FitFashionista: Krav Maga - The Yin to My Yang

As many of my friends and social media followers know, I started my journey with yoga back in early April. And I have loved every single second of it. The sweat, the way it takes away aches and pains, and the way I can leave all my cares and worries behind me, right on the mat. But my journey with yoga is for another place and another time. 

Today, I decided to finally give in and take a Krav Maga seminar. For those of you unfamiliar with Krav Maga (קרב מגע), it's the martial art that is taught to the IDF (Israeli Defense Force.) It is not a singular system, but rather, the various approaches of hand-to-hand combat that is taught to IDF soldiers and operatives. Shawn, who's made guest appearances on this blog, wrote a piece about his experience with Krav Maga a couple months ago. But, unlike him, who's had martial arts training, I have had none. Zip. Zero. I don't think I even know how to throw a punch correctly. But Krav Maga Yashir - Boston was offering a donate-what-you-can seminar in aid to the Red Cross' disaster relief fund and it was all about being taken hostage and not letting it progress to an abduction.

So let's just get this out of the way: their location will scare the living daylights out of you. You feel like you need to know Krav Maga just to get there. Okay, maybe it's not that bad. But it's literally on the docks of Charlestown. But let's get to the more fun stuff!

What did I learn today?

 I'm sure everyone knows about the events that unfolded in Boston last month. And I'm sure everyone remembers that someone had gotten taken along with their car the night before they arrested the second suspect. I learned how to disarm a person if they:

  • come at me with a rear choke, and a gun to my head
  • come at me from behind with a knife to my throat and,
  • point a gun straight at my face.

The two most important things I learned today are that (1) anyone can learn the very basics of Krav Maga and protecting themselves; it doesn't matter if you're 5 feet tall like I am, or if you're much taller than me and (2) doing something is always better than doing nothing. You have decisions in situations like this - there's the best decision and the most effective decision. Sometimes, the most effective isn't the best, but it's what will take you out of the situation and get yourself to safety.

Who can or should take Krav Maga?

Everyone and anyone. It's never a bad time to learn how to proect yourself in situations. What Krav Maga does, is it takes things that are human nature (i.e. freezing if someone is pointing a gun at your face) and teaches you to react correctly to get yourself to safety. Especially in today's day and age, where muggings and rapes are so common, it's especially important for people, especially young women, to know how to protect themselves. The common misconception is that we should just "kick them in the..." well, you know.

What was the most awesome part of class today?

The Stress Test. I have a love/hate relationship with it. So basically, each person had one minute. You get to punch, open hand hit, kick, elbow - whatever you want to the bag for this entire minute. Oh, wait, but there's a catch. During this minute, the other people that get put in your group rear choke you, hold you up with a gun, point a gun to your head during a rear choke or hold a knife to your neck. (Obviously, they're all plastic. But still.) You have your adrenaline going and your cardio going. And you have to get out of every scenario and get back to the bag. The other part, that scared the living daylights out of me but made me realize just how easy it would be for someone to maneuver my body was... I stood, eyes closed, and waited for someone to rear choke me with a gun to my head. What? Yeah. Having sight taken away is a scary thing. And until you've felt someone with their forearm against your throat, you really don't know how it feels. 

Why am I calling Krav Maga the Yin to my Yang?

Well, for the past month or so, I have learned inner peace on the yoga mat and how to listen to my body. Krav Maga isn't about the Zen of things - there is heightened adrenaline in situations involving guns and knives. Today, I learned that it's okay to use my entire body weight to defend myself against an assailant - that's really all I have. Who are my punches really going to hurt? But I think Krav Maga is a great balance to my inner serenity that I have gotten from Yoga - it teaches you to listen to yourself and your instincts, just like Yoga does. And while Yoga teaches you to shine the light from your heart center to the world, Krav Maga teaches you reminds you that there are still people who want to cause harm and there needs to be a way that you can defend yourself against that.

So, there you have it. I survived. If I can surive something like this, anyone can. And it's really in your best interest to try it out. Remember, when you're looking for a Krav Maga studio, do your research! Gershon Ben Keren, the head instructor at the studio I went to today, wrote a blog recently about what Krav Maga is and includes some insight about figuring out if you're actually taking a legitimate Krav Maga class. Will I be back for more seminars or even possibly weekly classes? I most definitely think so!

If you end up trying a Krav Maga class, let me know how it goes!