The Art of Street Fighting

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), June 20, 2003 | Go to article overview
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The Art of Street Fighting

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

JUNCTION CITY - Local cops may soon be using the same self-defense techniques employed by the Israeli Defense Force, a system of combat called Krav Maga.

Krav Maga is Hebrew for "contact combat," and the fighting technique has one simple rule: There are no rules.

"The goal is to win by any means necessary," explains Oneness Fish, a certified Krav Maga civilian instructor who leads classes at the Krav Maga Center in Junction City. On Thursday afternoon the class had about a dozen burly cops practice by kicking, flipping and elbowing each other in the face.

"In law enforcement, the more comfortable you are striking someone with your hand, the less you need to use your gun," he said. "The goal is to get the situation resolved as quickly as possible without harm to either participant."

Fish, a Junction City police reserve officer, is married to Kirsten Zulyevic, an officer with the department who is also the only certified trainer of Krav Maga to law enforcement in Oregon.

For four hours Thursday, Zulyevic led a group of sweaty policemen through a collection of defensive moves designed to be simple, effective and easy to remember. The officers learned how to break holds, disarm suspects, stop an oncoming assault, and take down aggressive or uncooperative suspects.

Zulyevic's advice? Go for the sensitive parts: Eyes, face, throat, groin.

Developed more than 50 years ago by Imi Lichtenfeld, official trainer of the Israeli Defense Force, Krav Maga has since been adapted for law enforcement and regular folks looking for a good workout and self-defense skills.

The fighting style was featured in the movie "Enough," starring Jennifer Lopez as a wife stalked by a violent husband, and has been practiced by celebrities such as Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz for its fitness benefits.

Unlike traditional martial arts, Krav Maga does not require people to practice moves over and over before they master them. Instead, the system uses people's natural reactions and turns them into defensive techniques.

Its purpose is to provide police with a few reliable, uncomplicated moves they can apply to multiple situations, Zulyevic said.

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