Got a coworker who has been doing the Krav Maga at R.E.A.C.T. Defense Systems for a few months and he is always talking about it so I had to try it out. There are 4 locations inthe PHX valley and two are pretty close to home. I have read about Krav Maga a few times and of course heard about how it the method of choice for the Israeli Defense Forces because its about brute force used to defeat opponent quickly and allow for escape.
The gym is pretty straight forward, mirror at one end and a firm but padded floor. The class before mine was a ‘Bag’ class meaning they were not doing Krav Maga but were instead doing physical exercises with hitting bags. It was an intense mess of running around punching, lying down, getting up, and all sorts of craziness.
The health sogn off form and waiver were pretty extensive and pretty much cut me off from suing them if I got injured in the gym at all. Hey I am going there to learn to defend myself I better keep my head up. Manni was the guy running the counter and I found out later is one of the top instructors there. The nice thing was that I didnt even think he was a trainer at all till they said something. Super nice guy and laid back which is a nice change from the majority of trainers that I know at other gyms.
Class started off and Lisa was leading it. She took care to address me as the new guy to make sure I understood what was going on at all times. This was done in a very respectable way so that I felt priveledged to get the attention and not talked down upon which I feel at a lot of places, even yoga studios. This was all about respect and no nonsense.
We went straight into warm up with jumping jacks, then high knees, then heel kicks, and quick feet (all of which I am pretty sure I hadnt done in over 12 years). Got the heart racing big time. Then it was into sholder taps with random partners throughout the gym. This was a great method of snapping your head into hitting and being hit though it was light and on the shoulders. Then is was partnered situps and pushups. Having a partner made you push yourself and then push them to go faster and harder. We finished off with some Bear Runs and more pushups and then back to some steps.
A short break and we were right into hand heel strikes with a partner and hitting pad. I have never been a fighter and never really trained on how to hit. After a quick demonstration from Lisa it was straight into going at it and I have to tell you I got right into it. I put all the bad calls and frustrations from the day into that pad and took it out on it. The cool thing is that you get just as much a workout when you are holding the pad. I learned quickly to breath out when they are hitting the pad to help absorb the blow.
Next up was low kicks and then Knees with a hold. Once again the instruction was precise, quick, and easy to pick up. They contextualized it with real world situations so that you could vizualize why and how you would use the technique. Once the threat is realized you become aggresive and you put everything you can into it until the threat is over. I particularly enjoyed the Knee with Hold technique. I hope my partner’s neck is okay today cause I was throwing him around a bit.
Then we started working on arm grabs and how to react to that. Basically if a stranger grabs you then you immediately punch them in the face until they let go. Obviously you want to use some level of common sense and not punch a cop or someone trying to help you. You stand still with eyes closed and whatever way they pull you use the opposite hand to go at them and hard. The partner brings their other hand up in front of their face to act as a target, if they forget to you need to remember to pull the punch. No hitting in the face in class – a fair rule.
The next drill involved a group of three where the third person is holding one of your arms back while you remain focused on hitting the other who is holding a pad. This is the most exhasting drill and almost lead to me spitting up my lunch a few times.
By the end I was a sweaty mess and more relaxed than I have been in a while. All aggression and frustration was gone. So I signed up for a year.
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