Discovering life beyond the barbell / by Dana McMahan

Knocked down doesn’t mean stay down

Krav Maga teaches you to face the scariest scenarios you can imagine and how to respond to them. Of course it’s all staged, and none of us students are putting anywhere near all our force into our sparring, attacks or defense, but we’re learning the movements. And while I hope I never, ever have to use anything I’m learning for real, I really like that I’m learning how to defend myself, even in scenarios where it seems like you’d be down for the count.

Last night, besides some drills that blasted our abs (lie on your back, head and upper back raised like in a semi-crunch, and cross, cross, cross, punching away at your trainer who’s crouched above you) we worked on what to do when you get kicked down, or sucker punched, and hit the ground. So I’m on the ground, and waiting  for my attacker to kick me while I’m down (I think we’ve all been there, even if only figuratively.) As she cocks her leg and aims to kick my stomach, I use a ‘push/pull’ technique by slamming my closer arm into her upper shin and pulling with my other arm behind, at her calf. And voila! The bigger they are, the harder they fall. (granted, my “attacker” was another woman no bigger than me, but still. It’s like a magic trick to see how easily you can take someone off balance.)

The instant she’s down I scramble up her body, “posting,” – using the weight of my body to force her limbs down, until I’m now the attacker, able to punch and elbow in the neck and in general wreak havoc until it’s safe to get up and run.

I said this the first day I took a lesson, and I think I’m going to find it every time. It’s incredibly empowering to learn that getting knocked down isn’t the end. If you know what you’re doing you can get up again, and take down your attacker while you’re at it. As a small woman I never felt powerful until I started lifting heavy weights. Even then I was only powerful for my size. Sure it’s impressive when a hundred pound woman squats 200 pounds, but for plenty of men that’s part of their warm-up. With the techniques I’m learning now, it doesn’t matter how much bigger or stronger an opponent may be — even if they knock me down I’ll have the power to get back up.

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4 responses

  1. Citlali T Contreras Moreno

    Dana, I really like how you see things like this and life in general! You rock, girl!

    March 21, 2012 at 9:21 am

    • Thanks! It’s kind of funny how the lessons just appear if you think about things a little ;)

      March 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

  2. Vicki Morgan

    HI Dana,

    I am a 113lb, 49 year old competitive powerlifter. Like you, I hold raw, drug-free records in NASA and have the same addiction as you. Thank you for your blog. I plan on training smarter to try and avoid a major injury, thanks to your warnings. You are an enviable athlete and I plan on following your progress. As you embark on a new adventure, remember that there is never a lack of hills to climb! Just in case you’re wondering (which I know you probably ARE)…my offical records to date are Squat 198.2, Bench 121.25, Deadlift 248. That’s raw. My top raw goals are Squat 215, Bench 135 and Deadlift 298. I give myself 10 years to hit these goals. Thanks for all you do…great job!! Vicki Morgan

    March 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    • Hi Vicki, thanks for writing.THose are some great numbers! Sounds like you’re being smart about your training, that’s good, that means you can keep at it longer than I did. Best of luck to you and happy lifting :)

      March 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm

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