Monday, July 29, 2013

First self-defense class? Feeling intimidated? 6 ways to alleviate your anxiety.

You walk into the studio, there are various people – some look friendly, some don’t.  Some might be practicing moves that you don't understand but look very formidable.  They look how you don't feel-comfortable.

These feelings are natural and shared by many Krav Maga beginners. 

Here are 6 ways to ease your anxieties.

1. Meet/talk with your instructor before your first class. Get a sense of their teaching philosophy, background, and personality. Ask questions.  Share your concerns.

2. Talk with other students. A conversation will help humanize the students. They have work stress, kids, vacation plans, etc – much like you.

3. Read some testimonials.  Besides talking to students in person, find out what other people say about their experience.

3. Partner with other beginners.  There is something reassuring about training with another person who is adjusting to a new experience.

4. Manage Your Expectations.  Don’t be hard on yourself.  Mistakes will be made and some techniques/exercises will be more difficult than others.  Be patient, train consistently, and you will see significant progress. 

5.  Have Fun.  Yes, self-defense is a serious topic but that doesn’t mean you have to be.  Train hard but have fun. 

New experiences can be daunting.  By taking steps to ease your anxieties you can make your introduction to self defense a more enjoyable one.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Monday, July 22, 2013

August 11, Workshop: Defending From A Sitting Position

Assaults can happen anytime including when you are sitting: 
  • On public transit
  • A bar or lounge
  • Outdoors – e.g. in a park
  • In a home
Defending yourself from a sitting position is a special challenge.  This workshop will cover:
  • How to get up in an efficient manner
  • Using a chair or stool to protect yourself.
  • Defending against punches and kicks while sitting
  • Surviving armed assault while sitting

Beginners welcome!

IKMF Toronto - 2156 Yonge St. Lower Level
Sunday August 11, 2:30 to 4:30pm

**ask about group rates

to register online go to:

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Promise Every Krav Maga Class Must Keep

Krav Maga training offers many benefits including improved confidence, better fitness, social interaction and, of course, self defense skills.

A Krav Maga class, however, is not successful unless it fulfills one promise:  All students have improved their ability to protect themselves in a real life situation.

Burning 2000 calories via burpees, wind sprints, random shadow boxing.... etc are all laudable achievements.  They can also, however, be accomplished through individual training or at any fitness club.

Don't get me wrong, Krav Maga training will improve your fitness, coordination, flexibility...

If, however, you don't leave a Krav Maga class better able to protect yourself, then we haven't fulfilled our promise.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

4 Reasons Krav Maga Instructors Need to Listen to Students

"The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them."
— Ralph Nichols

"Big egos have little ears."
— Robert Schuller

Instructors talk a lot - some more than others.  After all, we are explaining techniques, exercises, and answering various questions.  Sometimes, however, we have to zip up and listen. 

For the long-term benefit of the school, the students, and the instructors, there has to be room for students to express themselves.  In fact, we need to encourage this. 

Here are 4 reasons

  1. Going to the Source. Students best understand if they are receiving quality self-defense instruction.
  2. Tunnel Vision. Limited to one perspective, instructors can develop “tunnel vision”.  An instructor needs suggestions to improve training.
  3. The Talent Factor.  Our students have backgrounds in business, marketing, personal training, real estate, medicine, construction, medicine, electrical, teaching…..  Every week I am amazed and privileged to listen to ideas and suggestions that I simply would not have come up with.  Keep them coming!
  4. It’s not about me!  Instructors are here to serve the students.  To provide them with a safe and enjoyable atmosphere to learn the skills to protect themselves and perhaps even save their lives.  If the school simply revolves around the instructor's personal agenda it will, in the long term (or short) not succeed.  
There are more reasons but these, in my view, are the main reasons to encourage students feedback (of course, I welcome other ideas/feedback!).  

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Sunday, July 14, 2013

You Have Fallen and You Can't Get Up: Why We Teach Breakfalls

For many adults, learning breakfalls is a daunting experience.  Unless you have a background in grappling or gymnastics you likely feel out of your element.  Kids, on the other hand, would be very happy to fall or roll for hours.

As much as we would like avoid being on the ground there are many situations that can lead us there.
  • you have been pushed or shoved by an attacker
  • you trip during an attempt to escape or evade
  • bad footing - sand, gravel, ice, wet floors.....
  • someone tackles or drags you to the ground
Not all of these situations have to involve an attacker.  Slipping on ice, wet payment, or those marbles your child (by accident?) left on the living room floor, can all lead to nasty falls.

Proper breakfalls can prevent serious injury and/or enable you to defend yourself against follow-up assaults.  Imagine, for instance, being knocked to the ground then the assailant(s) following up by trying to kick or jump on top of you.  You need to be able and ready to defend.

It is natural for students to feel uncomfortable so we teach breakfalls in stages according to your ability and comfort level.

Whether your enemy is ice or an assailant how you fall will largely determine your fate.  Learning how to fall is an integral part of your self defense training.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Monday, July 8, 2013

Don’t Memorize Techniques: Learn to Adapt

Our Krav Maga program offers a curriculum comprised of techniques designed to help you survive various self defense situations.  Through practice students can become very adept at performing these techniques.

But what if something happens that you don't expect or you have never seen?

You have practiced, for instance, a wrist release and can escape with relative ease.  What happens, if, as you are performing your technique the attacker tries to slap or punch you on the face? Perhaps he reaches in his pocket for something - a knife?

If you simply continue the technique you will be hit, stabbed, or dragged into a more isolated place (alley, vehicle). 

You cannot develop a rigid mindset, or as some say, “be married to the technique.”  Assaults are dynamic and unpredictable so memorizing a sequence of moves simply does not address reality.

This is one of the reasons we teach according to principles rather than memorizing a set of moves.  Principles such as deal with the most imminent problem, striking the closest vulnerable point, etc.  These allow you to adapt rather than to freeze when the unexpected happens. 

Learn according to principles.  Learn to adapt.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Friday, July 5, 2013

July 28th Workshop: Defending Against Blunt Objects

Armed assaults often involve weapons of opportunity - objects that are readily available.  These can include baseball bats, pipes, hammers, rocks, crowbars, sticks.......  For more information about such attacks read:

The impact of such weapons can lead to serious injury or even death. (see article below)
Woman attacked with hammer in Toronto parking lot

This workshop focus will give you a greater understanding of how these attacks take place as well as some practical techniques and tactics to survive. (see information below).

To register online visit: