I have written about my story with Krav Maga before. In short, going back to some sort of martial art/combat discipline had been in the back of my mind since we moved to Australia. Same for my husband. Eventually he started training at KMDI (Krav Maga Defence Institute) and he invited me to try it. I liked and joined, initially as “conditioning” for my lifting. In that first article I talked about why my perspective changed. Part two is about becoming a Krav Maga instructor.
Learning Krav Maga
I grew up as a fat kid who was not very physically active. We did PE (Physical Education) in school once a week and some sort of sport 3 times per week during summer. I was hopeless at most things, notoriously running, swimming and volleyball. Not shockingly, I failed PE once; I fell off the parallel bars doing “gymnastics” and refused to try again after the teacher made fun of me. I did ok in tennis and basketball but I wouldn’t say I was fit by any stretch of imagination.
My fitness journey started “for real” late in life, at age 27. Even though I’ve come a long way, I still don’t consider myself particularly fit or strong. I guess what I’m trying to say is: anyone can do Krav Maga.
Learning Krav Maga is like learning any other skill: there are things that will come naturally to you based on your previous experience, and there are things that will be completely new. There are bad habits you’ll carry over that will slow down your progress. There is a mental component that at times becomes more important than the physical aspect. A lot of drilling and repetition are required in order to build muscle memory and train yourself to react in a particular way given a particular scenario.
We use colour-coded belts in Krav Maga even though this is not a traditional martial art. Belts are useful for instructors as a quick indication of the students’ skill levels. Belts are useful for students because they provide motivation to train towards a goal (i.e. the next stripe or belt). This is especially true for competitive people because there are no competitions in Krav Maga.
Krav Maga instructor? Me?
My Buddhist lama visits Australia most years. Last February, at the meeting with our Sydney group, he praised Israelis as he often does. He normally mentions the intellectual aspect, but this time he also talked about Krav Maga. He was led to believe I was “an expert” and he asked me to please teach my friends how to defend themselves. I put a call out to see who was interested but nothing happened. I forgot about the whole thing until September, when I got a message from one of KMDI’s head instructors inviting me to join instructors training.
By this time I had already been training for almost 2 years and had built a decent level of fitness and skill. However, I didn’t know what to expect as the only information I had was the date and time. The first session was intense, to say the least. Same with the next one, and the one after. As one of the walls at the Surry Hills gym reads, “it never gets easier, you just get better”.
Training with the instructors once a month for a few months was the first step. The official Krav Maga instructor course takes place over a week (that’s 7 days, not 5). Training starts at 9am, we break at 12:30 for lunch, restart at 2pm and finish usually around 5pm, sometimes later (when there’s teaching practice). It is not physical training the whole time and it’s not always super intense. Regardless, after a few days your body is already beat up but you need to keep going. You get tested on teaching, sparring (standing and on the ground) and technique according to level.
Teaching Krav Maga
Getting the skill to perform the techniques it’s the easier part. Knowing how to teach them is hard. I have done a bit of teaching in the past: Maths tutoring in uni, private guitar lessons and, most recently, nutrition education. I find teaching Krav Maga way harder. You need to show spotless technique while explaining it in words in a loud enough voice so people can hear you with loud music playing and another class happening at the same time. It’s even harder when English is your second language and you have a strong accent.
KMDI operates under the motto “defend yourself, protect others”. As an instructor, our mission gets an addendum: “teach others how to”.
There are some aspects of being a Krav Maga instructor that come naturally to me. I enjoy being able to explain things in different ways so that people get the message. I’ve been told I’m patient, despite my husband’s opinion. This is only the beginning but I’ve started to realise that you should play to your strengths while you work on your weaknesses.
Present and future
I’m currently teaching one class per week in KMDI’s CBD location, covering other shifts if required. My intention is to gain as much experience as possible and keep doing this for as long as I’m useful to others.