We’ve all heard the horror stories and we’ve all watched the movies, and we know the feeling of walking alone at night or even down an empty sidewalk. And we have reason to be afraid–every 98 seconds, someone is a victim of sexual assault in the United States.
We might carry around pepper spray or even hold our keys between our knuckles, but that can only do so much. What we need is to be able to defend ourselves in any scenario.
With this in mind, I decided to take some krav maga classes. Krav maga is a form of self defense developed for the Israeli Defense Force that consists of aikido, judo, boxing, savate, and wrestling, along with realistic fight training. It’s known for its real world training and brutal counter attacks.
Needless to say, I was a little nervous.
I walked into the Academy of Combative Defense and Fitness in San Jose expecting the worst: huge intimidating men laughing at a girl who’s barely over five feet trying to take down a guy twice her size.
That was far from what happened. Yes, there were huge intimidating men but they were the kindest, most helpful people I have ever met. They had infinite patience, went over the moves until I got them down perfectly, and gave encouragement and critiques exactly when I needed them.
I walked in with zero experience, and had no idea what was going on. I was thrown in with a group of people who had been there for years and had krav maga down to a science. The instructor threw me in and had faith I would figure it out.
I did eventually. But it took a lot of help from the other students. We played a “tagging” game where the objective was to tag the other person’s shoulders, knees, and feet while protecting yourself. Every single partner I had gave me tips, showed me how to get the most taps in, and how to effectively protect myself. By the end of the game, I had learned more about self defense in five minutes than I had in 17 years.
We practiced different kinds of kicks and punches and what to do in a specific scenario. Let me tell you, kicking someone in the crotch for 45 minutes is better than therapy.
I learned how to get out of a chokehold in almost every scenario possible, what to do if I got pushed down, and even how to disarm a weapon. We learned what to do if someone stabs you with a knife in a few possible scenarios, how to disarm a gun, and how to put someone in a wrist lock. The moves might take a few tries to get down, but the feeling of bringing a 6’2’’ 250 pound man to his knees is incredible.
Senior Frinneth Rueda joined me in the classes. “[Krav maga] is definitely a ten out of ten. Learning how to take down a guy four times bigger than you is one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done,” says Rueda.
Knowing how to defend yourself is not only necessary, it’s empowering. I’m not a self defense expert by any means, but now I feel safer walking home at night or even going to a party. It takes more than just brute force to overtake someone. As my krav maga instructor said, it doesn’t matter how much more your attacker can bench press. If you hit them in the right places, they’re going to go down.
I cannot emphasize how important these classes are. We learned how to get out of a bear hold, something that happens most often when someone is distracted with their phone or focused on other tasks. The first few partners I had were women roughly my size and height. It was great to partner with them to get an idea of the motions, but they couldn’t impersonate a real attacker.
Well, the last partner I had was the exact opposite. Almost half a foot taller than me and built like a quarterback, he definitely resembled an attacker. Having been in krav maga for a while, he knew exactly what he was doing. His job was to attack me from either behind or from the side so I could try to get out of his bear hold.
And he did not hold back.
The first time, he just held on tightly until I forced myself out of his hold. The second time he attacked, he actually picked me up a few feet off the ground until I was just a wriggling mess. After a few tries, I was finally able to get out of his hold and effectively defend myself.
This was the best experience I could have ever had. The panic I felt at being completely defenseless; completely at his mercy, is something I never want to feel again.
“It’s almost liberating, being able to defend yourself against any attack.” says krav maga instructor Woodrow Mosqueda. These skills are not a privilege. Everyone has the right to learn basic self defense, and in this day and age, it’s necessary.
We’d all like to believe that our neighborhoods, homes, and schools are the safest places on Earth. The sad fact remains that those are the most likely places to get attacked. The feeling of walking home or down an empty sidewalk and not having to be afraid is incredible. Everyone needs to be able to feel safe in the place they call home.
If self defense is something you’re interested in, here are a few places that will teach you the skills necessary to defend yourself:
The Academy of Combative Defense and Fitness on 5833 Cottle Rd, San Jose, 95123 is having a two week free trial.
Academy of Self Defense on 3475 Woodward Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95054 is having a two week free trial as well.
Defense-Ability on Campbell, CA 95009 is a class specifically tailored to teach women to defend themselves against common attacks.
Wushu Central on 879 Coleman Ave, San Jose, CA 95110 is a combination of fitness and self defense. They will teach you how to defend yourself while giving you a great workout.