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Self-defence classes in Singapore: Krav Maga is a keep-fit, street-smart combat system

I have a confession to make. I tried to strangle my boss. Yes, strangle – as in, I clamped two hands around her neck and started throttling.

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Before you question my sanity, please consider the fact that she had just attempted to stab me in the neck with a knife. Multiple times!

No, this isn’t how we usually roll in the Expat Living office. And our violent skirmish wasn’t from a disagreement over the font colour for our next magazine cover (though those conversations can be heated at times…).

Rather, we were on a field trip to the Protect SG gym, behind Boat Quay, to do an introductory class in the martial art of Krav Maga. (And, for the record, it was a rubber knife.)

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5 things we didn’t know about Krav Maga

1. The name comes from the Hebrew words for “contact combat”.

2. Krav Maga techniques are sourced from boxing, Muay Thai, Judo, jiu-jitsu, wrestling and other fighting methods.

3. While it developed in Israel, Krav Maga has its origins in mid-1930s Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, when a man named Imi Lichtenfeld used it to defend the city’s Jewish Quarter from fascist groups.

4. Krav Maga is used by Israeli Defense Forces and various law enforcement and intelligence organisations.

5. It has a coloured belt grading system similar to Judo, which starts from white and goes through yellow, green, blue and other colours, all the way up to black.

What the Protect SG space lacks in size and aesthetics (this isn’t the kind of sleek machine-filled gym that you mind find attached to a shiny mall in Orchard) it makes up for in intensity. After a short jog around the room to warm up, weaving through the punching bags and other equipment available for training, we were straight into it: throwing kicks and punches and using basic Krav Maga techniques to aggressively block attacks.

Coach “GL” (Guan Long) is skilled in up to a dozen different defence systems and martial arts, and thanks to his clear instructions, he’s a great person to lead newcomers through the basics of Krav Maga.

The best thing about the discipline is that you can immediately get a feel for how “street smart” it is. It’s not about looking good or earning points in a ring. It’s about reacting sharply and savagely to a real-life situation you might find yourself in – an attempted mugging, for example. And while it’s easy enough to say, “It wouldn’t happen in Singapore”, it’s worth keeping in mind GL’s story: he decided to take up martial arts in the first place after witnessing an act of brutal violence on the streets of Geylang.

So, if you’re looking for a different way of getting fit while also honing your self-defence skills, it’s worth considering doing a Krav Maga course. Take a look at these Protect SG online tutorial videos for a closer look at what it involves.

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Who knows? It might even come in handy in the office one day. It would certainly put a swift and decisive end to a dispute about who didn’t bother replacing the paper in the photocopier…

Protect SG is at 11D Hong Kong Street (Level 5). Classes in Krav Maga, Muay Thai and other disciplines are held weekday evenings and on weekends. See the website for a full schedule.

8250 4361 | protect-sg.com

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