Krav Maga teaches self-defense, prepares students for potentially dangerous situations
The Brandeis Krav Maga Club is a student-run club that teaches self-defense using realistic training and real-world scenarios in order to make students accustomed to the stresses of situations where self-defense is necessary. Krav Maga is a military self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces. Students are taught verbal and physical methods to avoid potential threats, in addition to defensive and offensive maneuvers in cases when avoidance fails. It is a combination of boxing, wrestling, aikido, judo and karate along with realistic fight training. According to the Krav Maga Boston Club ,“The principles of Krav Maga are simple: 1) Address an immediate danger, 2) Attack simultaneously, 3) Eliminate the threat, 4) Disengage.”
This year’s captains are Elyse Hahn ’20 and Rose O’Keefe-Hoeck ’20, and the two main coaches are Karen Armato and Jordan Howard. The team’s coaches are well qualified and come from the Alpha Krav Maga Boston club. Coach Amato holds a black belt in Premier Martial Arts and also a black belt in Krav Maga. In fact, she is one of the highest-ranking female instructors on the East Coast.
All students are welcome to join Krav Maga and no experience is necessary. At the start of the school year, the club starts all new members with what are called the basics. The basics include the fighting stance, movement and striking from different ranges. As the year progresses, more advanced training begins, so those who start at the beginning of the year have a smoother learning curve than those who join in the middle of the year. However, newcomers who have no previous Krav Maga experience are still welcome to join at any time and can jump right in to start learning techniques. On average, every September the club starts with about 15-25 people at each practice, but by the middle of the semester the practices average about 10 people per practice.
Because Krav Maga is a self-defense system, there are no competitions. The goal of the club is to teach techniques of personal self-defense, and it is never used outside of practice. That being said, , the team members can test for belts. In fact, if a student consistently attends practice, they will have learned enough to be able to test for their yellow belt certificate by the end of their first year in the club. There are seven belt colors that an individual can earn in Krav Maga. All members start as a white belt and have to test to progress to higher levels. The highest and most advanced level is black.
The club practices every Monday and Thursday from 8 to 9 p.m. in the Linsey mat room, above the pool in the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center. Attendance is not required, but it is highly encouraged. The more practices that members attend, the more skills members learn.
The sport of Krav Maga involves a lot of physical contact, so members bond during practice, because they get up close and physical with their partners, practicing ground fighting positions on the mat or holding pads for them to practice strikes. Members also get time to chat before and after practice. The club’s supplies are owned by the club (tombstone pads, boxing gloves and focus mitts), and sometimes the instructors bring foam sticks or rubber guns for practicing weapon defenses.
When practicing, it is extremely important to listen to both the coach and partner. Most importantly, you must stop if your coach says “stop” or “time” — even if you’re in the middle of a drill. Finally, if your partner taps out or says to go easier, you must respect that. Safety comes first, and you must trust your partner to speak up.