Taking on a new challenge takes courage. It’s also often accompanied by a good dose of nerves and anticipation. Every Krav Maga practitioner (even the most advanced and expert of them) has had to get through that first class, where jitters and confusion prevail.
To dispel some of this, here is a brief beginner’s guide to Krav Maga that covers what to expect and what you can do to prepare yourself.
1.Understand the philosophy
Krav Maga is not a sport or martial art. There is no ring or mats, no rules, no referee, no etiquette, no point system, no winner or loser. It’s not about moving aesthetically or winning a controlled fight because Krav Maga wasn’t created for entertainment or tournaments.
Krav Maga is about survival and self-defence against violence or threats in real-world situations. Self-defence is the answer only when others bring violence to you first and there’s no way for you to avoid it. Krav Maga is about avoiding danger in the first place, but using any means to protect yourself when necessary. This includes using simple and efficient moves to save your life by targeting vulnerable areas: kicking the groin, biting, gouging eyes, disturbing balance, striking the throat, and more. Everything is allowed because attackers in the real world don’t follow any rules or etiquette.
2.Train with all sorts of people
Krav Maga is accessible to everyone. As such, people of all ages, genders, body types and fitness levels are attracted to it. Classes are filled with people of different backgrounds: entrepreneurs, artists, writers, office workers, musicians, pharmacists, solicitors, waiters, electricians, and more.
Expect to train with people of varying strength, heights, sizes, genders, experience levels and backgrounds. Doing this will also prepare you for real-world scenarios, where attackers can come in any shape or gender.
3.Know your goals
People have various motivations for picking up Krav Maga. These can range from improving fitness or meeting new people with similar hobbies, to wanting to learn self-defence after a traumatic experience or adding techniques to an experienced fighter’s repertoire.
Consider your goals and share them with your instructors or peers so they can support you in achieving them. You may also discover that your objectives evolve as you progress.
4.Slow means fast
Don’t rush into things or force yourself to keep up with others who are more experienced. There is no competition in training and it isn’t a race. Keep the safety of yourself and your training partner in mind, listen to what your body is telling you and work at your own pace.
Take things one step at a time, focus on the basics and work on good technique. A solid foundation will expedite future progress. Consider good technique over speed: move through correct technique with a smooth flow and awareness of how you are positioning every part of your body. Think of it as mastering techniques in slow motion. Learning the right technique first will accelerate your progress in the long-term.
5.Get comfortable with the uncomfortable
Be open to stepping outside your comfort zone. Normal citizens who are unaccustomed to violence and aggression may find the nature of contact combat foreign and overwhelming. This is normal, especially for those who have not endeavoured in other contact sports or martial arts. Some of the techniques in Krav Maga that target sensitive areas, such as eye gouging, may also be rather appalling to beginners.
However, classes are a safe and controlled environment for you to overcome such discomfort and desensitize yourself. Krav Maga instructors are also trained to explain how to execute skills without seriously harming a training partner. You won’t be able to react when it counts the most unless you challenge yourself to expand your comfort zone.
6.Bruises are a thing
Like any other kind of contact sport or physical activity such as pole dancing, football, Mixed Martial Arts, etc., bruises are a natural and inevitable consequence of learning Krav Maga. This happens simply because it is an activity with physical contact, where bone and flesh end up connecting with more bone and flesh.
The prospect of bruises isn’t a reason to shy away from Krav Maga (medical issues being an exception) because bruising can happen even through normal daily activity or bumping into coffee tables. With consistent training, your body will condition itself over time and you won’t bruise as easily or heavily. Such conditioning also prepares you physically for when violence is brought to you.
Krav Maga is a way of life and mindset. The training has a lot to offer and will positively affect various other areas of your daily life. The results that you see depends on the approach, effort and time you put into training, so throw yourself into it with a positive mindset. Now that you’re aware of what to expect, it’s time to get yourself to your next training session.
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