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ARTI PATEL

“The appeal of joining was strengthened with meeting the other members of the team, all coming from different walks of life, and each so knowledgeable and welcoming”

It all began with Maya. My older cousin, who is very much a ‘try it once’ kind of girl, a quality of hers I greatly admire, for those that have met Maya, what she lacks in height, she definitely makes up for in bravery and conviction. One day over dinner with her and her brother (Kunal), she told me about a new self-defence class she had joined. I had done some martial arts as a teenager and remembered that I had loved the discipline, I was on the look out for something new. She told us it was different to anything else she’d seen, it was about learning how to defend yourself in a real life situation. “You can even eye-gouge if you need to, nothing is off limits.” I was immediately fascinated…and terrified. Sold.

I joined up for the trial programme shortly after, there are five of us in total. Maya, Kunal, Jilna, Surbhi and myself. Safety in numbers? Not so, in the first class I learned that keeping up your arms was essential in protection yourself. Lesson learned, and quickly. I decided I loved it. Apart from being chuffed at getting an awesome t-shirt, I realised that the Watford team had a kind of ease to it that I think can only exist between people who regularly kick/strike one another. It was a family, headed by Paul. An instructor who is unequivocally inspiring, incredibly patient, and on the rare occasion, pretty funny too (I’m hoping for another free t-shirt off the back of this Paul). The appeal of joining was strengthened with meeting the other members of the team, all coming from different walks of life, and each so knowledgeable and welcoming.

“The appeal of joining was strengthened with meeting the other members of the team, all coming from different walks of life, and each so knowledgeable and welcoming”

Pretty soon we became part of the furniture, we began planning life around Krav Maga classes, and felt genuinely gutted to miss a session. Friends, family and work members grew used to the response “Krav” when they questioned a new bruise or tried to surprise hug me to receive a surprise back elbow strike back (I kid…). Why was it so addictive? Other than proving women can kick ass just as good as any man can, it teaches you patience. When I first joined, I wondered why some of the more advanced fighters moved slowly, with time I realised, it was because they were practising technique with real focus, accuracy and form. That was way more impressive than the pro level fighters I’d seen in other martial arts classes. It wasn’t about going in all guns blazing, it was learning about how to react as effectively as you can in a situation which is not entirely in your control.

Learning Krav maga drags the rug from under your feet just when you think you’re on stable ground. There’s something fantastic about that. The opportunity to continually be learning, to be continually humbled, and to build strength in more then just the physical sense.

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