Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Krav Maga Training and the Benefits of Diversity

Toronto enjoys an international reputation as being a "diverse" city in many senses of the word and we are fortunate at IKMF Toronto to have a diverse group of students.  Besides enjoying meeting people of various backgrounds and experience, diversity benefits our training.   

Here are some areas where diversity benefits our training.  

Size and Strength:  In our adult group classes we have students ranging from under 5 feet tall to well over 6 feet.  In terms of weight the range is approximately 100lbs to 300lbs.  Working with various sizes allows students to adjust to differences in reach, strength and other intangibles.  Of course, size and strength are not synonymous but there are real challenges involved with (for example) throwing off a heavier attacker.  Practicing wrist releases, for example, with a student with a strong grip highlights the importance of precise technique and raises your level. 

Gender:  Most physical assaults are committed by men.  We have Women's Only self defense classes but some of our female students want to work with men.  From an educational standpoint some men share their perspectives on violence and experiences and so do women.  This leads to a better understanding of how gender can factor into a person's sense of safety.  

Profession:  Our practitioners include doctors, labourers, academics, business people, teachers, servers, lawyers, students.....   The range of professional experience brings diverse perspectives including safety in the workplace. With our growing corporate self defense programs this is especially helpful in shaping what and how we teach.   

Age:  Our students range from the late teens to their 70s.  Different age groups can face different challenges. Bullying in high school, for instance, can be very traumatic or worse.  Seniors are sometimes targeted by assailants.  From a physical standpoint there are some realities we need to address as instructors.  We have some very fit students in their  50s, 60s, and 70s but we also recognize that a 17 year old student will often find getting up off the ground easier than someone in their 60 or 70s.  Such differences off us the opportunity to adapt techniques. 

Fitness/Physical Ability:  We have a wide range of athleticism, strength, agility, etc...   One of the key strengths of Krav Maga is its capacity to adapt to various physical abilities.  One of our students is blind.  By modifying techniques and through his impressive work ethic, he is becoming an excellent self defense practitioner! 

National:  We have students who were born or grew up in various parts of the world - India, Venezuela, Russia, Australia, France etc...   These students share their different experiences and interpretations of assaults and self defense that enrich our understandings in a broader content.    

Experience: Many of our students have no experience in self defense training and bring excellent questions that help instructors and other students understand self defense techniques and principles.   We also have students from other systems including boxing, karate, MMA, Kali... etc...  who offer excellent comparative insights.  

One of the strengths of Krav Maga is its adaptability and having diverse training groups only enhances this.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Starting Off: Krav Maga and Beginners

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Image and Reality: Krav Maga Self Defense Training

"So one may walk in peace." 
-Imi Lichtenfeld, founder of Krav Maga

...defending yourself is not being aggressive, it is doing what’s necessary.” 
― Charles F. Glassman 

 Perceptions not grounded in experience or sound reasoning can be very misplaced.  This certainly applies to how some people perceive Krav Maga training.   Some of our students have described how family or friends are puzzled as to why they want to "learn to hurt" or even  "kill" people.  Others, have suggested that training promotes or even encourages violence.  The general protest revolves around the assumption that Krav Maga is promoting aggression and violence.  

To be fair, many Krav Maga schools have not helped their cause.   Many of the images on You Tube, Facebook,  include people grinning with knives, guns or other weapons.  Moreover, there are schools that reinforce a "fight club" mentality.   Before coming to us, a student visited another self defense school asking what they can expect.

"Blood, sweat, and tears!" The instructor said.

What does that mean?

Rather than a fight club mentality we focus on one thing -  giving you the knowledge and skills to get home safe. Yes, there will be sweat (we'll skip the blood and tears) and hard work.  Yes, you learn how to strike effectively and to fight aggressively but only when necessary and only to protect yourself and others.  

There is nothing romantic about violence and promoting it as such is irresponsible and misguided.  Violence, however, does exist and we want you to survive it.   Krav Maga training has one overarching goal, at least as I see it:  to get you home safe.   

Stay safe, 

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Tip of the Iceberg: Curriculum as a Foundation

Our IKMF curriculum covers various "families" of self defense techniques and situations including stances,  striking, escaping holds and chokes, surviving weapons assaults, third party protection, and multiple attackers.  The highest levels,  Expert 3-5, specialize in VIP protection, Law Enforcement, and Military techniques and tactics.  
The curriculum is comprehensive and very well designed but we must approach it as a foundation rather than as an answer to all self defense scenarios.  During classes, students will often suggest a new problem.  What if the attacker chokes you this way instead?   What if he grabs your shirt and tries to punch you like this?  This is excellent because it demonstrates that the student is engaged and it brings up variations that could happen.   

Let's take for instance an ice pick/downward stab knife attack at close range.   In Practitioner 1 (P1) you block and strike with a body defense and escape.   In Graduate 1 (G1) you defend, strike, control, and disarm.   What happens for instance when the attack grabs you by the shirt or throat then attacks?  What if he grabs the arm that your would usually punch with?  (See below video for some solutions). Since teaching is based on principles (plucking chokes, striking the most accessible vulnerable point, etc...) practitioners can adapt to novel situations.  

So, while the curriculum provides the essential tools to survive, it is important, (with the guidance of a certified instructor) to explore variations to better prepare for real life situations.   If we can't come up with solutions then we can always call upon our excellent Global and Expert Instructor teams for answers and suggestions.  

Stay safe,  

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto