Instructor: “Choke her, please.”
Me: “That goes against everything I have been taught my whole life.”
Instructor, getting frustrated: “CHOKE HER NOW!”
Me: “I don’t think I can.”
My partner (the 20-something, young lady that was learning to defend herself): “It's OK, this is how I will learn.”
I’ve seen this a million times. Women are coming to learn to defend themselves from men that would seriously hurt them, but men – including myself – have been told their entire lives how wrong it is to lay hands on a woman. But if women can’t practice against a realistic attacker, how will they defend themselves against someone with bad intentions? I get it because this is how I started.
I was fortunate to start taking Krav Maga in Stillwater MN, from Jon Neitzell, a new instructor for the IKMF (International Krav Maga Federation). One of the things that kept me coming back was my instructor’s love for this self-defense system and his insistence that it would help all people: big, small, man, woman – no matter what your fitness level was. During my first few months, Jon asked us if we would like to go visit the gym that he trained at in downtown Minneapolis. We were all very excited and a bit nervous to go to the big city and train with another school and set of instructors. When we got there and we were warmed up, we started the lesson.
The lesson for the day: choke from the front. With this move, you need to get free when someone is facing you with their hands on your throat. After a couple of very cool demonstrations by the instructors, we were ready to work by ourselves. After that, we needed to partner up and work on the drill slowly, and progressively get more aggressive. The attack needed to become more and more real, and I was asked to choke this young lady and I froze.
Fast forward a few years and I have become a IKMF Instructor myself and am now part owner in the business where I started taking Krav Maga. I have also been certified by the IKMF for training Law Enforcement, VIP (Bodyguard), Kid’s Krav Maga, IKMF Defensive Shooting Instructor and the Stay Away Program that is focused on women’s self-defense. Now you can ask my wife about me and training in Krav Maga – I am always pushing myself as hard as I can and I am excited to do so. Every night of my instructor training, she’s heard about all of the things that we did that day. In my opinion the hardest certification for me was the Stay Away-Woman’s Self-Defense program, I needed to be able to put myself in a woman’s shoes and understand how she thinks, not a very easy thing for me to do (again, ask my wife about that one).
What I have learned in a short period of time from my wife, my business partners and training partners, my Krav Maga instructor, and the North American Regional Director for the US IKMF (all amazing women) is that it is absolutely necessary for me to train and teach our students what real life is like. And on the street, no one will ever be afraid to hit a woman.
I love what my business and training partners tell students when they are being too nice to their training partners and not preparing them for a real attack:
They say that “Peter actually loves us, and because he loves us he is going to be as realistic as possible in the attack so we know what it could feel like, but he has trained to do the attack so he will not hurt us.” I usually at that point in time put the choke on as hard ( and safe!) as I can and make the defender work to get out of the position they are in.
I really believe that consistent communication and the ability for the defenders to be able to stop the attacks by any means necessary is a great way for people to start to learn what “real life attacks” may look like and if we push our students and instructors to learn how to do this when we are tired and out of breath, we may be able to begin to get at what the attack will be when it actually happens. We train to make sure that our “freeze reaction” is a little shorter every time.
Because I love all of the instructors, my wife and my daughter as well as every student we have, I will continue to be safe but aggressive with my attacks because if this helps one person gain some confidence or god forbid, survive an actual attack and get home safe it will all be worth it! And I encourage you to do the same.
So that one may walk in Peace …. Imi Lichtenfield
One of the questions we get the most often is: Is Krav Maga for me? If you've ever asked that question, this post is for you.
Two instructors give you the information around their COVID-19 diagnosis, how long it took them to come back, and what you should know if you're coming back to Krav Maga (or just starting out!) after having COVID-19.
Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.