6 Things You Should Totally DO When Starting A Sport

When I started Krav Maga I had no prior experience with intensive sports. Here are some things I learned the hard way. (Surely to be updated in the future).

1. DO ask questions
If you don’t understand a technique: ask!

And with ‘technique’ I also mean the absolute basic stuff, such as ‘proper fighting stance’ or ‘how the hell do I form a fist?’. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve lost my balance when initially learning the fighting stance, just because my feet weren’t positioned correctly. ;) I also found out after two months that I formed a ‘karate fist’ instead of a ‘krav maga fist’. Is there a difference? You bet there is! The different position of the thumb matters in the force you can exert with your fist.

When I asked my instructor for clarification, it turned out the majority of the guys that started with me didn’t know how to do it properly either. Asking for clarification is always okay – and sometimes even more so, because guys can be hesitant to ask something ‘basic’ like forming a fist. (Male pride or – I guess – prior experience in a different martial art.)

2. DO warm-up
Warming-up and stretching your muscles does make a difference.

You don’t want to tear or twist anything by moving too abruptly. While you might feel it’s fine to throw a hard straight punch by throwing in all of your weight without warming-up, your back and shoulder muscles will most likely disagree.  If you have a qualified instructor they will have a very extensive (and even fun!) warming-up as part of your training. One of the basic tenets of Krav Maga is the heavy emphasis on cardio conditioning.

By the time we’re ready to start the actual techniques, I’m usually sweating like a pig. (All the guys too, so no worries about smelling bad. ;D)

3. DO admit your weaknesses and pain

I used to suck it all up when I just started. I didn’t wanna seem like a stupid or weak girl who couldn’t take anything. Well, let me just show you the following picture:

This is how badly bruised my arm was after 30 minutes of straight 360 defense/attacks 

My arm was badly bruised after 'sucking it up' for too long.

Yes, that is my arm, the day after training. Heavily bruised because I wanted to ‘suck it up’. It made me realise that ‘sucking it up’ is a stupid method. Your body has physical boundaries that happen to be lower than those of a man. Boo hoo. If anyone whines about it, tell them to shut up. You don’t want to permanently wreck your body. So know when to tone it down and take a step backwards!

Note: There is a very delicate balance here, as pain is a part of training. You have to know what it feels like to deflect blows, repeatedly, in a stressful situation. It’ll hurt and it’ll bruise. But my arm is an example of when you go too far with something. Mind your body and learn to listen to its signals.

4. DO exercise outside of class.
Find something fun to do. 

Krav Maga heavily emphasizes running away after a technique. Krav Maga is about survival, after all. Experiencing how exhausting every training was, I slowly became paranoid about my crappy physical condition. I wanted to make sure to train my body outside of training as well. Do something you find fun, which builds stamina. Don’t let it be a chore. So find a friend to do something together. I started jogging (but I hate it), so now I do interval training (sprinting) as well as inline skating. :) Which is more fun.

5. DO check whether your instructor is qualified

You can ask whether their gym belongs to any of the official affiliations or federations. Also ask where your instructor received his training. The good instructors have all received special training courses in Israel. Because, no matter how awesome our instructors might be, there are still people out there who are even more awesome. ;) And they live in Israel, where it’s dangerous and where they actually use Krav Maga to survive.

6. DO respond when someone wants to ‘test’ your Krav Maga skills 

There’ll be a good chance some of your ‘friends’ will think it’s ‘fun’ to ‘test’ you by taking you into a sudden choke hold. If you’re like me and you dislike the actual violent part of Krav Maga, you’ll hesitate with the groin punch. Because, you know, he’s not wearing a cup and you don’t want to actually hit him in the groin, because it’ll hurt and you don’t want to be mean and come across as a bitch, and he’s a friend who doesn’t mean it that way, and–

Stop.

They want to know what Krav Maga is? Then show them! Guaranteed they won’t do it again. It’s NOT very polite OR friend-like to take someone into a sudden chokehold. Do the proper release and make them regret it. Punches in the groin hurt like hell, but won’t permanently cripple a guy. Use it to your advantage.

And then evaluate whether this person is a real friend worth keeping around. (They might not be).

Click here for the things NOT to do when starting an intensive sport!

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