Exercise hard, and harder, with combat sports
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In a dim, nondescript corner of the Blok M area in South Jakarta, a girl is going through an intense self-defense routine. In another corner, a few men are doing stretching moves.
The place, located in the parking lot tower of a shopping mall, is the dojo of the Syena Martial Arts Center. And these people were getting ready for a session of Krav Maga — a combat sport developed in Israel back in the 1930s and used by the Israeli military for years.
The sport has gained popularity in town among those wanting to stay in shape with added value — self- defense skills.
“Krav Maga is not a martial art. It is a self-defense system designed for ordinary people to survive a combat situation,” said Joe Ueno, a certified Krav Maga instructor with Self Defense Indonesia in the center.
Krav Maga — a mixed martial arts form that includes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, judo, karate, Muay Thai and tae kwon do — focuses on real world situations and extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks.
The sport’s founder, Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld who came from a boxing and wrestling background, created the self-defense system from street-fighting skills.
“Over the years, the Krav Maga has been developed outside Israel, in Canada, the US and Europe,” said Joe, who earned his Tactical Krav Maga Law Enforcement/Military Instructor certificate from the International Krav Maga College in Pattaya, Thailand, in 2007.
Joe, who has backgrounds in various martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, karate and tae kwon do, said that in the 1990s, defensive Krav Maga was developed for civilians in the US.
“It was developed as a civilian self-defense system. For the military, the nature of this skill is offensive,” he says.
“But since the training is for civilian, people who applied the skill for attacks or aggression would face legal prosecution. So they [US-based Krav Maga experts] modified the movement — no ground rules except survival.”
A person — both man and woman — can learn the skills in 20 hours of intense training, said Joe, who also gives martial arts training, including Krav Maga, to the Jakarta Police’s Gegana bomb squad and Detasemen A Pelopor detachment at Brimob (Mobile Brigade).
“Krav Maga has a perfect syllabus to turn a person without any martial art skills into a ‘war machine’. Since it’s conceived for combative situations, a person with Krav Maga skill can handle any situation even if his or her weaponry, for example, is broken.”
Krav Maga offers the ability to counter attack quickly, targeting the body’s most vulnerable points like eyes, jaw, throat, ribs, groin, knee and armpits; neutralizing the opponent as quickly as possible by responding with a continuous, varied stream of counter attacks — high or low; and staying alert to your surroundings while dealing with immediate threat, looking for escape routes, more attackers or objects that could be used to defend
yourself or help attackers.
Krav Maga student of the Self Defense Indonesia, Faustine Gunawan, has been learning the skill for a year and found it an efficient defense against crime.
“Krav Maga is about whatever that works [to defend yourself from an attacker],” said Faustine, who is also the Syena gym’s owner. “At least, you’re aware and you know what to do if you face real danger on the street.”
Faustine, who is preparing to take Krav Maga instructor certification, shared tips for women to ensure safety.
“First, you have to be fit. Second, stay aware, don’t get drunk. Third, don’t walk alone. Fourth, mind your appearance and fifth, be smart and assertive,” said the woman, who is the country’s first woman with a blue belt from Indonesia’s Synergy Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Academy.
Spanning more than 1,000 square meters, Syena has attracted enthusiasts of all walks of life and nationalities since the gym opened its door in March last year and offered classes which are affiliated with bona fide martial arts academies.
Apart from Krav Maga, BJJ and MMA, Syena also offers Arnis [Filipino weapon-based fighting], boxing, capoeira, Kyokushin and Muay Thai classes.
In the health and fitness industry, which witnesses the booming of big mega-gyms, Muay Thai Boxing has also becoming one of gym members’ favorites.
“It’s popular because Muay Thai involves very active movements, punching and kicking. The exercise may also serve as some kind of stress reliever for our members,” said Gold’s Gym Indonesia marketing and promotion manager Angela Lovenia.
Ardy Ongko, fitness manager at the Gold’s Gym Indonesia at Mall of Indonesia in North Jakarta, did not specifically offer Muay Thai lesson as a martial art at the gym, which is equipped with a boxing ring.
“What we do is adapting basic movements from the martial art and put it as an intense exercise,” he said, adding that all trainers in the gym’s boxing division are all certified by Gold’s Gym Foundation.
The basic movements in the gym-versions of Muay Thai Boxing include punching [jab, cross, hook and uppercut], elbow, kicking and kneeing.
“Here, trainers will use pads, while members wear gear like hands wrap, boxing gloves and shorts. During training, members will do the punching and kicking at the pads. So, it’s all safe,” said Ardy.
The gym claims the Muay Thai session is a total body workout and may enhance flexibility, stamina, strength conditioning, speed, confidence and discipline. It will also develop self awareness, assertiveness, stress reduction and a positive attitude.
Ardy said one hour session of Muay Thai could burn up to 700 calories.
“It gives you an intense exercise that covers upper and lower body.”