Disclaimer: I took one paragraph from Wikipedia to explain Krav Maga and it's origin.
Krav Maga (contact-combat) is a self-defence system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that consists of a wide combination of techniques sourced from aikido, judo, boxing and wrestling, along with realistic fight training. Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and its extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks. It was derived from street-fighting skills developed by Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld, who made use of his training as a boxer and wrestler as a means of defending the Jewish quarter against fascist groups in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in the mid-to-late 1930s. In the late 1940s, following his migration to Israel, he began to provide lessons on combat training to what was to become the IDF, subsequently going on to develop the system that became known as Krav Maga. It has since been refined for civilian, police and military applications. Krav Maga has a philosophy emphasizing threat neutralization, simultaneous defensive and offensive manoeuvres and aggression.
It fascinates and excites me and our teacher Mr. Sadashiv M told us that we may be lucky enough to train a day with a very special person in the end of Nov 2016. We almost forgot the day but suddenly the news came that it may be Master and Chief Mr. Avi Moyal (Source: http://kravmaga-ikmf.com/ikmf/git/avi-moyal/) for us. We were excited for such opportunity. The day came and we were aware on the time and venue in Mumbai. Master Avi is the first student of late Mr. Imi Lichtenfeld (who invented the art). The day came and we were all excited to spend the day with a true Israeli master who is a living legend in real meaning. I reached the venue in Thane Kolset road by 9am and got myself registered. There were an excitement in the air and people were talking so much about practicing with Master Avi. The rules were simple, pay and get yourself a adrenaline pump of hard core Krav Maga from 10am to 6pm with a light lunch break and 4 to 5 water breaks in between. The venue was properly padded with all the punching pads, gloves and other instruments for the training. The master was true to his word and he appeared to the venue exactly at 9.45am with IKMF India Director Mr Sanjay Shetty and IKMF MH director Mr. Sadashiv M. We welcomed them with traditional Indian and Maharashtra way. Soon we joined the master in the main training room. Master is mature and fit and not a muscular body. He was super athletic and yet his attacks were lightning fast.
We started with normal running and trying to touch each other on their shoulders, elbows and knees and feet. We need to use our both hands to block others and at the same time i should try to touch someone else. It is very fast, fun and difficult. Then followed by various warm-up exercises (few of them were new to me). Then the master started his teaching. He is agile and very keen to teach the group and yet he observed each and every student literally. I was called by him to hold a punching bag for him while he was trying to show a technique. Standing against Master was a dreaded task and his punches were fast, accurate and heavy and i too his sledge hammer hits. He didn't even make a fist properly as I was a novice student. But when he started his techniques then I realized why he is the true master. He took me down on ground and locked my arm in one technique and before I could realize, I was disarmed of knife/pistol/sword/machete and on the ground (an attacker or a group will face a very bad day if they face this fighting machine).
He taught a technique called “Time Lag", which defines the distance between the attacker and victim. The correct judgement of the intermediate distance can play a very vital role in any situation. If the attacker is close/very close then the techniques are different and when he/she is little away then those techniques change.
The true test was to face an attacker (with a rubber knife) who will stand different distances and suddenly attack. I need to defend myself and go out of "line of attack". A guy will stand at my back and cover my eyes completely and suddenly release me to face the attacker. It was a truly test of nerve and we were successfully made the master visibly happy.
The next technique was to face a opponent who is holding a pistol, knife and a stick. He/she will hide the hand of attack and suddenly attack. The hands started getting bruised and swollen but no "Mercy". Krav Maga is an actual situation based technique so until you master the art there is no getting off from Master Avi. No water break so far and the entire arena were started smelling sweat and blood. Team were pushing their limits and Master Avi was persistent.
Suddenly we heard a whistle and thought a water break but it was another technique that was introduced. Punching each other ( in a pair) and then put your opponent down on the ground and try to hand choke and then the defender will release the choke and get up and try to hit the attacker on the head and so on and so forth. The entire session so far was killer.
Master Avi said "YOU NEED TO EARN YOUR WATER BREAK" and he wanted us to practice the entire drill for at least 30 times.
The water break was welcoming and never in my life "I loved water so much" and we are back on the mat within 2 minutes. Then came the pistol threat situations and how to defend and snatch the gun from the hand off the attacker. Master Avi showed and it was so fast and quick that we didn't realize so he broke the techniques. in my current grade we don't have Pistol threat neutralization and as per the rule "One need to practice it minimum 1000 times and make it perfect before even think of using it in real life situation". The situation was tense and students were unable to cope up with the master and they were taking frequent bio break(s) and forced water break(s). I could feel my sweat building up in my head and the streams are flowing down in my whole body.
The time was 1.30 pm and we were thinking for a lunch break and again he forced us to earn our lunch by remembering all the techniques since morning and practice each one of them of minimum 20 times.
Lunch was served and the slot was for mere 30 minutes. I had my prior experiences and ate very light and drunk loads of water. I quickly finished the lunch and came and laid down for at least 15 mins. Post lunch the pain started and then came the again warm up sessions. It was a true "KILLER Warm up; very simple yet very difficult”. The team was all huffing and puffing. Then the Pistol threat situations started and then came the knife and gun threat in very close quarters.
Then we were taught by "Hostage situations" and few tips of "VIP protection" so that we can remember simple yet effective tips how to behave in a crowded place and how can we save our own family in the crowd? It is very important to scan and check your’s surrounding and stay alert in the crowded or empty places. How to resist a pick pocket or chain snatcher? How Krav Maga is now a new way of life to various elite forces around the world and how is it different from the other techniques? In between there were Q & A sessions and we were more than happy to stop the practice and listen to Avi. Our hands were numb and so does the legs. I liked the VIPs protection and thug/street situations very much. They were even showed how to play with the mentality of a thug gang and speak to them. How you can confuse them and get away confidently. Krav Maga opened a new chapter that day to all of us as it showed that it has a significant effect in dialogues in difficult situations and how one can get out with the correct attitude and right frame of mind (without even using the power) !!!
The day was coming to an end and the watch told us the time is 5 pm. We never realized how quickly the time flew but we were feeling light and agile after each technique.
The day came to an end at 6pm as Master has to attend few meeting with Indian counter-insurgency teams and elite forces who are currently stationed at Mumbai. We received certificates from him and it was such an honour for all of us.
Will I remember all the techniques immediately that he taught today? maybe not. But I have learnt the basic essence of this.I will build my muscle memory by practising it daily and attending 4 weekly classes.
I felt enriched and humbled by this experience and very much liked the master Avi for his simplicity and down to earth attitude. He was kind and had great eye for details for all of us. He roamed and checks everyone and corrected the process. He truly is the Master and I am glad for the entire experience.
So long Master Avi and I wish to train hard and one day I want to practice with him in Israel (in his club).
Thank you for reading. I will post some snaps of the workshops once the official photographers send us the pictures ( no cell phone pictures and selfies were not allowed and we didn’t touched once our handsets in the entire day except the lunch hours
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