Learning to be aware – and fight back

The next free-rape prevention seminar takes place on April 27. The seminar is open to all women ages 16 and up. To register call 425-736-6016 or visit www.kravmaga.com.

  • Monday, June 2, 2008 4:11pm
  • Life

Fight back

The next free-rape prevention seminar takes place on April 27. The seminar is open to all women ages 16 and up. To register call 425-736-6016 or visit www.kravmaga.com.

My confidence grew with every punch I threw,

My insecurity lessened with every kick I delivered.

Then came my gut-wrenching yell.

I was fighting back – Krav Maga style.

When I first walked through front doors of the Krav Maga Eastside Training Center, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the training center is offering free rape prevention seminars for women in the community. The next seminar takes place on Sunday, April 27 from 2 to 5 p.m.

According to the U.S Department of Justice, more than 2.5 million women experience violence annually and a woman is raped every 90 second in America. The free seminars offered by the training center aims to equip women with the skills needed to prevent and survive a violent attack.

Krav Maga is the official self-defense system for the men and women of the Israeli Defense Forces. It’s recognized as the most efficient self-defense system for real-life situations and emphasizes practical defenses against real attacks. The three-hour seminar, led by owners and brothers Chris and Nick Masaoka, answered questions and gave useful tips on how to prevent and survive a violent encounter – something every women should know.

When I stepped into the training center for the first time, I’m not sure if it was the giant hole in the wall or the nationally certified self-defense instructors that intimidated me more. Either way I thought – What do I have to lose?

Well, a couple of bruises and three intense hours later I had lost a lot. I lost my shyness and feeling of helplessness. I lost my self-doubt and insecurities. In their place I gained a sense of confidence, strength and awareness.

“The whole premise of Krav Maga, whether it’s an anti-rape course or self-defense class, is through training you get a sense of confidence and awareness,” Chris explained. “When that guy is looking for victims, you don’t look like one. Because that’s what criminals do. Criminals interview their victims. They’ll do that by looking at you by asking you the time and seeing how you react, that type of thing,” he added explained. “It’s an interview that you don’t want to pass.”

Ten minutes into the class I felt like quitting but instead I pushed through it. Over the course of three-hours, I learned how to walk confidently and how to dig deep and project a gut wrenching yell. Both were equally embarrassing at first, but exhilarating after the fact.

The rape prevention seminar taught me more than just how to throw a good punch. It taught me how to push through the exhaustion and to keep going even when my arms felt like Jello. The trainers emphasized the importance of fighting back if attacked and to not stop fighting.

During the seminar, Nick and Chris were joined by Kelly Cantoni, one of their students, who has been training for three-and-a-half-years. She began training after the birth of her son.

“When they talked to me about Krav I was very interested because with my son I have somebody else that I have to look out for,” Cantoni said. “I’m a completely changed woman from Krav, I mean night and day, on so many levels,” Cantoni explained.

Cantoni says she’s built confidence in her abilities and wouldn’t put herself in a position that could hurt her and “if someone tried to hurt me, I would destroy them and I wouldn’t feel bad about it. Krav gives women permission to fight back.”

Krav Maga is the required training for many law enforcement agencies in the United States. In this area, the two brothers have trained the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department, King County Sheriff’s Department, members of the Issaquah Swat Team and some executive protection groups. The training center also is open to the public.

According to Nick, most people go through their life without thinking about a violent encounter. When it does happen it’s so foreign that it causes the victim to freeze in a state of fear and shock.

“What we try to do in Krav is not make you harder and meaner, but make it so it’s not so foreign to you. The criminal has the advantage of choosing when it’s going to happen and where. That makes it very difficult for you to know when it will happen, so the only thing you can do is train for it and for the worst possible scenario.”

Regular member classes at the Krav Maga Eastside Training Center are done in sort of a quasi boot-camp atmosphere. A one-year membership is required and the one-hour-classes are divided by level.

Members are able to attend the drop-in classes as often as they choose. Like other forms of martial arts, there are six different belts that are achieved by a rigorous testing process. Currently there are fewer than 100 black belts in the United States.

The free rape prevention seminar left me feeling strong, alert and healthy. The two brothers served up a few laughs and probably the most challenging workout I’ve ever had.

It was unbelievably hard, but I would do it again in a heart beat – this Sunday to be exact. You may walk out of the seminar sweaty and sore, but you’ll also walk away with a refreshed feeling of empowerment and self-assurance.

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