Saturday, 25 April 2015


Last night I momentarily thought I'd dislocated/ broken/ sprained another finger during Krav training.

Last October I got booted in the left hand and my pinky went a bit banana shaped. I was out of training for more than 2 months and missed both P camp and my P5 grading as a result.

All for the least useful appendage on my body.

Yesterday we were doing knife threats and as I whirled to knock the hand of my partner away with my right arm, I somehow managed to jab my ring finger right into the bone on her forearm. Unlike the last time, this bloody hurt and in between cursing I frantically ripped off my MMA mitt in case I had another busted joint.

Could still flex and grip but it hurt like a bastard, so I stepped out for a minute to see how I felt and let the pain ebb. This was at 8.20, with the class wrapping up at half eight. We were about to move to a final pressure drill, something I nearly always enjoy.

I had a choice to make.


1). Go back in, "sucking up" my discomfort and pain and give it my all.

2). Take a back seat and miss the final drill, in case I tempt fate too far and end up really hurting myself.

Something I've realised in the 3+ years I've been doing Krav is that it is very easy to get hurt, either by mistake, misfortune or bad technique application. The human body is a delicate machine and toes & fingers are fragile little things. I've done gradings up to P5 with some severe fighting and an exhaustion factor that is hard to imagine...but ultimately we are padded up with shin guards, gum shields and 16oz gloves. There is a sense of caution present at all times.

Krav teaches us to be more than just people who fight. It talks about walking or running away if we can when faced with potential violence and above all putting your safety first. While I always imagined injuries sustained in training would be for reasons of macho sparring or taking on a bigger opponent, a wonky finger caused by a 16 year old girl wasn't on my list of heroic wounds. However, as I stood there with an ice pack clenched around my throbbing digit watching the others throwing punches for a tabata workout...I realised as my breathing returned to normal that I'd made the right decision

My body needs respect too and listening to it when it starts complaining is a discipline that I need to keep practicing. I've seen a G5 instructor get a cracked rib during a grading and simply carry on. While I have a lot of respect for him for that, part of me still wonders what would have happened if he'd got thumped in the same rib twice.

We've all seen boxing matches where one or both fighters are busted up, eyes like slits, faces purple and puffy but they keep going out of dogged determination.

I don't do Krav to prove I'm tough. I do it to keep fit and to give me an "edge" if I'm ever attacked on the street for real. I like the skills Krav gives me but as I've grown older I feel less and less like I need to prove I'm "hard" by going beyond my own pain threshold and then carrying on. And by that I mean pain from injury, not pain through exhaustion or fatigue.

Adrenalin is one thing but there's a time where I would rather feel embarrassed and disappointed but not carry on, than do something that might put me out of training for a lot longer.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

How The Flinch Stole Combat

How The Flinch Stole Combat
(Alternative ways of dealing with anxiety or fear)

By Lance Manley- P4

I love Krav Maga. I’ve been a member of Krav Maga Midlands since March 2012 and I find the system to be exactly what I need to both keep fit and to increase my confidence.

The technical side of Krav, I think is brilliant. Love the knife and gun techniques, the different kicks, the tactics and the innovation. I also get a buzz out of the pressure drills and scenarios such as the Tunnel of Fun (8+ guys standing either side of a narrow corridor, you try and walk to the other end) or Zombies or Multiple Attackers or Slow Fighting. The list goes on.

However, something that I always had an issue with is the combat side of Krav Maga.

At a grading I have no problem with fighting and will get stuck in. A pleasant memory is during the sparring at the end of my P3 test, an unknown instructor was stood by the side of the mats cheering me on with “Yes, hit him. Don’t forget your feet! Good, keep going!”

Turned out to be Jon Bullock, head of KMG UK.

But…something that always proved to be a “Marmite” moment was coldly padding up and sparring with someone at a class designed solely for combat. It was like a switch was thrown in my head from Like to Dislike.

There are many tried and tested methods to deal with this type of thing. I tried most of them.

I’d make myself go. I’d be determined to enjoy myself. I’d partner the biggest guy in the room. I’d partner a higher grade. I’d meditate. I’d talk to other students or instructors. I’d try and rationalise and analyse why this was happening. I’d “man up” and “grow a pair”.

Nothing worked long term.

At most I’d get a couple of sessions before the Dislike switch was thrown again. This situation was irritating to say the least. I really WANTED to like it, but something within me wasn’t having any of it. Like anchovies on pizza or Marmite on toast…it was a black and white situation with absolutely no grey. Love it or hate it.  I hated it.

Bottom line was that I was getting frustrated and feeling like a pansy. The sensation was the same as the first time I went cliff jumping. Standing at the edge, looking down at the water…and for 15 minutes unable to jump off. Even though I knew there was virtually no danger in it, every instinct was screaming at me to back away. I finally did it and never looked back. But with sparring…things didn’t improve no matter what I tried in order to overcome the issue. My reluctance was like one gigantic flinch.

I eventually realised that the issues were probably emotional and/ or psychological. When we fought I’d perceive my partner and the other fighters in the room as malicious and out to hurt me, even though I knew they weren’t. Before my P4 grading I was genuinely uncertain as to whether or not I’d pass it.

I was effectively “winging it” and I realised that I’d never make G level if I couldn’t get my head fixed. It was then that I decided that I had to overcome this.

A friend of mine recommended hypnotherapy as her son had taken a few sessions years ago, to deal with unresolved issues from his childhood. I contacted a woman named Rebecca Bedford who gave me a free initial meeting to lay the groundwork for what I wanted resolved. When I came back I was genuinely surprised that you are not actually “hypnotised” like in movies. Instead the process could best be described as “guided meditation”. I closed my eyes while relaxing music was playing and Rebecca talked me through some mental imagery and told me to imagine that I was in a safe location such as a beach that was my private place of solitude. She then got me to remember certain events and said to “link it on” to whatever thought came up next, regardless of how silly, unusual, or out of place that thought might appear.

I had about 5 or 6 sessions in total where we slowly moved through the knots and creases in my psyche. It turned out that I had deep rooted fears of humiliation and rejection. I also had felt frustrated as a child through being forced to pretend everything was OK when it wasn’t and believing I didn’t have the right to express my opinions. Most crucially, I had made a decision as a very young boy that I would never be able to compete with “bigger boys” as they were stronger, faster and better than me. All of this had gone into the blender of my subconscious and affected my ability to relax and enjoy training.

After the final session I attended both a sparring session and contact combat in the same week. For the first time ever I actually enjoyed myself and thought it was fun. I held off writing this article for a week just in case there was some kind of emotional relapse and there wasn’t. The answers to what was holding me back were locked away inside my head, and finally I had found the key.

There was no epiphanous moment. No sudden revelation or jolt of clarity. It was simply that I looked on the same situations with a different set of feelings than I had before.

Hypnotherapy is one method that I’m very glad to have invested in for help with this. I had decided at the end of April that if I couldn’t cure my phobia of fighting by the end of the hypno course, then I’d reduce my membership with KMM to one lesson per week and stop grading.

Now…well, the sky’s the limit.

Rebecca Bedford runs Leamington Hypnotherapy
and can be contacted on 07863 156 392

Illustration by Paul Rose.

Monday, 13 April 2015


About 3 weeks ago I took P5 and failed it.

I'm not mentioning that for an attempt at sympathy. I took the news with a dignity that I'm proud of and promised to return in October to do it all again.

Problem is...October seems soooo far away right now.

I mean, I have a holiday for a whole MONTH in Crete between now and then. To be precise, from June to July. And THAT seems far away too. October will be when the warm weather we are only just now starting to enjoy, is going to be on its way out and Autumn in all its nauseating shades of orange is cosying up to introduce its bigger brother Winter.

From P1 to P5 I have noticed just how fast time flew between the gradings. Main reason being that I have a thing called a "life" that gets between a twice yearly visit to London or Bristol.

In the run up to my P5 test, I had the following "regime".

1. Yoga at least twice a week.
2. Krav at least twice a week.
3. Cardio based workout (tailored for me by a personal trainer at my gym) 2 or 3 times a week.
4. Watching the P5 DVD on my TV at home and copying the moves (except the break falls or rolls).

I did this for about 5 weeks. Determined to go in as prepared as possible. The examiner told me after that what let me down was my P4 stuff (which I hadn't revised). So, back to the revision with some P4 stuff (and in case they pull a flanking manoeuvre at the next grading, P2 and P3 as well).

Thing is....

I have been attending the gym for the cardio stuff BUT I'm going a maximum of twice a week to do that. I go to Krav once a week and I haven't looked at the P5 DVD since I got back.

While I have hardly become slothful, that exuberance and lust for the 5th bar on the patch has now had the volume turned down somewhat.

It is very hard to maintain that kind of momentum, especially half a year away from a retake. I don't even think it's necessary to keep the same fitness levels sustained BUT I also know that I need to keep on top of things.

Jon Bullock and a lot of examiners and instructors I've met over the 3 years I've been with KMG had said that the worst thing you can do is rest on your laurels and become lazy after passing a grading. Like any skill set, Krav techniques need to be practiced to be kept fresh.

October is now 3 weeks nearer than it was when I took that grading.

I shall maintain a healthy balance between now and then.

Nuff said.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Anna and Cassandra

"I had a really good time mummy, we all learned how to sing "The Wheels on the Bus".

Cassandra was nattering as normal, the way she always did after playschool. Anna was happy that her daughter was in such a chirpy mood. Last few sessions she'd been a bit grizzly when she picked her up. The teachers had put forward the idea that she was having a good time and Anna had to concur. She'd hated going home when she was a little girl but it was for different reasons.

Cassandra held up the piece of paper covered in paint. "I made this too mummy" she said proudly, then paused looking up expectantly.

"Very nice my darling, is it a car?"

Cassandra looked cross and tutted. "No silly, it's you mummy!"

Anna laughed and ruffled her daughter's hair. "I know sweetie, I'm just playing."

Cassandra giggled as they reached the car. Anna held her daughter's hand tightly as they crossed the road to where she'd left the vehicle. Anna didn't like parking in the cul-de-sac but the road near the school had been full as always. She handed the keys down. "OK Madame, do your magic."

Cassandra giggled again and with some concentration used her tiny fingers to activate the door locks. She smiled approvingly as the indicator lights flashed and the car beeped.

"Good girl, now let's get you strapped in." Anna opened the door and pulled the harness open on the child seat in the back, removing a half squashed Ribena carton from the cushion. She lifted Cassandra up gently and put her down, strapping her in and checking the belt was secure.

As she closed the door and went to step to the driver's side she felt a hand on her shoulder and a rasping voice went "Don't move, I'll cut you!"

Anna's breath caught in her throat. Her body tensed and she glanced down as a sharp pressure was in her right side, just below her ribs. The man behind her pushed her up against the side of the car, holding the back of her head with one hand. He hissed to someone else, "Quick, go on."

Anna twisted her head to look as a scruffy man with too much stubble and an old torn jacket yanked the door open where Cassandra was sitting.

"Mummy, what's going on?" her daughter shouted out, her eyes going wide.

"It's OK baby, just be quiet please."

The hand on her head was holding her tightly, she struggled to control her breathing. She could still feel the pressure in her side. The other man grabbed her handbag and leaned in over Cassandra, checking the footwells and the seats. Cassandra started to cry. "Mummy!" She looked terrified. Anna could smell both of them. They reeked of body odour and too much booze. And something else...something rotten. Trying to control her breathing and remain calm she said in as controlled a voice as she could manage.

"Take what you want, just don't hurt my daughter please."

The man behind her hissed back "I said shut up and be quiet you fucking whore."

"That's it" the second man said.

"Check the front. Quick before someone comes."

The man moved round the passenger side of the car, checking around him in case anyone could see them. Cassandra was crying louder. As the man yanked open the opposite side door and began to rummage through the glovebox the voice behind her said "That watch you're wearing, take it off and give it me."

Anna trembled with fear but managed to stay steady on her feet. The pressure on her head released slightly and she reached over to unfasten the strap on her watch. She handed it back over her shoulder. "Nice" the voice whispered, then said to the other man "Come on!"

"Done, nothing else."

"You've been really good, thanks. You might want to teach your little bitch to be quiet. Hopefully we'll see you again."

As he spoke his other hand moved down and squeezed Anna's breast and he laughed. Time froze. The roughness of his fingers. The sound of Cassandra crying. The other man moving back around to join his friend. The street light fifty yards away casting a spattery reflection on the car's wet black roof. But above all Anna remembered her father, wanting to "play" with his daughter when he came home drunk and Anna's mother could do nothing to stop him.

With a snarl she whirled against the pressure in her right side, her forearm smashing into the man's wrist. He yelped in pain and his knife went skittering across the tarmac. Before he could react Anna grabbed his head with both hands and pulled down hard, bringing her knee up into his face, once, twice, three times. His nose shattered and blood sprayed. With a gurgle he fell forward and then rolled onto his side. Anna stamped down on his crotch with her heel twice, hard.

In the five seconds this had taken the other man had iced up. He stared at them both. Cassandra was still wailing loudly. "What the....?!!" he mouthed, clutching Anna's bag. She turned to face him and he gulped.

"Now look lady, I don't want any trouble." Anna advanced on him, stepping over the twitching, bloodied man at her feet. "Stay back, look I'm sorry." He dropped the handbag in the road and tried to turn but Anna grabbed his shoulders and span him around, slamming him into the car. He screeched as Anna kicked him hard in the knee, his leg buckling. She rained her fists down on his head, once, twice, three times until he collapsed in the road.

Breathing heavily she looked around. Left, right, behind her. Standing twenty yards away was another woman, older, her mouth open. After a long moment she stammered, " you need any help my dear?"

Anna gasped and cleared her throat.

"Call the police and an ambulance. Do it now." The woman nodded and reached for her mobile, staring in horror at Anna and the two men.

 She opened the back door and leaned in. Cassandra was screaming her head off.

"Shhh, baby it's alright." She unclipped the safety harness and pulled her daughter clear, stepping  away from the unconscious man laying at her feet.

Cassandra stopped screaming but was still sobbing as Anna hugged her into her shoulder. "It's alright baby, shhhh, it's alright."

After a couple of minutes Cassandra's sobs began to quieten.

In the distance they could hear sirens.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Krav Maga Sciocco

Today I posted an April 1st prank on Facebook. Didn't think ANYONE would fall for it but a few did.

Google the word "Sciocco" and see what comes up....

Details below.

Lance Manley
20 hrs · Edited
Hi guys,
Happy to announce that today I moved from KMG to KMS (Krav Maga Sciocco) who are a new club in Coventry, UK. I took their P5 test today and got a score of 99% (lost 1% as apparently my hair grab was a bit over zealous. My partner now has a bald patch). Cost £354 to do their P5 exam but it only lasted 35 minutes and the chief instructor ("Sir" as we call him) has assured me that with the right level of investment I will be an Expert 5 by December next year, provided I can raise the £2500 that the test costs.
Thanks to all the guys who've shared my journey so far with me with KMG, and if you fancy a faster option to get to the higher grades then why not check out Krav Maga Sciocco.
**** and 36 others like this.

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