With all its quaint cafés and quiet medieval streets, lovely old York can sometimes seem chocolate box perfect. There’s no doubting that it’s a beautiful place and completely deserving of its reputation as an essential tourist destination. But it’s not always quite as harmless as it looks.
Like any other city, York has its dark side. When the lights come on and the sun goes down, the whole nature of the streets alters. Most people are simply minding their business or out to have a good time with friends. Others are looking for trouble.
Did you know that over an average month, the city centre of York alone is the scene of over 50 violent crimes? The stats make for pretty sobering reading.
Now some of you might be quick to point out that many of these violent crimes will have been relatively minor incidents, unpleasant for the victim but nothing for the rest of us to feel too worried about – take the now infamous alleged ‘she-Hulk’ assault outside McDonald’s on Blake Street earlier this year for example.
All a bit of fun? Let’s take a reality check.
The difference between an assault leaving a victim with minor injuries, causing severe disabilities or even death can be wafer thin… The difference could be as small as a layer of frost on the pavement, as proved quite tragically to be the case for one local 50-year-old, who died following an alleged assault by a pair of youths on Acomb Road this winter. Investigations into the incident are ongoing, but it seems likely the victim died from injuries incurred through a heavy fall and blow to the head. When faced with the horrifying reality of incidents such as this, it’s hard to see the funny side of assault any more.
Just as the tiniest factors can make an assault much more serious, there are certain ways to take the sting out of a dangerous situation. One means of safeguarding against violence which people around the world are beginning to take up in their droves, is a system of self defence known as krav maga. Now we’re not talking about scenes from The Karate Kid here, no brutal beatings like you might see in a mixed martial arts cage fight.
Krav maga exists solely to defuse dangerous situations. The system was invented by Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld, who utilised it to defend the residents of the Jewish Quarter of Bratislava from xenophobic fascist groups during the 1930s. Fusing elements of boxing, muay thai, jiu jitsu, wrestling and other disciplines, this system offers its masters the ability to draw on a number of martial arts to develop a consummate defence against all manner of hand-to-hand attacks.
This isn’t just the preserve of serious combat experts. Thousands of people currently study krav maga worldwide, including scores of learners at the Spartans Academy of Krav Maga sessions in York. As a means of simply getting fit, this discipline is on a par with circuit training and kick boxing. Where it sets itself apart is its power to genuinely make people safer, as the following true story from a local Spartans Academy student demonstrates:
“Last night, I was out with a mate and I got started on in the toilets in a bar. I calmed the situation down and was able to get out without anything happening.
Unfortunately, as we left the pub the same blokes started on us again. This time it wasn’t just pushing and shoving. As I knew this situation wasn’t going to stay calm, I adopted the fighting stance from the torso up – I had my arms out in front of me trying to calm the situation down.
One of the guys started throwing a punch – and I started blocking it as soon as I saw his right shoulder move, something I would NEVER have seen before training in Krav. I didn’t immediately counter as I still didn’t want to hurt this guy, but then he tried to get me in a headlock and I remembered a session where we were using our thumbs to force the other guy to the ground. I did this with my free left hand and the guy was on the floor instantly. After a quick check behind to see what his mate was up to, I returned to him, I pinned him down until he calmed down enough for me to be able to extract myself. I then separated my friend and his mate (who calmed down really quickly after seeing his friend hit the floor in seconds). WE then WALKED AWAY.”
So there you have it. Krav maga is the smart way to protect yourself and your loved ones in a world where anything can happen. There are already dozens of people living in York who are empowered with the ability to protect themselves thanks to this ingenious system. Why not join them?
Spartans Academy of Krav Maga classes take place weekly at the Melbourne Centre, Fishergate, York. For more information,click here.