27 August, 2010

Krav Maga Total Combat - or Tom and Suze join the Israeli Military for the evening

This is great! I have a Martial Mate... a Fighting Friend... Bushido Buddy?

Meet Tom

Tom is my friend from school and he's just contacted me to say he's looking into trying out a Krav Maga class in Leicester. As I've just spent two weeks eating Cream Teas and Pasties in Cornwall this is a much needed work-out so I've invited myself along.

I briefly spoke to Roger the instructor on the phone and arranged to turn up for a free introductory session with Tom on Thursday. The address given is the Gannon Karate Academy on the High Street but it turns out this is a temporary home and not afiliated with the Gannons or in any way.
I met up with Tom just before the class was due to start and exchanged news (his is way more interesting than mine) and then we introduced ourselves to Roger. Roger is a very pleasant and amiable chap who smiles a lot. Not what one would usually associate with an efficient and brutal Martial Art taught to elite special forces around the world but perhaps he has a dark side.

The class starts with a warm-up: the usual stretches and exercises before moving straight on to pad work, and combination punches. Roger explains the mechanism of the punch, striking area and torque well and spends time with each pair making sure they have understood the distance and force required. After basic punches we move onto adding an exit to the strike. This is where KM really seperates from all of the sport Martial Arts. The techniques are short, fast and always end with an escape, so it really is much more self-defence oriented than many Arts purport to be. Once we've mastered two strikes and out, we move on to adding a counter-strike on the exit to debilitate the attacker.

Roger also briefly covers the psychology of using anger appropriately and encourages us to work up our aggression in the moment. This is one area that I felt I needed to understand more about and hope it's covered in more detail in future classes. As well as hand-to-hand combat, the syllabus also covers weapons and there is a grading system based loosely on belts although belts are not worn (I believe there are 5 or 6 grades to Instructor level)

I'm impressed with the amount of useful, practical information and technique that has been offered in just this first half-hour, and as we move on to escapes from choke-holds and learn hammer-blows and knee-strikes it becomes clear than Krav Maga does exactly what it says on the tin, it's hard and fast, there's no finesse and it teaches practical street fighting which is exactly what Tom was looking for. 

There's no real etiquette in the dojo, students go off to take a break, drink water or even answer their phones throughout the class, but Roger commands a healthy respect and everyone is polite and friendly. For those of us who enjoy the artistic side of the Arts, or who want a little Kata and competition this isn't for you. But if your motivation for going to class is to learn practical self-defence skills then I would heartily recommend KM over Karate, TKD or Kung Fu and it's also a good workout for your upper body too.

Tom was impressed enough to want to sign up for more classes, and I think Krav Maga will appeal to people who want techniques that work, and none of the slightly effected methods that some Martial Arts can develop.

I do know that after a few more classes I'll think twice before tapping Tom on the shoulder in the street!

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