HOW KRAV MAGA SAVED ME FROM AN EARLY GRAVE
BY: MICHAEL RILEY
March 30, 2018
No, it’s not what you’re thinking. This post isn’t about how I fought off a knife-wielding lunatic or maniac with a gun. Even though Krav Maga equips you with the skills to defend yourself against such attacks, it’s not how it saved me from an early grave … this time, anyway.
In this post, I share how Krav Maga not only improved my life but also added years to it.
No more mucking around.
I’d been a heavy smoker for thirty years. On an icy cold winter’s morning in 2017, I woke to find it hard to breathe and was hospitalized for a few days. I had a pretty severe chest infection which was made worse by smoking the doctor said. When I was well enough to leave, I threw my smokes in the bin and swore I’d to never touch another one again.
Going ‘cold-turkey’ didn’t work as well as I’d hoped and within a few hours I was puffing away like there was no tomorrow. A week later I was back in the hospital with breathing complications.
“That’s it. No more mucking around. If I don’t give up now, I’m going to die before my time.”
I started wearing nicotine patches which worked well. I’d nearly got to the point where I no longer craved cigarettes, and then a stressful event turned my life upside down. The urge to smoke during this time was overwhelming, and I succumbed to the temptation.
"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."
I never really understood the saying when the student is ready the teacher will appear, but that day it became crystal clear—Krav Maga was the life-changing antidote I’d been searching for. Without giving it a second thought, I rushed to buy a 12-month membership at my local martial arts school and begin training straight away.
A brief history of Krav Maga: Hungarian born IMIS Lichtenfeld created the art in the 1930s and began training the Israeli Special Forces in the 1940s. While the system focuses primarily on hand-to-hand combat, it also incorporates techniques from traditional martial arts such as Karate, Brazilian Jujitsu, and Aikido.
Krav Maga is becoming increasingly popular with law enforcement and military personnel worldwide, and now the general public as well, as more and more people are wanting to learn self-defense. Not for the faint of heart training in Krav Maga is brutal. It’s an hour of non-stop punching, kicking, kneeing, and takedowns; you’re battered and bruised, and well and truly stuffed afterward. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
I remember always feeling dizzy and wanting to throw up in the beginning. I could only last ten minutes back then but stuck with it because I knew the hard training would pay off in the long run.
On my way.
Fast forward 10 months and I graded as Green belt. I’d gone from killing myself to killing it in the dojo. I had acquired the skills to defend myself and keep my loved ones safe from harm. My fitness levels had improved to the point where I could get through most classes without needing a lung transplant, and I started eating healthier, drinking more water and went from having a smoke every 15-20 minutes to every two hours.
A mate of mine sent me a text: “Hey man, check out this podcast episode: Krav Maga – The Self-Defense System of Israeli Special Forces.”
Taking it to the next level
My instructor told me point blank that if I wanted to get my Brown and Black belts, I would have to take my training to the next level. “Brown belt grading is an hour of non-stop pressure testing, sparring, cardio. It’s hell. And if you think that’s tough, wait till you go for Black. You’re up to the challenge, no doubt, but you’re going to have give up smoking. Ask yourself: how bad do I want it?”
It’s difficult to put into words, but I see those belts as a way of giving back to the art and what it’s done for me. There’s no doubt in my mind Krav Maga saved me from an early grave and made me a better man. Without it I reckon I’d still be smoking a pack a day, oversleeping, eating mostly unhealthy foods, and binge drinking on the weekend. I’ve lost over 20kgs, and beautiful young women are commenting how good I look for my age. It’s tough being single…
The art has built my self-esteem and confidence beyond reckoning. I have formed friendships with strong, influential men, and have more than one positive role model in my life. I have developed a deep sense of awareness, self-control, and an aura that says ‘tread carefully’ to those with ill intent.
As at writing this I have been a reformed smoker for over a month and graded as Brown belt. I have also begun Karate lessons once a week on top of Krav Maga training. My five-year plan now includes grading as a Black belt in both disciplines.
It’s funny to think that just over a year ago I was questioning whether I’d be around for the next five years, let alone having a five-year plan, but that’s Krav Maga. Reposted from The Good Men Project