Monday, 28 January 2013

Krav Maga - More Than Just Self Defence

KravMaga, more than just self defence. 

  KravMaga might seem like a male dominated activity, with its boisterous warm ups and pugilistic training format, but it is for anyone who needs to improve their confidence, push themselves physically while learning a new skill. I had one main reason for undertaking KravMaga Classes, and that was to improve my dormant self defence and martial arts skills, but it has give me so much more. As a Warwickshire Police Special Constable it has sharpened and honed my tactical communications as well as my self confidence in confrontational situations which has meant that I deal so much better with conflict, and made me much more aware the myriad of potentially harm causing situations that I can find myself in. The officer safely training that is received as part of my police training prepares me for a set of probable and common confrontations and how to deal with them in a Home Office approved format, but unfortunately, people the police end up encountering are normally not trained in a Home Office approved format.

This is where KravMaga comes in, just in the first year of training we have covered nearly every conceivable form of personal attack, with weapons, multiple attackers, ground attacks, outside attack scenarios in the dark and street fighting. All of these are presented in a realistic format, and practiced until they are second nature. Working these techniques while in an adrenalin enriched environment has made me reaslise my own physical and mental potential and preparedness.

KravMaga stands apart from a lot of the other martial arts in that it can adapt it for my diminutive height and fairer gender. There is always an alternative, it might look like it is for fit, big men, but it is just as easy for me to effect the same outcome, with some small adjustments. One thing that is extremely important with KravMaga is that you are physically fit, you will only be letting yourself down if you aren’t.  By working on your cardio vascular fitness, means that you can give 100% effort in each class, from the warm up through to the ‘Kida’ at the end. To only do KravMaga as a form of fitness means that you will always be just able to do the minimum, in a real life or death situation your fitness might make the difference and give you an advantage. I do exercise three times a week regularly at a high intensity in a circuit based format which prepares me better for the intensity of the classes. Short bursts of activity, teaching your body to work optimally while under stress. This also helps control adrenalin as a stress response, making it much easier and quicker to recover, which in a real life stressful situation will shake off the red mist tunnel vision and reduce your heart rate so that normal function can return quickly. It is not just the CV training that is so important when ding KravMaga, but to reduce the risk of injury, like in any high intensity and medium to high impact activity protecting muscles and joints from injury mean that resistance training is also very important. In my capacity as a Sports and Fitness Therapist and level 3 special populations trainer, I work with people with specific sports requirements and Krav Maga is no different, increasing the muscular integrity around each joint will better prepare them for the fast, unpredictable and dynamic moves that KravMaga requires. After a while muscle memory will alleviate this, but while learning new moves or just starting out, reducing risk of injury is very important.

The day to day benefit of KravMaga, for me, is that it means I am not a victim, I exude the self confidence that reduces the risk of me becoming a victim of crime or being physical threatened, and there is no better feeling.

Kimberley Warwick BSc, Ad Dip Fitness Therapy, ADLH (Oxon) 

01926 774 139


I am a Psychologist and a Sports and Fitness Therapist, who specializes in Activity Injury management, and Sports and Remedial Massage. I am also a GP Referral Consultant with specialties in High Risk Category clients, also trained by the World Amateur Body Building Association as a Fitness and Gym instructor, specializing in Body Building and Weight Training. At the moment I am finishing my Masters Degree in Health Psychology, with ambitions of a Doctorate in the next few years, endeavouring to tackle the challenges of obesity in adult populations.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Why Tabata Interval Training?

What is Tabata training?

“Tabata” is the name of a particular type of workout program that provides similar health benefits to cardio workouts which improves endurance and stimulates fat loss. Instead of hours upon hours or exercise, Tabata can be completed in minutes. Tabata falls under the category of high intensity training or high intensity interval training.

Tabata training method has a simple formula;

• 5 minutes (at least) warm up
• Exercise at a high intensity for a short period of time (20 seconds)
• Rest for half the exercise time (10seconds)
• Repeat this for a number of rounds (8rounds)
• If you use this example you should be training for 4 minutes
• (if you want to practice a particular punch or kick it is very effective to train just the one move)

Some sources say 4 minutes is the optimum amount of time but that only works if you work at your highest work rate, also this is the level you should start at, if you can last for longer after practice it is good for your cardio.

Where did Tabata training come from?

A popular regimen based on a 1996 study by Izumi Tabata to help enhance athlete’s anaerobic capacity and general cardio, it turned out to be very good for fat loss too.

Why do Tabata training?

As stated above Tabata training is fantastic for cardio and in self-defence cardio is very valuable, as a Krav Maga instructor I have personally spoken to many people who have been worse off in attacks because they could not keep attacker/attackers at bay due to cardio. It will also help for you to get your body used to having to use energy in bursts and being able to recuperate energy when needed.
Also Tabata training is a lot of fun and can be done with a variety of exercises, not only strikes but push ups, sit ups, sprints, kettle bell work, etc…. any exercise that can be done at a high intensity can be done in Tabata.

Above all Tabata training is good for not just physical strength but also mental strength, it helps you to push through your own barriers at times, I know that when I started Tabata training I surprised myself. I’m sure you all can too.

Russell Brotherson
Krav Maga Instructor

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Nutritional Self Defence

Nutritional Self-Defence

Self-defence isn’t just about mastering physical techniques and tactics…it starts from the inside, and sensible nutrition is one of the cornerstones of health and fitness.  The choices we make on food and drink will not only affect how well we look, feel, and perform, but also how efficiently we train and how quickly we recover!  We need to make sure that we eat enough of the right sorts of foods, enough of the time. 

What to Eat

Each of your meals should consist of:

Ÿ  Protein, preferably from grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry, eggs and wild seafood.  Protein supports muscle strength and recovery, bone health and an optimal immune system.  Protein is highly satiating so it will help you keep full between meals.  Animal protein is by far and away the most nutritionally dense form and is generally easily digested by the body.  If you are vegetarian, try to include eggs and perhaps dairy products such as full-fat yoghurt.  You can supply your body with protein derived from nuts, grains or legumes, but these are less than ideal.

Ÿ  Fats from healthful sources.  Primarily grass -fed animal fats, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and perhaps nuts or butter.  Fats are vital for cell and immune system health and a great source of energy.  Look to include saturated (a key source of vitamins A, D and K, and vital for testosterone production) and monounsaturated fats, and avoid large amounts of the polyunsaturated fats, or unnatural trans-fats that you will generally find in vegetable oils such as sunflower or canola/rapeseed.  Oily fish are an excellent source of fats, including omega 3 which helps with cardiovascular and brain health.

Ÿ  Plenty of fresh vegetables of different colours and perhaps some fruit.  Veggies and fruits are an exceptional source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and the best source of fibre.  Veggies and fruits, especially veggies, are also a great source of carbohydrates.  Cooked veggies or salads are ideal.  If you are looking to lose weight or lean out, limit the fruit you eat to smaller portions because the sugars in fruits (fructose) can easily lead to weight gain.

Ÿ  Starchy carbohydrates if and when you have been exercising hard.  Root vegetables such as sweet or regular potatoes, and parsnips, have the greatest vitamin and mineral profiles, but other sources such as rice might also be suitable.  Starches will help to replenish your muscles with energy (glycogen) after intense exercise, especially Krav Maga.  As a rule of thumb, the more active you are with training, the more carbohydrate you will need.  However, if you base your diet primarily around starchy carbs you might notice significant hunger pangs and energy crashes (mid-morning or afternoon) or hard-to-shift body fat.

Approach with caution or limit:

Ÿ  Dairy products.  Milk, cheese, yogurt and butter can be great sources of protein and fat, but some people do not tolerate them very well.  If possible select non-homogenised and/or organic, and full-fat milk and dairy foods from grass fed cows or goats, as these have the best nutritional profile.  I would also recommend unpasteurised dairy products from reputable sources, as these tend to be a rich and beneficial source of probiotics (friendly bacteria) and are often best tolerated, as well as being nutrient dense.

Ÿ  Grains and legumes.  Whole grain pasta and soy bean tofu are not ’health foods’.  Grains and legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) contain high levels of proteins (like gluten) and anti-nutrients (phytates) that can irritate and strip the body of vital minerals.  Additionally, when compared to vegetables or fruits, grains and legumes are poor sources of vitamins and minerals.  Include these in your diet if you wish, but you might (and most probably will) see a noticeable improvement in how you look, feel and perform without them.  Ever wondered why bread makes you feel bloated or baked beans give you wind?  White rice is probably your best option here, because it has been refined, and it no longer contains significant levels of problematic proteins or ant-nutrients - but remember it’s only a ‘filler’, and has little nutritional value!

Ÿ  ALL artificial or processed food and sugars.  These foods will only decrease health and performance, and often promote fat gain so please try to limit them and save them for ‘special occasions’.  If you do indulge, make sure the treat is a treat worth having!

Above all else choose the cleanest, best quality food that you can afford.  The money you save on poor food choices now will cost you your health at a later date, so you will need to decide what price you put on your health and fitness.  It really is a case of paying the farmer now, or paying the doctor later!

When to Eat

Eat less during the day and more during the evening.  Eat most of your starchy carbs in the evening, preferably post-exercise.  If you exercise intensively during the morning, you might want to include some starchy carbs in the next meal in order to top up muscle glycogen.  As a very general rule, if you increase the carbohydrate portion of a meal you should decrease the fat portion so that you don’t over consume calories or promote fat gain.

Start the day with a modest protein and higher fat breakfast such as an omelette cooked up with tomatoes and peppers or good quality (gluten free) sausages followed by a portion of berries.  Full-fat yoghurt is another possibility for those who prefer something lighter in the morning. 

When you wake your body is in a fat burning state, and it will continue to burn fat if you fuel yourself with protein and fat.  If you fuel your body with carbs, such as processed breakfast cereals, you will start burning the carbs and will cease burning fat.  Even better, eating a protein and fat breakfast will keep you feeling more full for longer, decreasing the risk of mid-morning hunger pangs or energy crashes.

At lunch continue with another modest protein and higher fat meal, such as a large salad with grilled chicken, avocado and olive oil or a beef stir-fry with mixed vegetables cooked in plenty of coconut oil.  Like with breakfast, you should look to include a portion of protein and a serving of healthy fats.  This will keep you burning fat for energy and keep you feeling full.  If you have been exercising during the morning (specifically intense activities such as weight lifting or high intensity cardio) you might consider including a portion of starchy carbs to top up muscle glycogen stores.

At dinner finish the day with another meal of protein and fats, but feel free to include some starchy carbs now, especially if you have been exercising hard.  Good choices for dinner might be steak (especially rib-eye which has plenty of healthy fat), cabbage and roasted sweet potato or out-door reared pork chops, mixed veggies and parsnips.  As I explained before, you can include grain sources for carbs but these are less than ideal.  If you do, then white rice is probably your best option.

At the end of your day, (and after a hard night’s Krav Maga session!) your body will be looking to refuel and repair.  Much of this is done during your sleep so it makes sense to make sure that your evening meal counts.


If you need to snack choose a handful of nuts or berries, carrot sticks, or perhaps a small portion of cooked meats like ham.  Boiled eggs are also a good choice.  Limit snacks if weight loss is a consideration, and make sure you’re not thirsty.  We can register thirst as hunger pangs, so sometimes just a glass of water or cup of tea might be enough.

Longer Training Sessions and Post-Workout Recovery Meals

During longer training sessions - think Wednesday and Thursday nights if you train both beginner and advanced classes - it is possible that you will run low on muscle glycogen and start to run out of steam.  In this case, consider topping up with a small snack of either glucose tablets or perhaps some fruit.  Sports drinks are also an option, but you could always make your own by mixing 6 grams (just over a tsp) of glucose powder to 100ml water or by mixing 50-50 fruit juice and water.  It is advisable to start snacking or drinking within half an hour or so (when you can) as it can take half an hour to properly absorb glucose that your body will need.

If you train hard or often enough, you might want to consider a post-workout recovery meal.  A PWO recovery meal is generally a portion of protein that is best consumed soon after a workout in order to maximise muscle repair and recovery.  The recovery meal might be in the form of the infamous whey protein-shake or perhaps a couple of boiled eggs.  Dairy such as full-fat organic yoghurt  or milk might also be an option.

Ideally wait around half an hour before consuming anything.  If you are going to be eating a regular meal soon after training then you might not need a PWO recovery meal.

About Me

I’m Al Natrins I have been training Krav Maga with Bartosz and Russell since 2009.  I love training Krav, it’s an excellent self-defence framework and an excellent way to stay fit and strong, and of course I get to train with some awesome people.

I’m a qualified fitness instructor at a local gym and will be a qualified personal trainer in June 2013.  I’ve also worked for quite some time for a well-known supplement and health food shop chain.  Health and fitness is a big part of my life, as is taking the time to help others with health and fitness in their own lives.

Feel free to send me an email regarding any fitness or nutrition issues: 


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