Leaving a Dojo / Martial Art on good terms.


For many of us, finding the right martial art or self defence training system can be an interesting journey. It is not unusual for a student to have a desire to learn some self defence training and visit a local club and take some training. Often as people grow in Martial Arts they begin to realise the sheer variety of training systems that are out there and the differences that exist between them. Striking, Grappling, Combination martial arts have content that may suit one person and not another. As a result the new student will often end up on quite a journey to find the marital art that is right for them.

Yet leaving a martial arts dojo to take up training at another is not always an easy task and its one that students and some dojo leaderships can handle poorly. As you move in in your marital arts career, it is a good thing to look back on where you have trained and to have the knowledge that you have left those training centres on good terms and that you would be welcomed back there at any time. Leaving with conflict is not something that is good to reflect upon even several years later.

Here are some tips on how to leave and to leave on good terms,

1, Be Honest, don’t try and sugarcoat the fact that you are leaving because you wish to try something else. Your Sensei has seen various people come and go and honesty about what your goals are is by far the best policy.

2, Don’t Criticise the style, If you have trained in one art and recently discovered another, try not to get caught up in it and trash your previous martial art to the leadership there or the other students, be it on facebook or wherever. Be cautious about having the experience that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ and that six months from now the martial art that you were so enthusiastic about can become a burden to you.

3, Don’t get upset if your Sensei wont give you endorsement to leave. It can happen that a Sensei will recognise that you would be better suited to another marital art, but that is rarer than you think. They are people too and have similar emotions to yourself. Try seeing it from there point of view, that they would rather retain you as a student and train you over the long term rather than see you leave because it is not working out.

4, Dont have an expectation of any financial refund. If you expect a refund of insurance fees because it didn’t work out for you, you are likely to be dissapointed. Consider it a donation and move on.

5, if you are a member of their facebook page consider remaining a member on FB. There is no need to burn your bridges, what you can also discover is that it is quite common for people to leave a martial art, try some others and then return to the same club even several years later. All people learn different things at different times and sometimes your search will lead you back to where you began. Remaining in friendship with the people there is a good way to go even if you have no intentions of going back as things can and do change.

My journey in Martial arts took me from Hapkido to Krav Maga, from Krav Maga to Jujitsu-Aikido, and then finally to Aikido and back to Krav Maga. At first observation both Krav and Aikido are entirely different, – one is hard and aggressive and the other is soft and smooth flowing and to me they balance each other and enable me to find my place in where I belong. I remain friends with the Sensei of my Hapkido dojo and have good things to say about all the places that i have trained and what i have experienced. I know that I am welcome back there at any time.

Leaving a Dojo is hard work, but if it is done the right way, it can spare you and your friends a lot of pain and angst. I recently viewed a forum on facebook for a martial art and saw people of that art creating fake profiles and throwing stones at one another, competing for members and going along with the rest of the tale that has taken that martial art and dragged it through the mud and helped ruin it for a number of people based around ego and control. It never has to end like that if you wish to leave and move on, you can leave on good terms and remain friends with people if they will accept you for who you are. The alternative helps no one and its a good thing to stay away from that if you can!


Imi Litchtenfeld and the Dalai Lama,


On the radio the Dalai Lama was once asked questions about gun ownership and self defence. The Dalai Lama replied “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun”.

In Krav Maga, a popular saying often attributed to Imi Litchtenfeld is “If a man comes to kill you, kill him first”.

Clearly this may present a conundrum to some people, – most likely those who idolise the Dalai Lama as their spiritual leftist guru. Yet if we go into it a little deeper we see a common thread here.

Both” the Dalai Lama and Imi Litchtenfeld believe / believed in peace and have / had an aversion to killing. Imi Litchtenfeld was left with no other option but to defend himself and he created Krav Maga to do just that and then developed and taught it to others that they might also defend themselves. Yet believe it or not, the goal of Krav Maga is peace, not violence. The same philosophy is present in Aikido and I believe its the reason that Krav Maga uses Aikido techniques, to restrain without violence if it is possible.

The practitioner of Krav Maga is taught every capacity for peace and peaceful resolution of conflict. There is no joy taken in having to use Krav Maga to defend yourself and maiming or killing someone in the process.

Perhaps when you see Krav Maga in the news it is suggested and implied that Krav Maga is all about the hardest and nastiest style of violence to defend yourself. It is sad to see Krav Maga portrayed in this way, when Krav Maga is actually about resolution of conflict and the end of conflict. It would be great to see a world where Krav Maga was not needed, yet if a man has a gun and wants to kill you, it is reasonable to use Krav Maga training and your own gun to defend yourself and remain at peace with the world.

Using Aikido to take back your life.


Often when a new student approaches an Aikido dojo, self defence training is what they may have in mind and Aikido training certainly will do that for you. Yet for many people, their own health is a far greater risk to them than anyone who might try and attack them on the street. Issues like depression, anxiety, obesity, and high-blood pressure can attack them every day. The fight for these people may not be to learn Aikido for self defence but to learn Aikido to help them take back their own lives.

Let me be absolutley crystal clear however, Aikido on its own will not solve issues that have led to Depression, Anxiety, Obesity and High Blood Pressure. If you struggle in these areas, your first point of help is your family doctor for referral to the right people that can and will get you help in a supervised program.

Still at the same time, training in Aikido will bring you assistance and motivation in overcoming these things as a part of a wider health care plan.

As you step onto an Aikido mat, you will find that you are exercising, learning self-defense, and discovering things about yourself that you never would have outside of the dojo. You have already taken the first step in Aikido and that is to pluck up the courage to visit an Aikido dojo and give it a try, for many people with Anxiety and Depression related highs and lows, this is a great achievement that you should not lose sight of, once you have experienced being on the mat for the first time it will grow easier over time to return to the mat as you begin to challenge yourself in what you are learning and experiencing.

It is a great experience to overcome things in your life and to be able to do something you could not do before and for many people of all ages in Aikido this can start with your first successful break fall. What looks hard is overcome and that feeling of confidence will begin to flood into other areas of your life as you experience the feeling of training to overcome.

The continuity of Aikido training and the friendships that are made on and off the mat are invaluable to your physical health. Challenging yourself to get out into the public and take training at any age will build positive energy into your life and as you sow into your own life, you will reap back what you have put in.

Aikido training can break the cycle that is Obesity, changing your routine and bringing your focus onto your own health can turn your life around. As you train Aikido your body will grow stronger and burn more calories. As you begin to see your body changing the feeling becomes addictive to the point where you begin to find the motivation to change to a healthy diet and to look after your body in the way that you know you should.  You go on to break the destructive cycle that is obesity and move away from it.

Many Aikidoka report a drop in high blood pressure after beginning training. This can be attributed to the increased physical training or the meditative aspects of being on the mat and the contemplation and learning cycles that are a part of Aikido training. If your Aikido Dojo has a focus on “Ki” – http://kifederationofgreatbritain.co.uk/ You will be given Ki exercises to practice and study that are well known to bring people help with a number of medical issues including high blood pressure.

As was pointed out before, the hardest part in this whole process is perhaps taking that first step to look into where the local Aikido Dojos in your area may be and to make those calls for information and to finally step onto the mat and challenge yourself to give Aikido training a go. I don’t know your circumstances or the challenges that you have in front of you right now, but I do know that if you are prepared to take Aikido training on the journey with you, that you will be helped to overcome those challenges!

Muscle Fatigue


One of my first experiences of Krav Maga was training to muscle failure on the bag. I soon learned to pace myself and put my head down into the training and to learn to push through into muscle fatigue, as it is when your muscles are fatigued that they are both growing and being formed into muscle memory for the required techniques.

Yes it is hard work, but entirely worthwhile and dare I say it, even a little addictive!


Why choose Aikido?


Why Choose Aikido? Not an unreasonable question, with the sheer number of Marital Arts and Self Defence systems being available today, Aikido could be seen as one of many different systems that appear at first glance to have similar goals in mind. What it is about Aikido that makes it both different from the other systems, and what reasons are there for choosing to train Aikido over other Martial Art systems.


Striking – Striking is not the focus of Aikido as it is in other systems, yes there is striking, but it is often taught as a diversionary tactic, or or the purpose of defending against the type of strike being practiced in training. Yoshinkan and other hard styles do incorporate levels of striking, but nothing like the level seen in Muay Thai or Krav Maga for example.

Peace – Aikido is often known as “The Art of Peace” and has universal world peace as its goal. The founder of Aikido saw Aikido as  real way to bring harmony back to the peoples of the world and these principals are still practiced today in many Aikido organisations.

Protecting yourself and your opponent. Perhaps this seems bizarre to you that you would use self defence teachings to defend yourself, but not injure your attacker at the same time? Again this is another core teaching of Aikido that many Aikidoka aspire towards.

So why choose Aikido?

There are various reasons to choose Aikido, but I would like to put this to you, consider what the situations are that you intend to defend yourself from, statistically, your chances of being attacked by a complete stranger are incredibly low. You are far more likely to be attacked by a family member, a friend or someone who is known to you. Consider the circumstances in which you may be attacked, suppose you have a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease and does not recognise who you are and lashes out at you in fear, do you really want to physically strike that person in order to defend yourself? What if there was another way that you could defend yourself and not hurt that person? There is, it is called ‘Aikido’. Suppose you were attacked by your partners teenage or pre-teenage son or daughter, angry that your presence in their home suggested that there would not be reconciliation between their parents whilst you are in the picture, again do you really wish to respond with striking and injury in that situation? Aikido offers you some other options of what you can do to respond peacefully in a  situation just like this. Suppose you work as a Nurse or in Security and someone in pain lashes out at you, again Aikido gives you options to respond in a way that removes striking and injury to that person as an option in dealing with a situation just like that.

Still Aikido can be quite hard and do significant damage if you are placed in a situation where you have to use self defence in a situation where people are trying to hurt you. Just like Judo, Aikido has techniques that can allow you to use your attackers own power and throw them head first into the concrete. Again we emphasise the peaceful resolution first and foremost, yet the fact remains that Aikido can and will defend you in a random attack should that ever come up.

One of the things that I love about Aikido is the options that it gives you for Self Defence, yet it is also more than just a Self Defence System. Training Aikido can and will prolong your life and give you a better quality of life in the form of increased physical fitness. Self Confidence is often mentioned as a great product of Aikido training. What you will also notice is that Aikido is suitable for all ages to practice, you will find that is very much true on the mat, Aikido is inclusive of all and you will be made more than welcome no matter what your age or background.

If you are considering taking up Martial Arts, then I can personally recommend Aikido to you It has done wonders for me in my own life and I have no doubt that if you can pluck up the courage to attend an Aikido training centre and give it a try, you will soon see what I mean!

Training Krav Maga on a tight budget. – Shoes

People come into Krav Maga from all manner of different backgrounds and financial circumstances. Training and Insurance fees can be costly as can be acquiring the best training equipment to train in and outside of the training centre. It is a sad thing to see a lack of $$$ holding good people out of training in Krav Maga and other martial arts. I would like to share a series of articles with people that are doing it tough financially on how you can train Krav Maga and other Martial Arts when you don’t have a great deal of a disposable income to put into it.

For this first article I would like to focus on Training Shoes. Many people begin training in sneakers and find that after a few weeks of training their sneakers have worn out. Often people will replace them with a new set of the same type of sneaker only to find that they soon get the same result, leading to costly replacement. The first tip I would like to share with you is that going out and purchasing a more expensive pair of running shoes will not necessarily save you from destroying them in a short time in Krav Maga. Sure there are some brands that will last longer than others, but over all, running sneakers can be a poor option for Krav Maga training.

Naturally if you go to eBay and hit Krav Maga shoes, a number of good selections will appear – at a price. Beware, if you shell out $$$ on eBay and your shoes fail, you need to be across what the specific policy of the seller is in terms of returns and their thoughts on what they consider to be a defect and what they consider to be wear and tear damage. You can well find yourself out of pocket again despite the saving that can be made by purchasing online. If your decision is that you do wish to purchase specific Krav Maga shoes, it can be a good idea to speak with your training partners / instructors and find out what brand / type they wear and get actual feedback on what works and what does not work before you make your order.

Still once you have been over to eBay and had a look at what is on offer, you will find that Krav Maga Training Shoes are a reasonable expense and this article is written for the benefit of those people who will struggle to come up with that kind of money for training gear on top of their existing fees. So what should you do then?


Squash / Badminton Shoes

This is my best suggestion if you are on a budget, – to utilise Squash / Badminton Shoes. Both of these sports were popular in times past and are now less popular than they were, with less media exposure and so forth. Many brands keep continuity and simply keep on making the same styles they made 15 years ago. This keeps the R & D costs down and they simply keep turning out the same model at a competitive price.

If you have played Squash in particular you will be aware of what a thrashing your shoes get in a match and how the manufacturer increases the side stitching and side guard as a result. My experience is that Squash shoes make an excellent shoe for training in Krav Maga, both for comfort and for longevity. The shoes are versatile because they can handle both Wrestling / Jujitsu techniques as well as Running and Cardio training.

Often a sports shoe store will carry them over in the corner somewhere at a competitive price, again there is eBay or another online company. Alternatively you can speak with a local retailer about what options they have to order in for you at a good price, a phone call from the store to the sales rep of the shoe company can often get you fixed up with a discount depending on how keen they are to sell product.

Good luck, you will not regret having a quality set of shoes for your training, both for comfort and recovery. Despite perhaps not being the first item you might think of, it is an item that you want to try and get right as you begin training!


Are you fit enough for Krav Maga?


How do you know if you are fit enough to complete the more complex techniques in Krav Maga and if you will be able to maintain the required stamina over the journey to complete these techniques over and over again until your instructor tells you to stop?

This is not an uncommon question for people who take a look at Krav Maga for the first time. When you first walk into a training centre it is normal to see people executing techniques that look difficult and tiring and repeating them several times over. Wondering how you will ever be able to do that is not an uncommon thought, the short answer however is that you most certainley can do the same if you are prepared to put the work and effort in that is required of you.

Still, back to the original question, How do you know if you are fit enough to perform the more complex techniques over and over? The answer to the question is relatively simple and it goes back to the fitness programmes performed in various military units. – If you can drop and do 100 Push Ups, (or Press Ups if you are British), you likely have the fitness to take Krav Maga at that level. It really is that simple, 100 Push Ups done with correct form is a marker used by many organisations to qualify people for the fitness level they expect.

So what happens then if you cannot drop and do 100 push ups? Initially, not a great deal, As you join Krav Maga you will be introduced to physical training at the start of your classes at a level you can handle and you build up from there. Many centres offer “Krav Fitness” as a pre cursor to your Krav Maga training session should you wish to join in. As you progress you will feel your body beginning to change and things that you could not do, you will find that they are not as far away as they once were.

Still, how often you train and your attitude to training begins to have a strong bearing on how you develop. If you are struggling, or are doing okay yet wish to be better, many move on to include a gym membership as a part of their training. One of the things that many people do not realise is that lifting relatively light weights will make quite a difference to your training programme and increase your muscle mass accordingly. – “You don’t have to lift heavy to build muscle“.

The advantage with the right gym programme is that your chest workout along with your other muscular workout sets will soon have you cranking out 100 push ups, and you will develop the physical training and stamina required for the full suite of techniques in Krav Maga.

Recently I wrote an Article called “Over 40’s Weight Training for Krav Maga” which goes into some finer detail in terms of an actual program that you might focus towards at the gym for training in Krav. If you are interested in hitting the gym for the first time please read on! – https://dontmakemeangrymrmcgee.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/over-40s-weight-training-for-krav-maga/