Archive | February, 2012

Krav maga: What I’ve learned so far

28 Feb

This weekend I had my eighth krav maga class. I still get butterflies, and I still sometimes feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but I have fun every single time, and I’ve learned a lot.

The classes start with 10 to 15 minutes of conditioning. Doesn’t sound like a lot but I’m always dripping with sweat afterward. Conditioning can involve any of the following:

  • Jogging around the room or in place
  • Jogging and trying to kick your own butt
  • Jogging with knees high
  • Fast running in place
  • Jumping jacks
  • Crunches
  • Push-ups
  • Handshake push-ups
  • Elbow push-ups
  • Standing sit-ups

We did standing sit-ups for the first time this weekend. When the instructor started to show us, I thought they were regular sit-ups with a one-two punch. Then he said, “Then stand up.” Everyone was like, “Whaaaat???” I was able to do maybe five. Luckily my partner held me down tight. Surprisingly, I can do the different kinds of push-ups, and not on my knees, woot! I guess all those planks, chatarungas, and burpees have paid off.

After conditioning, we learn stances, kicks, and punches, and run through those several times with our partners. So far I’ve learned:

  • Fighting stance
  • Footwork
  • Straight punch
  • Hammer punch
  • Side elbow punch
  • Groin kick
  • Knee kick
  • Blocks

This is when I feel like an idiot. My form has improved, especially with the tips that MB has given me, but I still feel awkward most of the time.

Then we learn how to put certain punches and kicks together, and defend ourselves in difference attack scenarios, like:

  • Choke from the front
  • Choke from the back
  • Headlock

I’m best at getting out of a headlock. This weekend my teacher even gave me a pat on the back! But I’m still terrible about getting out of the chokes, which involves something called plucking.

When I come home, I’m always excited to show MB what I’ve learned. He corrects my form and teaches me a little more. Then we spar for a bit. Last week he told me how to do blocks, namely how to keep your eyes at the center of your opponent’s chest and use your peripheral vision to see the oncoming blow, rather than look at the person’s hand. So this weekend when we practiced blocks in class, I kind of knew what I was doing. I still sucked, but was able to tell my partner to not look at my hand but my middle and to use his peripheral vision, which seemed to improve his blocking.

MB also had me practice footwork. This is much harder than it looks, at least for me. When you step forward, you don’t just take a step with your front foot. The higher you lift your foot, the more easily your opponent can trip you up. What you do is push off with your back foot, move your front forward, keeping it low to the ground, and sort of slide your back foot to close the space. When moving to the right, push off with the left foot, shift your right foot, close the space with your left. Etc. And never cross your feet. You could trip or be thrown off balance.

The only downside to class is if you don’t get paired with a good partner. It’s totally by chance – whomever you happen to be standing near. Some women gravitate to partnering with other women, but this is only good for me if the woman is pretty good. I don’t like getting partnered with someone who’s afraid of getting hurt, not that I’m whaling on people, but when I’m the one holding the punching or kicking pad, I suck it up (as a result I’ve gotten some bruises and abrasions, but they’re sort of like badges of honor).

I’ve found the best partner for me is a short strong guy who’s a krav maga beginner. Don’t know how the guy feels to have me as a partner, but oh well.

Punching and kicking

5 Feb

Recently and unexpectedly, I’ve started taking krav maga.

I’m not sure why.

Maybe because I’ve never taken a self-defense class, or because MB is well-versed in martial arts. Maybe I’m just curious. Or maybe it’s because I’m almost 40 (YUP) and I want to try something different.

Mid-life crisis.

Why krav maga and not another martial art? Sheer laziness. There’s a krav maga place two blocks from my apartment. I’ve passed it before but never thought about taking a class. Then I got the bug up my ass about it, checked their website, and saw they were offering a free 3-day pass for January.

I’d try one class, I decided. It was free and one hour of my life. It’d be a beginning class. No biggie.

When I first got there, I was nervous. There were mostly men. But once class started, I saw there were a few women, at least one who looked as nervous as I felt.

And you know what? It was totally fun.

We started with conditioning, ie, running around the room, lifting stuff above our heads, punching, doing push-ups alternating one-handed (so glad I’ve been practicing plank, chatarunga, and burpees, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it), and some stretches (again, yay for yoga!). Then the instructor taught us stances, kicks, and punches. We practiced those facing the mirror, then with partners. (Some poor guy ended up as my partner and had to make do with my incompetence. But he was really nice about it.) Then we took turns pretending to attack each other and practicing a series of moves our instructor had taught us.

I’m not sure I knew what I was doing, but it was fun as hell.

Plus it helped that the teacher was terrific – energetic, positive, and patient, unlike the teacher this past Thursday. He was all right but a lot more blunt and not very clear with his instructions sometimes, so that when I did something wrong, and he was like, “No, that’s wrong,” I wanted to snap back, “Well, then tell me how to do it.” I held my tongue though and just went with it.

So far what I like best about krav maga is the conditioning at the beginning. I kind of like having someone yelling at me to run! run! run! now do burpees! now do crunches! MB, who was in the military, just shook his head at me. “Angela’s playing army!” I guess I am. It’s sure more fun than running on the treadmill.

I’ve prepaid for a six month membership (there was a special discount) so I have a six month commitment. However, the gym offers other classes. Yoga, conditioning, etc. I’m tempted to switch to all conditioning, but I know just a few classes isn’t enough to give krav maga a chance. MB says I should give it three months, which I’ll try to do, but my shorter term goal for the month of February is to go to krav maga twice a week every week.

Here are all my February fitness goals:

  • Go to krav maga twice a week every week
  • Go to yoga class twice a week every week
  • Hard cardio twice a week every week (dropping from three because of krav maga)
  • Burpees/weights/pilates once a week (this will be a challenge in addition to krav maga)
  • Walk to and from the train station on work days

My knuckles already have scrapes and scratches, which I kind of like.

Today’s class

2 Feb
  • Straight punch
  • Groin kick
  • Choke from behind