Action alley in Wal-Mart is made for people like me. I am the biggest sucker for anything, “As seen on TV.” My criteria for the product to be a winner are, does it actually do what it says it will do, or is it worth the entertainment value…. My dad and I once spent fifteen dollars on an automatic potato peeler. You stick six spuds in, smash the lid on and supposedly it will peel the potato’s. We grabbed a bottle of wine and spent an hour giggling in the kitchen over completely bruised and beat up potato’s and potato sludge. Product didn’t work at all, however the fifteen bucks was well spent for entertainment. Skin care products are another story, I am the harshest critic and also one of the biggest consumers. If it doesn’t go above and beyond, I will not buy again. There are too many options out there to stick with something that is mediocre.
Now I will not join your pyramid scheme and to be honest, you wouldn’t want me to. I am literally the worst salesman ever, just ask my husband and grown daughters; I am a terrible negotiator. However, I will promote the crap out of your product if it works well, shout out to Rodan and Fields Lash boost, that stuff is amazing. Makeup setting spray? I have tried out several and my face did not not melt much during those sweaty evolutions… I can also tell you what is crap. ANY of that plumber putty that is supposed to stop Niagara Falls in busted pipes? I have yet to find a use for that other than my kids playing with it.
So what does all this even remotely have to do with self defense? It doesn’t, I just wanted to bunny trail a bit….. Just kidding. The reason I love all of these things is because of the innovation behind it. There are some seriously brilliant people out there that see a need and fill it, or they see something not working as well as it could and they seek out something better. Sometimes the idea is crap, it doesn’t work, but occasionally there is the unicorn or a product that supersedes all expectations and the clouds part a bit.
Another thing to also keep in mind is that with the amount of innovators available you do not have to settle with what will not fit your lifestyle. My friend Rachel has a super involved holster for her Glock, this things ties around her leg and has all sorts of things she would likely hate me to call bells and whistles. This holster fits her lifestyle, it doesn’t fit mine. I never wear a belt and spend most days in skirts or leggings. Guess what? There are holsters out there for that. Same with a knife, I recently found a knife that is perfect for me, it is a folder with a wave for opening once pulled, it also has a handy little loop at the top for my index finger which is reminiscent of my bartending days. However I mentioned at the EWO class when looking at Shivworks knives that I would really like one of their push daggers, but since I don’t wear a belt the sheath doesn’t really complete my everyday wardrobe (I imagine many guys here rolling their eyes at me right now…) But here is what’s great, Craig immediately showed me an idea they were working on with a clip that fastens to fabric. He handed it to me, I immediately put it on backwards, he kindly corrected me, and I am sold when it comes available. Because innovation.
That’s the thing, you don’t have to settle when things are constantly evolving. Evolution is key to success, if you are not moving forward, trying knew things, working to make yourself and those around you better you are stagnant. In our house we have the quote by Walt Disney in our kitchen, “Around here we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we are curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Innovators, movers and shakers, those that keep moving forward; that is exactly what I am writing about today when it comes to Ryan Hoover and his Fit to Fight Republic. I realize that was a stupidly long intro into this but there it is. Message me later for awesome products tried and tested…..
Ryan Hoover has basically shaken up the Krav Maga world. I had actually read a few things about him prior to even hearing about Fit To Fight or EWO. My friend Elle, a Krav Maga/BJJ Instructor in Bentonville, AR spoke very highly of him and his team and a quick internet search will yield lots of videos and information on him. With a history in wrestling, Ryan is also a 2nd degree black belt in Krav Maga and an author of several books on KM. He has spent the last 15-20 years submerged in all things fighting and he currently holds a brown belt in BJJ. He is also an innovator. I spent several minutes at dinner with a crew of FTF people talking with him about all the holes in women’s self defense that I had seen and got to hear how he and his group are doing something about it. Fit to fight has four facilities in North Carolina, 2 owned by Ryan and around 20 other affiliate gyms all over the country. They have essentially turned training on its head and by their own words, “In a world where lineage determines good from bad, and ranking takes precedence over practicality, we place a premium on what works now and strive for better, always.” Because evolution.
The Charlotte, NC gym markets to only women and they are very big about meeting them where they are at. They have several women instructors, ALL who have heavy Krav Maga backgrounds and the atmosphere of the place in amazing and up-lifting. Interested in self defense, but concerned about where to begin? Extremely apprehensive about all the perceived violence behind it all? They get you where you are at and their only goal is teaching you how to take care of yourself. Morgan Salas, an instructor and manager at the Charlotte facility said, “We want to give real training to people where they need it most in an environment that is conducive to them.”
The Edged Weapons Overview was held and hosted at the Charlotte gym. I was actually apprehensive walking in there thinking I was going to again be the girl who ruins deer camp. I could literally feel the atmosphere change when I walked up at a previous training in Missouri that was very heavy on the male aspect and this time in Charlotte I did not have my husband with me. So I was incredibly surprised when Morgan greeted me right when I walked in and offered to show me around. She has such a welcoming personality and even though she looks completely sweet and harmless, she can kill you. She is a mother of two, has a black belt in Krav Maga and owned her own gym in Atlanta, GA until recently when her and her husband Adolfo, moved to North Carolina to help run Fit to Fight. I was able to run drills with both of them and they have amazing down to earth personalities perfect for teaching. One of my favorite and more relevant things she mentioned when asked about FTF was, “The industry is not a humble one and we would be doing a disservice to the community by not making these things accessible.”
And that’s exactly what Fit to Fight Republic has done. They did not want to create a false sense of confidence created by a “hazing that is stressful but not realistic,” they wanted to evolve from just Krav Maga to defensive tactics. There is a laundry list of what they offer up for training. As a gym owner you can become an affiliate through their courses they offer as well as an affiliate if you just want to be a person who serves your community with self defense. You can become certified in their Defensive Options and Active Killer Defense programs. They bring in well researched guest seminars like EWO and have a plethora of their own. Seriously I have only been back home three weeks and have seen post after post of new workshops they offer. A current one is Firearmed, Fisticuffs and Firewater an afternoon course this weekend that goes over everything from clinch fighting, weapons access and retention, gun defenses, all finished off with a strong drink that you will likely need…. (I know I did after EWO) Other classes offered are Firearm Training, Knight Jiu Jitsu developed by Eli Knight, SPARology- how to spar from clinch to create distance, and knife defense to name just a few. All of these tried and actually tested. If it doesn’t work they throw it out. If something comes along better they evolve. The only lineage here is that not of a name but pullings and cullings of Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and Boxing.
Amber Stalinski runs the Gastonia facility and I had the pleasure of chatting with her a bit. Amber basically started martial arts as a fetus and has a black belt in pretty much everything. She is also a BJJ brown belt currently. I was able to watch her use a training knife and impressed is not enough of a word to describe that melee. To quote her facebook page, “I can think of nothing more satisfying than walking barefoot across the jagged shards of a shattered glass ceiling. Ladies shoes off.” If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will. Hell I may go run a marathon right now….. just kidding, I don’t run.
Anya Wallace is a Physician Assistant so she can patch anybody up that needs it. I feel that’s a pretty neat asset to have. (That’s not really her role at Fit to Fight, I just found it humorously ironic) She is also an instructor at the Charlotte Facility and another Krav Maga Black Belt. She has an incredibly warm personality which again makes for a welcoming environment. She is also another one whose looks are deceiving. Seriously all three of these women could be out and about at Wal-Mart or Target and you wouldn’t have a clue that they could snap your arms off and then take your gun to use it on you. I find that fun.
I had the privilege of watching Riley Hoover, Ryan’s 17 year old son do probably some of the most fancy footwork I have ever seen. This kid (sorry you probably hate me saying that but my oldest daughter is 26 and she is still a kid…) started one of his evolutions and I whipped out my phone as fast as I could so I could show my husband. He is an incredible fighter with such a humble personality. He often does videos for FTF online that are clear and well thought out. He is also funny and engaging and great to do drills with.
These are just people that work locally at their gyms. I was able to meet several affiliates and they were all just as accomplished and just as humble. NO ONE was arrogant. All were there to learn more and the atmosphere was amazing. I seriously had not seen anything like it before. There are several more women instructors at the North Carolina facility. The place is aptly described as, “Wonder Woman Island.”
The best part is their drive, they have a passion and it is not a selfish one, it’s is not an arrogant one. It is an innovative one for a problem seen and one Ryan Hoover and his crew have addressed. In his words in speaking of their recognition as being a pioneer in the industry, “Why is this Important? Whether we are talking about martial arts, combat sports, RBSD, or firearms, the “Industry,” is a male dominated one; in participant numbers, instructor numbers, exposure, voice, etc. In America there are slightly more women than men and women are much more likely to be the victims of rape, domestic violence, domestic homicide, and sex related homicide. This just doesn’t make sense does it?”
Hey also we were huge fans of Revolution
Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal