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.