Krav Maga:  A Newbie’s Perspective

Everything has a beginning. My start with Krav Maga actually began before I had ever heard of it.

I studied American Karate back a hundred years ago now, and it helped me through a few scrapes in my lifetime. I worked on the adolescent psych units for 5 years at a local psych hospital where we were frequently required to restrain patients. You can read that more clearly as it actually was- we were forced to defend ourselves from attacking patients. Some were psychotic. Some just wanted to leave the locked units. Others just wanted to fight to feel something.

In fact, on my very first 8-hour shift working there, I was involved in 8 restraints (i.e. fights)- one an hour. So, back then, martial arts training definitely came in handy.

Years later, when I heard of Krav Maga, I did what any curious person would do. I turned to my friend, Google. I found some general definitions, but the YouTube videos of Krav Maga were what really got my attention.

Here were nameless people beating the absolute snot out of other nameless people who seemed to be attacking them. My initial reaction was simple- “Holy Crap!” I wondered how anyone could DO that! More importantly, I secretly wondered if I could do that. It was a question that percolated for years.

From that point on, I always said that if I ever decided to get back into martial arts, I would study Krav Maga. But, life gets in the way. The work, the procrastination, and all the other dumb excuses- until I came across an ad on Instagram.

It was for a free class. I stopped cold in my scrolling. I went to the website. And, like any good browser, I approached it with the attention of a goldfish. I looked at the pretty pictures. I read the text, but to be honest, I wanted more.

That “Free Class” thing was pulsing in my head. I’m sneaking up on 55 years old, and that annoying phrase of “you’re not getting any younger” bubbled to the top of my consciousness, which irked me even more. It’s what drove me to pick up the phone and set up my free class.

The First Class


At my age, I’ve genuinely given up caring what people think of me, but as I walked what seemed like miles from my car to the front door of my first class (ok, it was only about 25 yards, but it felt like miles), I had to admit that I was more than a little nervous.

I felt like I was in pretty good shape for my age I worked out a few times a week and had recently finished my third obstacle course race. But I had the nagging question in my head asking “Can I survive this workout?” So, I took a deep breath and walked through the doors like I owned the place.

As I made my grand entrance, I was greeted cheerfully at the front desk. I told the person that I was there for a free class, and he acted like he knew exactly what was about to happen (which made one of us!). He was super friendly and gave me a tour of the place which didn’t take long.  The tour took me right up to time for the class to begin. I wasted no time and lined up when told to.

Now, I have to admit that on the drive over, I was wondering if I was going to be in the class with a bunch of kids, but as I looked around the place, I saw a fair number of people who looked my age and even quite a few more who were clearly older. I took comfort in that. There were people of all ages, shapes and sizes in the class with me.

As class began, I wondered what I was in for, but I had a positive, “let’s see what happens” attitude. My karate training had involved full contact at times, and I wondered what level of contact I’d be in for here. But, at this point, I figured I’d find out soon enough.

We began with some warm-up exercises that weren’t too tough. We jogged around a bit- normally at first followed by high knees. From there, we had a variety of exercises that I don’t really remember because they got tougher, and I was just trying to keep up. I was able to, but admittedly, I worked up a sweat. Of course, it’s only fair to admit that I typically look like I did the ice bucket challenge after 5 jumping jacks. I’m a serious sweat hog.

It wasn’t long after that the instructor asked us to pair up. I happened to be standing next to an older guy who introduced himself as Tim. He asked if I wanted to partner up, and I quickly agreed. Nobody wants to be the last picked, right?

It was only later that I learned that Tim was nearly a decade older than I was, but he was in outstanding shape. We were told to grab these big black bags with handles and take turns punching and holding the bags to be punched. That seemed like fun to me, but I couldn’t help but notice that when I held the bag for Tim, he punched like a jackhammer. I was amazed at how he’d step me back with every punch. The initial two shots took me by surprise, but I quickly got used to it. It wasn’t bad at all.

The thing was, with every punch, it got a little easier to take. I could feel my confidence kick up a notch.

From there, we learned a couple of techniques that I thought could be useful. We learned how to break out of a front chokehold. No one has tried to choke me since I worked on the psych unit but hey, you never know. The world isn’t getting less crazy.

All in all, I felt like I did ok with it all, but more importantly, I absolutely loved it. I felt like I had gotten an incredible workout- one that pushed me but didn’t come near killing me, and I picked up some self-defense techniques.

After the class, I was asked to meet with the owner, Richard, who looked nothing like what I thought a Krav Maga black belt would look like. I had a picture of a big, muscular, angry-looking dude who eats nothing but high-protein meats, drinks nothing but high-protein shakes, and is well on his way to becoming a human balloon animal. (Ok, maybe, that’s my own weird misperception.).

Richard is a humble, mild-mannered, perfectly medium-sized guy who never looks imposing. He’s super friendly and walks around like he thoroughly enjoys being wherever he is. You’d never know that he could kill you with his little finger…until he teaches a class you’re in.

Richard and I talked for a bit about my goals (fitness or self-defense- my answer was “Yes, please”). There was no big sales push. He simply explained the program and the costs to me. I said I’d think about it, and after a few seconds, I decided to sign up.

I had several reasons for signing up. First, everyone I met there was incredibly friendly. People were coming up introducing themselves left and right which, when you first walk in, immediately takes your mind off how nervous you are, so that was helpful. And, these people were actually being friendly- not in a “Hey, join our cult and have some Kool-aid” kind of way.

Next, when I did begin to struggle during the workout, not only was Tim super encouraging, but I saw that all around. It was as if I suddenly found myself submerged in a world where everyone around me wanted me to succeed.

Lastly, I had my own selfish reasons. I wanted to be able to do some of the stuff I saw in the videos. So, really, they sort of had me at “Hello”.

(Postscript: roughly 5 years later, I became a student coach to help newcomers, I’ve earned my black belt and I only have one regret- that I didn’t begin this journey years earlier. Joining Krav Pro was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.)

Krav Pro is located off Peachtree Industrial in Duluth. Call us at 678-460-6242

if you’re interested in taking a free Krav Maga class to see what the fun’s all about. We’ll teach you some self-defense skills as well as help you get into the best shape of your life. We have students coming from all around Duluth including Johns Creek, Suwanee, Buford, Lawrenceville, and more. Get fit and fearless.