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Crazy about Krav Maga

Posted on May 5, 2019 | No Comments on Crazy about Krav Maga

Crazy about Krav Maga

In a society where danger lurks at every corner, knowing self-defense could mean the difference between life and death. Here’s the lowdown on Krav Maga, a self-defense method that has taken the country by storm for its practical approach to protection.

The girl looked warily at the guy standing a few feet from her, brandishing a small switchblade in his hand. She clutched her purse tightly, fearful at the thought that the stranger is after something other than her money. Slowly, the girl backs away, looking around for a way out of this mess, but it was already too late – the guy had already lunged at her with full strength…

With a couple of swift punches and well-placed kicks, the would-be attacker stumbles on the floor clutching his throat and letting go of his weapon. The girl flees in the other direction, thinking to herself that those Krav Maga lessons she took really paid off – without which the outcome of this scenario might have been completely different.

A practical art
“One thing you should know about Krav Maga is that it is not a martial art,” explains Edmundo Onsiaco, Krav Maga instructor. “It does not use any of the fancy movements you see in the movies, but it gives you a practical, straightforward approach to self-defense.”

Onsiaco, along with chief instructor Dindo de Jesus, are part of Krav Maga Philippines, a local group that teaches people about the close-combat system that is Krav Maga. This fighting style (developed by the Israeli army and later on modified for civilian use) revolves around striking an opponent’s most vulnerable parts (like the eyes, groin, throat and knees) with a barrage of kicks and punches, while also defending in the process.

Apart from these, Krav Maga also teaches people to strike preemptively, and to maintain a good sense of one’s surroundings at all times, which de Jesus refers to as “healthy paranoia.”

“Let’s say you are walking alone going to the carpark, you scan the area, analyze the surroundings, look for suspicious individuals,” explains de Jesus. “If you are eating in a restaurant with your family, you have to look who is around you, and where you’ll exit in case there is trouble.”

“We’ll train your psychology and teach you how you can use normal objects as weapons, like your chair, ballpen or even the table,” said de Jesus.

This “healthy paranoia” is only the first step to preventing unwanted encounters, but what to do if there is already a threat right in front of you? Onsiaco explains that part of Krav Maga’s training is teaching people the importance of dealing the first blow, contrary to other principles wherein you have to wait to be attacked first.
“Sometimes you might have to go ahead and strike,” said Onsiaco. “What if the person is already grabbing you? Will you allow him to grab you and hit you in the face?”

He explains that in a threatening situation, there are at most two reactions: either you fight or you flee. “You can’t stay there and wait for him to hit you,” he said. “My suggestion is if the threat is there and you don’t want to fight, just walk away.”

However, this is not to say that one should just start throwing punches without rhyme or reason. Krav Maga is still deeply rooted on self-defense, except that it focuses on aggression with technique to prevent an enemy from making a critical move. It teaches people to react instinctively and decisively, like choosing to stop a gunman from taking out his weapon rather than waiting for him to point it at you already, which is already too late.”The self defense of Krav is so efficient that you don’t need to overkill your opponent, just neutralize them. Krav’s technique is based on natural movements, from there the technique is made,” said de Jesus. And unlike other martial arts, the techniques of Krav are also evolving in the sense that it constantly strives to find better and more effective ways of disarming. You don’t have to worry about punching the wall a hundred times to learn an age-old technique, only to find out too late that it is already outdated.

“If in Israel they discover a more effective technique (against guns or knives), then our instructor learns it and we adapt it. It is not ridden throughout the century that this should be the only way how to block or how to punch,” said de Jesus. “Its very dynamic and that is our difference.”

Situation-based technique
Currently, Krav Maga is steadily gaining popularity for its holistic approach to self-defense. But because it is relatively new and unheard of by many here in the Philippines, there are a few who are skeptical of this fighting style.

It doesn’t help that the media portrays it in a negative light too –type “Krav Maga” in your Google search and you’re likely to stumble on articles saying how deadly Krav Maga is or how it can kill someone with one strike, instead of accentuating its finer points. There are also misconceptions that this combat style is suited only for professional fighters, as several techniques bear similarities to mixed martial arts (MMA).

“A lot of people think we are MMA because they see moves similar to MMA, like takedowns, grapple and kicks,” said Onsiaco. “But we always tell them ‘No, what you see in MMA are rules. There are things you can’t do once you step into the octagon, like hitting an opponents vital parts.”

There are no rules here indeed, except for survival. Unlike most martial arts, Krav Maga does not have sports, or rankings, or belts. But what it lacks in those aspects, it makes up for in practicality and realism. A crash course in Krav will have you defending against simulated attacks involving knives, guns, sticks and, yes, even grenades. “Well, as long as it hasn’t been thrown at you yet!” joked de Jesus.

“I’m not a fan of martial art, but when I discovered Krav, its not like traditional martial arts,” said de Jesus. “Krav is a real life technique that you can use right away even with only one day training. Very easy to learn and hard to forget.”

It comes to no surprise that Krav is utilized by many military and security personnel worldwide for its emphasis on disarming weapons which some martial arts may be lacking. In fact, de Jesus reveals that there are Krav Maga branches here that specialize in training our local law enforcers. “The presidential security group was trained in Krav Maga before they were given to President Noynoy,” said de Jesus.

Apart from defending against weapons, students of Krav Maga are also taught to react in situational events. Not all attacks will be direct, wherein you’ll get a full view of the opponent’s weapon as he stands in front of you. In most cases, people can attack you at the most inopportune moment, like when you are sitting inside your car or even when you are taking a leak. This is where Krav Maga’s “scenario” training comes in.

“We teach a technique and we simulate it in different scenarios,” said de Jesus. “Let’s say that you are pinned to a wall, someone is choking you, or you are being attacked while seated on a chair- we’ll teach you what to do and what technique to use in those events.”

The “scenario” training they get here will then be applied in the “City Extreme,” a yearly Krav Maga event wherein the students will be taken to parks, bars and other settings to act out what they learned. The attacks are simulated of course, but the sheer realism of the scenario (as compared to being safe in the gym) will put the students under a lot of stress, which will determine if they really learned the technique or not.

“We believe that if a student can execute a technique under stress, then he knows it by heart,” said de Jesus.

Kick-ass fitness
Apart from giving Chuck Norris a run for his money, Krav Maga also doubles as an effective fitness regiment. Each training session starts-off with exercises that develop key aspects needed in Kray. For example, don’t be surprised if you enter a Krav class one day to find students punching a run-away pad, and then doing a series of push-ups and squats afterwards. Though enjoyable, this exercise is meant to train a student’s agility and endurance, while following the Krav principle of hitting a target constantly.

On their part, Dindo and Edmundo know all too well the importance of having fun while teaching Kray. “We have a lot of exercises and warm up before the technique is taught. By then, it becomes very lively,” said Onsiaco. “We start slow, then speed up, then change partners since students have different idiosyncrasies.”

“Towards the end we make it more exciting by giving them a problem solving scenario. Like say the lesson for today will be about someone grabbing you from behind and bearhugging you. We’ll see how they react,” he added.

Students can also keep in tip-top shape with some kettleball exercises, which is also referred to as “Krav Maga fitness.” Using a kettleball – or a cannonball-like object with handles – students do a series of regiments, while holding the weight at all times. Compared to your normal gym workout, kettleball exercises don’t just focus on one muscle group in particular; rather, it puts most of the body’smuscle to work, with emphasis on an individual’s core. In a way, it is complementary to Krav Maga because it builds resistance and power without the unnecessary bulk.

“You see weightlifters with bodies that are too big that they can’t move,” said Onsiaco. “The kettleball builds power and makes you stronger without having to sacrifice mobility.”

“You can throw down someone big without having to look buffed-up,” he added. “The kettleball is also very enjoyable since you don’t have to take your time with it, just do the regiment as fast as you possibly can.”

Incidentally, this fun factor proves to be a very important element to Onsiaco. The Krav instructor had long been suffering from diabetes and needed some rigorous activities to combat the disease. However, after finding out that he gets bored by weightlifting at the gym, he opted to learn Krav Maga while doing kettleball training inthe process, two things which he enjoys greatly.

“A few years back, I remember that I was in really bad shape,” recalls Onsiaco. “Talagang loser ako non. I even had to walk with a cane!”

Now, I feel great and very healthy with Krav Maga. It’s really fun and it really helped me with my disease,” he said.

Whatever the reason may be, be it for self-defense or for fitness sake, many individuals both young and old are getting into the Krav Maga craze. Despite being relatively young here in the country, Krav Maga has already captured the hearts of many for its practical approach to self-defense, focusing on keeping the user as safe as possible while eliminating any threat. This only goes to show that amid all the fanfare about protective gadgets (like pepper sprays or taser), a body well-trained in Krav is really all the weapon you’ll ever need.

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