When I first toured the Krav Maga dojo 2 weeks ago the owner told me, “we train until we puke”. I thought this was a bit of macho hyperbole, but nope, every class has been INSANELY intense. At the end of each session we’re soaked to the bone and utterly spent – you leave with nothing, every ounce of effort has been left in the dojo. Each class is structured the same way: warm ups, fitness, drills, practice the lesson’s maneuver solo, then with a partner and finally in a group. The class builds in intensity until we hit the final group exercise where it crescendos in intense group combat. This past class we were split into groups of 5, a defender and 4 attackers. The first attacker’s goal was to choke the defender from behind, the other three were to push/hit the defender with tombstone pads. The defender’s job was to execute the maneuver we’d been practicing earlier on the first attacker and then take control of the other three attackers using successive and rapid fist, elbow and knee strikes. For kicks and giggles, and to ramp up the intensity during the exercise, the instructors played very LOUD speed metal music, flicked the lights on and off (and then turned them off altogether – the only light in the dojo came flooding in from the waiting area), and then circled the groups while screaming at the defenders, ”HARDER!!!! FASTER!!!! HIT THAT FCKN BAG!!!”. It’s just utter chaos – a mass of moving bodies in a dark, confined space. Deep into the exercise all of this insanity falls away; I couldn’t hear the music or the shouting anymore, I was barely aware of the dark, it was just me and the tombstone pad (or that prick trying to get his hands around my neck) – focus. The best part of all this? Sitting in the waiting area after class comparing swollen, skinned knuckles with my teammate Jordan, a pixie-ish blond who swore like a drunken sailor throughout the combat exercise. She asks, have you done martial arts before? Your form is very good and you hit REALLY hard! Excellent complement. Excellent class.