Krav Maga makes its way westward to St. Augustine

By Isobel Haynes |

It isn’t an Olympic sport, it doesn’t have a college or professional standing, and you most likely wouldn’t practice it in gym class–unless you went to high school in Israel.

Krav Maga one of the best forms of self-defense that’s used internationally by both police forces and the military. Literally translated from Hebrew into English it means “contact-combat” and has been around for less than 100 years. Its impact has been felt worldwide, even here, at Flagler College.

Where’d it come from?

Krav Maga came to the scene in the mid-twentieth century out of pure necessity. Its founder, Imi Lichtenfeld, developed it after his move to Palestine. His experience with antisemitism here drove him to take to the streets to protect those in Jewish communities who could not protect themselves. Lichtenfeld himself was well versed in boxing and other forms of martial arts, but his time on the streets taught him the valuable lesson that while his previous training was helpful, it was not fast enough to deal with “real life” combat seen on the streets. This lesson taught Lichtenfeld to adapt and evolve his fighting style to one that uses muscle memory and instinct to protect oneself from an attack.

After Lichtenfeld had developed this defense style, the State of Israel was formed in 1948, and the Israeli Defense Force was formed with it. The IDF used Lichtenfeld and his new form of self-defense to train their officers. Lichtenfeld himself was in the IDF for almost two decades, where he had the time to perfect his new fighting style. All this time later Krav Maga is still changing. It is also still being used by Israeli government forces, such as their military, and has now been adapted to fit into police training. For example, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office now uses it to practice, too.

What is it?

First and foremost, Krav Maga does not go out looking for a fight. The purpose of Krav Maga is to be well equipped in case an attack presents itself against you. However, both offensive and defensive tactics are taught in order to ensure that the fight ends as quickly as possible.

The attack styles center on the vulnerable parts of the body so that the attacker can be taken down easier. Another key element in Krav Maga is a concept called “situational awareness,” which is an enhanced understanding of the environment around you, with the ability to predict how current happenings in that environment will impact you in the future. So, when learning Krav Maga, you’re training your body to react to certain stimuli in different situations in order to protect yourself from an attack.

Why is it important?

In the world that we live in today, the motto has become “better safe than sorry.” College students are targets for attacks these days, and with the increase in attacks, there is an increase in the demand for protection.

As young adults, we have recently started to explore the new world of independence we’re in. This means that we are alone, with no experience, and the perfect clueless targets for predators.

Krav Maga can provide a sense of security and the ability to protect yourself. In Krav Maga, you’re your best protection. If you’re planning to enlist in the military anytime soon, be prepared, because, across the globe, militaries use Krav Maga to train their recruits. Krav Maga is also used by some police agencies to train their recruits–it was designed around the concept of training those who choose to protect the public.

Krav Maga also offers lifestyle benefits. Mr. Ken Durling of ATA Martial Arts located in St. Augustine has stated that it’s a great cardio workout, so perhaps if the treadmill or elliptical isn’t your cup of tea, Krav Maga just might be. It also allows you to be more active mentally in your daily life.

Rather than keeping you on edge about the possible dangers that could confront you through your day to day life, Krav Maga offers a sense of awareness, a lens to see the world through that makes you more aware. Krav Maga can also offer a confidence boost, as many training styles can. The feeling of accomplishment achieved when mastering the training of Krav Maga is one of total self-confidence. Being able to protect yourself, the sense of security and independence gives you a feeling of confidence.

Where can I learn Krav Maga in St. Augustine?

Krav Maga training can be found across the nation, and even right here in the Nation’s Oldest City. The closest classes to Flagler College are located on U.S. 1, about a 10-minute drive from the heart of campus.

Classes here, much like any Krav training classes, are all-inclusive. As long as you can hold a pen to sign a waiver, you can learn this fighting style. Yes, there are moves more aimed towards female protection than men, but Krav Maga is open to all. You may never have heard of Krav Maga before, or you may have been practicing for your entire life. Either way, Krav Maga is making its way westward from Israel, and it will not be long before it’s a common household name. So, it’s a good thing you’re learning about it now.

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