Years ago, before we were married, my future wife came to my gym to watch me run a higher level Krav Maga test. I am basically a jerk when I run tests…just mean. As people were dehydrating and falling down with calf cramps they would hear “Get up and fight or get the f$%& off my mat!” and “You want to quit, go ahead. Maybe I’ll run a test for sissies later this month!” among other things. When someone gets kicked in the groin and drops to the ground during a test or class I say “hey everyone, look! This is why we kick to the groin…it works! Now get up.” On the way home after the test I noticed she wasn’t talking to me. When I pressed her she blurted out “You’re an ass!”. I had to explain to her that I know those people were hurting. Calf cramps and groin shots are friggin painful. I want to push people past what they think they can handle. I told her “I am not holding people’s hands to get them to the next level so they can feel good about their accomplishments, I am teaching people to survive things that would force most people to give up. I am making tough people!” She gets it now, she’d just never studied real world violence or knew how to train for it.

It drives me crazy in class to see people stop when they get a busted lip, a side cramp or the like. Now, I was a paramedic for many years, I know what a serious injury is. I will take people off the mat if they pull something, get knocked silly or are bleeding. However, it’s poor training to stop with any little injury. In my opinion you are training to stop when someone makes contact with you when you do that. Guess what, in a real attack there will be all kinds of contact! I had a cop in my level 1 classes years ago that got popped in the nose. It wasn’t broken, wasn’t even bleeding but he dropped to the ground and got into a fetal position. I was livid! I yelled “Get the hell up! The scum bag is now taking your handgun and shooting you in the head!”. He was offended and never came back but I didn’t care. He was doing something in training that would have gotten him killed on the street. Pathetic!

In most martial arts classes if you hit someone you stop and apologize. What kind of training is that? That will come out of you under stress. We are training to hit people…hard! I have trained myself as I demo and make accidental contact to keep going. I’ll say “oops, got ya didn’t I?” as I continue to beat on my partner. If it was a really hard shot I’ll apologize to them…after class. I’ve also trained myself to take it and keep going. It happens to me often but the two that stick out in my mind are the time I was demoing a drill and the student who was demoing with me elbowed me in the face so hard that I blacked out on my feet for a second. I kept talking and explaining the drill but I must not have looked too good, several students came over and grabbed me and told me to sit down for a few minutes. Another was during my black belt test. During handgun defenses my partner punched me under the eye so hard it split the skin. I grabbed a paper towel that someone handed me and kept doing my handgun defenses one handed until the blood stopped pouring. Now, I am no tougher than anyone else, I just train correctly.

I used to train often with Olympic Gold Medal winning boxer, Jerry Page. When we would spar I would, every now and then, actually hit him. One time I said “Jerry, I actually hit you” and he just laughed. He said “I’m standing in front of you, you’re gonna hit me every now and then. I never was in a bout that I didn’t get hit several times in each round. I know how to roll with punches and, when I do get hit hard, I don’t show it. I’m coming after you!” I likes that attitude! When I first was getting in to self defense (before MMA became popular) I heard a speaker say “the dudes I see who take a sucker punch in a bar and get back up are boxers. They train to do that. Most everyone else lays there like they’re dead.” Train to take shots and keep going!

From my book “Be Safe, Self Defense For Women In the Real World”;
“SGT Sanford Strong, in his great book “Strong on Defense” interviewed many crime (especially rape) victims. The ones who consistently fought back and got out of the horrible situation were those who feared the crime (the rape) more than they feared injury. Injury will happen….tell yourself that right now! The scumbag knows that you fear injury. This is why he will say “Do what I tell you to and you won’t be hurt.” Those who allowed themselves to be moved, tied up, etc. on the “promise” of no injury from the bad guy almost always paid dearly for it. Those who were so afraid of injury that they did nothing but hope and pray the attacker was telling the truth needed to know that the bad guys always lie and they are good at it! Put in your brain right now that the scumbag is there to hurt, torture and probably kill you. Injury is coming. It’s up to you to decide if it’s on his terms or if you are in control. It’s up to you to decide if that injury will come to only you or if it will come with you injuring him back tenfold!!”.

Now, we can’t be brutal in class and purposely hit people. We do, at the end of level 2, start to introduce sparring. Guess where the big fallout is…not many test up to level 3. We introduce sparring correctly, are as safe as possible and don’t let people get hurt but still, not many students want to do it. I tell them we spar for two reasons. 1) Self defense isn’t always someone comes up to choke you, it could well be someone squaring off with you and throwing bombs. 2) The best way to get used to getting hit and keep going is to get hit and keep going.

If we are ever attacked on the street we will probably get hurt. I tell my students to accept this right now. Say it and know it. Now, tell yourself that I will probably be hurt but I will pay it back times ten! Injury is coming, decide on who’s terms it will come. Next time you get dinged in the gym keep going…suck it up, Buttercup. BE SAFE!


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