Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Five Reasons to Camp -- Plus Two for Krav Maga Global

Eyal Yanilov addresses the group.
Have you ever trained in your martial art for a weekend or more?

I just returned from the annual Krav Maga Global (KMG) Practitioner and Graduate ("P&G") camp, hosted by Battle Born Krav Maga. It was my first camp and I'd like to share five reasons you might want to attend similar training, whether in KMG or your own system or style. I finish with two bonus reasons for the KMG family!

1. Instructors everywhere. I am fortunate to train regularly at First Defense Krav Maga in Herndon, VA. Our lead instructor, Nick Masi, is an E-2, and USA director for the system. As of yesterday's grading (more on that shortly), we also have an E-1 instructor, and multiple G-level instructors. I do not take these instructors for granted! However, at the camp we had access to even more instructors -- and this was an amazing opportunity.

At P&G Camp, participants learned from some of the highest ranking people in the system -- starting with the head instructor, Mr Eyal Yanilov. Instructors flew in from all over the US, and in a few cases, from around the world.

The benefit of so many instructors in one place should be obvious, but let me give one example. At one point on Sunday we had time to practice individual material. My group needed assistance with P-3 headlock releases on the ground. Within seconds of asking, we received help from E-level instructors and members of the national team. These men and women, with years of experience, got on the floor and showed us how to execute the techniques. I was so impressed with their willingness to get on the ground and help those of us at the other end of the experience spectrum!

2. Students everywhere. The pictures accompanying this post do not do our group justice. I do not know how many people attended, but I would not be surprised if there were around 100 active participants. With so many students in one place, I was able to meet people from all of the other KMG schools in the US. All of the people with whom I interacted were polite and interested foremost in learning. I didn't meet any over-sized egos, or students who felt the need to prove something to others.

In one memorable part of the camp, a few other P-2s and I worked on how to do a technique. I felt that I had learned a certain move differently, but they made a compelling case for another approach. This situation could have gone south quickly in another setting, but I was pleased to be able to work with genuinely helpful colleagues from other schools. They were very helpful and patient with me.

The final ladder exercise during G testing looked tough!
3. Push yourself. I did not test at the event (also more on that shortly). However, I still trained about 8 hours each day. Those 8 hours were far longer than I usually train. Thankfully, over the past 9 months I've been preparing myself mentally and physically for extended training days.

During a regular session I might train 2 straight hours. I've attended a few intense combatives seminars that have lasted 5 straight hours, and I've also attended a few day-long seminars that lasted 6-9 hours, with a lunch break. In September I participated in the KMG Combat Mindset Class, which was a mix of physical training and lectures over a 3 day period. Recently I also took part in SFG, GFM, and Jungshin events, described here. All of this helped me get ready for the camp.

The bottom line is the day-long camp format expects a lot of students, both physically and mentally. By the middle of the third day I felt like my brain was overflowing. My training partner had the same comment at the same time! Still, the benefits outweighed the costs, and besides a few bruises and sore muscles, the push was worth it.

4. Test yourself. The P&G Camp was a massive testing event for all but 10% or so of the attendees. I was not eligible to test, because I had just tested in September. (KMG includes a 5-6 month delay for P and G testing, and a year or more delay for E testing.) Rather than test on the third day, I did more training with my fellow non-testers. At the end of that period, I watched the final components  (sparring, ground fighting, and a grueling "ladder pushup-sprawl" exercise) of one of the G-level tests. It was inspiring and impressive to watch a few of my instructors (plus other testers) leave it all on the mats.

First Defense Krav Maga attendees pose for a photo.
If anyone had simply described the testing experience, I'm not sure I would be able to imagine myself passing or even attempting the G-level exams. However, witnessing so many people pushing themselves to their limits inspired me to think that, with the necessary time, effort, and training, I have a shot at the G grade.

I wish I could have watched the E level testing on day four, but I had to return to my day job and family. (Thank you to my family for supporting my desire to train away from home!) During that E level testing, one current and one remote member of my school passed their E-1 ranks!

5. Camaraderie. Although I feel a bond with my fellow students and instructors at my home school, I really sensed camaraderie with the extended KMG family at the camp. It was cool to see people representing their regions and homes. I enjoyed training with people who were unranked, or from different systems. I liked training with people in their twenties, and even a gentleman who was 74!

One of my favorite parts of the camp involved a giant sparring session on the second day. I think I fought half a dozen people by the end of it. I lost one of my contacts lenses during the session, but I decided to press on and not lose time. No one I met acted like a jerk or tried to put on a show for any onlookers. It can be difficult for non-martial artists to accept that one could build friendships on hitting each other, but it happens!

I believe the previous five lessons were key to our KMG event, and you can relate to them even if you don't practice Krav Maga. However...

Two bonus reasons for the KMG family:

Eyal Yanilov discusses mental training.
6. Diversity and Quality of Training. During the camp, I participated in distinct sessions teaching each of the following: mental training, kicking, striking, open hand defenses, sparring and combinations, knife defenses, gun disarms, and stick defenses. The quality of each session was excellent. We also integrated third party protection with fighting and self defense.

Although each instructor displayed a different teaching style, I was able to keep up with the pace and apply what I learned in meaningful ways. The drills all made sense and I even had a chance to take a few notes. I am sure the structured training program required to be a KMG instructor played a big part in the success of these sessions. I also perceived that each instructor truly wanted to teach what he or she knew, and  thereby benefit the lives of the students.

7. Training with Eyal. In my experience, it is rare to be able to train with the head instructor of a martial arts, self defense, or fighting system. Every day of the P&G camp, however, started with Eyal sharing some wisdom and mental training exercises. Next we ventured outside for warm-up. It must have been quite a sight for visitors -- a hundred KMG students running around the building, then dropping to the concrete for drills!

Eyal always makes time for pictures.
Eyal also personally taught, formally and informally. Because he leads by example, I found all of his senior instructors shared the teaching duties. For example, UK director Jon Bullock integrated his experience teaching around the world, highlighting common mistakes he saw at other events and schools. He then showed proper technique and, importantly, why it mattered.

I also had a chance to go to dinner with members of my school and some of these instructors, and they were friendly out of uniform as well.

If Krav Maga interests you, and you would like to attend future global training events, visit the Krav Maga Global site. In the US, visit kmg-usa.com.

Thank you to everyone who made the camp a success -- Eyal, Jon, Nick, Pat, host school owner Kimi, instructors, and students!

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Did you attend the camp? What did you think? Have you experienced similar events elsewhere? Leave a comment here or let me know via Twitter!

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