Krav Maga: My Mindset

These are just some of the lines I used to tell myself about why exercise really wasn’t for me.  Yes, like most people I would dabble but then I would let life overtake and exercise quickly became the least important thing on my to do list.

Then, 1st April 2018 came along, and I decided I needed to make a change.  I felt like a small, weak insignificant female and I did not like it.  I decided to try something new, something for me.  I spent time searching and discovered this thing called Krav Maga.  Wikipedia describes Krav Maga as

 a military self-defence and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli security forces derived from a combination of techniques sourced from boxing, wrestling, aikido, judo and karate, along with realistic fight training

It was so completely and utterly out with my comfort zone; I had never even thrown a punch yet alone tried something like this.  However, for some reason I decided it would be worth a go. Unfortunately, the class times and my schedule did not match.  I decided I liked the look of Tactical Defence Krav Maga.  They had profiles of their instructors on their website and seemed like nice people.  So, I sent them a wee message.  Soon after, I started 1to1 training with Alan. 

A year on we joke about that first session, but it really was terrifying!  I was so nervous going in.  I didn’t get through the warmup before my lips turned blue, I was told to sit and handed a glass of water, which I didn’t want to drink as I really was concerned that I was going to throw up!  Throughout that Alan was awesome, supportive and didn’t make me feel useless or any of my other negative thoughts floating around in my head.  There was only 1 way to go, I could only get fitter.  I just had to keep turning up. 

As we got into summer, we could see a real difference in my physical strength.  In my head though I would still often tell myself I couldn’t do what was being asked of me.  Alan was great though, he kept me focused and paid attention to how much I could physically do, pushing me to my limits.  Week on week I was achieving more.  I bought a decent pair of boxing gloves and got used to having the odd bruise.  Most of the time no one noticed them but if they did, they were a badge of honour.  They represented me and that I was growing stronger.

I kept training through Autumn.  Still, Krav was the only exercise I would do regularly.  Every Thursday morning, I would turn up.  I am self-employed and with that comes stresses.  I would turn up and Alan would ask how I was and how the business was going.  He would hear my wins and my woes.  Then I would learn how to punch, kick, elbow, knee and all sorts more.   

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states that people are at their happiest when in a “state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation”.  For me, this was achieved through Krav.  The sequences and moves in addition to the theoretical and ethical knowledge that I was learning meant I could not think of anything else.  For that 1 hour a week the rest of the world, it’s stresses and strains, simply vanished.  This is when I became hooked.  This is when it went from being an item on my to do list to being important for self-care.  Krav Maga became something I was doing for me, not because I felt I had to, but because I wanted to. 

Winter came and I kept training.  I was learning to put together complex boxing sequences.  I was feeling physically strong.  But Christmas is a hard time for me.  I have lost both my parents, I need to take a break from business and life stops.  This was tough.  But Krav kept me going.  Then I hurt my back. 

Not being able to exercise for a couple of months was tough.  Really tough.  My anxiety kicked in a gear; business was going through a tough patch I stopped coping.  I started having panic attacks daily, often more than once a day.  It was during this period that I realised what a stress relief Krav really was to me.

I am now thankfully back training.  Every cloud has a silver lining and the period of not being able to train really helped me understand how my mindset had changed over the year.  I realised I was now strong, capable and determined.  When I first started Krav and got to that tough point in a session I would tell myself I couldn’t it.  In time it had moved to me telling myself I needed to do this.  Now, well now I tell myself I can do this. 

I train both with Alan but I also gym and do home workouts.  I actually enjoy pushing myself hard.  The psychologist Albert Bandura coined the phrase self-efficacy.  It is the boost you get when you achieve something tricky.  Each tough session was helping to develop my self-efficacy, my self-belief and ultimately my sense of self-worth. The magical thing here is this has transferred over to my real life and my business. 

Krav Maga has helped me develop real self-belief.  It has only taken 37 years!  However, I now know that it is ok to push myself.  In business, this means actively growing my business and taking risks.  I started my tutoring business 2 years ago with just me.  Since starting Krav it has now grown so I have a team of teachers working for me.  Furthermore, after starting Krav I also started an outdoor learning business.  This has grown hugely over the year.  I do not think it would have if it wasn’t for the self-belief and drive which I discovered and developed through Krav Maga. 

Whilst Krav Maga is the right thing for me, it doesn’t mean it is for you.  Be open minded and find your thing.  I had never thrown a punch before starting Krav and now would say I have a decent hook.  Chloe Brotheridge talks about exercise in her book The Anxiety Solution.  She says how exercise should be a form of self-care, not another item on the to do list.  This is because exercise lowers stress hormones, helps your brain recover from over-worrying, produces mood boosting endorphins and quietens mental chatter.  This is exactly what Krav does to me.  I may be fast approaching middle age, but I can see e enjoying Krav for many years to come!

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