Ask an expert your Krav Maga questions

Nathan Cross is a Level 1 Instructor who heads our North Palmerston, New Zealand school. Nathan is very passionate about helping his community, to learn to be safe and protect themselves should the need arise. This week, Nathan answers #AskaTrainer 3

Jakub asks: What would you suggest students can do to improve their Krav Maga? Besides regular classes - are there other things one can do outside / in their own time to get better or should be conscious of?

Nathan answers: A great thing about Krav Maga is that it is not just a fighting style. As a system that focuses on self defence you do not need to practice sparring or fighting every day to be enhancing your Krav Maga skills and to increase your capability to defend yourself. When you walk down

the street be mindful of distances, threats, escape routes, weapons, etc. If you do this enough it will start to become second nature.

For the more physical side of Krav Maga practice there are 3 things that I would recommend as options to anyone that really wants to build their ability outside of regular classes:

1. Find yourself a training partner and meet up regularly. You can go over the techniques that you learn in class, work on your fitness, or spend time sparring. It also has the added advantage of giving you the opportunity to make some good friendships.

2. Hit the gym. Or the park, the street, wherever! Work on your fitness. The average street fight lasts less than 20 seconds and it's because fighting is tiring! Do some interval training or circuits, something that really gets the heart rate going. This will really help you improve your fighting.

3. Ask your instructor about 1-1 training. Spending some time with an expert really focusing on the areas that you struggle with will allow you to jump ahead much quicker than in a group class where the instructor needs to be more generic.

Nabeel asks: I want to ask about the mentality of a self-defendant. In a society where violence is in most areas taboo, it can be expected that even in a situation where somebody is obliged to physically defend themselves or others they may be subconsciously hesitant to commit to the engagement, which will render it less effective and could result in further harm. Are there methods of training that focus on this mental preparedness? Conversely is it possible to overtrain, where you may engage in a confrontation fearing what is essentially an empty threat?

Nathan answers: This is something that I really like to focus on. The balance of aggression and control. During practice we use full extensions and slow contact for our strikes to get into the habit of making full contact.

I have a rule with my students, you always drill to completion. This means that you don't just defend and counter, but also attack and get out of the situation, then start again. If you make a mistake during a drill you finish aggressively and correct yourself next time, this way it gets you into the habit of fighting your way out first and thinking about the finesse later. We also have games and drills to develop aggression and hone the survival instinct.

In regards to going "overboard" in a defence situation I personally don't think you can over train. The more you train, the more control you will develop. The more skilled a fighter you are, the less focus you need to put into combat and the more you can focus on judging the situation you are in. We do spend lots of time looking at appropriate levels of response and the legality of self defence.

Nicole asks: What can I do to 'prep' myself for Krav Maga training? What kind of pre-requisite skills would I need before I start - in terms of fitness and ability.

Nathan answers:  The best thing that you can do is get started. You could always be fitter or have better fighting skills but every journey starts with the first step. As a general rule I always ask my students to do the best they can, no more, no less. As you come more often you will find yourself getting fitter and stronger and you will find you are able to do much more.

The only thing I would say that you need to bring with you is a clear idea of why you are there and what you want to get out of your classes... And a groin guard!