Why You Should Try a Self Defense Class
Build strength, lose fat and feel more empowered than ever. Convinced yet?
If you were alone and in a dangerous situation—an assailant confronts you in a parking lot or someone tries to grab you at an empty bus stop—what would you do? Run? Scream? Or fight back? This hypothetical thinking is what made Jarrett Arthur, self defense expert, first try a self defense class thanks to her mom's "just in case" suggestion. That practical thinking eventually led to a love for self defense that turned into a career switch. "I fell in love instantly with how training made me feel," Arthur said, "It was enough to convince me to walk away from my Master's degree and devote my life to learning and eventually teaching self-defense to others."
Arthur's method of self defense, Krav Maga, originated as the self defense system of the Israeli army. It's not a martial art, but rather a tactical system that focuses on effectiveness and functionality. It's based on instinctive responses already hardwired in our bodies. These responses are meant to work with any size defender against any size attacker. Flips, trips, throws and pressure point maneuvers aren't a part of the practice. Instead, you focus on straightforward moves and striking vulnerable areas.
Translation: anyone, at any fitness level, can do it.
We picked Arthur's brain for tips on getting started with Krav Maga, why it is an effective way to get fit and what to expect in a class.
How does Krav Maga qualify as a good workout?
"Krav Maga is an extremely effective way to get fit. You don’t have to be in shape to start training, but you’ll certainly get there quickly. Because the moves utilize your entire body in explosive, high-intensity applications, students gain muscle, improve cardio capacity and lose body fat very quickly."
What areas of your body do you train?
"You train your whole body when you practice Krav Maga. Upper body strikes, such as punches, utilize your arms, shoulders, chest, back and core. Lower body strikes, such as kicks, utilize your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes and core."
Why should women prioritize self defense training?
"Krav Maga is easy to learn, easy to retain and effective regardless of the size, strength or gender of the defender. It’s straightforward, uncomplicated and realistic. To acquire Krav Maga skills you don't have to be an athlete, in shape, coordinated or flexible. It’s simply about doing whatever is necessary to get away safely as quickly as possible."
How do women approach self defense differently from men, if at all?
"Women often—of course not always, but I’m generalizing—begin training having little to no experience in combat or impact sports, having never been in a fight and having grown up in a society where women are taught not to be aggressive. Add to that the universal experience that women share of feeling vulnerable to violence frequently in our lives (walking to our car at night, sleeping alone and hearing a noise, being harassed on the street), and you have a student who might feel pretty intimidated by the thought of starting an aggressive, reality-based self-defense system in which they are going to be taught how to punch, kick and defend themselves against getting choked, among other things. And of course, the experience is even more daunting if the student is a survivor of violence. The number one reason why I have found that women do not seek self-defense training, despite believing that they should, is fear. The aim of a good instructor should not be to eliminate fear in students—which is not only unrealistic but also dangerous, fear is good—but to build trust in a safe, positive and encouraging environment so that students can learn how to take their fear from paralyzing to functional."
What are examples of self defense movements you could learn in class?
"You will most likely first learn a fighting stance and how to move in a fighting stance. This is super important because a solid stance allows you to be balanced, move quickly without tripping and generate big power with your strikes. You’ll also learn a few effective striking techniques such as a punch, elbow strike, knee strike or kick. You’ll learn where to aim when striking and lastly, you’ll probably get to test your newly acquired skills in a fun and high-intensity drill. Drilling techniques is essential because it helps you learn how to function when adrenalized."
Any tips for beginners interested in trying Krav Maga?
"Find an accredited and reputable training facility, grab a friend or family member who is about your height to partner with and try a class. Expect that you’re going to be challenged physically, but it will get easier the more you train. Look for facilities that are accredited with an organization, such as Krav Maga Worldwide or Krav Maga Global, and whose instructors are certified.”"