My First Krav Maga Class and the Start of a New Adventure!

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My First Krav Maga Class and the Start of a New Adventure!

This post is from Abby, a student at EVKM Self Defense & Fitness. She recently started the EVKM Krav Maga program after moving to Arizona from Minnesota. She is going to be sharing her Krav Maga journey and adventures, along with tips and advice she learns along the way to stay motivated and consistent with her training.

I joined EVKM in early November of 2017. I’m nearly two months into training under Derrek and all of his amazing instructors and believe it or not, my life has altered completely in a very a short period of time.

Before I go into how I walked through the doors of EVKM, it’s important that I explain my background and how I got here as someone completely new to krav maga. As I write, this, it’s extremely important to me that you get to know me over this series of blogs, my background, and my mindset associated with my training.

I recently moved to Arizona from Minnesota, and I happen to be in a work-from-home position. Making friends can be difficult in a situation like this and after two months of almost complete isolation, I began realizing I needed to make an effort to get around people and socialize more. Think Tom Hanks in Castaway with Wilson. I was about two inches from this before I discovered EVKM:

More than that, I’m a former figure and bikini competitor that has stepped away from the lights of the stage and needed to find new fuel for my athlete’s fire. Like anyone has at some point in their life, I had an excessively difficult year of “adulting” and put my physical health and training on the backburner. With that came a surprise 20 lbs that I don’t feel great about gaining, but no real goal to train for stage again. I realized I was going to need to seek a new activity to get back into shape and feel like myself again. I’ve always enjoyed shooting for goals and accountability, so I needed to find new way to train that would hit in all the right places (no krav maga puns intended) to help me build a foundation here in Tempe.

Rewinding the clocks back further to the year 2015, I was attacked by a man I met through an online dating app. This left me fairly shell-shocked and nervous in general, and while I dealt with much of the trauma associated with the fallout, I needed to take on something that was truly going to empower me and let me re-write the story of what happened in a way that it would become a POSITIVE experience for me. My enhanced levels of “stranger danger” were functioning as a toxic anchor and I was going to have to be proactive in finding a way to lift it. I struggled endlessly of “I need to be around people” and “But I don’t trust people” and found myself in a very unhelpful cycle that was becoming pretty damaging to me emotionally and spiritually.

I’ve always been interested in martial arts and I’d never actually considered pursuing it on my own. I have many exceedingly talented friends in different martial arts (muay thai, thai boxing, Kali, and jiu-jitsu) but I wanted to do something that I’d never been exposed to before and something that was uniquely “mine.”

Thus began a research process that lead me to EVKM. I sat on my bed scrolling through my phone, comparing Google and Yelp reviews of various gyms in the Tempe/Mesa area and EVKM was overwhelmingly positive in terms of feedback. I found their webpage and was pleased to see the instructors were a healthy blend of men and women. If I’m being honest, seeing the faces of so many women was a massive relief to me after I’d gone through such a horrific attack and a sign that I could do this too. I reached out to the gym and set up my trial class.

My First Class – November 4, 2017

Having absolutely no experience in this kind of activity, I had no clue what to expect from my first class. I only know what I know from 10 years of training, which meant to have a gallon of pre-workout before I left the house, and I wobbled with anxiety through the doors of EVKM for my tour. I met with Eli, who explained how the class would work and introduced me to the instructor for the Saturday morning All Levels class I’d be embarking my journey on. The moment I saw SO ONE MAY WALK IN PEACE scrawled across the wall, I instantly relaxed. I knew that this was exactly where I needed to be.

I was partnered with an experienced EVKM member, and suddenly I found myself holding a pad and taking palm strikes for the first time. I’m going to be honest; while I’m fairly tough and I know what it’s like to do heavy lifting, I was startled by the feel of holding pads for the first time. I felt like a fish out of water and my mind spun out with ‘maybe I’m not supposed to be here after all’ for the first 15 minutes of class. Immediately after thinking that, however, I also understood that I’d never get comfortable unless I made the conscious decision to show up consistently from that day forward.

The class itself was a blast. I apologized to levels I would describe as being “Canadian” for every single move I made, fearing judgment or being deemed as weak, and I was continually told to stop apologizing. Drilling for the first time was intimidating and I found myself (like a good little Minnesotan) feeling a little shy about yelling “HEY” for someone to turn their attention to me in the final drill. That awkwardness carried on for the first two classes but eventually, I realized that being soft-spoken/introverted was not going to serve me well if I’m trying to learn krav maga. Being introverted was also not going to help me make friends in a new state, so finding my voice was going to be crucial for my growth in every way possible. By my third class, I found my voice. And here I am now.

I eagerly enrolled at EVKM and began coming to class 3-5 days a week.

After My First Class

I woke up after the first class with a full 360 hand-shaped bruise around my wrist. I wasn’t horrified. I thought it was the coolest thing EVER!

Yes, you’ll get bruises. You’ll have battle wounds from class. If you’ve never done krav maga before, just know that if you don’t leave with some sort of new bruise, you likely weren’t training hard enough or your training partner themselves were not pushing enough. I’m not saying you’re going to be in pain or be legitimately injured regularly (I certainly haven’t been), but you will get bruises and it’s part of the game. Embrace it, it’s nothing to be afraid of.

And yes, you will be sore. For me, I have loads of aesthetic muscle mass but I have almost no functional muscle. You’ll be working your muscle fibers and challenging them in new ways. You’ll have fun the entire time, so don’t even worry about it. You’re building the foundation for a stronger, faster body!

Two Months into Training at EVKM

The amount of lessons I’ve learned since my first class is borderline overwhelming, but a huge sense of pride for me. I was very, very nervous my first few classes and genuinely detested my self-imposed “new kid” sign that felt so apparent around my neck. What I quickly realized is how much everyone is supportive of each other in their journeys, that the judgments of myself were mine and mine alone; the only person that was being hard on myself was me.

Yes, I’ve definitely woken up sore the day after a class. And I still go the next day. The truth is, no matter who you are, it’s absolutely vital that you show up and do the work consistently. I wear my training bruises and busted up elbows with pride. In 2015, I silently suffered after being attacked by a stranger and I hid my wounds in shame. Now I wear my bruises with pride. In every way possible, krav maga is forcing me to become a stronger and better person. I’m in a field where I’m no longer an industry veteran like I am in the world of fitness competitions. I’ve learned to check my ego at the door.

Krav Maga is a skillset and a lifestyle. Like anything, if you dabble in it, you’ll have a hobby skillset. If you take it seriously and commit, you’ll have a skillset for life. I’m brand new on this journey still and I can only hope to get more confident, faster, and better with each movement and piece of training we learn. With every class, I’m a little happier to see how much my attendance card has begun to fill out and I’m already looking forward to being able to test in the next few months. That will happen when it happens. For now, it’s my job to come in and do the right thing for myself to get me to that sweet spot of hitting a goal.

I chose Krav Maga because I wanted a new way to honor my body, mind, and spirit. I chose EVKM because it was an overwhelmingly supportive network of people and has begun the process of shuffling a new roster of amazing people and a second family in my life. I’m so grateful I found this place. As a human being and an athlete, it’s breathed new and sorely missed life back into me.

I look forward to keeping you up to date in my krav maga journey. Thank you for reading!

- Abby, EVKM Krav Maga Student

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