Sunday, 12 February 2017

NZ Self Defence Academy, Wellington, New Zealand

Nomadic Kravver

New Zealand Self Defence Academy
Wellington, New Zealand

Thursday 9th February 2017

When I got to New Zealand there was only one Krav club in the whole country that was affiliated to the organisation I belong to, Krav Maga Global. However, while training with Aaron Moore he told me that a new club in Wellington had switched allegiance from IKMF to KMG that very week, called the New Zealand Self Defence Academy.

I got the number of the club’s owner, Andre Maritz and gave him a bell once I flew to Wellington a few days later. He said he was more than happy for me to train with his club and gave me the address for the Thursday session, in Johnsonville.

Looking at the timetable on the club’s website, it showed a Junior Krav class at 4.45 so I offered to help out, what with having qualified as a Kids Instructor under Zeev Cohen in Israel last summer. Andre replied that was great and if I wanted to I could actually teach the class.

Oh yes!

I got there about 4pm and we chatted at the club premises. Andre has his own dojo, with focus mitts and strike shields stacked up in one corner. There were also two large punch bags that needed hanging up and Andre said the mats to cover the floor were on the way. The place is relatively new and the KMG logos and posters were on the most prominent windows for passersby to see.

At 4.45 two Chinese lads turned up. Brothers at High school, they had been doing Krav for a month or two and I got them doing some basic striking work and moving about. Both needed a little bit of confidence on their punching (a mistake most of us made when we started is hitting with the wrist relaxed, something that can cause painful and serious problems in a real situation). We then worked in some knee strikes and then I put in my own personal favourite, the Adrenaline training.

Adrenaline was something I encountered in 2014 at the Eyal Yanilov world tour. Me and 9 others were selected by Eyal to fight what are known as the Bullet Men. I had never felt so scared in a very long time but the whole experience was a lot of fun and over the next year or two I did 3 separate courses connected to Adrenalin, organised by Wayne Hubball and KMG UK head, Jon Bullock.

The preliminary stage before the fighting starts is a ‘verbal only’ confrontation where the Bullet Men (also known as Predators) will walk up to you and be aggressive but without resorting to violence. This is known as “woofing” because it’s similar to a dog asserting authority. In the seminars I did, they also wear sunglasses so you can’t see their eyes and will say some of THE most offensive and insulting things in order to try and elicit a fearful or aggressive response. Your task is to remain calm, stand still without adjusting your feet to a fighting stance, and hold your palms up. At the point where you feel the situation is no longer comfortable (as the Predators will sometimes be merely polite, e.g. “You got the time mate?” as they know you are expecting them to be aggressive from the start), you are to shout “BACK AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!” and refuse to engage in conversation. You do not answer their questions or respond to their provocation and you must not gesture with your hands (as this can be insulting and/ or aggressive…which is what they want). If you tick the boxes then the Predators will back off.

Having done this myself I know it’s nerve wracking and quite frankly feels horrible until you have done it a few times. As Jon Bullock pointed out on Adrenaline 2, it is not fear of being beaten up, it’s fear of looking foolish that is the main reason your heart rate spikes.

With children the scenarios are obviously turned down considerably and the main ‘aggression’ comes from shouting, not from the language itself. I pointed out to the two lads that if, at any time they felt uncomfortable and did not wish to continue, then they should raise one arm above their head and say “STOP!”

Both lads handled it really well, despite both saying they felt scared at first.

Afterwards Andre asked if I’d mind taking the next two classes as well, as he liked how I’d taught the Juniors and wanted to try “new thing” from somebody outside New Zealand. I was flattered to be asked and agreed straight away.

As the Beginners class began arriving I was introduced to a few people including Jeremy, a big guy who works as a bouncer in bars and clubs. The class had three women also and once Andre introduced me I got them doing the warm up my instructor Bartosz at Krav Maga Midlands UK had us doing. After about 15 minutes of that we then moved into some basic punching and striking with the elbow. This got everyone working really well and we then moved into a striking drill where, in groups of three, one person had to repeatedly punch a strike shield held by one of their partners, while the third person tried to “bracket” them in. This was fun as it got everyone being aware of what was around them and the golden importance of scanning.

We then had a quick chat about situational awareness where I pointed out that one of my biggest hang ups in a public place is people texting on their phones while walking. I cited an example of when I’d seen a little kid walk up and snatch a woman’s phone in London when she was doing exactly that.

We then moved on to Adrenaline with this version being slightly more tense than the one I did with the children before. I pointed out that once again, they could simply raise their arm and say “stop” if they didn’t wish to continue.

Nearly everyone made the mistakes that nearly all of us make when trying this for the first time and let me get way too close, didn’t use a loud voice and engaged in conversation in response to my aggressive questions (e.g. “OR WHAT?!”). After everyone had been through once, one of the women asked what they should do if me or a real assailant keeps asking questions. I replied that you do not ever engage in conversation and simply keep repeating “BACK AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!” I also pointed out that this tactic is not infallible but bullies are usually looking for someone to prey on and being confidently aggressive in response will give you a better chance of them backing away.

One lady then had another go, doing it correctly and I backed away as per the scenario’s check list of behaviour. 

Comments I got later were that they’d enjoyed it as it gave a fresh perspective of how to deal with confrontation and fitted into Krav’s methodology of avoiding confrontation if possible.

The Advanced class then arrived, with two guys from the Beginners staying on for it. One lad was a P2 with IKMF, the patch on his training trousers was something I hadn’t seen before and is quite different to KMG’s.

We went through the same 15 minute warm up as the Beginners and then moved into striking before concentrating on choke releases. Side, front, and back were used and I then got them to try on each other with their eyes closed. After that we moved to one person stood in the middle with their eyes closed and the others would walk up and try one of the three chokes on them. 

Finally we got into a pressure drill of a choker, a stick man and a pad man, attacking one person for a minute, who had to keep moving. I stressed the importance of not going in between the assailants and to try and keep outside of them or keep them ‘in a line’ as per the training I was given in the UK.

We then formed up for the final Kida and Andre thanked me for my time. 

This was an awesome evening and I am very grateful to Andre for allowing me this opportunity. Next day he took me on a mini-tour of Wellington to stay thanks, even buying us both fish and chips on the sea front for lunch. A true gentleman.

An awesome experience with a great club.

New Zealand Self Defence Academy can be reached via Andre Maritz and can be reached at:

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

KMG Auckland, New Zealand

Nomadic Kravver
KMG Auckland

Wednesday 1st &
Saturday 4th February 2017

After a glorious 3 months in Australia I decided to take in the delights of New Zealand and flew over to Auckland a few days before my Ozzy visa expired. 

I was happy to find out that the only Krav Maga club affiliated to KMG in the whole of Kiwi land was in Auckland**. Run by E1 instructor Aaron Moore it had several branches that were dotted around the city and I dropped Aaron an email after I landed, asking if I could come and train with them on the Saturday class as I wasn’t intending to be around long.

Turns out that the weekends of January 22nd and February 3rd are both three day holidays, meaning that there was no Saturday class on either week.

Boo! Hiss!

However, my Couchsurfing host offered to let me stay on a few extra days which meant I could attend the advanced class on Wednesday.

Hooray! Hooray!

KMG Auckland started just a few months ago in September 2016. In that short time it has gained around many members, including some higher P grades, a few of which had graded with IKMF before transferring over. 

When I got to the YMCA in Grays Avenue in the city centre, the beginners’ group was still going at it. I chatted with a few guys waiting outside in the foyer, including a lad called Craig who had emigrated to NZ with his wife and while new to Krav had done martial arts for much of his life. 

At around 7pm Aaron brought us in and we had an 18 minute warm-up (should have been 20 apparently but Aaron said he’d “let us off this time”).

After that we were doing some work that I hadn’t seen before including everyone grabbing a shield and running in a circle, before Aaron yelled “NOW!” and we then had to run across the floor, pile driving everyone in our way. Lots of fun provided you remember to keep your mouth closed for fear of losing lips, teeth or even your tongue. 

We then then had to do some forward rolls before coming up into a fighting stance. Not a big deal if you’ve trained for a while BUT I had never done this on a hard floor before. I long ago learned that “biting the bullet” and just doing something for fear of looking like a pansy is the wrong thing to do (a friend of mine did hard floor rolls on his P2 grading, and like me had never done them before, didn’t flag it up to the examiner and to this day has shoulder issues as a result). However I was confident it would be OK and after a couple of attempts it proved to be painless. Relief blossomed that I’d finally nailed the rolls to the point where a nice mat is now only a luxury.

Then we moved into 360 striking and defences with Aaron demonstrating the different techniques required and how you can defend with “right arm vs. right arm” if the attacker is too close or at too odd an angle for the “normal” counter measure. 

In groups of three or four we then had a pressure drill involving two guys striking and one with a shield against a lone defender. The shield guy would push the “victim” in the back who would roll forward or soft break fall and then come up fighting. This was tiring but again a lot of fun and the special treat was at the end when we moved to groups of 6 and one person lying on the floor. The others had to then try and prevent him or her from standing up, pushing down as the person fought their way clear. Knackering but less of a chore than I’d thought it would be, we all had a turn and then lined up for a final Kida. 

Aaron invited me to the stick defence seminar in Victoria Park the following Saturday and I was glad to accept, happy for the extra training before heading off further south to Wellington.

Saturday 4th November

The seminar kicked off at 10.30am and I got to the meeting point by the cricket pavilion at about 10 o’clock. The students began to drift in slowly and it was interesting that there were seasoned Kravvers there amongst newbies who’d only been attending Aaron’s class for a week or two.

When Aaron showed up we had a brief chat and then moved to a shady bit of the park. While we were strolling over, a young couple out jogging stopped to ask about Krav and, after a quick chat with Aaron, he invited them to join in the seminar with the rest of us.

We went straight into some partner work doing outside defences against punches. Then we did some stuff with inside defences before the training sticks were brought out.

One thing I was retested on after getting a conditional pass on my P4 was stick defences. While not hard as such, they are fiddly to get right and it takes a lot of practice, in my opinion this is because 50% of the technique is down to footwork as much as body defence and appropriate hand/ arm movements. 

The “fleshy foreram” defence was first up with a diagonal movement to the side of the attacker, in the path of where they are swinging the stick to. Once this is nailed it is straight forward to perform. Next up was the “one up, one down” defence, meant to be utilised when you have your hands down and are caught off guard.

After we drilled this for a while, Aaron then showed us a technique I hadn’t practiced in a while, what I call the “mill wheel”. This one involves an attack where the person pushes the stick horizontally against your face or chest and you respond my taking the blow against your forearms, preferably over their knuckles, and then grab the stick, doing a violent and sudden 360 degree circle with the stick in your grasp. Performed properly this will cause the attacker to not only let go of the stick but lose their balance.

We had some fun with that one and then Aaron found some actual branches off the trees (the huge kind that my dog used to find and insist on bringing home) and got us to attack each other with those. 

We then split into groups of three, and had two attackers with sticks going at the third guy, to see if the techniques had made an imprint on our muscle memory. The guy who’d just been jogging past with his girlfriend was pretty good for a novice and when a huge, hulking German P3 named Hendrick did the mill wheel release on me, I felt my neck whiplash.

Final drill was to chase a partner across to the trees and try and utilise cover, sticks or even loose dirt and leaves as something to prevent an attack.

Lots of fun had by all and after the final Kida I had a few words with Aaron.

“At the moment we have about 35 members and about 30 people on trials for the club. Today was a good day. It’s a long weekend so I wasn’t sure if many people were going to turn out, but good for a bank holiday. I was really pleased about how it went, being able to take it out of the gym and into real situations. It makes it much more real for people.”

I also chatted to Pia who was one of the couple jogging past who were invited to join in. She said “I’ve always wanted to do some self defence training. I’m pretty interested in joining, we’ll see about the nights. The techniques were useful but something I think I’d have to practice a lot. The sideways attack was the best.”

KMG Auckland run classes in Auckland Central and on the North Shore.
They can be contacted at their website KMG AUCKLAND.

** Another club has now opened in Wellington called New Zealand Self Defence Academy run by Andre Maritz. Originally with IKMF they migrated over to KMG in early February 2017.