Fitness: Defend yourself with Krav Maga

One in three women will be a victim of violence in her lifetime, according to the United Nations.

Do you have the skills to protect yourself?

Krav Maga will give you a workout and prepare you to fight back.


Krav Maga is a self-defense and fight system developed by the Israeli Defense Forces that uses instinctive techniques to prepare you to respond to any physical threat. Watch the action here.

¿Krav qué? ¿Is that like my gym's kickboxing class?

Group fitness classes like kickboxing or Tae-Bo will increase your strength and teach basic hitting, kicking and blocking techniques, but won’t prepare you for the shock of an assault. Krav Maga will.

I work out to be strong, but I also want to know that I could use my strength to protect myself. When a friend recommended Krav Maga, I immediately signed up for an intro package: $20 for two one-hour classes.

With no prior training in self-defense, I didn't know what to expect from this notoriously tough program.

Would I be strong enough? Would I have to hit someone? (Turns out: and )

The class started with a warm-up of running laps, stretching, reviewing fighting stance, and playing tag to wake up our reflexes. So far, so good!

Then things got physical.

The class was packed with men and women of all ages and sizes. We partnered up for drills: punches, kicks, and knees. While one person held a pillow-sized pad close to her body and shuffled around, the other punched, kicked, or kneed it mercilessly. We finished by putting these moves together in a practical sequence for a given situation (approached from front, grabbed from behind, etc.)

Getting comfortable with close, physical contact is key to self-defense training. In a real attack, it is crucial that you not freeze or panic, but react.

Initially I was hesitant to hit or grab my partner--actions that are not typically in my workout routine!--but as the class progressed my confidence and force increased. 

After only one hour, I left with important self-defense skills:

  • knowing to keep my hands up to protect my face and be ready to hit,
  • and how to knee someone and use their body weight to propel myself away from them.

I'm not that strong, will I be able to keep up with such a hard-core class? 

Of course! Krav Maga emphasizes how every human body (even small women) can be a weapon. Success in fighting does not depend on strength, but knowing how to use an attacker's momentum to your advantage.

Needless to say, working on my self-defense skills also gave me an intense cardio and strength training workout.

I'm ready to wrap my knuckles and take at swing at it! What if no one offers Krav Maga in my area?

Don't give up, various fitness programs are built on fighting elements. Try Thai boxing or mixed martial arts.

Krav Maga and other martial arts are a work-out one-two punch: Invest in your long-term health and your safety by learning self-defense.

The Wise Latina Club's Natalie Wagner Fierro

A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

Are you confident in your ability to defend yourself?