What it’s Like Being the Only Woman in a Krav Maga Club
Coming to Israel, I knew I had the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and try new things on a daily basis. I could either stick with the Americans I meet on my program and spend five months going through the motions, or I could have some adventure.
Before I arrived, I had done about two months of Krav Maga. Krav is a mixed martial art based in self-defense and hand-to-hand combat. As I learned more about Krav, I learned that it was not only invented in Israel, but is also used to train the Israeli Defense Forces. I promised myself that I wouldn’t stop training, and that I would find a Krav Maga place near me in Israel, so I could learn from true masters and really immerse myself.
After settling into a routine, a friend and I found a Krav class near us. We called up for information, but had trouble finding it as there was no real building or sign. Finally, we saw someone in martial arts attire, and decided to follow them down a long staircase to an underground area, where we found the class. As we walked in, I knew I was in over my head and had an “I should go home” moment. I got that familiar sinking feeling of dread, and I wanted to slowly back out, run back to my comfort zone, and retreat. I was staring at a room full of large, fit Israeli men, dressed in black, practicing something I was just beginning to learn, speaking a language I didn’t know, and all looking at me like I didn’t belong. It was overwhelming and, honestly, scary. I had to remind myself to take a breath and ride it out.
I was staring at a room full of large, fit Israeli men, dressed in black, practicing something I was just beginning to learn, speaking a language I didn’t know, and all looking at me like I didn’t belong.
We began class by following everyone else’s lead and just went with it. Seventy-five minutes later, dripping with sweat from places that are definitely not supposed to perspire, in desperate need of water, we lined up to listen to the instructor, Dori (who is by far, without a doubt, the coolest person I’ve ever met). As we listened to his Hebrew, trying to understand a word here and there, my vision became blurry, my ears became muffled, and I had a terrible fear that I might faint. After holding on and sitting down with some water, I looked up at my friend and smiled. We had done it. I went home covered in bruises and sweat, with a grin across my face.
Since then, we have returned to class twice a week, and I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I walk out feeling sore, but with a sense of strength that nothing else gives me. Krav Maga gives me the power to protect myself and to feel safer as a woman traveling around the world. I feel ready, and in addition to it being a killer workout, I feel like I am beginning to learn how to take ownership of protecting myself. I have seen a few other women in the class from time to time, and I feel proud to be among them.