the sore muscles).   (more…)

Fear and Krav Maga

Posted: June 6, 2014 in Attitude, Class, Injury

Recently I was given the opportunity to post an article on the blog over at the Krav Maga Institute. In return, today’s post is courtesy of Josh Greenwood.


by Josh Greenwood

kniferAt some point in all of our lives we’ve experienced this dreaded feeling. It’s creeped up on us, surprised us, and even punched us right in the gut when we least expected it. Fear is something that is never going to go away. But why would we want to live without one of our bodies’ original self-preservation mechanisms!

As fighters and Kravists fear is a daily battle and something that we learn to harness every time we step onto that mat or venture out into the world around us.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should be scared of everything around us! Fear, False Evidence Appearing Real. I’ve heard that from many people I’ve met in my life and from all different walks of life. We need to realize that fear is nothing more than a tool we can harness. It is then when we can truly progress to that next level past someone who just does something to someone who embodies that something. Here are five fears that most people have when training, fighting, and defending oneself.

Fear to freeze and not speak up

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! It’s easy enough to type out but if I asked you to go out into a crowded intersection and scream at the top of your lungs a vast majority of people couldn’t do it! That could be the difference of going home or getting drug into a side alley and assaulted. Getting others attention to a violent situation is key to the first step of prevention. We have a fight or flight response, but what people don’t talk about as much is the response that can take over when we experience immense and sudden fear, freezing. Your body shuts down and you can’t move let alone call for help. The only way to experience this is through intense stress inoculation drills. In Krav Maga we train every scenario as if our life is on the line. This is the only way to learn to harness that fear and turn it into intense focus for survival.


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. (more…)

I frequent /r/kravmaga on Reddit. It seems that a really common question is “I just joined a school. What should I expect? (somewhere around “Where can I find a school in ______?”). I was wondering the same thing, as you can see from one of my earlier posts.

It’s a very scary time. It’s exciting but also nerve-racking. Depending on your appetite for new things and being pushed outside your comfort zone (not to mention your current fitness level) you can be on the calm side of the spectrum or on the “I think I’m having a heart attack” side.

To help you address this challenging time I have put together a guide to tackle the most common questions people have. It’s a 74-page guide called the KMJ Guide to Starting Out in Krav Maga. It contains over 40 tips on what to expect and how you can make your transition into Krav Maga as smooth, stress-free, and comfortable as possible!

Two useful bonuses include a Cheat Sheet of tips for easy reference and email access to the author for any additional follow-up questions the student may have after reading the guide.

In this Guide you will have many (I hope most!) of your burning questions answered — and the best part?  There’s no need to take a notebook to the coffee shop to jot down notes! It’s all there for you, neatly typed out and organized clearly for your reference!  I’ve put a lot of thought into this material and have sweated over the contents, the structure, and the very nominal cost. It’s all there and I’m proud of the results.

Happy training!


Hey, look at that. A whole year of training behind me. In some ways it seems like it has been an eternity, in other ways it seems like only a few months have gone by.

I’ve been doing some reflecting over the past several weeks in anticipation of this post. There are so many things I’ve learned over the last 12 months but I wanted to take a shot at writing down the most crucial lessons. Each one of these could be a post unto itself and might end up as one. I just want to at least capture these to provide a recap of the major takeaways.

Bravado at an older age vs. younger age
I recall 25 some-odd years ago when I took martial arts as a teen. After just a few weeks I felt invincible. I walked with such swagger and my confidence at school absolutely went through the roof. I was indestructible. Part of the explanation there lies in the teen mind. Let’s face it, it doesn’t really take too much to bloat a teen boy’s head into thinking he’s Superman.

As I’ve grown older, and I’d like to think wiser, I’ve come to realize that we are all vulnerable. MMA fighters, black belts, weight lifters, macho men, everyone. Everyone is susceptible to smack down given the right conditions, a bad decision, an off day… Take a look at every major fighter. They all go down — no one is perfect.

This extends to the street too. Even if you are heavily trained in the fighting arts and self-defense you are just human. This has stayed with me as an adult, not as a frightened adult but a realistic adult, and applies to my perspective on my training. Yes, of course I’ve increased my self-confidence but it’s always tempered with a pragmatic view of how violence can occur at any time and isn’t always necessarily in your favor.

Injuries can happen at any time, usually when you least expect it
You can make all the necessary precautions, wear all the right equipment, have the perfect attitude and awareness for your safety and still get whacked in the head. I’ve gotten my fair share of injuries this past year — fortunately all minor — and I’d say that pretty much every one of them was completely unexpected. They came from wild partners, slipped gear, a poor grasp of my technique, misjudged distance, slippery mats, you name it.

I still keep my awareness at full strength but realize that this isn’t ballet and try as you might you WILL get hurt. Vigilance keeps it to a minimum and hopefully keeps the extend down as well. (more…)

In the time I’ve been learning Krav Maga I have realized that there are two primary variable in a partner that come into play when you are working together: aggression and the amount of control they have over their bodies and movements — coordination.

Aggression is that pure “lightning in a bottle” that we all like to develop in training that allows us to go from zero to hero in no time flat. Some people have a huge amount of aggression that they can tap into and bring into their training, even when they are on the verge of exhaustion. I like training with these people as it helps desensitize me to getting hit but also inspires me to try harder. Some people have very little of this and just go through the motions. Class to them is almost an aerobics class with pads. They mimic behavior in class and don’t really put much oomph into it. These people can be very frustrating to partner with as it sometimes can rub off and cause you to not try as hard or to feel almost guilty when it’s your turn and you want to pummel.

Self-control is a hugely important concept that so many people I’ve partnered with just don’t get. Sure they can go all out but without proper coordination and control of the movements can be a real walking danger. Many White Belts are in this category but with the right mindset they rise above it to some extent or another to become someone you enjoy partnering with.  I’ve partnered with a lot of students in this category and very much was one at one time. The result of partnering with such a person can range from a minor annoyance to real injury. I’ve had broken toenails, countless bruises, and unexpected hits to my neck, head, thigh, etc. when I wasn’t expecting it. It is often followed by a barrage of sorries but fat lot of good that does you when you’re hobbling off to the side groaning “Ow! Ow! Ow!” through clenched teeth.


Foot? Meet Elbow.

Posted: April 21, 2012 in Attitude, Injury

Ah, another stupid injury. Stick with me long enough and we’ll work our way through body parts in alphabetical order.

This was one of my dumber ones. Working on our side kicks, our partner would hold up Muay Thai pads and we’d give it a good whallop, making sure we got some good momentum and power with the ol’ hips.

Perhaps this is a good time to point out the strange coincidence of a recent post where I polled people about whether they trained barefoot or with footwear. Well, for the record, my school is 100% barefoot. I like it this way but in this particular instance it made for an unfortunate outcome.

I lined up, confident in my kick prowess I’ve been developing in Friday night sparring, and let it rip with a left kick (no switch step). What should have resulted in a vinyl ‘Whaap’ sound was instead a dull ‘Whump’ sound as the top of my foot connected with my partner’s right elbow.


Initially my thought was that I would end up with a good bruise and, in fact, I did. Just not where I expected I chalk this up to the uneducated guess that tight shoes pushed some blood to the surface where it was pressing on the foot the least.

In the end, nothing it broken (I ended up getting an X-Ray later in the week when the bruising got worse) or even fractured.  I will be back in the saddle early this week and can’t wait to get back into it.  (more…)

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”
Albert Einstein

One thing I can say about my experiences in Krav Maga so far is that I know my body and its limits pretty well. I like to push myself as far as I can humanly go but am careful about how far I go beyond that. That means shutting out all desire to “keep up” with others all the time or — God forbid — try to show off in class. I am my own yardstick and I stay true to my limits and my progress, always pushing myself to go harder, further, faster but never disrespecting my body’s needs. Hey, this doesn’t mean wussing out during hard drills or avoiding sweat. Absolutely not. It also doesn’t mean being “safe” all the time. There are many times — at least once or twice per training, I’d say — where I have tunnel vision, am steaming like a furnace, and am panting wildly at the end of a drill. When I train, I train as hard as I possibly can and always leave behind a lake of sweat and ghostly sweat footprints on the mat.

That said, all too often in class I’ve noticed people going too far and ending up on the sidelines, dizzy, looking nervous/confused, or even barfing. Yes, the barfing has actually been pretty common and the weird thing is: most every person who I’ve seen in this predicament has been on the “younger side of things”. Say, in their mid-twenties. Why is this? My theory is that the poor soul came into class with something to prove. They are all about external validation. When you’re younger, and in better shape than these old farts around you, you are much more inclined to be the Alpha student, strutting around and trying like hell to run faster, punch harder, and be the overall bigger bad ass. This is all well and good — I really enjoy an enthusiastic partner and will eagerly pair up with this student any ol’ day of the week. What becomes a bummer is when they have to teeter off dizzily partway through class to  hold up the far wall, head between the knees.  (more…)

What no one told me when I first started training how often I’d be waking up groaning the morning after a workout. This is especially true for anyone who’s “getting along in years” like I am. I am 42 — not old but certainly not a spring chicken. I train hard and my body reminds me of this after every workout. In a strange, sadistic kind of way I sometimes like it. Within reason, of course. My knee pain I’ve been enduring on and off hasn’t fallen into this category but the other aches and sore spots, in their own kind of way, are not too bad. I’m kind of proud of my pain.

This said, however, pain relief is frequently the order of the day. There are a lot of ways you can tackle pain, internally and externally. Internally would be taking medication like Advil, Tylenol, Motrin, Alleve…that kind of thing. Externally, or topically, would be remedies like Ben-Gay, Tiger Balm, and (my favorite for tendon pain) Penetrex.

Like many other students, I have learned more about sports injuries than I ever wanted to know. I have tendons, muscles, and get injuries I didn’t even know existed. Virtually very week is a new discovery. Patellar, Achilles, and extensor tendons. Injuries like tennis elbow, pulled muscles, shin splints, sprains, fractures, blisters, cuts, abrasions, jumper’s knee, and plantar faciitis. Good times.

Here’s a quick guide of a few preventatives and remedies I’ve found to be helpful over the past 6 months. No, I’m not a doctor, salesperson, or a therapist and I’m not getting any kickback. Of course, your mileage may vary and you should use all these things at your own risk as I don’t offer any guarantees, apologies, or refunds.

Stinger Organic Energy Chews These things are fantastic! Ever try cherry Life Saver gummies? The cherry blossom flavor tastes exactly like ’em. I usually munch a package of these 15 minutes before showtime and it gives me a nice boost. If it’s a particularly intense workout I will often down another package mid-way into the session, along with a LOT of water.

Advil Everyone knows these magic pellets, of course. I have had good luck with it as it’s usually easy on the stomach. I find it does a good job with muscle soreness and also when I feel a headache is coming on. I think it’s more effective than Tylenol, at least for me. By the way, does anyone else think the Advil coating would make a great candy or is it just me?

Tiger Balm This is particularly good for deep muscle aches when I don’t mind stinking like a medicine cabinet. Very effective but smells pretty awful. Has a nice burn but also feels cool as well. A little goes a long way so this tiny jar will last anyone — even a klutz like me who gets hurt a lot — a good amount of time! Has the consistency of ear wax and is a little bit greasy feeling.

Ben Gay Despite having a name that would make Beavis and Butthead proud this stuff works mighty fine. I have only used the Ultra Strength variety and I learned pretty quickly that you don’t want to slather this stuff on indiscriminately. Fools who try are treated to the kind of sensation not unlike that of a fierce chemical burn. One time I imagined I felt blisters appearing and thought I smelled smoke emanating from my back where I smeared it on too generously. Unwise move. If used more carefully this product does a nice job penetrating in and providing a nice amount of relief to strained muscles. Smells kind of medicine-like but not nearly so much as Tiger Balm. Plus it has a Tic Tac, candy-like scent to it that isn’t altogether unpleasant. My niece gave me a hug once after I’d just put some on and said, “You smell nice!”. Not greasy and doesn’t seem to stain clothing that I’ve noticed.

Penetrex As I mentioned above, I am a big fan of this ointment cream. It has a very slight odor, more reminiscent of menthol than anything, goes on non-greasy without any residue. As they say in the product literature, it penetrates the skin to reduce inflammation but it can take multiple applications (sometimes days) to really hit its stride. This latter difference seems to vary from person to person. I felt a difference within hours, especially for tendon strain, my wife has been using it for weeks and still claims that it isn’t effective. The jar is pretty small and you need a fair amount per application. At $20 a jar it can be an expensive remedy if you need to use if often but I think it’s worth it.

ACE bandage multi-purpose wrap This is a good reusable solution for icing sprains and tendon strains. It consists of an elastic bandage with a pouch inside where you tuck the cold gel pack. Usually lasts about 20 – 30 minutes which is good since I usually only try to keep it on an area (like my knee, for instance) for about 15 minutes. So far I’ve been reusing mine, pretty much daily, for about 3 months and it’s holding up pretty well.

There are certainly many other products on the market that can either prevent or treat injuries; these are just a few I deal with on a routine basis. So as long as I train i think it’s a safe bet that these things will be within arm’s reach.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Posted: September 30, 2011 in Exercise, Injury

This post isn’t so much about Krav Maga so much as how I survive classes without turning into a withered raisin. First, let me give you a little back story. Throughout my life I have been plagued with occasional migraines. These are the real deal — sensitivity to light, ripping headache that feels like my head’s going to explode, waves of nausea, dizzyness…. No fun.  Had them since I was a kid and they usually showed themselves after hard physical exertion in the heat. Since I hydrated well prior to working out I had to attribute these to something else. Was it the heat or some kind of migraine triggered by exertion? I tried to solve the mystery but never really came up with a solid reason.

When I started training back in June I continued my water saturation routines, making sure to hydrate obscenely prior, during, and after the class.  I would routinely drink 1.5 liters of water (or more) prior to working out, another .5 liter during the workout, then about 1 – 1.5 liters more afterwards. When I first started I was nervous that every class would end with me staggering out to the car in agony, drenched in sweat, blood gushing from my ears from the migraine pressure, and seeking a cool dark room to wait it out with an ice pack dripping from my forehead.

Nothing of the sort happened.

It dawned on me that perhaps, all these years — all my LIFE — I had been hydrating but just not enough!  Could it have been this simple all along? Was I that much of an idiot? Could I really have been that dense?!

Turns out, yes to all of the above.

I had been hydrating in the past, sure, but just not enough. When I started Krav Maga, I wanted to be sure that the intense workout wouldn’t turn me to dust so I went what I thought was overboard with the water, going way beyond what my body could reasonably want. I mean, really, does anyone need 3 liters of water? I guess now that I’ve had time to really work through this I would have to say that at least I need it.

I take it very seriously now. I never skimp and I never cram.  I always start hydrating a full 2 hours before class.  That way the water has enough time to get into my body. Otherwise I’d get stomach cramps and pee it away before I even started. I had one of those 750 ml Nalgene water bottles that I fill up and carry around with me.  My goal is to drink steadily, but again not too quickly, for those 2 hours and conquer 2 bottles — or even 3, if possible. I know I’m getting close when — pardon my crudeness — I am peeing every 15 – 20 mins. and I’m “running” completely colorless (or lemonade tint) vs. apple juice tint. If I were to work out with apple juice colored pee I can guarantee you I would not be having a great day afterwards. Following the workout I make sure to drink another 750 ml or more and add in juice and/or recovery drinks if I feel like it. I also try to drink as much as I can during the workout, though we don’t usually have too many opportunities.

Your mileage may vary, of course. I am heavyset and sweat easily so I can certainly see how my fluid intake needs are more severe than, say, a runway super-model. Physiologically I think my body is just more water needy than others. I also should drink more during the day anyhow — impending workout or not. You might need far less than me or not have to have a hydration ritual along the lines of what I described. If so, great, but I personally would still suggest that you think about keeping hydration on your mind and make an effort to up your intake if possible. Even if you aren’t feeling any ill effects your body could probably benefit nonetheless, whether you’re going to be working out or not.

This week I (re)learned that it’s important to listen to your body. I have a bad right knee from a dislocation and MCL tear about 20 years ago. I am fully functional but if I take that for granted my knee will most certainly remind me who’s ultimately in charge in some knee-abusing situations.

This week was such a week and I did some knee-stressing exercises along with the class that I regretted the next day — side planks and a “jump” variation where you keep your feet together then bounce them to the left and right of center while in that plank position. Both are clearly great exercises but are really hard on the knees, particularly the sides of your knees, as the really put the pressure to the sides of your knees. I think I might have been in a worse position than some others given my long legs (I’m 6’4″).

The following day I was a little concerned rolling out of bed and feeling sore, swollen, and weak in that knee. It ended up clearing up after a few days but it served as a great reminder that certain body parts (especially at my age) are less forgiving than others and you have to listen to your body when it tells you something.

From now on I am going to still participate as hard, if not harder, than anyone else but I am also going to be sure to think things through whenever a vulnerable muscle or joint is involved.

If you are reading this and are on the younger side of middle age, guess what?  You’re not completely exempt.  I thought I was that 20 some odd years ago when I popped my knee cap out of joint and tore that ligament.

Train wisely.