Diaries of a Woman in Krav Maga
by RTC Member, Laurel Martin
I was a novice to martial arts and self defense training when I attended my first Krav Maga class in May of 2021. I walked to the big room downstairs in Ronin Training Center not knowing what to expect. Before class started, I sat down on the mats and began stretching next to some other women.
They immediately introduced themselves and asked me what inspired me to try Krav
Maga—a question that, I have learned, we continually ask each other when we are getting
motivated to punch harder or train longer.
The head coach, Casey Boyer, has built a supportive community in the Southpaw Krav Maga
classes. When new people attend, he makes a point to welcome them and the whole class claps for them at the beginning of a session. This is a way to recognize the courage it takes to try something new and also to demonstrate the group’s custom of being welcoming and accepting.
Krav Maga is an Israeli military-style self-defense system that focuses on ingraining defensive
reflexes, from getting out of chokes and mounts to striking and gouging as effective
counterattacks. In our classes, we hit the ground running with fast-paced HIT-style warm-ups,
and we give our all to the self-defense techniques we are learning for the whole hour (or two!) that we are training that night. Although I sometimes feel exhausted halfway through a session, as a woman in Krav Maga, it is easy to remember my motivation and get a second wind. Here are some things that motivate the kickass ladies in Southpaw Krav Maga:
- Wanting to feel safer walking around alone, especially in reaction to the Safety Alerts
that are a constant reminder of danger around the campus area. Krav Maga teaches
practical skills that anyone can do—and best of all, since these moves are not for an
organized sport or competition, it is easy to bounce back if you do not carry out a move
perfectly. As Casey always reminds us, there are no mistakes in Krav Maga. In a real-life
scenario, we just need to incorporate our defensive and counterattack skills in the most
achievable and effective way possible to stay safe.
- Wanting to incorporate self-defense into the therapeutic process in helping women to heal
from past violence. Studies have shown that self-defense practices for female survivors of
domestic abuse or sexual assault increase feelings of empowerment, self-efficacy, and
- Attaining better physical and mental health. With the high intensity cardio warm-ups and
the large variety of defensive moves, classes never fail to challenge our bodies, building
muscle, core strength, and stamina. Krav Maga is also a wonderful way to relieve stress
or alleviate depression.
- Wanting to feel like we can protect our loved ones, whether they are our spouses, kids, or
dogs! Often, all I have to do to get my partner to punch the pads harder is tell them to
envision protecting their dog from a man who means them harm.
- Working on not apologizing too much. Due to societal expectations, women are often
programmed to apologize for things that are not their fault. In Krav Maga, we are
instructed to throw punches to the face, knees to the groin, and kicks to the stomach. Our
partners hold pads, and when our attacks still make a strong impact through the pads, it is
a time we take to praise each other—this means we will be all the more prepared in a
real-life self-defense scenario! We do not expect apologies, and we work on not giving
- Building community. Southpaw Krav Maga is truly a supportive group, where we bond
both during and outside of classes. I am continually grateful to my more experienced
classmates, some of whom have been doing Krav Maga for over five years, as they
always let me ask them questions and give me pointers when I am having trouble with a
technique. The men and women in classes want to help each other reach for their
maximum strength and potential and feel empowered every day.
Training Krav Maga as a woman is a very special and fulfilling experience. I know that as I
continue to train I will get stronger both physically and mentally, especially if I remember
what inspires me. Kida!