Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Krav Maga = Anger Management??

I realized tonight that I handle anger a whole lot different than I used to. Instead of 'reacting' and having a hissy fit, I found myself going dead calm, paying attention to my breathing and going inside my head for a solution. I even consulted God about it. Is this a situation I need to remove myself from? Does this aggravation deserve a retort? and if so, what? My heart was pounding hard because it was difficult, but I decided to speak slowly and calmly, and in a low, firm voice. I definitely got my point across and although my response was noted (the person knew I was pissed) there was no yelling, and no argument. Not something I am used to. After about 10 minutes of awkward quiet, things went back to normal and it was over. WOW. It worked!
I used to be a little bit of a hot head when someone did something to upset me.  I didn't start fights, but I certainly finished them.  This situation is of course a whole lot different than one of my earlier posts where I talked about finding the inner destroyer - this wasn't an attack, it was just simply a irritating conversation I had with a loved one.  However, I really believe training in disciplines such as Krav Maga, boxing, kickboxing or any MMA - that it teaches you SELF CONTROL.  I was so much more aware of my surroundings, my physiology (breathing, heartbeat, etc.) and I was able to control the outcome much, much better.  It's true that if it is a dire situation, a much more aggressive approach is necessary and I would need to harness that negative energy differently, but if you think about it, having self control there is critical too - moving your body purposefully and with a level of control can be the difference between life and death.  Instead of just swinging blindly and kicking and screaming, you need to be able to identify weak spots quickly and take advantage.
The likelihood of me having to defend myself in a life threatening situation are hopefully low, but I AM faced with domestic challenges on a regular basis.  I love the fact that I can use my pent up energy in a positive way learning Krav Maga (come on, you know hitting kicking things in class helps with all that frustration, haha!) and walk away with a more level-headed attitude.  It totally balances me, and I am grateful.  And my friends and family are grateful, too.  ;-)

Friday, February 21, 2014

No Excuses!

Getting old has it's challenges.  It seems like after I turned 40 that no matter what I did the day before, whether it was cleaning out the garage, lifting weights, going to Krav Maga or laying on the couch all day watching TV, my body HURTS!  I've got a sore neck, sore legs, sore arms or something is aching or just not feeing quite right.  It is downright annoying!  I feel like I am constantly taking Aleve or Tylenol or something to sooth the pain.  Now it's true I suffer from a little bit of arthritis in my back due to major surgery last year and being overweight causes my body to have to work a little harder at things, but I am NOT going to let this slow me down.  I have spoken with the doctor and he is all for me getting stronger, getting leaner and pushing my body in to better shape - I just have to make sure I rest properly.  At least 8 hours of sleep, LOTS of water and ice/heat when I have a minor injury like shin splints or muscle sprains. (And I have those a LOT!)  But I'm NOT giving up!  It may take me a little longer to perfect a move or little more work than the average person to keep up in class, but dang it, I'm there!  I'm doing it!

This time last year I was 70 pounds heavier.  My heart was weaker.  My cholesterol was 100 points higher and I was suffering from a herniated disc in my lower back with a bone fragment lodged in my left sciatic nerve.  My dad passed away in 2007 at age 65 from congestive heart failure.  In 2008 both my grandparents passed away within months of each other.  In 2009 my husband of 16 years left me for a younger woman.  In 2010 I left everything behind in Seattle to start a new life in California.  In 2013 my mom passed away from lung cancer at age 66. All of this is enough to take a person down to the pits of depression and anxiety, let me you, but with the help of God and that place way deep down inside that was screaming for me to GET UP and keep going, I did it!  I OVERCAME.

It has taken an incredible amount of work, and yes, I still have a long way to go health and weight-wise, but no one said this would be easy.  Consistency is the hardest thing for me.  I have good days and bad days, for sure, and setbacks just like everyone else, but at the end of the day I can look back and see my progress and it motivates me to keep going.  I know my family would be proud of me and I know they are cheering me on every day! When I tell people about what I'm doing in Krav Maga class, I get a lot of raised eyebrows and shaking of heads. "You're crazy!" they say with a smile on their face.  But no matter what has happened in your life, no matter how unhealthy you are and no matter what obstacles you have in front of you, you CAN do it.  It CAN be done. It doesn't matter how long it takes.  It doesn't matter how many people are better at it than you or faster at it. Who cares if you get the "what are you doing here?"  look. Just don't stop.  Don't give up.  Nope, it's not easy - in fact, the only easy day was yesterday!  NO EXCUSES.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Finding that 'place' inside yourself

And NO, I don't mean your happy place or inner peace.  There is a time for that, yes, but in Krav Maga it is about finding that survival aggression, that exploding I'M-GONNA-DESTROY-YOU place because during an attack it is a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y necessary!

I stayed after class today at KMOC talking with some other students and my favorite politically correct instructor (HAHA), Doug.  (I love exploiting him!) :-)  We were discussing how Krav Maga is not your typical boxing-style training with slow self defense.  It is meant to teach the student to SURVIVE and do DAMAGE, to use everything you have inside you despite the unpredictable chaos and danger around you.  This type of training goes against everything we've been taught in society - and even at the gym!  We are taught to be polite, even-tempered and passive.  Really, we are, and this is great when you're dating or teaching your kid to drive, but if someone wants to rape you, kill you or mug you, you need to throw all that crap out the window and turn on your inner monster.  Seriously.  And we ALL have it.  Krav Maga can help you tap into it.

It doesn't show the Krav Maga moves necessarily, but it shows finding that 'place' that I'm talking about.  Here is a video clip from the movie "True Romance" that demonstrates how a small, defenseless woman CAN get the upper hand in an arrogant attack from a man. She doesn't use any hand-to-hand combat because she knows she will lose, but she uses her brain and other objects around her and never gives up. (Note: the attack is toward the end of the video clip - and click on the link not the picture) Yes, I know it is a movie, but the concept is the same, find that part of yourself that wants to survive, use your instincts for the situation and GO FOR IT.  Poor James Gandolfini really gets his ass kicked in this one...(warning: video is graphic and has language)

Empowering Women

This is a "duh", but I want to talk about it anyways.  Krav Maga EMPOWERS WOMEN.  Yes it teaches you invaluable moves of self defense, but it also gives you confidence.  Now, I already told you I was a beginner, so in reality the "moves" I've learned in just a couple of classes are good, but probably won't be truly effective until much more practice and discipline takes place.  BUT. I am doing something for MYSELF that is both positive and useful!  I am interacting with other like-minded people.  I am getting exercise.  I have something in my schedule to look forward to, and it's just for ME!  How many things on a woman's schedule are truly for her?  The women I know have everything on their schedule but THEM! There are the kids and their activities, the spouse or significant other and his needs, the grocery shopping, the full time or part time job responsibilities, the car maintenance, the housecleaning, the family obligations, etc., etc., etc.  The women I know are amazing.  They get everything done and the people in their lives are better because of them.  They are strong, they are loving and they can do anything!  Those women also need something for themselves, though, and I'm one of them.

Making time for Krav Maga can be difficult, I get it.  I have launched myself into a new career at 42, I have a large house that needs lots of work with no one to share the responsibility with, I am overweight and struggling to get my health back and most days I am JUST PLAIN TIRED.  Amazingly enough, though, once I drag myself to class and DO the work - I feel great!  You carry yourself differently, you think differently and you feel different - not because I am suddenly some martial arts master (that's funny to even type) but because I am on a journey to better myself.  I overheard a conversation the other day on how no matter what, a woman is just no match for most men in a fight.  True!  I am not even a match for some women in a fight, but you know what?  I am better prepared than I was last year, last week and even yesterday.  I don't ever expect to out-power a man or anyone stronger, bigger and tougher than myself (no matter who you are there is ALWAYS someone better), but I can certainly learn to see danger signs, learn enough to get away, or out of a dangerous situation or at the very least make him THINK I am a force to be reckoned with!  Yuri, the co-owner and chief instructor at KMOC told me when I first met him that in an attack you have 3 to 5 seconds to react.  THREE TO FIVE seconds!  I believe in that time frame that ANYONE can gain the upper hand - even the victim - whether young, old, small, large, male or female.  This is what I want to learn.  This is why I'm here.  Plus, when you DO learn some new technique or just spend an hour hitting and kicking things - you totally feel like a badass!  And what woman doesn't want to at least FEEL like a badass from time to time?  LOL - it's the little things in life that make it all worth it.  I have also found that it is healthy to laugh at yourself, like for instance when you go for a high kick and fall on your butt.  Yeah, done it.  I've also had my own boxing glove come back and hit me in the face.  Perhaps I can just walk away with the ability to not hurt MYSELF anymore?  Maybe.

OK, on that note, it is time to get ready for Krav Maga class.  See you there!

Monday, February 17, 2014

My very first Krav Maga class

OK, so I thought since I have been working with a personal trainer over the last year that I totally had this, no problem.  I would be able to keep up and focus on the techniques, right?  Um, NOPE.  Within literally 5 minutes I was sweating, and after the 10 minute warm up I was gasping for oxygen trying to keep up.  Sheesh.  Now, it's true, if I hadn't been working out at ALL, then I wouldn't have made it through the first 2 minutes without stopping, but I digress.

There is a series of 'get your blood pumping' typical exercises like jumping jacks, sit-ups with punches and "spreads", but the instructors get you going with partners right away doing shoulder taps, 360's (blocking or punching in the immediate head/chest area with haymaker strikes coming in) and I tell ya, it's demanding!!  You have to pay attention. With my trainer, he holds pads up and I do punching/kicking combos, taking breaks in between.  Krav Maga?  No breaks.  Just the instructor yelling to keep going.  It is intense.  But fun!  One of the other students came up to me and said, "Don't worry, I had to sit out for most of MY first class!"  What a sweetie.  Everyone is so nice.

Then you partner up again and the training begins.  We first started with getting out of standing chokes.  Three people in a group - 1 victim, 2 attackers, rotating turns.  After 5 minutes of this I knew I would be going home with bruises already.  Yes, you get bruises!  I am very proud of mine, I'll have you know.  :-)

Being that I am in a beginner class (KM level 1), most of us are kind of clueless and confused (some more than others), and in our desperate attempt to figure this stuff out, giggling ensues over our mistakes.  We instinctively start doing girlie slap fights (unintentionally) and doing what the instructor called "Frankenstein" choking.  It is indeed difficult to 'pretend' to choke someone without looking like Frankenstein with our arms out in front of us waddling towards our victim.  Doug, the instructor for this class was all over that.  "There is no laughing in Krav Maga!" as he scolded us (lovingly, of course) and grabbed me to demonstrate the proper technique.  At attention I was.  Oh, side note:  Doug (the instructor) looks just like Hank Schrader - one of my favorite characters from the greatest TV show of all time "Breaking Bad"!  I'm just sayin'.

I learned several new techniques that night and the hour just FLEW by.  At the end of the class, seriously drenched in sweat with red marks all over my body, I walked to my truck and sat in the driver's seat thinking to myself "What just happened?"  LOL.  And so my life in Krav Maga begins...

Welcome to my new KRAV MAGA Blog!

Hi!  My name is Cheryl and I am a brand new member at KRAV MAGA OC (KMOC) in California.  My goal is to share my journey with you into the world of Krav Maga, and maybe even entertain you a little, too.  As you read, perhaps you will be able to relate, or maybe you have had a completely different experience, but regardless if you are new like me, or are a seasoned veteran, we all have a story to tell and our connection will be our passion to better ourselves in this unique and fascinating discipline!

So a little about me.  I'm a 42 year old woman (who is not afraid to reveal her age, ha!) who moved to Orange County about 4 years ago from Seattle, Washington.  Due to a series of traumatic life-changing events, I had become seriously overweight and unhealthy, and about a year ago my doctor urged me to find an exercise program I could stay consistent with.  I found out quickly I am not a person who enjoys treadmills, spin class or any type of mind-numbing repetitive gym routines.  After almost bursting into tears one day on the treadmill from sheer boredom, I went home and logged onto my computer in search of a solution.  Boxing.  Kickboxing.  Mixed Martial Arts.  Hmmm...THAT sounded interesting!  So I promptly hired a personal trainer to help me.  I sucked at all of them.  Badly.  But, as time went on, I started to lose weight, get stronger and I realized I was actually having fun doing it!  Unfortunately, my trainer moved up to Torrance, CA - over an hour away - and so I found myself looking again, for a solution.  Enter Krav Maga OC!

It took me about 20 minutes to research what the heck "KRAV MAGA" was, and how to SAY IT.  I started asking around and although some people knew about it, mostly I got the "Krav what?" response.  I loved the fact that it seemed even more interesting than the standard Boxing/MMA stuff, and I have to admit I secretly found the words "combat tactics" exciting.  I was also super interested in learning self defense - something useful while getting in shape!  Learning punches, kicks and other movements is fun and certainly a great way to get in shape,  but what I was really looking for is how to USE them in a real-life situation - because you know, you probably won't have your boxing gloves on when the guy with the mask is mugging you at the ATM, nor will you be in your "workout" mindset.  I want to know how to instinctively MOVE and give myself a fighting chance!  There have been times in my life when I was in danger and these skills would have been invaluable to have.  Hopefully I will not have to use these skills to defend myself in the future, but I sure do want to be a bit more prepared if I do!  Do my friends think I'm crazy?  Maybe a little.  But my joining in sure has created a buzz in my circle and I am so excited to get started!

So there you have it.  I am not young.  I do not have six-pack abs.  I'm just an average girl looking for a more meaningful way of moving and challenging my mind and body.  I have a found a new passion!

If you are interested in reading more about my life, see my other blog at