Adding a beach to any activity makes it better and this is especially true of self-defence.
You’ll remember Daniel-san from ‘The Karate Kid’ practicing his Crane Kick on top of a post at the beach. Or Keanu Reeves fighting the surfing gang in the sand in ‘Point Break’. Each one is enhanced because of the setting.
The difference is that, unlike Movie-Fu, everyone knows that Krav is the best reality-based self-defence system in the world.
So, when Jeff announced that Krav Maga Newcastle would be taking a trip to the beach, the only question I had was ‘Where do I sign?”
At this point I should give you some background on my experience of Krav Maga in Newcastle. I had been looking for a Krav class and, after visiting the Krav Maga Newcastle website and seeing the offer of a free class, I signed up.
I wanted to make sure I was joining a reputable school and, as Jeff is an instructor with the BKMA, this was an important factor for me.
Twice-weekly Krav classes have been beneficial to me and, in six short months, I have become much fitter, gained the confidence to respond to threatening situations and met some great people.
It’s hard work but I leave each session buzzing with a real sense of achievement.
Each session lasts about one and a half hours and contains a combination of a warm-up, conditioning and drilling techniques from the BKMA curriculum.
So, when I learned that Krav On The Beach would last five hours, I had a mixture of anticipation and dread.
Kit list? Check. Weather forecast? Check and pray for some Sun in the ever-unpredictable North East of England. I arrived at the beach with a full stock of protein bars, water and woolly hats but – and I’m shocked about this even now – the Sun was blazing. Others had also decided that the beach was a perfect venue. As a group of models wandered along the beach for a photo shoot, I immediately knew that we would maybe not be the biggest draw on the beach that day.
Everyone arrived and we headed to our base camp for a gentle warm up. Running and crawling along the beach as Jeff shouted ‘GRENADE’ definitely got the blood flowing and a series of striking drills got us in the mood.
Jeff explained that we would be working through some of the BKMA “P1’ curriculum over the course of the day. We began with ground work. I’ve trained for this in a gym and it was obvious that being on the floor is a dangerous place to be – this is 100% true in a real world environment.
An uneven surface or incline introduced the ‘X Factor’ that makes Krav such an effective system. Being on the beach encouraged us all to improvise and make sure our mechanics were strong.
This, for me, is the essence of Krav – keep going even when things don’t quite go to plan. Practice makes perfect is also a key teaching mantra and, after many repetitions, the drills were becoming smoother and smoother as the mechanics established.
We had been working hard for a couple of hours by now and a break was welcome. Half an hour chatting in the Sun is a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon and spirits were high as we moved onto the second part of the day.
360 defence is proven to be an effective way to stop a threat whilst simultaneously counter-attacking and we began practicing inside 360 in our pairs. Our intensity increased and we went onto learn some of the more brutal takedowns that can be added to the defence.
I have always found everyone in my class respectful of the need to be careful when training. However, it is important that the pace and force of the drill increases and this was the case as we moved onto escaping from headlocks and other grabs.
A brief rain shower freshened everyone up but I was getting concerned at Jeff’s mentions of the tide coming in. Yes, it was an unusually pleasant day here but the North Sea can be a little… cool. Surely not…
We moved onto a stress test in which everything from the day was tested at about 70% force. I was a bit sad that what had turned out to be a brilliant day was coming to an end. But no…
Jeff was kind enough to give us the chance to take off our shoes if we wanted but, yep, we were going in the sea. The final stress test involved bashing out burpees, press-ups and sit-ups on the shoreline before heading into repeated and intense attacks to practice the drills learned from over the course of the day.
This was, you may not be surprised to hear, challenging but it was the perfect way to end the day. We left tired, wet, sandy but happy and I know I’m not the only one who would do it again in a heartbeat.
Thanks to Jeff for sorting out a top-notch day and to my fellow classmates for making it such fun. Maybe I’ll see you there next year?