Thursday, 18 August 2016

Kids Instructor Course 2016

Kids Instructor Course, KIC

Haifa, Israel

21st to 25th June 2016

by Lance Manley

Junior Safe Krav Maga is a UK children’s Krav school owned by Russell Brotherston an E2 KMG instructor who also teaches at Krav Maga Midlands. 

The Kids class is children aged 6 to 10 where the techniques taught focus mainly on evasion and avoiding confrontation. From 10 to 16 the tactics are similar to the adult classes with more emphasis on striking and some sparring work.

The curriculum is however very different from adult Krav with clear lines drawn between what is and isn’t acceptable when dealing with confrontation and aggression. Soft and hard techniques are shown and the children are told when to use them and in what situations they are appropriate.

Israeli Zeev Cohen of KMG is a Master Level 1 instructor (Expert level 6) and the creator of the Kids Instructor course. After assisting at JSKM for nearly 2 years I’d been wanting to do take KIC for ages but was unable to due to not having done the General Instructors Course. I was chuffed to bits when I discovered that KMG now allow non GIC to take the program, meaning they can then work for a club run by a qualified KMG instructor.

I needed a recommendation from my national director, Jon Bullock and also Russell in order to be considered for this. Both said to go for it and the next opportunity was to take the course in Haifa, Israel in June.

5 days of training with Zeev Cohen, in the birthplace of Krav. An opportunity not to be missed.

I’d booked accommodation online, not knowing just how big Haifa is, and was glad I’d had the foresight to arrive a day before the course started. After figuring out how to get to and from KMG’s temporary base at the Leonardo Hotel on the beach front, I did a bit of sightseeing and set the alarm for 5.30am the next morning.

Arriving in good time I was met by two Italian instructors (both called Roberta and both from Sardegna) and a fellow Brit named Richard. Along with us was Johen, a Danish instructor. The rest were Israeli and waiting for us at Zeev’s gym, which we were cheerfully told was 75 minutes drive away in the town of Kfar Saba. Piling into the minibus we got to the gym about 8am and were met by Daniel KMG of Krav HQ, someone I’d interacted with many times on Facebook but had never met before. 

Zeev greeted us and after a warm up we got into our first practical lesson. 45 minutes of Kids based classroom stuff. The manual Zeev gave us is one he wrote himself. His passion for teaching children was very clear, as was how seriously he takes his job and his instructions and directions were very precise and detailed. 

Zeev stressed the importance of making instructions easy to follow for children and to keep language at a basic. Someone used the expression “at a loose end” and was corrected as this would possibly be too complicated for some kids to understand. 

He also emphasised just how easily children can be distracted and how it’s important to keep their attention and above all not be boring. He added that instructors are not comedians but humour can work if you use it appropriately in lessons.

One interesting aspect was that he said techniques should not be corrected in the warm ups as this is only to get the children motivated and literally “warmed up”. 

After the practical lesson we then moved on to feedback and discussing what we’d done. 

We broke for lunch at 1pm, making our way into town for a much needed laffa bread kebab and some liquids.

When we started off the afternoon’s work, even in an air conditioned room I was feeling the heat and so were some of the others. We finally stopped about 5pm with a homework task for the next day. A micro lesson of 7 or 8 minutes that we would give to each other before the big event on Thursday when we actually got to teach to some of Zeev’s younger students.

Back in the taxi and home for a much needed shower and some sleep. 

KIC Day 2

22nd June 2016

The second day was held at the same place where E camp was taking place, in a local school’s sports hall, about 10 minutes by bus from my flat. I grabbed a large coffee on the way in, and met the others at the venue.

Today was the micro lesson but we started off with a lot of physical stuff, including “fencing” (trying to poke our partner in the belly with one hand behind our backs) and moving up in difficulty to eventually arrive at take downs. 

We then did some pad work with us laying on our backs and our partners attempting to touch our heads with a strike shield. Zeev taught us a specific technique in order to stand up from this, progressing from basic stuff to actually trying it while our partners were giving us a hard time. 

We moved on to the assessments and were split into 2 groups of 5, with half the mat each. Our colleagues were pretending to be the ‘kids’ when it was our turn to go. The idea was that you had planned for 20 minutes but would finish in just 8. Zeev sat facing both groups, sideways on and put a timer down for us to see. Once it hit red it meant you had just 2 minutes left.

I was impressed by my colleagues’ lessons, and Zeev had generously allowed me to go after the more experienced Krav instructors.

When it came to my turn I quickly realised that the 8 minutes that had seemed so long when everyone else did it, was in fact a blink of light when you were playing the instructor. I got most of my lesson done but had to can the planned ending. Once everyone had gone through we broke for lunch.

14 year old Israeli trainee Edden, one of the juniors also taking the course told me that she is often underestimated by people who think she is ‘cute’ due to her short stature and youth. Having “fenced’ with her earlier I knew how tough she was, as I could barely get near her she was so agile. She added that any guy who tried to give her a hard time on the street would “get his ass kicked”.

Moving back to the training venue and the E level students were making their way in for the afternoon’s training. It was good to see Nick Maison again, owner of Total Krav Maga who was up for his E4 test. Also Jon Bullock and Alan Dennis.

Back inside and we took up residence in a smaller fitness room, as the E camp were going to have the use of the main hall. Zeev gave us all constructive feedback and when he got to me, said that he liked my sense of humour and that was something I should build on when teaching children. As I’d been nervous as hell before, during and after the micro lesson, this was reassuring and uplifting to hear. He added that my lack of technical ability was something I needed to work on but was counter balanced by my presentation skills.

Later on a lady came into the room and it turned out that the Womens Instructor Course had nowhere to take their lesson and needed the space. As no other suggestions were forthcoming, Zeev moved us back into the main hall, on the mats we had been on in the morning. Eyal Yanilov was instructing around 80 E level students in the finer arts of pistol disarms. A lad in my group frantically ‘shushed’ me when I was putting on my boxing gloves as the velcro made a loud noise. I’ve been in awe of G levels myself, let alone E and can understand that fear that drawing attention to yourself will result in being invited to take part in a multiple attackers scenario. 

We then moved into some striking techniques, with Zeev correcting us. I realised then just how lacking my fighting skills are, as I wasn’t using correct arm positions or moving my hips correctly, for a lot of the time. This was counter balanced by my partner who was only 17 but very agile and used to moving well.

We broke for the day, and I spotted Dimitris from Krav Maga Chania, who I had trained with while on holiday in Crete last year. He was there taking the WIC and they’d all been dancing the Zumba in the small fitness suite.

KIC Day 3

23rd June 2016

Another taxi ride to Kfar Saba where we went through the final feedback from the micro lessons from the previous day before and then worked on further games and ways to entertain little Kravvers.

One thing we were all looking forward to and fearing in equal measure was the arrival of THE KIDS. Zeev had asked his junior Kravvers which ones would like to come and help out with his training of wannabe instructors from abroad, and apparently there had been a lot of enthusiastic responses from ages 5 to about 13.

I was partnered with Richard. He’d got his G3 patch at the previous week’s G camp and was super attentive to detail on his lesson plan. We’d exchanged a lot of Watts App messages the night before in order to prepare and at lunch time (plus any other possible moment) were going over what we intended to do. As he already had GIC, I’d suggested that he handle the technical delivery while I dealt with the introduction and warm ups. We’d been handed the task of teaching Stop Kicks and as the clock ticked ever closer to 4pm when the children would arrive, we were both getting nervous. 

After lunch all of us sat with Zeev in the training room and thrashed out our lesson plans. He suggested changes where he thought necessary and helped us get it streamlined in time. By 3.45 we could hear giggly voices on the stairwell and knew it was time to get ready.

Zeev had told us that the children would be super excited to see non Israeli teachers and the first group up had Joen in it, who introduced himself as a viking. This was translated into Hebrew and the kids all giggled. His lesson was with two other teachers and went really well.

Next me and Richard were up and I got the kids into a line and introduced us before getting them into a warm up playing Tag followed by kicking and punching a strike shield, mainly as an intro to the technical plans later on. I was very grateful for Richard occasionally swinging by with his strike shield to whisper the time. We were on a very tight schedule with a lesson of only 25 minutes and things had to be kept to the limits we’d agreed. 

I then handed over to Richard and he got stuck into the main part, showing the children the 3 moves to block a front kick. We finished with a game where they had to run in teams to try the moves with either of us and then lined up for the final Kida. Time had blurred and I was sweating buckets, even in the air conditioned luxury of Zeev’s gym.

As I went to change into a dryer t-shirt the two Italian Robertas were lining their kids up. When everyone had been through we made our way downstairs to get the taxi back to Haifa, looking forward to a slightly more relaxed tone for the final two days with the added bonus of no homework. 

Day 4

24th June 2016

A 9am start in a venue a few minutes by bus from your hotel is always a pleasure and I even managed to grab breakfast on the way in. E camp were in the main room again and it was good to have a quick chat with Russell who was up for his E1.

Once in our classroom Zeev gave us all detailed and constructive feedback about our lessons yesterday. When he got to me he complimented on my use of what he called positive reinforcement and paying compliments to kids who did moves well or tried hard. He picked me up on my use of voice, saying that needed work so I sounded more confident but adding that from 2 days ago it had improved considerably and then added “The learning curve you have shown throughout this course is very impressive”. He handed me my feedback form which had a score of 90% on it. To say I was pleased would have been an understatement.

We had a day of mainly theory based instruction, working on the Young 2 grading criteria and ways to overcome problems found in training, such as raising the elbow when doing a straight punch (put the kid against a wall when they are practicing, leaving them no option but to punch straight).

Later we kitted up with 16oz gloves, groin guards, gum shields and shin protection for some light striking training. Normally I am fine being in a public place doing this type of thing but behind us were the entirety of E camp who were having a short break. I realised just how hard these guys were being grilled when I saw at least 5 people sprawled out on the floor taking cat naps before they had to go back in. While doing a punching combo I noticed Eyal Yanilov, who had been chatting with Zeev, was watching me and my partner. After a few seconds he said to me “Look at the chest when striking, don’t look at the targets”. My nervousness got to extremes when I realised that a lot of the E camp were milling about near to us. The only thought in my head was “My striking must look lousy to them”. Looking back on it, I doubt most of them even cared as they had their own stuff to focus upon.

We broke at 3.30 due to Sabbat, a Jewish holy period which meant public transport would shut down by about 5pm and Zeev plus his teenage trainees had to get the last train home. 

KIC Day 5

25th June 2016

The final day was more subdued. We kicked off at 9 with some grappling and striking training, with the idea being that we could show the teens or older kids that we would soon be teaching just how to do it. When we broke and moved back into the classroom, Zeev spent the remainder of our time giving advice on how to best advertise and promote junior Krav to both kids and their parents.

When we stopped to get our certificates a brief ceremony then took place and afterwards Zeev asked to speak to me in private. Ever paranoid I approached him in a quiet corner, like a guilty schoolboy. Turned out that he wanted to offer advice on getting my footwork and striking up to speed as he felt that they brought down my teaching abilities. He added “Your ability to teach, especially to children…is amazing.” Superbly chuffed at this praise/ advice I really felt that the course had been 100% worthwhile.

T-shirts were also given out, emblazoned with the words “Krav Maga Global- Kids Instructor” and I genuinely hadn’t felt as proud since I was chosen by Eyal Yanilov to fight the bullet men 2 years ago at the KMG world tour.

Really amazing experience, showing just how much Zeev loves working with children and how much energy the guy has when he teaches. Top notch training and a thoroughly wonderful time in the heartland of Krav Maga.

Zeev said afterwards “Teaching KIC in Israel is in all ways unique, mainly because the “to be” instructors can see in their own eyes how Krav Maga is educating kids to become better people at life. This year we have been lucky to have the same number of international and Israeli participants, which made the course a unique mixture of English, Hebrew, Italian and some Chinese. The kids and their parents were excited from the training given to them and are still talking about it. All in all, I felt that you guys were getting the core of how to operate the kids program and you are ready to ‘rock it’ back in your homelands.”

Finally I managed to grab Eyal Yanilov to present him with a copy of my Krav book. Zev got a copy of that plus one of my kids' book.

Good times.

Lance Manley is a freelance journalist and author of the book Walk In Pieces: Diary of a Krav Maga Practitioner.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Coffee Without Sugar


Recently, mainly on the advice of a very special friend, I have decided to slowly eliminate sugar from my diet. After 7 months on my arse watching TV shows I have what could politely be described as a soggy midsection, and need to get back to the washboard of a year or so back.

My friend's advice is that once you cut out sugar, you notice the real taste of foods that you would normally drown in sweet overkill. So candy, chocolate and popcorn are no-no's. Also all yogurt bar Greek. Slowly I've been turning away from saccharine heaven and letting my taste buds adjust to the actual flavour of my favourite foods

It hasn't been easy.

I knew cold turkey was a bad idea, so instead I decided to gently wean myself away from the euphoria of Demerera. The biggest pleasure involving sugar that I had was a cup of coffee with three teaspoons

Now I'm not talking about Nescafe. I'm talking specially purchased beans from a friend's cafe just over the road. Concocted in Belgium and shipped over here, these beans are to die for. I have my own coffee grinder and every morning, plus once in the afternoon I will lovingly place two shovel fulls in the mouth of the machine and then hand grind them into grains. Then I'll get out the caffetiere and wait the requisite three minutes before gently activating the plunger.

I'd then put in three brown sugars and gently sip at my mug while checking emails or watching a TV show.


Getting used to the taste of coffee on its own has proved a challenge. Coffee without three sugars, has quite frankly been utterly minging for about a week. Now however I'm used to it and can enjoy the flavours much more as my protesting tongue has settled into a routine and my pleasure glands no longer crave the brown stuff.

Sometimes you need to change in order to accept something new.

Tonight at Krav I was partnered with a guy who has excellent footwork. A few minutes into punching practice and he asked me with a chuckle "Do you always do that thing with your foot before you punch?" It was only then that I realised why people who can fight well tend to see my movements before I throw them. I am advertising the fact. Before a jab I would stutter forward with my left foot. In 5 years I'd never realised this. My partner also pointed out that my face gave away that I was about to attack, as did my shoulders when it came to telegraphing punches or elbow strikes. Crucially I would drop my arm in order to sweep in with a hook punch, and on top of that, didn't move my hip to emphasise the punch. That plus my fighting stance (left leg too far forward so it could be swept away).

I tried to not do these things and, like sugar in coffee, it proved to be a bit of an arse ache. I would still do them, as sub consciously my body thought the movements were "normal". So I reduced the sugar from three to two, not three to zero. I concentrated o the footwork and focussed on not moving my feet as I threw punches. As the class progressed I could feel some improvement in these mistakes but know that it will take a lot of practice to get this knocked into shape.

I needed to retrain my taste buds to like coffee without sugar.

I need to unlearn in order to get better.

Sunday, 12 June 2016


In exactly one week I fly to Tel Aviv in Israel and from there will make my way to Haifa, home of Krav Maga Global's HQ.

For 5 days I will learn the intricacies of the Kids Instructor Course.

This has been something I've desperately wanted to do for about 18 months.

Since January of 2015 I've assisted at my local kiddy Krav club, Junior Safe Krav Maga. Headed up by Russell Brotherston, one of the instructors from Krav Maga Midlands, this was initially a daunting and knackering task every Monday. Nothing has more zest for life than a 6 year old child. They can run rings around all adults bar Olympic athletes with their indefatigable desire to expend as much energy as possible. I've worked with kids for over 20 years in various roles but above all I find teaching children Krav Maga immensely rewarding. The kids are predominantly girls (a flip from what we call Big Krav to them, where the ratio is about 1 woman to every 10 blokes) and helping them develop the self confidence to "walk in peace" (or even skip merrily) is a massively satisfying thing to do. The little girl from THIS STORY is now one of the most confident in the class, throwing roundhouse kicks with full force and getting stuck into everything we do.

I've always wanted to back up the experience and knowledge I've gained in a year & a half, with formal certification. The last KIC in the UK ran while I was off sick after a knee operation and the only one happening soon that I could attend, was in Israel. Without GIC under my belt I was obliged to get a recommendation from not only Russell but also Jon Bullock, the head of KMG UK. I spent 20 minutes drafting an email to Jon, outlining my reasons for wanting to attend KIC and citing my extensive experience plus my recently acquired Paediatric First Aid certificate. True to form Jon signed off on it with the pithy reply "No worries at all, good luck".

After applying to Israel and getting accepted onto the course I was informed that my certificate will be an Assistant Instructor Diploma, automatically upgrading to a full Kids Instructor should I ever take GIC in the future. Once the euphoria had abated slightly I set about doing the more laborious stuff. A flight, accommodation and sussing transport routes. The flight was easy but accommodation proved trickier. I eventually got a studio apartment via the wonderful Airbnb website (like Couchsurfing but you pay). I also booked a "chill out day" before flying home, meaning I can hire a car and take a look around Israel (or at least the bits nearest to Haifa).

And the trainer will probably be Zeev Cohen.

One more thing to pretend to not be worried about.

I'm nervous as hell but thrilled to bits to be a part of this.

* Check out my latest book, WALK IN PIECES: DIARY OF A KRAV MAGA PRACTITIONER. Available on Amazon.