Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Krav Maga classes provide proper defense techniques

By Jaclyn Bryson

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Everyone’s attention was on Michael LaBombard and the knife he held firmly in his grasp.

Luckily, it was only made of rubber.

LaBombard is a 2005 University of Massachusetts graduate and a Krav Maga instructor at ATA Martial Arts Center in South Deerfield. Barret Zimmerman – who graduated from UMass last spring –is also a certified Krav Maga instructor along with Tom Norwood, the owner of the studio.

Krav Maga is the Israeli Defense Force’s official hand-to-hand combat system and is now being taught as a form of self-defense, according to the studio’s information pamphlet. Krav Maga students, the pamphlet states, can expect “an intense aerobic workout interspersed with reality based, self-defense techniques.”

Along with having the physical capability to defend oneself, LaBombard stressed the importance of being mentally prepared and aware of one’s surroundings.

“A person can have a great technical understanding of fighting, but if they don’t know how to mentally prepare themselves for any and all situations, then they are in just as much danger as the ‘average Joe’,” LaBombard said. “I think the mental preparation that Krav Maga offers gives people that confidence and awareness that they need to avoid or escape dangerous situations.”

According to LaBombard, the goal of Krav Maga class is to “simulate reality.” Props such as rubber knives and guns are used to perpetuate this idea.

“The point is to exhaust yourself until it becomes reactionary,” he said. The defense techniques will hopefully become second nature to the students who may need to use them in life threatening situations.

Jessica Gibson and Anna Bohn, both seniors at Smith College and frequent Krav Maga students, have used the skills and techniques they have learned to gain confidence when outside the comforts of the home[1] .

“You’re going to be damn glad you know it,” Gibson said of the skills she has acquired as a result of her training. “You never know what could happen.”

Bohn found her Krav Maga skills especially helpful when she traveled abroad to Greece during her junior year of college. Just having knowledge of self-defense made her more confident while she was on the streets of Athens, she said.

But Krav Maga isn’t just for women.

According to Zimmerman, men make up two thirds of a typical class.

In a typical [2] women’s self-defense class, women will usually only spar with other women. In a  [3] Krav Maga class, women may also spar with men.

“You are working with both genders (and) all different sizes,” Zimmerman said.

John Devanski described a class as “very practical.” He attributed Krav Maga – along with living a healthier lifestyle – to his recent weight loss of 30 pounds.

Bob Shea, another active student, described the class as both good exercise and just plain fun. To him, the practice of Krav Maga is purely “addictive.”

According to Zimmerman, new students are always welcome.

“You don’t have to be grand-master-whatever to pick this stuff up,” he joked.

Manuel Barajas, who has past Martial Arts training but was new to the Krav Maga class, was easily able to keep up with the rest of the group.

“This is not just a sport,” he said. “It’s survival skills.”

Along with being a certified Krav Maga instructor, Norwood also has a fifth degree black belt in Tai Quan Do.

“I realized how much everyone needs self-defense in order to protect themselves,” Norwood said, when asked why he decided to open this type of business.

But according to Zimmerman, students don’t just walk away with the ability to defend themselves. They walk away with confidence.

“I’ve seen kids coming here who wouldn’t look me in the eyes,” he said. But after just a few classes, their attitudes changes, he added.

“You never really know what you are in for,” Zimmerman said. “You can take one class and at the end, you feel you learned something to help you defend yourself.”

Jaclyn Bryson can be reached at [email protected]




2 Responses to “Krav Maga classes provide proper defense techniques”

  1. Randy R. on April 8th, 2013 8:17 pm

    I have cross-trained in various martial arts including MMA and Krav Maga. Let me tell you, Krav Maga students wouldn’t stand a chance with the MMA students.

    There are two reasons for this:

    1) MMA teaches unarmed hand-to-hand combat techniques at a much higher level. In other words, in my MMA classes the instructors did a much better job at teaching advanced stand-up and ground fighting techniques.

    2) Better athletes typically train MMA. The Krav Maga schools I trained at only had students that worked hard, but were slow and weak compared to the MMA students I trained with. It wasn’t even a comparison. During sparring in the Krav Maga class I had to hold back a lot, because I would have seriously hurt my fellow students if I went hard like I did in MMA classes.

    Finally, you will NEVER see women doing full-contact sparring with men in MMA class….especially much bigger men, since the women will get seriously hurt. In Krav Maga class all students “spar” against each other, which can be a bad move. For example, I had to spar against a supposedly tough women in one of my Krav Maga classes, I threw a basic run-of-the-mill jab and knocked her out. I felt really bad! Women simply are not at the same physical level as most true male martial artists.

    Having said that, Krav Maga is good for the average couch-potato, but just like with any martial art, its effectiveness depends entirely on the students natural capabilities. Unfortunately, many ill-informed(dumb) people think that what they see in movies translates to real-life – it doesn’t folks.

  2. Joel on April 9th, 2014 6:20 pm

    Note to Randy: MMA has rules, lots of rules. There are no multiple attacker, gun, knife, or bat/stick defenses in MMA training. As a sport, MMA-oriented martial arts may work fine, where going to the ground is OK, because there will never be another attacker, or weapon, or a brick wall behind you that you have to deal with. However, in a combat or street situation Krav Maga and more traditional (i.e. Japanese, not Brasilian), stand-up jiujitsu techniques are much more applicable. There are no rules in what an attacker can do on the street, and as a result there are no rules in terms of how you can defend yourself; simply do everything you can to survive.

    If you want to take a good look at the massive disparity between competition-oriented martial arts (BJJ, Tae kwon do, Judo) and martial arts based on straight self defense then give this Fight Quest episode a watch:

    Two guys, one military, both MMA athletes head to Israel to train Krav. Forward to 13:30 into the video. Watch the guy completely admit MMA training falls short in all out self defense scenarios. “You go to the ground, you die.”

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