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.

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