Recent sexual assaults in Toronto coupled with ongoing news about violence against women got me thinking: I want to empower women to take charge of their physical safety. I began by talking to an expert I greatly respect, Robert Ferreira. 
Rob is one of four first-degree Krav Maga black belts in Canada and is owner and head instructor at Krav Maga Toronto.
Krav Maga is a practical and strategic system of unarmed combat and self-defense that encompasses effectiveness, efficiency and ease. This part-strategic, part-military defence system was developed in Israel by Imi Lichtenfield and has been continued to be used world-wide by law enforcement, military and civilian personnel. . “Krav Maga is about learning to defend yourself in worst scenarios, when you’re not expecting it, when you have a size disadvantage, when there’s multiple attackers. Fitness is a side effect of Krav Maga self defense training.,” says Rob. 
Rob and his team offer co-ed self defense classes and women only classes. Rob explained, “Some women feel intimated having men around. There’s a lot of touching. Hands on work. You get grabbed, choked, pulled, punched with a pad. We simulate aggressive gestures. Women have to be trained to defend themselves WHEN THEY ARE NERVOUS, TIRED SCARED, PANICKED, OR STRESESED.”
According to Rob, the top 3 principles of self-defense are:

1) First and foremost have to be aware of your surroundings. If you’ve never trained to be situationally aware, you’re never going to recognize danger before it starts.
2) In Krav Mage training, we try to get you to be as vulnerable as possible, We get you into that state when you’re not ready. When you’re unprepared. We want you to recognize the attack and then defend against it. 
3) Once you’ve defended the attack, you have to counter attack   extremely aggressively. When you’re fighting for your life, you have to treat it like combat.

He says that there are 3 things that are very common in a male attacking a female:

1) Grabbing is the most common. Grabbing the arm, shoulder, bear hugging around waist. 
2) Then comes pulling around the shoulder and neck area. 
3) The third most common method of attack would be the choke-hold. Holding a person up against wall or holding from behind. 

Rob is so committed to what he does partly because he came from a childhood filled with violence and crime.” It gave me more open-minded exposure to what violence can do to people. I’ve worked with battered women and youths and with so many people who felt very helpless in the past.  I’ve seen what the psychological side of trauma does in the long run.”
Rob’s approach is so right up my alley in his approach because he often uses Krav Maga training to help heal trauma and empower people to find their confidence again. 
“People say Krav Maga is so aggressive. Yes it is to people who are aggressive to us. That’s why we always train from worst-case scenario. We do a drill called eyes closed. You don’t see the person coming in. On my cue, people will bear hug someone who has her eyes closed and the person with her eyes closed can only open her eyes when she’s attacked. Then the panic comes in. Our application works under stress in real life situations.
People might break down and cry during training. I have a great knack for reading people. I know how to partner people up so that they tweak each other bit. I have students who have suffered abuse, sexual, physical, emotional. I set up scenarios to reverse engineer assaults. It’s like a corrective experience. 5 out of 16 people might be crying in any class. People have so much pent up aggression and emotion and Krav Maga helps them release it.”

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