Krav Maga is offered at Rockville’s Krav Maga Center in the Hebrew Academy. Learn more about classes here.
Krav Maga means “contact combat.” It is the official self-defense and fighting style of the Israeli Defense Forces, and it is used by U.S. law enforcement and federal agencies. Similar to kickboxing, Krav Maga is also a great workout.
In addition, Krav Maga teaches people practical skills to protect themselves in a variety of street situations. You may learn a simple movement that could save your life, like an arm raise to stop a knife or a kick to stop an attempted rape.
Twice a week, at the Hebrew Academy in Rockville, about 10 people- Jew and gentile, black and white, male and female- meet to… Beat each other up. Fortunately, they are all well-upholstered: The students aren’t here to learn any flashy moves (Krav Maga is anything but stylish) or to practice for a contest. They are learning how to survive an assault on the street using no-frills methods that include punching, gouging, kicking- anything that works.
This is serious business, and if you don’t believe it, talk to Tomer, 38, a former Israeli secret service agent. “It’s become a way of life; almost every thing you are doing during the day is analyzing the possible threat to you or the dignitaries you protect.” Tomer, who now teaches at the center in Rockville, hopes to give his students what he got from the martial art: self-confidence and security- not to mention a kick that could knock the — out of anybody.
Classes are sweaty, noisy affairs, with students pairing off to exchange blows with grunts right out of a Springsteen song.
Krav Maga is for everyone,” says Tomer, who especially enjoys teaching women and teens. “I love showing them that they can do it, can give punches and kicks. They walk out feeling so good, they become more aggressive.”
The key to using Krav Maga as exercise, says Tomer, is continuous motion. “In class, after we get the moves down properly, we’ll do 30 to 50 punches in one set. And since we focus on leg work as well as upper body, all major muscle groups are used.” Another advantage to the program, he adds, is that “you can scale it to whatever level you feel fits. Not everyone can kick somebody in the head.”
While popular films have immortalized the beauty of a taekwondo flying sidekick and the intense concentration required by martial artists who break bricks, these skills are not especially practical if a rapist, carjacker, or gang member jumps you from behind. Forget about a proper karate sparring stance- you simply won’t have time.
“Traditional martial arts are much more complex and diversified then simple fighting techniques,” says Tomer.
“Our offering is very unique and far from the ordinary Krav Maga classes. Kicks, punches, blocks, and grabs are the basics. We focus on street fighting against multiple attackers, knives, baseball bats, hand guns, and more. You don’t need any special talent or experience to participate. Some of my students didn’t have any and some have a few years in all kinds of martial arts such as Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, and etc. My students find the class very challenging and feel confident in facing real life situations in a better and more effective way. We focus on the students’ progress, we don’t just charge you for a monthly payment to come and punch a bag or accidental ran-dory. Working with a small group, up to 10 students in a class, gives you the personal attention you need to advance and improve yourself.”