It’s a workout, it’s self-defense, it’s Krav Maga


Various forms of martial arts, including karate and kickboxing, have been incorporated into gym workouts nationwide over the past few years. And San Francisco has always had its share of studios dedicated to martial arts and self-defense classes. Now, an import from the Israeli Defense Forces, Krav Maga (pronounced “kravh maGah”) has taken up residence in the Bay Area, with two gyms in San Francisco.

Krav Maga is defined as “contact combat” in Hebrew, and is a form of hand-to-hand combat developed in Israel that involves grappling and wrestling with a focus on real-life situations. Its philosophy centers on neutralizing physical threats from would-be attackers using potentially crippling blows to vulnerable body parts like the face, neck, eyes, and groin. Students learn to defend themselves against a variety of attacks before engaging in full-contact sparring. In the United States, Krav Maga is used for training by many law
enforcement agencies.

So you might be wondering, what does this have to do with me?

At the Krav Maga Institute (three Bay Area locations) and Krav Maga San Francisco, classes teach self-defense techniques and total body conditioning. Participants learn how to defend themselves as well as how to avoid injury and increase both mental and physical fitness. There is also an emphasis on functional fitness, meaning the workout goal is to prepare the body so it can perform daily activities, like lifting grocery bags or climbing stairs, without pain or injury. Both studios offer classes in yoga, TRX and Cross Fit to complement the self-defense classes, most of which stress core conditioning and cross conditioning, where each part of the
body is worked.

“It’s important to note that Krav Maga is not a martial art; it’s a pure self-defense system,” said Danny Zelig, owner of the Krav Maga Institute. “It is a scientific and biological way to train the body and the mind to work well under stress. Krav Maga builds confidence as practitioners work their way up the different levels in a completely ego-free, noncompetitive environment.”

While Krav Maga sounds violent, Zelig insists that the Krav Maga classes taught at the institute focus on fitness and have an extremely low injury rate. “We train hard, especially during our warm-ups and conditioning. We work to the point of exhaustion, we maximize variety, and many clients report weight loss, faster recovery from injuries, and simply feeling better physically and mentally.”

If you’ve always been tempted to take a self-defense class, or you’re looking for a new, super-intense workout, it might be time to try Krav Maga. Class schedules for both studios are listed online.

San Francisco Krav Maga Institute: 539 Gough Street (at Fulton), 510-526-5570,
Krav Maga San Francisco: 1455 Bush Street (near Van Ness), 415-921-0612,

Send to a Friend Print