What is your most precious asset?
Your life. Right?
So, you can protect it by getting proper nutrition, sleep, reducing stress, and exercising…but how about learning how to protect yourself from an outside, physical threat?
Enter Krav Maga.
Krav Maga is a self-defense system and form of physical training first developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It focuses on the use of aggressive, reflexive responses intended to neutralize threatening situations. The blend of martial arts styles encompassed by Krav Maga – including Judo, wrestling, boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu- was developed in the 1940’s by Imi Lichtenfeld.
We’ll get to our story later; first, we interviewed the owner of Buckeye Crossfit & Krav Maga, John Lovins, to get the scoop on why Krav Maga is one of the best forms of martial art for bodily protection:
Q: What is your background story? Why did you choose to become a black belt in Krav and to teach others?
I started martial arts in 1996 in Tae Kwon Do, stopped for a while then rejoined in 2001. They started teaching Krav Maga at my old School in 2004 so I thought I’d give it a try. It was an eye- opener in self-defense, where Tae Kwon Do is an old art and didn’t evolve with time. I started BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) during the same time and took muay thai.
I enjoy teaching people to protect themselves. I had a family member car jacked and killed; another family member had a gun to her face in a car-jacking only to be let go when they saw a newborn in the car. One of my former students who is a CPD came in and hugged me for showing her basic ground skills; she was suckered punched and the fight went to the ground; the bad guy kept reaching for her gun but she knew how to roll to one side from all the drills we did.
Q: What is your philosophy about fitness and self-protection?
Obviously I don’t expect someone who hasn’t worked out in a year or more to come in and shine. It’s a gradual process that takes time. That’s one great thing about Krav Maga, not only learn self defense but you can lose weight while doing it. I’ve seen it so many times over the years.
Q: There are many offerings for martial arts training, but would you consider them effective forms of self-protection (or protection of others)? Why is Krav more effective?
I have great respect for all styles of martial arts. Are some better than others? I believe so. Some styles have been around for thousands of years; do we still fight like we did back then? Do we have calvary coming at us in an attack? Have someone swinging a large claymore at us? Fighting evolves as should our ways to defend. Besides krav maga, my fav style is BJJ. For 1-on-1, I think it’s one of the best. Adding in multiple attackers/weapons then you will need other skills to survive. In Krav, we talk about deadly encounters. People who break into your home not to rob you but to rape, torture and murder you.
Q: For the people considering starting Krav, what can they expect to learn and in what time-frames?
Our goal is to be able to have you unleash that inner animal if someone attacks you. I always use an example of, if you pick up an angry cat – a cat who might be protecting its kittens- then that animal will f u up and you will try to get away from it as fast as possible. A 5lb cat?!? Imagine what a 100lb woman can do then. Scratch, claw, bite… release that inner instinct to survive.
We try to advance our students every 4-6 months
Q: Who are the people who call you for help?
All types. From people who want to just lose weight, police officers, military, possibly someone who has been in a deadly encounter before.
Krav Member Stories
Shawn mentions that his reasons for doing Krav have changed. At first, it was curiosity that led him to search for a gym having a martial arts style to complement Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That’s when he found Buckeye’s Krav Maga and BJJ classes. Having heard that Krav is ‘the bada$$iest of the martial arts’, he looked into it and quickly became hooked. “I think what drew me in was the fact that it did not have any of the fancy stuff the other martial arts have. It’s quick, dirty and effective…and applicable to most people.” He also likes to remind people that we were all beginners once. “When I started I could not throw a punch correctly to save my life, but because krav Maga is designed to take someone from zero to able to defend…as quickly as possible; I saw results very quickly.”
Now he’s completed the first two levels of instructor training as his mission is now to train people to protect themselves and in doing so, provide service to the community. “I want to be able to teach other people and give to them what the instructors at Buckeye have given to me. There’s nothing quite like the sense of security it gives you to know that you are less likely to be a victim.”
Another member relates that, like most women, she had been advised to take a self-defense class or two. She filed in the back of her mind for awhile thinking of it also as a way to exercise after her many years of horseback riding ended. The impetus came this year when she moved to the United States as well as watched Wonder Woman movie. “The political climate here, as a socialist queer woman, feels tangibly dangerous compared to Canada. I want to protect myself and my loved ones.” On a slight tangent, she continues, “When I was at the tender age of 13 I read Alice Hoffman’s The Foretelling which is a semi-historical fiction in poetic prose about an Amazon warrior princess. A character in that book is assaulted and it gave me the language for my own assault that happened at the same time I was reading it. So it was very formative for me”. Also, “I found out Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, learned Krav as an Israeli citizen almost at the exact same time I saw a Facebook event about a free women’s self defense class at Buckeye Krav Maga. So I went and I fell in love…and while Krav can be frustrating sometimes, it also makes me feel like the person I’ve always dreamed of being.”
Another member, a mother of six, is one of the strongest, quickest fighters known at the gym. She does Krav, Crossfit, and BJJ. The reason? “To protect my family”, she said.
Our journey to Krav Maga began with writing down ‘do martial arts’ as a 2017 goal…which was quickly put into effect after a dangerous situation. We take Krav seriously, though it can be fun confidence-builder as well. Every ‘veteran’ of the studio has stories to tell about concussions, teeth, kicks to the groin, sprains, and bruises on the body. Bruises are a given. We call them ‘krav tattoos’. It’s bonus if your ‘tattoo’ shows multiple colors of the rainbow by your next class that week; you may get multiple high-fives from your classmates.
To be clear, this is not ‘bro culture’, in fact, those who think themselves such tough guys often don’t come back. Also, there have been nights when it’s only a group of women and sparring with some of them can be more intense.
What to Expect
There is book-learning and there is body-learning…learning by DOING. When you take a class with people, particularly men, who are bigger and stronger than you, you get a sense of the force it takes to push someone away or to buck and fight them off from the ground.
We train with sticks and prop knives and guns because the real world includes such weapons. During a typical class there’s a 5-10 minute warm-up and then the technique and topic for the night are broken down into digestible bits. You may learn an intense, quick combative in 3-4 steps and each of those is practiced heavily so that by the time of the drill at the end of the evening, you’ve nearly gotten it down pat.
You are trained to be aggressive, which may not be your natural state. Find that angry wildcat energy inside of you and use some of it. As one of our instructors said, you aren’t doing any favors to your classmates by being gentle; that’s not what is on the outside.
How do you feel when you leave after a Krav session? Usually confident, a little beat up, mentally and physically stimulated, and part of a tight-knit community.
Good things happen to good people. Bad things also happen to good people; the best you can do it try to be ready for them.
As John says: “hardest thing is coming to that first class. Once you get your feet wet then you’ll enjoy everything about the classes we offer.”
Check out Buckeyekravmaga.com and start your first week – free- and learn how to protect yourself, your loved ones, and others.