Jason Iannarino —How KRAV MAGA Changed My Life

I am a stand up comedian, a road comic. I have been for over 20 years. Being a comedian it is easy to pick up some bad habits. I found a way to pick up all of them. Two years ago I was drinking a bottle of whiskey every night. Not just a little bottle, but the “are-you-trying-to-kill-yourself?”, death wish sized bottles that you get at the liquor store. Not to mention the fact that I was smoking a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, eating fast food every day, and a number of other unmentionable, but equally horrible, habits.

One day I decided to make some changes. I checked into some AA meetings and swore to turn my life around. Unfortunately for me, AA meetings seemed to really depress me. I would walk out of the meetings thinking “Boy, that was depressing. I sure could use a drink!” Not a good idea.

I decided that instead of going to a bar every night, I would try to find a more positive place to spend my time. I thought, why not find a gym, or take up some sort of martial art? So I got online and started doing my homework.

It seemed to me that most martial arts fell into one of two categories: sports or self-defense. At 39 years old, I knew I did not want to compete in any sort of fight competitions. I wanted to find something that was purely self-defense. After days and weeks of research, I kept hearing about this thing called “KRAV MAGA.” I had never heard of it, but apparently it is the official self-defense combat system for the Israeli Special Forces and Mossad agents. (Probably some of the toughest people on this green earth!)

I decided to give it a try. I signed up for my first class. It was a game changer. They pushed me to my limits and made me do things I never thought I would be capable of. It wasn’t easy, and in fact, I almost puked several times that session. Literally puke. It wasn’t for sissies, but somehow, I got through it. I was hooked. I started going to classes four and five days a week. I started training one-on-one with black belts. They told me it would take six months to pass my level two test but after hard work, dedication, and sacrifice, I passed my level two test in just over three months!

I lost 45 pounds, all beer belly. I stopped smoking cigarettes. I stopped drinking. I stopped fast food, soda, and all of my other bad habits. I changed my diet. I changed the way I treated other people. My mission to quit drinking turned into a mission to improve other aspects of my life. I started to want to be a better man. I started to be less selfish, and consider others. I stopped womanizing. I started to adopt the warrior spirit and a better person. Now, when I take my shirt off and look in the mirror, I no longer cringe at the sight of a bloated, beer-bellied, dirt ball, and instead, I see a mean, lean muscled warrior with damn near six-pack abs. I treat people better. I make better decisions. I started to love myself.

I made the necessary changes in my life to become a better man. If I can do it, anyone can do it. You can do it! Why not sign up for a class? It may change your life. It may even SAVE your life! It did mine!

Jason Iannarino is a stand up comedian and actor. Published with permission.

Jake Iannarino

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