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Get fit and stay safe with Krav Maga

SELF DEFENCE: Krav Maga has been adopted by protection services around the world (Photo credit: Egor Pskov)

THE YEAR is 2012 and like most Londoners I was caught up with the Olympic buzz sweeping the nation.

I wanted to get involved in some level of sport or a fitness regime but I wasn’t sure what would best suit my lifestyle.

In previous years I spent my time on basketball courts, football pitches and even the odd salsa classes. These options were no longer practical, as I couldn’t find a group that was close to me and consistent enough to not lose interest.

As I started to lose all hope in rekindling my youthful, sporting years, my cousin introduced me to Krav Maga. He had mentioned it previously but I didn’t know enough about it to maintain any serious interest.

Krav Maga (meaning contact combat in Hebrew) is a self defence system used by the Israeli Defence Force and adopted by many law enforcement and protection services around the world.

It is known for its efficient counter attacks and focuses on quick effective ways to deal with real life threats or attacks.

The defences of Krav Maga are based on the body’s natural responses and it is suitable for anyone regardless of size, strength, gender or physical condition.

DANGEROUS

Even though I initially wanted to join in on the sporting activities after the success of London 2012, I came to understand that Krav Maga is not a sport or a martial art, as it has no rules or competitions.

Techniques are taught to get yourself out of dangerous and potentially life threatening situations. Another aspect in the training of Krav Maga is to react when you are completely surprised, which mirrors how a real attack would be on the streets.

The students are taught to be safe and also use the techniques as a last resort where there is no obvious escape route.

This was clearly evident in my first ever session where we were taught how to defend against someone pointing a gun to the head. I was and still amazed at the practical techniques and defences applied through Krav Maga that do not rely on strength or power to execute.

QUICKLY

Instead students are taught to strike vulnerable targets and practical ways to attack (as a form of defence against violent acts) quickly and effectively before escaping.


HARD GRAFT: Students completing stretching exercises before pad work

Throughout my six years of training, I’ve been taught defences against guns, knives (which unfortunately is becoming a very needed skill set) sticks and even multiple attackers (because it’s usually the case to be attacked by more than one person at the same time).

FITNESS

Along with the confidence of knowing how to react in certain threatening situations, I have found that Krav Maga has done wonders for my fitness. The classes are intense but highly enjoyable with a 20-30 mins cardio blast at the start to get the heart rate going.

The idea behind the intense warm up is to prepare you for an attack when you may find yourself at the most vulnerable (after a long day at work or physically tired from the gym and so on).

My training has definitely taught me a lot and I was so confident in its methods, techniques and how it can be used by anyone that I convinced my wife to join the classes.

She had her first class in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. ‘It gives me the confidence to protect myself and those around me” she regularly says to her female friends in an attempt to bring them along to train.

GRADING

There is a belt grading system (white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown and black) to test your abilities in pressure situations. Each belt has its own syllabus and the techniques and defences become more intense the higher you go.

I recently passed my blue belt grading, which involved defences against knives, sticks and chokes alongside other threats and attacks that you unfortunately hear about frequently on the news.

CONFIDENCE

My wife passed her orange belt grading late last year and it is amazing to see first hand what it has done for her confidence. Even though it is a great achievement to go through a grading and earn your belt, we are always reminded that out in the street an attacker will not respect what belt level you are.

When push comes to shove, you need to be able to apply the training you’ve had in any given situation.

FUTURE

The discipline attached to Krav Maga is a great quality and is something my wife and I are more than happy for our children to experience. Classes for children start from age 6 and I already have our son asking when he can begin. If there was one regret I have; it would be not starting a lot sooner.

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