By Sarah E. Dollard
As a superhero enthusiast and proud feminist, I’ve been thrilled with the increase in female representation in superhero shows. If you’re anything like me, you’ve watched “Jessica Jones” and been awestruck by the titular character’s toughness, power and fighting prowess. Have you ever wished you could be more like your favorite superheroes, with their incredible strength and physical ability? That level of skill may seem unattainable, especially without superpowers, but learning how to protect yourself Jessica Jones-style may be easier than you think.
Krav Maga is a fighting style developed by Austro-Hungarian martial artist and fighting instructor Emrich “Imi” Lichtenfeld and used by the Israel Defense Forces. It combines aspects of street fighting, aikido, judo, wrestling, boxing and military training. According to Premier Martial Arts, it is becoming increasingly popular among women who are interested in learning self-defense because it does not rely on size or physical strength to bring down an opponent, favoring techniques that focus on the attacker’s weak points. Due to growing interest, gyms that teach Krav Maga classes are appearing in cities all over the world.
Grace Henderson, my longtime friend who spent two years studying Krav Maga, said of the fighting system: “Krav is great for women, because it isn’t about who is the strongest or biggest. It’s about vulnerable spots and knowing your body and your attackers. But I think the biggest thing I learned from Krav is something you could learn from any form of fighting. … It’s the idea that you don’t have to be helpless. I got to the point where my first reaction wasn’t to freeze. … Even if it wasn’t the ‘right technique,’ I had the confidence and wherewithal to fight back, analyze where I was and do something.”
I decided to try Krav Maga for myself. We spent the first half of class exercising to build strength and stamina. The second half was dedicated to learning two Krav Maga techniques; that was when things got interesting. Before class ended, I was flipping a man twice my size using only my legs. I felt strong, powerful, confident—in a word, “super.”
My muscles ached for several days afterward, but once the initial soreness passed, I realized that my entire body was noticeably firmer and more toned. These results were remarkable, considering I had only attended a single, hour-long class. Krav Maga is not only exciting and enjoyable—it is, by far, the greatest workout I have ever had. It is a fun way to get into better shape, release stress and increase your confidence while learning to protect yourself, superhero-style.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah E. Dollard is pursuing an MA in publishing and writing at Emerson College. When she isn’t reading, writing or editing, she can be found researching potential travel destinations, playing video games, or spending time with her girlfriend and their two beautiful cats. Follow her @SarahEDollard.
Photograph of “young woman with open arms” by Shutterstock