Lets start off this article by explaining why i have chosen to write it. At MKM, we have considered time and time again taking “Krav Maga’ out of the name of our Self Defence association but without changing how or what we teach. Why? Because generally Krav Maga gets a bad name when it comes to the Martial Arts world due to poor Instructors and Clubs being farmed out in certain circumstances. I am going to use the next few minutes to try and explain why I think this is and how one or two instructors can be so bad for this systems reputation.
Poor Background and Knowledge in Combat/ Pressure
At MKM, we are firm believers of reality and truth and therefore we will agree that this Bad reputation is sometimes very well deserved. Some of the clubs claiming to instruct reality based self defence in the form of Krav Maga are cringe worthy. Sadly like a lot of things in this world, Krav Maga has in some areas been watered down into cowboys teaching bullshit techniques with no previous experience of combat, pressure or any sort of conflict.
I am not claiming to be the expert but I have recently retired from 10 years serving in the Royal Marines Commandos which has given me a good nose for combat and pressure. Throughout my career I have felt the most intense pressure and understand the way that the body adapts, adrenaline kicks in and what works when this happens and more importantly what doesn’t. This comes down to basic understanding of things such as body mechanics, fight, flight or freeze and Gross/fine motor skills. When myself and Darryn decided to leave a respected and large association and run our own, we filtered through the Syllabus we had previously been working with and threw away the things that either didn’t work under pressure or were duplicated with another technique. Self defence should be SIMPLE. We also added some handy combatives from other arts and adapted the syllabus as necessary to create what we believe is a reputable and realistic system on how to defend yourself if required. When teaching Self defence it is vital to remember that you are not trying for a role in John Wick (which incidentally is a great film).
I am not saying that we know everything about combat as no matter how good you are, you are always learning and never a master. I do believe however that with the right background and knowledge you can pass on some handy skills to those that need it so long as you dont try to be fancy and sell to the popular crowds.
Unqualified/ Inexperienced Instructors
So while we are on the subject of background and knowledge, lets talk about these “2 day instructor courses” or “I’m a bouncer/ the local hardman so I can teach self defence and call it Krav Maga” and subsequently sell my classes to vulnerable people. This is in my opinion the main issue for Krav Maga as a name. If you are not careful you will end up training at a club ran by someone who has never had a fight in their life, sees a video on youtube and is now an expert in that scenario or loves a fight on a weekend pissed up but has no technique what so ever. I have some very close friends who are very tough men. Some are doormen some are IT technicians, some have been to war several times over the last decade. This does not mean that any of these are skilled to teach self defence. It literally means they can take a punch and possibly throw one too. Learning and instructing an art is a different thing all together. This takes time, focus and commitment.
Krav Maga itself is a hybrid of other martial arts, dipping its hand in each toolbox and taking out what is more relevant to realistic self defence. This means that it in itself is not the be all and end all. As we say to all our students, it is good to train here in Krav Maga but you must also train your striking ability, groundwork, grappling and fitness outside of the classes in order to be able to be effective on the streets. It is no use knowing a technique but not being able to apply a well placed powerful combative to assist in controlling the opponent.
To summarise, YES Krav Maga can sometimes get a bad name for itself like a lot of martial arts and YES some ridiculously poor clubs are out there! So if you decide to give Krav Maga or any form of martial art or self defence a go, make sure that you know who your instructor is, how knowledgeable they really are and question would this work in the real word or is he spinning another bullshit yarn. It is equally as important to train in different arts and understand, take on and possibly use different methods when fighting. If you really have love for the fight game, then you must have love for it all. Knowing one syllabus does not make you a master and sometimes can make you ignorant or naive.
Finally, Martial Krav Maga will remain a “Krav Maga’ club being adaptable, fluid and realistic with everything it teaches ensuring that the standards of both its instructors and students are to the highest that they can be.
Stay safe, Train like your life depends on it….. because it DOES!
I’ve had an Altitude mask for over a year now and as soon as people see it they’re either curious to what it is or quick to jump on the band wagon of saying that they don’t work. Then you get their expert scientific opinion of how the lungs work at altitude and before you know it you’ve stopped working out to listen to some stranger’s pointless opinion of something that they know nothing about.
In this Blog I am going to try and break down why I use the Altitude mask and what benefits I get from it. I wont pretend to have scientific knowledge or pass ‘Expert comments’ I will simply explain what I personally get from using the mask.
Tips when using the Altitude mask for the first time
When I first bought the mask, I did the typical ‘Manly’ thing and set it to its highest setting and got on a treadmill. Big mistake! I had no experience training with it on, and I wasn’t used to how it would feel which ended up in my first masked session lasting no longer than 20 minutes.
As you can imagine after spending a fair bit of money on this equipment I was a little miffed to have such a short lived session with it. It was entirely my mistake and the factors below add to my dismal first session:
I hate running anyway so I was never going to enjoy the session
As said in the instructions, you should build yourself up using the mask starting on the lowest setting.
Most importantly I had not given myself chance to settle into the workout
The negatives of an Altitude mask
Over the next few weeks and after dropping the setting slightly, I tried the mask in different sessions gradually getting more success in sessions. As I said I have now had the mask over a year and as such have found some flaws. I will list what I have found to be negatives then explain why I still use it often for ‘Fight training’:
The mask is not natural and feels uncomfortable which at points during a hard session can get annoying until you get used to it.
I sweat ALOT more whilst wearing the mask (Can also be considered as a positive).
You can’t work out as hard or as long with the mask on which if you overuse the mask session after session, this could cause your muscles to get less strenuous activity and consequently weaken them. For example, the leg muscles may only get a 6 mile run with the mask on rather than a 12 mile run without it.
The Altitude mask benefits
As you can see the negatives are just common sense and you should be expecting the above when restricting your breathing anyway. I will now explain why I personally love this mask and what benefits I get from it every time I train with it:
The mask restricts breathing and straight from the off puts you out of your comfort zone. Every fighter knows, that to be a good fighter you have to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable’. This puts you straight away under pressure and helps you strengthen your mind, determination and mentality in a whole. Yes, there is no proof these masks improve fitness but I can promise you they improve mindset. Its like being in the final round of a fight with nothing left to give throwing what you can where you can as fast and hard as you can. There’s not many other training aids that can give you that feeling straight away.
As above (in the negatives) it makes me sweat like mad. This has to go down as positive and negative depending on the person. Me personally, I love to sweat more in a workout, this shows the body is working hard and needs to cool down rapidly.
It adds variety to your workout routine. There is nothing worse than getting bored of routine and losing the will to get up at ridiculous o’clock in the morning to go and train. These masks give you another level and option in your training.
Final thoughts on the Altitude mask and are they worth buying?
My final thoughts on this short and sweet blog about Altitude masks is YES they’re not for everyone and YES there may be no proof that they improve fitness as such but if you’re a fitness fanatic that loves a challenge and thrives off of being on your ‘last legs’ then these masks are definitely worth parting with your hard earnt cash. It comes from the old saying ‘train hard, fight easy’. Going rounds with the mask on in training will push you to your limits and the second you take it off for a few rounds you will feel like your breathing all the oxygen you need to go forever.
Hope this helped you decide this common argument whether these masks are worth buying or not.
In this blog I want to talk about how your Heart rate raising can effect your ability to conduct certain motor skills. No matter how good you are at something or how simple something is, if your Heart rate is too high, you will eventually lose the co-ordination/ability to conduct this action. In this blog we will look at different types of motor skills, relating them to Real Self Defence. We will also look at ‘The Inverted U’ Theory and finally how Krav Maga minimises problems at high heart rate.
There are 2 types of motor skills that you conduct. These are GROSS motor skills and FINE motor skills. Below is the explanation of both:
GROSS motor skills
An example of a gross motor skill in a self defence aspect is a ‘Flinch’. It is an easy move where the body automatically covers up and becomes a smaller target. We have all flinched before when been shocked and we all automatically know how to do it even though our Heart rate at this point is most likely high due to the shock that has caused the flinch.
FINE motor skills
An example of fine motor skills again in a self defence aspect would be conducting a complicated technique that involves a set of motions to insure that the technique is successful for example a submission lock. We must practice and practice again to pull off complicated techniques (Fine motor skills) to make them stick in our brain enough to be able to pull it off at speed.
So looking at the two of them it is clear that GROSS motor skills are more natural for us. Take a look at the diagram below and consider arousal as your heart rate. As you can see, the higher the arousal/heart rate is once passed optimum performance, the less you are able to do. This is known as ‘The Inverted U’
Inverted U graph
Picture from http://qasimpsychology.blogspot.com/2015/05/arousal-theories.html
Right about where it shows the “STRESS ZONE”, is where you will start to lose your FINE motor skills. Now obviously Self Defence involves a high Heart rate and 99% of the time will involve a form of anxiousness and violence. This means that most of the time when having to conduct self defence out on the street where there are no referees and death is a possibility, we lose our ability to conduct fine motor skills. This is where I believe Krav Maga has got it right!
In the Krav Maga syllabus, the techniques are conducted in such a way that they all have similarities to each other and also are not too complicated. This means that when you conduct one technique you are most of the time also repeating motions for another technique (“Constant repetition carries conviction”). They say that a technique conducted around 3000 times becomes muscle memory. I’m not sure that this is the exact figure however the principle is correct. This means that keeping the syllabus fairly simple and also placing a lot of similarities in the techniques, it is easier to instill the muscle memory in students thus making a fine motor skill more of a gross motor skill.
In summary, we all need to be aware that some techniques especially in self defence, will not come off as easy when pressure tested. Everything you train, once mastered should be pressure tested to ensure you can conduct them when the adrenaline kicks in and your Heart rate is through the roof. Again another positive of Krav Maga is that everything you practice will be pressure tested!
Be aware of what you can do on the Mats with a “compliant” opponent may completely change when faced with adrenaline and an ‘uncompliant” opponent.
What is more important with Krav Maga Training, FITNESS or DETERMINATION?
Fitness levels, often get mistaken for sheer determination and on the other hand, determination is mistaken for Fitness levels. To put it into a context that’s easy to understand, I want you to imagine that there are two people challenged to run 100 miles with 25 kg in their backpack. One of them is an Olympic athlete, very fit, healthy and finely tuned to get the most out of his or her body. The other individual is quite fit, pretty healthy but a normal everyday human being but has an immensely stubborn and tough mindset.
Both individuals finish the challenge because of very different reasons. Firstly, the Olympic athlete will use his or her fitness levels and finely tuned body to push them through the 100 mile trek and the effort will be there however previous training, prepares them for a challenge like this and therefore less effort is needed now (“Train hard, Fight easy”). The average healthy individual however will rely on sheer determination and not getting injured to push through the 100 miles. This will require all the effort he has, as there is not a solid base of previous training to help him when opposed with situations like this. A certain State of Mind will get him through. What we have to remember is that Fitness can be trained but Determination relies on the individual having it or not to begin with.
So which is better for Krav Maga?
This is the question I have been juggling with throughout my whole career within the Royal Marines. I was never the naturally fit bloke, running at the front with minimum effort. I trained hard and long and used my determination to push at any challenge that has been thrown at me. I would always hate that these really “naturally” fit blokes would stream through things that I would have to work hard at. It only came clear to me near the end of my training that this “Fitness advantage” would not always put them on the front foot. I also started to see this as my career went on.
At the end of training, we have what are known as the 4 Commando tests. Each are physically draining and demand the highest levels of fitness along with the most positive mindset. It was at this point where I started to note flaws in the really fit guys. Throughout training, they had found it easier than others and therefore never pushed as far out of the comfort zone as I did. By the time they reached the Commando tests, most things were within there ever growing comfort zone. As soon as they stepped out of there comfort zone on the tests however and joined the rest of us in what I like to call the “Must keep moving forward” phase, they seemed to struggle. They were not prepared for this feeling of hitting the limit and smashing through it and therefore were dropping out of the tests a lot quicker than the rest of us. This backs up the common known phrase that “Your body will take you as far as your mind tells it to”. I still cannot answer the question of which is better to have (Determination or Higher fitness level), however I have learnt a few things along the way.
So to summarize this commonly asked question. I can tell you that I have learnt that both Fitness Levels and Determination are needed in any physically demanding challenge. Depending on the challenge, It makes a significant difference to which of the two would be better. Both have their place in any situation, the biggest difference being, one can be trained (Fitness) and the other must be bred into (determination). One without the other would get you nowhere in any physically demanding challenges.
I will now boldly and probably risk being slightly biased by stating that I firmly believe that with determination you can get to any fitness level you want to be, but the best fitness level in the world will still not help you gain sheer determination. So whats best for conducting Krav Maga Training, Fitness or determination? Well to be able to fight in an aggressive and explosive manner that Krav Maga demands, you must have a certain level of fitness. To be able to sustain the demanding intensity of Krav Maga, you must have a great level of determination. You can gain fitness fast by attending Krav Maga lessons, but you must have the right mindset and determination to begin with! So to finish off ill leave you with one of my favourite quotes:
“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough!”