A common thing I see amongst Krav Maga students and instructors is that they are tight and not very mobile. It’s typical for instructors to become tight and injured over time and I know far too many in this boat. Time and time again I witness it over the years.
Actually I was there once, just before I left the IKMF and resigned as the Australia and NZ director role, I got stiff, sore and out of condition. Don’t get me wrong, I felt I was in decent physical shape, but clearly I wasn’t compared to now. I was doing the typical thing of thinking that perhaps it’s my age and that I’m not in my peak performance years anymore. What a load of crap that thinking is!
I had great pain in my ankles and hips, and thought that sooner or later I would end up like my long-time kickboxing instructor, who can barely walk. I remember waking up and hobbling about, waiting for my legs to feel better so I could go about my day. As I was getting to the end of the day, it would be far worse.
My shoulders, back, legs and everything else were tight and I was on the way to losing my form. I’ve seen this before too. One master of Krav Maga, who I know well, was a different beast back in the day. But doing the same movements year in and year out without a maintenance process has caused all his demonstrations to look very different and very stiff. It’s an injury to the point where it affects your whole form and changes it into a stiff mess.
As we do KM, we want to make the execution of techniques as quick as possible. This often means that students are not using the full range of motion. Although this has a time and place, always training by constantly restricting your full range of motion and doing it in such a stiff way creates tension in the body. Without proper training and proper ‘softer’ style of training, it’s just a matter of time before injuries begin to take over.
The other day I was doing some ground fighting with some acquaintances. One of the guys was all stiff and sore, huffing and puffing and I said ‘hey man, what’s up?’. He told me ‘man, I’m getting old, I’m 41’. I didn’t say a word as I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. My chronological age is 41 too, but I’m completely unlike him in my limberness. Yet if I go back a few years and didn’t make different choices, I’d be in the same boat!
As you get older you can stick to your ways and shrivel, or you can progress in new ways. If you do not give your body the ‘fountain of youth’ treatment, you’ll end up stiff, sore and immobile. It’s only a matter of time, especially when you’re out there training hard all the time.
For me, it was mainly Capoeira. Capoeira is an amazing martial art for the mind and body. It promotes mindfulness and it is what I believe is one of the ingredients to the fountain of youth. It brought back freedom in my body and to this day I am continuing to improve. In the beginning, I couldn’t even do a proper cartwheel or a handstand (actually deep down I never thought much of it was even possible), but I can now. My athletic ability has gone through the roof and I’m performing way better in my training than when I was in my 20s.
Another story to illustrate my point: I have a student who is very tough. He comes in and goes hard and there is never really any ‘softer’ time. Typically I tell students like him who already have aggressive instincts and can generate power to focus on techniques, tactics and movements. They already have the instinct down, so a little focus on movement and improving technical and tactical ability will go a long way.
After all, you will need to live with your skills. If all you did was bash things without technical improvement, then you could end up in a situation where you need your skills later in life, but some of your physical attributes might be gone. What I mean is, when you’re 90, you might not have that hardness in you as much, but the technical improvement will give you that advantage to make up for the lack of ‘power’. No doubt I’ll smash everyone when I’m 90, but I’m not like most people! Join me 🙂 lol
Moral of the story is, I told this student to do some Yoga or some Capoeira and to take part in my mobility classes. Unfortunately, he didn’t soon enough and once again he got injured.
Krav Maga is a hard system, no doubt, It’s as yang as yang can be. You need to bring the soft side for yourself by being smart. Train full range of motion as much as you can, do strength, flexibility and mobility exercises. I assure you that if you take the time to do this, you will discover a real power lying dormant within you. Top this off with other healthy habits and you’re onto a massive winner! Healthy habits have a compounding effect, with each building on the foundation of the others. Watch this space for an upcoming article where I share some of the healthy habits that have been the secret to my success.
I guarantee if you do, you’ll get to a point where you’re able to move your body in new ways, you’ll feel less injury prone and you’ll probably become injury free (depends on your situation). There is nothing more liberating than that! From there you can progress and develop yourself, even more, seeing improvements in areas you never thought were possible.
I want to give credit to my first Capoeira coach Samuel. He was the one to help me on this road and believed in me when I didn’t. I trained on and off with Ghana (Samuel’s Capoeira name) for a couple of years. I probably only ever got minimal hours in that time but this was enough to build my strength and understanding of Capoeira movement and principles while opening up my physicality to something mind boggling. These days I train with Abada Capoeira and my coach is Millnard (Filipino is his Capoeira name). These guys are amazing. I recommend it for everyone. If you try it, it will change your life. Not only that, it will introduce new movement ability and enhanced attributes into your Krav Maga, which will make you much more effective than you were before. I challenge any of you to try it for 6 months and then to tell me I’m wrong.
If Capoeira isn’t for you, try Yoga, Pilates, Gymnastics or try some mobility sessions from a Youtube video from someone like Ido Portal. There are many options for different levels!
If you do train at Krav Maga Systems, note that we put greater emphasis on developing mobility, strength and form throughout the training. You’ll still be training ‘hard’, but you’ll be getting the other side balanced out, so that you’ll have longjevity in your training; and you’ll gain both physical and mental benefits that come with it to help increase the quality of your life!