Educational Blocks & Plan “B” Techniques

Krav Maga has a bit of a PR problem – any quick search on YouTube will yield a dozen results, most involving large men in military fatigues and a disproportionate amount of rifle-wielding.

It’s not that Krav Maga doesn’t cover military, para-military, and police techniques – it certainly does, and law-enforcement services around the world make extensive use of Krav Maga training. That being said, civilian Krav Maga is actually more nuanced than its military counterpart, which makes the singular focus of most social media somewhat inaccurate.

The threats and dangers that most men, women, and children face frequently fall into a “grey zone.” The “grey zone” is an area that encompasses situations that make a person very uncomfortable, but are not so severe or so traumatizing as to be easily labelled in black and white fashion as, say, “assault.” Sometimes, analyzing and responding to a “grey” threat appropriately is more challenging than dealing with an obviously life-threatening situation. In cases of clear-cut threats to one’s life, it is much easier to recognize that an immediate, dynamic reaction is required. Otherwise, when the threat is less pronounced, the options for response increase in number and experience is required to determine which option is best. This is where “soft techniques,” which we’ll refer to as “educational blocks,” become so useful.

Because Krav Maga is a defensive system, our primarily focus is to help you to keep yourself safe. In order to do that, we teach awareness as a first step. It is vital to be observant of your environment (both the persons and objects in it, as well as your position in relation to them); this is key to avoiding problems before they begin. We advocate using the knowledge of Krav Maga techniques only when absolutely necessary, and the response that you have must be measured – it must use only as much force as necessary and no more. It is relatively easy to teach students to punch and kick, but these techniques are not always necessary or appropriate, and they don’t always address the concerns that the average person has about “grey zone” problems that they’re most likely to encounter on a day-to-day basis. This is where the elegance, simplicity, and effectiveness of “educational blocks” really shine.

Precisely what is an Educational Block?

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An “educational block” is a low-key technique that produces minimal damage to an assailant and requires little movement. It is, however, sufficiently unpleasant that an attacker should recognize that the intended victim is not as easy a target as anticipated. This is the “educational” component of the technique. It is, essentially, one-step deterrence. On your part, it demonstrates that a) you are attempting to de-escalate the situation and are not reacting irrationally or needlessly violently, and b) you likely possess the skills to end the confrontation to your advantage if peaceful resolution fails.

Educational blocks are the logical stepping stones between situational awareness and what might be termed “Plan B” techniques – more aggressive techniques to be used in cases of greater danger.

Educational blocks include, but are not limited to:

  • pressure on the thumb to release unwelcome and prolonged handshakes
  • pressure near the interclavicular ligament to release an aggressive shirt-grab
  • soft techniques using pressure against the thumb to release hand-grabs
  • “wind-milling” to release shirt-grabs

None of these techniques require tremendous physical strength, great height, or a weight advantage. As is always the case in Krav Maga, applied knowledge of basic anatomy and physiology is what allows a practitioner to free him/herself from an undesirable situation, and this is never more true than it is in the case of educational blocks, which involve subtle movement. You’ll also notice that no punching, kicking, throwing, groundwork, or other more forceful techniques are mentioned, as these fall into the “Plan B” category, to be used if gentler “education” is ineffective or a more obvious threat is made immediately.

Why do we need Educational Blocks? What Grey Zone?

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In a country as stereotypically polite as Canada, we’re often so concerned with not giving offence that we sometimes allow others to compromise our personal space in order not to come off as “crazy,” “mean,” “angry,” or “aggressive.” We sacrifice our safety for social grace; unfortunately, there are those on the street with sinister intent who take advantage of this good-heartedness. Soft techniques offer us a comfortable middle-ground between surrendering our well-being and reacting in a way that is unrealistically aggressive for the average man, woman, or child.

Perhaps it’s a trip on a crowded bus or train and someone makes an attempt to hold on to your hand. Perhaps it’s a business meeting in which an “innocent” handshake becomes prolonged and painful. It may be a misunderstanding that becomes heated but hasn’t yet become more physical than a shirt-grab meant to direct you (albeit unpleasantly). In most of these scenarios, we feel apprehensive, but we want very badly to believe that nothing more serious will occur. We are torn between wanting to remove ourselves from the situation and wondering if there really even is a problem or if it’s “all in our heads.” If we react too quickly, too strongly, we worry about being seen as “not all there,” though we realize that the alternative – not reacting – leaves us vulnerable to treatment that we haven’t consented to and that we don’t want to continue. It’s a terrible spot to be in because it feels as though there isn’t an easy way out.

These are the times that knowing low-profile, simple, soft-techniques gives us the peace of mind that we can extricate ourselves from unpleasant scenarios without unnecessary drama. The confidence that we gain from knowing that we can successfully look after ourselves – no matter how “tricky” a situation is – is enormous.

Thus, no rifles and no bellowing, but purely effective nonetheless. The beauty of Krav Maga rests in how comprehensive it is, how many options it gives us to keep ourselves and loved ones safe. Watch for these excellent educational blocks in class!

The Academy Team

 

 

 

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The Value of a Training Community

We get a lot of inquiries about private training, and while our team does offer one-on-one classes, we try to encourage students to train in a group environment.

There’s huge psychological value in being part of a community of like-minded people, but the primary reason that we suggest that students train in a group environment is that it supports better-rounded responses. As any long-term student will tell you, a few things inevitably happen if you train exclusively with the same partner:

  • you become aware of his/her areas of strength and weakness, and learn to avoid the former and exploit the latter, which routinizes your own responses
  • you learn how much force you need to exert to overcome that particular partner, and tend not to extend beyond that
  • you are relaxed, knowing that you communicate well with your partner and have developed a comfortable relationship; this creates an artificial environment that in no way prepares you for the physiological and psychological stress of a threatening situation outside the studio

Just as it’s important to train with more than one partner, it’s critical to train with more than one type of partner. A case in point – one of our female students recently spent a period of time training almost exclusively with other women in class. Without doubt, she progressed in terms both of technique and conditioning; however, it wasn’t until she came to class one day and happened to pair up with a larger male student that she realized that she’d become reliant on working with those of roughly her own physical stature. She found that, despite knowing the techniques being used, she couldn’t perform well enough to defend herself. It took this student some time to re-calibrate, which she did by working with a variety of body types.

The key piece here is adaptation. You will adapt only to those stresses that you face. If your training does not require you to overcome new situations/challenges, you will plateau – this is true in fitness and it is true in Krav Maga. “Plateauing” for us means that you will not be able to address threatening situations as successfully as possible. The overall moral is that, in order to be truly prepared for eventualities on the street, you need to train as realistically as you can – as we’ve said before, you’ll always react in real life in the same way that you train in the studio. You can now see why working with a variety of people is so vital – you can’t predict who is going to approach you, so it’s critical that you be able to deal with as wide a range of attackers as possible.

As a side-note, it’s actually for this reason that we take a different approach than most studios and gyms to women’s-only training. Put simply, we discourage it. This may sound odd, given that women report assault in exponentially higher numbers than men. If anyone should be training, it’s women. It’s important to understand that we’re not discouraging the training itself – but we do take issue with it being divided by sex. We prefer that female students train in co-ed environments – we understand the statistics, and we can see that women are rarely attacked by other women. Krav Maga is not designed to be a sport – it’s a system meant for real application, and we would be doing women an enormous disservice by having them train in a same-sex environment that does nothing at all to mimic the conditions under which they routinely face threats. We try to build bridges to more realistic co-ed training for women who feel unsure of getting started by offering time-limited women’s-only intros, which are intended to lead participants into our regular classes upon completion.

Whether you’re a veteran student or just starting out, keep these principles of variety and adaptation in mind, and make a point next class of pairing up with someone you haven’t worked with before – it will do your training a world of good.

The Academy Team

 

Assault, and Worrying for our Children

Many of us train because we want to look after loved ones. We feel that the safety of our families is something that we can control, and so we learn systems of self-defence that give us the skills that we need to influence the outcome of dangerous situations.

Self-defence (specifically Krav Maga, in our case) is like insurance – it’s best to start working with it before an incident occurs. While Krav Maga is certainly meant to be learned quickly, because it is based on our natural reflexes, it nevertheless requires time to master. Advanced planning provides a unique sort of peace of mind. The time to figure out what to do is not when you’re in the middle of a threatening situation, when your physiological and psychological responses are working against you. Consistent training is what stands between panic and level-headed, efficient problem-solving. The earlier you start, the more you know, the more you can do, the better protected you and your family will be.

We worry so much about our loved ones, most especially about the children in our immediate and extended families. We do our utmost to protect children, and for members of our studios, that includes teaching children the skills that they, themselves, need to keep themselves safe in circumstances when we may not be present (at school, on public transport, when out with friends, etc.).

Because this focus on safety, this worry, is so pervasive, we found a recent blog post by a mother who herself experienced assault very poignant. Bethany of Latched and Attached is a well-known blogger who writes candid pieces about the challenges of motherhood…and whose concern about her children’s well-being is one that we all share. She experienced rape almost a decade ago, and its effects continue to impact her view of raising her children. We want to share this blog with you, with the warning that it could trigger strong emotion in many readers and contains mention of sensitive material.

If you, like so many family members, want to live with greater peace of mind and greater reassurance that you are doing everything in your power to keep your children safe, contact us. Our children’s programming deals with real-world problems that occur outside the walls of the studio. We build strong, responsible, self-confident, and safe families, and we begin with children as young as four. As one of our members commented so accurately, “violence is what happens when you don’t train.” We couldn’t agree more.

Please read Bethany’s post here: http://latchedandattached.com/rapeandmotherhood/

The Academy

Injury-Prevention for Fighters

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If any of you in Krav Maga  have ever taken your aches, pains, or injuries to a therapist, you may have found that the demands that you make of your body are not well understood. You may have tried to describe “fighting form” and why it’s so important to you to get back into it, but the desire to push through injury to continue to learn something that you love is not always easily explained.

Disciplines as physically rigorous as Krav Maga can lead to injury if they’re not paired with restorative practices. A close analogy is heavy weight-lifting. The more you do, the more flexibility you need, the more targeted nutrition you need, and the better quality rest you need in order to sustain and maintain your training, and to ensure success. Without even knowing it, those of us who train regularly are making quiet athletes of ourselves each class…and no athlete leaves his/her performance to chance.

We are incredibly lucky to be hosting our mentor in physical well-being, Dr. Kirsten Wishloff, on June 9th. She’ll be joining us for a hands-on, interactive workshop from 7-9 PM at the Mississauga studio. We’re extremely excited because Dr. Wishloff works with athletes of a variety of backgrounds, specifically including those in “fighting sports.” She works on identifying and correcting areas of imbalance that form on account of repeated, typical movements in these sports and ensure that these imbalances do not progress to chronic injury. The ultimate goal is to keep an athlete functioning at optimal levels, and as we begin to use our bodies in more complex ways, that can take specialized help. Dr. Wishloff is an incredible source of information on sports therapies, chiropractic work, acupuncture, and a variety of related methodologies that can improve our health and training.

To help you to understand Dr. Wishloff’s approach, we asked her for a quick interview, which we’ll share with you here.

Why is it important to do sports-specific therapy?

All sport leaves the body with imbalances. To a certain extent, these imbalances actually help the athlete to excel in a given sport. However, the body has a limit as to how much adaptation it can do before structures begin to break down. Pain can be understood as a ‘lagging indicator,’ which means it is actually one of the last signs that there is a problem. Movement and function are used as ‘leading indicators,’ meaning they can identify a problem before it is noticed as pain.

How does this sort of therapy make training sustainable?

The type of therapy required depends on the issues being experienced and the sport. A balance of soft-tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, motor-pattern rehabilitation, and nutrition is a good place to start from a physical standpoint, but there are many other forms of therapy that can be of benefit depending on the issues and healthcare beliefs. Regardless of therapy method, the idea is to catch problems of imbalance before they become problems of pain. This prevention creates healthy tissue and promotes longevity in both sport and life.

What concerns have you dealt with in those who pursue “fighting”/martial arts/grappling, etc?

Common issues in those who pursue combat sport are global rotational imbalances, shoulder stability, hip mobility, and wrist injuries.

What is your general approach when dealing with new clients?

My approach to care emphasizes movement and function. Often if these two things are properly managed, the pain goes away on its own. New patient intakes begin with a detailed health history and an in-depth understanding of past health conditions. I then perform an active movement assessment, followed by a hands-on assessment of how the joints and muscles move passively, without muscle activation. From this information I create personalized plans that grow and change with the individual to ensure their body continues to adapt in a healthy, sustainable way.

How do you involve clients in their own recovery/maintenance/prevention?

The care programs I create are dynamic. They challenge tissues to become progressively stronger and less imbalanced. I typically let my patients use their body to guide how often they come in for care. Not all body’s respond to therapy the same, and there are times when more frequent care is required to get the desired results.

For more information and to register for Dr. Wishloff’s workshop, please e-mail sarah@canadakm.com

The Academy Team

Summer Camp is Coming!

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50 days until school’s out for the year! Are you and your kids ready?

Well, the kids are of course ready, but do you know what they’ll be up to in July and August?

This year, we’re taking a more dynamic approach to our regular summer-camp offerings. In addition to Krav Maga training, we’ll be hosting a variety of fun and exciting activities all focused on building skills, confidence, and a sense of personal development. We’re looking at art, cooking and nutrition, community-building, overall fitness, and more.

We need some help, though. It’s important to us that we know how we can make your lives as parents, guardians, and family members easier. We want this to be a positive and memorable summer for everyone, so we’re asking you to fill out a survey (link here: SUMMER CAMP SURVEY) so that we can organize all of the details and get registration information out ASAP.

Please take a few minutes to let us know how we can optimize the camp experience for your family. Once we have that info, we’ll get registration links sent out in short order, and we’ll be well on our way as an Academy community to giving the kids a camp experience to enjoy and remember!

Best,
The Academy Team

The Science of Saving a Life

cprLearning Krav Maga means that you have an interest in protecting yourself, even in a situation so extreme that it could be considered life-threatening. This is why we train in a realistic, demanding, and applicable way, understanding that the harder we work in the studio, the more prepared we will be for issues on the street. Sometimes, though, saving a life is not about deescalation of an attack; sometimes, the techniques that you need have nothing to do with violence of any kind. We’re talking about CPR and First Aid. Even the most basic elements of this sort of training can save a life, which is why it is so important for us, as a Krav community, to ensure that everyone is properly educated.

As one family in Alberta learned last January, being equipped with the right knowledge can be the difference between a miracle and tragedy. You may have heard the story on CBC of Maslyn Dansereau, whose CPR skills saved her father’s life. She performed basic chest compressions on her father for twenty minutes after he collapsed in their home – what would seem to most of us to be an eternity – before paramedics arrived. All of the medical personnel involved in her father’s subsequent care remarked upon the fact that Maslyn’s use of CPR saved his life. You can read the full (and very moving) story here.

We offer CPR/First Aid training at the studio at least once per year, and we’ll be hosting our next event for adults on June 17th and 18th, 9am-5pm each day. The two-day course is only $80, and we strongly encourage you to attend. You never know where you’ll be when these skills are needed, and you never know who may need your help. Just as we learn Krav Maga to defend ourselves in uncertain situations, so too can we think of CPR and First Aid as “life insurance” tools of critical importance and value.

Please register now for the June 17 & 18 course – spots are limited for certification purposes. E-mail sarah@canadakm.com

 

The Academy Team

 

Anticipating Master Gabi Noah’s August Visit, 2017

Gabi Noah, one of the few Masters of Krav Maga in the world, will be joining us this August to lead three public seminars (VIP Protection, P-Camp, and G-Camp) and one seminar exclusively for our instructors. We’re looking forward to his visit, as always, with a lot of anticipation.

Many of our students have noted in the past that Gabi has a sequential, logical teaching style that breaks even the most complex techniques down into comprehensible steps – one of the many reasons that his seminars fill up so quickly. Training with a Master in the field helps you to focus your own training and strive to improve, and it goes without saying that Gabi’s dynamic, no-nonsense approach hugely motivates us.

As you’ll see, the programming for the public starts on August 24th (5:30-9:30 PM in Mississauga) with the VIP Protection seminar. This seminar is not just of interest to those in law-enforcement or security – far from it. “VIP” in Krav Maga includes any person who is meaningful to us, so if you have family members or friends whom you’d want to protect in a threatening situation, this one is for you.

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The instructor seminar takes place August 25th (5:30-9:30 PM, Mississauga), and is limited to those who have successfully completed their CIC (Civilian Instructor Course) with IKM. Qualified instructors from IKM schools around the world are welcome to join their Canadian counterparts in this seminar.

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On August 26th, the P-Camp will be running from 3-7 PM in Mississauga, followed by testing. On the 27th, the G-Camp will run, also from 3-7 PM in Mississauga, followed by testing. Both of these camps are open to students of all levels, because review, practice, and learning new material are all equally as important.

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You’ll see as well that there is early-bird package pricing until May 31st. This applies to the purchase of all three public seminars. Early-bird pricing discounts do not apply to individual seminars. Because of how quickly Gabi’s seminars fill up, we strongly advise you to register and reserve your spot NOW – e-mail sarah@canadakm.com.

Looking ahead and looking forward to seeing everyone there to welcome Gabi in August!

 

The Academy Team