Hey Seal (and anyone who's interested)
Had my KM intro class Monday night. Michael Blitz, President and Chief Instructor at KMLI, greeted me at the door while the Level 1 class was about to start. He's very personable and articulate, which is great for any newbie. Surprisingly, the place itself was smaller than I expected, but that feeling faded once the class started. And, it's a testament to the school when it's packed on a Monday night (around 14 total- 12 guys and 2 girls).
The class started with a warmup and stretching- something of what you'd expect and from what I've experienced from both BJJ and thaiboxing warmups: bodyweight exercises with reps counted down and repeated in circuits. The stragglers coming in late were reprimanded by Michael much like a drill sargeant who would 'punish' recruits for being late-- giving them more and more pushups and squats until they surrendered.
We then paired up for combatives which is similar to pad training in thaiboxing, with the exception is that I was aiming for a kick to the person's groin. 20 reps, switch feet, 20 reps, then one/ two punch, 20 reps, then your partner has a turn. (BTW- you may want to bring your own pair of bag/grappling gloves/or handwraps as my knuckles are pretty raw today.) What was refreshing was that there was little fixing on form from my part, however, I had to adapt my arm swing (old thai boxing habit) when I kicked to keeping them both up. Michael encouraged, pushed and made corrections when needed as he walked around the class. This went on for a good 15 minutes or so, with variations on count, hands and most importantly, movement of the pad holder. To finish up, we went onto hand blocking- sort of forearm blocking the other's overhand (haymaker type) open hand strikes to your head and face, but always trying to get inside position after blocking.
Then it was on to technique- which reminded me of bjj training. We did a standing side headlock defense that involved 1) step to attacker's front and palm strike to his groin 2) cranking the attacker's head back with your hand by way of a finger to the nose (upwards pressure to the septum or sinus cavity). Subsequently, if done right, this led to the attacker bending his head back, leaving his throat open for a strike and/or subsequently, falling backwards. There were Level 2's there who already had this down. Lucky for me, my partner was a level 2 that broke it down for me when we drilled it. After awhile, it started to flow. Then we trained the other side and switched. Afterwards, Micheal threw in a stress drill- grouped up 3 people- one doing the same defense on the attacker, this time the downed attacker is mounted with the third. The third starts open-hand striking to the face and head when in mount and the person on the bottom defends with forearm blocks for 20 seconds and then switches with someone else. This was a nonstop drill for five minutes. The technique training seemed to be around 20 minutes or more.
The last drill seemed to be a handfighting/wrestling/grappling drill- we partnered up and went head to head, both in pushup position and tried to make the other person fall with just the use of our hands- so armdrags, picks, feints, whatever, to get the other person to drop on his/her face. The loser would have to do 10 pushups. Subsequently, the final drill was pushups, as many as you could, until Michael said you could stop.
We lined up, Michael made announcements to a yellow belt seminar and also mentioned my being there and congratualing me on holding my own with the rest of the others- it's a nice touch for any newbie (or seasoned practitioner) to be recognized and I know, now, why there's such a close sense of community at this place.
As you probably guessed, it was a good intro and I'm signing up as soon as my night time schedule lets up (within a week or so). As for me, I like that it took what I liked from my previous ma experience and also made available some new and 'dirty' tricks to my repertoire. I like that it includes a fight class, power punch class and a Kombat Women's class- something that my wife could easily take under my membership (if I went with the annual). I like that belts are given upon merit and skillsets-sort of like bjj- which means that you can test only if and when Michael thinks you're ready.
Sorry for the long post, but I'd thought I'd give you an update (you should see the notes I take for bjj). Don't want to sound like one of those cheesy infomercial testimonials, but see it for yourself! I don't think you'd be dissapointed. It lived up to my expectations and then some.