MANILA, Philippines – No place is safe for anyone in today's world, but everyone – both men and women – can now learn the most efficient way to defend themselves through Krav Maga.
"What makes Krav Maga unique is that the foundation techniques for this all interrelate with higher-level threats," shared Krav Maga Philippines instructor Regina "Reg" Ongsiako.
"Aside from this they really try to tackle from the most simple lower-threats to the most unexpected but higher-level threats – where it comes to really life and death, third party situations [to defend] not just yourself but your friends and your family, whoever is with you."
Originating from the Israeli military defense system, Krav Maga was created by Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld during the peak of anti-semitism.
But what made Krav Maga click was that it combined the simplest techniques of different martial art practices and popular fighting styles like boxing and wrestling, making it easy to learn for everyone.
In 2004, Kenneth Asuncion brought Krav Maga to the Philippines together with Krav Maga Global's chief instructor Eyal Yanilov – who studied the martial art with Lichetenfeld.
This was how Ongsiako started her journey of learning self-defense through Krav Maga.
Being an only child, it was Ongsiako's dad who enrolled her to different martial arts classes like muay thai and boxing, but she fell in love with Krav Maga and has been practicing it for 12 years now. (WATCH: This champ uses jiu-jitsu to help victims of child sex abuse)
"I think it's very important because it's very empowering. You know as a woman myself, I feel safer. I feel more confident in myself. And it's kind of a way – encouraging me and it's also very empowering to be able to know that I do have a chance to fight back," shared Ongsiako.
Why Krav Maga is for everyone
One thing that draws a first-timer into Krav Maga is that there's no distinction between veterans and newbies.
"So with Krav, our tranings – there's no age, there's no gender, there are no levels. Everybody here is exactly the same," said Ongsiako.
"There might be a skill that the beginner has that the high-level hasn't trained with or hasn't learned. Or there might be a skill that the high-level has that the beginner can learn from."
While the universality of Krav Maga is very welcoming, Ongsiako admits that there are challenges for women going up against bigger and stronger guys.
But learning Krav Maga empowers practitioners to overcome these hurdles.
"Those situations [where] obviously they (aggressors) will be stronger, but if it's a matter of life and death, I don't think it should matter," said Ongsiako.
"Whether you feel like you're strong enough or not – it's fight or flight. When it comes to your life being at risk, I don't think you can afford to hesitate to strike as hard as you can. Right? Kasi buhay mo 'yan eh (Because that's your life.)"
Krav Maga, though, cannot be self-taught as the skills needed to combat the simplest situations like hair-pulling and hand-grabbing are very technicial to be effective in stunning the aggressor.
It reassures people that this form of self-defense does not rely on strength of one person, to be effective, but the execution of a certain technique.
"We're expecting you to strike well and strike hard because of the groundwork and the technique 'cause everything is interrelated when it comes to Krav," said Ongsiako.
"So, we break it down by piece as to where you're supposed to connect your striking, your certain movement and that's where we work on building up a good foundation for delivering the technique as good as possible."
The simplest foundation
Before diving into the contact element of Krav Maga, Ongsiako constantly reminds her students that self-defense is anchored on "situational awareness."
"As you train Krav, you will notice that it always focuses on situational awareness – that is the base foundation. Anything that happens afterwards could be because you weren't as aware or could be because you were very aware," explained Ongsiako.
Ongsiako describes this as "healthy paranoia" as danger lurks even in guarded areas like malls and under broad daylight.
Observing the different people around you can help you identify potential threats as many criminals carrying miniature knives and concealing deadly weapons still get past security.
By enforcing this mentality upon her students, Ongsiako shared that situational awareness has helped them avoid real-life situations where their phones or wallets could've been stolen.
"Situational awareness is always the foundation for this but the backfall is like the worst, worst case scenario that was – that's when the execution of the technique comes into play."
But when the situation gets too complicated, that's where the importance of Krav Maga comes in.
One of Ongsiako's students was caught in a hold-up situation, but she used Krav Maga techniques to escape instead of panicking too much.
"It was good that when she panicked, her initial panicked reaction was to kick. It was good that even if you said that you felt like you panicked, your body moved in the technique that we did in the class," recalled Krav Maga instructor.
"So, if that is panic for her then it was a really, really 'good panic reaction' 'cause she was still scared, of course. It's a knife in front of you, but her body reacted in a better way, instead of just freezing."
Krav Maga training's ultimate goal is to prepare you for real-life situations, but it all boils down to how you react to real-life situations.
Although she's a veteran in the art of Krav Maga, Ongsiako describes it as a continuous learning process as there are endless possibilities of danger that people face in this world. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.