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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Krav Maga: Self Defense and a Kick-Ass Workout

By Lisa Moore

Punches, kicks, chokes, bearhugs, headlocks. Sounds like the makings for the latest blockbuster action adventure, right? These are actually some of the techniques you’ll use in a Krav Maga class – a hot self-defense trend sweeping Hollywood and the US. Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie have used it in their movies and law enforcement agencies are practicing it at the local and federal levels. So what’s the big attraction?

Krav Maga is not a traditional martial art but a survival system dealing with personal safety issues. It was developed in the 1930’s for the Israeli Defense Forces who needed a defensive system that could be learned quickly and would be effective regardless of age, gender, athletic attributes or body type. Fighting was based on economical movements, surprise attacks and disrupting the opponent’s balance to create instinctive reactions in a dangerous situation.

The rules of Krav Maga are simple: there are no rules. Unlike traditional martial arts, Krav Maga is about real, life-threatening situations rather than a series of calculated moves. When it comes to etiquette, eye-gouging and ball-crushing are deemed perfectly acceptable. And students don't have to don a white robe, remove their shoes and address the instructor as "master."

Everyone from housewives to doctors is learning these simple self-defense techniques based on the natural instincts of the body.

"You're not prohibited by your size or strength. Anyone can really use it," said Ryan Hoover, owner of Ryan Hoover’s Extreme Karate in Gastonia and Charlotte, one of only six centers worldwide authorized to certify others to instruct Krav Maga to civilians and law enforcement.

Hoover says a typical class consists of a warm up, combative training, self-defense training and stress drills. Students learn to defend against common chokes, grabs, punches, kicks and weapons. Props such as rubber knives, sticks (to imitate crowbars) and guns are used as training tools. Students are taught how to defend themselves from a ground position, when sitting or lying or in dark surroundings.

Krav Maga training stresses the ability to react when surprised. Techniques and training methods emphasize the ability to function from a poor state of readiness and to move from a passive to aggressive state immediately in order to fight back and survive. Training methods teach students to react effectively under stress and to move efficiently from a position of disadvantage to a position of advantage.

A great side effect of learning Krav Maga is that it is a unique and effective way to lose weight, get in shape and reduce stress.

“Functional fitness is a major component of our classes. We use body weight exercises, medicine balls, stability balls and more,” Hoover said. Students performing Krav Maga expend 20 to 30 percent more energy than during a less intensive activity such as step aerobics, he said.

“I had never taken any type of martial arts before, starting Krav Maga classes over a year ago,” said Cecil Hooks, a 52-year-old resident of Gastonia. “It is the best thing I have done for myself. To date I’ve lost 50 pounds and can keep up much better than when I started.”

Knowing Krav Maga is empowering for women of all ages. Heather Murphy, a 33-year-old tax enforcement agent from Gastonia, feels confident that she can mentally and physically handle herself in any type of dangerous situation,   “I am a single mom with a young son. There is no doubt in my mind that if someone were to try to hurt either of us, it would be the single worst decision they had ever made,” she asserts.

Now that’s girl power. “Charlie’s Angels” would be proud.

For more information about Krav Maga visit Interested in trying a class? Contact, or call 704-867-4020.  

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