More to it than mus­cle

How would you re­act if some­one at­tacked you? Is your in­stinct fight, flight or freeze?

Sunday Territorian - - FRONTIER - STORY EL­LIE TURNER PHO­TOS HE­LEN ORR & KATRINA BRIDGEFORD

If you are be­ing as­saulted you don’t need to be big­ger, faster or stronger than your as­sailant. You just have to be smart and skil­ful. Krav maga — a self­de­fence sys­tem de­vel­oped for the Is­raeli mil­i­tary — trains stu­dents to avoid con­fronta­tion, or get out of threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions with moves based on in­stinct and bru­tal ef­fi­ciency.

The Dar­win krav maga mob are reg­u­lar men, women and chil­dren who don’t look like hard­core fight­ers. Each be­gan to learn the art for their own rea­sons, united un­der a com­mon pur­pose: “So one may walk in peace.”

Krav Maga Global is more than a self-de­fence busi­ness for Dan­nie Green and Jack Cooper. They pretty much run the Dar­win branch for love.

They hold af­ter-hours train­ing ses­sions in­side the air­con­di­tioned gym at San­der­son Mid­dle School — with high­jump mats, a climb­ing rope and a solid ob­sta­cle course — where the vibe is they’re more a fam­ily than a club.

There are gov­ern­ment work­ers, cops, doc­tors, nurses, teach­ers, mil­i­tary per­son­nel, moth­ers, stay-at-home dads, teenagers and small kids.

Dan­nie, a re­mote hous­ing of­fi­cer and for­mer Navy chef, has had a crack at most mar­tial arts, in­clud­ing a de­cent amount of Muay Thai train­ing in Thai­land. He said he started krav maga af­ter a man armed with a ma­chete punched and mugged his dad Ray Green, a for­mer cop, out­side the Night­cliff shops.

“Dad wasn’t jumpy, but that messed with him,” Dan­nie said.

“We al­ways watched kungfu movies and Chuck Nor­ris when I was a kid, but he was never one to train.

“Af­ter he was at­tacked he did some re­search and asked me to try krav maga with him. I was like, ‘I ain’t go­ing to your karate class’.

“He told me it’s what Ja­son Bourne does, so we went. I haven’t done Muay Thai since.”

Now both qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced krav maga in­struc­tors, Dan­nie and Jack — a 23-year-old elec­tri­cian — were both there for the first KMG train­ing ses­sion led by their pre­de­ces­sor Adam Gulla at the Alawa Hall in Oc­to­ber, 2012.

“Adam is the best krav-ist I’ve met and he set us a stan­dard,” Dan­nie said.

“Back when I told him I’d do an in­struc­tor course he’d be tex­ting me at 6am to do ex­tra train­ing, to pre­pare.

“If I said I wasn’t up for it he’d be like ‘well I’m down­stairs pat­ting your dog’.

“It paid off. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

The club had hun­dreds of mem­bers by the time it moved to a stu­dio in Co­conut Grove two years later.

In a dev­as­tat­ing blow to the krav maga fam­ily Ray, who at 68-years-old had achieved a high grad­ing of Prac­ti­tioner Four, died of can­cer in 2015.

Months later the club dis­banded when Gulla moved to Sydney.

But some of the old crew wanted to keep train­ing so Dan­nie decked out an arena un­der the troppo house where he lives with his wife Jac­qui and their baby daugh­ter Har­lee. He also has a bar next to the train­ing space ded­i­cated to his dad.

“It got real busy around here,” he said.

Set­ting up the club was a big com­mit­ment for two blokes work­ing full time, but they were spurred on by the mem­ory of Ray. It started small, with a core crew of about 10 peo­ple from the old guard who just wanted to train.

Ev­ery­one chipped in for rent and in­sur­ance back at the place where it all be­gan — the hall in Alawa — and spent 2016 brush­ing up on ba­sic tech­niques to en­sure there was an ex­pe­ri­enced team to pro­vide the club’s foun­da­tion when they opened to the pub­lic ear­lier this year.

Krav Maga Global Aus­tralia boss Adam White, who re­ports to Is­rael, gave Dan­nie and Jack the thumbs up to ex­pand.

“We have our club back,” Jack said. “We have qual­ity.”

More than 80 men, women and chil­dren are now on their books, named Four Pil­lars Self De­fence — or 4PSD.

As the name sug­gests they fo­cus on four as­pects of train­ing: “tech­ni­cal, tac­ti­cal, men­tal and phys­i­cal”.

Dan­nie and Jack, who have pre­vi­ously con­nected with ado­les­cents in the NT child pro­tec­tion sys­tem through krav maga, want more women and teenagers to get in­volved.

Young, old, fit, un­fit, pro or in­ex­pe­ri­enced — new peo­ple are al­ways wel­come.

“Krav maga is re­al­ity-based train­ing,” Dan­nie said.

“In no other self-de­fence sys­tem will you do a pressure drill where you’re told to close your eyes and re­act nat­u­rally to some­one do­ing some­thing re­ally scary to you.

“It builds you up to re­alise it’s OK to be vul­ner­a­ble, an­gry, sad, happy, what­ever, as long as you chan­nel it.”

“You work on de­ter­mi­na­tion, fight­ing from dis­ad­van­tage, mul­ti­ple at­tack­ers, but the most im­por­tant thing is try­ing to avoid phys­i­cal al­ter­ca­tion in the first place,” Jack said.

“It’s harder to explain than it is to teach, so peo­ple should come and try it.

“I’m not good at talk­ing, but I’m good at krav.”

Grand Mas­ter Imi Licht­en­feld founded krav maga — He­brew for “con­tact com­bat” — in 1948.

The Hun­gar­ian-Is­raeli fighter, who used his skill as a boxer and wrestler against fas­cist groups in Cze­choslo­vakia in the 1930s,

mi­grated to Is­rael where he de­vel­oped the de­fence sys­tem for the mil­i­tary. It was later adapted for anti-ter­ror­ism units, po­lice and civil­ians.

Licht­en­feld’s pro­tegee Eyal Yanilov es­tab­lished Krav Maga Global to teach across the world in a struc­tured for­mat, to main­tain a high level of train­ing.

In Dar­win, all the adults train to­gether, which is use­ful for women who want to learn to fight off a big­ger at­tacker.

“You don’t need brute force,” pub­lic ser­vant Mikala Ma­grath, 41, said.

“You use what you’ve got — quick re­sponses and a quick out, be­cause you want to get to safety as soon as pos­si­ble with min­i­mal ef­fort.”

Ms Ma­grath, whose two young sons Wil­liam and Ethan also do krav maga, said she joined the for­mer club in Co­conut Grove to im­prove her fit­ness and con­fi­dence about three years ago.

For the kids it’s about hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion, cor­rect de­ci­sion mak­ing and pre­ven­tive be­hav­iour.

For her, strate­gic think­ing about safety has be­come sec­ond na­ture, in­grained through her train­ing.

“I’m al­ways mind­ful of what is hap­pen­ing around me,” she said.

“I know my kids are safe and I can do ev­ery­thing in my power to pro­tect them. With (Dan­nie and

Jack) you are al­ways sur­rounded by ex­pe­ri­ence and en­cour­age­ment that helps you to dig a bit deeper, to train harder and push your­self out­side your com­fort zone, in a safe place.

“And that’s when you dis­cover how strong you

re­ally are.”

Above: Dan­nie Green and Jack Cooper want more women and chil­dren to take up krav maga Left: Mikala Ma­grath and her sons Wil­liam and Ethan all do krav maga Far left: the class in ac­tion

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