A few weeks ago, the Bloomington Pantagraph sent a reporter and a photographer out to cover the Krav Maga class I’ve been attending.  To their credit, they stayed for most of the class.  The reporter’s take on the class was long on the “fitness” component.  “The latest fitness trend”?  C’mon.  I’m still new there, but I haven’t yet met anyone there for the fitness component, which can be near brutal if you’re out of shape when it comes to cardio, doubly so if you’re old like me.

I’m probably do my own write up for GunNews in a few months.  I love the class and plan to stick with it.  As I was telling an FBI agent auditing the class for his own personal skill development, I want something that will give me the ability to defend myself in an up-close and personal encounter with a bad guy and something for those tiny handful of times when I’m in a “gun free” location and don’t have my primary self-defense tools.


The students, like firearm class students, are great people from a cross section of society.  I’m the new guy, but there’s everything from college coeds, lawyers, professionals of all types, and even homemakers.  More than a couple bring black belts in other Martial Arts, but they are taking Krav classes for the combatives aspect, as opposed to competitive aspects of some of the more traditional arts.

Why did I pick Krav?  Because it’s easy to pick up and stays with you – and it’s about personal defense and “stopping the attack” when you’re facing the imminent infliction of great bodily harm from a violent attacker.

Bill Martin, left is the instructor. Tony, right, is a regular.  His shirt can be taken two ways.
Bill Martin, left is the instructor.
Tony, right, is a regular. “Your first lesson is FREE” can be taken two ways.


How to register
Krav Maga is offered 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays at The Workout Company, 419 Kays Drive, Normal.
More information is at www.theworkoutcompany.org.
The first class is free. Each class thereafter is $20. A package of five classes is available for $75. A package of 10 classes is available for $120.

Show up a little early, introduce yourself, and audit the class if you want to see more of what it’s about.  You’ll pay the Workout Company after your first class.  Most buy the ten class packages after their first few classes.  Hint:  Buy the 5 class to see if it’s for you and if your body can handle it.  Then renew at the ten-package plan.

by Paul Swiech  All photos by David Proeber/Pantagraph
NORMAL (Pantagraph) — Sarah Kuntzi grabbed Joanne Randolph’s neck and pretended to choke her until Randolph broke Kuntzi’s hold. Then Randolph grabbed and held onto Kuntzi’s neck until Kuntzi broke Randolph’s hold.

Earlier, they held pretend guns to each other’s head, chest and back and practiced moves to disarm each other.

They knocked each other down and learned to get up and away as the other person struck them with pads.

They discussed what to say and how to hold their hands up if they are being threatened in an effort to defuse the situation.

But they also practiced what to do if de-escalation doesn’t work by doing drills that included sparing, open hand palm strikes, elbow strikes, hammer fists and groin strikes. They drilled how to push away and create distance between themselves and their attacker.

Kuntzi and Randolph aren’t mixed martial arts professionals. Randolph is a 40-year-old former accountant who now is a full-time mother and homemaker. Kuntzi is a 31-year-old business analyst.

The Bloomington women were drilling in a class at The Workout Company in Normal during the evening of April 1. But they were far from alone.

A dozen or so other people in class included slim young women with no martial arts experience to muscular middle-aged men with black belts.

“You’re learning self-defense but you’re also getting a good workout,” said class participant Michael Baskis, 27, of Normal. “You’re staying in shape.”

Krav Maga is the latest fitness trend in Bloomington-Normal. For a hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel, it’s drawing a surprising cross section of Central Illinoisans.


…”I almost left after the first five minutes. I was so tired, I thought there’s no way I can maintain this,” Kuntzi said. But she stayed and was able to finish the class.

She felt so confident are completing that first class that she returned and never looked back.

“Every class is different so you’re working on your skills,” Kuntzi said. “And I like the camaraderie of the class.”

“It’s very empowering,” Randolph said. “We’re training our bodies to react to situations and to not lose control mentally. I still get anxious, especially when I’m going up against the stronger guys, but I definitely feel more confident.”

There’s a whole lot more…  Read on…

6 thoughts on “FOR THOSE “GUN FREE” LOCATIONS: Krav Maga (aka John’s latest training)”
  1. Never stop learning, right John?

    If that poor woman almost left after the first five minutes, I’m not sure if I could make it through them.

    And boy, you’re not old. You don’t even have a gray head of hair yet.


  2. Don’t let John fool you all. This class is kicking his ass on a weekly basis! He’s already gray, and working on the bald! 🙂 Just more reasons to love him.

  3. Sounds like good fun. Wish they had something like that closer to champaign.

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