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:

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