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Why You Should Go Through Self-Defense Training

Do you even know the safest seat in a cab? When to fight or flee an attack? A Krav Maga expert gives us survival tips.
PHOTO: Nick Onken

It’s hard to imagine being attacked, but the truth is, it happens in every corner of the world. It can happen to anyone, without warning, and when you least expect it. Safety measures like avoiding dark alleys and texting someone the plate number of the taxi you’re in are no longer as reassuring as they used to be. So what else can we do to protect ourselves?

We interviewed Dindo De Jesus, the Regional Director of Asia for the International Krav Maga Federation, to learn more about how taking Krav Maga classes can help empower women.

What can women get out of self-defense training?

De Jesus: A lot of people still think that women are the weaker sex. That’s why majority of crimes out there are still against women and children. Attackers always pick those who they think won’t put up a fight. Women should take self-defense classes so they know how to deal with attacks and threats. As a result, tataas din 'yung confidence level nila sa street. They’ll feel more empowered. This is an advantage for girls who commute alone, especially at night.


When someone’s attacking you, when should you fight?

If you’re walking along Ayala or any natural setting, and someone tries to mug you, give what you can give. Let go of all your items. Muggers usually don’t want to hurt you naman. But, if you’re opening the door to your condo or the gate to your house and someone orders you to go inside, you have a 50% chance of surviving that. When your life is threatened that way, you fight with everything you’ve got. Another scenario is when you’re opening your car and someone jumps on you and wants you to drive somewhere, then you fight. The question is, do you know how to fight?

Why is Krav Maga the best way to learn self-defense?

IKMF Krav Maga is based on a human’s natural instincts. Because of this, it’s easier to learn. When you have that kind of muscle memory, even if you’re not completely aware of an attack, you’ll be at an advantage.

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Can you elaborate on how a natural instinct or reaction is turned into techniques?

Well, instinctive behavior is what I call the “oh shit” technique because that’s what comes to mind when you first realize that someone’s coming at you. When you’re talking to someone or when someone is verbally threatening you, you should always be in a semi-passive stance. Semi-passive means you don’t want to fight but you’re ready to defend yourself. Why? Because you can’t catch a punching hand. You can’t catch a stabbing hand.

What are some safety measures women can take when they’re in a vehicle or confined space? What should they be aware of?

The best safety measure is healthy paranoia.

You HAVE to be alert. You have to scan the area. You have to check if you’re being followed. When attacked, an untrained individual takes nine seconds to react. Someone who’s had some training in self-defense takes four seconds.  


When you’re in a confined space like a taxi, we now have the child lock—sa labas lang mabubuksan. There’s no escape. So when you get in, observe the driver. Usually, kapag madaldal siya, dapat ready ka. In IKMF, we teach you all about psychology as well. We train you to study behaviors. Another important tip is to sit behind the driver so he has to exert more effort into attacking you, which will give you more time to react. 99% of riders usually sit diagonal from the driver. That makes you more vulnerable. Also, when someone is opening your door, lie down, use your legs to push him off. Legs are stronger than arms so forget about punching.

What other scenarios are part of your Civilian Krav Maga training?

We incorporate threats involving knives, pistols, choking moves, and grabs. IKMF is wholistic. We also teach our students to use everyday objects, like a bag, that can function as a shield. A ball pen can be a knife. If there’s nothing around you, your body is your weapon.


What’s keeping women from signing up for self-defense training?

Actually, the Philippines has the highest number of women enrollees of IKMF Krav Maga, but what’s keeping more women from joining is the lack of access, pati na rin financial aspect. A lot of them are also drained from work, pero natutuwa ako kapag may nakita akong sumasali. This should be a priority. There are three things that make crime happen: necessity, will, and opportunity. It’s a package. If someone needs to do something to survive or for his or her family to survive, and has the guts to do whatever it takes, opportunity na lang kulang. That’s what we should work on controlling or at the very least, preventing. It’s important to understand this mindset.

How do you handle students of IKMF Krav Maga who’ve already experienced trauma? How do you approach that during training?

Sa totoo lang, we’ve had problems with that. We have warm-ups, games, and ice breakers so they can get comfortable. The actual training comes after. We subject our students to a lot of stress. We tire them out. In the streets, your heartbeat will be going crazy so we want to know if you can react under that state. Beforehand, we ask if the student has problems we need to factor in. It’s happened twice pa lang but one student didn’t let us know that she’s been held at gun point and when she was backed into a corner, she screamed and ran to the bathroom. We talked it out after and I asked if she wanted to stop and she said, “No, it’s okay. I need it.”


For krav maga class inquiries and general info, visit IKMF's official Facebook page.

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