Krav Maga school in Itaewon teaches practical self-defense.
From walking down the street to taking a trip abroad, there is always the danger that something unideal can happen. Rather than be surprised, shocked, or stunned, Krav Maga provides the opportunity to be prepared.
Originally developed in Israel, Krav Maga is the official self-defense and hand-to-hand combat system used by the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli National and Military Police. Don’t let that intense sounding introduction be a deterrent though: students at KMF Korea take special self-defense courses adapted to the civilian lifestyle. Current student Teri Thompson thinks the self-defense class has helped her become more confident and has given her vital techniques for bad situations. That’s just one of the rave reviews KMF Korea has received.
While it was originally geared towards professionals, the special tactical approaches and techniques have been adjusted to provide an accessible self-defense program for civilians as well. In this day and age, it has become a necessity to protect oneself and KMF Korea is there to help.
Gideon Roth, the regional director and foreign representative for the Krav Maga Federation Korea, the only official Wingate Institute accredited Krav Maga school in Asia, explained that the techniques are “based around natural reactions of the body.” Due to the fact that this practice is based on natural instinct and guttural response, even a person not well-trained in martial arts can execute the techniques in stressful situations. Gideon, the most experienced instructor of Krav Maga on the peninsula with 14 years under his belt, went further to say that in life-threatening situations where the adrenalin is pumping and the finer motor functions may be lost, Krav Maga skills will still be maintained. That practical application is important in a world where one never knows who they will meet on the street, at a park, or at a party.
Not only is Krav Maga useful, but Buziwe Mbatha said she appreciates the small steps that are taught for defense against anyone, and the classes have made her fitter, too. While she’s become more aware of her body, with Krav Maga she also feels like she can better protect herself if necessary.
The courses and instruction provide simple but very effective defense moves in order to escape an attack. From de-escalation techniques, like talking an attacker down, to evasion and re-location: any student walking away from a lesson in Krav Maga will be well-rounded and, more importantly, will be confident.
Corey Blumenthal, a brown belt in Krav Maga and one of the official instructors and coordinators for the women’s self-defense course taught on Saturdays at the Itaewon location, can think back on times when she was targeted for being a woman and knows that if she’d had Krav Maga skills, she would have reacted differently. Now, she wants to give other women those tools and help them stay safe. Corey’s co-instructor and coordinator is Brendon Spencer, a fellow brown belt. Both instructors have completed the women’s self-defense instructor level 1 and 2 courses and are officially certified to teach through the Krav Maga Federation. They also hold instructors certifications in Krav Maga Civilian Techniques through the Wingate Institute, from Israel, which is considered to be one of the most sought after certifications for Krav Maga. With Corey, Brendon, and Gideon leading the classes, students can be assured they’re in good hands.
To be clear, Krav Maga is not about attacking or picking a fight. KMF Korea is for anyone regardless of age, gender, size, or background to learn how to finish a fight as quickly and as safely as possible with counter-attack maneuvers, plus an awareness of additional threats and escape routes. Avoiding conflict and confrontation is always the best policy, but sometimes it just can’t be avoided. “The unique thing about Krav Maga,” explains Corey, “is that unlike a lot of other fighting styles, it’s not a sport or competition — it was created and intended to be used for self-defense in the real world.” Without weight classes, rules, or restrictions, there are a multitude of applications that Krav Maga can be used for and KMF Korea wants more people to take the time to invest in themselves and learn these important and necessary defensive tactics.
During class, students can expect to learn techniques utilizing strikes to vulnerable areas including the groin, eyes, ears, throat, and joints which can assist in neutralizing an assailant. Based on the attacker’s height and weight, students also learn variations on tactics in order to effectively break free, get away, or bring an attacker to his knees. As students progress, they learn more difficult moves like locks, throws, and third party protection. The scenario-based solutions that the instructors provide also go over what happens in the event of a knife being wielded and other objects that can be potential hazards. Brendon says that Krava Maga is “just such a diverse defense system. You get a little bit of everything — and it’s all practical.”
Hallie Bradley is a writer, educator, editor and more who has lived in Korea since 2006. Check out her website TheSoulofSeoul.net for more articles on culture, Korean traditions and the life of her growing multi-cultural family in Korea or follow her on Instagram @thesoulofseoulblog for photos along the way.
Address: Itaewon Branch TMAS (Total Martial Arts System) Gym, 3rd Floor, 119-19 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Directions: From Itaewon subway station on line #6, take exit 1 and walk straight for 40 meters. Turn right just after Istan Blue and the entrance to TMAS is on the right.
Monday – Thursday 9:00pm – 11:00pm
Saturday 11:00am – 12:00pm Women’s Self Defense
Saturday 12:00pm – 2:00pm All Levels Krav Maga
Story By: Hallie Bradley
Photos By: Clayton Jones