An Anniversary


Today is the one year anniversary of my first Krav Maga class. Little did I know one year ago that Krav Maga was going to become one of my favorite activities, propelling me into an active lifestyle of running obstacle races and 5Ks. As I shared in my “Blood, Sweat & Burpees” post, learning Krav Maga has been a fun and challenging experience for me this year. Today I was reminded of a story I wrote a few months back about my first class. After some revising (it’s always easier to improve a story after it’s sat for a while), here is the account of my first class:

My First Krav Maga Class

My brother had been pestering me for months, telling me that I needed to come to a Krav Maga self-defense class with him sometime. I had secretly been wanting to attend a class, but was too shy to admit it, so when my dad joined him in encouraging me to go, I figured it was safe to admit it–I’d go to one class, and if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have to go back.

With mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension, I arrived at the class. It began with a work-out portion that was full of surprises. I was instructed to run with my hands in front of my face to “protect myself” and had to punch an imaginary attacker during sit-ups. I also learned what walking lunges were, and I did my very first Burpees.

Once the exercise portion was over, the instructor taught us how to escape from a front choke. We were told to find a partner and practice the technique. I chose the only other girl in the group, who was a fellow homeschooler that I knew. I felt horrible choking her. When it was her turn to choke me, I gently plucked her hands off my neck and gingerly threw a front groin kick, but I forgot to bring my hands up to protect my head. Suddenly, the instructor choked me from behind. I let out a startled gasp. “You’ve got to keep your hands up,” he told me. I nodded, my eyes bulging.

The class continued with more choke defenses. Although I felt terribly out of place, I had enjoyed it a bit. After the class ended, my brother came up to me and said, “Well, Joy, now you have two hobbies–piano and Krav Maga.” I shook my head and replied, “I’m not sure they go together.” He insisted they did. I guess he was right.

Blood, Sweat & Burpees

Krav Maga

Burpee 2

Been there, done that, and yes, I’ve even bought the T-shirt.  As a Krav Maga student and proud owner of a “Blood, Sweat & Burpees” T-shirt, I will hereby testify that although Krav Maga classes don’t always demand blood, they are never without sweat and most definitely require plenty of burpees. It’s hard-core self-defense; and I love it.


For me, Krav Maga is fun, challenging, and intense. I love the thrill of fighting though a mob of “attackers” in class and the excitement of strapping on my head gear before sparring. One of the features of Krav Maga that I love the most is its practicality and focus on real-life scenarios. I learn simple and effective techniques that I could use anywhere and anytime to defend myself and others.

I also love how Krav Maga focuses on teamwork as we split into groups and perform the techniques together. Even though I am now in level two Krav Maga, I still enjoy attending the level one classes. There is no hierarchy. We are all a team, or as our instructor likes to say, “a family.” We all sweat, laugh, hurt, and feel like we are dying together, and somehow that makes it all bearable.


Not only do I love how Krav Maga has taught me self-defense, but I also love how it has propelled me into an active lifestyle. Before Krav Maga, I had never run more than half a mile, was unable to do pushups, and could hardly do situps. Now that I am approaching the one year anniversary of my first class, my strength and endurance have increased dramatically. Thanks to the exhaustive workout portion of each Krav Maga class, I now run 5K races and do pushups and situps with ease.


I have been awarded many Krav Maga “badges”–bruises, scrapes, and at least one scar–that show my dedication to Krav Maga. Krav Maga  has made me stronger, more determined, more confident. Simply said, Krav Maga has changed my life.

Barbarian Challenge

Barbarian Challenge

The Barbarian Challenge obstacle race was definitely a challenge, although I didn’t feel very barbaric doing it. I don’t consider climbing over cars, crawling through mud, and running in between electrically charged wires as being barbaric. I consider it fun, but maybe that’s because I’m crazy, just like the other eight hundred people running the race that day in late June.

The midmorning sun beamed down on me as I joined my group of friends that I was running with in the race. We stretched and waited at the back of the group of runners assembling. After taking the comical barbarian oathe, the race began, and we all bolted over the starting line.

The first challenge was climbing over several stacks of old vehicles. In my excitement, I foolishly leaped onto the slippery hood of one of the cars, lost my balance, and almost succeeded in knocking myself and one of my teammates off, which resulted in plenty of playful jesting from my teammates. Yes, I was off to a rousing start.

Barbarian Challenge

With the haphazard cars behind us, we ran at a good pace until we reached a standstill at the second obstacle which consisted of a series of barbed wire to crawl under and four foot tall walls to hoist over. After waiting our turn, we completed the obstacle and ran to the next one, only to be brought to another halt. This time though, we had to stand in a cold creek while waiting to ascend the rope ladder scaling the side of the next hill.  We stumbled over the tree roots hidden under the water and splashed each other as it got deeper. Before reaching the ladder, I dunked under water and the warm summer day suddenly felt much cooler. With my hair dripping and my saturated clothes sticking to me, I finally reached the unstable ladder and climbed out of the brush enshrouded creek to the trail ahead.

The next trek was the most difficult. Hundreds of runners with soggy shoes had transformed the dirt trail into slippery mud. We grasped trees, roots, weeds, anything besides each other as we tottered down the winding path and ascended up the next hill. I feared I might slip on the steep hill and fall back on my teammates; I also worried that the runners ahead of me might do the same. Near the top, I lost my footing. Hanging on by a puny root, I reached with my free hand for something substantial to grasp, my feet struggling to find a hold, but to no avail. Thankfully, one of my teammates somehow managed to wend past me, grab my free hand, and pull me onto solid ground. I was quite pleased to leave behind that treacherous hill and start running again.

More obstacles ensued, including hefting tires, running in between dangling electrically charged wires, and crossing another creek. One of my favorite obstacles was the tarp water slide positioned on one of the hills. The race attendant sprayed a fresh solution of soapy water on it before we slid down at an alarming pace. Fearing that I was going to land in the thicket to the left of the tarp, I veered to the right and almost collided with one of my teammates, my screechy “Watch out!” averting the collision. Another favorite obstacle was the pool of gritty, smelly, black mud. I struggled to keep my head out of the muck and avoid catching the barbed wire overhead as I slithered through it.

Muddy Buddies

We were definitely a sight to behold, all decked in mud and staring at our next obstacle, a tall wooden wall that we were supposed to climb over by grabbing the slanted narrow ledges randomly spaced up it. After deeming the wall too muddy to climb, we joined the other runners who couldn’t complete the obstacle and did our allotted punishment–fifty push-ups. Plenty of gasping and groaning resounded from that tired crowd. Okay, I’ll admit it, it was tough, and I was even doing girly push-ups.

Me all Muddy

The race continued with more creeks to cross, more mud to crawl through, and more hills to conquer than I’d rather recount. Finally, after two hours of barbarian life, we reached the last obstacle, a triangle shaped ramp built over an old school bus. Yes, a school bus. I’m not sure why it was there, but at least it looked cool. Thankfully, it only took me two tries to run up the ramp, grab the snarly rope,  and scale the wall. After two and a half long, challenging, and fun hours, we placed our arms around each other’s shoulders and triumphantly crossed the finish line, clad in mud and pride. Maybe I did feel a little bit like a barbarian.

June, 2013

My First 5K

Grant and Me and our Medals

The sun the was already sloping in the western sky as Grant and I arrived at the Coates Bend Volunteer Fire Department 5K. The weather was beautiful and crisp, perfect for running. As I stretched in preparation for the race, I observed the people around me: firefighters, policemen, race attendants, runners, and spectators. The eccentric garb of some of the runners brought a smile to my lips.

“The race will be starting in ten minutes!” heralded a man with a megaphone. Grant and I joined the runners congregating behind the starting line. This was my first 5K, and my goal was to run it in under thirty minutes.

An elderly man lead the group in prayer, an act which I found surprising and wonderful. Eagerly, I awaited the start, yet I was taken off guard when the buzzer finally rang.  As the runners whizzed past me, I quickly switched into “race mode” and joined the charging mob.

The race progressed, and by the time I had reached the first mile marker, I was beginning to feel the burn in my legs and a cramp in my chest. Without stopping, I grasped a water cup from a race attendant and took a gulp, splattering water on my shirt in the process. Down the residential streets I ran, trying to keep alongside Grant.

At the second mile marker, I took another awkward gulp of water that sent me into a coughing spasm. My forehead was wet with perspiration, my legs fatigued, my abdomen cramped, and my strength waning, yet I resisted the temptation to slow down as I had seen others do. Past the spectators and cheering children I pressed on. I was aware that I was passing fellow runners. My whole body seemed to be screaming, “How much longer?”

Around a turn in the road I ran, my strength diminishing, yet my determination still intact; I was not quitting. Suddenly, the view changed. Could it be?

“Come on, Joy, there’s the end!” Grant yelled.

Renewed vigor surged through my weary body. Grimacing and gasping, I sprinted with all my might toward the finish line at the crest of the hill. I could hear my family cheering. My vision was blurred as my feet pounded on the asphalt in powerful strides. My legs felt numb  beneath me as I flew over the finish line. Ripping the outheld time card from the woman at the finish line, I faltered to a stop.

“Twenty-four forty-three!”

What had she said? I was too exhausted to be sure. Grant soon reiterated. I had run my first 5K in twenty-four minutes and forty-three seconds! I was astounded. As I slipped my time card into the box for my age group, I was shocked to see it was the first entry.

I soon joined my family on the sidelines. Faith squeezed me and cheered, “You got twenty-second over all!”

“Well, how’d you like it?” Mom asked.

“I hated it. It was boring!” was my truthful response.

Although it was difficult, I was still glad I had run the race. Grant and I both got first place in our age categories. It felt fantastic to hold my medal, and I was quite satisfied with my race time. I had persevered, run the race, and finished strong.  As we drove away, Grant turned on the song “We are the Champions,” and I truly felt like a champion.

April, 2013

My First “Go Class”

My first encounter with a Krav Maga “go class” was staggering. Completely unexpectant of the intensity of the impending session, we all strapped on gloves, stretched, and waited for the class to commence. The class began with running laps around the room. Dad wisely advised me to keep at a moderate pace, in order to save my energy. My legs were beginning to protest and my arms were growing weak from blocking when the instructor eventually shouted, “Now squats.” Squats were followed by more running, bunny hopping, seal crawling, and pushups.Then came one of the hardest parts. I had to run, scan, and punch while my partner, Grant, gave me resistance by tugging on a belt that was wrapped around me. After a while, Grant and I switched places, and I attempted the task of being Grant’s opposition. Halfway through the ordeal, Dad took my place, enabling me to indulge in a water break. I reveled in the few moments of rest, but soon was forced to resume action. The class continued, complete with more running, punching, and kneeing. An attendant was sprawled on the sidelines, shirts were drenched, faces were crimson, and everyone was breathing heavily when the class finally came to a close. With great relief, I lifted my fatigued self off the hardwood floor and swept back the damp hair from my forehead. That was a class none of us would readily forget.

Written February, 2013