Wednesday, December 28, 2011
See here her blog entry detailing how she taught me to join the current century.
If there's one thing I've learned in this job it's that people have talents and skills that make life brighter and better and that they're almost always happy to share them with you. This girl is going to do big things one day, mark my words (you heard it here first!).
Thursday, December 22, 2011
These brothers are learning to practice defense against headlock from the side, a common schoolyard hold. Once you tell a little kid they can hit you as hard as want and they won't get in trouble they'll take that ball and run with it.
The video wouldn't load to the blog, so click this link to view it on my Facebook page. Enjoy.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
That made a huge impression on me and has seriously influenced my philosophy when I teach. Since most of us don't walk around with a cop at our sides, we need to be proactive about our own safety.
Sometimes people we live with are the ones that pose a danger to us, and that can leave us feeling totally vulnerable and alone. Yesterday I posted an interview I did with Lisa Lucas, formerly of the Domestic Violence Unit at the Travis County Sheriff's Department (she is now a patrol deputy).
There's a lot of good information in there about what to do if you find yourself in danger at the hands of a loved one. Even if you are not in that situation and don't expect to be (of course, who does expect to be?) it's still worth a listen. The information you learn may help change the life of someone you know.
Check it out here, and thanks to Officer Lucas for taking the time to help us out.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Since a guy will get hauled off to jail if he punches a female, he feels like he can't retaliate (or, in this case, defend himself) so she "won". And these girls were pretty proud of themselves when they told me this & expected me to applaud them. It was everything I could do to restrain myself from removing their teeth.
The truth is, I was so shocked and offended by them that I really had no idea what to say. So I got very quiet and still and said that if they act like that they can't train at our school.
Really, I chickened out. I tend to say cruel things when I'm really angry and I want to avoid that, plus I was so stunned by their behavior that my brain shut down. Saying Fit and Fearless won't accept students who bully and attack others its true, but it was still a cop out on my part. Here's what I'd like to say:
*If you punch people in the face for fun you deserve to get punched back. I don't care who you are. There are people who engage in this behavior because they are with a friend who trains in martial arts & the puncher assumes they're immune from retaliation because their friend will "take care of it". If I see someone acting like this I will not help them. After they get their ass beat, I'll tell their mother on them.
*Young lady, the man who is not punching you back is not refraining because you're so tough. He is using self control because he doesn't want to go to jail and/or he's been taught not to hit a female under any circumstances. The fact that you're exploiting this makes you a bad person. I will now refer you to the previous point.
*You're making me look bad. Many people assume that women who engage in the "hard" martial arts are crazy or mean angry bitches with a chip on their shoulder. I make a point to dress very girly and be nice and friendly so that people understand that normal girls like to train, too. Your behavior is reinforcing the stereotype of the angry-nutjob fighter girl.
*You are preventing other women from training. Yes, this is a continuation of the previous point, but the last one was mostly about me. This is about every female who has been told there's something wrong with her because she wants to train. It's for every female who has hidden or downplayed the fact that she trains because she doesn't want to be judged as being damaged or warped or hating men. Getting women to walk in the door of a martial arts studio and accept that it's okay to hit and be hit on the mat is difficult enough. If other females believe that it's okay for normal women to step on the mat and go hard they're more likely to give it a try. The fact that you assault people then brag about it makes sane women want to avoid anything that even resembles you.
*I'm not quite sure how to put this, but I also believe that a person who has been subjected to an injustice, as the men you assault have been, tends to adopt a "never again" attitude. I don't blame them. What this means to me is that he is more likely to strike a woman in the future, and it will probably not be a woman who is as prepared for violence as you seem to fantasize you are. Violence against women is endemic in the human race. I suspect you may be cementing the belief batterers hold that we all have it coming.
I think that about covers it. If anyone can tell me how to say that in under one minute and without resorting to the swear words that are so dear to me, I'm taking suggestions.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Just a few days ago, two women walked by a man obviously assaulting a woman near the UT campus. They didn't bother calling 911.
Now here's the thing: I know why people act like this. Anyone who has ever been subjected to my Kitty Genovese drill knows, too. I don't care, it's still infuriating.
(I'm not the only one who's angry. Read my friend Jennie's blog on the same subject.)
What happens is this...you're minding your own business and something shocking happens. Someone is suddenly assaulted right there in front of you. Probably it begins and ends before you even understand what's going on. This is why people just stand around there looking around in YouTube videos when "something bad happens". It's been over for several seconds before the bystanders even start whispering among themselves "did you see that?!".
Or maybe it's not over that fast and you have the opportunity to help. But you probably don't. Seriously. The more shocked you are by that statement the less likely you are to actually be of any use under pressure.
Because...your brain freezes. (Whaaaaa?...)
Then denies. (No, that can't be happening...I've misunderstood. Are they filming a video? You know, the film industry has been booming in Austin. But it looks like he's really punching that guy...no, I'm imagining that, it's not that bad)
Then it freaks & goes numb. (What am I supposed to do? Nobody else is doing anything. I don't want to get hurt. I don't want to get in trouble. He could have a knife! Nooooo.....just keep going, he'll be fine.)
This is normal. Unfortunately, most people get stuck here.
What it comes down to is that people don't know what to do, so they do nothing.
But as I tell my students after the Kitty G. drill, you are going to have to live with your decision, whatever it is, for the rest of your life.
If you're reading this blog, you probably have some knowledge of or at least an interest in self-defense training, and therefore some clue of how and when to intervene.
But what if you are unable or unwilling to physically jump into an assault in progress? Should you just pretend you didn't see it? Not if you want to sleep at night.
*Just yell STOP!! as loudly and commandingly as you can. Do not make a request. Make a COMMAND. I was shocked when this actually worked for me once out in public. Let them know you see them and what they're doing. If you are not actively in immediate danger do not leave the area until it is safe for you and for the victim. Stay on the job like a dog on a bone.
*Hold up your smartphone like you're filming or taking pictures & say you got them on film. Hopefully you actually do. You may have to run like hell if they turn on you, so be ready. In the time it takes them to process what just happened & shift gears you can have a nice head start. Yes, I'm being completely serious.
*Call 911 & say loudly that you're doing so. Remember, you're not just trying to catch a criminal, you're trying to stop a crime in progress.
*Recruit anyone else who may be around to help you. Bang on doors or wave down cars if necessary. Remember, you are not making a request, you are ordering them to act: "Call 911 NOW, I'll watch where he goes." People are astonishingly obedient. Mostly they just want someone to tell them what to do. Again, I'm being serious. The more sudden and frightening the situation, the more obedient they become to clear and authoritative orders.
Please know I'm not talking about consensual fighting. If two people you don't know are in a brawl, I'm not convinced that's your problem.
But if a man is straddling and choking a weeping and struggling woman on the sidewalk and you just stroll on by, you should carry around business cards that say Rotten Bastard so the rest of us can avoid you like the plague you are.
Please do one thing for me by Sunday. Please start a conversation with someone you know that goes something like this..."Did you hear about that woman who was attacked near campus? Those women saw it but walked by and did nothing! Can you believe that? What would you do? I wonder what I would really do? Well, I guess I could get out my phone..."
Plant the seed that blooms into citizens who know what they can do in an emergency. This is the first step to a person actually doing something.
And if you are someone who is willing to jump in physically to help a victim of crime, I hope you train, and I hope you're training with me. You're the kind of person that's awesome to have around.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
What goes up, must come down.
Let's talk about an important and often overlooked aspect of training:recovery. In Krav we are all about GO GO GO, grrrrr HARDER!!! It can be easy to burn out.
Some people look at rest and recovery as something for the weak, when they are actually critical to remaining strong. This becomes even more important as we pass our mid-twenties. As I've gotten older (I have a polaroid of myself riding a dinosaur to the local tar pit) I find it's not difficult to perform while training, but recovering takes longer, which can hinder the next session.
If you haven't built active recovery into your training, don't wait...do it now.
Try these methods:
Stretch. You have time to stretch.
Speaking of stretching...you have time to stretch. Do it. Ballistic stretching (not bouncing, but not holding a stretch for long periods either) before training, and extended, longer-held stretches after training. This will keep your body supple and prevent the pulls and tears of muscle and tendon that will keep you off the mat. We do not have post-class stretching in Krav simply because there isn't enough time. Do it on your own, preferably immediately. You can plop yourself down in the lobby or go outside.
During my morning combatives/conditioning classes (ahem...Mondays & Wednesdays @ 6:15 a.m.) we always spend the last 5 minutes of class stretching. Do it do it do it.
For "normal" sedentary people massage may be an extravagance, but for us it's a godsend. Massage will work out the kinks that inevitably develop through training. You've undoubtedly been told by your instructor to "not be so tense" when you punch. The tension in your shoulders sticks around, particularly on the arm with which you throw the cross. Have the therapist work on that - also I have them do extra work on my forearms, wrists & hands, and calves & feet. Those areas take a lot of punishment in training, so help them out.
My husband & I go to Massage Envy once a month, but if you feel that's more than you want to pay, try going to a massage school. Their treatments are half the price or less of a regular massage and they do a fantastic job - because you have to fill out a grade sheet for them afterward & they want a good grade. Also, there's no tipping, because they aren't professionals yet. I used to go here every two weeks & was never disappointed, but there are loads of other schools in town.
If you want hard-core extreme-o napalm massage, try Airrosti. When you see people walking around with what looks like colored masking tape all over them, pity them and envy them. They've probably been to the Airrosti guys over on Bee Caves Rd. It hurts and it's expensive, but it works.
I've been seeing chiropractors Dr. Bob Levine & Dr. Colette Zygmont for years & I'm always looser & in less pain when I walk out of their office than when I walk in. Dr. Bob has his office right in the Fit and Fearless studio, and charges students only $20 for an adjustment, which is a steal.
If you haven't tried the Yoga for Athletes classes at Fit and Fearless, do yourself a favor & get in there. The class is included in your membership so you're already paying for it, and it will help you become more flexible and stronger.
We are incredibly lucky to have Dr. Jonci Jenson teaching yoga here. She's a Naturopathic Doctor, so she really knows her way around the human body, and her class is not about wearing cute yoga clothes and saying om. Dr. Jonci has also trained in Krav Maga and MMA (as has Dr. Bob) , so she knows where you hurt and will teach you how to take care of it. For general health issues you can listen to her weekly radio show or visit her office. Fore more information click here.
Any yoga you have access to will help your flexibility, strength, and breathing, so give it a try.
Loads of stuff has been written about the importance of getting enough sleep, so I'll just say this. One night this week, just go to bed half an hour earlier. If it makes you feel better, do it again.
Try this: get a large plastic glass & put it by your bathroom sink. In the morning fill up the glass & slam it as you get ready, before your coffee. In addition to everything else you drink that day, slam one more glass during the day & one in the evening. It'll help your insides not feel like all the plants outside look.
I am a supplement maniac, but this is a pretty controversial subject, and one that people on all sides can be loudly passionate about. If you don't care to supplement, be sure you're eating a very nutrient rich diet & hydrating all day. I will say that when the economy tanked our income shrank so I cut out our supplements. I didn't recover as well from training, so I put them back in. Do whatever you want, but it works for me.
Do something different
People who train in Krav Maga are usually pretty obsessed with it. It easily gets to the point that it's all you think about, talk about, and want to do. As fun as this crazy thrill ride is, it's also a ticket for a ride on the Burn Out Express. Regularly do something completely different, both physically and mentally. Personally, I walk my dogs on the greenbelt, looking for new plants & animals and also attend a montly book club with nice ladies who don't do Krav and don't want to. Taking yourself completely out of a training environment (or work, or the one person you spend all your time with) gives your mind and body the break they need to make the best of your time on the mat. It will keep you from becoming a one-dimensional person & push the reset button on your brain.
This is a list of all the stuff I do (though the sleep thing often eludes me). Try the ones that make sense to you, and I'd love to hear anything you do to recharge so I can try it too.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
When you signed up to take classes you probably received a little white booklet that lists all the techniques in each level, plus other information. If you didn't receive a white booklet, ask at the front desk. We were out of them for a while, but I've seen some new ones floating around lately. Anyway...the problem I had with the white booklet when I was preparing for my first belt test was that I couldn't remember the names of the techniques. I could do them, I just didn't know what they were called, so just reading a list of names meant little to me.
So I bought Complete Krav Maga & solved my woes. And I still use it within an inch of it's life. Here's a current pic of my book.
Every technique for each level through brown belt is covered, along with step by step photos. Use the book (or the white booklet, if you prefer) to make sure you've practiced each technique you'll be tested on. Once I've been taught a technique in class I put a little check mark on the page. Once I'd practiced the technique with my trainer in my weekly private lesson I'd put his initial on the page. So if I had both a check and an "H", I knew I'd done the movement at least twice. As the test drew near, if there were no symbols on a technique, it was time to get busy.
In no way do I mean to imply that practicing something only twice means it has been mastered & you're ready to test it. But if you're leafing through the book as you prepare & see no symbols, ask your instructor to cover it, and/or practice it in your private lessons. That way there'll be no surprises in the test. There are certain techniques, particularly in level 1, that we cover like crazy (cough, cough...palm heels & groin strikes...cough, cough). These are the go-to go-crazy moves we want you to have mastered in case of a real attack, & that takes a lot of repetitions. Unfortunately, if you're only able to train a couple of times a week, that can mean you miss out completely on some of the techniques you'll be tested on. Use your booklet or Complete KM to make sure you've trained all the moves at your level, and don't hesitate to ask us to cover something in class.
Before you test
Between now and the day of the test you need to get an instructor to sign a Permission to Test form. Ask the instructor you've worked with the most, as they need to know you're ready. If we sign your permission form & you fail, it makes us look bad. So if I don't teach you regularly, I won't sign your form. Please do this & sign up & pay for the big day at least a week before the October 8 test date. If not enough people sign up, the test will be postponed. It's a major buzzkill to expect to participate in the test the next day, be nervous the night before & walk in to sign up & find out either that you're not eligible to test because you didn't get your slip signed or the test has been cancelled.
The day of the test
There will be a "seminar" that anyone can attend. Every technique from stance and movement through the end will be taught & practiced. The seminar is actually the longest part of the day, and is required for all testers. Afterward there will be a short lunch break - don't eat too much or you'll just throw it up later! If, after the seminar the instructor feels that you won't pass, you will be asked/told to not test. Ask any questions you have at the seminar, during the exam no questions will be answered. Bring more water & sports drinks than you think you need, along with some protein bars, fruit, shotz bloks, or whatever you need to keep you going for a full day of hard training. You can bring a small cooler if you like your drinks cold.
Any questions? Shoot me a line or grab one of us in the lobby, we're happy to help. Good luck & train hard!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Here's my review of the Sure Shots shooting seminar hosted by The Blackstone Group (BSG Services) and Dillo Dynamics: It was awesome!
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Well, I thought I was doing that other thing, but now I'm doing this! There's a women-only shooting seminar this Sunday out in Liberty Hill and the cost is only $50 + ammo. Shooting guns is the most fun I've ever had wearing earmuffs. You should come out, too, ladies!!
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
New students are commonly confused about which hand protection is best for them. I realized last week when when two different students showed up wearing weightlifting gloves that it might be time to tackle the glove issue. Different gloves (or wraps) have different functions, read below to see which might be right for you. Note: When you start training your friends might try to help you out by giving you a pair of gloves they aren’t using. If you’re unsure of whether you should use them in class, look at the placement of the padding on the glove. In Krav Maga class you will want protection for your knuckles (from impact) and for your wrist (from buckling upon impact). Weightlifting gloves have pads on the palm and inner fingers which will not help you when punching. Batting gloves have no padding and aren’t helpful in class either, though I do use them at the Box when doing pull ups.
Wraps are traditionally worn under boxing gloves to further protect the knuckles and wrist. Wraps alone offer minimal protection for the knuckles, but they’re certainly better than nothing. They offer excellent protection for the wrist, and have the added benefit of being completely adjustable, both in placement and in snugness. They also leave the fingers completely free to grab your opponent or your water bottle. Plus, let’s face it, wraps look pretty cool.
Wrist wraps are just what they claim to be, consisting of a stretchy fabric that supports the wrist, with velcro closure and a loop for the thumb to stabilize the wrap. These are a good choice if you need a little extra protection for the wrist and nothing more. They are a good stabilizer to try when you’re almost-but-not-quite healed from a wrist injury.
Fingerless gloves, also known as grappling or MMA gloves, offer more knuckle protection than wraps while also supporting the wrist. They are good for striking focus mitts or other hand held pads, but don’t offer enough shock absorption for going all out on the heavy bags. Compared to wraps, they offer less wiggle room for your fingers but are much quicker to apply to and remove from the hand.
Classic boxing gloves offer the highest level of protection for the hands. They’re my favorite choice for punching anything. When you’re going for timed rounds, switching pads with your partner every other round, they’re a fast option for making the switch, as you don’t have to drive 10 fingers into their own little finger hole, as with MMA gloves. If you’re just starting your training and working to get into shape, you might start with 12 ounce gloves and work your way up to traditional 16 ounce gloves. Either way it’s quickly going to feel as if you’re holding a brick in each hand. With boxing gloves, the higher the weight, the thicker the padding.
I eventually came to own all the types of hand protection listed, and you may wish to do the same. However, if you’re just beginning, consider which one will best suit your needs and start with that. If you need anything else it will become apparent during your training. Don’t hesitate to ask your instructors which equipment they prefer. We love to talk about this stuff & will yak your ear off about it.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
There is a technique called woofing that involves extreme domination of another individual, either verbally or physically or both. I first learned it from Rory Miller when he came to Austin to teach a seminar.
A common example of woofing is to completely immobilize the person & whisper something in their ear like, “The rest of the class thinks this is just an exercise, but I’m about to make you bleed. There’s nothing you can do to stop me, and no one will help you, they’ll just stand there and watch because they don’t know it’s real...”
The goal might be one of a few things. It might be to incite someone to fight at a higher than normal level of intensity because their adrenaline level skyrockets. Or maybe it’s to see how the person will react. Will they struggle, freeze, cry, give up?
It’s a dangerous game, because to work it must be very convincing and frightening - but it’s also the kind of behavior that can destroy relationships.
Twice this month I’ve been called upon to woof students as the first step of a long drill in which we were trying to get untrained female students to overcome their social conditioning and “unleash the beast”. Both were large groups of women I mostly had never met before.
The first time I was too soft on them and was just being generally annoying, like an older sister teasing her younger siblings. I was told to stop being so nice and do it right. To be effective I had to act like a real predator, saying things like, “I’ve been watching you for weeks, and now that I’ve got you tied up I’m going to fuck you in the ass so hard...” So I said that to the next student up, and it worked, but she never looked me in the face again for the rest of the day, which rattled me.
The next time we did the drill was a couple of weeks later, and I took a different approach. I knew a couple of students were from SafePlace, a battered women’s shelter, but I didn’t know who they were. I wasn’t willing to take a chance on re-traumatizing someone who has actually been assaulted, but I had to get their adrenaline levels up fast or we were just wasting their time. So I grabbed each one by the face, like palming a basketball, shoving her back & pinning her hard against the wall by her face & head. With the other hand I pulled out her ponytail or braid & messed her hair up while saying cruel things.
If they were carrying a few extra pounds I called them a fat-ass.
If they were petite I told them they were weak and pathetic.
If I knew they had children I told them the kid was ugly and stupid and would always make bad grades and be a loser.
I told pretty much everyone they sucked.
It was fascinating to watch their behavior. Some tried to immediately fight, others started breathing heavily, but did not try to fight (they were instructed not to fight me). Others endured calmly, calculating, waiting, plotting ...
After about 10 or 15 seconds I’d release them, yelling “GO!!” and giving them a shove toward their first target.
It was also fascinating, to me, to observe my own feelings about what I was doing. Saying cruel things to people was stressing me out so much my stomach was in knots for hours afterward. But physically dominating them was actually kind of fun. Maybe there’s hope for me in sparring, after all.
Some women chose not to participate, and that’s fine, too. I like that they drew a boundary and stuck with it.
The last two women to go through the drill were friends of mine, which changed things considerably for me. It’s one thing to jack up the adrenaline levels of a stranger when I know it will help her in the end. It’s a whole other ballgame to poke at people you personally care about. But it’s also unfair to them to give them a half-assed version of the drill. So, I told one of them I was having an affair with her husband & told the other her son was stupid & I never liked him. When I released that one, she yelled, “Get the fuck out of my way!!”
Incidentally, it’s hard to woof the woofer, so when it was my turn to go, the first time we did the drill, my instructor, Kelly Campbell, was my woofer. I just shook my head & grinned, so she let me go then suddenly attacked me from behind. She is STRONG! I wasn’t grinning then! I struggled, unwilling to strike her. I wormed and wiggled as hard as I could until she let me go so I could complete the drill. Yes, my adrenaline level was UP!
I want to thank everyone who participated in the ladies seminars in April, especially Kelly and Linda Lyra. Woofing is hard to do (the talking part is, anyway) and hard to endure, but it serves a very important function. I hope the females reading this will come to my monthly ladies-only class at Fit and Fearless in Austin. Held the first Saturday of every month at 11:30, it’s free to any female, so come train and I will only say nice things to you.