Reflections of P-Camp, 2018

Over the last weekend of July this year, we held our semi-annual P-camp and testing. Eight hours each day, for a total of sixteen hours of training, followed on Sunday evening by an additional few hours of testing made for a very intense and very rewarding experience for everyone participating.

The value of extended camps and testing resides in the continuous nature of the training. No interruptions after an hour of work, no having to wait until the next class to practice a difficult technique again, no need to wait to ask a question. Everything is very immediate and there’s a certain coherence that comes from that sort of sustained training. In fact, camps can become somewhat addictive because students often mention feeling much more confident about their understanding and performance of techniques afterward. Camps are so useful for this reason, in fact, that we open all camps to all levels of students, because they are an excellent way not only to review known techniques, but to build a repertoire of new ones as well, and understand where training is headed.

We are proud to say that all of our participating practitioners tested successfully and have moved on to their next levels. A big congratulations to everyone who was here and committed their blood, sweat, and tears to their own improvement, and that of their fellow students. As always, we are inspired and motivated by the dedication of our Krav community! We are also proud of an Academy first this year – we enjoyed The Original Gourmet’s fresh and delicious food, right outside our door. A big thank you for the excellent lunch on Saturday – check out the pictures!

Our G-camp (Graduate level) is coming up at the end of August – stay posted for more information!

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Realistic Training has Far-Reaching Effects

carA few weeks ago, one of our members was involved in a serious car accident that could have had far more serious repercussions than it ultimately did; what prevented matters from deteriorating were the quick reflexes and level-headed response of this long-term Academy student.

Driving home with his girlfriend in the early hours of the morning, our student, Mike, saw the headlights of an oncoming vehicle suddenly swerve more directly toward him; there was nowhere to turn, and the vehicles collided head-on. The impact released the airbags, and our student sustained extensive burns across his arms and torso, as well as serious contusions. His girlfriend, sitting in the front seat, as well as the backseat passengers, also sustained injuries, and were badly shaken up. The driver of the oncoming vehicle was immobilized on the floor of her front seat.

Mike credits his Krav Maga training, which involves reaction time drills, drills conducted under increasing levels of physical and mental stress, and performance under fatigue, with his ability to take immediate stock of the situation and begin to react appropriately. He assessed the condition of fellow passengers and removed them from the car, and then, with true integrity, rushed to the other vehicle to offer help. He was able to remove the driver of that vehicle with the help of her passenger, as the safety status of both cars was uncertain. He did all of this while he himself was badly injured, prior to emergency responders arriving at the scene.

We are relieved to say that Mike has been making an excellent recovery and has been gradually returning to participation in class. We wanted to share his story for a number of reasons, the foremost being that we are extremely proud of him for his bravery and selflessness. The extent of the accident might have impaired anyone’s judgement, but he remained calm under fire (and after sustaining his own extensive injuries) and ensured the safety of everyone involved. We’re also very proud to see that he has obviously absorbed the skills and competencies that are integral parts of his Krav Maga training – including quick and accurate assessment of threats and rapid, appropriate response to those threats. His experience illustrates the important point that the ability to manage stress, to evaluate environments and situations accurately, to formulate effective responses quickly – all of these are capabilities that require ongoing practice and can be applied not just to typical self-defence scenarios, but to circumstances outside the typical scope of Krav Maga as well.

We’d like to thank Mike for allowing us to share his story. The value of realistic training is hard to measure; it’s sometimes not until you find yourself in unimaginable conditions that you come to appreciate all of the hours of hard work that you’ve done. It’s at that point that you’re grateful for committing your energy and time to this very active form of “life insurance.”

As always, remain alert and stay safe! The Academy community is stronger because of all of you.

The Academy Team

July Calendar and Events

The July calendar is live!

Please note that there are no classes on Monday, July 2nd in honour of the long weekend; we hope that you have a chance to relax and enjoy the holiday with family and friends!

On July 19th, we’ll be holding our second Krav Social, which is a great opportunity to enjoy some fun, purely recreational time with the Academy community. We train together all the time; this is a chance to unwind together! We’ll be meeting at the Classic Bowl on Dundas and Winston Churchill in Mississauga (3055 Dundas Street West) just before 7:30 PM and do some bowling from 7:30-9:30 PM. Friends and family members are encouraged to come!

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Next, on July 28th and 29th, we’ll be running the 2018 P-camp and testing in Mississauga. This two-day event will run from 9 AM – 5 PM each each, with testing happening at 5:30 PM onward on the 29th.

The value of organizing so many class hours into such an intensive format is that it hugely improves retention of techniques, not to mention that there’s a genuine sense of accomplishment and camaraderie that follows two full days of training with fellow practitioners.

Testing, as mentioned, will follow the end of the camp. It begins at 5:30 PM on the 29th, and is open to students who have fulfilled the following prerequisites:  attended both days of the camp and have regularly attended classes since March (at a minimum).

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We ask that students please RSVP by e-mailing us at sarah@canadakm.com for all events.

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Looking forward to seeing everyone and preparing for the end-of-the-month camp and testing!

 

The Academy Team

June Events

As is often the case, the summer months begin to pile up with planning and events. We’re a little late to get all of the June information out, but better late than never!

This month, knowing that families are in the process of helping their children to wrap up the school year, we’ve tried to make it at easy as possible for both Maple and Mississauga students to take advantage of the seminar schedule. We’ll be running the seminars in both locations, so no one need miss out.

On Saturday, June 23rd, we’ll be hosting two seminars at the Mississauga location. The first one, from 12-2 pm, is the Advanced Tactics seminar for children ages seven and up. This seminar will teach our young practitioners what to do in extraordinary cases when pure self-defence and educational blocks aren’t enough.

The second seminar in Mississauga on the 23rd will run from 3-5 pm, and is the first of a series of Carjacking seminars for adults. This two-hour period will briefly touch upon some basics of safe parking and movement around vehicles, and then go more deeply into armed attacks (gun and knife) in one-on-one scenarios. Not to be missed.

These two seminars will also run in Maple on Sunday, June 24th. Again, the children’s seminar will be from 12-2 pm and the Carjacking seminar will run from 3-5 pm.

Please RSVP: sarah@canadakm.com

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

The Academy Team

What Krav Maga Is Not

We get a lot of inquiries at The Academy.  Among the conversations that we had today, some on the phone and some online, there was one that reminded us of just how far we have to go until Krav Maga is well understood.

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Granted, trying to define Krav Maga is not always an easy task. First, it’s not an ancient discipline, so there’s general unfamiliarity to consider. It’s also subjected to a lot of gratuitous hype because, frankly, sensationalism sells. In the age of five-second thumbnail clips, accurate history lessons are usually the first to go. Of course, when misinformation fills in the gaps left by real knowledge and experience, the results are reliably negative.

But what is perhaps most obstructive, most counterproductive, is the tendency of social-media voices to pronounce judgement on ideas, systems, or movements that they have not experienced themselves firsthand. If commenting required research, the Internet would be a much quieter place.

Earlier today, we’d uploaded a post that illustrated some major differences between Krav Maga and traditional martial arts, insofar as those arts are taught in North America today. As our students know well, we have tremendous respect for these arts for a number of reasons. A good instructor in any discipline can encourage students to develop positive characteristics, such as discipline, persistence, positive thinking, and a love of physical fitness. As well, Krav Maga had its initial basis in a variety of martial arts, such as Aikido and Jiu Jitsu, as well as competitive sports such as boxing. It is only as Krav Maga has evolved over time that the hard lines that originally defined the techniques as belonging to one art or another have blurred somewhat, and we now have a unique, stand-alone system. We can’t love KM without respectfully acknowledging its roots.

Why do we say that Krav Maga differs so much, then, from its martial arts origins? To answer this, look at how most of these arts are now taught and assessed in Canada. Many (certainly not all) schools, especially those with programming for children, advocate a non-contact approach. This means that children practice techniques in such a way that no physical contact is sustained. In fact, control and prevention of contact is praised. While students may develop muscle-memory of various techniques, they will not experience first-hand how the dynamics of those movements change when contact with an opponent is involved. This ties in with refereed competition, which is also frequently a part of traditional martial arts methodology in North America.

Krav Maga takes a different approach, possibly because it is not so long removed from its origins. As an aside, Krav Maga was developed in Europe at the time of the Second World War by a man named Imi Sde-Or. As tension began to escalate in towns and neighbourhoods, Imi used his background as a champion in a variety of martial arts and sports to teach his beleaguered neighbours basic defensive skills. Imi was eventually able to escape Nazi Europe, and continued to develop his new system for both military and civilian use. Krav Maga is, and has always been, designed to give lay persons the skills that they need to protect themselves and loved ones from genuine attack on the street. The civilian component of Krav Maga is far more nuanced than its military counterpart, primarily because a) civilians do not generally have previous combat training, b) it is assumed that civilians do not want to engage in combat, c) it is assumed that civilians will need quick, easy-to-remember techniques that minimize contact between them and an assailant, such that the possibility of escalation is minimized. Of course, this also means that the chance of injury is minimized. All of the above requires greater finesse than brute force, which is sometimes a difficult concept for non-Kravists to understand.

In our post today, we were attempting to dispel some of the confusion about Krav Maga. Sometimes, describing what it is not is an easier starting point than trying to encapsulate all of the many, varied, multifaceted benefits that comprise our training. And so, we explained that Krav Maga is not a martial art (again, insofar as those arts are taught in relatively sanitized North American environments) by virtue of the following:

  • we advocate full contact because this is the only way that a student can reasonably expect to be prepared for a threat or attack on the street: we’ll say it again and again – you will always default to reacting on the street in the same way that you’ve trained in the studio
  • we advocate regular, full-contact sparring because this is the only way that a student will overcome the physical and mental shock of an altercation, and the right time to work through that shock is in an environment dedicated to your learning and growth (i.e. the time to learn how to defend yourself is not, in fact, during an attack)
  • we do not use specialized clothing for our training, primarily because it reacts differently to grabs and to certain weapons than regular clothing does; to repeat, the way that you train in the studio is the way that you will react on the street
  • we do not enter into competitions because Krav Maga is inherently not rule-based. Competitions rely on all opponents adhering to an agreed-upon set of rules. That, however, is not how altercations work on the street, and so we do not feel that this form of assessment is in line with the basic function and focus of Krav Maga – to keep our students safe in real life
  • we avoid competitions as well because they give participants a false sense of the “combat” being refereed, timed, and regulated – see above about training needing to mimic realistic scenarios in order to be useful outside of the studio

The comment that we received in response to our post demonstrated a real lack of understanding about the point that we were originally trying to make. The individual in question insisted that the real difference between martial arts and Krav Maga is that the former are designed to instill respect and kindness, while Krav Maga is meant purely for “killing.” As every one of our students knows, that is plainly mistaken.

We realized, reading the comment, that this was an opportunity to educate. As above, Krav Maga has a long way to go before it’s as household a name as, say, Karate. Understanding this, we have an obligation to correct misconceptions like the ones that were published online.

So what did we say?

First, Krav Maga hasn’t had the hundreds of years that other, older arts have had to establish a name for itself. That opens it up to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Importantly, from the moment of its inception, it has always been meant to keep common men, women, and children safe. Civilian training, especially, teaches students to use the absolute minimum amount of force necessary to, say, release a grab or deflect a weapon in order to allow a person to escape. Krav Maga is not about vendettas or retribution – it’s about smart strategies to exit harmful situations with minimal contact and minimal harm. Killing is not an aim of the system. In fact, the use of excessive force of any kind is strictly frowned upon.

We went on to explain to the individual that our studios are places that are devoted to personal and community safety and growth, and that we’d welcome him/her to join us for classes so that he/she could see first-hand what we’re all about. Without a doubt, experiencing the training personally is a far better and more accurate way to learn than to follow the so-often false conjecturing that is part and parcel of social media.

While it’s easy to take offence when something that you love and appreciate is misrepresented, it’s also a chance to take positive action. We hope that you, as practitioners, graduates, and even experts of Krav Maga will always take confidence in knowing that you’re a part of a system with the very noble past and present goal of individual, family, and community well-being.

The Academy Team

The “Why?”

There are countless reasons to train in any really demanding discipline. We’re given so many opportunities to be sedentary, and, as human beings, we like to default to the lowest energy output that we can in order to get the job (any job) done. It makes sense that we’d need to have some strong, compelling reasons to leave the luxury of rest of behind and continue to train.

Any fresh start is a good opportunity to consider your “whys.” As we move into May (hard for many Ontarians to believe, given that we were under a layer of ice and snow about a week ago), give some thought as to why you train. Perhaps you’ll see some familiar motivation here:

Improve My Fitness

Krav Maga rests on symbiotic principles: fitness, mental readiness, and technical skills. We say symbiotic because they all draw from, and bolster, one another. You can have mastered the intricacies of the techniques with total precision, but if you have minimal cardiovascular endurance and “gas out” after only a few seconds of sustained effort, your technical knowledge is of dangerously limited value. The same applies to muscular endurance and the ability to generate bursting force. Similarly, without mental readiness, your capacity to perform under stress will be reduced. So, fitness is a critical component of Krav Maga performance; perhaps it is your why. There’s no getting out of class without burning a couple thousand screaming calories…and for many, the connection between fitness and appearance is the deciding factor.

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Improve Your Health

What’s the difference between health and fitness? As above, there’s an association of fitness with appearance. “Health” encompasses less obvious markers of well-being, including an overall feeling of sustained vitality, long-term mobility, pain-free movement, and, especially as we age, sustained strength, coordination, agility, and balance. There are, of course, “medical” measures of good health, including appropriate blood-sugar and blood-pressure levels, hormonal balance, joint function, muscle tone, circulation, and more. As we know, exercise, good nutrition, and social networks play an enormous role in maintaining all of these aspects of good health, and tend to prevent or mitigate the need (in a general sense) for surgical/pharmaceutical intervention. Important goals, indeed!

Self-Defence

In the wider world of training, this is a “why” that’s fairly specific to disciplines like Krav Maga. You can improve your cardiovascular health in any high-intensity class. Zumba, kickboxing, track and field: all of these will yield improved cardiovascular outcomes. For muscular strength and power, there’s weightlifting in any well equipped gym. So why Krav Maga?

If you’re a student, the goal of effective self-defence was and is invariably one of your whys. That’s what we do, what we teach, and what we advocate.

You realized that it is possible to act in situations of danger. It is possible not to be a victim, and it’s the skills that you’re learning and practicing that will be the deciding factor. That’s such an important point, and one that we often brush off at some point in our KM journey because it becomes so self-evident, we begin to take it for granted. Take another look at that statement, though, and recognize that it was a realization that took time to dawn on you.

For you to be a Krav Maga student, most especially a long-term one, your mindset had to change. Think about it – the vast majority of people on the street would have no idea how to react to a gun or knife threat other than to raise their hands or fall to their knees. Crying, pleading, or shock – that would be the extent of the reaction. Most people on the street cannot fathom that there is something effective and proactive that could be done. Perhaps unwittingly, at some point in time, you went from that mentality to one that refused to accept that there is nothing to do but endure victimization. You began to believe that your safety is your concern and is in your hands. Don’t make the mistake of discounting how significant that shift in thinking is. What you take for granted (i.e. “of course I can act! I can act to keep myself and loved ones safe.”) is something that most of your neighbours and contemporaries can’t even imagine. 

That is a powerful why.

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Family and Community

Being part of a like-minded group is not only pleasurable, it’s good for our sustained mental health. Numerous studies point to the importance of social networks (not the same as social media!) and shared activities in maintaining a positive outlook throughout life. Ever had difficulty explaining Krav to non-practitioners? Feel a sense of camaraderie in the studio when you’re training with fellow students? That can be a very profound why for a lot of us. Knowing that you’re building friendships with people who care about your progress and well-being is one more reason to look forward to class.

There’s also the family component. Perhaps you want to set a good example for your children. You may want them to see you “put your money where your mouth is” in terms of exercise and good health, or in terms of being proactive with regard to self-defence. Don’t discount the impact that your training will have on your children’s understanding of what is normal – adults persisting in challenging pursuits, overcoming setbacks, achieving goals – what they see you doing in class is worth ten-thousand words of encouragement, guidance, or even cajoling. Perhaps the family component of training means to you that your children will make friends with those whose parents share your values, and that kind of community is very important, too.

Confidence

There’s a certain sort of confidence that grows as a result of accomplishing personal bests. Sometimes, corporate culture being what it is, we don’t have opportunities in our working lives to stand out and let our talents shine. It’s up to us to find pursuits outside of work that allow us to challenge ourselves to do, be, and experience more. Perhaps your why is to discover how much you can really do. In a community like ours, achievement of goals leads to greater, often life-changing, self-confidence. That’s a priceless perk of training.

Me-Time & Self-Improvement

Instead of trying to catalogue the amount of time that you spend on others, a far shorter list to compile may be the activities that you undertake for yourself. Perhaps your why for training is that it’s the one activity that you pursue for your own happiness, growth, education, and/or good health and fitness. An empty pitcher, to play with the cliche a little, pours nothing. Eventually we need a refill. Each and every one of us needs something that revives us, that puts back a little of what we give, not only so that we can continue to give, but so that we ourselves are fulfilled. If you’ve accepted our culture’s fixation with obsessive production at the expense of self, you may have difficulty believing that personal fulfillment is a valid goal in and of itself. That’s a why very worth working on.

Lifestyle Commitment 

As above, there are a number of interrelated outcomes of long-term training. There’s improvement of mental health, physical health, fitness, personal fulfillment, self-confidence, family and community, and, of course, self-defence. All of the above come together under the umbrella of lifestyle. Training is a positive lifestyle choice with lasting, far-reaching benefits. Your why may be quite broad in scope.

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Because You Can

Most of us have come across small-minded people – the type who make a habit of saying things like “you can’t do that” or “you’d never be able to do that,” etc. Sometimes that voice is our own, and it’s self-doubt that we need to battle. Either way, choosing to train is an affirmation that the “cant’s” are all wrong. It’s the most decisive, concrete, explicit way to prove to self (and sometimes others) what you’re absolutely capable of…and more. Your why may be a matter of simple, defiant proof. Of course, in that proof is a lot of growth.

Overcoming Assault

Another motivation to train that is specific to disciplines like Krav Maga is the desire to overcome the effects of assault and to prevent it from recurring. After surviving an attack or serious threat, you may feel the overwhelming need to reassert your autonomy, regain a sense of strength, and ensure that you’re never again victimized. There are so many stages of recovery that each person experiences differently, but the desire to be safe is universal. Your why as a survivor is deeply personal and can be the most profound source of growth available. Be reassured that, as a valued part of our training community, your goals will be upheld and supported.

Perhaps  your primary, overriding why isn’t on this list, and that’s perfectly alright. There are as many reasons to train as there are dedicated students, but we’re united by the belief that we, our friends and families, our neighbours, and communities have the right to be safe and free from harm. There’s nothing more compelling than that. Right now, at the start of the month, take a moment to reflect on your very powerful, very positive whys. _P2A9382We’ll see you in class!

The Academy Team

 

 

 

Young Practitioners, Huge Achievements

Children can begin their Krav Maga training with us as young as four, and our youth program includes students up to the age of fourteen, so we’re fortunate to have a chance to nurture “our” kids and see them grow throughout the years. Last weekend was one such opportunity to observe just how strong our young members have become both mentally and physically, and to congratulate them very genuinely for the hard work that they do.

It’s no small feat for young men and women to spend an entire day training, and that’s exactly what they did on Sunday. From ten in the morning to five at night, these kids pushed past perceived limits and hit some incredible milestones. Starting with the sometimes daunting task of completing level testing, they moved on to an anti-bullying seminar on the bus, and concluded the day with a full tournament, complete with sparring. Not once did anyone talk about giving up – it was full energy all day long.

What was most inspiring was a segment toward the end of the day, during the tournament, when each child faced one of the most challenging scenarios possible – sparring with multiple attackers. As our adult members know, this is some of the most intense training that you can do. From a psychological perspective, in terms of cardiovascular and muscular endurance, and with regard to performance anxiety, multiple-attacker scenarios are wildly demanding. Keeping that in mind, our kids faced the challenge with remarkable poise, grit, and skill – especially considering that they were not facing their peers…the “attackers” were adult instructors!

Each student faced down a handful of adults for a lengthy sparring period. It was incredibly, incredibly inspiring to see these young athletes dig down within themselves for reserves of physical and psychological strength. They made everyone so proud, and it was a testament to the sort of hard work that they and their families commit to doing every class, every week. We say with confidence that, after dealing with multiple adult attackers at the end of a full day of training, these kids are capable of absolutely anything.

What was also really moving was the unbridled enthusiasm and energy that took over as the kids were sparring. Everyone, including the instructors directly involved, was extremely vocal in cheering the kids on. The volume level in the studio went up as the afternoon went on, and it was this loud, positive, vigorous support and encouragement that really showed us, as a team, how much of a community we’ve become. Involvement, investment, and care are the defining factors of a vibrant, healthy community that is interested in the improvement and well-being of each member, no matter how small.

It isn’t every day that children have an opportunity to learn and progress bolstered by this kind of obvious and energetic support from an entire community of mentors. We are honoured to be a part of these extraordinary moments. A big kida to each participant and family member – both immediate and extended – who supports them in their progress.

The Academy Team