Krav Maga

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.”

Perhaps Krav Maga’s greatest advantage over other martial arts is that instead of requiring many months of training, often years, it can be effectively learned quickly.

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.”

GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – MatzoBrawl To Feature Simon vs. Garfunkel, Streisand vs. Gene Simmons in Xmas Eve Boxing Matches

NEW YORK, NY – (@TheComedyNews) – Jewish Americans will have a new reason to get down with some holiday cheer this winter:  the first-annual MatzoBrawl is set to take place live from Madison Square Garden on Christmas Eve.

MatzoBrawl will feature one-on-one boxing matches between prominent Jewish celebrities.

HAPPY GILMORE vs. BILLY MADISON

Fresh off his recent suspension from the PGA Tour, golfer Happy Gilmore will be certain to have some  aggression to blow off in the boxing ring.  The hockey player-turned-golfer is known for his short temper, which will serve him well in the later rounds.

Knibb High School physical education teacher Billy Madison’s best hope for a knockout hinges on two factors:  keeping the trash talk to a minimum, and showing up to the fight with a blood-alcohol level below .08. Special guest referee:  Rob Schneider 

Favorite Gilmore

BARBARA STREISAND vs. GENE SIMMONS 
Gene Simmons, the Israel-born frontman to K.I.S.S. will clash with Barbara Streisand—an equally as overrated popstar who’s relevance was also left in the 1970s.  Since both competitors refused to “condescend to wearing frumpy boxing gloves”, officials have allowed both Streisand and Simmons one foreign object.Streisand is expected to use one of her eight Grammy awards as a weapon, while Simmons will likely do something that involves either fake blood or his grotesquely deformed tongue.  Still, both celebrity-boxers are expected to quit the fight when their excessive makeup starts to smear. 

Favorite: Streisand.  

PAUL SIMON vs. ART GARFUNKEL
Having been buddies since their elementary school days in Queens, folk rockstars Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have gone in and out of personal clashes.  While they have been reportedly getting along for the last decade, both Simon and Garfunkel will reunite in the center of Madison Square Garden to box their way into another hiatus.  Favorite:  Garfunkel

SARAH SILVERMAN vs. SARAH JESSICA PARKER
In what is being billed as “The Battle of the Sarahs”, comedian Sarah Silverman will fight Sarah Jessica Parker in the opening boxing match of MatzoBrawl 2012.Stipulations:  If Parker wins, Silverman has to go a week without using profanity.  If Parker loses to Silverman, Silverman gets to have a night-on-the-town in Chicago with Parker’s husband of fifteen years, Matthew Broderick.   

Favorite:  Parker

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at www.TheComedyNews.com, and enjoy his late-night jokes at www.BrianFishbach.com.  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

On the 8 Nights of Chanukah, My Dating Coach Said to Me… – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 55)

With Chanukah fast-approaching (how does it creep up like that?), I want to provide a summary of the top eight tips from 2012.  Feel free to sing along!  (And check out last year’s top 8 tips here for a refresher.)

On the 1st night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

Having a laundry list of a dozen “must haves” will inevitably doom your search for Mr. or Ms. Perfect.  In reality, no one is perfect, so it’s important to know what you can bend on.  In the end, the most important thing is how someone treats you.

On the 2nd night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

Proofreading your online dating profile goes a long way.  When you’re putting yourself out there in the vast online dating pool, it’s important to take the time to read and re-read your profile to make sure that “your” not messing up easy words and hurting your chance to find the perfect match.

On the 3rd night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

When writing an online dating e-mail, remember not to make it too long or too generic.  It’s best to mention what appealed to you about his or her profile and how that relates to you.  Then, end with a question so that they have something to answer in the response.  It never hurts to throw something funny in there either!

On the 4th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

On a first date, try to maintain an optimistic and happy attitude.  People can easily detect negativity when you’re “J-Jaded.”  A simple smile goes a long way.

On the 5th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

When signing up for online dating for the first time or going on a first date, remember to try to be a PSP instead of a DO.  Not every person will be “the one,” but just hope for a nice time and some good conversation, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

On the 6th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

Do not use the words “Need not apply” in your online dating profile.  Rather than talking about what you’re not looking for in a partner, give people a sense of what you are looking for and it will come off in a much more positive manner.

On the 7th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

Having your phone out or texting on a first date is a huge turn-off.  Nothing screams “I’m waiting for something better to come up” than a cell phone on the table waiting to be answered.  Try (as hard as it may be since we’re all surgically attached to our phones… myself included) to put your phone in your bag or your pocket for the entirety of the date.

On the 8th night of Chanukah, my dating coach said to me:

It’s ok to Google someone before your date, but please don’t friend them on Facebook!  It’s way too soon to see all the pictures with the ex!  😉

And a partridge in a pear tree. 

Have a wonderful holiday from Erika at A Little Nudge, your spunky GTJ dating columnist.

Erika Ettin is, as the Washington Post has noted, a “modern day Cyrano.” She is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people with all aspects of online dating.  Check out her interview on NPR here. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

GTJ Health Series: Six Tips for Stress Relief

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

For many of us, the holidays can be a stressful time filled with deadlines at work, travel (and delays), and extended time with family.  To help manage your stress this holiday season, GTJ offers six tips for stress relief.

1- Eat, Sleep, and Exercise: A Dose of Prevention

Dr. Adam Goldstein of yourhealthradio.org, and an expert on and advocate for quality of life, gave me three pieces of advice when I started medical school (arguably the most stressful 4 years of my life).  His advice was to:

  1. Eat
  2. Sleep, and
  3. Exercise

These three activities are things that all of us, as busy professionals and students, struggle to prioritize. Let me convince you why you should.

  1. Eat well: A poor diet, such as those high in sugar, caffeine, and fat, has been shown to decrease mood and increase stress and anxiety symptoms.  Lessen your risk by eating three well balanced meals a day with plenty of vegetables, lean protein, and fiber and by limiting your sugar, caffeine, and alcohol consumption.
  2. Sleep: Sleep deprivation causes an increase in Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) which leads to the production of stress hormones like adrenaline.   A 2010 study in the Journal of Sleep in which 30,000 adults participated found that those that get at least 7 hour a day of sleep are half as likely to have stress related illnesses like heart attack, stroke, and chest pain compared to those who slept less than five hours a day.  Other studies support this research and have also shown that those who were sleep deprived were more likely to be rated as less attractive, have poorer skin tone, be overweight, and die prematurely.  So do your body and attractiveness a favor: get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
  3. Exercise: Exercise prevents stress by increasing production of mood boosting endorphins, lowering the production of stress hormones such as cortisol, increasing self-confidence, and even improving mild symptoms of anxiety and depression.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week.  So whether you enjoy jogging, Pilates, or basketball, make sure to get your 150 minutes a week.
2 – Breathe

We all take breathing for granted, but it is a valuable tool for relieving stress.  When you are in a stressful situation, your body releases hormones that create a “flight or flight response.”  Your breathing rate increases and your heart beats faster and faster.  While beneficial in the short term to help us catch the metro or fight off overzealous shoppers on Black Friday, if this response continues it can create physical and emotional damage.  The opposite response, known as the “rest and digest” response, serves to lessen stress and the potential damage of the “fight or flight” response.  To promote this “rest and digest” phase over the “fight or flight” phase, practice this simple deep breathing relaxation technique when you’re stressed:

Close your eyes and picture a relaxing scene (my current favorite is the beaches of Costa Rica) and, while counting to five, take a deep slow breath in through your nose.  Then, while counting down from 5, breathe slowly out through your mouth.  Repeat as necessary to encourage relaxation and relieve stress.

3 – Avoid Making a Mole Hill into a Mountain

We’ve all done it- treated a small inconvenience as if it was the end of the world.  Catastrophizing is, when a challenging event occurs, foreseeing the worst possible outcome, however unlikely.  Most likely just because you missed your bus, your significant other is in a bad mood, or your mother isn’t talking to you, the world isn’t ending.  When you feel yourself drawing broader conclusions from a relatively minor hiccup, take a moment to put the issue in context and consider asking a trusted friend for their opinion.

4 – Be Grateful

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas.  The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising.  Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude.  If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.  Today I am blessed.”  — Maya Angelou

Much of what we face on a daily basis are minor challenges compared to the much greater totality of things we are grateful for.  During this holiday season, take a moment each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for and approach each day with an attitude of gratitude.

5 – Help/Treat Yourself

As Donna and Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec always say you don’t need an excuse to treat yourself.

To relieve stress, do (at least) one nice thing for yourself every day.  Start each day with a relaxing ritual such as yoga, take a walk at lunch to clear your mind, or watch a hilarious video on YouTube after a long day.  By taking time out of your day for yourself, you combat the buildup of stress.

6 – Let Someone Else Treat/Help You

If you find you are stressed, seek support from relatives, significant others, friends, and, at any point, physicians or therapists.  Mental illnesses- whether panic attacks, depression, or anxiety- are serious and often treatable issues that need to be brought to the attention of a professional.  We can all benefit from a little help from our friends (or our doctors).

Liked this article? Stay tuned for Alex’s next article on New Year’s Resolutions!

Alex Berger, a new GTJ contributing columnist, is a native of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.  He graduated in 2008 from the University of North Carolina and is currently in his last year of a combined MD/MPH program. He is excited to be back in the DC area and to share tips on nutrition, health, and fitness. He can be reached at Alexander_Berger@med.unc.edu.