SELF-DEFENSE is a systematic art.
Anyone who wants to survive a real street fight should consider studying the Israeli combat system of krav maga (literally contact combat). Now used by the Israel Defense Forces, krav maga was developed by Imi Lichtenfeld (also known as Imi Sde-Oramid) in Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the 1930s while fighting the Nazi militia to protect the Jewish community in Bratislava.
Krav maga was brought to the Philippines by Kenneth Asuncion, the country director of Krav Maga Global (KMG) and managing director of Krav Maga Philippines (KMP). KMG is under the leadership of Eyal Yanilov who began practicing krav maga in 1974, at the age of 15, under the personal tutelage of the system’s founder Lichtenfeld.
“Given our environment here in the Philippines particularly at this present time, there’s a need to be equipped with self-defense skills. In 2002, I wanted to have a skill to save myself and my family, so I trained in San Francisco and then brought krav maga here the following years,” Asuncion said.
Recently, I was fortunate to be allowed by Asuncion to attend a KMP street combat simulation seminar dubbed KMX Conquer Your Limits. The intense one-day training, led by KMP instructor Fred Nogales was held inside an old warehouse for realism.
Nogales, 32, a Graduate Level 5 instructor first emphasized the importance of warm up to avoid injury. After doing various exercises like pushups, he let us experience how to fight with improvised weapons and found objects.
“You have to feel how to hit with a heavy object because there’s a risk in attacking too,” said Nogales, who also taught the participants how to use a stone to defend against circular attacks. “In reality, forget warm up because the mental aspect is the most important in self defense.”
Asuncion also allowed me to try some drills, which I thought was easy but not. “You have to do all drills, basic variations of self-defense techniques over and over again to learn it because you can’t learn those stuff perfectly in just one day,” he said.
Nogales, who has been teaching krav maga since 2009, also taught us how to defend against a punch and how to avoid getting hit. What I liked most was the technique on how to disarm an attacker armed with a knife or a gun.
“The point of krav maga is self defense and evade attackers. It is a survival system or avoiding danger in real life,” he said.
“Awareness on how to escalate the situation is important. You can’t hit your opponent at the back of his head, poke his eye and hit his groin in most martial arts, but in krav maga you can do all of that.”
Besides Nogales, KMP instructors Edmund Tambunting and Jericho Viejo also shared their ideas to me on various self-defense issues.
“You can’t apply what you see in television or in cinema in real life danger. It’s all cinematic,” explained Tambunting. “You have to practice self-defense in order to familiarize yourself to different techniques. krav maga is very effective and useful in real life.”
The last routine of the day was a stress drill that requires a participant to carry a person through a crowd out of the kill zone. The next scenario puts us inside rooms where we have to evade or disarm attackers.
The instructors also taught running and how to roll properly when you accidentally fall. They stressed that we should know how to deal with our surroundings in any condition even when we are very tired.