BYU Krav Maga Club teaches practical self-defense

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Krav Maga Club president Jordan Johnson and club member Thomas Andrews demonstrate three self-defense maneuvers. Both students enjoy Krav Maga as a form of exercise and self-defense. (Alyssa Regis)

BYU students of the Krav Maga Club share their mission and basic tips for self-defense every Tuesday night in the Wilkinson Student Center.

Krav Maga Club president Jordan Johnson said the martial art started in Israel. “It was originally designed to take people with no combat experience and, in about three years, bring them up to proficient military combat experience,” he said.

He said Krav Maga became popular in the U.S. and has been adapted to help teach self-defense to those with no experience. Johnson said many people come to the club to learn so they do not feel like a victim everywhere they go.

“A lot of people like to use this as a way to get through traumatic experiences, so they don’t feel powerless anymore,” Johnson said. 

The focus on realistic self-defense is one reason why recent BYU graduate and former club president Perryn Huth said he loves Krav Maga over other martial art styles like Tai Kwan Do, Muay Thai and boxing. “Everything we do in Krav Maga is meant for real-life application,” he said.

BYU student Thomas Andrews said he appreciates that the martial art is so practical and likes the idea of being able to defend himself if he had to. Andrews attends the club meetings on Tuesday nights as both a form of exercise and self-defense.

“I would prefer not to get beat up or killed, and this is one way to reduce the risk of that,” Andrews said.

Johnson said, in regards to learning self-defense, his first tip is to look for instruction and answers in many places. “There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all,” he said.

Many martial arts advertise themselves as self-defense, but Johnson recommends thinking about specific situations and finding a place that will teach practical applications for those situations. He also recommended exploring other varieties of martial art.

Johnson said he cross-trains in boxing, Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. “Don’t limit yourself to one instructor’s ideas,” he said.

Johnson also advised individuals to be active in the learning process.

“Understand that if you want to learn to defend yourself, you can’t do that from a couch,” Johnson said.

Huth said effort is a common misconception in learning self-defense.

“Sometimes people will do a one-time self-defense class for like 30 minutes, and then they think they’re Jason Borne,” Huth said. He compared it to someone playing basketball for 30 minutes and thinking they can play for BYU’s basketball team.

Huth’s top tip is to learn prevention first. He said there are two aspects: de-escalation and awareness. With de-escalation, Huth simply recommends avoiding fighting if possible.

“This happens a lot with people who maybe feel like they have something to prove,” Huth said. “You don’t need to fight people to prove who’s boss.”

He said, however, even if individuals want to avoid a fight, there might be people who want to do bad things. Huth’s second piece of advice is for an individual to always be aware of their surroundings.

He compared this tip to defensive driving — looking up from a phone and being aware of those around.

“Don’t be an easy target,” Huth said.

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