Krav Maga – A Better Approach To Self Defense

Krav Maga. A better approach to Self Defense.

Last week, at the end of January 2013, I have had the pleasure to attend another Israeli Krav International seminar with Moshe Katz from Israel. Organized by Mr. Laurian Lapadatu – an accomplished martial arts and fitness professional and the founder of Krav Maga Force – the seminar was held at the well-known Tactix Gym in Downtown Vancouver.

Mario. Laurian, Moshe, Daniela at Tactix Gym

Krav Maga literally means in Hebrew “Combat Contact” or “Close Quarter Combat”.

025The seminar for general public provided self defense strategies in dealing with randomattacks that might happen on the street, while the seminar for instructors was also covering defense strategies against armed attacks. It was a great seminar and I would like to thank Mr. Laurian Lapadatu for bringing Moshe in Vancouver for the second time.

Mr. Moshe Katz, a dear friend of mine, is an expert on martial arts, was trained and certified as a 4th degree Black Belt in krav maga (contact combat) by IDF Captain Itay Gil, who served in Israel’s special forces paratroops brigade and selected to be the Chief Instructor for Israel’s elite counter-terror and hostage rescue commando unit, “YAMAM” (Special Central Unit) of the Israeli Police Border.

image-1As an active member and instructor of “The Unit” Itay Gil updated and innovated his Krav Maga skills used in his military training, to fit the need of his Yamam members, in combating terrorism and defending on the streets against armed and unarmed attackers.

Moshe Katz who was a student of Itay Gil for more than 18 years, obtained a 4-DAN on Krav Maga, the highest rank ever awarded by Itay Gil. He teaches krav maga defensive techniques very similar to what Yamam is instructed in dealing with urban assault.

yamamref2-1For those who are not familiar with Israeli Special Central Unit, YAMAM is considered the best in the world when it comes to Counter Terrorist Tactics and Execution. The “Unit” was established in 1974 after the terrible massacre in the Israeli town of Ma’alot when it was determined that a special unit is needed to handle hostage situations within urban areas.

I feel very privileged to be able to train with Moshe, and hear his advices on many occasions. My wife Daniela was also impressed by the simplicity of Moshe’s training.His self defense techniques are not bounded by any tradition or “Master Veneration” which in his opinion might lead to idolatry, things that are not easy acceptable in Israel’s culture.

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He doesn’t bow to Mr. Itay Gil (which is also his friend) nor to any other krav maga experts, although he get great respect for all of them as they all contribute in a way or other to the progression of modern krav maga. Moshe teaches and updates his krav maga self defense techniques based on the reality of life in Israel today, not in Japan or China 300 years ago. He doesn’t care if I am a 30th generation master of Shaolin, and teach the original Chinese Gung Fu Style. He only cares is if my techniques can protect someone from violent hooligans in his neighborhood or in downtown Jerusalem today. These are his own words:

martial1“I don’t care if your style originated with the American Indians, (sorry, Native Americans), The Biblical patriarchs, some Chinese guy in a monastery, or your dear old granny; if it works – great, that is all I care about.”

And we need to realize that Krav Maga, self defense, is an evolving process, like everything else in life, not a martial art bounded in some tradition. I founded Moshe’s humour to be subtle, but with a lot of wisdom.

telephone4In many occasions he pointed that today, “very few people practice medicine like the doctors of Louis the 14th, or use phones like the original ones developed by Alexander Graham Bell”. We evolved and our needs as well. We used wireless and digital technology not anymore wires and cable connections.

While several people on Asian martial arts consider the idea of lineage to be very important, many krav maga associations and federations trying to imitate these martial arts, are claiming to follow the original teachings of Mr. Imi Lichtenfeld who they credited as the founder of Krav Maga.

imi2Indeed Mr. Lichtenfeld, a very capable men, use his boxing and wrestling skills to teach young Jews in to protect against increased anti-Semitism and the Nazi gangs who frequently attack them on the streets of Bratislava in the late 1930′. And indeed Mr. Lichtenfeld had a big contribution to the development of many fighting strategies adopted by the Israeli Defense Force. But with all due respect he is not the founder of krav maga. He is just one of many who contributed to the development of the Israeli Defense System.

41h9XZ1d-oL__SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_SS500_For those who know something about Jewish history, Krav Maga has no single “founder” and no official beginning. It is the product of the needs of the times and the efforts of many fighters and instructors over the years, each adding and modifying based on their skills and experience. If you like to read more about Jewish hystory as a nation of warriors, I recommend Moshe Katz’s book “Israel a Nation of Warriors” that can be founded on Amazon.

image-2One example of krav maga evolving process is captain Itay Gil. He served in Israeli Defense Forces paratrooper brigade, and part of his training was basic krav maga. Indeed he might have the “original” krav maga training as every Israeli military recruit.

But after his military duty, he was selected as an active member of the YAMAM and chief close-quarter combat instructor for “The Unit”. With over 33-years of hand to hand and krav maga combat study, Itay Gil become the executive director of all training programs for the Israel Border Police as well as the undercover police intelligence unit. Based on his 14 years of active duty combat experience, he developed new strategies and innovated many original krav maga techniques to fit the real street gang confrontation.

KnifeDefenseTTNHe trained Moshe Katz, which build up on these new techniques and adapted them to fit also the real-life situations that common people are faceing in the streets of Jerusalem today. Can I say that Itay Gil or Moshe Katz are the founders of “modern krav maga”? I don’t think so. They are just great teachers who contribute to the expansion and development of modern self-defense.

Politically, Krav Maga has by commercialisation become the most well known Israeli Martial Art. In fact it has never been the only martial art.

12798_(9)KAPAP “face to face combat” system was already developed in Palestine and in place in the 1930’s, as an ongoing combat development program for returning Jews to their land in the British Mandate of Palestine. But as krav maga grow in popularity in North America, has also intensified tensions between some organizations that teach it.

Fighting and arguing over the authenticity of their methods, the origins and the realism of their fighting techniques become subject of favouritism toward one leader on another. Some also trademarked the term “krav maga” in US, and sued all the others who use this name. Finally he lost in court since krav maga is a broad name which means “combat-contact”. In the end it’s all about money and who are your clients.

As Mr. Moshe Katz explained to me, it doesn’t really matter who was your teacher or the teacher of your teacher, or how directly are you connected to the founder of one martial art style or system, but what matter the most is:

“CAN YOU TEACH ME TO PROTECT MYSELF FROM VIOLENT THUGS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD OR IN DOWNTOWN JERUSALEM TODAY?”

More about the history and evolution of Israeli Martial Arts on another blog. Until then consider to read the “Israel a Nation of Warriors”. You might understand the meaning of krav maga from the necessity of a reality-self defense system, not a commercialized one.

Take care

MarioFit

Sports Karate – Canada National Championship

Fighting For a Purpose

As I mention on my previous blogs, my intention to compete to this prestigious 2012 BC Karate Provincial Championship, has had many purposes.

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  • One reason was to test that the periodization training program I designed is a better approach to athletic performances.
  • A second reason was to challenge myself and to see how much I can deliver now at the age of 50, and particularly with the physical limitations that I have after a car accident in 2009.
  • And the third reason, that become the most important purpose of my fight was to raise funds for children in desperate needs for food and medicine.
  • mariofitfightingforkids-charity-bc-children-245x300[1]The idea of attaching this provincial championship to a charitable event, was very important for my mental health, and comes at the right time and as a inspiration to keep me motivated with my training. And here my personal challenge to compete at the 2012 Karate Provincial Championship and my “MarioFit Fighting For Kids” charitable event begin.

Although placing second on this provincial tournament, (+84 kg division) proved that I can be a competitive athlete at the age of 50, more importantly, fighting in the 2012 Karate BC Provincial Championship was dedicated to raising awareness for kids in desperate need of food and medicine. And I believe that fulfilled my goals.

Coming from a rehabilitation program, with my increased knowledge on periodization of strength, I redesign my functional training to a sport specific one, that improve my strength and speed considerably. And as I was able to sustain the competition fight against some of best athletes in BC, I also demonstrate that periodization of strength can be a better way to long term athletic performances at any age.

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This is why I decided to study to become a Periodization – Strength and Conditioning Expert (P-SCE) with the world renown Tudor Bompa Institute. I believe that additionally to my qualification as a Registered Sports and Holistic Nutritionist, being also a certified strength and conditioning specialist, it will give me the chance to help many young and old athletes to achieve their performances.

Let’s Go and Do It

Considering my present financial situation and some family related problems, my initial thought was not to go and compete at the Canada’s National Karate Championship in Toronto, on March 14-17, 2013.

But last weekend, on Sunday Dec. 9, 2012, I attended as an observer the Karate BC Elite Team training. And I was impressed to hear that some of the top competitors are not able to attend the Nationals. But I also was amazed to see many young athletes encouraging me to be part of the BC Elite Team, in representing our province (British Columbia) to the Canada National Championship.

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And after I reflected to all the implications that might arise going to the Canada National Karate Championship, and with the hope that I can continue to be a positive example and a good motivation to all members of the Karate BC Elite Team, I decided to go and to compete at the Nationals on March 2013.

So, another journey with a purpose become part of my life.

And thank you to all supporters and friends who motivate me to keep going.

Cheers!

Mario

Winning Silver and Thank You!

I apologize for being behind in this blog and I owe an explanation to everyone who have been following me in the last few weeks. I decided to take a day off from my computer and reflect on what happened at the competition.

After the last few weeks of intense training, a day of rest and spending time with my family was in order. My 6 years old daughter, Lara, stayed very close to me the entire Sunday evening after the competition finished as well as on the following day.  My younger daughter, Cora (almost 4 year), has been playing with my medal and asking when I will bring home a medal for mommy, one for Lara, one for her and one for her grandmom. Isn’t that cute? But then, how can I make my daughter understand that it is not an easy task to get a medal? Plus, she was asking for 4 of them.

I am very excited to announce that I received a silver medal after placing second in the men’s kumite (fighting) competition +84 kg! This means that I am qualified to represent British Columbia at the Nationals in Toronto in March 2013.

More importantly, fighting in the 2012 Karate BC Provincial championship is dedicated to raising awareness for kids in desperate need of food and medicine. I hope that I have accomplished my task to attract people’s attention to this event so that they can connect with many kids who need help. Although winning was great, for me, the purpose was raising awareness and making the right connections with the right people.

Speaking about the competition, I have to recognize that in merely eight months since the 2012 Karate National Championship (held at the Richmond Olympic Oval in March 2012) many of the BC Elite Karate Athletes was performing at the national tournament. They undoubtedly impressed me with their improved performances and I saw many great fights between great athletes.

There are many people who were so supportive on the competition day and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone:

  • Firstly, I would like to thank my wife Daniela and her never-ending patience in being there for me and taking care of our two little daughters.
  • Thank you to all my friends and supporters who cheering me on and to those who messaged and emailed me with encouragement on Sunday.
  • My appreciation goes to my friends from the West End. Instead of meeting for coffee at Blenz as per usually, they came to cheer for me this time.
  • A huge thank you to Simon Kaebe from teccrab online services inc. for spending the long day working with me even though he was sick! Also, I would like to show my appreciation to Queenie Wong, from INTERNeX International Exchange and an assistant to Simon, for her constant update on the social media and blogs. They have both played a huge part in this event process for the past few months.
  • I also want to express gratitude to Daniel-Sorin Nica from DuraSeal for his support and motivational thoughts.  Twenty-five years ago, he was one of my karate club assistant and one of the finest fighters in Romania.
  • Thank you to Catalin Velicea from Maximus Martial Arts for being in the coaching corner encouraging me during my competition fights and Kenneth Lee and his crew for the loud voices and encouragement that accompanied my fights.
  • Particularly, I would like to thank my competitors, Ron Curran from Curran’s Karate and Jason Higgins from Campbell River Wado Karate, giving me a chance to fight and challenge them. This was an extraordinary experience with two great athletes.
  • We would like to thank Lucian Mihailescu from Lucian Web Service who is willing to keep our event open and updated. Just a reminder, we are still accepting donations for BC Children`s Hospital and Children`s Hunger Fund until the end of this year!
  • As well, Adelina Suvagau from Rompost who will advertise our video clips on the Rogers Multicultural Channels during the beginning of December. Keep an eye out for that!
  • Last but certainly not least, I would like to express gratitude to all the officials, organizers and volunteers from Karate BC who put in so much effort and time for us to get the most of this competition event.

Cheers,

Mario

Today is the Competition Day.

Today is the day of my biggest challenge!

While I am competing today, the 2012 BC Karate Championship started yesterday with competitions between other categories. I helped with organize some last minute details and watched the competition for kids as well as for other participants who competed on the first day of the event.

Those competing for a spot in the Elite Team, such as myself, will be participating today in both Kata and Kumite.

I am participating in Open Tournament and in my weight category, 84 kg and up. I weighed in today and am exactly 84.25 kg! My competition scheduled time will be between 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

I had a chance to speak with the vice president and brilliant organizer of Karate BC, Mr. Kurt Nordili along with Mr. Dan Wallis, the president of Karate BC and chief instructor of Campbell River Wado Karate.

In addition, I chatted with Elizabeth Wijnstra the chief instructor of Jushinkan Martial Art and Chad Edberg from Campbell River, who led the British Columbia men’s team to a silver medal in the team Kumite event at the 2012 Karate National Competition the was held at the Richmond Olympic Oval on March 2012.

After the competition I attended the Karate BC Annual General Meeting where they provided updates on the new National Certification Program and other related matters. Yesterday was long, but thanks to the organizers, everything was on schedule.

Today I am ready for a big show. I have promised to deliver my best despite the fact that I am a 50 years YOUNG man.

Cheers,

Mario

 

Karate and Krav Maga?

Yet another busy day! Yesterday I was teaching self-defense classes at two community centres: False Creek in Granville Island and University of British Columbia Recreation Centre. Teaching not only allows me to impart my knowledge to my students, but gives me a good tactical workout at the same time!

At False Creek Community Center, I taught a family anti-bullying self defense class from 1:00-3:00pm and then ran quickly to teach a Krav Maga class introduction at Israeli Self Defense from 3:30 -5:30.

Karate is a huge part of my life, but I am also an authorized instructor with Israeli Krav International, an international organization that promotes self-defense tactics used by Israeli Special Forces.

Krav Maga self-defense, or “contact combat,” is a non-competitive martial art, developed in Israel for national defense and civilian protection. Experts consider it as the most effective self-defense system in the world. Since the Israelis are one of the best nations in karate, boxing, muay thai, kickboxing, jujutsu, wrestling, and in performing grappling techniques, they have created the most effective system of protection that works in real life situations. Due to its effectiveness, this system was adapted to and utilized by Norwegian Military, the Swedish Army and is part of the Commando Course for Close Combat Training (CCT) of the German Army.

Anyone – kids, youth, women and seniors – can be empowered by these strategies as they are easy to learn and hard to forget.

Israeli Krav International (IKI) is led by 5 DAN expert, Moshe Katz, who endorses many strategies used by the Israeli Border Police Patrol. He instructs these tactics in his regular seminars in Israel, Europe, North and South America. I am a certified coach and a tactical instructor representing this organization in British Columbia.

There are many styles of Krav Maga taught by different organizations, but I choose to teach with IKI specifically because it best fits with my self-defense specific requirements.

Krav Maga benefits my personal training in ways other than simply fine-tuning my self-defense approach. It most definitely assists my training for karate with the short burst of high intensity drills used by the Elite Special Forces. It has also helped the development of my High Intensity Functional Interval Training conditioning program (H.I.F.I.T.). As you have read in previous posts, this functional training has been adopted into my periodization program which improves maximum oxygen consumption and cardio conditioning as well as training the Anaerobic Lactic Acid System.

Ultimately, karate and Krav Maga are both important to my fitness routine and physical conditioning. If you want to learn more about my fighting skills and Karate/Krav Maga Strategies, keep stay tune for future blog posts!

For more information about Israeli Krav International or are interested in taking some of my self-defense classes, please check out the website or ask me questions by commenting below!

Cheers,

Mario

Introduction: Karate Zone 5 Qualification

Hello everyone!

My name is Mario Schiopu and after participating in the Zone 5 Qualification Tournament yesterday on October 14, 2012, I am officially qualified to compete at the 2012 Karate BC Provincial Championships. It will be held in Burnaby at BCIT Gym on Nov. 17 and 18 and I am ready to challenge some other top athletes in 2 different categories: +84 kg, and Open Weight Division.

As you may know from my “MarioFit Fighting For Kids” event page, I expect to see more than 600 top karate athletes participating at this prestigious tournament this year.

However, to qualify for the 2012 Karate BC Provincial Championships, all contestants must first compete on their weight category division if participating on Kumite (Fighting) in one of the 8 zones chosen by their respective residency location.

For Individual Male (18+ years) these categories are: -60 kg, -67 kg, -75 kg, -84 kg, +84 kg and Open Weight, with the top 4 athletes on each division qualifying to compete at the provincial championship.

Yesterday, my qualification zone competition was held at the Hollyburn Country Club located in West Vancouver. Athletes from communities in the Zone 5, includes the Sunshine Coast, Electoral Area A of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the Village of Lions Bay, the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, the City of Vancouver, the District of West Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler, were competing to qualify for the provincial tournament.

One of my major sponsors, Mr. Simon Kaebe from teccrab online services inc., was there to support me! I am so thankful for the great work he is doing on the event website.

I had the opportunity of meeting many amazing people involved in this tournament and the karate world! The organizer of this event, Mr. Bill Holder’s was working hard in accommodating every athlete and coach. In attendance were the well-respected referee Mr. Andrea Kuntze and his wife Rosella Ng with their seventh month old baby Mattias. I truly have great admiration for their dedication and commitment.

I had the chance to catch up with some of the club instructors and BC coaches such as Peter Stoddard from Hollyburn Karate Club, Hamid Tarighatbin from Valasr Shotokan Karate, Catalin Velicea from Maximum Martial Arts and Valentyna Zolotarova from Hayabusa Karate School and six time Canadian National Champion.

A big congratulation to Kenneth Lee in his kata (form) performance! He won a very well deserved victory in his category as I really admire his devotion and training style for karate.

There are only 5 weeks left to the main event and my aim is to prove that anyone can be a champion even at my age of 50 years old as long as they live a healthy lifestyle with a proper nutrition plan and recovery time.

My goal is to win a top place and help two charitable organizations, Children’s Hunger Fund and BC Children’s Hospital, raise money for children with desperate needs. I am determined to win and I will. This might make me sound a little arrogant, but I can assure you this is not the case. I plan to be at the top and I am committed to giving my all to help less fortunate children as much as I can. This is why I would like to share on my blog some of my best strategies for a winning place.

Starting from today, I will do a day-by-day update here on this blog, hopefully giving you an insight to my training methods and strategies. This will include the fast regeneration that will lead me to be in my best athletic form right at competition time.

Just as a brief introduction, I have designed my last weeks of training into a 5-microcycle plan, with each cycle having a specific focus on alternating the volume, intensity and energy systems. High intensity peaks will be combined with lower-intensity active rest and nutritional strategies to promote regeneration and adaptation.

The first 4 microcycle (4 weeks) are to fine-tune my technical skills, tactical strategies, and physical adaptation to the competition demand while maintaining my maximum strength and power gained on the previous workouts, which I will expand on in an upcoming blog post.The 5th microcycle is the unloading and tapering for the competition where my work out is reduced to 50% to remove fatigue and to stimulate a super compensation of performance.

Please don’t hesitate to comment and ask questions! I would love to hear from you and I hope you enjoy coming with me on this journey.

Mario