Do You Krave Maga?

I love me a good opportunity to feel inadequate. So why not start the new year trying the Israeli self-defense art of Krav Maga?

Let me back up. You can buy the classiest clothes on the planet, but it won’t matter if you can’t fit into them because of one (or five) too many figgy puddings around the holidays. This was the situation I faced upon returning from my holiday travels. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t fit into my clothes, it was that when I did, I looked like a tube of toothpaste that had been squeezed empty at the bottom but still had quite a bit to offer at the middle.

Needless to say, it was time to get back on the workout train. And the most readily available ticket for the workout train was, for some reason, an already-purchased Groupon for three Krav Maga classes (or as Google Voice Search pronounced it “Kraeeve Maeega”).

Let me say, the folks at Krav Maga Federation in NYC were fantastic. They were super friendly and incredibly encouraging. Multiple people said hi to us as we waited for the class to begin despite the fact that we were decked out in full yoga gear and clearly weren’t from around here. The friendliness was enough to help us overcome passing by a young man who had achieved the orange belt rank despite being over fifteen years younger than us (you start, and we started, as mere white belts. Mercifully, we were not required to bow before him as he passed).

Immediately when the class began, I knew I was in over my head. We started without any preamble by doing a circuit of push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, and leg lifts with no break. I started to think that if this was the entire class, I was pretty sure my heart was going to explode. And not in a Grinch-learning-the-true-meaning-of-Christmas kind of way. Thankfully, this was just the warm up and ended after 15 minutes of unimaginable abdominal effort.

After a short water break, though, the next section of the class didn’t leave me feeling much more boss. We proceeded to practice kick combinations, punch combinations, and choke hold breaks–all of which had at least three steps. The instructor was fantastically patient, but that didn’t change the fact that in order to combine breaking an assailant’s choke hold, kneeing him in the crotch, and twisting his arm into submission, I needed about three weeks of training rather than five minutes. Seriously, if someone let me know a month in advance that they were going to try to assault me in a Starbucks, I would be so ready.

Consequently, maybe the most valuable lesson I learned from Krav Maga was that if someone attacks me, the best thing I can do to defend myself is make peace with God and resolve any unfinished mental business I’ve got kicking around. And that’s a counterattack with the mind–the most powerful weapon we have. Which is exactly what nerds who are bad at martial arts always say.

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