On July 24, 2017, in Milwaukee a woman sat in her car, smiling at her birthday messages on Facebook. She had just parked her car and was ready to do some birthday shopping. As she opened the door to exit her vehicle, she was brutally beaten by a man wearing brass knuckles. He left her there, bloodied, eyes swollen, and busted lips. Worst of all, she had fractures and chipped teeth. In an interview with WTMJ-TV Milwaukee, the victim says she tried to defend herself but could not hit him.

As he assaulted her, the woman was able to reach for her pepper spray and spray him, causing him to run off. But by then, the damage was done. The motive? Her purse.  She was resourceful enough to reach for her pepper spray, but how many of us women carry it with us like we ought to? And even if we did, would we be fast enough and clear-minded enough to think about reaching for the pepper spray under duress? Krav Maga is one of the few self defense systems that address these real-life situations.

What is Krav Maga? It’s a reality-based self defense system. A system focused 100% on surviving and escaping worst case scenarios. Developed for the Israeli Defense Force and Israeli Security Forces, it combines techniques from boxing, wrestling, aikido, and judo. Krav Maga was designed to be used by anyone. It is brutal and intense, even savage. When it’s your life on the line, you have to react with 100% intensity and aggression.

Having served in the military, I thought I was in good shape with my knowledge of blocks and punches. Boy was I wrong. This passed weekend, just a few days after the attack on the Milwaukee woman, I dropped in for a Krav Maga seminar hosted at Fight Prime Training Center, here in Madison, Wisconsin. The seminar was led by Jason Denzer, a level 4 Krav Maga instructor. He is certified through Krav Maga Alliance, with 10 plus years of the tactical training.

The room was filled with a mix of Fight Prime members and people with no prior experience in Krav Maga. I found my spot on the mats as Jason walked in and began the seminar. With a loud voice, harsh and brutal language he instructed. First impressions are everything, right? Well my first impression of Jason was, “This guys is crazy!” He demonstrated palm hits and hammer punches, then groin kicks, all with intensity and speed. He told us Krav is about speed, attacking and getting the “F” out of there.

As the night unfolded and we were taught to deal with being in a crowded settings like concerts and movie theaters, it dawned on how often we walk, unprepared, through life. And now seems like senseless violence happens more often than ever before.  So I made it a point to really visualize that my partner really was thug demanding my purse or the drunk trying to assault me. That’s when my inner savage came roaring out. What a rush! I felt empowered; like a new, stronger side of me emerged.

One night of Krav Maga training showed me how to avoid threatening situations and the importance of body language. And finally, I learned how to unleash my “inner savage” to shock my attacker, making me seem less the victim and more like a survivor.

While we might not be able to avoid getting hurt and banged up, but Krav is giving us the mental readiness to see the signs and opportunities to get out and get back to our loved ones… ALIVE. Today’s world is not that of our parents. As Charles Darwin said, “ It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survive. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

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