Putting the case for the defence
Haim Zut and Chalacho Balai put Tamir Hargittai through his paces
Devotees of the krav maga self-defence technique benefited from a weekend of intensive training from Israeli experts, one of whom studied under krav maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld.
The Bratislavan Jew developed it in the 1930s to help his community defend itself against fascist attacks. The discipline now forms part of combat training in the Israeli army.
Unlike other military techniques, it is not competitive, educating on how to avoid fights rather than engage in them. It has also gained popularity as a form of exercise.
Investment banker turned krav maga disciple Joel Bennett spent 18 months studying it in Israel and began taking classes in Hendon and Essex earlier this year.
Krav maga has also become popular as exercise
Overwhelmed by the positive reaction to his krav maga school, he decided to bring over four high-ranking instructors from Israel to pass on their expertise.
Over two days at Mill Hill's Copthall School, more than 70 people from Britain and beyond, Jews and non Jews. were taught how to defend themselves against attackers wielding knives, guns and other weapons.
Among the instructors was Grandmaster Haim Zut, who learnt the skill directly from Imi Lichtenfeld.
Mr Zut said that krav maga was simple to learn. "It is a way for the weak to conquer the strong. We strike key points so a small child can defeat a grown man."
His krav maga skills had saved his life 15 years ago when he was the victim of a knife attack.
Also teaching were Israeli black belts Ilan Faddon, Alexander Shai Kucherenko and Chalacho Balai, who emigrated from Ethiopia when he was six. Now 26, he said that without krav maga, he would probably be in prison.
"It provided me with a purpose in my life. Krav maga should be taught to all people because it's not just the best defence system - it's also a way of life, especially for people who have had a bad start. It teaches you first to be a citizen and then to be a fighter."
Mr Bennett said it had been an honour to host a group of skilled and inspirational instructors and expressed hope that the seminar would be the first of many.
For more details of the Bodymind Academy, contact Joel on 07976 756396 or email firstname.lastname@example.org