Krav maga workshop teaches self-defense skills to local women

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Basic krav maga techniques for women

- Fighting stance: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and step forward with your left foot, right heel slightly raised. Think of your feet being at diagonal corners of a rectangle, with all 10 toes facing forward. Raise your arms, elbows bent, so that your fingers are near your eyebrows.

- Punch: From your fighting stance, push your left arm forward, hand turned with fingers facing to the right and the heel of your hand out. Be sure to hit with the heel of the hand, said High Altitude Krav Maga instructor Holly Wilde - turning fingers upward and leaving the wrist out ends badly. "If I hit him like this, I'm going to break my wrist, and that sucks," Wilde said.

- Elbow: Wilde demonstrated three elbow hits for close combat. All keep the elbow at a 90-degree angle with the body. 1) To hit someone in front of you, bring your hand to chin-level, and swing your elbow around, across your body. 2) To hit someone beside you, move your elbow out quickly to the side and bring it back into your fighting stance. 3) To hit someone behind you, turn your head in their direction, bring the elbow on that side of your body all the way around, using your feet to pivot.

- Knee: Build a bridge between you and your attacker by placing one forearm against their collarbone, bracing the attacker and keeping them at a distance. Dig your other hand into the muscle in their upper arm. Lift the back foot of your fighting stance, knee bent, and pivot the front foot so the knee goes up and into the attacker.

- Kick: From your fighting stance, kick your front foot upward into the attacker's crotch. "This is one of the best attacks you have," Wilde said, demonstrating the move on High Altitude Krav Maga owner Nick Bosick. "You do not have to kick someone very hard to get the desired reaction."

— At a Friday self-defense seminar, local women lined the walls of the gym at Colorado Mountain College to learn the lessons of krav maga from Steamboat Springs teacher Holly Wilde.

"It's the mentality of not being a victim - it's being strong, and it's being confident," Wilde said to the more than 50 women who showed up for Friday's free seminar, put on by High Altitude Krav Maga and Advocates Building Peaceful Communities. Krav maga is a self-defense and hand-to-hand combat style used by the Israeli Defense Forces. The workshop coincided with Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Before the class started, Wilde said she planned to cover the basics of sexual assault awareness and prevention, and give women the knowledge needed to feel confident if they ever are in an altercation.

"What we're going to do today is talk about victim mentality and how not to be the person that loses : because that's not an interview that you want to pass," Wilde said. She said the three-hour window was packed with information and techniques.

"I hope people take away a sense of confidence that they have some tools to defend themselves if they ever need to use them," Wilde said.

The workshop started with a fast-paced warm-up of 50 jumping jacks and a combination of push-ups and sit-ups. From there, Wilde moved quickly through the fighting style's basic stance and its first move: a quick punch to the face or throat.

Workshop participants said they hoped to refresh awareness skills and add some new self-defense techniques to their arsenal. Stephanie Berens, a Routt County resident who said she plans to move to American Samoa soon, hoped to refresh the lessons she learned up at a workshop she took in the early '90s.

"It's always good to hear that stuff again so it's in the front of your mind if you need it," Berens said.

Susan Phillips came to the workshop with her 11-year-old daughter, Joylynn. She looked at the evening as a chance to arm her daughter with self-defense knowledge and skills in case she ever needs them.

"It's for me, but really it's for my daughter. I just want her to know how to feel confident. : If she's ever in a situation, I want her confident about herself," Phillips said.

Diane Moore, executive director for Advocates, said she recently took a similar self-defense workshop. Moore said she often asked herself how she would react in the event of an attack - would she freeze up, or would she be able to fight it off?

"After I took that, I thought that I left with these kind of skills, and I would use them. I felt empowered," Moore said. Advocates is looking into hosting a self-defense workshop for high-school aged girls during the summer, she said.

- To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

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