Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Krav Maga Grading by Lance Manley

GMAC, Perry Barr, Birmingham
16th March 2013

          After P1 last October I had been forewarned that P2 is P1’s older brother and therefore in a different league, i.e. HARDER.
          At Reading for P1 we had about 50 guys doing the grading simultaneously. This time the grading was down the road in a new venue Birmingham, so no 5.30am alarm calls BUT there were a lot less people, with around 20 doing my level due to the increased options on venues. There’s something reassuring about having loads of people besides yourself. Like being at a school disco when you’re 12 and don’t like dancing, it means that you can try to blend in a little more.

        The instructor was an Israeli guy and very focused but friendly. We watched the P1 guys finish and realized just how different this grading would be, as the instructor had made notes for each person and gave them verbal feedback in front of everyone else, which hadn’t happened last time. It was good to see guys from KMM get their certificates and we shook their hands before taking to the mat for our turn.

 Instructor Ran Laskov Expert 1 from Israel.

         The instructor welcomed us and said that not everyone might pass but to regard the experience not with a heavy heart but instead as an opportunity to improve and as “extra training.”
After a quick warm up we split into A’s and B’s. As there was an odd number of guys, me and my partner agreed to take another lad on board with us. In some ways this made it easier for us (less workout time, time to quickly practice a move) but in others it was harder (alternating focus, breaking off to let the other guy have a turn). 

        My one weakness during the build up to the grading had been backward rolls. I kept either coming down on my neck (which HURTS!!) or rolling off to the side like a drunken sailor slipping on the deck. I had finally nailed this a couple of days before, with extra training from Bartosz and was relieved when it went smoothly and I didn’t go spilling off the mat with my arse in the air, into the P3- 5 guys sitting around the edge waiting for their go.

         A touch that I appreciated to the proceedings, was that if the instructor realised that more than a couple of us didn’t understand what he wanted us to demonstrate, then he would pause the grading and show us himself. This happened with both body defences and palm strikes to the groin (the latter of which had him explaining why it hurts so much, as the nerve endings are at the top of the testicles which is why you should aim to hit “up” (we all laughed but I am clenching now just remembering that).
At the end we had a bit of slow fighting and then sat on the floor dripping sweat to get our feedback. The instructor demonstrated moves he felt that all or most of us needed to improve on (such as blocking a hook punch) and then came The Moment.

      I once saw a documentary on TV about the Royal Marines. After gruelling assessment over a period of weeks, the candidates sat on three  benches in an army sports hall and one at a time a Captain read their names out. The soldiers were not allowed to show any emotion, regardless of outcome and it went like this:

Captain: “Smith?”
(Smith stands up): “Sir?”
Captain: “Fail”.
Smith: “Sir”. (Sits down again).
Captain: “Jenkins?”
(Jenkins stands up): “Sir?”
Captain: “Pass”.
Jenkins: “Sir”. (Sits down again).
        The instructor warned us that not everyone had passed but again said that we should regard this experience as a positive one and try again if it was us. He added that he himself had failed a couple of times on the way up and not to be too downhearted about it. He finally said that we would be receiving feedback via email from him within a couple of days. This last bit was a nice touch and much appreciated as it is beyond what we either expected or had paid for.

       As the names were read out we took the certificate from another guy and shook the instructor’s hand, while everyone else clapped. Both the guys in my “pair” got their certificates before me and when my name was finally read out I think the air rushed from my lungs with the force of a hurricane.
       We then had a quick word with Bartosz and Russell and a couple of photos before heading home.
A positive experience and I can’t wait for P3 in October.


Saturday, 9 March 2013

Go Kettlebell by Al Natrins

Discover Yourself Stronger – An Introduction to Kettlebells

        Saturday the 2nd of March was the first, and hopefully not the last, kettlebell workshop held by Krav Maga Midlands and Strong First.  The kettlebell workshop was held in Leamington Spa, although students came from all over the region including Stratford-upon-Avon and Solihull and we even had two female non-students attend who were interested in using kettlebells in their own workout routines.
        The workshop was run by Mariusz Madrak, a fellow Krav Maga G1 student and an expert kettlebell instructor who worked for Strong First, a leader in kettlebell, barbell and bodyweight training and Primal Move, renown specialists in movement skills.  

Mariusz Madrzak Strong First and Primal Move Instructor 

        All in all it was a fantastic introduction to using kettlebells effectively and safely, and as a gym instructor I was highly impressed with Mariusz's standard of teaching and attention to detail.

        Kettlebells are an awesome way of working out and an extremely effective way of developing some serious dynamic power, strength and endurance.  Along the lines of circuit training, kettlebell workouts combine resistance and cardiovascular exercise together in one session, working your heart, lungs, muscles, joints, metabolism, stamina and willpower. 
        Kettlebell exercises are also generally 'compound', meaning they include multiple muscles and muscle groups, all working together as a unit to do what your body requires.  This translates to some serious functional applications in the way that bicep curls or leg extensions won't, and all while helping to increase lean muscle mass and burn body fat.  As a workout, what could be better?

        We started off with a warm up using Primal Move techniques, a series of dynamic flexibility and bodyweight movements that helped to mobilise our joints and limbs, raise our pulses, and get our circulation going, ready for the kettlebell workout.  Primal Move is an interesting and fun system of mastering body movement. We were doing bear and tiger crawls to limber up, and rotating kneel-to-standing drills; I could see the sense in warming up with a whole body approach that included activating our motor skills and co-ordination.  The warm-up was both active and demanding, with Primal Move demonstrating that without mastering our own bodyweight, what good was it being able to shift weights?

Primal Move Warm Up

        Then we started on the kettlebells.  We focussed on four basic moves: the swing, the clean, the military press and the goblet squat, and then we spent the day getting them as close to perfect as we could.  Mariusz went to great lengths to make sure we progressed from the very basics before we did anything too complex; this included deadlifting the kettlebell from the floor, to prevent injury.  In fact, a theme of the day could have been 'how to workout without injuring yourself'.  Bravo, many people don't do this when working out and set themselves up for injury at a later stage.  Mariusz explained that safety was paramount, and that mastering the basics first would set us up for a long and healthy relationship with kettlebells.

        The swing is the key to all kettlebell exercises, and is the most important step to learn first, with most other exercises starting from this initial movement.  The swing requires you to drive the kettlebell explosively from the 'hang position' between your legs and behind your hips to around chest height.  The swing uses your glutes (backside), hips, quads (front thigh), lower back, core, hamstrings and shoulders.  As you can see, it's almost a full-body exercise!  We worked extensively on the swing before moving on, with Mariusz giving keen insight and solid coaching throughout.
        Next up we worked on the clean, which is a progression move, where we brought the kettlebell up close to the chest from the swing, finishing in the 'rack position' with an elbow tight to our ribs, and our hands against our chest with a nice straight line from hand, wrist to forearm.  The clean works the same muscles in the swing (as you swing) then uses The point of the clean, as a progression move, is to put the kettlebell into place so you can perform a military press.

The Swing 


        The military press was the final move in the swing and clean progression, another explosive move taking the kettlebell from the rack position to above the shoulder and returning back to the rack.  The press primarily works the shoulder, triceps (rear upper arm) and chest but again recruits a whole host of other muscles to assist in the movement, building strength and power.  It is an awesome, functional exercise – any time you lift anything overhead, you're performing a press.
        Then we put the swing, clean and press together as one movement, putting the three techniques together to complete the full progression.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride when doing so, at last I was gaining a sense of familiarity with using the kettlebell and it felt good to snap the three techniques together.
        We finished with the goblet squat, an exercise where you hold the kettlebell against against your chest and perform a squat.  Not only is this a great exercise for your lower body (and buns of steel!), it also firmly hits the core and arms (16kg plus is a lot to hold close to your chest).  Again, Mariusz focussing on proper form and made sure to give good teaching points.  I was particularly impressed that he understood the importance of a nice, deep squat!

The Team 

        At the end of the workshop, when we were worn and tired, I felt that the day was a fantastic opportunity to learn how to use the kettlebell properly, with excellent tuition from an instructor who knew exactly what he was doing.  People who couldn't attend really missed out, it's not often as a student you'd get to learn from a teacher of this calibre, so hopefully Krav Maga Midlands and Strong First can work together to put on another workshop in the future.
        I think that kettlebells are a serious strength and conditioning tool, and they will now form part of my own arsenal of training methods alongside barbell and bodyweight training.  I can't wait to learn more, and would look forward to learning with Marisuz and Strong First again.  A big thanks to Bartosz and Krav Maga Midlands for getting the show organised!  Now, where did I leave that 'bell? KIDA!

Al Natrins, Fitness Instructor and Enthusiast, P3.

 For more pictures from this workshop click HERE

 About Krav Maga Midlands Kettlebell use link below :