Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Shovel or the Paintbrush




Many years ago when I was a little boy, I was sat in class listening to Mrs Drakeford telling us about archaeologists (thank Christ she never put that word in our weekly spelling test) and she asked us offhandedly if we knew what they used to dig up dinosaur skeletons. After much humming and hahhing and being told that spades, shovels, forks and JCB diggers were not the answer she then wrote on the blackboard.

"Paint brushes."

We all scratched our heads and made surprised noises for a couple of minutes, unable to grasp in our little brains how a tool we used to paint pictures with every Tuesday afternoon, could possibly be used to dig up a Stegisouraradasous or a Triangelerotops.

She patiently explained that an archeologist couldn't get a spade and "just go dig, dig, dig!" but would instead have to patiently rub away with gentle bristles, the dirt and detritus covering what they wanted to unearth. When we pointed out this could take weeks Mrs Drakeford said, "It takes YEARS."

I've been doing Krav for about 3 years now and something I've learned is that it's very easy to reach for a shovel when a paintbrush is sometimes required.

When I took P3 in October 2013 I remember Jon Bullock, head of KMG UK saying to us, with examiner Rune Lind stood by his side, that it was from this point forward "no longer about collecting patches." We had a much harder journey ahead of us and blindly or short sightedly charging forward to grasp the next grade's memorabilia was something that wasn't going to happen. Anyone who's taken P3, 4, 5 and up will know just how different they are from P1 and P2.

A paintbrush is a useful tool when aiming for higher grades as the shovel you are handed at your grading is good only for 6 months until your pride calls you to take the NEXT grading. I know for a fact that I cut corners and try to cram in as much as I can as late as possible, hoping that rolls will be cut for time (or lack of mats) and that I'll get the much coveted "group of 3" like I did on P2, so that there is less attention on me and more time to take a breath and watch how my partners do the techniques.

My "shovel" is that I don't go about my planning, training, and technique revision with patience, attention to detail and a desire to get it all "just right" but that I bludgeon my training, trying to get the most difficult moves done to satisfaction and hoping the other candidates are huge in number on the actual day.

I remember feeling at my P4 grading that, had I failed, I probably wouldn't come back any more. The week before I'd been nervous beyond endurance and my fingernails were bitten to little bloody stumps. I wasn't doing this as a sulk or a protest but simply because I didn't want to feel that bad again.

Not a noble, warrior-esque emotion to hold and one I'm most certainly not proud of...but it was there and I acknowledge it.

Overall, a paintbrush is a better tool when preparing for a grading. Take my time, relax and go over the moves at home in front of the DVD appropriate to my level. Learn for at least 2 months before I go, the moves specific to my upcoming grade and go in with the knowledge that I have drilled things as well as I possibly could.

Had I used a paintbrush for P4 I would have felt more confident and loose. Not ice box levels of coolness, but enough so I was sure that even with an Israeli E level examiner's eyes boring into me as he hovered with a clipboard, I would be able to give it my best, and not simply "hope" that it all came together.


Some things take time.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Egone



I am currently reading a very informative book entitled The Little Black Book of Violence by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder. It has the subtitle "What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting."

This book was lent to me by a fellow practitioner** at my club, Krav Maga Midlands.

While perusing it last night, something struck a chord that is fundamental to the principles of Krav, but is sometimes oh so very easy to overlook in favour of the "sexy" bits of what we do.

A preface by Rory Miller (a police sergeant in the US when the book was published) states that he believe most people reading the book will simply cherry pick the parts they like. He goes on to say, "I don't think you can see past your own ego. I think that you will risk your own life and piss away good information to protect your daydreams."

Something that has occurred to me a lot lately is how violence is best stopped by anything other than violence.

I used to be a UK police officer and the experience was soul destroying in its stupidity, lack of basic common sense and political correctness over officer safety. We weren't trained to fight, only to subdue through holding and baton strikes absolutely COULD NOT be aimed at the head, regardless of what the Bad Guy might be coming at you with at the time. We spent 6 weeks on Race & Diversity training, but a measly 4 hours on use of baton and 1 hour on how to fire pepper spray (the only weapons 95% of UK cops carry on patrol).

Krav Maga to me is what the English police should be about. It teaches you to avoid conflict. That "FUCK OFF! STAY AWAY!" shouted at the top of your lungs is the best method to try first, if you have the distance and time. Krav talks about avoidance, de-escalation and getting the hell out of there if it can be achieved. It says violence is a secondary alternative that is played only when less confrontational options won't work.

But as we know, Krav also teaches us to be as brutal as possible, as quickly as possible with the minimum of effort and THEN get the hell out of there.

It's how the English police should be. Common sense and a lack of ego but able to be baddasses if the occasion demands it.

Problem is for me that it's very easy to get enticed by the funky side of Krav. We've all seen sparring sessions at our clubs where two good fighters go hammer and tongs on each other with grace and power. I personally imagine being whoever is the victor.

Then there's the everyday interactions we see where we wonder exactly what we would have done had someone called us a "c**t" in traffic or pushed in front of us in a queue. I personally imagine them being humiliated, maybe even working in an Educational Block like Krav Vader, to make certain they keep their distance.
Problem is that my daydreams quite often cloud my judgment.

I don't like sparring cold bloodedly, although I'm not bad at it when I actually have a go. I can assess threat reasonably well and I'm not a coward. But all my badass fantasies, as I move further into Krav Maga and up the grades (currently P4). I got a busted finger 6 weeks ago in training for trying to block a stomp kick with my fingertips (I was tired, error in judgment...that I'm still paying for). Having seen movies where people simply pop dislocated joints back into place I never envisaged in a thousand years, having to be on restricted duties at work for 9 weeks, repeated visits to the fracture clinic and a special splint being made at Warwick hospital.

The least useful appendage on my entire body has affected my ability to train and means my cardio is so out of practice that I get out of breath running up the stairs.

Ego can be a killer. I've had it for most of my life and always imagined it to be a friend, mistaking it for confidence. Ego isn't confidence. Confidence is feeling that you are able to deal with what is in front of you. Ego is feeling that you can not only do it but do it perfectly and then have loads of women want to shag you because you're such an awesome badass.

It has taken 30 minutes of Yoga a day for over 2 months before I've become supple enough to kick higher than the belly button level of an opponent. My lack of flexibility was something I worked around until I became a teaching assistant at a Kiddy Krav class, and was having rings run round me by 6 year old girls (not to mention wincing as my back strained every time I bent down to pick something up during the class). I now have flexibility again, like I did in my 20s. But it's through adherence to a regime of stretching instructed by someone who knows more than me on the subject.

I see rude or threatening people in public a lot and 10 years ago I'd have jumped in to tell them to leave Mrs A or Mr B alone and be on their way. On some weird level I used to take all obnoxious behaviour as being somehow directed at me, if I was around when it happened. I think my logic was, "You know I'm here and are still doing this in front of me. Therefore you must think I'm a pansy who won't try and stop you."

Krav (plus a few other things, like getting dumped by my ex on a Skype call...just after she'd flown back to Europe on a flight I'd paid for) has helped me to mould and tailor my ego so I no longer feel that I'm a superhero. When I'm drunk, all bets are off, but over this past year particularly I've got involved in things that have made me realise my own limitations and not to be ashamed of them but work with them.

Nick Maison and Jose Silva's Air Safety seminar was a sobering experience and as close to a hijack on a plane as I ever want to get. Forget being a hero, you are lucky if you can even see straight as the "terrorists" shove you around, order you not to look at them and do their best to disorientate you. Nick even said before we started, "If any of you feel like taking on any of the hijackers then feel free...but we WILL give you a kicking and then throw you off the plane"***

Having met both Eyal Yanilov and Zeev Cohen they are both softly spoken and humble men who appear without ego BUT are badasses. After the second day of P Weekend in December I was in reception at Harlow Leisure Zone when they both left for the evening. They did not stand out at all, did not swagger and would have blended into any crowd.

Ego can be dangerous. It ties me into adolescent fantasies about vanquishing the evil hordes and being the bully hunter I always wanted to be. It's only be accepting the drab reality of my own limitations that I can now build upon that and walk through life in a way that means I will assess situations logically and with my mind, not my ego.


Egone.

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** Bloke is a Christian priest in his late 50s and one of the nicest chaps you could ever meet. Hell of a right hook too.

*** Actually a decommissioned 747 on the runway of Bournemouth airport. We weren't airborne.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

12 Days




Last Friday we had the KMM Christmas night out. Nando's is always a favourite of mine, mainly because the local branch is 50 yards from my apartment, but also because there's something so very wonderful about lots of chicken based dishes smothered in chili sauce (not to mention the "bottomless coke").

Afterwards I said cheerio to the 15 or so guys who were about to hit the town and made my way home. During the 90 second journey I saw a couple of young ladies I didn't know and noted that one had a nice ass. She then doubled over and violently puked all over the pavement...while her friend stood there laughing.

Christmas is a time when I like to relax, forget about Krav for a bit and just chill out. Usual stuff like huge boxes of chocolates at work, mince pies with a cup of tea and trying to avoid listening to any Cliff Richard Xmas songs on the radio. Christmas is after all, a time when we feel most able to relax. I don't mean that it isn't stressful because it certainly is. However when you "do" Christmas you aren't tuned in to danger. It's a time when the most we expect is to have a headache choosing and buying presents.

Seeing that woman power vomit all over Regent Street made me realise that the negative aspects of life get a little bit worse during this time, mainly due to the amount of alcohol people shove down their necks. Been there and done that, so I'm not judging BUT if there's one thing Krav has taught me (and in particular KMM's Chief Instructor Bartosz) it's that you need to be aware of what's around you. I rarely use my  mobile phone in the street, and if I do need to make/ receive a call or even change a song on the MP3 player, I will step into a space that is enclosed or semi-enclosed and look around me first. Same at cash points, and same when getting into my car. I also lock the car as soon as I close the door**. It's not that I'm paranoid, I simply regard these steps as common cautiousness on a par with locking my front door, checking the windows are closed and making sure I've turned off the taps before I leave my home every day.

Christmas is the time when people let their guard down. It's been statistically proven that most violent crime drops notably over Christmas week (exceptions being alcohol related crime and domestic violence) and we feel that this is a time to just feel at ease.

A puking woman with a nice bum was an image that reminded me that life gets a tad silly over the festive period. Various scenarios could have sprung from that situation. Had she sprayed sick on a passerby, then there might have been a row. She might have needed help. She might have become aggressive with anyone who criticised her for honking up in public, or...., any number of things. Walking home from a Christmas meal with my Krav buddies I felt "safe" and in a good mood. I wasn't expecting danger or unpleasantness or seeing someone's alimentary canal go into spasms...because I assumed that the world was in as good a mood as I was.

What this showed me was that I need to keep my eyes open and remain aware of my surroundings, even as I look forward to turkey with all the trimmings.

I do Krav because it increases my confidence and allows me to walk in peace. Ultimately that means being aware of what's going on. There's no magic shield like in the Ready Brek*** commercial to protect me against ne'er do wells. I walk in peace because I'm conscious of my surroundings.

This doesn't get to go on holiday.

------------------------------------------

** Soon as I turn the key, the door unlocks, meaning I have to lock it again or wait until I've driven 10 yards for it to self lock. Not a perfect world.

*** 1970s commercial on TV for a porridge breakfast cereal that said it was "central heating for kids".



Monday, 15 December 2014

Warzone 2 Seminar, November 2014

Blog of the Warzone 2 seminar held by Krav Maga Midlands last November that I wrote for their website (click photo for link).



Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Photos from Krav Maga Global P&G Weekend

Photos from the KMG Practitioner and Graduate weekend held in Harlow, Essex from 5th to 7th of December 2015.

Click the rather lovely pizza for the link.




Friday, 28 November 2014

Kid Kida- KMG Global Article

This is an article** I wrote for KMG Global HQ as a guest blogger. It went online last week. Click the photo for the article.




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** Article was written last June. Kimberley Warwick is now a G1 instructor with Krav Maga Midlands (UK) and teaching Women Only classes. Info via this link.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Krav Radar



Today in Tesco I was at the self service tills when the security guard accompanied 2 Eastern European guys back into that area to clarify whether or not they'd paid for their groceries.

To set the scene, the self service area is semi enclosed, with the tills on two sides facing each other and a barrier at one end, with the exit at the other end.

There were about 15 people in there, plus a couple of Tesco staff and it was pretty tight.

I first realised what was happening when I heard raised voices and the repeated phrase "I pay for it. I just don't have receipt!"

I turned around and the guard was standing well within personal space and BETWEEN both guys, trying to peer into the bag of one of them. I stood slightly back so I could see what was going on and one guy came up to me and tried to reach past me, saying "I used this till." As my shopping was in the area he was about to reach into, I stood in his way and asked "you alright?"

"Yeah, I uses this till for my shopping. You see receipt?"

There had been one as I'd turned up, and I'd taken it and put it on the side so it wouldn't be in the way. I reached for it myself as I was aware this guy was agitated, had possibly stolen something and I didn't want him near my stuff in case he tried to hide anything or worse, try to thieve any of my groceries too.

I handed the receipt to the security guard, but not the guy, who looked at it and said "This isn't for your stuff!"

They argued for a little while, and I watched them without turning my back in case it escalated and I had to back away or even try to help out. What was annoying me more than anything was that the guard had clearly NEVER BEEN TRAINED how to appropriately deal with this type of thing, as he had brought two potential shoplifters back to a crowded area filled with various people including an old lady and several women (and before anyone starts, they didn't look like women who could kick ass) plus a child.

This didn't get any worse and the two men seemed merely annoyed that they were being accused. Neither swore or got angrier and they made no attempt to threaten the security guard. The guard obviously thought he needed to solve the situation but put other people (who had nothing to do with the situation), at potential risk by placing these guys and himself amongst bystanders. Worse, in a tightly packed area with limited movement and even fewer exit points.

The lads eventually simply walked off, ignoring the guard, meaning his efforts had been not only inappropriately handled but for nothing.

While this was merely observation, I was pleased after that I'd attempted to assess it with the state of mind I'd been trained to in Krav Maga, which was to look at the potential threat and act (or not act) accordingly.


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Being HARD



At the schools I attended as a child there was a sliding scale of being "hard".

That tiresome machismo that boys adopt after a certain age, became apparent to me when I was about 9. At my first Primary school there was no real posing or acting like a caricature of your favourite superhero. You simply did your thing and had your friends and just got on with it. We had our "top dogs" but they held that position through popularity amongst their peers. There was no need to pretend, as our playtimes were full of "pretend" anyway. Grease, Saturday Night Fever and the irritating TV show Happy Days were stupendously popular when I was a kid. One lunchtime the two most popular boys in my form, Ryan Perry and Jason Fitzmaurice (we didn't hang out with girls unless forced to...girls were smelly and stupid and into sissy things like skipping) got the rest of us together and gave themselves and us nicknames before we "got on our scrambling motorbikes". Jason was the name giver and pointed to himself and went "Fonze" then to Ryan and went "Grease". These were the top names you could possibly have in an era of Richie Cunningham and Greased Lightning*** (which made us giggle as it had the words "shit" and "tit" in it...and was played on the radio a lot). Ryan acknowledged the given name with a smile and a nod, and Jason then named the rest of us.

I got to be "Spud".

Seriously, Spud?!!

We then pretended to be holding handlebars and ran up and down the playground making motorbike noises. This incident was notable for two reasons. One, it was the  only time I ever remember seeing all the boys in my class play a game together without teachers organising it. Two, I left as I thought it was boring and a few minutes later tried to come back but was told I couldn't. The club was closed to Spud now he'd resigned.

When I got to what was then called class M1 (fuck knows what it is now. That stood for Middle 1, so I was 8 going on 9) I noticed that the 11 year olds were acting different to how we'd acted for so long. Now we were in the M section of school we got to use a different playground. One for older kids who got to wear their own clothes instead of uniform (if they wanted to, although the Headmistress was against it). A certain cockiness, surliness and adoption of superfluous gestures was adopted by them. Something that I picked up on very quickly was that the older kids didn't smile a lot. They were, it transpired, trying to look cool or "hard".

A catch phrase of the time was to say "Who let you out?" if someone did something stupid or you just wanted to curtail an argument by putting them down. I once said this to a kid in my class who was friends with a surly, older boy who snapped back "I did, because he didn't belong in there."

Again, my over analytical brain was thinking that the original line about being "let out" was only an insult and not meant to be taken literally. That follow up didn't make sense.

Basically, being older meant you had to be, or at least pretend to be "hard."

At Secondary school the regime was entrenched. Boys had to either be able to fight or put on a persona of "hardness" in order to avoid getting picked on or bullied. If you came across as "hard" then you could call everyone's bluff until one of the genuinely hard kids offered you out.

So...ingrained in me and a lot of little boys as they grew up was that you had to be hard or, failing that, pretend your arse off in order to look like it.

Boys don't cry (a friend of my father once said how great it was when I pointed out that I hadn't cried in over a year), boys don't show too much emotion, boys can fight, boys like football, etc, etc.

Boys had to put on a facade of utter hardness and invulnerability to emotions that only puffs, fairies and girls revelled in.

Realising this wasn't in itself a revelation. What is eye opening however is just how much I carried this attitude with me into my adult life

The swagger when I walk. The poker face when I enter a crowded pub. The cold face when I'm stuck in traffic (countered by the "rage face" when I feel like having a go).

Despite my fondness of animals and children that I don't attempt to hide I, like many men, believe I have to look "hard" even now. Old habits die hard, especially when they are so ingrained in us that we don't even know we're doing them. All that swagger and false bravado was nothing more than an attempt to put on a face that I fundamentally thought I had to.

In Krav Maga I've been told that the best way to defuse aggression is to avoid it. So, if you can walk away from a fight, then do it. If you are in a road rage incident then drive away or just don't lose your cool in the first place. About 6 months ago a rude Scottish guy chased me up the street in his 4x4 because I'd stuck my finger up at him in traffic. I looked in the rearview mirror to find him gesturing furiously for me to pull over and get out. So I did.

Not to be "hard" but because I was genuinely pissed off and angry. This burst his bubble and he simply sat in his car moaning about my lack of road etiquette but making no attempt to get out and confront me...like he'd been telling me he wanted to do.

He felt he had to look "hard"...along with millions of other guys.

The breakthrough in self perception has basically made me see that I don't have to hide my emotions or try and be tougher than I really am.

If you're a man, just think of the times when you've cried and felt ashamed for doing it. The only acceptable occasions for a blub are a close relative's funeral; at your children's birth or when watching footage of old men attending Armistice day on television. Society sets rules on just how much emotion we can feel as men, and tells us we have to fake as much as we're lacking.


To pretend is relatively easy. To be yourself is what's truly "hard".


Thursday, 13 November 2014

On the Bench


After dislocating my left little finger by trying to stop a stomp kick with my hand I paid a visit to the fracture clinic..who signed me off for 3 weeks from active duties at work. This means I'm inside and not outdoors and am limited as to how much I can physically do. Awesome.

The yin to the yang is that I also can't train at Krav either.

Deciding to put a positive spin on this, I went along to the session last Tuesday, solely to watch the Sparring class.

I'd had suspicions that my sparring was lacking so thought half an hour sat watching, free from stress, fatigue or a boot in my groin would help me see just what I need to watch out for and improve upon.

As the main class filed out to go home, the four guys who'd elected to stay for Sparring got kitted up in the bomb disposal vests and got going.


I was partnered with a big Polish guy the night I busted my finger (he didn't dislocate it, that was in the "3 Vs 1" melee at the end) and he was all over me, even knocking me down on the floor a couple of times. This time I watched him fight and he's a good fighter. He waits for you to come to him, which I picked up on last week, however what I hadn't spotted is that if you get too close he takes a couple of hits by protecting his face with his hands...and then follows up with a vicious hook to the side of your head.

As the group changed partners I watched the styles they fought in and a few things became apparent that I hadn't spotted before. First of all, those that landed punches usually didn't telegraph their moves, something I do. Also, those that didn't get repeatedly walloped in the head had their hands up and their chins down, something I fail to do regularly.

I had originally thought that the list of "wounds" picked up on the P4 grading last March sounded badass (lost contact lens, lost gum shield, chipped tooth) but now I realise it's because my guard was down and I wasn't striking properly. My kicking is weak, mainly due to lack of flexibility (Devil's Claw tablets from Holland & Barret and a few "Yoga for Dummies" YouTube videos are helping that) but also stamina and cardio training issues.


For one night it was beneficial to just sit and see how other people fight, without the emotions and adrenalin (not to mention sweat) that come with being part of a class but not being able to see what's going on except for the guy facing you.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Accident Waiting To Happen



Last Thursday in Krav training I got my little finger dislocated on my left hand. There were both negative and positive aspects to this happening.

The Positives were:

1). My adrenalin was so high that it didn't hurt at all and I was able to laugh and joke about it, even joining the other guys for the final "Kida!" before I got driven to hospital.

2). It's my first bona fide "injury" in Krav and there's that adolescent part of my soul that regards it as a legitimate wound picked up in battle. I've been hurt before but tennis elbow and a compressed rotator cuff (shoulder injury) don't really cut it.

3). I got to inhale the gas they use for local anaesthetics when they fix stuff like this, meaning I got to be drunk without spending £25+ to get there.

4). My job is mainly outdoors and it's winter and tiddling with rain most of the time and I'm now on restricted duties at work meaning I'm indoors.


The Negatives however...

1). I have a P5 grading/ P Weekend coming up in 4 weeks so need to be fit for that. The injury means I will miss training and more importantly sparring training.

2). I missed Warzone 2: Behind Enemy Lines, a gun seminar that my club ran 2 days after I got injured. I'd been looking forward to this for about 5 weeks.

3). I'm on weird painkillers that make me feel shitty.

4). Most importantly, I've realised just how lousy my sparring is.

If we take point 4 from the Negatives.

I had hypnotherapy for my reluctance around sparring and/ or combat training and resolved some deeply horrible childhood issues that had led to this. Other side of this blackness though was the irony of actually not wanting to go as I didn't like it and to be honest just couldn't be arsed half the time. I took up Krav to stay fit and avoid fighting if necessary. Coldly touching gloves with someone then trying to kick and punch them for 2 minutes didn't seem to be very evasive. However I later learned that this is a fundamental part of Krav, especially from P3 and up as you will be beasted at a grading. We had about 30 minutes of full on sparring at my P4 test in March 2014. While I lasted the course, I lost a piece of a tooth, my gum shield and one contact lens and my T-shirt was wetter than a haddock's bathing costume.

I told myself I'd start to go in to the sparring again a few weeks before the P Weekend and get my stamina, cardio and skills up to speed. Problem was that this week I've finally seen that this is a part of training that you need to attend regularly. One guy I was fighting was all over me, punching and kicking and even when we changed partners it seemed like a movie where the block is thrown the same time as the punch (basically because it's choreography and they know what's coming next). I was telegraphing most of my moves, dropping my guard and getting more and more knackered at time wore on. The clincher came when we were doing the final exercise (3 against 1) and I tried to block a stomp kick with my left hand. Something you are never supposed to do. I felt the "thud" and realised that I couldn't bend my little finger. I stepped out to wrench off my soaking MMA mitt (to confused looks from my instructor) and saw it was now banana shaped.

Joking aside, this could have been a lot worse. The nurse at A&E (ironically his badge read "Nurse Practitioner") got me to inhale the nitrous oxide for a bit, then crunched the joint back into place. I will be sore for a bit and have limited mobility in my pinky, but I can go back pretty soon.


Bottom line is...you need to do something regularly to be good at it, not just when you feel like it.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

JSKM- Junior Safe Krav Maga

6th October 2014

Urban Sports Fitness,
Heathcote Industrial Estate
Royal Leamington Spa




Russell Brotherston, a G4 Krav Maga instructor with Krav Maga Midlands, runs JSKM on Mondays in Royal Leamington Spa and Fridays in Stratford upon Avon. It's for children aged 6 and up and the Monday class is with little ones aged 6 to about 10.

I have been a couple of times before as an observer and it always looked like a lot of fun. The kids seemed to really enjoy it, Russell was clearly having the time of his life and the various KMM Krav students that were assisting him were obviously having a great time .

Russell asked me to help out last Monday and I was more than up for it as I've worked with children on and off since about 1995 teaching English and on summer camps.

The format is VERY different to adult Krav, right from the first Kida! (Kneel, pound the mat as hard as you can with your fists and shout at the top of your lungs). The main emphasis is on evasion techniques and using fast force to dodge, evade or strike a stronger, bigger attacker (i.e. an adult).

When I got there a couple of the girls were running about playing Tig and wanted me to join in. This quickly degenerated into something not dissimilar to Calvinball from the cartoon strip CALVIN AND HOBBES (i.e. "the only rule is that there are no rules"). The children seemed to have the same energy as a nuclear reactor and I quickly worked up a good sweat on the mats.



At about 5pm we got sorted, Russell introduced me to the kids and had them playing a continuation of Tig but where, when I  tapped them, they had to stand still and he would walk up to them and grab their arm. They had to perform the appropriate technique to get out of that and then he'd let them go.

It's been a few years since I was a pre-teen, and I'd forgotten just how competitive children can be. It was endearing to see just how fast they pelted about the room to avoid getting caught.

We then moved on to a game where their punching skills came into play and in teams of they had to run up to me or Russell and punch a strike mitt 10 times, then run to the end of the room and perform a grab release, before running back so the next person could have a go. This inevitably led to lots of shouting and encouragement and both teams declaring themselves the winners at the end.

We then moved on to a game where me and Russell chased them and would then grab either their T-shirts or their wrists and not let go until they performed a decent release move. Russell demonstrated the knuckle rap release (or "knocking on the barn door") which hurts like hell if done properly, even if a little kid is doing it. To negate any pain issues, we both put MMA gloves on and then got to work. Again, this was a lot of fun and I couldn't help laughing when one 6 year old (the smallest girl in the class) simply booted me in the crotch, grinned broadly and then ran off again when I took her arm (God bless the inventor of the groin guard).

While I grabbed a quick sip of water and wiped the sweat from my brow, they were still jumping up and down ready for the next game. Idea this time was that I had two soft strike pads and would throw them at the kids who had to try and dodge them and, if hit, stand still. Russell would walk up behind them and either bear hug them or put them in a headlock and they had to once again perform the appropriate release.

First time (and probably last) that I would ever get to impersonate Rinzler from Tron Legacy. Great time hurling the pads at the indignant students, a couple of which were very nimble and one in particular proved hardest to catch, sometimes simply jumping over the pad as I threw it at him. Picking them up again was playing havoc with my back and I vowed silently to get into some Yoga in the very near future.



Final game had me and Russell sitting on a full sized strike shield each, and each team (about 5 kids per group) had to try and take it off us and drag it to the back of the room. I thought this would be easy but it seems that nothing is more determined than a gang of children whose combined ages comes to about 26. Within about a minute they'd managed to wrench it off me and were leaping around celebrating victory.

By the end the kids were still red faced but loving it and with a few disappointed groans they lined up for the final Kida! Every session Russell chooses two children to come and kneel next to him at the end, meaning they have shown the most determination or shone in other ways throughout the session. He chose one child and asked me to pick another. I selected a lad who was only on his 2nd session but had got stuck in with a big grin on his face the whole way through. I told his mum after, that his spectacles seemed like Indiana Jones's hat, as he never lost them no matter what happened.



A lot of fun had by all and a great way to educate kids to basic self defence and team work.

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If interested call Russell on 07545 959241 or go to www.juniorsafe-kravmaga.com


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Multiple Attackers in a Magical Fantasy Novel



This is a scene from my latest book THE SUNDER OF THE OCTAGON, a magical fantasy adventure aimed at older children.

This scene was inspired by the idea of "What would happen if a guy who was trained to fight in a very Kravvy way was magically turned into a geriatric...BUT then magically regained his youth and turned on his multiple attackers."

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 An hour later Jeroth sat in the chair in his small room while Calson sat on the floor, cross legged, happily brushing away at the left boot. Jeroth looked down at his gnarled, calloused feet and winced. Glancing across at the boy he snapped, “No, no. Brush in one direction only, towards the toes. You got it now?”
Calson squinted at the boot and held it up then smiled. “Think so…”
Good, when you’ve done that there’s…”
Before he could finish there was a mighty bang and the door crashed open. Three huge men stood in the doorway. Calson jumped with fear and leapt to his feet. Jeroth stared at them in disbelief.
There he is, the little runt!” one of the men growled. Calson looked terrified.
You shouldn’t steal from your betters boy!” another snarled as they pounded into the room, their huge feet making the walls shake.
Calson ran behind Jeroth and gibbered “I didn’t do nothing like. Wasn’t me.”
Don’t lie you little wretch!” the second man said. They were all hugely powerful men and they ignored Jeroth as they advanced on the cowering, frightened boy.
Jeroth stood, his anger raised more by them ignoring him than their unwanted presence. “What do you want?”
The men stopped for a moment, looked at each other and then laughed.
Ohh, ho. Silly old fool” the first man said sneering. “Don’t be a stupid old man, just get out the way.”
Jeroth stared at them. There was a time when he could have put all three of these men down in seconds, in a fair or unfair fight. He felt his anger rise again. Calson stood behind him, clearly terrified.
Just go and leave us, you have no right to be here!” Jeroth shouted, his voice cracking. He brought his walking stick up and caught the middle man in the crotch with it. The man yelped and his eyes crossed as he sagged to his knees.
Right, that’s it!” the first man snarled and drew a dagger. Before Jeroth could react the man plunged it into his chest. He grinned as the blade went through Jeroth’s jerkin.
Gave you your chance old fool!” he hissed. Jeroth glared at him as he started to fall forwards, his hand fumbling weakly for the handle of the blade.
As the thug went to pull the knife free Jeroth’s face lit up with a blinding glow, the rays spreading rapidly down his body.
Gods Theub, never seen your blade do THAT before!” the first thug said blinking in shock. Jeroth collapsed on the floor, his whole body shining brightly as the men looked down.
Oh well, stranger things…and all that” Theub said and turned back to Calson. “Now look what mischief you’ve caused. You’ll pay dearly for this!”
The man on his knees struggled upright, drawing in breath in big gasps. Jeroth’s body continued to shine. “Weird” the man said shaking his head. “Get the brat outside.”
Calson squealed as Theub grabbed him by the ear and pulled him upright. As the man turned to the door a heavy hand descended on his shoulder. He turned to find a stranger glaring at him. Bearded, over six feet tall and heavily built. Theub’s dagger was sticking out from his chest.
The man looked down at the knife and with his other hand pulled it free. “Tsk, tsk” he said tossing the blade away. “We won’t be needing that now.” Before Theub could react the man punched him in the face. He flew back across the room. Calson stared in confusion at the newcomer. “Wait outside boy!” he barked. “This is not for your eyes!”
As Calson shot out the door and down the steps he heard the man laugh loudly.
Right! Who wants to go first?” CRASH!
No sorry, sorry…it was a mistake!” SMASH!”
It's naughty to tell lies!!” THUD! CRASH!
PLEASE…we’re sorry! Aahhh! No, no….!” SMASH!
Just you two left now, tell you what I’ll fight with my hands behind my back!” THUD! CRASH! SPLINTER!
Ha! Haa! Never said I wouldn’t use my head and feet though did I?” CRASH!
Ugh! Stop please, we’re sorry!”
Not as much as you’re going to be!!!” THUD! SPLINTER! CRASH!
Calson stared at the window as the noise continued. Suddenly the glass shattered and Theub came hurtling out and landed on his back in the street. He groaned and moved weakly, cuts and bruises on his face.
The bearded man came down the steps, holding his newly polished boots and whistling.
Ahhh, that feels better!” he said pulling on his right boot and then kicking the prone figure as hard as he could. Theub groaned again. “Just what I needed,” he smiled happily, pulling on his other boot and then turning to Calson who flinched in fear.
It’s alright boy, it’s me” he said. He held out his hands and Calson moved towards him. Jeroth quickly took him under the armpits, swung him up in the air laughing before putting him down again.
Calson stammered, “But what, what happened to you?” he asked, totally confused.
You appear to be an ‘innocent’ as hard as that is to believe,” Jeroth replied, winking. He reached down and felt into the groaning man’s pockets, grunting with satisfaction as he found a thick leather purse. He opened it and emptied gold coins into his palm. “Time for a steak, a fine wine and clothes that fit. Maybe even to ride a horse again.” Calson stared on in amazement.
Jeroth kicked Theub again and walked off. He turned to Calson. “Well, come on lad, you saved me. You get to come too!” Calson fell in step behind him.
Jeroth began singing his favourite song. It was a song about a blackbird and a milkmaid. Life was good again. Now the Emerald Queen’s spell had been reversed.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Eternal Practitioner



Throughout life there are different sets of responsibilities that slot into place as we walk through the process known as "growing up."

At about 5 you have to go to school, which is a huge change from hanging out with mummy or daddy and learning the rules of how to "play" (i.e. the advent of having to share your toys and say 'please' and 'thank you'). You may later on have a younger brother or sister to look after. You will be tasked to "set an example" to the younger kids at school. You have to tidy your room. Etc.

As you move up in years you may have a part time job (in my day the ignominious delights of a paper round) and become a Prefect at school (assuming that they still guilt older kids into being unpaid supervisors for younger ones).

Your responsibilities mount up as you move ever onwards in years.

In adulthood most people find a niche that fits the life of an adult. They form relationships, make lasting friendships and get a job that pays enough to set up a mortgage. They marry, have children and then settle into the life of a fully fledged "grown up". Even later in life they pass their knowledge and wisdom (or lack of) on to the next generation of grand children.

Life can basically be split into 3 levels. Practitioner, Graduate and Expert.

At Practitioner level we are learning. While some things are easy to pick up; such as walking, talking and riding a bike. Others aren't quite so simple such as maths, science or how to tie your shoelaces quickly. However we eventually learn and move on.

Graduate skills are based more on using the Practitioner stuff as a grounding. From basic science we move into the worlds of physics and chemistry and biology. The ability to speak is used to leapfrog into the skill of being able to express yourself through writing or learn a second language. Skills in social interaction will lead to finding a sexual partner and maybe having children. Being aware of danger will be used to become daily awareness of personal space, traffic and hazards. The lists go on.

By the time we reach the Expert levels of life, we are grounded in a full knowledge of Practitioner and Graduate skill sets. The earlier levels rarely need to be refreshed (although they do need to be, now and then) and we can pass on our judgments and experience to those who came into the world later on.

I am approaching a P5 grading, probably in December at the P camp that Krav Maga Global are holding.

There is a part of me that wants to rest on my laurels once this is achieved and not go any further. After all, that lovely patch with its 5 bars would look much more eye catching than a G patch with only one bar...wouldn't it?

Not really...but it's tempting to remain the highest grade of Practitioner than become the lowest level of Graduate. The reasons are a mixture of fear, foreboding but mainly the knowledge that I'll have to actually start taking some responsibility in my life as I move from the P levels to levels where I will not only be eligible to take an instructor's course (regrading pending of course) but attend G camp. The primary worry is that by stepping into big boys' pants I will be obliged to actually act like a Graduate, rather than remain an eternal Practitioner.

Sometimes growing up can be scary.


Bring it on.

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Book Signing, Demoncon 8, Kent UK



On 14th September I will be appearing at DEMONCON 8 in the Royal Star Arcade, Maidstone, Kent.

I will be signing copies of my new book THE SUNDER OF THE OCTAGON: Tales of Alegria Book II (the sequel to THE CATASTROPHE OF THE EMERALD QUEEN) and will be accompanied by the cover artist Anneka Reay and internal artist Paul Rose. Both will be offering original artwork on the day.

The book has some very Kravvy fight sequences and characters based on KMG E3 Krav Maga Global instructor Jacek Walczak and KMM P1 student Tom Stiles.

It is aimed at older children and young adults, with strong anti-bullying themes. I am also visiting schools in the UK to discuss the book and how my experiences of being bullied at school in the 1980s inspired the themes of this book.

For further info get in touch with me or The Grinning Demon comic shop on 01622 68104.





Wednesday, 3 September 2014

That "Near the End of the Summer Holidays" Feeling




After a Krav Maga grading I feel knackered but exhilarated. After all, I did it. I made the grade. On P2, 3 and 4 I came away with my body shouting abuse at me for the misery I'd put it through, but I felt A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

I might even miss the next lesson at the club and unwind with a shedload of alcohol (Guinness makes a good subsitute Night Nurse) and a gallon of ice cream. The DVD relevant to that grade gets put back in the sleeve and put on the shelf. The patch goes in the frame with its predecessors, at the corners of the certificate for my current level**

It's a wonderful feeling of having achieved something special and risen in the ranks.

It's in fact, very similar to that feeling I got when the school broke up for the summer holidays.

Six whole weeks of F.R.E.E.D.O.M to do what I wanted***, run around, stay up late and generally have F.U.N. The summer felt like it would never end. That first week would be a joyous adventure, knowing I had 5 more weeks after it. Weeks 2 through to 5 would be spectacular. On hols with the parents and my brother, back to play with my mates and ride my bike around town to my heart's content. No pressure.

Problem was, by week 5, once we got past Sunday I was feeling down and getting tense. After all, once that precious Monday was used up, there would not be another to replace it the week after. The same with every day up until that horrible Monday when I'd have to don the dreaded school uniform again and traipse up the driveway of Shitbag Comprehensive (otherwise known as Kenilworth School) to endure another term of bullying, boredom and dark sarcasm in the classroom.

But I digress...

In 4 weeks we have the Pre Assessment Workshop for the upcoming October gradings. That "Beginning of the School Holidays" feeling is now becoming a "I'll have to go back to Maths and Chemistry" feeling.

Down to work; as many sessions a week as possible; new level's DVD on mail order; book the venue...and spend my time getting nervous.

When I took P4 I was stressed almost to ruination the entire week before the grading. Fact it was hosted by the Master level 1 Zeev Cohen didn't help my nerves overly much.

So instead of 6 weeks of riding my bike, staying up late and hanging out with my friends, I now have 6 monthly gaps of trying to remain focussed instead of just riding on the euphoria of having passed a Practitioner level yet again.

Defending Against Impending Knife Threat?


Can do.

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** Apart from P4 which I have passed but haven't passed as I have to redo stick defences before I get the patch or certificate, even though the stamp is in my passport. God bless "conditional passes".

***  Mother and fathers' approval pending.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Mad Max Does Krav

From the 3rd Mad Max movie, Beyond Thunderdome.**

Invited into Aunty Entity's (Tina Turner) living quarters, a beaten and tired AND thirsty Max is offered fresh fruit, a veritable luxury in post apocalyptic Australia. 

At a secret signal from Aunty everyone in the room attacks Max (more or less at the same time) and he magnificently beats them up.

Notice usage of objects in the room; checking personal space; scanning (like a boss!!!); groin strikes; and being VERY sneaky.

video


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**  The one where Max gets all soppy, and divided the franchise fans like Moses and the Red Sea.



Saturday, 30 August 2014

New Book Out...The Sunder of the Octagon

My 7th book (8th f you count the Spanish translation of The Cockroach Effect) is out next week.

THE SUNDER OF THE OCTAGON: Tales of Alegria Book II is the sequel to THE CATASTROPHE OF THE EMERALD QUEEN and is available in Kindle and paperback versions. Aimed at children aged 10+ it can also be enjoyed by older readers**

The continuing story of the magical world of Alegria.

Book has fight sequences inspired by Krav Maga. It also has a character named Alaskadie who is based upon Expert level 3 KMG instructor Jacek Walczak.






Also has big anti-bullying themes and I have been visiting High schools in the county to publicise the book and talk to the kids about my experiences at school in the 1980s and how they inspired me to write these books.

Signed copies will be available from me on September 14th at Demoncon 8 in Maidstone, Kent, UK. The cover artist Anneka Reay and the illustrator Paul Rose will also be there to sign copies and offer sketches and prints.

Also at Leamington Comic Con on Saturday October 18th.

Spread the word....

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** (like a certain other series of books involving a small boy with glasses and a magic wand, or the one about that pansy of a vampire who goes to High school, wears sensible jumpers and drives a Golf...I mean THAT'S not a vampire. Ever seen "Let The Right One In"...now THAT'S a vampire! Mess with a vampire's loved one and they rip your head off and drop it in a swimming pool. They don't get out of their Golf in their sensible V-neck jumper and "glare" at the 6 guys about to rape their girlfriend. Hunger Games is good though. Katniss Everdeen is a badass. Think I'm ranting now. Need to stop.)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Kravving Dead

Artist  Phil Buckenham  specialises in zombifications.

He takes a subject and draws them as if they are a rotting, flesh eating, reanimated corpse.

Fabulous!

This one was done about 18 months ago and is me in Krav Maga gear.

I have the original on my wall at home.

Anyone wants one, Phil can be contacted via the link above.

He will also be at Demoncon 8 in Maidstone, Kent on September 14th.


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Shakesperian Nights

Krav Maga Midlands

Night Parks Scenarios

Seminar No. 4



My review of our seminar on July 18th in the RSC park in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Written for my club Krav Maga Midlands.

What fun we had!!!

(click photo)