Well here is a turn up for the books, sat on the 9.27am train for St Pancras, London as I am of to teach two private clients in Westminster. Tickets booked last night after car battery began to play tricks when I was going to teach at the University, self defence class not nuclear physics. It is great sat here, no 3 hours of madness on the motorway and chance to catch up with my blog that I have neglected of late. So after an interesting few weeks that included a snap decision to bunk-off to Majorca for 10 days of all inclusive laziness, apart from my many lengths in the pool and one hour in the gym each early evening as the sun was setting, here we are with part two of my Krav Island 2013 experience. First, just to be awkward, here is the team that survived.
Well after an excellent evening the Saturday night before training on the sand and the craggy wooded hillside in the pitch dark, finished off with a couple of pints of creamy bitter in the bar and a really comfortable nights sleep we awoke to sun drenched Balmaha. As you may recall this was not what had been predicted at all a few days previously when we were preparing to be drenched as we trained. So after a nice refreshing shower it was off downstairs for an absolutely excellent breakfast. The Buffet in the Oak Tree Inn was comprehensively stocked and the self service suited me just fine. Just as the BBQ had been tremendous the night before so the breakfast proved equal to the job, good fuel is vital if you are training hard.
The domestics on an event like this really do underpin the whole experience and my wife and I dined royally with Sean and Vasily our company until the table grew in numbers and all too quickly it was over, washed down with copious pots of tea, we strained at the knees as we rose, well I did, as we made to go prepare for the day. Fully fueled and ready to go, midge lotion applied, although it was virtually and uncannily midge free, I collected a five litre bottle of water from the shop (be prepared my motto), packed my kit and after a short relaxing break letting the breakfast settle I joined the tro0ps in the queue for the ferry out to Krav Island. My wife who has never watched me train before was coming out later in one of the safety boats, nice.
John Miller and his team were moving around pulling the strings and making sure everything ran smoothly, and it did, as he had been all weekend. Having run numerous events of different scales I understand and appreciate how much work goes into something like Krav Island.
The little ferries out to the island are lovely boats and it was especially pleasant in the warm sun, however, the slow release of adrenaline began on the dock as this was no sunny summer picnic, this was going to be tough. I had my old fishing rucsack with folding stool frame, it is a nice piece of kit and was full of spare kit, towel food etc, the five litres of water was cradled in my arms like a baby, a precious resource. There are no shops on the island, you take your own supplies on and you take your rubbish off. As we disembarked onto the old wooden jetty we got our first surprise, We could dump our belongings for the safety boats to collect later as, just for a treat, we were going to jog up and over the island, and I mean up and over. Well it was warm, I was going to get warmer running, so I tightened the rucsack straps, cuddled my water close and off I went with a combination of running and walking alternatively.
It was fun, the fitter people used to running set off at their pace, the less fit at fast walks, with me trundling along In between. Ten minutes later, I was over on the other side where the days training would take place, swigging my huge bottle of water and chilling whilst everybody else made their way here too. So the start of the morning session led by Jonathan Bullock Director of UK Krav Maga Global, after the day was outlined by John and the safety briefing given. The session was explained by Jonathan and we then went through a quick but useful l warm up and then into a number of drills that developed as the morning progressed. Lots of use of the melons, tons of striking, punching and kicking galore as we gradually worked on applying our explosive aggression.
It was great how Jonathan placed each drill clearly in context and underpinned the reason why we were where we
were by referring to my friend and undisputed expert, Rory Miller. Meditations on Violence was recommended to all there and as Jonathan spoke I could see the words on the pages and remember conversations with Rory at our kitchen table.
For me, as a practitioner and student of Ju Jitsu, albeit one who thrives on smashing my comfort zone and training to really test myself it was a real treat to spend my morning smacking and breaking things, people, at least in my head, knowing that whilst we had many differences we shared far more similarities and that the work of Rory and Marc MacYoung was well received. We were singing off the same hymn sheet so to speak with our eye on all the difficulties and variables training for reality brings. This was a nice session, good sound drills interspersed with little bursts of exercises periodically and the weather was warming up as were we, quite a lot actually but refreshed by regular short water breaks.
There were some team drills on the beach to get people working together and once again our team, different people this time, excelled and finished first a few times. Maybe I was the luck factor? Who knows. The thing was we moved from working as individuals to working in pairs to working in groups and everyone was moving around so as on the day and evening before you got to train with many different partners. This is important as you work with all sizes and shapes and varying levels of experience as the training progresses. I thoroughly enjoyed myself with my Krav chums and say here and now being an outsider is not an option here, there are no fringes to hang around on, everyone is included right from the off.
I remember one drill where I wheel-barrowed my partner down to the waters edge where he dipped his face in the cool semi-clear water. Then he lay on his back with his arms folded across his chest and lifting him by his armpits I had to drag him back up the beach, backwards, in the soft sand. Then it was wheel barrow time back down to the water then he la on his back as I pulled him, or attempted to, back up the beach backwards through the soft sand, this time pulling him by his feet. This was a killer as thirty plus groups of pairs gritted their teeth and gave their all.
Given the military emphasis on Krav Maga, and its pre second world war development as an anti fascist defence system, you can see where rescuing a downed comrade would be important. Shift that to the streets and I can see where the same applies in some of the fights I have experienced where leaving them behind would guarantee them a kicking, however, in the context of our training on the day it was just one, amongst a number of really tough drills made harder by the soft sand and soaring temperature. That and quite a bit of piggy back carrying between sparring drills with lots and lots of going to ground and getting up again really drains the body quickly.
Then after a series of forward rolls zig-zagging across the beach, again sapping in the soft sand and heat, it was a short jog off to the jetty and a welcome leap into the nice, deep, cool water. This was a million miles from the chilling experience from the previous year, it was lovely in the water, bit like the med only the water was brownish. My entry was via a flying somersault over the top of Kelvin one of the safety stewards. Then a swim to slightly shallower water and the afternoon session really kicked in. We practiced the drills we had done on the now relative comfort of dry land in chest deep water, we grappled and struggled and went under quite often. We did burpees where you breathed as you jumped, underwater sit-ups, I was really pleased with my 12 in one go as I jack-knifed away suspended in the water not breaking the surface, try them on your hols, they are great.
Piggy back fighting was great fun, splitting into two teams of 30+ each and both attacking the beach and defending it were great fun as was the every person for themselves controlled brawl that lasted for ages. Trust me this was one fantastic training experience and you will not get a real feel for it from this blog but I hope it wets your appetite, pun intended, Krav Island may well be imitated but John and his team have every base covered right down to the smallest detail. Here is one of coming off second to Shaun, the beast.
Every now and then we would literally charge back onshore to engage in more break-falls, forward rolls, press-ups, burpees etc than you can shake a stick at, or so it felt, wet through, covered from head to toe in coarse sand and having the best training time I have had at a seminar in years, I had found my inner child I think, he has been hiding for years and the dogged little sod put in an appearance today. This was tough training but the excellent atmosphere and comradeship amongst the participants helped is make good when it would be easy to drop onto ones knees. The pictures tell a better story than I can ever write and my own dear wife witnessed her 54 year old husband loving every minute of it. It is impossible to get to know everybody there in just a few action packed hours but I count many of the participants as firm friends now, I thank them all for being there and making Krav Island 2013 the fantastic experience it was. The weather gods played their part but the team from Institute of Krav Maga Scotland played theirs and I for one am grateful to them.
I have enough experience in the fighting arts, self defence and events business to be a fairly hard person to please. This Saturday and Sunday were incredibly well spent and my long suffering wife who has not really seen me train in all these years now understands me a little better.
For the record she thinks we are all a bit mad and I tend to agree with her, get soaking wet then do burpees in soft sand in the really hot sun, that will do me sir. If you want to sit in front of the telly on an August Bank Holiday weekend or take a gentle stroll with the family there is nothing wrong with that. Me, I would rather be out here rocking and rolling with my Krav brothers and sisters and showing them that the old Ju Jitsu guy still likes to play in the woods, and in the dark, and in the water, in fact anywhere we can.
And just to finish, if you did not see this coming, seek help whilst I dance around the kitchen, again, go Gloria.