Day 1 in the Books!
I just got home from the first day of GIC (General Instructor Course) – the first of 3 courses necessary to become a fully certified Krav Maga Global instructor. Before I stuff my face with food and pass out for the evening, I wanted to document a few of my initial observations.
Top Notch People
I have been impressed by everyone I have met so far who has been connected to Krav Maga Global, and this experience is no exception. I have a spinal injury right now that hinders my training by causing pain and limiting my range of motion. As a person who has high expectations of myself (sometimes I can be a stubborn perfectionist), I hate not being able to perform at my best, especially in front of people. . . ESPECIALLY in front of people whose opinions really matter to me. So when during the warm-up when I couldn’t perform one of the exercises that required engaging my back muscles, I was pretty frustrated. Or, rather, I was fuming mad at my multifidus. There were 15 other instructor candidates all waiting in plank position for me and my partner to finish our exercises, and I couldn’t do it. It sucked. But let’s get back to the awesomeness. Throughout the entire rest of the day, during all of the drills that required plenty of flexion, rotation, & extention of the spine, every single person that I worked with was so careful, so respectful, and so understanding. They exhibited strict control with their techniques, a skill that separates the good instructors from the really great ones. These individuals were not just Krav Maga practitioners. Their consideration of the individual circumstances and abilities of each person they worked with shows that they are truly meant to be teachers.
I’ve Been Doing It Wrong All Along
Obviously the reason that anyone attends any sort of course is to learn something new. This course is all about how to be an effective Krav Maga instructor, so I have been learning TONS about how to explain techniques to people in an engaging, effective, and safe way. And that’s all perfectly awesome and everything, but what I’m most excited about is getting to be corrected by a real expert in Krav Maga. I’ve been told before that you can train only straight punches every day for years, and you could still find ways to improve your straight punch. I sort of understood what they meant, but it’s only when you learn that little adjustment, that tiny little tweak of your technique that makes you go, Holy smokes! How have I been punching without that knowledge this whole time?? I can’t believe I’ve even survived this long without that little detail because IT’S SO OBVIOUS!! In my case today, I learned about punching with the top two knuckles. Now, before you roll your eyes at me, please realize that I have not gotten this far in my training without hearing hundreds of times that you aim with your top two knuckles when you punch. I’m sure I’ve told other people hundreds of times that they need to aim with their top two knuckles. But here’s the thing – when I heard “top two knuckles” my brain understood that I should make contact with this part of my fist:
In the last few months I noticed that my wrist was bending back when I was punching a shield rather than a focus mitt (focus mitts bounce away from your fist when you strike, the punch shield does not). Today our instructor had us doing an exercise where we pushed against the wall with our fist, simulating a punch. I pointed out the way that my wrist was bending back even though I thought I was pushing the correct part of my fist into the wall. When I asked the instructor about it, you know what he said? He told me to aim with my top two knuckles! I was this guy:
Isn’t that exciting?!! Such a little thing, but it changes so much! Don’t you just love learning?
People Got Stories!
At the beginning of the day, we all went around the room to introduce ourselves and say a little something about why we were there that day. It was pretty awe-inspiring to me to hear the variety of reasons why people started training in the first place and what got them to this point in their Krav journey. There was the girl who had only been training for about half a year who was sent to GIC by her trainer so that she could be hired to teach the kids class, and there were a couple of guys who train in Krav Maga as just one more fighting style of many that they’ve been training for 20+ years. But there was one particular story that really stood out. This woman (I’ll use the pseudonym Carla to preserve her privacy) told us that she started training in Krav Maga after she survived a brutal attack. This was the stuff of horror stories. She was the target of an attempted abduction, and she managed to survive by fighting back. When the police caught the man, they found several weapons, rope, and a tarp in his car.
A f*cking tarp!
As someone who has done fairly extensive research on violence, particularly violence against women, I understand more than most how unusual this actually is. In fact, most experts on violence against women make it a point that this “stranger jumping out from the bushes” type of story is not at all what women should be afraid of, since the enormous majority of violent attacks against women are perpetrated by someone she already knows and usually by someone she trusts. That’s why this story was such a gut-punch! Stranger attacks do still happen. They are not just a scary story.
Thank God Carla fought back.
Here’s one more thing that I found striking about Carla’s case. She didn’t start training in Krav Maga until AFTER she survived the attack. THAT is the point that I keep going on and on about to anyone who will listen – the power of Krav Maga is not just that it will teach you how to survive different attacks, but it helps those who have already survived violent attacks to heal from that trauma. It gives us our power over our bodies back after it has been violently taken from us (or attempted to be taken from us). It diminishes the terror and panic (typical symptoms of PTSD) by teaching us on every level that we are capable of ensuring our own safety in the future. I personally know what a gift that is. I’m grateful that Carla found Krav Maga as well, as I know how therapeutic it can be for survivors.
And that, my friends, is all I will say for one night. I’m looking forward to learning more tomorrow and to coming back home next week to put that knowledge to good use. See you in class soon. Kida.