I get asked loads of weird and wonderful questions from people looking to start Krav Maga but by far the cleanest and most common is “Do I need to be fit to start”?
This is a loaded question, on the one hand of course the fitter you are the better chance you have of defending yourself (you can run away faster!) but on the other is it a pre-requisite to training? My answer is always the same, no!
If you believed Facebook and Twitter (yes even the Krav Maga pages ) you might be fooled into thinking that the whole world is working out constantly with secret techniques and strategies that only they know. This is simply not true and perhaps only serves to alienate those who would really benefit from learning Krav Maga. I doubt an opportunist thief or assailant would deliberately pick the fittest looking person to attack, so are we scaring the people away from Krav Maga who need it most?
Everyone has work and family commitments that take up enormous amounts of time, effort and energy making not training an easy option and at the same time even more important. Everyone also deserves to be safe and Krav Maga delivers that, but if classes are simply ‘cardio til you puke’ who would really want to spend their precious free time doing that? Don’t get me wrong, I love training and pushing myself but I want to come away from a class uninjured, feeling good about myself and having learned some valuable self-defence skills, and it’s that experience I want for my students.
Self-defence training is by its nature hard work, we train and drill on every possible type of dangerous scenario you might face on the street, no one leaves our classes not having sweated but there is a big difference to walking out a class to crawling or being carried out.. Krav Maga is for everyone and as we are all different shapes, sizes and ages, classes should be geared towards getting the best from every individual. Just by taking part in Krav Maga individual fitness, awareness and confidence increases but as instructors we have to realise that there is no ‘One size fits all’ fitness programme.
And even when we are working on fitness how many of us look at students movement patterns? Are they squatting correctly or using good form whilst doing push ups or even in the dreaded burpee which many times is carried out with horrendous form. Are we looking at our students’ body mechanics and mobility to allow them to perform these exercises correctly without risk of injury? Reading this as a student, do you question why you do certain exercises in class or is it a case of instructor say, student do? In class I always try to explain to students why we are doing something, the correct way to do it to avoid injury and how it can benefit them. If these movements are being trained wrongly on a regular basis at a high intensity we are increasing the probability of injury which is the last thing we all want.
So is a hard workout detrimental to learning? I know myself that when our 3 day instructor updates are geared more towards heavy workouts that I definitely don’t take in as much knowledge. Hard work is only productive if it is done correctly to suit individual capabilities and goals. So is a more structured approach to strength and conditioning needed to prevent injury and bad movement patterns? Absolutely!
As instructors we have a duty of care towards our students to make sure they train in a safe environment, they don’t get injured and more importantly they finish every class looking forward to the next one.