It was walking down a dimly-lit, isolated alley from her way back from the gym that made 35-year-old Ashika Kumar take up self-defence classes. “I don’t usually get time to work out in the mornings so I go to the gym late in the evening and return around 9.30pm every day,” she said.
“The locality, however, used to put me on my guard because it was quite dark and I always felt vulnerable on my way back from the gym.”
To cope with this, the content writer signed up for Krav Maga classes. Krav Maga is a form of self-defence practised by Israeli defence forces and is popular for its effective street fighting techniques. As, she continued with the classes, Ashika realised that she grew confident about being able to protect herself if she faced any incidents of eve-teasing or even attempts at molestation but gradually, she found it difficult to attend classes regularly.
“The classes, scheduled on a weekend, would begin from 9.15 am and carry on till 12.30 pm. Although I learnt a lot during the sessions, it was becoming difficult for me to spare all those hours, especially on a weekend when my family needed me,” said Ashika.
A few months later, she started missing out on classes. “I regretted not being able to attend the sessions and once when I was speaking to my instructor about it, he told me that I could try being a part of the boot camps instead,” Ashika said.
The boot camp, called Insta Krav Maga, is aimed at teaching participants basic self-defence techniques in a day instead of training them through regular classes. The eight-hour camp will focus on different techniques such as grappling, punches and kicks to equip the participants to face and fight assailants.
Speaking about the programme, Krav Maga instructor Gopal Iyengar said, “While a lot of people seem interested in this form of self-defence, we have often seen people drop out of classes after a while even though they are really passionate about it.”
He added, “That’s why we planned to organise boot camps which will help people to get a kick start into Krav Maga without having to devote more than a day in a month for it.” In these boot camps, participants will be taught combative techniques used in Krav Maga, including palm heel punches, knee strikes, elbows, hammer and kicks, defence against a variety of chokes, headlocks, grabs, and bear hugs.
“This will be an opportunity for participants to use their self-defence training in a variety of reality-based exhaustion, stress, and aggression drills,” said Gopal.
While the first boot camp is scheduled for February 10, at Zorba in Anna Nagar, it is not only women like Ashika who have signed up for it. S Samy C Ajay, a doctor, who has been practising Krav Maga for more than two years now, too is looking forward to be a part of the programme.
“As a shy and timid child, I faced a lot of bullying in school. Things peaked when I reached Class 11 and somehow got involved in a gang war. I was assaulted by my school mates and that’s when I decided to learn to defend myself,” said Ajay.
“I took up karate, MMA (mixed martial arts) and even Muay Thai before I was introduced to Krav Maga. That’s when I realised that Krav Maga is not just a form of self-defence, it’s a way of life,” he added. “I grew more confident of myself and would not get riled up easily. Also, Krav Maga teaches you how to defend yourself in real life situation unlike other forms of martial arts,” Ajay said.
He added that he is planning to sign up for the boot camp as it would give him a chance to be a part of an intense learning session.