For better or for worse, exercise-wise, I tend to stick with what I know. Typically I’ll do HIRT on Tuesday and Wednesday, cardio on Friday, weights or cardio Saturday and on a good week, a Sunday run or long walk. Recently, some friends and I decided to sign up for a 6 week, 12 session evening Fit to Fight krav maga class. Krav maga, the official combat system of the Israeli Defence force, combines elements of self-defense, fighting with cardio and strength. I took a self-defense course years ago but recognize the skills and techniques taught could use refreshing. Also, my usual routine became, well, routine.
Here’s a recap of weeks 1-2 and what I’ve learned so far…
Our class consists of eight women and our instructor, so the class size is great for pairing up and one-on-one instruction. We received shinguards and boxing gloves (legit!) to use when sparring, then kicked off our course with learning the fundamentals – a jab, a hook, a cross, etc, as well as determined what our fighting stance would be by working through positioning our feet. We shadowboxed to gain comfort and familiarity with the moves, learned self-defense tactics (how to release from a chokehold, etc) and how to do a power slap, then worked on sparring with a partner to practice techniques learned.
I won’t lie – once we received our shinguards and gloves, I was a little intimidated. However, our instructor provided guidance to make sure everything fit properly and would protect effectively while sparring. Once I put everything on and started to box with a partner, I got increasingly more comfortable with the gear and the concepts. It’s not intuitive to hit or kick your friends, so there was no shortage of laughter and “oh, I’m sorry!” as we practiced.
After my Tuesday and Thursday evening sessions, I was worn out! Friday’s usual workout didn’t happen and I found my shoulders, wrists (from punching) and back were still a bit sore on Saturday. Here’s to hoping for Michelle Obama arms by the time the class concludes.
Not exactly Michelle, but bruised up from manhandling. Top: sold out in this color, more here.
To wear or not to wear:
Be sure to bring your gear to every class – I packed a gym bag with my shinguards, gloves, mouthguard, water bottle, Burt’s Bees (I’m an addict!) an extra hair tie/bobby pin, deodorant and a small bag to store my jewelry. That said, jewelry isn’t recommended – no rings, bracelets, earrings, etc. – so that can also easily be left at home.
Really, anything goes, from tanks and shorts to a sleeved shirt and tights. I typically wear a short-sleeved shirt, tights/yoga pants to class and training (these are gorgeous!) or running shoes. Several of the maneuvers require you to have your arms around a partner, so I prefer to have sleeves covering my armpits vs. wearing a tank. Here’s to hoping my partner appreciates it, too *laughing emoji*. I also like the coverage tights provide when doing floor work, so I tend to stick with those over shorts. It’s truly whatever you feel most comfortable in, though, and I could see where the openness of a tank provides the maximum range of motion for punches.
You’ll get close to your partner – all up in their face and body as you pretend to attack each other – so while there’s no need to shower and perfume yourself as if you were headed for a night out, I now spend a few minutes cleaning myself up a bit prior to class so my partner doesn’t get an unsavory whiff of pit.
As we moved into week 2, we started training barefoot, so socks and toes will be visible; an instant reminder that I needed a pedicure and to not wear that pair of socks that are so comfortable yet so embarrassingly worn out. Speaking of…a small yet pro tip: keep your nails short! Long nails dig into your palms while making a fist. Feel free to use this as an excuse to add a mani onto your pedicure; just make sure they’re hacked back to where you can comfortably hold your hands into fists.
Look through your eyebrows. Never leave your jaw undefended. Clench your jaw – you’re trying to rattle brains and bones with a punch. Stay on the balls of your feet. Prepare to move quickly and in short bursts of effort – it’s a workout that is far more of a sprint than a marathon. I also have increasing confidence that if the worst were to happen, the skills I’ve acquired thus far will help me defend myself. Also, plan to adjust or taper back on your regular workouts as well as tweak your diet in order to save fuel for krav maga. I’ve increased complex carbs just a bit, gone to bed a little earlier and omitted one HIRT class to save energy for classes.
Stretch, stretch after class and a post-workout beer with your classmates may help ease any immediate soreness. 😉