Grasshopper, I am not…

This is an excerpt from the blog post by Rob Ingle, an IKMF student at Carpe Diem Krav Maga.

grasshopper i am not My first dalliance with martial arts was at the age of eight in a packed Judo class in the main hall of Hart Leisure centre… I was heartened when I was partnered with a girl, this won’t be so bad I thought, oblivious to the blue belt around her waist… ten seconds later, I peeled myself off the floor and decided I had tried just about as much Judo as I cared to. I did the manly thing and ran crying to my mum.

My second attempt at martial arts was at the age of fourteen. This time it was Taekwondo and I stuck at it longer than ten seconds… I enjoyed Taekwondo, but I always found it difficult, it never came naturally to me. And the problem was this: I AM NOT MADE OF RUBBER… A suspicion which was confirmed when six total bastards kids from the year below jumped me in an alley on the way back from school. My high kicks and spinning roundhouses were rendered useless as I lay on my front in the gravel, head-locked, arms trapped, sustaining withering kicks to my ribs and legs. When they finally let me up I did the manly thing… and ran crying to my mum.

… at the age of twenty nine I decided I wanted to ‘get into’ martial arts again. I took up Wing Chun Kung Fu with a great organization called IMAS. And I stuck at this for two years as well. I imagine I would still be there had the class not closed (we were just a satellite of the main organization in Slough and the two 12th graders who ran the class evidently did not have Haitham’s business acumen) but in hindsight I’m glad it did, or I may not have discovered Krav Maga.

In the months afterward, robed in rough hessian, I wandered the land attending various classes, trying to find the right ‘fit’. I went for one session at another Wing Chun class, but while the instructor was a nice guy, some of the other students were opinionated idiots, sneering at my ‘outdated’ technique and taking great relish in trying to bludgeon me into a corner with little emphasis on form. I didn’t go back. I also attended a Lau Gar Kung Fu class and it was there I realised an interesting thing. We spent a lot of time practicing totally impractical spinning/jumping/turning kicks aimed at a small pad, techniques that would look great if mastered perfectly or captured on film, but in a practical real-life situation ones which could get you beaten badly unless you were particularly lucky or particularly good. But I had my mini epiphany while going through a drill where we had to right-left the pad, deliver a side kick and then bob-and-weave backwards away from the instructor’s hooks. The moment he came forward to hook me, I did what we had been taught to do in Wing Chun; I stepped inside the hook, delivered an elbow to his throat and then grabbed his head down into a clinch (quite similar to the wide stick defense we practiced last week). The other students sniggered at me but at the end of the class he approached me and said he had been surprised by my reaction. I realized that not only had my muscle memory taken over very effectively, but it was the simplest of techniques which had been the most effectual. Forget jumping, spinning, pole vaulting roundhouse kicks; just get in and hit them hard.

Wing Chun had gone some way to teaching me this, but the constant emphasis on perfect form and the fact that knife defenses weren’t taught until the 10th grade (black belt equivalent) meant I felt like I was floundering, despite achieving my 6th grade.

And then along came Haitham… I’d researched Krav for a while and had hunted for a class nearby, so I contacted our illustrious mentor the moment I saw the site. Knife defenses in my second lesson told me all I needed to know about the class. Krav appears to be the real deal. Practical, straightforward and effective. The guys and girls in class are fantastic (even Gaz) – what a testament to good Search Engine Optimisation followed by brilliant teaching! I can see all of us learning and getting better. As the weeks go by, the number of apologies I hear around the room decreases (we’re training, we’re going to get hit) but the energy has increased. Barring injury, illness or the apocalypse I am going to be here longer than two years.

…and I won’t ever run crying to my mum again.

Krav Maga will teach you real life self defense, you will be trained in different places like bars, airports and parking lots, as you become ready for whatever situation that may face you. You will also be trained to be aware and sensitive of what’s happening around you.

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