Monday, August 11, 2014

Perseverance in Training

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
― Confucius, Confucius: The Analects

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
― Confucius

To become proficient in anything requires sustained effort and focus.

It also involves working through various obstacles or challenges. These can be many:
  • Perhaps you are not as athletically gifted as some of the other students. 
  • You might have a busy life that only allows you to train once a week.  
  • There are certain techniques that you are struggling to understand and perform. (I always had problems with wrist releases.)
  • You have a temporary or permanent disability (e.g. back problems) that can slow down or limit your training

Such factors can frustrate.  They can be more frustrating if you are comparing yourself to other students (or instructors) who have rapidly moved up the testing ranks. 

We can’t always expect rapid, monumental progress in our training.  Besides the above-mentioned limitation we might experience injuries, busy schedules, or simply find ourselves struggling with particular techniques, concepts, and exercises. 


Here are some suggestions to help you persevere:

Be a tortoise:  There will always be students who are more athletic and seem to perform techniques and exercises with annoying ease.  You might not be as gifted but persist over the long run and you will marvel at your progress.
Adjust Your Standards:  Monumental leaps in proficiency are not always forthcoming. Strive to improve a little every month, every week, every class, and every exercise…  Your sustained effort will reap beneifts. 
Don’t Compare:  There is always someone better.  Don’t torment yourself by comparing yourself to someone who is more skilled.  Focus on your own development.
Adapt Your Learning.  You body is tired?  Watch some Krav Maga videos.  You are physically tired?  Stretch.  You have a leg injury?  Consider how you would defend yourself from a sitting position.  Adapt. 
Don’t Forget the Fundamentals!  Continue to refine you basic strikes, releases, body defenses etc…  This will help you when learning more complex techniques. 
Don't Binge. Train Consistently.  I have seen students who try to binge by showing up 4 times a week before a test vs those who show up consistently once or more week on a consistent basis.  The latter do better.

Persist with small steps and you will improve and become proficient.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Being a Krav Maga Instructor: Developing and Improving Quality Teaching

People ask me why I become a Krav Maga instructor, particularly an instructor with the The International Krav Maga Federation, (IKMF).  It is a great question and there are many reasons.  One reason centers around what I see as the IKMF's continued efforts to ensure quality instruction to offer the best possible self defense to our students. 

Becoming a Certified Instructor
There is no short cut to achievement.  Life requires thorough preparation - veneer isn't worth anything. George Washington Carver

It is recommended that candidates have 4 years of martial arts experience.   I would also strongly suggest some training at a reputable Krav Maga school.  The Civilian Instructor Certification (CIC) runs for 20 days, 8 hours a day.

The course is divided into 3 parts: techniques, theory, and teaching methodology.  Prospects must achieve high standing in all three categories to pass the course.  It is, of course, tempting to simply flood the market with instructors to make for more short-term returns. We cannot, however, compromise on quality. There are no shortcuts to becoming an IKMF instructor, no correspondence courses, or weekend crash courses where Friday you pay a substantial fee and by Sunday you are certified to teach.  There is too much at stake.  Your safety!

Here is a video with IKMF Global Instructor Tamir Gilad describing the Civilian Instructor Course (CIC):

Renewals and Continued Education

“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise.” - Denis Waitley

Becoming certified is only the first step.  Instructors are required to renew their certification annually to maintain technical quality, improve their skills, and stay current on any curriculum changes.  This assures that your instructor's knowledge and skill level are up to date and you have access to the most  effective techniques.  During these "renewals", instructors also have to opportunity to talk with other instructors as well as National Directors and members of the Global Instructor Team(GIT). This offers a great opportunity to share training and teaching tips.  Instructors always return to their schools with more knowledge and wisdom.  

This commitment to quality control is one of the main reasons I decided to train with the IKMF and continue to teach as part of this organization. With your safety we don't want to take any shortcuts or compromise teaching quality. 

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Workshop: Escaping an Aggressor - Awareness, Tactics, Techniques..July, 12-3:45-5:45pm

Avoidance is the best self defense. There are times, however, when we cannot avoid and our next best option is to escape - to get away from an assailant, find an exit, and minimize injury to yourself.

This workshop will help you:
  • develop an awareness of exiting options
  • tactics to distract and disable (usually temporarily) an assailant to "buy time" to escape
  • techniques to disengage from an attacker trying to control you
Here are some tips for escaping:

Beginners welcome!!


Saturday 3:45 to 5:45pm
IKMF Toronto, 2156 Yonge St.

For more information please feel free to contact me:

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Krav Maga and Body Defenses.

Central to learning self defense is moving your body our of harm's way of a punch, kick, stab, slash, knife/gun threat, grab or attempts to grab etc......  Since attacks can be fast and catch us off guard, moving effectively is very challenging. 

Here is an overview of body defenses:

Student leans away from stab while kicking.
  1. Moving Back:  One of our more natural movements.  After all, if there is a fist or sharp object speeding toward your face there is a decent chance you will move away.  In many situations, since you are moving your body away, a kick is a preferred strike aimed to distract or disable the attacker. (see picture above)
  2. Moving Forward.  This one is more difficult to teach.  Moving closer to an aggressor is less natural.  Who, for example, wants to get closer to someone swinging a hammer or baseball bat?  The most dangerous part of these objects, however is the end, so if you can't run moving rapidly into the aggressor is the safest option. (see stick defense below)
  3. Moving to the side.  Moving back or toward a gun aimed at your chest, is, of course, not effective.  Moving to the side, out of the line of fire, while redirecting the weapon offers you the best chance of survival. (see gun defense below)
  4. Moving Down.  Ducking a punch is the most obvious example.  Boxers are among the best at ducking and countering.  

Moving body to side - out of line of fire

Moving in to defend against stick attack
Body defenses are one of the more challenging aspects of self defense training.  It involves timing, coordination, and the ability to quickly assess and act.  Consistent training that involves attention to detail as well as various reaction drills will improve your body movements and your ability to defend yourself. 

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Saturday June 14th Workshop 3:30 to 5:30: Effective Striking

Striking is essential to learning how to protect yourself.  There are many reasons for this.  To read about some of these reasons visit:

This workshop will
  • introduce the basic strikes - elbows, kicks, palm strikes, and punches.  
  •  foster effective technique 
  • develop decision-making e.g. when to use various strikes 
  • outline some real life situations that might require striking.

Saturday June 14th, 3:30 to 5:30pm
IKMF Toronto
2156 Yonge St.

40/person - To register online go to:

Feel free to contact me with any questions:

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto