Have you ever wondered how to break a headlock? What if someone is holding a knife to your throat?
Israel-based martial arts instructor Moshe Katz addressed these questions — and more — to an audience of about 30 on Wednesday night in Hillel.
He began by explaining the origin of the Israeli martial art form Krav Maga, the hand-to-hand combat technique taught to Israeli soldiers. As Katz put it, “Krav Magah is the simplest method of self-defense … it’s martial arts distilled to the simplest form.”
Over two hours, Katz instructed the attendees with the proper way to defend against a series of grabs, chokeholds, guns and knife attacks. He demonstrated techniques and then attendees broke into pairs, practicing the techniques themselves. Oftentimes the exercises were met with exclamations of surprise at just how effectively the simple movements disabled their hypothetical attackers.
College senior Oren Lavie called the event “fun and applicable.” Engineering senior Riki Sun elaborated on the usefulness of the training. “Philly is sometimes too dangerous, and learning how to defend against a knife, handgun, and even without [weapons] is very helpful,” Sun said.
Katz’s training session was in response to popular demand. According to event organizer and Wharton senior Elad Golan, “We had an event two years ago that was a success, so we decided to bring [Katz] in again.”
Golan said that the Krav Maga session served “to promote self-defense in a fun and interactive way.” He added that “the idea is to get everyone excited for Israel week, for which this is a precursor.” Penn Hillel’s Israel Week is scheduled to run from April 4-8.
Golan described the event as a success, but he said that the combination of St. Patrick’s Day and a Jewish fast day — preceding the holiday of Purim this Saturday night — may have detracted from the event’s potential attendance.
Katz’s renown as a Krav Maga specialist attracted an audience beyond Penn students. Dennis Fritzinger, an instructor of martial art form PaSaRyu, drove two hours with his son to attend the event. Katz’s form is special, he said, “because “his style is simpler and is unique against guns and knives … it’s a great technique for street stuff.”
However, Katz’s parting advice stressed conflict avoidance. “You always try to avoid a fight. But if you have no choice, Krav Maga gives you the confidence to defend yourself.”
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