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Live Health Chat

How ballroom dancing and Krav Maga self-defense can get you in shape for the new year

January 3, 2011

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Los Angeles Times health reporter Jeannine Stein spoke with Darren Levine about Krav Maga, the self-defense technique that's also a great functional workout, on Jan. 3.

Levine is the U.S. chief instructor of Krav Maga Worldwide and chief executive of the Krav Maga Assn. of America. He holds a sixth-degree black belt in Krav Maga and is one of the highest-ranked belt holders in the world, as well as the highest-ranked Krav Maga instructor in the U.S. Levine is also an L.A. County deputy district attorney who works with the CAPOS division, a special unit dedicated to prosecuting violent crimes against police officers.

Peri Rogovin, owner of 3rd Street Dance in Los Angeles (where many of the "Dancing With the Stars" contestants rehearse) talked about how the rumba, samba, tango, fox trot and other ballroom dances can whip you into shape.

 Live chat: How ballroom dancing, Krav Maga self-defense can get you in shape(01/03/2011) 
11:00
Jeannine Stein: 
Hi, everyone, and welcome to our first chat of 2011. We're doing things a little differently today--we have two people who will be talking with us about fun ways to get fit for the New Year. In the first half hour we'll be joined by Darren Levine, the U.S. chief instructor of Krav Maga Worldwide, and chief executive of the Krav Maga Assn. of America, Inc. Darren has a 6th degree black belt in Krav Maga, making him the highest ranked Krav Maga instructor in the country. He'll answer your questions about this challenging form of self-defense that's also a terrific workout.

In the second half-hour we'll welcome Peri Rogovin, owner of 3rd Street Dance in Los Angeles. She'll be talking about all aspects of ballroom dance and taking questions on everything to do with the waltz, fox trot, tango and rumba.

Please feel free to post your questions for both of our experts.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:00 Jeannine Stein
11:00
Jeannine Stein: 
Welcome, Darren, and thank you for being with us today. I'm sure many of our readers have heard of Krav Maga, but can you go into the background of it a little bit and tell us about its roots?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:00 Jeannine Stein
11:01
Darren Levine: 
Krav Maga was originally developed in Israel as the official system of self-defense and hand-to-hand combat for the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli National Police, Israeli Special Operations and other security units. More recently, Krav Maga has been taught extensively to civilians, law-enforcement agencies and military units in the United States and to our allies throughout the world. Cognizant of the different use-of-force standards between Israel and the United States, important steps were taken by Krav Maga Worldwide to refine and adapt Krav Maga techniques for use by American law enforcement and civilians.
Krav Maga has a worldwide reputation as being an ideal means of defending one's life, or the life of a third party, whether the threat involves unarmed assailants, armed assailants, or multiple assailants. The Krav Maga Worldwide system has received exceptional international recognition as the leading modern day innovative and highly practical self-defense system ideally suited for three distinct entities: law enforcement, military and civilians.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:01 Darren Levine
11:02
Jeannine Stein: 
How are classes structured? Do you start learning self-defense moves the first day?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:02 Jeannine Stein
11:03
Darren Levine: 
Classes-Techniques based on what?
In their very first class, students learn to punch, kick, deliver powerful elbows and knees and to defend against a variety of common street attacks such as chokes, bear-hugs, headlocks, etc. Students are introduced to street tactics to learn to be more aware and to avoid potentially dangerous encounters, if possible.
The main emphasis of the Krav Maga system is on effectiveness, simplicity and sound logical problem solving. This is a street-fighting system that provides realistic defenses against a variety of aggressive attacks, whether the assailant is armed or unarmed, and whether the attack is directed at you or a third party. The system is well integrated, which means techniques and principles that are taught will be applicable in more than one situation, allowing students to learn select principles dealing with reaction time, defense and counterattacks that will apply to a multitude different attacks.

The Science behind Krav Maga?
Krav Maga techniques are gross motor by design. In other words, the techniques use movements driven by the whole body, instead of relying on fine, detailed, exact motor skills, which fail under stress. The techniques also, when possible, draw heavily from what the body would most likely do naturally or instinctively. This approach increases the likelihood of performing a technique successfully during the stress of a real-life violent encounter. It also lessens the amount of training time needed in order to be effective. For the average woman, and that is the focus, many hours per week "on the mat" is not practical.


The point of Krav Maga is that it is for everyone!
The principal objective of Krav Maga is to get practitioners, regardless of age, size, or gender, to a level of self-defense proficiency in a relatively short period of time. While designed for soldiers with little time for hand-to-hand combat training, the methods and techniques used in Krav Maga are a perfect fit for the busy lifestyles of today's civilians, who do not have the time or inclination to devote years to training. An effective self-defense system cannot rely solely on physical attributes. Krav Maga was originally developed for the Israeli military--which enlists civilians of all ages, sizes, and gender, so explosive movements were incorporated into the system. These movements mitigate an attacker's ability to adjust to the defense. Krav Maga also employs the use of strikes to vulnerable areas of an attacker, like eyes, throat, and groin, which can produce maximum damage with minimum effort.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:03 Darren Levine
11:07
Jeannine Stein: 
Darren, can you tell us what makes Krav Maga such a good workout? Does it incorporate endurance training as well as strength training?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:07 Jeannine Stein
11:10
Darren Levine: 
? Strength Training
Cultivating an athletic and aesthetically appealing physique is a by-product of Krav Maga's unique approach to strength and fitness training. Strength training focuses on developing or enhancing athletic attributes, and while there are many means with which to improve strength, for the purposes of Krav Maga training, some are preferred over others.
? Strength, as it relates to Krav Maga goals, serves to augment a student's capacity to cause damage to an attacker as well as absorb punishment. While Krav Maga strongly emphasizes the need for aggressive counterattacks, Krav Maga instruction also focuses on performing from a position of disadvantage, which may involve defending after being struck or while being struck. Strengthen your body to punch and kick harder and more powerfully

? Flexibility to provide greater range of motion, to be able to avoid injury
Krav Maga does not rely on or emphasize fancy techniques, but flexibility, when defined as increased range of motion, is important for reaching maximum potential in all techniques, particularly combatives.
Range of motion is typically described as the distance that can be achieved between the flexed position and the extended position of specific muscle groups or joints. Increasing flexibility helps to reduce injuries, as well as increase power and speed, by allowing joints and muscles to fully extend.

? Endurance
Endurance or stamina is the ability to exert effort through aerobic or anaerobic training, over an extended period of time. While most violent encounters last less than a minute, endurance training is an essential aspect of a complete and functional fitness program. The stress that accompanies a violent encounter, coupled with the necessary physical response to the attack, will cause the body to rapidly fatigue. Recognizing this, fitness training must include a focus on endurance and must condition the body and mind to exert maximum effort for as long as is necessary to eliminate the threat and facilitate escape. Furthermore, since violent situations are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving, the dynamics of the encounter may change, and the introduction of new threats will require the stamina to continue fighting.
Remember, a Ferrari is one of the finest, most expensive, highest performing automobiles in the world, but without gas in the tank, it is overmatched by a four year old on a tricycle.

Monday January 3, 2011 11:10 Darren Levine
11:12
Jeannine Stein: 
What would a student who has never done Krav Maga before expect to encounter in his or her first class?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:12 Jeannine Stein
11:14
Jeannine Stein: 
Please feel free to ask Darren any questions about Krav Maga!
Monday January 3, 2011 11:14 Jeannine Stein
11:15
Darren Levine: 
In the very first class, students are introduced to how to keep a safety distance from an aggressor, hoe to strike an attacker and how to defend against a variety of attacks, such as chokes, headlocks and bear hugs. It intense, fun and enlightening1 students often comment that they learned more in one class than they had thought would be possible, It's empowering< to say the least.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:15 Darren Levine
11:16
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
I love Krav Maga. I've been a member since July.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:16 David
11:16
Jeannine Stein: 
Welcome, David! What do you like about Krav Maga, and why did you start taking classes?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:16 Jeannine Stein
11:17
[Comment From BethBeth: ] 
How would you recommend identifying reputable Krav Maga instruction?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:17 Beth
11:20
Darren Levine: 
Beth< that is a great question, Due to its popularity, many individuals that want to use the name "Krav Maga" are opening classes at karate and judo clubs. Be sure that your instructor has been certified by Krav Maga worldwide and is in good standing with the organization, which is the largest and most reputable in the US. Other organizations, such as IKMF are also legitimate. Insist on see the instructor's certification!!
Monday January 3, 2011 11:20 Darren Levine
11:21
[Comment From WilliamWilliam: ] 
And it's great for all ages and fitness levels. I'm over 50 and not in great shape and I feel like I benefit and can participate like everyone else.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:21 William
11:23
Darren Levine: 
Yes, It's a system for all ages. After all, men and women serve in the IDF and men serve into the 50's! Krav Maga is a no-nonsense, no-frills system that is designed to instill a fighting spirit and aggressive mindset in students--no matter their age. The ultimate goal is to go home safely, the tenets dictate that the best way to achieve that goal is to react aggressively and decisively. For women, this is even more important, since women generally have less muscle mass to "cushion" or absorb blows and are not as used to the type of hard contact that comes with a violent encounter.




Krav Maga does not require years of training to achieve self defense proficiency.

Krav Maga training today has been further refined to meet the needs of civilians and law enforcement personnel with other endeavors and responsibilities in daily life. Krav Maga is perfect for adults with limited training time and a desire for an enhanced quality of life and an increased sense of security and self confidence. Krav Maga's training methodology allows students to achieve all of these goals in a relatively short period of time.

Krav Maga is strictly self defense and fitness for adults.

Many adults today are not interested in the formalities of traditional martial arts. The purposes of Krav Maga are simply self defense and fitness, so training time is spent cultivating those goals. Typical classes consist of warm-ups, combatives training, self defense techniques and stress drills. Training time is devoted only to enhancing survivability in a violent encounter. In Krav Maga, it is important that your training matches your goals, and it is performed in an environment conducive to achieving those goals.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:23 Darren Levine
11:24
Jeannine Stein: 
Darren, could you tell us a little about the mental focus that's required for Krav Maga?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:24 Jeannine Stein
11:28
Darren Levine: 
You can have all the physical skills in the world...but you have to be mentally prepared to perform in a "fight for your life"!! We have developed unique training methods to replicate the stress of a violent attack...those methods are used in EVERY class! This is a key ingredient to the Krav Maga system and are specifically designed to replicate the realities that exist in a true life-threatening encounter. The training is designed to improve one's emotional and physical response to danger. Unique training methods are used to develop the ability to recognize danger at its earliest stages, to go from absolutely no, or a low, state of readiness to a state of action without hesitation, to develop a warrior's mindset, to engage and overcome an adversary, and to escalate and to deescalate to use appropriate levels of force.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:28 Darren Levine
11:29
Jeannine Stein: 
Thanks very much for joining us today, Darren, this has been very enlightening. You've certainly piqued my interest about learning Krav Maga.

Monday January 3, 2011 11:29 Jeannine Stein
11:31
Darren Levine: 
Thank you everyone for your participation in this live chat. Remember, be safe, train to be safe and fit....if you wish to have more information or to find a school near you, go to www,kravmaga,com

be well!
Monday January 3, 2011 11:31 Darren Levine
11:32
Jeannine Stein: 
Now let's welcome Peri Rogovin, owner of 3rd Street Dance in Los Angeles. Peri, your studio is something of an institution in Los Angeles. It's also where many of the "Dancing With the Stars" contestants rehearse.

Watching the show it's evident how much discipline goes into ballroom dancing--but it also looks like a lot of fun. Does that sense of enjoyment carry over into classes as well?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:32 Jeannine Stein
11:33
Peri: 
Hi Jeannine, Yes from the 1st moment it is fun. Dancing is playful, sexy and elegant!
Monday January 3, 2011 11:33 Peri
11:33
Peri: 
There is social interaction and you meet people, you are learning something new with great music.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:33 Peri
11:34
Jeannine Stein: 
All you ballroom dance fans, please go ahead and post your questions for Peri!
Monday January 3, 2011 11:34 Jeannine Stein
11:34
Jeannine Stein: 
What is a typical class like? Do students learn some choreography in the first lesson?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:34 Jeannine Stein
11:35
Peri: 
A first class is somewhat different depending on the dance you want to learn but normally you start with learning basic footwork and timing...
Monday January 3, 2011 11:35 Peri
11:36
Peri: 
After you learn your part then you are coupled with a partner and learn the skills of leading or following the step.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:36 Peri
11:36
Jeannine Stein: 
Do you have the same partner during the entire class or slate of classes?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:36 Jeannine Stein
11:37
Peri: 
Most of our classes rotate partners so everyone gets a chance to dance with everyone else...
Monday January 3, 2011 11:37 Peri
11:37
Peri: 
This makes you a better leader and more experienced follower so it is not necessary to bring a partner to our classes.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:37 Peri
11:38
Peri: 
We offer one class especially for partners who want to learn to dance with one another, for instance, for their wedding.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:38 Peri
11:40
Jeannine Stein: 
How do you find your instructors? Do any of them have competitive ballroom dance backgrounds?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:40 Jeannine Stein
11:41
Peri: 
Our instructiors are terrific. They are at the top of their field, some of them are pro- competitors and others are experts in the "Street" style that is popular in clubs.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:41 Peri
11:42
Jeannine Stein: 
Watching DWTS you really do see what a workout ballroom can be. What are some of the physical benefits of ballroom dance?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:42 Jeannine Stein
11:43
Peri: 
Ballroom dancing is an amazing way to gain coordination, stamina, physical strength and control. It makes you look more graceful, and gives you more confidence.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:43 Peri
11:45
Peri: 
You learn to coordinate your muscles to hold your ribs up, shoulders down, and helps to build the strength you need to do this in daily life....
Monday January 3, 2011 11:45 Peri
11:46
Peri: 
It also loosens tight hips and backs and you can gain flexibility and control from dancing....
Monday January 3, 2011 11:46 Peri
11:46
Peri: 
Some dances such as Salsa give you endurance and maintain your quickness.
While some dances like Tango give you control as you move through space.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:46 Peri
11:47
Jeannine Stein: 
Do people usually learn a number of dance styles, such as tango, fox trot, waltz and cha cha? Is there an advantage to learning both quick and slow dances?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:47 Jeannine Stein
11:48
Peri: 
Some people are in love with one dance only. You can visit my studio and see Argentine Tango classes where the same people attend almost every evening...
Monday January 3, 2011 11:48 Peri
11:48
Peri: 
Others are more well rounded and enjoy many different dance styles. Quite often it depends on what music people are inspired by.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:48 Peri
11:49
Jeannine Stein: 
Taking classes seem like a great way to meet people. Do friendships arise from classes at the studio?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:49 Jeannine Stein
11:50
Peri: 
Dance classes are one of the best ways to meet people. We have had couples meet and marry, babie born, and lots of playful and flirtatious friendships!
Monday January 3, 2011 11:50 Peri
11:51
Jeannine Stein: 
What other sorts of classes do you offer at 3rd Street Dance? Is everything partner-geared?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:51 Jeannine Stein
11:53
Peri: 
We offer fantastic workout classes that are dance oriented, such as "Salsa Blast" with Leslie Ferreira and "Zumba" with Marisa Schor.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:53 Peri
11:54
[Comment From TimTim: ] 
Peri, if someone wants to use ballroom as a way to get all the benefits you mention, how would you advise them to practice or exercise? It seems like lessons alone may not be enough.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:54 Tim
11:54
Peri: 
HI Tim, You buy a sleeping bag and move into my studio....
Monday January 3, 2011 11:54 Peri
11:55
Peri: 
I suggest taking class at least 3 times per week and participating in our Tuesday evening practice session.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:55 Peri
11:56
Peri: 
Also, especially the man needs to practice on his own to make sure his moves are second nature
Monday January 3, 2011 11:56 Peri
11:57
Peri: 
He needs to feel confident in leading the lady and the only way to do that is to be sure of your footwork which you can practice in class and at home!
Monday January 3, 2011 11:57 Peri
11:57
Jeannine Stein: 
Peri has graciously agreed to stay on a bit past noon to answer questions, so please stick with us!
Monday January 3, 2011 11:57 Jeannine Stein
11:57
[Comment From Alex R.Alex R.: ] 
For someone who has no background in dance, is there a particular dance or style that you recommend to newbies?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:57 Alex R.
11:59
Peri: 
All dances are fun, in some ways it depends on what peaks your interest. Salsa, Swing and Tango are the most popular dances in the club scenes, so if you want to go out socially and you want a quicker fix, Salsa has an easier basic ...
Monday January 3, 2011 11:59 Peri
11:59
Peri: 
Tango however, takes longer but has fantastic rewards.
Monday January 3, 2011 11:59 Peri
11:59
[Comment From MonicaMonica: ] 
What tends to be the age group that participates in the classes?
Monday January 3, 2011 11:59 Monica
12:00
Peri: 
Hi Monica, Dancing is wonderful in the sense that it is for "all ages". And there is nothing more adorable to see a young person and an older person brige the ages differences and enjoy a dance together....
Monday January 3, 2011 12:00 Peri
12:02
Peri: 
However, each dance has it's age group "of Appeal" for instance, Salsa is hot and Sexy so younger people of course dig that and Tango has sophisticated allure so may attract another age group, but all ages fall in love with all the dances.
Monday January 3, 2011 12:02 Peri
12:02
Jeannine Stein: 
Your comment about tango is intriguing...what are the rewards that make this dance so special?
Monday January 3, 2011 12:02 Jeannine Stein
12:05
Peri: 
Argentine Tango has many dimensions. On a physical level it gives you grace, elegance and control, on an emotional level it allows you to express your feelings about the music, the person you are dancing with, and your love of how the actual steps of the dance make you feel for the 3 minutes you are together on the dance floor
Monday January 3, 2011 12:05 Peri
12:06
Jeannine Stein: 
Peri, thank you so much for chatting with us today and sharing your tremendous knowledge about the world of ballroom dance. Please check out our Health section today for more information on ballroom dance, Krav Maga, and other fun ways to get fit: http://www.latimes.com/health/
Monday January 3, 2011 12:06 Jeannine Stein
12:06
Peri: 
It was my pleasure and please visit us at our website at www.thirdstreetdance.com and see our entire program. Happy New Year!!!
Monday January 3, 2011 12:06 Peri
12:06
Jeannine Stein: 
Thanks, everyone, for participating in our chat today! Join us next Monday, January 10th at 11 a.m. when we'll be talking with Christine Burke, co-owner and director of Liberation Yoga in Los Angeles, about starting a yoga program, or tweaking the one you have.
Monday January 3, 2011 12:06 Jeannine Stein
12:07
 

 
 
 


Photo credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times