Krav Maga, a series of non-competitive blocking and attacking techniques, finds many takers among women

It is with a faint sense of trepidation that I enter the studio at Talwalkars, Anna Nagar where a Krav Maga workshop is in session.

My first and only attempt at learning a martial art (karate) in college had been a rather intimidating experience. The detailed katas, rule-bound sparring and extensive nomenclature left me reeling.

In less than a year, I gave it all up — a yellow belt, a black eye and a highly shattered sense of dignity, my sole takeaways.

A few minutes into the session and I am hooked. Gone are the complexities of a traditional martial art.

This is simply getting down to the basics — a series of non-competitive blocking and attacking techniques based on natural movements and reactions.

Krav Maga, which literally means contact combat, was started by Imi Lichtenfeld, a former member of the Israeli defence forces. Imi was adept at a number of sports such as wrestling, boxing, swimming, martial arts and gymnastics.

“Street fights are unpredictable, dirty fights,” says S. Sreeram, coordinator and instructor of the International Krav Maga Federation, Indian edition.

“The layered techniques that constitute traditional martial arts, though great for fitness, are not necessarily effective in the real world because they are taught in controlled conditions.”

Ginny Jose, an HR manager with a leading MNC who has been practicing Krav Maga for nearly two years agrees, “Unlike traditional martial arts that take years of practise and training to master, one can grasp the essence of Krav Maga in a few months. I would recommend all women to take up a short term course in it. In fact I’m planning to organise a self-defence workshop for the women employees of my company.”

“We train women on how to handle a bigger aggressor,” says Sreeram.

Satish, a market analyst with a global IT consultancy, who has been practising the art for four years now, echoes a similar sentiment.

“The best thing is that size of the body doesn’t matter here as this system is based on body mechanics and reflexes.”

The Krav Maga class factors in all the key aspects of physical fitness — cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and most importantly, mental conditioning.

“That’s the best part of Krav Maga” says Abraham Holland who learnt the system in the U.S. and continued with it when he moved to India.

“It goes beyond the sheer physicality of self-defence. It teaches you how to focus during conflict and maintain composure when stressed.”

Puja Kant Alfred, a psychotherapist and certified EFT practitioner, who works with women survivors of abuse and has opted for a short-term course adds “Krav Maga instils a sense of awareness and sensitivity to change. Most women associate change with fear and go into freeze mode while dealing with an unprecedented situation. Krav Maga heightens perception and transforms this fear into something more productive.”

“Krav Maga is not about dominating a person but a situation. Use common sense while reacting to an aggressor. Try to defuse the situation. Utilise available objects, aim for vulnerable spots and try to keep the distance between you and the attacker as much as possible. Direct combat should be used as the last resort — often it escalates the problem. It is sometimes enough if you simply distract him for a few minutes and escape,” says Sreeram.