I had my mind set on taking a self-defense class the past year. When my editor suggested a column about Krav Maga, I jumped at the idea. I love it! It gives me the cardio workout I like and need. I’m gaining confidence by learning skills that could one day help me, and it gives me a chance to use some of the strength I gained through CrossFit in a different way. Plus, I feel like a badass!

Krav Maga is the official self-defense and fighting system of the Israeli Defense Forces and U.S. law enforcement agencies and military forces, but you don’t have to be an officer or soldier to take a class.

The objective in Krav Maga is self-defense. You learn how to neutralize attacks and counter them for protection. The scenarios used during training are generally close-quarter situations, such as a mugging. I often run alone, so this is pertinent to me. In addition to learning techniques such as punches and kicks, you get mental training to stay calm during highly stressful situations.

Each two-hour class began with a 10- to 15-minute warm-up, then moved into training. In my first class, we boxed and practiced taking rubber guns away from one another. Although we see it happen all the time in movies, you really can take a gun away from someone without shooting yourself.

The second class was all about working with the guns. Class ended with 10 minutes of a drill designed to train our reaction under stress. The intent was to get our heart rate up because in an “adrenalin dump” we lose some of our technique and forget what to do. “Make 1,000 mistakes here in class, so you don’t make them out there,” our coach told us.

The third class was more boxing, and learning how to advance while throwing punches. We also practiced getting out of choke-holds. To do this, cup your hands, place your fingertips on your chest between the choker’s hands, and with a burst of energy, pull your hands apart as you puff out your chest. Imagine Clark Kent ripping off his shirt to reveal Superman’s costume. Of course, you must do this within a few seconds of being grabbed.

Like martial arts systems, Krav also has belt levels that range from white to black. Every three months, students test for the next level. All our coaches have black belts.

I was never interested in martial arts, per se, but I love this class for its intensity and ability to build confidence. I also feel a sense of community, similar to what I get from CrossFit. Everyone is very encouraging, and I was remembered and greeted as a friend after returning from a two-week vacation. You can’t say that about every gym.

What You Should Know

What are the benefits?

A cardio workout, strength-training, confidence-building.

Is this right for me?

Everyone can benefit from learning some self-defense moves. You don’t have to be physically fit to start. Stick with it, and you’ll improve.

How much will it cost me?

My classes are $40 per month. Other prices I found ranged from $50 for three classes to $100 per month for four classes.

What equipment do I need?

Clothing and shoes in which you can easily move. My gym provides an equipment package ($250) that includes items such as a mouth and shin guards, practice folding knife and rubber gun. All of these can be bought individually.

Where do I go?

Search the internet for “Krav Maga” and your town. I found a few:

Krav Maga Rochester, Rochester, N.Y.

Rochester Personal Defense, Rochester, N.Y.

Wright’s Gym/Krav Maga, Pittsburgh