I arrived at Krav Maga Experts at the age of 15, a scared, overweight, and constantly nervous kid. Over the years, my instructors not only became father figures who helped me overcome many of my great obstacles, (Including all three prior mentioned obstacles,) but just as importantly taught me how to be situationally aware, and to avoid fights if they can be avoided, but to be prepared for one if necessary.
Everything you will read in the following story would not have been possible had I not had the proper training, on One- Maintaining Situational Awareness. Two- Suppressing my Ego. Not caring what someone else says about me. Three- Avoiding a fight so much as possible, even if I seem less than a moment away from one. I’ve rarely been in situations that put my personal safety at risk, as the last time it was threatened before last night, I had the opportunity to just run away. (Which I did!) However, last night, running was not an option my conscience would allow.
I live in a fairly safe city in Eastern Europe with relatively low levels of crime, (compared to New York!) and Police that make regular patrols in even less populated areas. Yet, getting on one of the last metro trains headed toward my home, I noticed that three men, and one young woman, having some sort of argument. I decided to sit down next to the woman in the spare seat beside her, because something did not seem right about the situation, especially on a Sunday night at roughly 1 AM, in addition to the fact that most of the people on the train seemed to keep as much distance as possible from this situation.
One of the men, who was on my right, it appeared, was not accosting her at all and may have been trying to calm the two men across from us down, so he was not part of the argument in a negative fashion so far as I could tell, so good on him for doing something and speaking up. Yet, in short, the two men across from us were drunk, one of the men was visibly armed, and making slitting throat sounds and threatening to cut us with his ice skates (which were sheathed,) and the argument continued. These threats followed repeatedly giving the woman unwanted verbal attention. Now, something else my instructors taught me was “No Ego.”
I did not want a fight, I did not look for one, and in every way, I tried to get the man to calm down. I asked them if they liked football or sport and told them to look at the tv monitor, and I even lied saying “Look football.” (There was no football on the TV at the time.) I tried, in the local language to say that it was late at night, I’m going home, she’s going home, and that they too are trying to get home, again, very calmly. I, of course, kept my hands where they could be used, one hand resting on my briefcase, and my other hand resting on that arm. OF course, non-threatening, but still where my hands could do what was necessary for an instant. Now, most of this argument happened while seated, though eventually, the man with the ice skates stood up, as the woman to my left angered him and his friend by saying that they are not men. (She couldn’t be more right!) The man stood up and walked toward her, and I stood up, faced him, and he backed off. Eventually, the seated argument continued, and the men tried to mock me in various ways, imitating my facial expressions (which needless to say were fairly serious,) insulting me, and waving the ice skates in the air, or motioning that they would slit our throats, and drunkenly laughing.
I continued to stare at the men as they berated me, but I kept my eyes in such a way that I could show them they did not intimidate me, (the truth is I was scared, but I’m certain the woman was even more scared!) and also in such a way that I could see their hands and if they took the covers off the ice skates or moved in any other way. Eventually, the man stood up one more time, and was on the other side of the handrail from her, accosting her, though I did not get up this time, he soon sat down. The man to our right got on his phone, possibly to call the Police, though soon lowered his phone. (Likely no signal, or more likely, the fact that we were starting to enter a station where everyone could exit, and there would certainly be police.)
Eventually, the woman stood up, and went to the door, to exit, along with many other people, to the exit at the next station. I sat alone, across from the two men, though when I heard one of them say “Let’s go,” and then something about the girl, (while also motioning toward her,) I assumed that they were going to follow her. I made this judgment, as they showed no desire to exit before she moved toward the exit, and still spoke about her. I decided to stand up, between her and the two men and told her that I heard they were going to follow her, and asked if I could walk her home. She did not understand, we switched to English, but her English was even worse than my knowledge of her language. Thankfully, the two men remained seated and did not follow us off the train.
I walked her partway home, and she asked if it was my station, I explained that in truth mine was farther away, and I again said I thought I heard them mentioning following her. We exchanged names, had a few minutes of conversation, and she vented about the idiotic men and had a cigarette. She for a third time asked where my home metro was, and when I explained, she actually laughed, seeming embarrassed, and put a hand on my arm. Eventually, she said she was fine as she was not far from home, hugged me, said I’m a good guy and goodbye.
I told her “good luck” and to call the police if there was a “Problem”, and then I walked home, alone, still maintaining the awareness I had earlier. She got away from this situation that must have been horrifying. I got away from this situation, and I am thankful for that more than I can express. Yet I cannot stress enough, that I am glad I had the three things first mentioned with me at the time. One- Situational awareness. I noticed my surroundings, and entering the metro, knew something was off. Two- a Suppressed Ego. I would not let any words force me into actions that put myself or another in danger. Three- I did not look for a fight, and start one, even if it was less than a second away. Go out, speak up, and get home safely. Here. I hope it’s not too long.
Active Shooter Training – Life-Saving Information
What does it take to see a weapon pointed at you and react?
Most people’s default response is to freeze. Would you know what to do? According to the Gun Violence Archive, 272 mass shooting incidents have already occurred in 2018, as of October. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. There is no pattern or routine method used by perpetrators. It is impossible to predict where an active shooter scenario will happen next, but we can look at recent events and statistics for indications. Active shooter events most commonly occur in businesses (45%), schools (25%), and government facilities (10%). It can happen in an instant; someone fires a gun, and you have a split second to react. At that moment it is all about having the courage to overcome your biggest fear, and the knowledge to implement action.
I, along with Alon Dagon, have a simple goal for our Counter-Terrorism Seminar at Krav Maga Experts: to teach the participants how to react in a nightmare situation. Although everyone’s primary goal is to survive and get out safely, achieving that goal is a challenge and can be significantly enhanced with a mock scenario and expert instruction.
Working with knives, rifles, and handguns can be extremely stressful even for trained combat soldiers. Since we are working with civilians, handling weapons is something that’s new to most of the participants, and some are hesitant to touch them, while others admittedly are enthusiastic. Our primary objective is to increase technical skills, but also to instill the courage to act with weapons present. At my previous Counter-Terrorism seminar, I taught how to hold handguns, rifles, knives, and batons properly. For this seminar, we decided to concentrate only on knives and rifles, allowing the participants to have a deeper understanding of these two weapons, and grow more confident in working with them. By the end of the two hours, participants are not only aware of how to disarm the perpetrator but have practiced wielding the weapon in hand-to-hand combat, where rifles can be used as a ‘cold weapon’ almost like a mace to stun and neutralize the attacker.
We recognized that another skill we must teach, besides the real weapons techniques, is how to overcome the mental fear when confronted by a lethal weapon. I may be a Krav Maga expert and an IDF soldier, but even I would feel scared having a person point a gun at me. However, I can overcome the natural feeling of fear and avoiding the freeze mode, because I practice how to snap out of it and how to consciously take the most effective actions possible to get away from danger and improve my position. The skill is not to eliminate the fear, but recognize it and work through it, using it to fuel useful aggression. If a participant is finding him/herself in a life-threatening situation and immediately reacts, whether it is to escape, hide or attack, they cannot freeze. Fear is paralyzing. If you are taking action and hyped with the energy of a Krav Maga fighter, you’re less afraid.
Situational awareness is a key component of survival. During an active shooter situation, what is the difference between cover and concealment? Although they sound the same, they aren’t. Knowing this simple difference can be the difference between life and death. Use the environment around you to your favor. Here are just some of the actions to be aware of and implement in almost any scenario:
This is the most important step. I’ll even repeat it. Call 911. Don’t assume someone else is calling. This isn’t just to alert Police, or to stop the shooting or the attacker, but to get medical help for those who are injured.
Listen quickly. Assess where the attack is coming from and listen to the details about the type (handgun, rifle, or knife) and frequency of firing and assess your best safety options to move away from the attacker or hide.
Start moving. Find the nearest exit and escape out of the scene. Warn others around you, and escape through the most readily available and safest exit while helping others if you can. If someone is insisting on staying under a table and not willing to come with you in any case, don’t stay there to convince them, get away if you assess that is the best plan of action.
Cover or Conceal. It is better to hide if there is no visible escape. A cover is hiding from a threat in a place that will provide “ballistic cover”. In other words, it is someplace that can stop or slow bullets, like a heavy metal door, dumpster, brick wall, a car’s motor, metal cabinet or even a refrigerator. This means that a person is relatively safe from being hit. Concealment is hiding so you cannot be seen, such as under a desk, under a pile of coats or behind a thin door. You are not protected from object penetration, but less likely to be a direct target if you cannot be seen. It may be that the best step is to hurry people into a room, have everyone hide quietly, turn off the lights to make the room seem empty and lock the door. If it does not lock, try to jam the door. If you have time and a choice, hide in a room where the door opens towards the inside so it will be easier to jam it with objects like chairs and tables.
As a last resort, or in a direct conflict situation, use your practiced defense skills to neutralize the attacker with hard and aggressive Krav Maga actions. It is best to surprise the shooter with an accurate swing using a hard object like a fire extinguisher or a chair towards the aggressor’s vulnerable points to neutralize them.
There are as many different dangers and ways for something to unfold as there are people in this world. Empowering everyone with the knowledge of the steps to take, ones as simple as ‘run for your life away from the danger zone’, may allow them to stay alive.
One of my students asked me after the seminar, “Aren’t you giving us false hope? It’s one thing to do this in class, on the mats, with an attacker who you know from training. It’s another in a real-world scenario.” That is a good question, and one I think people should be asking. Part of what I love most about Krav Maga is its efficiency in real life-threatening scenarios. People do use it to save their own lives against an attack or to save the lives of their loved ones. Because there are millions of outcomes that can happen in any situation, there are a million and one ways to react in the scenario, which includes aggressive interaction. If Krav Maga knowledge, practice, and training give you hope and courage for that possible interaction, then it is not false. I think false hope is the belief that a nightmare scenario will never happen to you. While I don’t want people I teach to be paranoid, I want them to be paying attention to the world around them.
If you hear a noise that sounds suspicious or even weird, assess the situation and take steps to ensure your safety. All of what I described is possible for ordinary civilians to do. By seeking out knowledge and classes like our counter-terrorism seminar, I believe you have already taken the first step it takes to be a survivor.
Active Shooter Workshop at Krav Maga Experts: Student’s Review
It’s becoming an all too familiar scene with the major media outlets reporting an active shooter incident that it’s either taking place as “Breaking News” or has already happened. In any case, there are multiple injuries, fatalities and another family mourning the senseless death of a loved one. As soon as the shooting takes place, all the law enforcement agencies gather to collect evidence and investigate from different angles. Was it an act of terrorism? Domestic politics? A crazed gunman? Did drugs play a role in the shooter’s behavior? Will more gun control solve the issue? All these questions always emerge after a shooting and all the different experts give their opinions.
Halfway across the world, in the Middle East there is a small country called Israel, and it’s one of the world’s leaders in technological innovation. Israel has more start up companies than any other nation in the world, but it’s also surrounded by hostile neighbors since it’s independence in 1948. Way before mass shootings become common in Europe or the U.S. Israel was already confronting terrorists from the Munich Olympics to the Sabena Airlines hijacking, both in 1972. Within a relatively short time, Israel developed measures to combat terrorism. Part of this anti terrorist training included learning Krav Maga, Hebrew for close combat. Krav Maga is a very practical, ruthless and effective self-defense system developed by the Israelis that has been enhanced over time. At first, it was training for military personnel only, but by the late 80s, it started to find its way in the United States. It’s not until the present, however, that is has exploded in the martial arts scene and the world of fighting. It’s increasing popularity comes from the fact that anyone can start learning and seeing results if they are consistent in their training. Consistency is the key word, for without it there is no way to obtain the necessary results that could make a difference in a life and death scenario.
Krav Maga Experts or KME was created here in New York City by former, now reserved, members of the Israeli Defense Forces, better known as the IDF. It brings this form of effective self-defense to the civilian population and adapts it to an urban setting. Not only can you defend yourself from everyday random thugs, but also against assailants with knives or guns whether they are planned attacks or crimes of opportunity.
Last Sunday, KME conducted a 2-hour long special workshop designed to prepare anyone against the possibility of an Active Shooter scenario. Alon Dagan and Raz Chen instructed the class in different scenarios just as they have done numerous times before in the IDF or in the civilian world. The purpose is not for you to become an expert anti-terrorist commando in just 2 hours, but to gain knowledge and awareness of a unique situation, like a shooting, where life and death hang in the balance. You learn a lot about yourself and your own reactions to such an event. You learn not to freeze, and to use your voice effectively to communicate as a warning to others that there is someone either with a knife or gun threatening their lives. None of this comes naturally because we’re generally absorbed with our own lives and problems and perhaps not paying too much attention to our surroundings. As children we are taught not to make noise; not to disturb the peace. Naturally, you don’t want to be shouting and causing a commotion so when there is someone threatening with a knife or gun we tend to just try to run away without bringing attention to ourselves. In a way, you have to unlearn certain politeness in order to survive.
Alon and Raz teach and emphasize the importance of group work in combatting an Active Shooter. The class works and fights together and everyone comes to each other’s aid if necessary. Skills like dragging a fellow co-worker out of danger are taught as is protecting a loved one from a threat by fighting an aggressor, and when the perpetrator is neutralized grabbing your loved one to take them to safety. Their instructions were very clear, precise and empowering. Neither instructor hesitated at any point or give the impression of not being completely sure of what they were doing. Every action they wanted the class to perform was done with confidence that the participants could do it. They exuded confidence and in turn, the KME practitioners responded in kind. As you perform the drills your self-confidence rises and you push yourself to the limit wanting to do your very best as if this was a real scenario and not just a drill.
In the end, you hope you don’t have to be involved in such a dreadful, frightening and completely unpredictable scenario, but at the same time while going home you do feel safer and more in control than the average person busy listening to music with their head buds or texting, blissfully unaware of their surroundings. Thanks to KME and instructors like Alon and Raz, the city is a bit safer than the day before.
By now, most people have heard of Krav Maga in New York. If you are new to the world of self-defense training, Krav Maga is a self-defense and fighting system developed by the Israeli Defense Forces. Krav Maga courses in New York City have become extremely popular over the last few years because they serve as a reinforcement for both physical and mental health, on top of the fact that despite the intensity of the workout, they are actually a lot of fun! What is often hidden under the surface and not realized until one has trained in Krav Maga for some time is that Krav Maga not only boosts physical strength, endurance and confidence, but also assists in areas of life that could help an individual in both personal and employment settings.
The ability to focus your mind on the task at hand and remove extraneous thoughts. Krav Maga training requires hyper intense focus; after all, the goal is to learn to protect yourself in the event you are attacked. Focus is multi-faceted. It means that your mind is always alert so that you stay vigilant. It also means that you are able to remove your emotions from the equation, replacing fear or nervousness with focus and attentiveness. Through Krav Maga training in New York, you learn not to “freeze” in the face of danger but both understand the challenge and react appropriately to the challenge. This ability to focus your mind on what needs to be done, as opposed to what your mind or body want to do. This same concept behind logic and focus taught under the umbrella of self-defense can be used in almost every day settings.
For example, if you have a boss with a temper and you are the target of the day, you may be tempted to let your emotions get the best of you, and lash out at your boss, or cry. Or, if you have one child coloring on the wall, a baby crying and dinner boiling over on the stove, you may be tempted to just throw in the towel and let whatever destruction is coming to your home happen. These result, stemming from letting your emotions control you, would likely only make matters worse. The ability to focus on the end goal, whether that is escaping an attacker or getting through a tough day, the focus taught in Krav Maga will make you more determined and focused and less emotional in situations that require a detachment from emotion.
The motto “practice makes perfect.” Krav Maga teaches its principles by requiring that someone perform the same moves again and again. The longer you can repeat a move or a combination of moves, the higher the probability of fighting off your opponent. Adults are similar to the child on the baseball team that strikes out his first 4 at bats and wants to quit. If something seems to difficult, people tend to get down on themselves and look for an out. And then a coach or a teacher or a parent comes along and utters those three words that make us cringe: “practice makes perfect.” Repetition, by nature, enforces certain beliefs or behaviors in our mind. If do something enough, or hear something enough, you form routines and beliefs that become a part of who you are.
The ability and skill to be able to repeat the same task over and over again can benefit both personally and professionally. For example, many people find that losing weight at the beginning is difficult. Pulling yourself out of bed to go for a run does not seem as appealing as sleep; eating a salad for dinner is not nearly as delicious as a pizza. However, once you begin to make yourself do those tasks it becomes natural and your body craves those once alarming changes. Professionally, people who keep trucking along and perfecting their skills will be the ones who receive a promotion or knock of a competitor. Research suggests that it takes twenty-one days to form a habit and Krav Maga teaches the need for repetition. The combination will create a more productive and wholesome person.
The need to stay on your toes, literally and figuratively. Similar to the ability to focus, training in Krav Maga in New York City teaches the invaluable lesson that it is crucial to think on your toes. What happens in a physical altercation between individuals that are professionally trained to fight is that each fighter begins to anticipate the others next move, because it what he or she would do in that situation. If one fighter is able to out-think the other, he or she has the advantage as they will be able to counter all of the moves. Krav Maga enforces agility in movement and mind so that a trainee in the self-defense technique will not be at a disadvantage mentally or physically.
Staying attentive with quick thinking and the ability to move quickly have extremely beneficial results in your personal and professional life. The person who wakes up and gets an early start on the day will be the person noticed for hard work and dedication.The person who thinks of a new, interesting or life-changing phone app first will be the person to make the millions. The person who happily takes care of mind, body and spirit will feel the most whole and healthy. The person who adjusts to circumstance in order to thrive will be the most personally and professionally satisfied.
There is no doubt that enrolling in Krav Maga lessons in New York will help your physical strength, health and confidence. These results are easily seen or noticed. However, there are many other beneficial lessons taught in a NYC Krav Maga course that will help you succeed in life as a whole, not just in a fight.
Hello everyone and welcome back to the KME blog! Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about myself and how the study of Krav Maga has affected me and helped me become a stronger person, both physically and mentally. Women don’t generally have it easy in society–never have. We are often harassed, dictated to and disrespected on the whole. While societal progress has been made, it’s an unfortunate fact that women are the main targets for physical attacks, and things need to change. It’s impossible to change everyone’s perception of women and it’s impossible to prevent every attack from happening; however, it’s possible for women to fight back (literally) and learn to protect themselves should such an incident occur. This is one of the main reasons I started taking Krav Maga.
When I was a little girl, my father would always tell me to “just kick where it hurts if they try to touch you.” Interestingly, an attack to the groin is a common tactic and is frequently drilled into Krav students’ heads. Not only is it effective, but it’s usually the quickest way to disarm and distract your attacker. And yes, it does work on women assailants as well. Before studying Krav, I always imagined that should anything happen to me, I’d probably do exactly what my father said. I never thought about the possibility of someone carrying a weapon, or just immediately tackling me and pinning me down. How on earth could I give a groin kick if I was in no position to do so physically? Many of my female friends carry pepper-spray, so I thought that I should start carrying some too. Never got around to buying it though. There have been times when I have been followed and talked to (some would call it harassed) as well as plenty of potentially dangerous situations I found myself in before Krav. It will soon be my first anniversary since starting classes and I have to say that my mindset has completely changed.
As a New Yorker, I’ve always been cautious and aware of my surroundings, but at times, a little too carefree. Do I really know what to do in a situation should my life or physical well-being be threatened? What would I do if not one, but two or a group of people ever followed me? What if an attacker had a weapon? What if he was tall and buff? These were questions I’d constantly ask myself, and sometimes still do. But now I know several courses of action I can take depending on the situation: I know how to try and scare offenders away by using a loud voice. I know not to panic if I feel in danger. (Okay, panic a little, but don’t show it!) I now know several disarmament strategies when someone is utilizing a weapon and I know that it’s not necessary to kill the attacker. Most importantly, it’s okay to run away from a fight if it means saving your life.
I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts about the importance of having poise, confidence, remaining calm and minding your surroundings. The calmness part is probably the most difficult preparation for me and it’s something I continue to improve on. The element of surprise theme is used in every class and it helps prepare you for a situation you may face in your lifetime. The only ways you can be completely prepared for an attack are: 1) not letting yourself get into a dangerous situation (not becoming an easy target) and 2) practice with your eyes closed in every simulation. The old me would be too afraid to try this and forget her surroundings. The new me now walks in public with knowledge and confidence, not afraid to take on a challenge.
This post was written by a guest writer. Taylor L.
We are blessed with a great team of instructors.
Markus Anderson, who came all the way from Denmark to join our international team. Markus dedicated a significant part of his life to practicing and teaching martial arts. After running his own club in Copenhagen, training the Danish army, and special police units he decided to dedicate his time to teaching Krav Maga in NYC.
1. What Motivated You To Study Martial Arts?
When I was a kid I used to play soccer and doing other sports just like any other kid. At the age of 15, I wanted to learn how to fight and defend myself. Some of my friends had taken up Martial Arts and I was impressed by how well they could kick. Van Damme was one of the biggest action heroes at that time so being able to kick high was equal to being able to fight well.
So, I quit soccer, which I was never really good at anyway, and stepped into the martial arts world. I really liked the fact that it was up to me, and not others, if I won or loose in a fight or in sparring. I also loved learning new moves and pushing myself to become stronger and faster.
2. Where Does Your Inspiration Come From?
My inspiration comes from two sources: First from my students, who inspires me every day. From the beginner who is just about to learn how to move, punch and kick. Seeing how they become more and more confident for every training session. To the more advanced ones who´s been training for a while. Who is able to get out of more difficult situations and being very efficient at defending themselves.
The second thing that inspires me is that Martial Arts is a never-ending journey. There´s always a new move or skill that I can learn or improve.
3. Did You Ever Had To Use Your Fighting Skills Outside of Class?
I´ve worked in the security field for 8+ years so there´s been more than a few situations were I´ve had to use Krav Maga. Either to stop fights, control people until the police come or to defend me from violent attacks.
4. What’s Your Advise To Newbies?
Focus on the basics first. How to move and through hard kicks and punches is the most important. The rest will come. Advanced skills are the basics mastered. Dedicate yourself to training, consistency is key to become a great Krav Maga practitioner.
If you have more questions for Markus, leave comments on our facebook page!
Welcome back to the KME blog! Today, after doing two back-to-back Krav classes, Strike and Krav Maga, I went over the exercises I improved on since coming here, and the ones that needed some more work. My punches have become stronger and more focused, though the pivoting on my feet could probably use a little less jerkiness. Remember, you’re never going to leave a Krav class without feeling sore or seeing some weird bruisings and scratch marks. As these thoughts were going through my head, I started thinking about what I learned since starting these classes, what took me by surprise, and how did I change as a person within the past year. Below, are several examples of things I did not know about Krav Maga before taking these classes.
1. Heavily martial arts based
Firstly, before taking Krav Maga, I had the smallest bit of knowledge about this fighting tactic, but the only move I was able to witness was the flipping of someone onto their back. My small exposure to Krav shaped my overall assumption of it into a cool, kick-ass Kung Fu-type of fighting tactic. The moment I took my first Krav class, I realized how off my assumption was. Learning how to punch properly, especially the jab-cross and hooks, opened my eyes and I suddenly recognized these movements. Though boxing was never an activity I wanted to pursue, I had seen enough ads on TV of boxing to familiarize myself with the common punches to the face and side of the head. Never in my life could I imagine myself learning the same moves as these scary people who did it competitively.
It wasn’t until some of the stretches we did that I began to use my legs a lot. The side squats, landing into a front kick, or the shadow-boxing and practicing my high kicks in the air all helped with my formation of roundhouse kicks on the kick shield. Then, I thought, that some of the kicks we learned reminded my of typical karate posters of a student performing a high kick in the air.
Finally, ground fighting, my least favorite. Struggling with another person on the ground until one of us makes it on top, well that just made me think of wrestling. All of these fighting tactics were derived from different forms of martial arts, combined together, rules tossed out the window, and there you get Krav Maga.
2. Based off of Instinct
Krav Maga makes you think on your feet, be cautious, but remain calm. Kind of like the way all those cool protagonists act in those Kung Fu movies, but without the flying in the air. In Krav, the element of surprise is stressed in each class, whether that be someone coming from behind you jumping out in front, etc. It’s a scary situation to imagine and practice, but if you do find yourself in a similar situation in real life, you probably won’t be thinking about the steps you learned in class perfectly, if at all. This is the part that I was unsure about. How could you effectively fight off an attacker if you suddenly couldn’t remember the moves and steps you learned? It is at that exact point in time when the order does not matter, what matters is protecting yourself and getting away. When you close your eyes in those simulation attacks, suddenly, your mind is more alert than usual and your instinct kicks in to fight/fight off the assailant in any way possible. Take what you learned and use it!
3. Street fighting environment–no rules!
Adding on to the instinct part of Krav Maga, I had mentioned that the element of surprise is often discussed during lessons and the reasons for this is that there are no rules in Krav Maga! I automatically assumed that Krav, like other MMA (mixed martial arts), had some rules for them. Knowing that Krav Maga is used in the IDF for training the soldiers, I still thought that some rules may apply. I was very wrong. Practically every scenario that is taught in Krav is a dark alleyway, with an attacker sneaking up behind you, or you’re surrounded by others.
4. Includes weapons
The little knowledge I had on Krav Maga only allowed me to picture people using their hands and legs, kind of like a more aggressive version of Taichi. Not that any other object/weapon couldn’t be used, but I thought that perhaps it wasn’t part of the norm and deemed too fancy for this type of self-defense. It wasn’t until taking my first weapons class that I learned about gun safety and how to use my skills to take away a weapon and use it against the attacker. I also learned how to attack someone properly, if need be.
5. Endurance level must be high (it will get there)
This part may seem silly, but when I observed my sister’s class last summer, I thought to myself “I could totally do this. It doesn’t seem too difficult. I’ve been on numerous sports teams and our practices were daily for 3 hours!” I was not expecting to be completely out of breath and drenched in sweat within the first 10 minutes of EVERY class. Not to insult or dissuade anyone from learning Krav, but being fit is key in order to successfully learn how to fight and defend yourself. I cannot stress enough how valuable the many push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and planks are, despite my pains from them. The purpose of all of them, what I eventually came to conclude, is to build up your strength so when you punch quickly or kick quickly, you can do it without tiring yourself out early and your hits will be much more focused. It builds up your endurance level so that you’ll leave class confident and accomplished, instead of dead tired and broken (like I did the first week of starting Krav).
6. Strategize (so many steps!)
When I first heard of Krav Maga, I didn’t have a clear picture of what it really was and how it was taught. So, of course, I was completely floored when I saw how many steps you had to memorize in order to successfully do a back kick from being shoved down, or come out from under someone sitting on you. I didn’t know the importance of each step because it didn’t occur to me that my fighting tactic won’t necessarily work if I were in a panic and forgot the steps. I realized that it was crucial to question why you perform each move, what would happen if you did x instead of y? Everyone is at risk if they don’t execute the moves, but, even in a quick state of stress, if you are still able to follow the steps you learned. Even if they’re not beautiful or super fast, you can still fight back efficiently.
7. Not necessarily meant for killing
Lastly, perhaps the most important one to me–before, when I knew very little about Krav, I thought it was a killing tactic. Given the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, I thought that this fighting tactic was created specifically to take out the enemy. After sitting in on a class and taking my own (I’ve been in it for almost a year now), I put aside my own feelings and was pleasantly surprised at how often I would hear the words “it’s okay to run away from your attacker” or “disarm the attacked and be alert”. I learned that Krav Maga could be used as a way to take out an opponent, but that the mentality of people who are Krav experts is focussed on protecting and defending yourself and loved ones.
This post was written by a guest writer. Taylor L.
We approached the familiar old building on 12th street and University Place–usually, my younger sister and I went there for doctor visits. Today, I would be sitting in a class that my sister had started taking earlier that summer. No, it wasn’t her typical ballet classes that she used to dominate in. It was something less elegant, perhaps more demanding, just as impressive, and 10x more fierce. I have always heard about the self-defense tactic, Krav Maga, but never truly understood what it was, exactly how it was used, and never did I imagine that someone of my height and build could learn to take down a 6’ male or face multiple attackers at once.
You may have heard of Krav Maga if you have read Daniel Silva’s espionage mystery novels, or are acquainted with Israeli citizens, especially those who served in their army. At the end of the day, when I spoke with others about this fighting tactic, it seemed that Krav Maga gained the reputation of being used to kill your opponent. I now know that this is not always the case.
As my sister and I took the elevator up to the 9th floor, she is dressed in the typical Krav Maga Experts uniform, and me, in my olive-green sundress, a sudden feeling of intimidation began to creep up through my spine. Even though I would just be observing a session, not to mention a women’s one, the assumption that these women must be pretty strong and skillful in order to participate lingered. I always regarded myself as fairly athletic after years of being on school sports team since elementary school, this confidence soon started to fade the moment the class began and I saw how many push-ups, burpees, punches and kicks these women had to give for a whole hour. I was nothing compared to them. Sitting on that bench with a full view of the class, watching each woman move, get into fight stance and work together with their partners, it was something surreal. It amazed me to see strangers partnering up for exercises and being quite friendly with each other, coming from different levels of expertise within Krav, yet somehow, being able to work fluidly. The comfort and confidence slowly came back to me as the class ended with a “Kida” and an applause. It was then when I booked my own Krav class for the following weekend.
Soon enough, I was dressed in athletic clothing, barefoot and just a bit nervous, ready to take my first Krav lesson! I chose an all-women’s session because I was afraid of the endurance level in a class with men in it and possible competitive atmosphere. I wanted to take my time with this new experience, without being judged. The instructor was a woman, Kira, and throughout the entire hour, she encouraged me to get meaner, stop saying “sorry” to my partners during the exercises, fixed my form constantly. All of these suggestions would help me become a stronger and better fighter today, albeit, I still apologize due to my long nails from time to time. It was after the class when I realized I wanted to learn more techniques, more dangerous situations, and perhaps most importantly, learn how to remain focused if I ever happened to find myself in such a situation. Trying to compare the pros and cons of continuing these classes, I decided that I could get used to the exuberant amount of sweat, body odor, soreness, bruises and tough love from the instructors. What mattered to me was learning to protect myself because I know that women have always been the unfortunate targets of attacks. In my mind, better to be prepared for an attack, than hope that no one would do such a thing.
I began going to Krav more often–once a week, twice a week, three times. Now, I try to do back-to-back classes twice a week. Eventually, the workouts became easier; I learned how to do a proper push-up, my breathing became more paced, punches more focused onto one spot, and roundhouse kicks are one of my favorites. The continuous strikes, correcting my form as much as possible, finding my balance, squaring up my shoulders, and switching fight stances all helped me remain calm during simple spars with other students. Every class, I leave with confidence, knowing that even if I can’t take down a 6’ man in one swoop, I have other options of which escaping is included.
This post was written by a guest writer. Taylor L.
As Israel celebrates 70 years of existence, we can stop to reflect on the fact that in so short a time a nation under constant siege from hostile states has contributed so many positive inventions for the rest of humanity. Most of the technology used today whether it’s a mobile phone, computer chip, Facebook, anti-virus software, teleconferencing software or the battery of your electric car, originated in Israel.
Since it’s beginning in 1948, the State of Israel has faced many hostile players in the restless, convoluted political landscape of the Middle East. Having its back against the wall on many occasions has forced Israel to become very innovative. It is this constant state of innovation
that keeps Israel ahead of the competition and on the cutting edge.
Another area that Israel has demonstrated important advances are in the areas of the military and security. A byproduct of both of these fields is Krav Maga, an intense self-defense system designed to train an individual against a personal aggression regardless of sex, age or size. Krav Maga is the essence of Israel: Defending oneself against all odds.
Developed in the 1930s by Imi Lichtenfeld, a Hungarian born Jew, Krav Maga uses natural movements and reactions as defense followed by an immediate, decisive counter-attack. In 1944 Lichtenfeld began training the Israeli Defense Forces with these techniques. It was not until 1964, when Lichtenfeld retired from the army that the civilian aspects of Krav Maga were developed and taught. Men and women were both encouraged to participate and engage in Krav. It doesn’t require any particular skill and everyone is allowed to participate.
Krav Maga raises your sense of awareness and as you engage in learning the techniques you become more self-confident of your ability to fight back an aggressor. For many women, this could be a sexual predator or serial rapist. Having the knowledge to fight back effectively empowers the person rather than being a victim. Being able to fight back gives one a greater sense of security instead of falling into a state of depressing victimhood.
Learning the self-defense craft of Krav Maga mirrors the history of Israel fighting to legitimize its existence in a hostile environment. Many times Israel’s statehood was challenged whether it was the Six Day War, the many acts of terrorism like the killing of Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972, the Sabena Flight 571 hijacking also in ‘72, and the Air France hijacking of 1976 ending with the famous rescue raid on Entebbe. The idea is always to defend and counter-attack any aggression. In the case of the plane hijackings, Israelis did not negotiate with the terrorists to resolve the issue. The negotiations were really just to buy time in order to get their anti-terrorist forces organized to execute a planned and coordinated attack. At the time other governments wanted to give in to terrorist demands. Belgium, for example, wanted to give the Sabena hijackers 5 million dollars to end the standoff. Eventually, specially trained commandos raided and ended the hijacking, just as they did in Entebbe in a much larger military operation.
On a personal level, Krav Maga sets the mindset so that we can also defend and counter strike rather than give in to an aggressor’s demands. Through consistent training, our minds are set up in a way that responds to aggression when it crosses our path. We bypass the usual fears a non-trained person would have which is if an aggressor is larger, heavier or armed with a weapon. It doesn’t mean we are not afraid, we simply react according to our training. We assess a dangerous situation and take the necessary action to address the aggression.
As Israel celebrates it’s 70 years, the world should take notice not just of the technological inventions, but also how this tiny nation of 8.5 million is empowering the average and non-average individual how to defend oneself and being free from becoming just another victim or statistic.