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Club Sport Feature: Krav Maga

Club Sport Feature: Krav Maga

By Zach Cihlar

Section: Featured, Sports

September 23, 2016

Krav Maga is a form of self-defense created for use by the Israel Defense Forces. It stresses practicality over form, emphasizing efficacy over the flashiness of some other forms of martial art.

At Brandeis, it is a club sport led by Saul Kaplan ’17. Kaplan took to Krav Maga in a gap year between high school and college when he spent a few months in Beijing, and ever since he has been practicing the self-defense skill through the club. His senior year marks his fourth year in the club.

Krav at Brandeis is purely instructional and open to all skill levels at the start of each semester. The club provides a beginning period before instructors of Boston Krav Maga join the sessions to teach more advanced technique and skills. The club is “more than welcoming to beginners” for the first few weeks of practice, in Kaplan’s words, but after this beginning drop-in period, a member could show up and fall behind in the instruction if they have not attended any prior practices.

As an instructional club, Krav does not travel or compete in competitions outside of Brandeis. Kaplan accentuates the practicality of the club. No scoring system exists in Krav; therefore, it works purely to instruct members in self-defense.

As a result, Krav distributes its funds solely to instruction and equipment. Equipment includes pads, gloves, kick shields and other protective practice wear, all of which are replaced annually. “Enough punches will break them down,” said Kaplan.

The club practices twice a week for an hour at each practice. They occur on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesdays from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The listserv for the club reaches out to about 400 students, according to Kaplan, “but oddly enough, they don’t all show up for practice. At a rough guess, we get between 12 to 20 people per practice.”

One of the things Kaplan noted about Krav is the people he’s met through his time participating in the club. “I’ve met some really interesting people through it,” Kaplan said. “After a while you get this core of a group that comes back to Krav over and over, and you get sort of your Krav family going on.”

Another Krav member, Caroline Mallard ’19 elaborated that the club attracts a diverse group of people because the self-defense technique caters to all people and all body types. “Anyone, no matter what you look like or how you’re built can fight your way out of a situation if necessary,” said Mallard of the techniques taught during the Krav Maga practices.

Mallard admitted that Krav is a strength training sport since much of the technique comprises of upper body strikes. “It’s more about the power of the strikes that you give,” she clarified.

Mallard became interested in the sport the summer before she attended Brandeis. She was specifically seeking out self-defense training when her brother mentioned Krav Maga, and she was surprised to find that Brandeis had an organization specifically for the self-defense sport. Ever since, she has been developing and honing her skills through the Krav club offered at the university.

One of the great things the club offers, according to Mallard, is the sense of safety and self-confidence the members acquire by learning the self-defense form. “I was more comfortable going into town by myself and into Boston,” said Mallard.

The club frequently does stress drill training, where the Krav practitioner will stand with their eyes closed and be faced with a situation that is either amicable or potentially dangerous, and the tester must act appropriately according to the situation. If the tester faces an escalating situation that could be harmful, they must use the skills they learned practicing Krav to defend themselves and combat the confrontation.

The club also uses visualization of potentially harmful situations that may easily occur in the life of a college student so that they know how to act under certain situations.

The club, though strictly instructional for now, will look to expand what it offers to its members, connecting them to external opportunities to practice Krav Maga. For now, the club will stick to its goal of teaching self-defense and bestowing self-confidence to its members through the combat martial art form of Krav Maga.

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