- Sophomore Jake Schwartz practices with Roiy Frenkel, a hillel employee. Rick prado has been teaching the class for three years and has been studyting for ten. Adrianne D’Angelo//The Miami Hurricane
Learn how to defend yourself the way an Israeli soldier does.
The Hillel Center on the University of Miami campus is now offering classes in Krav Maga, which is Hebrew for contact combat. It is the official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Force.
The self-defense technique was first created by Imi Lichtenfeld in an effort to protect Jewish neighborhoods against growing anti-Semitism in Europe, said Roiy Frenkel, the program coordinator for Israel at the Hillel Center. Lichtenfeld used his background as a wrestler and boxer to develop Krav Maga.
The class emphasizes techniques like striking, wrestling and tackling. This focus is what motivated Enrique “Rick” Prado to learn Krav Maga, who now teaches the class at Hillel.
“People should learn how to defend themselves, and I believe this is one of the most effective systems out there,” he said. “Krav Maga is a no nonsense system that deals with real-life situations.”
The class allows students to learn how to how to escape from chokes and headlocks, how to throw punches and kicks, and even how to fight against a firearm.
The system is also currently used by United States local law enforcement, federal agencies, state police, SWAT and special operations teams.
“It’s an all-encompassing self-defense system,” Prado said.
The benefits of Krav Maga extend beyond learning self-defense.
“You become so much more aware about your surroundings,” said Walter Lieber, a Coral Gables resident who is a regular participant in Krav Maga classes.
Aside from enhanced self-defense and awareness, the system also allows those who practice it to think in a different state of mind.
“If you get into a situation, even if you do not remember what to do, you are trained to know that you should think, not panic,” Lieber said.
He also said the class gave him more confidence.
“In the past, I’ve traveled a lot and you just don’t know what kind of situation you’re going to find yourself in,” he said. “The ability to know that you are able to defend yourself better tends to make you feel more confident.”
Graduate student Lola Omishore thinks that taking the Krav Maga class can bring “cultural awareness of how self-defense is taught in other countries.”
“I’ve never even heard of Krav Maga,” Omishore said. “I think that’d definitely be an eye-opener to know how people express themselves in other cultures. We already are fascinated with the Middle East and Dubai and everything else.”