Guest Post: Israeli street self-defense

Image Courtesy of Alex Hamilton
Image Courtesy of Alex Hamilton

I’ve been saying for years that I should learn some form of self defense. Although I learned some basic techniques in high school gym class a whole five years ago (Is my age showing? Am I still too young to say that?), and I am a (wannabe) master of SING (Confession: I’ve never seen the movie), I could be more prepared. Because I have not yet found time to squeeze in a class, I bring you information from someone who has! Check out this guest post from my friend Eitan Barlaz, who studies Krav Maga at the University of Illinois.

Eitan said he got involved with the club because he wanted to develop core strength that he doesn’t get from cycling and playing frisbee, and he also wanted to gain a basic idea of self defense.

Krav Maga at the University of Illinois was founded 3 years ago with the dual purpose of exposing the student body (both Jewish and not) to Israeli achievements and providing the student body with practical information and techniques for street self-defense. Krav Maga is one of the earliest Israeli contributions to the militaries of the free world following their war for independence. Since then, it has grown into a popular form of street self-defense for civilians. Its strength lies in its practicality; unlike most other martial art forms, Krav Maga does not emphasize pinpoint accuracy, flexibility, acrobatic skill, etc. Nor does it require the brute strength people associate with street self-defense. Our instructor, Amy Giles, (a protege of Moshe Katz, one of Krav Maga’s founders) teaches techniques that focus on defending vulnerable spots, and while attacking those same spots also taking advantage of disparities in height, weight, strength, center of balance, etc. The club is supported primarily through grants from Israeli outreach non-profits and UI student resource grants.

If you’re interested in participating in Krav Maga or want to find another learning opportunity in Champaign-Urbana, check out this schedule of weekly events.

About the Author
Sari Lesk is a journalism student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is pursuing a career as a backpack journalist and hopes to use her career to carry out the old adage of "afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted." Sari draws her passion for journalism from the Jewish value of tikkun olam and hopes to improve her local, national and global communities through the media.