On The Defense

Senior Editor and resident softie Savannah Waszczuk learns a bit of self-defense at Xtreme Krav Maga Springfield.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

Kevin Williams opened Xtreme Krav Maga Springfield in late 2015. During the Krav Maga Level 1 classes, he takes time to demonstrate each move to the group.

​Xtreme Krav Maga Springfield

4032 West Lark St., Suite F, Battlefield, 417-812-9012, xkm-springfield.com

 

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a total pushover. I used to be a little embarrassed by it, but now I just admit it and say it’s something I am working on. And that’s true. I’m learning that it’s okay to say no sometimes. That sometimes I have to stand up for myself. That it’s okay to speak my mind, and that sometimes I actually have to defend myself regardless of how hard it may be. 

These above-mentioned characteristics are all emotional and verbal defense, and I’m excited to be working on those skills. But when it comes to physical defense, I’m going to admit that those skills are also most definitely lacking. Unless you count the time my older brother Chris spit Fruity Pebbles in my hair during our elementary school days, I’ve never even been in a fight. I wouldn’t have the first idea of what to do if I were punched or kicked. That’s why my experience at Xtreme Krav Maga Springfield (4032 West Lark St., Suite F, Battlefield, 417-812-9012, xkm-springfield.com) was definitely an eye opener. Read on to learn what it’s like to attend a self-defense class as a rookie.

 

The Gym

Xtreme Krav Maga Springfield is a fitness studio and self-defense training center morphed into one. Owner and instructor Kevin Williams opened the gym in November 2015, and since that time he has created a lineup of classes that focus on teaching Krav Maga as well as fitness training. There are Level 1 and Level 2 Krav Maga classes, plus a slew of others—a Fitness Boot Camp that focuses on circuit and weight training, a Cardio Kickboxing class that gives guests a chance to work on their strikes and even Krav-Fit classes that pair intense cardio with full-body workouts. Really there’s something for people on all areas of the Krav Maga spectrum—even newbies like myself. 


To warm up, the class played a flag-capturing game that worked on awareness and movement.

The Experience

I attended the Krav Maga Level 1 class, which requires no martial arts or Krav Maga experience. The goal of the class is to teach self defense, but it also provides a really intense workout at the same time. The session I attended was led by the tall, lean and oh-so-fit Williams, who stood at the front of the matted room so we could follow along. He broke every technique down into steps to explain it to us, and then he provided a live demonstration of it with some of the more seasoned members. This made it somewhat easy to catch on, even for a novice.

After bowing in, we started with a warm-up, which varies from class to class. “Sometimes we’ll go outside and run around the block or the building,” Williams says. “Sometimes we’ll jump rope or perform exercises across the length of the gym from one side of the room to the other.” On my particular visit we played a flag-capturing game. We all put on belts that were adorned with three plastic flags that were attached by Velcro, and we chased one another around the room trying to snag other people’s flags. 

“That exercise works on awareness and movement as well as balance and stance,” Williams says. Then we did five one-minute drills consisting of five squats, 10 push-ups and 15 sit-ups. I wasn’t even finished with one set before the clock reset for the next round. Needless to say, I was already dripping sweat before we really began.

Next came the combatives—the hand-to-hand combat training and techniques taught in Krav Maga. Williams walked us through the moves, which included straight punches, palm strikes, knees and hammer fists. After we did each punch or kick individually, we practiced with a partner—one of us would hold the pad, and the other would strike it. My partner was Katie Caldwell, who has been practicing Krav Maga for a few years. She was helpful and as sweet as sugar, but she was also a little intimidating while she was throwing those fists. She was living proof that practicing Krav Maga is a workout and a way to master self-defense. If I ever had to be attacked, I’d want Katie by my side.

Speaking of attacks, we practiced that situation, too, and it was perhaps the most life-changing moment of the class. To do this, one partner would come up behind the other and put them in a headlock, then the attacked partner would practice their newly learned technique to get out of the headlock, make a move and escape. Feeling my head secured in someone else’s arm and being forced to the ground made it all too real. It’s an uncomfortable situation, even in class, but I think it’s beneficial for everyone to go through.


Writer Savannah Waszczuk partnered with Katie Caldwell during some exercises. Caldwell has been practicing Krav Maga for
a few years.

The Effects

One of the most obvious benefits of Krav Maga is the self-defense aspect. The more you familiarize yourself with those moves, the better you will react if you ever find yourself in such a situation. “The goal is to train people on the quickest, most brutal yet effective way of eliminating a threat without overdoing it,” Williams says. You’re trained to get yourself out of those situations safe and unharmed. 

Another benefit is the fitness you get during training. “It is a full-body workout,” Williams says. “You’re working your arms, legs and definitely your core.” And it’s open to people of all fitness levels. “I’ve had people start a first class and they can’t do a single sit-up,” he says. These members have moved on to lose weight, gain muscle and become much better performers. As for me, I know it was a good workout because I left drenched in sweat, and I feel a bit more confident in how I might react to a threat, even after just one visit. The next time I’m at a family breakfast, Chris better keep those Fruity Pebbles in his mouth.

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