I finally made it. The glass door stood before me, large windows on either side, already fogged up from the class prior. I could only make out the shapes of people moving around inside. Here goes nothing!
“Hello there! Welcome to the Gym!” the receptionist said.
“Hello, my name’s Joe. I’m here for my first class.”
“Fantastic! I believe we spoke on the phone. Are you ready to have a good time?”
“Absolutely!” I exclaimed.
This wasn’t like other gyms, I could tell already. No workout machines, nobody standing or sitting around on their phones. Everybody has a purpose. Everybody is working hard and motivating each other. The only
equipment consisted of some pads, focus mitts, and heavy bags, with the occasional kettlebell or medicine ball…Interesting.
“Level 1, One line!” A voice shouted above the conversations going on. Without hesitation, everybody rushed onto the mats and faced forward, wearing various Krav Maga apparel. I joined in, not sure what to expect.
“Before we get started, are there any injuries, ailments, or anything that you can’t do?” The instructor asked the class. Nobody spoke up. “Great! Sprints, down and back. GO!” Class was officially started.
“Supine Bicycles! Go!…On your feet. Back to sprints!…Jumping Jacks!…Sprints!…Push-ups!…Time! Grab a drink and bring it in” The instructor said. As I glanced at the clock, it showed 10 after. That was just the warm up!
Looking around, there wasn’t a single person who wasn’t trying to catch their breath or drenched in sweat. And we barely started! After what seemed like nothing, everyone was back and facing the mirror, ready to go.
We practiced some movement and then one of the veteran students came running up to the front with a pad held out in front of him. SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! The instructors leg nearly cut the pad in half as he was demonstrating groin kicks. In less than 60 seconds, all of us were kicking dry in the mirror. “Grab a pad and partner! First Person, GO!” The instructor said. “Alright, switch it up!”
“This guy hits hard!” I thought as the pad buckled from my partner’s kick. I’m glad he’s kicking the pad and not me! It gave me a whole new appreciation for people who fight professionally, and made me thankful that I haven’t actually had defend myself before. Shortly after we practiced our kicks, it was on to knees, then palm strikes. My favorite part was next.
“Alright, groups of 3! Small pads at the door, big pads at the flags, one person in the middle.” Then we started. I sprinted to the small pad as fast as I could, giving palm strikes and moving my partner back. “SWITCH!” I sprinted back to the big pad this time, grabbed him, and started sending the hardest knees I could.
There was a burning sensation in my eye. The sweat was blinding me, literally! I stopped to catch my breath.
“HARDER! GO! GO! GO! “YOUR ATTACKER’S NOT TIRED! KEEP FIGHTING!”
Stopping was a mistake. I quickly picked up where I left off, striking harder and faster to avoid any more attention. I can barely breath.
“SWITCH! OTHER SIDE!”
I repeated. Sprinting and wheezing as I made my way down the gym to the small pad.
Everybody keeled over, trying to catch their breath — At least I’m not the only one getting my ass kicked! Now it was my partner’s turn to go. After two more rounds, we finally got 60 seconds to rest.
“Bring it in! Today we’re talking about Choke from the front!”
“I have never been choked, much less choked anybody!” I told my partner
“Don’t worry, I never did before this class either! You’ll get the hang of it.” My partner and I continued to attack each other. First 3 for 3, then 1 for 1. We added a little more intensity and aggression with each attack and defense.
“We have about 5 more minutes. I’m completely exhausted” I said.
“Me too, and we haven’t even gotten to the best part!” My partner told me.
“Time for the final Drill!” The instructor bellowed…
PUNCHES! KNEES! PUNCHES! KICKS! Out of nowhere, hands grabbed my neck. Without realizing it, I automatically went through the defense we just practiced in class, simulating a strike to my attackers face and kicking him in the groin — Luckily, he was wearing a cup!
Finally, it was over. At the end of the class, everybody gathered near the front desk to hang out, get to know each other, and discuss various topics — Family, friends, work, hobbies, etc. The members were all close-knit. Just like a family, and I wanted to be a part of it. The instructor came up to me next
“So, what’d you think?” He asked.
“I loved it, how do I get started?”
Not only is Krav Maga a good way to learn self defense, but it’s also a great way to get in shape, meet new friends, and have fun! Interested in learning more? Check out one of my classes at 6:0pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Dunham’s Martial Arts in Springfield, MO!
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