About Chris: "Chris Torres is a Washington, D.C. area martial arts and fitness instructor. He has more than 10 years in the fitness industry, is a certified Natural Trainer (Monkey Bar Gym), a black belt in Krav Maga, a blue belt in 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, and the 2011 World Kickboxing Association Lightweight Mixed Martial Arts Champion. Chris currently teaches fitness and martial arts classes at the District Y.M.C.A. Follow him on Twitter and read more on his blog, Torresology."
Tell us about your martial arts background.
I have been training in Krav Maga for nearly 15 years now. Since then I've also trained in MMA, Muay Thai, No-Gi Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing. I am a Krav Maga Black Belt, a 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt, and a World kickboxing Association Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) World Champion.
Please provide some background on Krav Maga. How does it vary from sport fighting, i.e. mixed martial arts?
Krav Maga is an Israeli System comprised of techniques from various styles of fighting, many of which are found in MMA. Imi Lichtenfeld, the creator of Krav Maga, first started developing his ideas and concepts for what would eventually become Krav Maga while fighting the Fascists in his home of Bartislava. He later joined the Haganah and began training them in what would later become Krav Maga.
It's important to note that Imi was well versed in boxing and wrestling but quickly realized during his time fighting the Fascists that though these were great sports, they were not practical for real life application as they lacked the brutality and aggressiveness needed in situations where you are fighting for your life.
For the person that wants to understand, at the most basic level, the difference between Krav Maga and sports like MMA, Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling and Jiu Jitsu, they must understand that these sports are games and at the heart of every game is a sense of fairness and safety. Neither of these, however, are inherent in reality.
What is the process for becoming a Krav Maga black belt? How long does it take?
To become a Krav Maga black belt you must learn how to defend yourself in real time against unarmed and armed attacks ranging from chokes, head locks and bear hugs to gun, knife, and improvised weapons both standing and on the ground. It usually takes about 10 years of consistent practice to get to the black belt level, but a select few of us have managed to work our way up a little faster than others.
Provide information on the ranking structure Krav Maga uses. How do students progress?
We use the same ranking system as most Krav Maga schools utilizing a ranking structure based on the one found in Judo. This is what Imi (the creator of Krav Maga) first setup. To progress from one level to the next each student must be tested on all of the techniques and scenarios in that level. The tests are mostly live attack scenarios.
Describe a typical Krav Maga class? How do classes change with rank?
Each class has a warm up, basic skills review, learn a new fight technique and finally scenario work. As you progress in rank everything just moves a little faster and there is more contact.
What benefits can one expect to reap from practicing Krav Maga?
A greater level of physical fitness, greater awareness and greater self confidence.
Is Krav Maga appropriate for everyone?
Definitely, Krav Maga is meant to meet you where you are and build you up from there. Also, the emphasis is on practical solutions to self defense so there are no tricky martial arts type movements that heavily favor the athletically gifted.
Please give us some basic info on the martial arts programs at the YMCA, especially the Krav Maga program. Can people try it without a commitment? What is the price structure?
Krav Maga is one of training paths in the martial arts that one can take at the YMCA's here in DC. It's free to try your first class and only $45 per month on top of the YMCA membership fee (approximately $75). We don't do contracts so you can cancel at any time.
Chris teaches classes at the National Capital YMCA (downtown, 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue) and the Anthony Bowen YMCA (1325 W Street, between 13th and 14th Streets). Contact those locations for more information on training with Chris.
Chris is teaching a weapons-defense workshop this weekend. If you are interested, don't wait - registration closes soon! Follow this link for more information