Students fight back in Krav Maga classes at UA Rec Center
Nichole Eshleman, left, and Erica Cohen, right, perform defensive maneuvers based around a scenario in which the defender is caught unaware. The UA Rec Center hosts Krav Maga biweekly at the Bear Down weight room.
At the nationally-recognized UA Campus Recreational Center, the Krav Maga fitness course is a popular choice among the many other interesting and enjoyable fitness classes offered during the school year and summer sessions.
Krav Maga is a form of martial arts that has been practiced since the early 1950’s by the Israeli army. It is now commonly used and taught for self-defense around the world.
The fighting class provides its students with effective ways to practice self-defense in dangerous situations while getting a total body workout. The class starts off with warm-up drills, and then students join in pairs to practice what they’ve learned.
Alicia Engelstad, the class instructor, has been working with the UA Rec Center for the past five years teaching beginner and advanced level Krav Maga. She plans on expanding the program and hopefully puting together more Krav Maga classes at UA.
“We have people who come to class every time and it really has become a community,” Engelstad said. “Anytime we have class, I encourage any type of feedback because it helps me lead a better class.”
Throughout her years of teaching at the UA Rec Center, Engelstad discovered her love for martial arts and defense classes.
“The program is my life and my students have become my friends and family,” Engelstad said.
“I wait all weekend to see my students again on Monday. It’s my students who motivate me to become a better instructor for them and myself.”
Kaleigh Chabra, a new graduate in veterinary science, attends the class weekly.
“The hardest part about the class is pushing yourself even when you’re exhausted, but the best part is being able to flip over someone who is twice your size,” Chabra said.
Global studies and Spanish literature major Valeria Quijada developed personal goals for the class.
“One of my goals is to build more muscle, become stronger and make every move count if I’m ever faced with a bad situation.”
Courtney Niegocki, a political science and Russian major, feels that krav maga is particularly important to her as a woman.
“As a woman, it’s important to make sure you can defend yourself effectively,” Niegocki said. “I didn’t like not feeling safe in the dark or when I was walking alone in an area, so I started to take the class and now I feel so much more comfortable and safe going where I want.”
Graduate student in molecular and cellular biology Nichole Eshleman also believes the class allows her to be more comfortable and confident.
“I’ve kept up with this class because it makes me feel more confident and safe,” Eshleman said. “Now I would know what to do if I was attacked and it makes me feel safer knowing I can take care of myself.”
Chavoosh Ghasemi, a first-year Ph.D. student in computer science, has learned the key components to the art.
“Making quick decisions about a move in a short amount of time is difficult, but syncing the body and mind is the most important part in Krav Maga,” Ghasemi said.
Former UA elementary education student Cary Reis feels that Krav Maga benefits him in his career field.
“I’m a school teacher and school massacres have unfortunately become more common,” Reis said. “So, being able to protect my students is a skill set I’d want to have for my future career.”
As a fitness regimen and self-defense form, Krav Maga is beneficial for many different people with a variety of personal goals. It’s a physical way to release stress and build strength all while learning confidence and discipline.
The classes held at the UA Rec Center do not require any prior experience, and are open to all students during fall, spring and summer semesters.
Engelstad described her fitness class best when she said, “We are not here to have fights, we are here to be superheroes.”
For more information about Krav Maga classes, visit the UA Rec Center’s website.
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