How Krav Maga Changed My Academic Performance 

Recently, one of our teen students had to write an essay and decided to write about his journey with Krav Maga Experts. This essay, written from the “student’s perspective” puts into words what academic research had proven; Learning self-defense improves academic performance¹ ², increases self-esteem², and a sense of self-worth.

The success of a teacher is only measured by the success of their students. Ethan is one of many students we have helped in the past decade. But to clarify, we only helped, all of the hard work is done by the student, not by the teacher. The teacher is only a guide.


Tsahi Shemesh

How Krav Maga Changed My Academic Performance 

Written by Eitan Toubia

After I was suspended for a day from middle school for getting into a fight, my mother decided I should try an activity that would teach me how to control and channel my emotions. She found a local studio that teaches Israeli self-defense system called  “
Krav Maga Experts“. As I walked into the studio for my first class, I immediately noticed the words written on the walls: “So that one may walk in peace.” I was to find out that Krav Maga prioritizes de-escalation and conflict resolution over fighting.  I learned that getting into a physical altercation means you have already failed the most important steps, being aware of the situation and finding a peaceful solution.

During the first class, I could barely catch my breath and my sweat dripped on the black padded studio floor. But I kept coming for more, and I improved mentally, physically, and emotionally.  My confidence grew each time I successfully executed a technique like getting out of a chokehold or bearhug. Every time I was stabbed by a water bottle that was supposed to represent a knife or disarmed a rubber gun from my partner’s hand, I felt motivated to practice more. What started as a way to get exercise and positively direct energy was becoming a philosophy of life that made me healthier in all aspects and started to influence my academic interests and passions. 

 Krav Maga has taught me focus, discipline, and patience, which have helped me grow as a learner and a student. Before I started Krav Maga, I had trouble focusing in the classroom. In middle school, I would regularly interrupt the class with comments to make people laugh, and they in turn would egg me on, which led to many visits to the Principal’s office.  Around this time, the lessons I was learning in Krav Maga twice a week about the importance of respecting myself and others began to sink in. When I started high school, I  decided that I wanted my classroom participation to promote discussion and encourage my peers rather than to give them a quick laugh (which I still like to do outside the classroom). Consequently, I always contribute to class discussions and am comfortable providing my views on the topic, whether that be through analyzing the psychology and philosophy of a character from a text in AP Literature; learning about possible solutions to the climate crisis in my Environmental Science SUNY ESF college class; or discussing pressing global issues in Philosophy.

 Imi Lichtenfeld, the founder of Krav Maga, once said that the aim of Krav Maga is “to work towards the bringing together of hearts and ending violence around the world between all people irrespective of color, race or religion.” This quote resonates with me because I have been blessed to grow up in a diverse, multicultural, and multilingual environment: I attend a public high school in Harlem, my parents were born and raised in France, and my four grandparents were all born and raised in different countries (France, Algeria, Tunisia, Iran). On a spiritual level, as a Jew, I have always been taught the importance of helping others while being tolerant of and interested in different world views. 

I want to do my part to “bring together hearts and end violence around the world.” Right now I am not sure what I want to study, but I know that I want it to be in a field that enriches lives, whether that be on a global scale by studying international affairs, or on a personal level by studying psychology. I know I want to make a difference in the world and be a global citizen because that is what motivates me and what will fulfill me intellectually and emotionally.


Further Reading:
¹ Promoting Self-Regulation through School-Based Martial Arts Training
Lakes, Kimberley D.; Hoyt, William T.   Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, v25 n3 p283-302 May-Jun 2004
² “I Can Take Care of Myself”: The Impact of Self-Defense Training on Women’s Lives By Jocelyn A. Hollander  March 1, 2004
³ Martial Arts and ADHD: A Meta-Analysis Marquez-Castillo, Ramfis L. Walden University. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2013. 3595201.