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Krav Maga Kurdistan - Day 4!

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Today was a near riot. We had about 40 kids train the first day, probably 100 the second day, and well over 200 today! It was absolute madness. We started with a group of about 90 girls, while the boys waited outside and tried to tear the gates apart. I had the cushy part here, as I sat in the air conditioned office of the camp director, who wanted fitness advice. He was so busy with meetings that I never had a change to talk with him, so after about 45 minutes he let me go. Although I didn't get to work with him, it was interesting to see how many people came through his office. He probably had seven or eight different appointments while I was there. Apparently some of these camp directors are corrupt, and aren't really interested in helping their wards, but he seems like a good guy.



I got to the training building right as the girls were clapping for the end of class. I had no idea how many kids would be in there, and my first thought was absolute horror at what must have happened with nearly 100 children doing Krav Maga, using ten pads and three instructors. However Cassie says they did really well, and that certainly would track with what I've seen from them earlier.



We tagged out to let in some boys, and I think about 100,000 of them rushed in. It was absolute, total chaos. I've never been in an angry mob before, but even a happy mob was terrifying. We moved about half the boys back outside, and with a lot of work, got the remaining 50,000 somewhat organized. I started to take them through palm strikes and groin kicks. They focused well enough, but what really got their attention what when Joshua started hitting the pad. All quiet as a mouse then! But right as that happened we got word that the situation outside was totally untenable, and we were shutting the whole thing down.


This guy also wants a shirt


Tomorrow we'll stuck to just teaching girls, although I'm sure several hundred boys will show up, asking for t-shirts. It must be a cultural thing where when we say, "We're all out of shirts," they think, "He wants me to keep asking for a shirt!" It's not limited to the kids. Everyone from the camp director to the security guys asks for shirts. If the UN showed up with actual homes for each resident of the camp, I think they would say, "And what about a t-shirt?"



In the afternoon we had a fantastic meeting with the head of all the refugee camps for the region. Jeremy knew him already (Jeremy knows everybody here) and this guy Ismail had been the one to get us into the camp we've been teaching at. Ismail was a wonderfully patient and compassionate man. The short form of the conversation was, "What do you guys want to do here?" "We want to help the refugees." "Ok do it."


So that means we can go to any camp and say, "Your boss said it's ok for us to be here." There are 17 camps with about 600,000 Yazidi total, so even taking them hundreds at a time like we did today would be a drop in the bucket. But so far everyone is on our side. The Director's assistant, who was in the meeting with us, said, "Can we get this training too?" The security forces we talk to ask for the training. Everybody wants it. And a t-shirt.



We have a journalist with us, and he asked Ismail a few questions, one of which was, "Why do you think self-defense is good for the refugees?" Ismail shrugged and said, "Well I don't know anything about self-defense, but I think it could be a way for the people in the camp to protect themselves. Not just the girls, but for everyone. And it could be a way for people to be healthy and feel good about themselves. And for the people that have suffered, they can heal. And I think that it is good for society, for girls to feel strong and for the men to respect them."


I think he knows a lot about self-defense.



See you tomorrow!


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