Sorry that this long post is way overdue! I’ve finally had the time to sift through my photos and write about this year’s Utti experience.
The annual Krav Maga Utti Summer Camp, held at the end of July, is a Finnish classic as it has been organized every summer since 1998 by Utti’s local krav maga instructors with visiting instructors from Israel. I practice under Krav Maga Global (KMG) organization and their head instructor Eyal Yanilov has given us the privilege of enjoying his wonderful teachings nearly every year.
Utti is a place where krav maga practitioners from all around Finland gather to meet, train – and party! – together.
2015 was now my third time in Utti. I’ve been practicing krav maga since 2012, and last two times went to the camp with my boyfriend. He’s been a great training partner at camps, otherwise we train at different places as he goes to Espoo and I train at Prime Fighters in Helsinki. I do visit Espoo regularly, though, as one of their instructors teaches a real killer pilates class especially fighters’ needs in mind. Usually my abs alone are so sore the next day it makes me cry when I laugh. So thanks Jonna! ❤
I made sure I arrived early enough to have time to register in, chat with fellow krav practitioners and get a good spot to dump my gear. At 10:00 AM we assembled – this year in record time – in the gymnasium of Utti Hall to start our day. I was anxious, eager and proud to be yet again one of over a hundred krav practitioners standing there in formation, waiting for our training day to begin.
Saturday morning line up – picture from Krav Maga Utti’s facebook page
This year’s theme was “Ehjänä baarista kotiin”, extremely loosely translated “Getting home from the bar without getting your ass kicked, stabbed and / or robbed”. It’s a quite common – and fun – training subject. Nothing against hitting your mates with empty (plastic) bottles or choking them from behind in the dark as Metallica plays way too loudly in the background.
Most interesting part of this year’s program that really got me salivating in anticipation was the chance to train VIP / third person protection tactics and hostage situations under KMG’s head instructor Eayl Yanilov. Understandably we don’t train those kind of scenarios very often. They are way cool, but the chance of getting taken into hostage here in Finland is close to a zero, compared to regular threat of getting raped or mugged. Or getting stabbed because you cut in line at a hot dog stand at 4 PM on Saturday night.
We had a fine collection of Prime Fighters ladies at Utti and my dear friend and training partner Katja was kind enough to train with me on Saturday. As my asthma and adrenal issues affect my training I’m now quite picky about who I train with. If I have trouble with my breathing I simply can’t do intense sparring without suffocating. I need to know my partner won’t pound me to the ground if I ease down the pace and understands if I need to take a break to catch my breath. I also need to be careful not to get any serious injuries. Of course getting hurt is never fun or the purpose of any exercise, but the potential risk of going into adrenal crisis due to injury and the possible difficulties with healing are bigger dangers for me than to some other people. I’m very grateful to Katja for her support and as a thank you try not to aggravate her own “war injuries” when we practice together.
Me and Katja training knife threats from the front and behind with the victim sitting in the start:
I had worried beforehand how I would cope with heat and possibly very intense training cortisone-wise and was really happy I got my dosing right :). The training was light enough to suit me perfectly as we did a lot of mobility drills as warm up and our subject of close knife threats was very technical. I took approximately 10 mg extra HC for every hour we trained and felt fine nearly the whole day. Half of the time was spent outside and weather was wonderful. We also got to see a lot of skydivers as Utti’s civilian airport nearby is a busy hub for the local skydiving club and the nearly cloudless Saturday was a perfect suit for all kinds of outdoor action.
We practiced multiple scenarios where the assailant had a choke hold on victim but also held a knife on the throat or neck area for extra threat and to control the victim, both standing still and also with assailant moving or trying to move with victim. The solutions were similar to choke hold releases but we had to learn to take the knife and it’s position into consideration and seek to control the knife at earliest stage possible during release and counterattack. No use to do a perfect choke hold release if you slash your carotid at the same time!
Pictures from practice – master Eyal and our lucky “volunteers” show us how it’s done:
As always, Eyal told stories of real life events in between teaching and practice. I hope I won’t offend anyone by calling him by his first name :). He’s simply so overwhelmingly easygoing, warm and approachable person it would feel weird calling him Mr. Yanilov. And I hope I’ve earned the right as we’ve talked on several occasions both in training camps in Finland and last year when our Finnish entourage spent a week in Isreal training and touring with him. It was one of the most memorable weeks of my life so far <3.
After getting our day’s first dose of the sun and vitamin D, we had a long lunch break I spent munching my packed lunch and gossiping with other Prime ladies. I hadn’t taken any cash with me as I’d paid the camp and camp T-shirt in advance, but our lovely and wily couple from Espoo Krav Maga, Jonna and Mika, managed to seduce me into buying a new light grey KMG T-shirt, shorts and a training handgun I’d been drooling over earlier. Damn they have to accept credit cards! I really like the gun. It’s as heavy as the real thing so it makes for a better practice. Have to start pestering my boyfriend to play with me some day in the near future… 🙂
Of course we just “had to” play just a little bit at the lunch break already – we’re such a mature bunch at Prime 😉
In the afternoon we trained VIP protection – focus still on close knife threats. It was fun and we got to run around outside like crazed herd of…krav practitioners. Me and Katja got ourselves a Prime gentleman as our third wheel. So, what happened next?
The sun shone from clear, blue sky. Somewhere above us, weird adrenaline junkies were getting their fix by jumping out of flying abominations with wings of steel. Birds chirped. I was having a romantic afternoon walk with my beloved wife, Tom. Suddenly, a woman with crazy glint in her eyes attacked us from behind, taking poor Tom into a choke hold with a knife on his throat, demanding for our wallets and other valuables.
Since I’m such a niggardly person, obeying that kind of outrageous demand was completely out of the question. Instead I instantly spun around and attacked, taking control of her knife hand while guiding it down and away from Tom’s throat. I yelled at him to run. He was fleeing like a rabid rabbit the next second – but in totally wrong direction! I still repeatedly knee’ed poor Katja’s groin area. When I had disabled Katja, my laziness got hold of me. Instead of rushing after my beloved, I settled for blowing him a kiss and yelling “see you at home, honey!” while I sprinted in the opposite direction. Luckily I had the keys to the car… 😉
More fun action from our practices:
The hours passed so fast it was soon time to say goodbye to my training buddies and drive back to Hamina. For others, it was time to head to Tykkimäki Camping area for annual Utti party evening consisting of consuming more or less copious amounts of alcoholic (some crazy folk even stay sober, I’m told) beverages and grilled sausage. The bravest of the brave would later venture out to experience the non-existent nightlife of nearby Kouvola city and to hone their skills in the beforementioned hotdog stand lines.
I was so dead tired afterwards I don’t even regret missing Sunday…too much. But next year I’ll be there – again :).
Utti made me realize yet again how much I miss regular krav practice and my absurd, weird-humored training partners <3… Here’s to hoping this autumn will see me in the dojo doing some actual krav training rather than just pilates and polishing my verbal sparring skills. Kida!
The next week is around the corner, be good and be safe! Until next time,