So, I’ve been teaching Krav Maga as a part of my full-time job for a solid decade now. When I talk to people who don’t train, they rightly assume that it’s intense, challenging, and extremely fruitful. But one of the reasons we can make good on this reputation is because of our dedication to staying safe while training.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of students (and even some instructors) short-cut this aspect of their training preparation, and they ultimately train LESS as a result. If you injure yourself during training, you’re less safe, not more. So, here are a few tried and true practices that ought not be overlooked:
Wrap your hands – I’ve constantly heard people (usually brand new students) go on and on about “toughening their hands”. But guess what? The injuries you get in a street fight if you punch incorrectly are not the same as you get when you ignore good training protocol. Throwing a bad punch, or throwing it to a bad target, in real life will lead to an acute, serious injury that probably involves a broken hand. Constantly neglecting your hand’s safety during training, however, will lead to miniscule, cumulative little injuries that build up over time.
Eat enough before class – While it’s not an “injury” per se, I definitely see lots of newer students ill-prepared for hard work by skipping breakfast or lunch, then trying to train. This is stupid. Don’t do it.
Know your past injuries – Rarely do people get “new” injuries in Krav Maga class. Rather, they re- injure previous body parts by not taking extra time to warm those parts up, stretch, or simply opt-out of unsafe exercises. Again, there is a fine line between toughness and stupidity.
Listen to your instructor – This may go without saying, but every major injury I’ve seen in class came about because SOMEONE didn’t listen to directions. Or, they listened, but didn’t understand, and didn’t speak up. Instructors get specialized training to push the envelope without compromising safety, so lean on them.
Partner Appropriately – Especially for newer students, a partner your own size/strength/gender/age/experience level is best. Eventually we move to training through disadvantages on all sides, but that’s not a good place to start.
Be aware of overtraining – Maybe working on your 1RM Deadlift then going straight into a class involving groundfighting sounds good to you, but I think it’s a recipe for disaster. Give your body, and its various muscle groups, adequate time to recover from taxing workouts to avoid injuries from overuse.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about training safety, not as separate from learning self-defense, but as a vital part of your training. What safety steps have helped you train harder, longer, and more consistently?