In today’s uncertain world, how does one avoid being a victim? John Gabriele, owner of West Coast Krav Maga, has some answers.
Krav Maga is an empowering, hand-to-hand combat system designed by Israeli defense forces in the 1940s and 50s.
“I started teaching Krav Maga after 18 years of karate training,” Gabriele said. “It is a simple system of self-defense based upon instinctive, human reactions.”
Recently named 2012 Krav Maga’s Worldwide Instructor of the Year, Gabriele has taught local residents how to defend themselves in the direst circumstances for over 15 years, using the Israeli techniques.
An expert in both karate and Krav Maga, Gabriele explained: “With the martial arts tradition, it is a way of life. It is exercise and learned to become instinctive. But, Krav Maga starts with human instinct. If you’ve never trained, and you are afraid, hear a loud noise, or are attacked, the natural instinct is to tuck your chin, to hunch, and draw into a fetal position. Hands and shoulders go up, your chin goes down. You don’t have to think about it, your body just reacts. That motion is the first motion, and helps our students act quickly.”
According to FBI statistics Gabriele shares with his students, over 70 percent of all attackers are thwarted if a woman fights back.
“We teach women to start thinking when they walk. About how close you let people into your personal space, waiting in line at a store. To pay attention when you feel someone is too close, or holding you too tight. Allow a man an honorable exit, even if it may seem embarrassing to do so. By far, the most difficult aspect is setting verbal boundaries,” Gabriele said.
“By showing an attacker that you have a strong presence and are ready and willing to defend yourself out loud, they are more likely to back away,” he said.
This February, West Coast Krav Maga will offer a one-day, four-hour Women’s Rape Prevention courses in Temecula and Murrieta.
“Young teens should come with a parent. This is an intense class where our students learn awareness. We teach proper verbal response and spatial awareness, and ultimately, how to not be a victim,” Gabriele said.
Krav Maga drills include unconventional methods of learning under extreme or emotional circumstances. “Think about where you were when the twin towers fell. You’ll never forget exactly what you were doing. We do eyes closed drills, so the students don’t know when an attack is coming. It isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done,” Gabriele explained.
“Two of my daughters are instructors locally, and my third has practiced Krav Maga since she was four-years-old. As a father, it gives me peace knowing that she has confidence and she can protect herself—not from everything, but that she’s not an easy target.”
Gabriele reminds everyone to pay attention to your surroundings: “Never forget to look people in the eye. Don’t walk around texting, head down, no clue what’s going on. Most men are good; you just never know when you’ll come across one who isn’t.”
For more information on classes and schedules, visit: www.temeculakarate.com.
Ashley Ludwig is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.