(Photo by Chris Bavaria.)
Alex Henderson has no problem busting up someone’s grill if they were to approach him with a broken beer bottle. The 30-year-old drummer for metal band Pulling Teeth has studied Krav Maga for the past three years in organizations like Krav Maga Worldwide and Israeli Combat Systems (ICS) and has dipped his toes into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the last six months. Though Henderson has the ability to easily smash a drunk idiot’s jaw, the Baltimore native would rather hit his symbols.
FIGHT! Magazine: Krav Maga isn’t the typical martial art most folks decide to train in. What drew you into it?
Alex Henderson: I guess the main draw would be just the fact that most of the people I train with have some sort of military association. There’s a lot of Baltimore police officers who train with us and it’s constant feedback. It’s like if we work on something that doesn’t really work so great, we change it. It’s not necessarily a style where someone says, “This is how it’s done, so this is how it’s gotta be.” It’s a completely evolving system and you have instantaneous feedback from people who use it all the time. I teach beginner’s self-defense two days a week at the school, so I can take somebody in two days and teach them how to at least not get their ass totally kicked.
FM: Have you ever utilized your Krav Maga skills in a fight outside of the dojo?
AH: Actually, I haven’t, which is good. But as far as little things … like one time, my band Pulling Teeth was playing somewhere and this kid – he was drunk, of course – got pissed about something. He basically grabbed a broken bottle out of the trash, and I was like, “Alright man. If this is how it’s gonna be,” but at the same time, it was this mindset. I wasn’t thinking, “Oh, I’ll do a knife defense or a weapon defense.” It was like, “Oh, I’ll just pick up that chair and smack him in the face.” You know what I mean? Another thing too is like, “Well this is what you know, so you do this.” It’s like, “No. If you can pick up a bar stool and smack somebody with a bar stool, do that.”
FM: Other than picking up bar stools, what is your favorite technique?
AH: Knees are great. Mostly everything from Muay Thai is just really good for me because you just take the hardest part of your body and smash it into somebody. If somebody had to say, “What are two things I should focus on,” I’d say Muy Thai and jiu-jitsu. Those are just the two things … as far as the worst situation, they’ll probably be the best. If you gotta clinch up with some big guy, just pound ‘em with knees, pound ‘em with elbows. You’re gonna hurt him. You get on the ground, you can choke him out and it allows you to get out of the situation if it’s just one on one, which it usually never is anyways.
FM: How would Anderson Silva do in Krav Maga then? Because he is a BJJ black belt and a Muay Thai Killing Machine.
AH: Yeah (laughs). He just plows through people. I don’t follow MMA as much now because it’s so big. There’s always some new league and all these new people coming in, but as far people that I like, Anderson Silva is great. Lyoto Machida, Georges St-Pierre, people like that who keep it a little more formal. I mean, it’s entertaining to watch people kick the crap out of each other, but I like guys that are clean technical fighters and not who come into the ring with a three foot Mohawk raising hell and shit.
FM: There haven’t really been any Krav Maga specialists to enter the cage. Does this combat art have a place in MMA?
AH: Definitely. The only difference between a streetfight and an MMA fight is that you have protective gear and there’s certain rules. You can’t eye gouge, throw blows to the back of the head and things like that. But if somebody were to study ICS, I mean, you could completely use that in the ring. You would just have to tailor it to the rules of the sport. It’s basically a military style, so it draws from the best of every style. There is striking from karate. There are elbows and knees with Muay Thai. There is somewhat of a ground curriculum, although the emphasis is not to be on the ground because it’s more of a combat situation. There’s throws from judo and things like that, so it’s a mixed martial art, but the curriculum is more survival oriented as opposed to a sparring type thing.
FM: Is that part of the reason why you’ve started training in BJJ?
AH: Yeah. When I go train with the Israeli guys, there’s a half and half chance I might get the crap kicked out of me. So when I go to jiu-jitsu, it’s like, “Ok, I’m just gonna roll some today.” I don’t have to roll hard. If I want to, I can, but it’s a nice change of pace. It’s all just apart of cross training and jiu-jitsu is so popular now that a lot of guys train in that. If you get tied up with a grappler and don’t know anything about grappling, you’re definitely gonna get your ass kicked. But if nothing else, I know how to at least turn a bad situation into a not so bad [one]. But that’s why I’m nice. I don’t start shit with people (laughs). I don’t cause any problems. I’m a nice guy who has to deal with shitheads.
Pulling Teeth’s latest album Paranoid Delusions Paranoid Illusions is out now.