I've been teaching my Krav Maga/Self-defense class for the OBV Vietnam girls for two months. I started this class with only one striking pad (affectionately called a "tombstone" by those who practice Krav Maga) and two focus mitts. Acting on an agreement made with OBV prior to our arrival, I purchased a few extra pads that were available from local sporting goods shops in the city. These pads were, however, slightly short of par for the drills and techniques I taught. Limited by my equipment, I modified our drills and we pushed through with what we had.
For the few days leading up to Christmas, Thuy and I hosted three friends and former classmates from my UW Foster MBA program. Since their travels to Asia were for vacation and thus only short and temporary, Rick Gupta, Mike Ru, and Andy Eisenhower were kind enough to allocate their check-in luggage space towards boxes of items that OBV wanted to ship from the States to their Vietnam headquarters. Shipping these items through regular post would be expensive; the the cost of shipping alone would outweigh the benefits.
Seizing the chance to have items shipped from home for free within a few days, I reached out to our head instructor, Richard "MC" Chung, owner of Dojo3/Krav Maga Renton, via Facebook to see if he would be willing to permanently part with one or two used tombstones from his studio for use in our class. I knew that having more tombstones would dramatically increase the overall quality and experience of class. I could do all the drills we do at Dojo3/KMR back home, and the girls could have the true Krav experience my wife and I have come to love.
MC immediately responded with "I'll set some aside. :)"
It's worth noting that tombstones are not cheap. One tombstone alone costs around $150.
Within a couple of days of my request, my brother-in-law stopped by MC's studio retrieve three tombstones, tombstones that I can say with near certainty were specially picked by MC for donation because of how light they were compared to the rest of the tombstones in the studio. Although we would've been grateful for any kind of tombstone, MC and his fellow instructors knew that my class of young women and little girls would appreciate practicing with the lighter pads.
Within a week, the boxes of OBV goods and Krav pads arrived with my friends, and on the next day the pads were at the OBV training room for class.
The older girls immediately remarked at how comfortable the pads were to hold. I quickly explained to them that they were going to train harder than they ever could've imagined now that we have these pads. For the hour that followed I fulfilled that promise in earnest. By the end of class, all eight of my older students were drenched in sweat.
The younger girls came into the class and noticed that their original one tombstone had multiplied by four. One of the girls picked up the new pad and exclaimed to her classmates, "this is so light!" Another girl picked one up and parroted, "wow, this is so light!" Pretty soon they were tossing their new pads in the air, and one tried balancing a pad on her head. It was nothing short of amusing to watch the girls react to their new pads with a level of excitement only befitting for girls their age. I laughed at how juxtaposed their giddiness was against the gritty techniques they would soon be practicing with these pads. This is Krav Maga, after all.
Thank you to MC and the D3/KMR family for this contribution. The three tombstones you gave will go a long way towards empowering the girls of OBV.
Time to bring the heat!
The older girls' class practices #2 elbows
Knee strikes have never been more fun :)
Lunging squats while their partner does push-ups
The younger girls' class does a compass drill to review basic strikes