Masters University a report by Krav Lloyd

It’s almost 30 years since I last graced the halls of education,  Needless to say I don’t miss it, so signing up for something called ‘Master’s University’ I was filled with long distant memories of homework, 80s haircuts, playing Rugby on concrete hard sports fields, sharing a ciggie between 20, and bowel curdling school dinners.

After you’ve been doing Krav for a while you tend to find your ‘groove’. You cover so much material week in and week out, that you start to think “how much more is there?” “What could they possibly have to show me next?”

What makes Krav such an obsession of mine (and I’d like to think 99% of us) is that no two sessions are ever the same. Yes you might do striking based sessions consecutively, however even those will be wholly different in their content and approach.

The same can be said about seminars, which is the fundamental reason I try to sign up to as many KMG events as possible. This year’s big one dubbed ‘Master’s University’ was to be no different. The reason? Master Eyal himself would be teaching, alongside Master Ze’ev.

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Krav Lloyd and the Essex Boys (no relation to the Rettendon Murder)

One thing I love about attending these is the wealth of different clubs who attend. It’s sometimes easy to forget that there’s literally thousands of us in the UK all training with KMG, so it’s always a buzz for me to see those dedicated souls wiling to give up an otherwise leisurely weekend, to be beasted stupid instead!

Back in June I’d had the privilege to train with Master Eyal in Israel, an unforgettable and truly great experience, the highlight of my Krav year so far. I knew we’d be in for something special, so myself and 160 others, with kit packed, arrived for what was to be the best Krav Maga seminar I’ve personally attended to date.

We arrived bright & breezy at 8am, completed our ‘life & limb’ waivers, then took our seats on that familiar Harlow gym floor for a brief intro by our UK head, Jonathon Bullock (JB). Jon reminded us that this would be an intense few days, covering a wealth of material, to expect to be pushed quite hard, and to ‘enjoy’ it (I love how he always says that with an evil grin on his face). Eyal was introduced alongside Ze’ev, their always calm & pleasant demeanour belying almost seventy years of combined fighting knowledge, two modern day Warriors stood before us. They both spoke at length, giving us a better insight into what would be achieved over this weekend, a more unorthodox approach to our Krav training. I think it could be summed up by the word ‘discomfort’, although that probably describes what was to come a huge disservice!

A few points about safety and talk time was over, game time was on…

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I’ll admit I always get butterflies at the start of a seminar or camp. It’s nervous anticipation, although as soon as the warm up begins, all that evaporates alongside the sweat. It was to be the exact same feeling again as to the command of “Kida!” we were off! Almost two hundred of us, hands up ready, started running in all directions which to the outsider would’ve looked like Bees swarming over a pot of jam, but to us lot, the most natural thing to do and always a great buzz (pun intended).

Already pouring with sweat it was time for the first lecture; Knife threats. We all train knives, a serious business as we know, hence why it starts at P1 and never stops, continuing throughout our Krav careers. Today was to be no different, yet very different. What always astounds me is how simple and easy Eyal makes things appear. His voice always calm, his manner engaging. A very brief explanation as to the aim of the lecture, we split off into pairs, knives at the ready. Eyal started off teaching a simple ‘threat’ drill, most of us knowing already how to defend it. He then kept adding layer upon layer until we had a full scenario to contend with. Threats from all angles, hostage scenarios, & defending knife threats from the ground.

Less emphasis was placed on the technical ‘grading’ approach but a rather more realistic stress inducing set of drills, which certainly got the adrenaline flowing. The seemingly endless repetitions, though tiring (and painful) were excellent, with everyone attacking and defending at full speed, the hall reverberating to screams of “Gimme your [expletive] money/watch” etc. Great stuff!

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Time always passes quickly at these events and after almost four hours we were told to take a quick lunch with the ominous advice of “Don’t eat too much”.

Zee’s Cohen. Eyal’s right hand and Krav Maga partner for over 30 years. Another living legend with a wealth of knowledge, I’d first had the pleasure of training under him at a seminar last year – aptly named ‘Carnage’, in which he managed to break most of us with ease. Ze’ev took to the stage, spent what seemed like one minute explaining the lecture, told us to grab our gloves and with that we got down to it.

Sparring is tiring as we all know. It’s a great leveler, a lot of fun, and a chance to ‘safely’ try out all those techniques you work so hard to perfect. NOT with Ze’ev. This lecture was all about full contact. We started as we meant to go on, multiple rounds of sparring with full body shots. The buzz around the hall was palpable, leather striking leather, grunts of exertion, a beautiful ballet of violence. Time was called.

Told to group into threes, we set about a 2vs1 drill that seriously focused the mind. Stuck between two attackers – of which each was armed with either a bottle or knife – the defender had to simultaneously prioritize the more threatening of the two attackers, defend, counter, then go on the offensive, again with full contact body strikes.

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It felt ‘messy’ to me, in that we normally drill things very technically, but very realistic. Studying any street fight video it’s all about the ‘messy’, so it was great to let loose & a lot of fun!

The best(?) was saved till last.

Ze’ev told us to stay in our groups, for a 2vs1 ‘knockout’ game. Nothing fancy, just round after round of the defender being practically beaten by two attackers, defending whilst under continuous onslaught, and countering whenever & however they could. Personally I was close to collapse at the end of it. Every part of me was sore, I ached, I was tired but would’ve carried on in a heartbeat, such was the all consuming sense of elation felt at having ‘survived’ what was in a word, a brutal afternoon with a Master of his art.

Day Two

It was a weary bunch that took to the mats for the second day’s lectures, with some students noticeably missing. Standard warm up out of the way, Ze’ev spoke at length about the theories of counter-attacking without leaving visible signs of damage to the attacker. We started along the timeline with verbal commands such as “Stay back”, “Don’t touch me”, leading into double-handed palm strikes (a hard push) to the upper chest near the shoulders.

This proved brutally effective, and painful to say the least. I’d decided to train with a team mate called Colin ‘Silverback’, who is a certified ‘unit’, and deserving of his ‘Silverback’ (Gorilla) moniker. Easily twice as strong as myself, he took no pleasure, I’m sure, in smashing me to pieces when it was his turn to drill!

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Next up, something Ze’ev referred to as ‘The Mexican Hook’, namely a short upwards hook to the liver. Oh how I couldn’t wait for Colin to try that on me! A short, sharp and utterly devastating strike when delivered accurately, we all proceeded to deliver these with full power to our partners. A nice little add-on came in the way of a kidney punch immediately after the hook had been given. Put together this was a brutal combination, with me having slight concerns about ‘passing blood’ later on!

No time to dwell on that nonsense, we then went straight redirecting the attacker. This entailed various methods such as using the attacker’s own momentum against them, to cause them to over commit, giving you time to move out of the channel and decide the best counter-attacks. By this point my entire body was one big ache,  I was sweating like it was an Olympic sport, the humidity of the Sports hall only served to make us sweat even more, yet Ze’ev wasn’t done with us yet.

Gloves on, we were told to make our partners ‘suffer’. Full rounds of attack/defend with full contact counters to the liver & kidneys were demanded of us, with the shouts of ‘hit harder’ coming from the Instructors milling about in between the hoard.

My break for lunch consisted of having a lie down, and firm word with myself to make sure I survived the last lecture of the day with Eyal.

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The aim of this lecture was outlined for us; fighting whilst at a disadvantage. Eyal by nature is a great storyteller, full of examples of situations either he or Imi, or other students of his have been in, and today was no exception. Able to have the whole hall laughing at will, it was great to hear about Eyal’s youth or some adventure Imi found himself in, and we could’ve sat there all day listening to his many anecdotes. However, this was Krav Maga, and so we found ourselves ready to dive back into the mix!

Eyal’s warm up was certainly the most unorthodox of the weekend, with him asking us to move about the hall, shadow fighting whilst using only one arm. It was a laugh to be honest. Seeing everyone running around, one hand in their trousers, throwing all kinds of shapes with one hand, would’ve looked to the passerby as the worst ‘Voguing’ competition ever! It had a serious purpose though, forcing us to perform at a disadvantage with one of our main tools out of action. Break falls & multiple rounds of slow fighting, all utilizing just the one arm, really got the adrenaline going and surprised me at how taxing it really was to perform.

Spilt into three’s for the next phase, the ante was certainly being raised, this time in the shape of defending a bear hug from behind, whilst another attacker came at you with a bottle or knife etc. Having to prioritize & make tactical decisions in split seconds was admittedly very tough. Figuring out what has just occurred (you’ve been grabbed from behind, arms pinned), switching to aggressive mode, analyzing the threat(s), then taking action, is something we drill endlessly, and I found after a few attempts that I could perform quite well, although I’m sure it was very ‘technical’

Last but my no means least, out came the duct tape. Earlier that day we could hear the G&E level side of the curtain sound like a xmas present wrapathon, but no clue as to what the ‘Ninja levels’ were up to. This explained everything. We had our hands bound tightly, then were shown techniques on how to defend knife attacks whilst in this state. For me this was the highlight of the day, fun, but serious, technical, explosive, aggressive, and full commitment!

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Time was called. The entire weekend had gone by in a blur of accelerated Krav learning, two days study at a University quite unlike any another. We all passed with 1st class Honours degrees in bumps, bruises, aches & pains, and safe to say we’d have stayed on for another few days to further our brutal education. No matter how many times I see Eyal & Ze’ev demonstrate techniques, It’s never less than astounding to see how effortless and efficient their movements are, and it’s always a real privilege to be in their company. Here’s to Masterclass 2017 and the ominous tag “He is coming”.

Thanks to Jon Bullock & the KMG Instructors for making this such a success, and to Eyal & Ze’ev for again furthering our knowledge.

Kida!

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