In March 2020, Valley Self-Defense closed our physical doors due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. That didn't last long - Valley Self-Defense was the first Krav Maga school in Minnesota to begin virtual classes. It was an adjustment, but we're proud to say that we learned a lot (often the hard way!).
While nothing can replace the physical contact necessary to learn how to defend yourself, there have been some bright spots in doing Krav Maga virtually.
You have to get creative!
What in someone's house could be used to help simulate chokes? A backpack! Is there a way to get people to keep their hands up? Have them hold a paper towel roll or a cereal box while they practice kicks. We asked people to beat up on pillows, to fight with their jackets, and to bring family members to practice. Virtual Krav Maga tested the limits of our practice, but we've come ahead better for it.
Meet your Krav Maga family from around the world
Valley Self-Defense and Krav Maga IKMF San Francisco 2 Rios, a sister school in Costa Rica, held two virtual classes together during the pandemic. Classes were held in a combination of English and Spanish and allowed each school to learn about the circumstances of the other. This is an opportunity that would have been nearly impossible for most of us and impossible for others.
Focus on the little things
It's easy to forget the finer points of a technique when you're constantly learning new things. And for people who are smaller, technique can mean everything. COVID-19 gave us time to focus on punching and kicking correctly. While those things might seem small, the smallest tweak to a punch can mean a broken hand. An incorrect kick can mean a broken foot. In a lot of ways, COVID-19 gave us time to slow down and correct the things we may not have known needed fixed in a more break-neck environment.
It also gave us the time to focus on tactics. While Krav Maga is about techniques, it's also about tactics. It doesn't matter how hard you can punch someone if you aren't paying attention and miss the attack. Moving out of the line of attack, dealing with multiple attackers - not always easy to do when you're socially-distanced, but still possible and important. I know that for some of us, multiple attacker drills took place with cats or children, which really, might be even harder than dealing with an opponent on the street at times.
Use visualization to gain courage outside of class
In the sports world, visualization is used by elite athletes and Olympians. In fact, the U.S. Olympics team brought 9 sports psychologists to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics to work on visualization with the 93 American Olympians.
In self-defense, the IKMF encourages using visualization to put yourself mentally into a fight. In this way, you'll be prepared mentally as well as physically.
To practice visualization, find a comfortable place to sit. Take three deep breaths and close your eyes. As you continue breathing - as deep as you can and into your belly if possible - see yourself at the beginning of an altercation. Where are you? What does it look like? What does it smell like? What are you wearing?
As you continue breathing, look at your opponent - what are they wearing? What do they look like? What does their face look like? Is their hand raised? As the fight starts, imagine yourself in the situation - watch as their hits come and practice your deflections in your mind. In your visualization, remember to move your feet, moving to the outside of the fight. Are there other opponents or are you fighting one person? Complete the fight. Once you have, take three deep breaths and feel your body in this moment.
This visualization habit can be used in all fighting scenarios and, really, in all facets of your life.
Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.
If you're here, you might already know what Krav Maga is all about. But if you don't, we've got a post for you! Learn the history of Krav Maga and what it's all about.