Sunday, 27 August 2017

The Master Effect

In Krav Maga, like any self defence or martial arts system, there is a fear factor present. It sits up there on the shelf with fitness (or lack of), exhaustion, anxiety and adrenalin. Fear is ever present to some degree because, to put it bluntly, we are involved in a discipline that teaches the use of brutal, physical force and despite what anyone doing non-contact Karate may try and bluster, it is not normal to put yourself in that situation willingly. Every instinct of human survival screams at you to run away from trouble…but that’s why we train. To override the flinch response and hone our reflexes to deal more appropriately with aggression and violence.

Fear is a good thing in moderation. Fear can kickstart adrenalin and it can “show you where the edge is”. Fear can keep you sharp, keep your muscle memory active and stop you from becoming complacent or even lazy. Multiple attackers drill? I’d be lying if I said that fear didn’t show its face to some degree on that one. How about sparring with someone MUCH bigger than who’s at least a grade higher? Fear could be distilled from my veins from that. And let’s not forget the joys of Being Called To The Front To Help Demonstrate A Technique. Oh, my God! The fear.

In the end though we step forward, face the fear and move past it. Fear in training is normal and it is essential. Jon Bullock, head of KMG UK once said at a seminar that we are not afraid of getting hurt in training as we know that is probably not going to happen. What we are afraid of most of all is looking foolish in front of other people.

The biggest fear I have EVER faced so far in the 7 years I’ve being doing Krav Maga was in 2014 when I was chosen by Eyal Yanilov to fight what are known as the Bullet Men. Me and 9 others at Eyal’s World Tour seminar in Essex, were selected to go up against TWO guys in Predator suits…one at a time. I was the last to fight and I have seriously never been as scared as I was in the half hour leading up to the fight. Once we went hands on, I was fine though. It was my mind that was frightening me, filling my head with stories and fears and paranoia about what was, looking back on it, an awesome experience and a privilege. To sum up…I was hand picked by the head of Krav Maga Global to fight in front of everyone and over 100 other people in the room weren’t. I still remember very clearly just how scared I was and as Jon said, it was mainly due to fear of how I would be perceived by my peers, instructors and most of all Eyal Yanilov. I wasn’t afraid of getting hurt.

Photo by Anna Surowiec

Fear clouded my mind, got my palms sweaty and made me feel physically nauseous. Fear, that day, was a bit of a bastard.

Fear like that though, is useful. Now I’m not so scared in front of a room full of people. The fear can be dealt with, moved past and adapted to. Fear is a tool, like fire. You can control it but don’t ever get casual or lose sight of what you’re doing with it.

But…there’s another type of fear and it’s what I call the Master Effect. 

The earliest example of this was about 5 years ago when I was training in the UK. The club was fairly new back then and there was only one P5 in the club. We would all look at him with awe as he walked into training, silent and heavily muscled. A P5. Cor! Newbies asked me at least twice in whispered tones “Is he the P5?” and for some reason it seemed necessary to keep our voices down. I mean, what if he heard us talking and wanted to spar with us? Oh my God! The guy in question is actually a really nice bloke and a couple of years ago took the GIC and became an instructor. He’s now a G2 and his classes are well respected. 

In training you will see heaps of P zeros and a lot of P1s and P2s. The herd thins after that and finding a G level in normal training is not a regular occurence in a lot of clubs. The only people with G or even E patches that most students get to see are their instructors. 

And then you go to a grading and you get to meet a guy from the Global Instructor Team. 

Throughout my time doing Krav there are names that have sent shivers down the spine and made throats go dry. Names that make many a practitioner’s pupils dilate and struck fear into the hearts of those who are about to grade.

Stories I heard on hearsay could be summed up like this:

Eyal is the boss. Trained by Imi Lichtenfeld himself. Late 50s and still a badass. Master level 3 and has been doing Krav Maga for over five decades. Fights like a cross between the Terminator and a ballet dancer. Does Yoga every day. 

Zeev is the next most senior. A Master level 1. Invented the Kids Instructor Course. A former career soldier** and disciplinarian. Has failed people at G and E level gradings for being too injured to continue. Once failed an entire P4 grading after spending just 10 minutes watching them. The Gordon Ramsay of Krav Maga. 

Tommy Blom. Scary, with a beard. A man of few words. The first man behind Eyal and Zeev to make E5. Intense stare. Former MMA fighter. Doesn’t smile a lot

Rune Lind. Expert level 4. Smiling yet huge, hulking Viking of a man. Mild mannered yet strict.


These images and impressions I had of these guys were based solely on seeing them from across a room, in photos and by heresay reputation.

Then I met them.

Eyal was a nice guy, quietly spoken and very friendly. When he offered me the chance to fight the Bullet Men he smiled and asked “Do you want to do it?” Has a sense of humour and puts people at ease in training. I have interviewed him a few times for my blog and he’s always got time to answer questions.

Zeev was also a nice guy. I did the Kids Instructor Course with him in Israel in 2016 and he was reassuring and supportive the whole way through. When I asked him about the story of the people failed after 10 minutes he simply laughed and said it wasn’t true. Gave me constructive feedback during and after the KIC and was clearly idolised by the kids in his club. 

Tommy was…another nice guy. Met him briefly in Israel and we had a chat about stuff, including his E5 grading. Smiled a few times and was very friendly.

Rune. Took my P1, P3 and GIC part 1. Easy going and…yep! Another nice guy. Reassuring, easy going and a great teacher. 

The ONLY thing that matched up with what I’d heard about these guys was that they expected us to work hard in training. 

In 2015 both Eyal and Zeev were at the P&G camp held in Essex. Being England in Winter the weather was its usual, dreary British drizzle and both of them left training to to back to their hotel wearing light waterproof jackets with the hoods up and looking nothing out of the ordinary. The two most senior Krav Maga teachers IN THE WORLD would have blended in to any crowd. 

Fear in training can be dealt with as it’s something you confront at least once a week if you go regularly. Fear of people you haven’t met yet is another thing entirely. You form images in your mind and kerosene is thrown on the fire by your anxieties. Failing people for being too injured to continue isn’t the actions of a bastard once you think about it. A driving test would be discontinued and rescheduled if another car drove into yours halfway through the exam….regardless of whose fault the accident was. 

The Master Effect is another barrier to being able to concentrate, and it’s only through having met the guys above that I realised that what you hear about people from other people should be taken with a pinch of salt. 

However, I have yet to meet Ilya Dunsky….


** Can't say just "soldier" as that would include anyone, male or female, over 18 in Israel.

Monday, 21 August 2017

After A While...

As I sit here, my hips aching and bruises in places that I didn’t know I even had places, there’s a temporary reprieve from the last 12 days.

I’ve just finished the final exam for the General Instructors Course, or GIC. This is run by Krav Maga Global and, if you pass it, means you become an instructor for the organisation and obtain at least a Graduate 1 grade (after all, you have to be at least a G1 to teach Practitioners 1 to 5). There are myths, rumours and even substantiated claims of some GIC candidates passing out with a G2 or even a G3 patch, some of which were not even a P5 when they went in.

My body is, to put it politely, completely f**ked. This was the second part of the training. In April up in the Gold Coast of Australia, I did part 1. That was the initial chunk, the first half. The reason that KMG no longer do the course Monday to Saturday with Sundays off, is that 24 days in a row is unsustainable for anyone except badasses who have just come out of the army or those who run ultramarathons for a hobby. 

After 10 weeks off, we then came back to Melbourne and began phase 2. Another 12 days. I have been pushed both physically and emotionally to my absolute frigging limits. I’ve felt like giving up, I’ve taken cocktails of painkillers, I’ve eaten like a pregnant Sumo wrestler and not put on an ounce in fat. Seven to eight hours a day of fighting training. Not just learning HOW to fight but learning how to teach OTHERS to fight….and also how not to.

Having to learn technical skills, then write down the technique, then have to teach it. It’s been beyond hard. This was a course I came into knowing it would be something to test my limits. I nearly didn’t come back for the second part, seriously considering “losing” my passport so I could get my non-refundable, return ticket from London to Melbourne refunded. 

As the days went by, in both phases, I gritted my teeth and marked off little points of victory.

Survived the first day. Whoopee!

Got through the first quarter (3rd day). Awesome!

Got to the end without being injured to the point of having to withdraw! Brilliant!

We also had homework to do almost daily. Lesson plans, theory revision and also a test on Krav that we were obliged to spend a great deal of time doing properly with a pass mark of 75%. I got 88% and momentarily felt immortal. 

Then we had the teaching test. I was assigned “Release from static choke from behind”. I had to teach this to six of my peers. I passed that test too and my hopes were high for the grading on the final day. 

There had been 15 of us but one person had to drop out due to injury. 14 candidates on test day. I shouted “Who else hasn’t got a partner?” and I got the huge Serbian guy. 

We started and it went on and on and on. After 4-ish hours we began sparring and my badass partner virtually handed me my ass. Seriously don’t think I’ve ever been roundhoused in the head in a standing position before. Determined to at the very least, stand my ground, I did exactly that, too tired and too inflexible in the back hips to try and retaliate in kind. As we tumbled to the floor my adrenalin kicked in and I could hear myself yelling “F**K YOU! YOU F**KING C**T!!” before he got me in a choke hold and I had to tap out.

The sparring and ground fighting finally came to a close and with my clothes sodden in sweat and my hair hanging so far over my face that I had about 30% visibility, I joined the other guys for the icing on the cake. 50 push ups, 60 sit ups, 70 squats and 20 brownies (imagine if a burpee decided to become a Satanist…THAT’S a brownie).

Staggering off the mats I gulped down literally about 2 litres of water and forced granola bars and glucose gel into my bruised stomach. The Serbian guy was next to me and I said “Don’t take the swearing personally, I don’t really think you’re a c**t”. 

He chuckled and said, wiping sweat from his forehead, “It’s OK, you needed the adrenalin rush”.

Now…about half an hour after the final test has ended, we are sat facing the examiner. Franklyn Hartkamp. Expert level 4 in KMG and a part of the Global Instructor Team. A nice guy, with a sense of humour but I have no illusions about any one of us being given the GIC unless we deserve it. 

He starts with my Serbian partner and after brief feedback tells him he passed and we all clap and smile at the guy, pleased for him yet still cacking it for ourselves. Franklyn then moves to another guy, feedback given, constructive criticism forthcoming and he too has passed. Then it’s the guy’s partner and yet another pass. As Franklyn moves around the candidates, he is giving the feedback to the partners who trained and fought together in the test. This sets off my internal alarm bells. I was bypassed after my Serbian roundhouser buddy. I think maybe I haven’t made it after all.

The feedback moves on and on, each person being told they’ve passed and all of us clapping and offering words of congratulations. Then finally someone has failed. The feedback is fair, the tone level and friendly but Franklyn says that some more time is needed before this person can retest. I see the crestfallen look in their eyes and the hurt and pain and realise that feeling is something I’m going to be getting soon. But I hold out hope that maybe….maybe not.

Finally everyone else has had their feedback. 13 passes, 1 fail. Franklyn says “Is there anybody else?” and I raise my hand.

He looks at me and after a slight pause says, “After a while I stopped writing”.

I know in that moment that it’s over.

I had kind of guessed this would happen. I’ve been backpacking for the last 8 months and my training has been, to put it mildly, sporadic. While travelling in Australia and New Zealand I trained now and then. While in Greece with my father I would travel once a week-ish to a club 57 miles away  to train. I hadn’t done enough and deep down I knew that. I decided to go for it anyway though, determined not to be Schrodinger’s Pussy.

I feel calm, not upset or bitter like I imagined I might. Franklyn compliments me on my theory and teaching results and says that he’d like me to wait at least a year before trying again for the grading. You are allowed 3 fails of techniques on a GIC grading. I clearly hurtled past that number if he stopped taking notes or evaluating me. I thank him for his feedback and say that I accept 100% responsibility for failing. I also add that I’ll be back. Franklyn smiles and puts on a Schwarzenegger accent, repeating “I’ll be back!!”

We all then stand up and those who passed get their T-shirts, G1 patches and certificates. Excitedly they rip open the packaging and pull the shirts on. It reminds me of Christmas morning. I feel a little sad but resigned to the situation, knowing that this isn’t personal and with enough work I can come back, try again and pass.

Then the guys start posing for photos and me and the other failee are stood at the side. I have to turn away at this point, the disappointment and the realisation of what I’ve failed to achieve hitting me hard. 

I move to the changing room and a few minutes later a couple of guys join me, both saying they’re sorry and shaking my hand. I tell them I’m pleased for them and I mean it. I’ve trained with them for just shy of a month and they deserve what they’ve achieved.

After a few goodbyes I make my way back to my lodgings. My friends there initially refuse to believe I failed but cheer me up with hugs and reassurances about the future. 

I get a shower and change and then head back out for the final dinner with my fellow trainees. The mood is good, and although Franklyn couldn’t make it we send him some photos via WhatsApp and wolf down steak and ice cream in a great, riverside restaurant. The Serbian guy sits next to me and grinning, points to a cut on his lower lip. “You did that”, he says.

“Seriously? I actually landed one on you?”

He smiles again and replies “Yes, you fought well”.

After a few hours I say my final goodbyes to the guys and go home. I sleep until about 12pm the next day and the day after I’m on a plane home. 13 hours to Abu Dhabi, 7 hour stopover then a further 7 hours to London. 

Hubba! Hubba!

My body aches all over, my hips feel like they are at least 20 degrees out of alignment. My appetite is still raging and now I have about a 30 hour journey ahead of me to get home. 

I took GIC and I failed it. Of the initial 15, one guy had to stop due to injury. Me and one other failed the final test.

Was it worth it?

Of course it was!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Beside The Mountain

For the last few days I’ve been proofreading a manuscript given to me by a friend of a friend. She’s just written her first book and after reading the first draft, I gave a few recommendations and then offered to check it all. This is, after all, one of my skill sets.

Now. Proofreading is dull and laborious and requires an extremely high level of accuracy. The main reason it’s dull (and also the reason that the author should not EVER proof read their own stuff) is that you can’t “enjoy” what you’re looking at. You are there, like an Olympic judge, to check for flaws and errors. You are not there to get stuck in to the prose.

Case in point would be my first fantasy novel, The Catastrophe of the Emerald Queen. This was a labour of love that took about a year to write, edit and get published. I didn’t see a whole shit load of mistakes that were in it because I was emotionally attached to the text. The adventures of Mordalayn, bodyguard to the child queen of Alegria as he fought the wicked King James of Anghofio. Even typing that now I can feel a little tingle. Worst mistake in the first edition was “and the shoulders shouted out for their king”, which the spell checker didn’t flag up and I was oblivious to as I was too into the excitement of the Anghofian King’s Daggers taking on Mordalayn on the steps of the Emerald palace.

The book I was proofreading was about spirituality and enjoying life. One line that the author wrote that stuck with me is that it is about the journey and not about the arrival or conclusion. We all die one day, so enjoy what you have and embrace each new day.

The book also talks about seeing and interpreting signs in life and acting upon them. Also, that we are where we are supposed to be at any given time and things come to us as they are meant to, in a time/ space sequence.

Like me, the author had read You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay and has adopted a lot of that wonderful lady’s philosophies.

Something that became clear as I looked through the book (yes, I know I wasn’t meant to be “reading” it but it kind of seeped in) was that by letting go of a lot of horrible shit, life can become a lot more “flowy” and much less of a struggle.

Recently I came back from Australia. I’d just completed but failed a course to be a Krav Maga instructor. The whole thing was, at the end of the day, an attempt for me to prove to myself that I could go for something that was extremely difficult and happening WAY beyond my comfort zone. I came out of it exhausted, disappointed and sore (with hip and back issues that still haven’t realigned). However I also felt elated and proud. I knew I might fail but I chose not to be Schroedinger’s Pussy any more and for that I feel good.


There were many other ways I could have done this course.

Part one was 12 days in the Australian Gold Coast in April 2017. I applied for it while travelling out in Australasia and had a whale of a time. Determined to get my mind on the wavelength of “I will pass” I booked a return flight from London to Melbourne to take part 2 in July. I had to leave Oz during the gap because my visa is good for 9 months of the year but only in 3 month spurts.

Once I got back I realised that I could have opted to take part 2 anywhere in the world (66 countries belong to Krav Maga Global, the organisation that run the General Instructors Course/ GIC) but with a non changeable/ non refundable, Doctor Dao-esque return flight booked...well, I either did the course or I stayed but lost the money for the flight.

As proud as I am of having gone back to attempt part 2, what I have recently realised is that I could have done it in London or Rome or Athens or anywhere. I booked flights to return to Melbourne way back in April because I was too focussed on what I wanted to even consider that there might be another way.

All that travel and back pain and airline food and jet lag and exhaustion and A FUCKING AUSTRALIAN WINTER!!! could all have been avoided if I’d just sat back and let life flow with me, as opposed to wading against the current up river.

Years ago in Mad magazine I saw a short, 3 or 4 panel cartoon of a guy climbing a mountain. He was tired, dirty and injured by the time he climbed over the summit with his bare hands...only to find that there was a McDonalds at the top, full of people and a road next to it, leading down, that he had failed to see.

I try to do yoga regularly but am unable (at the moment) to assume the Full Lotus position due to stiffness in my hips, partially due to sciatica and partially due to a knee operation on my left side. I found out from a yoga teacher after at least 4 years of working around the issue, that it wasn’t even necessary to perform Full Lotus and there were a multitude of other positions that would allow me not to need it.

I always had bad BAD BAADD hangovers. My record for time in bed with a right stinking one is about 36 hours. It turns out that all I needed to avoid (most) of this was lots of water before, during and after a boozing session.

I found out that when economy airlines board their flights, every bugger and their aunty stand up and just queue like lemmings. I now sit down and wait until the herd has thinned, then get up and walk at a leisurely pace to my seat.

Life can be an uphill struggle if you don’t take a breath and just go with it.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The GIC Hump

The reality of day 7 of the Krav Maga General Instructors Course (2nd phase).

6am. Wake up and find you have absolutely no desire to go to training. Eat a 4 egg omelette, a big bowl of muesli (with soy milk) and 2 very strong filter coffees. Get your shit together and traipse off to the train station with your legs hurting from the previous 6 days of training, grizzling to yourself that the weather has the temerity to be 2 degrees above freezing.

8.15am. Get to training and realise you absolutely do not want to be there. Decide to get changed anyway and wonder how long it is till lunch time, knowing full well that it's at least 4 hours away.

8.30am to 1pm. Spend your time doing bear hug releases, throws and knife attacks. Your body is protesting at the abuse you've put it through for the last week for 7+ hours a day, every day. You find that you can't remember things that you absolutely should know by this point and wing it when you are asked "Do you know this technique?" Your knees feel like they are full of sulfuric acid and every time you make a mistake you feel like the whole world hates you. It is taking most of your stamina to stay in the room and you secretly entertain the idea that getting injured would enable you to be invalided off the course without being perceived as a quitter. You then spend 30 minutes feeling guilty for thinking that. You take 2 Ibuprofen and 1 Paracetomol and a sachet of glucose sport gel.

A surprise lesson is then sprung on you where you have 2 minutes to plan and teach any technique from that morning. You silently curse the unfairness of life while frantically scribbling on your notepad.

You feel like having a little cry in the corner but summon reserves of energy that you didn't know you had. You forget the names of about 4 people in the room and want nothing more than to go home and go back to bed.
As you break for lunch you feel that your body is completely wrecked and that life cannot get any worse.

1.30pm The double shot espresso that you just drank, plus a huge tuna salad and the painkillers and the glucose gel have all combined to give you a lift of energy. Your self pity has evaporated and you have a pleasant lunch with 2 of your fellow trainees where you even laugh a couple of times. You head back to the training centre looking forward to the afternoon session.

2.30pm. You start a workshop on some rather crafty fighting tactics involving some rather painful takedowns and throws. You thoroughly enjoy yourself and make a note to use the "Grab The Leg, Kick The Groin" roundhouse kick defence at the earliest opportunity.

5pm. You wrap up the day's training feeling tired but exhilarated, realising that you learned a great deal. You confide in an existing instructor that you felt like quitting today and she says with a grin "That's called the hump. You've just got over it. Mine was on day 5".

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Schrodinger's Pussy

Yesterday, as a struggled to cope with a rather horrid case of jet lag achieved by flying from London to Melbourne, my host was talking to me and some other guests about his ability to “read” people. He was hailed as being spot on in his assessments by the people present so I asked him if he could give me one sentence about me that didn’t come from something I’d already told him.

After a few seconds he said:

“I think you’re scared”.

I nodded in agreement and replied that I had indeed been scared for about the last week, specifically about coming back to Australia to finish GIC part 2 for Krav Maga.

After a pause he then added, “I don’t mean just that, I mean about everything.”

I asked him to elaborate and he said that I live my life like Schrodinger’s Cat. When I required further clarification he told me:

“You are scared so, like Schrodinger’s cat, you don’t know what a situation will bring so you guess. But instead of finding out what the result would have been by opening the box you go with that guess as if it’s the final answer”.

And….he was right.

I’ve kind of known this for a long time but to have someone else see it is scary. I’ve lived most of my life scared of something or other and my paranoia and insecurity have reigned over huge chunks of my existence in the last few decades.

To put it in perspective.

In April of this year I successfully completed part 1 of the General Instructor’s Course for Krav Maga Global. This is the backbone of any and all Krav teaching for the organisation I belong to, with the exception of the KIC/ Kids Instructor Course, which I already hold.

Part 1 was very hard and I was physically and mentally drained by the end of it. We broke up for nearly 3 months before part 2 was to begin and in that time I was in England and Greece, keeping fit and trying to retain some Kravvyness and not just let all that awesome training fade away.

For the last week I’ve spent most of that time SERIOUSLY contemplating not coming back to complete part 2. I had a multitude of reasons to justify this feeling.

1. It’s expensive and I’m almost at the end of my savings now.

2. It’s a 28 hour journey door to door and my jet lag will undoubtedly be horrendous **

3. If I lose my passport my insurance will pay not only for that but also for the return flight of £682 that I can’t claim back or cancel through conventional means.

4. I can do GIC 2 anywhere in the world so if part 3 happens then I can use that money to take it somewhere like London or Rome which are slightly nearer than Melbourne.

I fretted and fussed and stressed and bit my nails over this for days, locking the cat in the box and was 90% certain I WASN’T going to go back when a friend in England said, “This is just self doubt”.

And she was 100% right.

I have spent most of my adult life locking the cat in the box with the canister of poisoned gas, but only guessing at to whether it was still alive or not. I didn’t want to be proved one way or the other and by just guessing as to the outcome of a situation, I could forever live in a blissful state of calm ignorance, unhampered by the nasty intrusion of reality.

As THIS STORY shows. My reluctance to not only open the box but to even acknowledge its presence made me a bit of a Schrodinger’s pussy. And with that story, the outcome, when I did finally open the box by getting back in touch with the woman involved….nearly 9 years later...was that the cat was not only alive but very pleased to hear from me again.

GIC 1 cured my fear of sparring, an irrational fear that I’ve had ever since I was 4 years old. I know what created this fear but I was unable to move past it until Rune Lind of KMG Global Team made me and the other 14 guys fight for what seemed forever*** on day 11 of a 12 day course.

I never considered myself a coward in the conventional sense of the word. I would stand my ground and even get a kicking to prove I wasn’t scared (retrospectively not a sensible or clever stance to take). However the things that REALLY mattered to me were the ones I shied away from and just guessed the outcome of. Never knowing if the gas had killed the cat or not.

I couldn’t tell the woman I loved (and still love) that I loved her, because I was afraid of the result of doing so. I locked the cat in the box and never opened it. Believing it was better to never find out than to discover that the cat had died. Once I finally opened it with trembling fingers 8+ years later the results were beyond what my dreams were made of. The cat was far from dead. The cat leapt out and wanted to play, bearing no grudges at its 8 years long isolation from my life.

When I told the woman from this story that it was better to never have known how she felt than to discover she hated me or had forgotten me she shook her head, smiled and went “You’re silly”.

Similarly with Krav Maga I have returned to a world that is going to be 12 more days of intense activity and even pain. However, pass or fail I now have the desire to shut the cat in the box only long enough to see whether it is alive or dead by the end of the experiment. If I pass I will feel like a king. If I fail I will be dissapointed but I will know that I flew back 10,500+ miles to do this and can retest at any time in the future.

It was only when I actually saw my checked baggage fuck off on the conveyor belt at Heathrow terminal 4 that I finally realised I was definitely going back for GIC 2. 7 hours to Adu Dhabi. 2 hour stopover. 12 hours to Melbourne.

When I got to Southern Cross station at 5.30am and it was 2 degrees centigrade I was laughing my head off. Amazed at my own audacity to treat a journey around the world like a trip to visit friends in the next town. I’d finally stopped being Schrodinger’s pussy.

The fears we don’t face become our limits.

Nuff said.


** It was.
*** Actually 25 minutues.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Getting Ready

So I’ve been away from Krav Maga General Instructors Course for nearly 3 months. We completed part 1 in April and a week later I flew back to England and from there to Crete.

In that time I have spent many hours keeping fit.

My cardio levels were piss poor during part 1, even though my general fitness was OK. The 12 day, 8 hours per day, gruel fest was something that taxed the limits of my stamina.
So for part 2 I’ve been doing some serious work.

In Crete I would go running, usually twice a day. In the morning I’d do the “long” run of about 3 miles and then get home, get a 3 or 4 egg omelette and a filter coffee after a quick shower.

Later I’d do the joy that is “Bring Sally Up” (leg raise version) and later still the utterly enjoyable and not at all horrid AC/DC “Thunderstruck” punch bag workout.

I’d also mix in some Yoga now and then and make certain that I ate shed loads of protein each day. Something I read in a Jack Reacher novel that turned out to be true, is that if you drink at least 5 litres of mineral water per day, you can basically do what the fuck you want.

So...pissing like a racehorse (my first, morning tinkle lasted a good couple of minutes each time) I spent a week getting my body flushed free of toxins and then had the joyous experience of being able to get shitfaced of an evening and then go running with little or no hangover the next morning.

I couldn’t get a punchbag in Crete (my father, who I was visiting, lives in a fishing village) so I improvised. I went to the local DIY shop and got a couple of rough sacks, filled them with old clothes and strung them from the beams on the balcony with some rope. Not the most sturdy of contraptions but it meant I could at least do technique work albeit not any heavy punching.

I found a cheap fitness tracker watch on Ebay and got that shipped over so I could monitor heart rate, calories burned and steps taken each day.

I would do inclinded push up on the benches along the sea front on my 2nd daily run.

I got back in touch with Krav Maga Chania, the nearest club to Dad’s village and hired a 125cc motor scooter to travel out the 4 times on a Friday to train and teach with them. 

Dimitris the club owner was very welcoming, translating my lessons to Greek for his students and welcoming my input each time. The trip was 60 miles each way and I only did this on the same night once, where I crawled into bed at 11pm shivering and feeling very sorry for myself after 2 hours facing what looked like the time vortex from the intro credits of Doctor Who (darkness and motorbikes are not nice for a novice rider).

I practiced Krav Maga on the roof of Dad’s apartment (only space big enough, wasn’t just to pose) and made sure I did at least 2 sets of 40 push ups per day.

My appetite was huge and my energy levels were high.

I kept this pace, knowing that on 29th June I fly back to Melbourne to complete the GIC.

I’m ready.

See you in a few days.  

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Making It Work

When I completed the General Instructors Course (part 1) in April I had a week or so making my way 1000 miles south from Gold Coast to Melbourne before flying back to the UK. After a few days there I headed over to Crete where I now reside with my awesome Dad in his flat overlooking the beaches and village of Plakias. 


With GIC's that run in Europe, you usually get about 1 to 3 weeks between the first and second parts. In Australia, presumably because Oz is so flabbergastingly vast, you get a whopping THREE MONTHS between the two chunks of training. 

Of the 15 of us who took the 12 days from April 3rd to 15th under the tuition of E4 instructor Rune Lind, I am the only one to reside outside of Australasia.
To keep your skills and fitness sharp, you are advised to keep training regularly between 1 and 2, and to teach if at all possible, preferably at your own club under the supervision of your existing instructors.

I know that most if not all of the other guys are doing this, both those in Australia and those who came from New Zealand. 


I'm in a place which is 57 miles from the nearest KMG-affiliated club. While I have the DVDs for P4 and P5, I'm currently missing P1 to 3 and also G1.

I'm also living in a sun kissed paradise of sand, sea, surf and cold beers. so it would be very easy to simply kick back and spend my time drinking, eating and shagging.


I went into GIC with a mindset of wanting to achieve something I've not achieved before. That was/ is to push beyond my pain barriers and get into a state of fitness that would leave me ready to do, as Rune put it "everyday tasks without problems".

My fitness for GIC 1 was just about enough. I was in a lot of pain throughout but carried on and joy of joys, my phobia of fighting was cured on day 11 of the course, after 42 years (stemming from THIS childhood incident).

But now in Europe in a lovey Cretan fishing village...what to do?

Regular training was out of the question due to the 114 mile round trip to get to Krav Maga Chania to train with Dimitris and his students. 

Nobody in Plakias is into Krav so I would need to practice on my own...meaning no one there to correct any mistakes I make. 

I had to think of ways around this.

So I did.

The closest thing to a sports shop in this village is the beach ball section at the local supermarket so a punch bag was out of the question. I took a trip to the local DIY store on the outskirts, and bought 2 rough sacks and a length of rope. Then I scrounged a load of old clothes from friends and out of my own luggage, two old pillows and stuffed hey presto! A makeshift punchbag**

Then I decided to get fit enough to come home from part 2 without limping onto the plane. I go running twice a day, morning and afternoon. I do the Moby "Bring Sally Up" leg raise thingy nearly every day. I do the "punch, punch, sprawl" that is AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' workout on my homemade punchbag. I do yoga for my lower back once per day. 

My fitness, after 3.5 weeks of this regime, is now pretty good.

On the roof of the building I'm living in is a nice, big, flat space where I can roll out my yoga mat and practice the basic moves of Krav Maga.

But how to train and teach?

The first week I hired a car. A friend was meant to be sharing the cost but bailed at the 11th hour. Despite the rental being relatively cheap, it still cost me 55 Euros including the petrol, which isn't peanuts if you're living on savings. 

So the following week I took the bus. Not too brilliant either as it's 2 buses there and 2 buses back and I need to stay overnight due to training finishing at 10pm.

So...24 Euros for the transport, 14 for the hostel and about 5 for food. 43 Euros...better than the car but still not great.

Then I hit on the best option. A scooter hire place down the road rented me an older 125cc bike for 200 Euros for a month. That works out at 8 Euros a day and the petrol to travel the 114 miles is about 7. 


So now I can go and train Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the club and it will cost me 15 Euros per day.

A friend who is an existing instructor in the UK had recently posted me the DVDs for P1 to G1 so I can practice what I need to do before I get to Oz again. 
As the postal service here sucks, it will take a week but it means I will have the curriculum to practice with on the roof with my laptop and yoga mat.

My appetite has obviously spiked since I started working out and protein is high on that list. The beauty of having the scooter is that I can stop off at the only Lidl in 40 miles...halfway between here and Chania..and stock up on oodles of cheap tinned tuna and meatballs. 

I've also found a place where snails are hiding and despite the yuck factor, cooking them with rice is a great way to bulk up for free, even though you have to hang them in nets for a week to purge them of the toxic crap they've been munching on.***

Overall, I'm not as confident as if I was training with a club a mile or two down the road where the students spoke the same language as me. BUT....Dimitris from Krav Maga Chania is a great guy who lets me teach while he translates into Greek and gives me both feedback on my teaching AND private one-on-one lessons before the group arrives.

This feels good because I'm making a situation work that was initially hard to solve.

The future's bright. The future's solvable.


** I killed it the first time I used it. Had to revisit my knot tying training from Scouts way back in the early 1980s.

*** Last year I didn't purge them and I had the shits so bad the next day that I set the smoke alarms off in the taverna toilets.