Women's safety: Tips and tricks from Krav Maga, the Israeli martial art

With growing instances of crime against women, here are a few tips and tricks of Krav Maga, a practical self-defence technique that can turn you into a human weapon

Which one's better? A sword or a gun? An M16 or an M21? Tradition is tradition, but when it comes to practically defending yourself in real-life situations, Krav Maga is the name of the game" smiles veteran master Elroy Vaz, Krav Maga Global's regional director for India.

Deepika Vaz demonstrates the counter elbow strike post defense
Deepika Vaz demonstrates the counter elbow strike post defense

While traditional martial art forms were designed more for rings, competitions and more recently, for movies, Vaz believes that Krav Maga, Hebrew for 'contact combat' is the world's only form of practical self-defence specially designed for real-life arenas like streets, parking lots, public transport, elevators and even discotheques with multiple visibility due to psychedelic lighting.

"In real life, we don't deal with situations where two people say 'come, let's fight'. You could be attacked while you are talking on the phone with a child in your arm, or while sipping coffee at some streetside cafe. Someone might try to stab you while you walk down the street. There are situations which even a Karate expert might find it tough unless he adapts, but in Krav Maga, we cover it all," he explains.

In the 1940s, the growing anti-semitism in Slovakia's capital Bratislava led Jewish wrestler Imi Lichtenfield to discover a technique that could deal with innumerable kinds of realistic attacks, even multiple attackers armed with weapons such as guns, knives and sticks. While traditional martial arts can take several years to master, it takes much less time to become adept in Krav Maga. "We conduct corporate workshops for women around India.

Disarming a knife attacker, disarming and attacking the knife attacker simultaneously, defense and attack against strike/grab,  veteran Krav Maga instructor Elror Vaz training a student
Disarming a knife attacker, disarming and attacking the knife attacker simultaneously, defense and attack against strike/grab, veteran Krav Maga instructor Elror Vaz training a student 

We give them confidence to handle a situation. Women are inherently braver and can bear more pain than men," Vaz explains, adding that women of different ages are even taught what to do say when faced with adversaries, what body language to maintain when in unsafe surroundings or when they sense trouble and react aggressively.

"Aggression simply means, being determined not to get hurt rather than being aggressively hysterical. We teach them to react quickly through two fast claps. The first clap is the attack, the second, the reaction," he says, adding that these workshops are 90 per cent practical, where women participants are taught different strikes and defences against chokes, grabs and other types of attacks.

An indispensable part of the Israeli defence forces, Krav Maga, an internationally popular self-defence form today, relies on four pillars — technical, practical, physical and mental training with practical training even including training women in gowns, sarees and high heels, carrying out drills in buses, elevators and nightclubs.

In an era plagued by terrorism, Krav Maga teaches one how to break-fall, roll and even crawl to protect oneself and one's family from terrorists, unlike other forms. Speaking about its universality, Vaz believes that it's a myth that only girls get molested. "During school ragging, girls pull each other's hair, boys can have serious brawl injuries and lifelong scars that can make them wife-abusers as adults. Hence Krav Maga is for all youngsters" he concludes.

Tips for women:
> Be confident, alert and determined not to be the victim

> Women are gifted with a superior sense of intuition, use it to sense trouble. Avoid areas which may seem unsafe, badly lit, deserted or with unfavourable people around

> Always shout ‘go away!’ rather than ‘don’t do this’. Your tone will affect his confidence

> Be aggressive but not hysterical or out of control. Always scan the area you might find unsafe. Never stay on after making your defence, scan the area and then run away

> Feel free to strike/kick the groin, break the knee, even scratch and bite

> Always SMS your rickshaw or cab number to family, friends or roommates. Inform them which public bus you have boarded, from where and to where

> Carry handy and useful weapons (not buried in the purse, NEVER!) like kajal pencils, ball pens, car keys, full water bottles, geometry compasses, credit cards, etc

> Never shout ‘chor’ or ‘bachaao’. In several previous instances, which involved the abuse of a woman, bystanders have merely stood and watched. Shout ‘fire’ to attract more people towards you

> If you have long nails, don’t punch as making a fist might hurt you. Use palms and other parts instead

Sensitive areas:
> Groin, eyes, earlobes, nose, shin, throat.

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