All women were created equal, then some learned krav maga

By: Vianca Meyer

Krav maga is a form of self-defence and physical training, first developed by the Israeli army in the 1940s, based on the use of reflexive responses to threatening situations. It is is a self-defense system developed for the military in Israel that consists of a wide combination of techniques sourced from aikido, boxing, judo and wrestling along with realistic fight training/street fighting.”Womens-Self-Defence

A couple of months ago, I started itching to do something more exciting with my life. My life had become that dreaded routine of working a dead-end desk job, seeing the same people and doing the same boring things over the weekend. I really wanted to do something physical, something that would boost my self confidence and make me feel empowered as a woman. I wanted to feel independent. So I took to the internet: I was going to take up a self defense class.

Of course, there are so many different types of self defense classes, and in my opinion, any self defense is a good self defense. But what really drew me to Krav Maga, was the fact that it is so easy to pick up and the fighting style is straight to the point. Krav Maga isn’t about staying in a fight for any longer than you need to. It teaches you to counter attack and defend yourself in such a manner that your opponent will be rendered incapacitated, at least for long enough for you to get away from the situation, find help and ultimately – safety.

Okay, so let’s get a little serious here for a second. It’s estimated that 500,000 women are raped a year in South Africa. And that’s only reported cases. It was also estimated by the SAPS that a woman is raped every 36 seconds. There have been 119,351 robberies, 100,000 aggravated robberies and 17, 036 reported murders in 2014 alone, and the numbers are increasing. There is no reliable statistics for domestic violence in South Africa, but I think we can all just imagine with the figures above, that the results must be high. This, in my opinion, is why it is crucial for each one of us to be able to defend ourselves at least to some extent. And to do so effectively.

I have come up with a 5 reasons why women should learn Krav Maga:

  1. It will teach you how to handle situations where you might find yourself vulnerable. With training, you will instinctively know how to be aware of your surroundings as to avoid dangerous situations. And if all else fails, you damn sure will know how to defend yourself and open up a can of whoop ass on any poor fool who tries to mess with you. Not only will you feel like a total badass, but you will actually be one.

  2. It’s unbelievably empowering – straight after my first class, I felt so much more prepared for the outside world. I felt like I could take on anyone and anything – boy, was I wrong. By the next class (and all the others after), I learned that there was so much more to learn. You’re going to get man handled, thrown around and add quite a few bruises to your body, and nothing brings you quite back down to earth like literally being taken down to the ground by your opponent and not being able to do anything about it. But I had the basics, and with practice, I started feeling more comfortable with the training. The point is, with each and every class I took, I felt stronger and stronger physically and mentally. And I learned that it’s all so worth it.

  3. You get to know yourself on a deeper level. When I first started out, I honestly didn’t know I had that much of an aggressive side. I also had no idea how strong I actually was. I learned that there were things that I thought I could never handle, but I pushed myself through anyway. And I was easily able to apply that to so many other aspects of my life. Things that I was afraid of facing, very quickly became insignificant. I was able to face my personal problems head on. Because I (I told myself) am now a warrior. And I can face anything life throws at me.

  4. It’s a seriously good workout. No, I mean a seriously good workout. There were times where I felt like I was either going to pass out or throw up – or both. But eating 2-4 bananas before training helped sort that out real fast. Krav training mixed with a healthy diet will help you lose weight and start toning areas you had no idea you even had. Not to mention how much of a stress reliever it is! All those happy endorphins coursing through your veins will have you literally crawling back for more. Trust me on that.

  5. Its easy to learn, and you will be able to use these techniques from your first class – if you absolutely have to. I have been lucky enough not to have gotten into a fight, or worse, have my life threatened. And I intend not to get into any of these situations at all. But, I most certainly have shown my friends and family different techniques I’ve learned over the course of my training. This has helped me practice at home, and keeps me ready for whatever circumstances life decides to hand me. These moves are simple, but extremely effective. This is one of the main reasons why I love Krav Maga so much, literally anyone can do it if they properly apply themselves.

5 Tips and techniques for self defense:

  1. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations in the first place. I cannot stress this point enough. Be vigilant and don’t go wandering alone at night or these days, even during the daytime. The best self defense is to not have to defend yourself. And by that I mean, don’t go looking for fights. Even with good self defense training, you never know what you’re up against.

  2. Always make sure you are in a group of people, and even then, it’s a good idea to carry pepper-spray on your person. Keep it somewhere where it is easily accessible, but not easily visible. I feel pepper-spray works well because you don’t need to be too close to your attacker to counter his/her attack. It will leave them temporarily incapacitated, which will give you time to get the heck out of dodge. Keep in mind, self-defence weapons are not toys. Don’t go showing them off to your friends at a bar or club. That just leaves room for potential attackers to know what their up against. Also, it will make it easier for people to nick it off you and end up using your own weapon against you.

  3. Know your surroundings. A little tip I learned is to always be observant of what is happening around you. One thing I find most effective, is if you know what people around you are doing with their hands, then you are more aware of what is happening and you will be able to see whats coming from a mile away.

  4. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Especially in a country like South Africa, you can never be too careful. In instances like these, get out your pepper-spray, and try to find a safe zone, like a shopping centre, security guards, the police, bouncers etc. Alert them about what is going on, even if you’re just feeling paranoid. Have them walk you to your car, or keep an eye out for you. Rather safe than sorry ladies.

  5. Avoid a victim mentality and appearance. Use your body language to project self-confidence. Dress and look like you are ready for whatever may coGirls-Games-Club-3me your way. The Israeli security forces found a pamphlet published in Arabic, it was basically a ‘how to’ guide for potential kidnappers and hijackers. The pamphlet discussed how to spot an appropriate victim: distracted, meek looking, thin with lack of muscular definition, pale, rounded shoulders, fear in the eyes and so forth. The message is clear – the attackers take a good look at a person before he chooses a victim. Make sure you have looks that can kill. This is a good excuse to work on your I don’t take nobody’s shit/bitch face. (point five extracted from John Hallisey,

So all in all, just don’t get yourself in a messy situation and you should be fine. But if one happens to find you, it’s best to be prepared. We owe it to ourselves to feel powerful, strong, independent and safe. Remember, it’s not the size of the girl in a fight, it’s the size of the fight in a girl.

Another week in Africa and many more lessons for those interested in protecting themselves and those near and dear to them…

Two CCTV type videos have prompted this post, both from different situations, yet, both connected… and sadly, both examples showed situations that could have been avoided… in any combat system the phrase “the way you train is the way you react” can often be heard echoing around the training space… many times it falls on deaf ears, until that one day when the students asks themselves how they would have reacted… sometimes.. if they are honest with themselves they may re-look at how seriously they take their time in class.. other times the student can answer with an affirmative outcome… the difference can be seen in the training room… those that put themselves into the scenario and react as if the training knife or gun is real are the ones preparing for success!

The CCTV footage was posted online, and as different as they may have been from each other, the lessons are the same…

The first lesson: Pass your interview!

The “interview” is the pre-situation phase where the attacker/mugger/etc selects his target, this can happen at a distance (e.g. strike, rob and run or purse snatching), or, up close (bully/paedophile/rapist/etc), arguably, if it is a close up interview this means that you have already failed the first interview and are now in the second interview and the warning bells should be loud and clear!

So, how do you pass the first interview?
Firstly be vigilant… situational awareness is the key element!
Many people are very aware when driving their car, looking out for other vehicles, dangerous driving, pedestrians, motor bikes, etc… but that awareness disappears when they stop driving… why? the purpose behind the mind-set is to keep one safe…
I am not advocating a state of perpetual expectation, this would eventually lead to negative mental state, I am suggesting a positive, confident state of awareness that lead to a survivor or success mentality, this in itself, apart from the very real benefit of identifying possible threats, will also affect your body language and the appearance of being alert and ready, and this is how you pass the first interview, by not appearing to be a victim!


The second lesson: Respond immediately!

The first time to react is right away!
Do not wait for a “better” moment to present itself as any subsequent time will probably be to the attackers advantage as they have initiated the scenario and are already one step ahead of you!
And linked to this lesson is the issue of denial… Many victims state that when things started unfolding (before the actual attack/robbery/abuse/etc) they couldn’t believe it was happening to them, classic denial response, even during an event, while it was actually happening to them, they still maintained a state of disbelief and denial!

The fastest route out of this trap is ACTION!
The first action is to make the decision, then go for it!
At this point how you have prepared for this moment will determine how well you execute, remember, the way you train is the way you react, this applies through all possible phases, awareness, avoidance, escape or engaging!


Be aware, be safe!



What is Reality Based Training?

Posted: October 19, 2014 by Tony Hardy in Combat Mindset, Philosophy of Survival

There seems to be some confusion regarding the notion of “reality based training”…

Too often I hear about stories of “real training” that involves students getting beaten up or injured, now don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time and place for some good hard sparring, and whether this is your preferred level of intensity or if you use it as a gauge to test your own response to the situation, this is not reality based training, at best, it is a possible tool in the arsenal of reality based training…

Reality based training, and of course teaching, is focused on presenting techniques and trained responses that will work when it is needed… usually this is when adrenaline has started coursing through your veins!

Your body has a natural freeze, flight or flight (in that order), this is a limbic response that you have no control over once it kicks in… when it kicks in may vary from person to person, but, once the limbic system activates it you are on the roller coaster and cannot get off!

What many combat systems tend to forget or avoid is the fact that once adrenaline starts doing what it is designed to do  (called the Adrenaline Stress Response or ASR), which is to prepare the body for an encounter by getting the heart rate up, providing the chemical reactions to allow for our survival, what is most important to be aware of is that the main responses it enables us to perform are gross motor movements (just look at the animal kingdom, the same limbic system exists there, animals either freeze to blend in and camouflage themselves, or prepare to flee or charge… none of these require fine motor skills, just gross motor movement), the first thing we lose is fine motor skill, and this is the main issue… inside the training hall we are in a fairly comfortable state of mind, sometimes under a little pressure, but not really fearing for our lives, so, any techniques we learn that require too much of an exact execution (e.g. a very specific pressure point that needs to be struck by a single finger/knuckle, or, a finger lock required to throw or incapacitate the opponent) becomes a liability as this just isn’t an option by the time the ASR has kicked in.

Always put yourself in a fight or flight space mentally and ask yourself if you will actually be able to execute the technique being taught…

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Keep it real!

With the advent of competitive sports the pressure to maintain the “edge” has gained tremendous attention, there are, however, aspects that we can capitalise on that are not only limited to competitive athletes… in fact… as combat athletes ourselves, I believe we have a greater need to use these techniques as losing in our arena doesn’t just mean not getting a medal…

Visualisation has been regularly used by many athletes to improve their performance under pressure and increase the outcome of a given event, in our case, we have the same needs, but, obviously under different scenarios!

This concept has been referred to by various name… meditation. Guided imagery, mental rehearsal, etc. regardless of the name used, the results are proven and can greatly affect how we perform should we ever find ourselves in a situation requiring action…

Play the “what if” game… this allows you to use everyday situations to provide fuel for visualisation, keeps you attentive and allows training to take place throughout the day, not just with our fellow Kravists (or whichever martial art you may subscribe to)…

The next time you pull up to the robots, determine any threats, play through a mental rehearsal of how a situation could first be avoided, then if it escalated into a confrontation (window smashed, gun threat, etc), or, this game can be applied to others as well, for example if someone else is under threat and it falls up yourself to intervene, how would you approach it, what are your options, did you scan for any accomplices? Is your angle of approach good? Is your stance ready? Etc, etc, etc.

To get the maximum benefit from this technique, engage as many senses as possible (the brain doesn’t know that it is not actually happening, hence the benefit of a trained response), try and imagine the sounds, the sensations, feelings, smells… Make it as real as possible in your minds eye to create the correct trained response…

With these techniques we are in no way advocating violence or aggression, just preparation and survival by ensuring the best possible result, and of course, make sure you get to class regularly to fine tune your craft!

Isaac, A. R. (1992). “Mental Practice- Does it Work in the Field?” The Sport Psychologist, 6, 192-198.

Martin, K.A., Hall, C. R. (1995). “Using Mental Imagery to Enhance Intrinsic Motivation.” Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17(1), 54-69.