It’s been almost six months since I started krav maga, and I think I’m ready to test for my yellow belt. Emphasis on think.
In case you didn’t know, krav maga was first developed in the 1930s by martial artist “Imi Lichtenfeld, who made use of his training as a boxer and wrestler, as a means of defending the Jewish quarter against fascist groups in Bratislavain.” After he immigrated to Israel in the late-1940s, “he began to provide lessons on combat training to what was to become the [Israeli Defense Forces, or the Israeli army], who went on to develop the system that became known as Krav Maga.”
I keep hearing that you have to go at least twice a week to get anything out of it, and that three times a week is ideal. When I started back in February, I went twice a week almost every week. I didn’t go at all in March (vacation and laziness), went only once a week in April, and only started going twice a week again in May, which became a habit in June. I went three times in one week once last month, and once this month.
What’s tough about going three times a week is that the class times aren’t ideal for me. I prefer to work out in the late morning or noontime. The weekend times, 11 AM, are excellent, but during the week is tougher. I usually work from home Tuesdays and Thursdays, and krav maga isn’t till later in the afternoon, which means sitting around unshowered for most of the day.
But now I really need to suck it up and go three times a week because like I said, I think I’d like to test for my yellow belt in September. I’m much better than I was in the beginning, but I still suck at a lot of things. Luckily they’re very transparent about what I’ll need to know for the yellow belt.
There are five sections for testing: 1) Fighting Stance and Punches; 2) Kicks; 3) Punch Defenses; 4) Choke and Headlock Defenses; and 5) Ground Positions/Movements/Kicks. Under each of those sections, there are four to seven things I need to know. Today let’s look at my Fighting Stance and Punches.
Fighting Stance and Punches
- Fighting Stance and Movement
I’m pretty good at this. At first I had no idea how to move in fighting stance. I kept stepping out with my front foot when it’s really pushing off with the rear and closing the distance.
You should avoid doing things that would make it easy for your opponent to knock you off balance, such as crossing your feet (a big no-no) and lifting your foot too high. At the same time you don’t want to drag your foot on the ground because that will slow you down.
- Straight Knuckle Punches
I’m erratic at these, sometimes good, sometimes terrible. I have the tendency to strike with my lower two knuckles on my left hand. You’re supposed to strike with the upper two as there’s less chance of injury that way. I also sometimes forget to lead with my lower half. In other words, the power starts in the sole of your foot, you turn your foot (a little or lot, depending on which foot), and pop your hip forward, following through with your arm and fist.
I also forget to follow all the way through with my right, which is my cross. The jab, your left hand, is supposed to be fast and just to stun your opponent; with the right you imagine punching a hole through the person. It’s the knockout punch.
- Palm Heel Strikes
I’m pretty good at these. It’s the same body mechanics as the straight knuckle punch. You just hit with the heel of your hand. That way you don’t have to worry about hurting your knuckles (which I have done, at least with the skin).
- Hammer Fists (Front-Side-Back)
I’m also pretty good at these. With the side and back, you have to remember to first look at your target before striking. It could be your friend or some innocent bystander. Newbies, I notice, have a tendency to just strike without looking.
- Advance and Retreat Punch Combos
I felt like a clumsy idiot when I first started learning this. It’s like when do I step forward? when do I punch? I’m better now but I think I still have a tendency to step first, then punch, instead of at the same time.
There are seven elbows. I’ve learned one, two, three, and six (which I think my instructors call seven, but whatevs). One is to the front, two to the side, three to the back, and six, straight down (as though your opponent is bent over and you’re aiming for their back). Four and five are backward so I guess we don’t learn that till level 2, and the last one is like an uppercut with your elbow.
Next time, my favorite: Kicks.