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Water Training and Training in the Water

By Eyal Yanilov

As a kid and a teenager I spent much time on the beach due to the fact that my parents’ home was located about 200 meters from the water line. It began when I was 7 year old joining my father at 6 o’clock in the morning to run, swim and after the strongest shower you could ever imagine (down on the beach the water pressure was remarkably powerful at that time of the morning), it would almost take your skin off, returning home having breakfast and going off to school.
It was only natural that I incorporated training in the water in my weekly ‘training regime’. Usually I spent half an hour or so in the water, striking and kicking hundreds of different attacks, while my body was under water and my head above it. It helped in gaining better speed and power without placing stress on the joints, while benefiting from the resistance and friction of the water. I definitely felt that my attacks were improving; my muscles were working, my speed developing and I was getting a hard workout without sweating, which considering the Israeli summer is clearly a benefit. 🙂
At a later stage, with friends, we also used to play/train together on releases from grabs or sort of wrestling-sparring while trying to sink each other under the water. Remember – KMG must be trained and practiced in any possible location and situation.
Tapping-out under the water is not realistic. So I made another signal – pinching my partner 2-3 times.
At a later stage when I started teaching KM to larger groups of students, especially foreigners, side by side with the need to supply relevant solutions to problems that different governmental units may encounter while in the water or in boats/ships above the water, I developed a whole range of training drills in the water (while standing) and underwater.
Historical note – Imi started his career in the resistance (1944) teaching swimming, life guarding (and also defending knife attacks and knife fighting). I naturally used what was suitable from these subjects to teach how to overcome a drowning person who is clinching and “climbing” on the rescuer, and by this drowning them both.

Nowadays at KMG, when we approach the subject of training in the water, we look at it from three different point of views: water as a training tool and training environment; water as a place where you may need to fight, defend or save yourself or others; water as a tool to put stress and difficulties on people during physical / mental training in order to learn how to overcoming those difficulties.

During this year’s summer camp in Poland (August 2013) ,I gave yet another session in a pool semi natural /reservoir.
After an appropriate warm-up we started to get acquainted with what causes stress during confrontation in the water. In the first drill, someone was pushed underwater, from the back, and later from the front, lying on the bottom of that small lake. After some seconds where the “air was gone”, he had to get free from the pressure that kept his body down and rise to the surface to breath. Later the same was done while adding counterattacks.
Next we practiced striking and kicking under the water. Many hundreds of strikes, punches and kicks created small waves around each trainee. A couple of times we went ashore to be able to strike or kick without the resistance and feel the speed that suddenly increased when the friction and resistance were removed.
We also did simulation on how to save ourselves when being swept away from shore by a current directed in the opposite direction than desired (the risk is that while fighting the currents, you will get tired, as well as enter a state of panic and drown).

The next stage was releasing oneself from a choke while being “drowned” (pushed underwater) by an aggressive attacker.
The sensation and body posture is definitely out of the ordinary. Against the choke from behind, one needed to know how to release the choke (using the hooked-palms and fingers to scrape / pluck the opponent’s thumbs) and then push underwater; after the release, how to duck under the attacker arm and body and rise from behind him and counterattack efficiently.
The choke from the front while being shoved underwater is rather similar to the release from a choke on the ground when the attacker is at your side. But as several elements are different the participants in the camp were instructed how to achieve the best possible solution which included removing one choking hand, pushing the aggressor’s chest/neck or eyes, inserting the leg (foot) to push the opponent away and kicking him while maintaining the correct angle to the bottom, as not to smash your head to the ground/bed of the pool/sea
Sometimes we emphasis how to escape from the danger zone (the vicinity of the aggressor) or how to take the attacker out from the water. Why is this important? He may drown if he loses consciousness due to the defender’s counterattacks. Does the attacker deserve to die? In some cases the defender may be held liable. Indeed it may sound strange, but if the defender is able and confident enough, he or she should try to take the attacker out of the water. Naturally in this case one can also call for assistance: sometimes a life guard or other swimmers who are in the area.

Occasionally we train with knives or other kinds of weapons; releases from different neck grabs and headlocks; in addition we teach how to overcome a drowning person who may be dangerous but is not considered an attacker.

These are the initial subjects for training and functioning in the water environment that I usually teach. Do practice in places that you can stand. The next level is training in depth where one is unable to stand. Dealing with different armed attacks is a natural progression of the level and the subjects of training in the water.