Friday, October 27, 2017

Why Krav Maga?

I joined Global Martial Arts in August of 2016, a few months after starting my very first nursing job on a busy medical-surgical floor.  The acuity level on my unit is high, meaning my patients are very ill and need a lot from me in terms of time and expertise.  Each night I go to work, I have no idea what I will face. The variety is interesting and challenging but also intensely stressful.  I knew right away that I would need some way to blow off steam, something equally intense that would help me forget everything for a while. For me that something is krav maga.

The name of my blog is Addicted to Kicking, and I kind of am.  When I hit  my heavy bag I think of nothing else and it reduces my stress.  Exercise is good for my body and mind.  It brightens my mood and helps me focus.  I like that I began learning krav maga when I started my nursing career.  As I grow and improve professionally I am also developing into a skilled krav maga martial artist.  When I have a tough shift at work, I have krav maga to help me recover. 

This week my krav maga partner had the flu, so I trained alone the entire time.  I worked on ground strength quite a bit.  With my strikes, I focused on keeping my hands up and my face protected.  It takes a fair amount of composure and a lot of training to have good technique. My goals this week were to gain strength and muscle memory.  Training alone takes a lot of discipline, and I look forward to sessions with my training partner again soon.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I'm Too Nice

"You're so sweet."  I get told that a lot.  I guess it's because I'm usually kind and fairly soft spoken unless I'm angry or excited.  I like being sweet.  I was raised to be polite, trusting, and helpful.  I am so sweet that if someone makes me feel uncomfortable, I usually end up apologizing to them even though I know that's a little messed up.  It's easy for me to take my safety for granted though.  I have always lived in safe places, and in the small town where I live now people are nicer than anywhere else I have known.  Still, not all people are good and I always scan my surroundings.  I am aware of my personal space, trouble is I let people break that plane all the time.  Where I live it would be weird to freak out when someone passes within a few feet of me as I'm loading up my groceries.  People are nice here, and with me being as sweet as I am it would horrify me to come off as rude. So instead of creating physical space by moving away, I smile and say hello.  I inconspicuously position myself so I could attack and know what I would use for a weapon, but ultimately I let people nearer than what is smart.  Some guy even apologized to me once when I was in nursing school.  All of the parking places on campus were full, and I finally found a spot on the top level of a city-owned structure.  With a backpack full of heavy textbooks, I decided to take the elevator to the ground level.  I was alone until the last minute when some guy showed up and hopped in the elevator with me.  It would have been smarter to step off the elevator, but I was running late and didn't want to appear rude.  It must have been obvious that I was second guessing my decision because he apologized for not taking the stairs.  Instead of accepting his apology, I ended up saying sorry for appearing uncomfortable.  Yep, I'm that...nice?  I know better.  It's okay to risk offending someone and err on the side of safety.  I train hard and hope I never need to use it, but I wonder if I would listen to my instincts when it matters.

Regarding my krav maga progress, training is going really well.  My style is becoming more krav maga and less taekwondo, and I don't have to think so hard about what to do.  I am comfortable with most of the yellow belt self defenses, and my movements are fluid and logical.  I am faster and more relentless.  I am not ready for my next rank testing yet, but I feel more prepared with every training session.  For the 90-day challenge, I am concerned that I will not fulfill the required training hours before December.  I need to log about 4.5 hours every week and I am only managing about 3.5 hours.  I can come up with reasons why I have only trained that much, but excuses won't help me reach my goal.  One great thing about Global Martial Arts is that you can submit videos and receive instructor feedback prior to testing.  With the strides I have been making, I plan to submit a practice testing video in a few weeks.  Then I can make any needed changes during my final push to complete the entire 72 hours of required training.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Feeling Like a Low Rank

My taekwondo background and mixed martial arts workouts have prepared me well for krav maga.  Up until now, it has been easy.  Even when I failed my first rank test I only had to tweak my technique by hitting harder and performing my combatives faster.  Everything was more or less natural and familiar.  I knew I had a lot to learn, but I felt like a high ranking martial artist who happened to be starting over in a new, similar discipline.  Then came front bear hug with pain compliance.

Yes, pain compliance.  I'm learning how to inflict pain in order to gain an advantage over an attacker.  So if someone tries to grab me at the waist and wrap me up, I now know how to put them on the ground by grabbing their head just so and twisting their neck to make them want to fall to the ground. If that sounds scary to learn, it is!  Until the day before yesterday I had not done it on a real person.  My training partner (Mike) and I had watched the training video together and I practiced at home on my heavy bag hundreds of times, but when it came time to practicing with a real partner, it was awkward and unfamiliar. When I was 'attacked' I froze.  I didn't know where to put my hands, and my feet were all mixed up.  After I figured that out, I still couldn't bring myself to twist my partner's neck.  I thought everything in krav maga is supposed to feel natural, and throwing someone to the ground by the neck does not feel natural at all!  I even went second.  Mike had already sent me to the floor a half a dozen times and I still didn't want to do it to him. But eventually I did it, slowly and hesitantly, but I did do it and Mike is fine. 

I'm planning to ask my instructor if slow motion for pain compliance will pass testing, but I know the answer will be no.  Standards will be set as high as any other move and it feels like a test in and of itself.  Is this a predictable turning point krav maga training?  Am I learning this scary move now to prove I can do whatever it takes to protect myself?  Or maybe front bear hug with pain compliance is just relatively easy to learn and I am reading way more into it than I should.  Either way, I feel humbled.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


I have a nice collection of exercise videos, including Tapout, Tapout XT, a bunch of the P90x series, Asylum, UFC, and Global Martial Arts University's very own Krav Maga Workout (which is awesome).  When I am seriously training krav maga, I don't usually have time for any other type of workout.  Sometimes when I am working on krav maga alone, I struggle with staying focused and keeping my workouts as high energy as possible.  I have solved this problem by creating tabata workouts for myself using techniques from my krav maga curriculum.  With a tabata, you plan a few exercises to do for a certain amount of time before resting and then repeating them again a bunch of times before moving on to the next exercise. I use an app that I pulled off of the internet for free that lets me program in my own music and has prompts to "start working," "rest," and "tabata complete."   I like to do 6 exercises 6 times each for 60 seconds with a 15 second rest between each set.  If I want more structure to my warm up and cool down, I will set up 8 tabatas instead.  Here is a tabata I used the other day that had me sweating.

8 tabatas, 6 sets each, work 60 seconds each set, rest 15 seconds between each set:

1.  Warm up:  Grapevine alternating with Krav Maga footwork (the contrast makes you think about  your feet and where they should be), jumping jacks, jog in place (high knees), leg stretches, squat jumps, pushups.

2.  Bag fight (quick, logical combatives)

3. Planks

4. Curls and triceps (3 sets each)

5.  Bridge kicks

6. Sprawl, knee kicks, stand in base.

7.  Abdomen and core.

8. Cool down and stretch.

When I was finished, I felt as if I had a great workout and solid krav maga training session.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Global Martial Arts 90 Day Challenge - Krav Maga Orange Belt

Hi, I'm Jill and I'm writing to share my martial arts training with you.  I hold a yellow belt in krav maga through Global Martial Arts University and a third degree black belt in taekwondo with American Taekwondo Association. As part of a contest for enrolled students, I have been challenged by Global Martial Arts to earn my next belt in krav maga within the next 90 days.  If my testing video is voted best, I will receive $400 toward a cruise.  The runner up wins training equipment, and everyone who completes the challenge gets a super cool t-shirt.  I love competition, but only when good sportsmanship prevails, and I offer my competitors encouragement and support.  My real reward is intrinsic, but winning at least a t-shirt would be fun, so game on! 

For me, this 90 day challenge will be tough, and I will succeed only through focused training and perseverance.  To be eligible to test for orange belt, I must first complete 72 hours of training as a yellow belt. I still have 47 hours of training left, so it will take me the entire 90 days to complete the challenge and I will need to pass testing on my first attempt. It took me two tries to earn yellow belt.

I am proud of the years of training behind me and what martial arts has done for my confidence and self control.  I love the element of surprise when I tell people I am a black belt in taekwondo and cannot wait until I can say I am a black belt in krav maga too.  If impatience could help me earn orange belt within 90 days, it would certainly be mine.  Instead I will fully experience yellow belt, complete with its good days and bad, self doubt and confidence, awkwardness and mastery.  Within 90 days I will humbly submit a testing video and receive detailed feedback from my instructor.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can or think you can't you're right."  I can and I will.  I invite you to read my weekly blog as I document my experience.