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Going full throttle: Alexi braves a Krav Maga self-defence class

Posted at 5:15 pm, October 5, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment
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Editor-at-large Alexi Duggins is at your mercy. So this week, you sent him to be throttled.

You know you’re in for an interesting day when you get an email entitled: ‘If you turn your back, I’ll kill you.’ Particularly when it’s trying to entice you to a self-defence class in Urban Krav Maga – the martial arts technique used by Mossad – and claims: ‘Some moves are banned even in cage fighting.’ So as I head to East Dulwich, I’m anticipating the most terrifying and painful hours of my life. And I speak as a man who saw ‘Viva Forever!’

But then I step into the terrifying arena, and it’s… a Scout hut. A Scout hut full of diminutive women in Lycra and dudes who might have hotfooted it here from their desk jobs. Pah. This is gonna be simple.

Or maybe not. ‘Today we cover strangling,’ announces Patrice the instructor. Patrice leans against a wall, urges a class member to throttle him and then defends himself by poking three fingers into his opponent’s collarbone. His attacker’s tongue shoots from his mouth, his face reddens and he staggers away, gagging like he’s just tasted a Brick Lane curry.

Man, the moves are nasty. We’re taught that clapping your hands against someone’s ears messes them up worse than watching ‘The Human Centipede’. (Googling this I unearth an article called ‘25 methods for killing people with your bare hands’.) ‘Isn’t that a tad brutal?’ I ask. ‘You have to compromise to survive,’ says Patrice. ‘Don’t forget, you’re the one being attacked.’

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He’s not joking. To end, we do a ‘pressure test’, which trials your skills under stress. Four men run at me. One slams me against the wall by my throat. I jab him in the jugular, he reels backwards and another guy floors me. I jam my fingers into his ears, twist hard and drive my elbow into his neck. As I stand up, I’m bashed in the face by a sparring pad. ‘Come on!’ urges Patrice. ‘More aggression! If your attacker’s snorted charlie, he’ll be crazy!’

He’d have to be. The class is easygoing and fun. Its point? Very worthy. But those moves? Christ, they’re hardcore. By the end I almost feel sorry for anyone trying to mug me. If they turn their back, I might kill them.

For an Urban Krav Maga class near you, see urbankravmaga. com. For the East Dulwich branch, visit urbanfitandfearless.com

Read more of Alexi’s adventure here and suggest his next task on Twitter @Alexiduggins.

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