I finally made it. The glass door stood before me, large windows on either side, already fogged up from the class prior. I could only make out the shapes of people moving around inside. Here goes nothing!
“Hello there! Welcome to Xtreme Krav Maga!” the receptionist said.
“Hello, my name’s Joe. I’m here for my first class.”
“Fantastic! I believe we spoke on the phone. Are you ready to have a good time?”
“Absolutely!” I exclaimed.
This wasn’t like other gyms, I could tell already. No workout machines, no people standing around on their phones. Everybody has a purpose. Everybody is working hard and motivating each other. The only equipment consisted of some pads, focus mitts, and heavy bags, with the occasional kettlebell. Interesting.
“Level 1, One line!” A voice shouted above the conversations going on. Without hesitation, everybody jumped onto the matts and faced forward, wearing various Krav Maga apparel. I joined in, not sure what to expect.
“Before we get started, are there any injuries, ailments, or anything that you can’t do?” The instructor asked the class. Nobody spoke up. “Great! Sprints, down and back. GO!” Class was officially started.
“Supine Bicycles! Go!…On your feet. Back to sprints!…Jumping Jacks! Go!…Sprints!…Push ups!…Time! Grab a drink and bring it in” The instructor said. As I glanced at the clock, it showed 10 after. That was just the warm up! I looked around, there wasn’t a single person who didn’t have a wet shirt. And we barely started! After what seemed like nothing, we were already back facing the mirror, practicing some movement. One of the veteran students came running up to the front with a pad held out in front of him.
SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! The instructors leg nearly cut the pad in half as he was demonstrating groin kicks. In less than 60 seconds, all of us were kicking dry in the mirror.
“Grab a pad and partner! First Person, GO!” The instructor said. “Alright, second person, you’re up!”
“This guy hits hard!” I thought as the pad buckled from my partner’s kick. I’m glad he’s kicking the pad and not me! It gave me a whole new appreciation for people who fight in the ring, and made me thankful that I haven’t had to be in a real fight before. Shortly after we sent kicks, it was on to knees, then palm strikes. My favorite part was next.
“Alright, groups of 3! Small pads at the door, big pads at the flags, one person in the middle.” Then we started. I sprinted to the small pad as fast as I could, giving palm strikes and moving my partner back.
I sprinted back to the big pad this time, grabbed him, and started sending the hardest knees I could. There was a burning sensation in my eye. The sweat was blinding me, literally! I stopped to catch my breath.
“HARDER! GO! GO! GO! “YOU’RE ATTACKER’S NOT TIRED! KEEP FIGHTING!”
Stopping was a mistake. I picked up where I left off, striking harder and faster to make up for it now. I can barely breath.
“SWITCH! OTHER SIDE!”
I repeated. Sprinting and wheezing as I made my way down the gym to the small pad.
Everybody keeled over, trying to catch their breath. At least I’m not the only one getting my ass kicked. Now it was my partners turn to go. After two rounds, we finally got 60 seconds to rest.
“Bring it in! Today we’re talking about Choke from the front!”
“I have never been choked, much less choked anybody!” I told my partner
“Don’t worry, I never did before this class either! You’ll get the hang of it.” My partner assured me. My partner and I continued to attack each other. First 3 for 3, then 1 for 1. We added a little more intensity and aggression with each attack and defense.
“We have about 5 more minutes. I’m completely exhausted” I said.
“Me too, and we haven’t even gotten to the best part!” My partner told me.
“Time for the final Drill!” The instructor bellowed.
PUNCHES! KNEES! PUNCHES! KICKS! Out of nowhere, hands grabbed my neck. Without realizing it, I automatically went through the defense we just practiced in class, simulating a strike to my attackers face and kicking him in the groin. Luckily, he was wearing a cup!
Finally, it was over. At the end of the class, everybody gathered in front to discuss various items – Family, friends, work, hobbies. The members were all close-knit. Just like a family, and I wanted to be a part of it. The instructor came up to me next.
“So, what’d you think?” He asked.
“I loved it, how do I get started?”