Like a decent Blu-Ray, Krav Maga has a lot of supplemental material thrown in. Not only do I now feel more confident physically but I've recently realised just how much “good” stuff I get thrown in for free.
- Feeling useful
I like to feel useful. I like to feel I've helped someone. I also like to reassure those who look like they need it. At inductions this is entirely possible due to the newbies that turn up. You know the scene. Non club t-shirt, no groin guard and so queasy they look like they are about to audition for X Factor. A simple introduction and handshake seems to be appreciated and I try to partner newbies during the initial part of the lesson (at inductions with KMM we focus on the basic strikes for a while). I also attempt to be reassuring. Something I used to do and I see other people do if they're new, is to apologise whenever they hit their partner or successfully put them on the floor.
E.g. During “try and touch your partner's chest while they try and prevent it” you can hear a lot of embarrassed “Sorrys” and “You OK?” when someone gets through the other's guard. Also during headlock releases you can see the looks of unease on inductionees as bodies thud to the floor after having their faces grabbed. Again, being reassuring to those who aren't used to this can work wonders and put them at ease.
Best way to some this up would be “Feel free to kick my groin, it's protected. If you aim for my leg to try and be nice then that's gonna hurt!”
- Self confidence
This gets a boost due to the longevity of me doing Krav for 3 years. If you spar with someone you know is better than you, and even ONCE manage to land a hard roundhouse or right hook...then you feel great. I've never been a fighter and being able to face guys much better than me and, win or lose, walk away after touching gloves with your opponent it makes you feel much taller. Feeling that the techniques are coming together into a coherent pattern that you have incorporated into your muscle memory is cause for jubilation.
This ripples out to other areas of my life so I am less agitated in social or even work situations as I feel I can try more things and give them a good go.
- Paranoia Killer
I've always been a bit paranoid. Currently take Propranalol (try saying that drunk) in mild dosages to combat anxiety. It works wonders but a mixture of the beta blocker and Krav have made me realise that the world isn't out to try and hurt or upset me and, as Imi Lichtenfeld once said, “so that one may walk in peace.” Being able to walk down the main street without feeling anxious, nervous or (at night when the drunks are out like something from The Walking Dead) scared...is a great feeling.
- Ego Compacter
Another thing I've always had is a big ego. Not simply for self promotion but the desire that if something happened that was unjust or unfair then I HAD to do something. I joined the police in 2004 because I wanted to be a hero (and resigned in 2008 after finding out that they wanted anything BUT heroes in the force). I would see injustice and wade in. Like Liam Neeson tracking his kidnapped daughter in the movie Taken, I didn't have a “next step”. I'd simply wade in, with almost no fighting ability, an average size body and an ego that wanted to crush all bullies and perpetrators of injustice.
After doing Krav for over 36 months I can now weigh up a situation and walk away or try and defuse it verbally...without feeling like a pansy. I recently had an argument with a friend of mine who had drunk 6 bottles of Greek raki and was telling the girl I was dating that she “deserved better than Lance.”
Attempts to tell him to back off were met with the response “you want to get into it with me? Coz it won't last long!” and due to my obvious anger, my date got upset. I stayed calm and vowed to speak to my mate when he was sober. Next day he had no memory of the incident and was embarrassed and apologetic. Had my older self been there, there would have been at the very least some pushing and shoving, followed by the two hulking sons of the Greek owner of the pool bar we were drinking in, breaking it up and asking one or both of us to leave.
Krav is about avoiding the confrontation unless necessary. Best comparison was an incident 10 years ago in Moldova when a local guy insulted the woman I was with, Helen, and called her a whore for drinking with foreigners. I was very drunk and followed him into a room (where about 4 of his mates were waiting for him) and demanded he say sorry to Helen. Next thing the barman took my gently by the arm and pulled me away. I felt that honour was satisfied but Helen said to me the next day “I wasn't bothered by him. He was just some stupid guy. Moldavian men sometimes carry knives or even guns. You could have got yourself killed and for what? To prove you are better than him?”
Avoid the fight, don't let your ego put you in the morgue.
Only after a month in Crete do I realise just how easy it is to get unfit VERY quickly. First two days of my 4 week holiday I was drinking and smoking and not gettng hangovers. Within a week I was sleeping all day and swearing at daylight ("God's Flashlight" as I call post drinking summer sun beams). Getting back into Krav afterwards was hard but now I am back on course and can remember that wonderful feeling of feeling fit. My day job means I do a LOT of walking but cardio fitness is another bag entirely. Being fit enough to survive a P4 grading (see here for that story) is a great feeling and when my body feels strong, I feel I can achieve almost anything.