In our increasingly violent world, a simple, effective, and practical self defense system to stave off attackers is vital. The Israeli Krav Maga system, which means contact combat in Hebrew, is a martial art approach that fits the bill. Krav Maga is a combination of aikido, judo, karate, boxing and wrestling and practical weapon defense.
Martial Arts For Life
While Krav Maga is the combat style of choice for the Israeli Special Forces, finding a gym that teaches Krav Maga is no easy task. Not to mention it takes someone with special talents to teach it to others. Randall Koch, a martial arts disciple, is that person.
Koch started training in martial arts at age 5. He is a black belt in three martial arts styles. He is a first degree black belt in taekwondo, second degree black belt in American Kenpo and first degree black belt in Krav Maga. His father was a black belt, and was Randall’s taekwondo teacher in his hometown of Twin Falls, Idaho.
While he grew up with martial arts, it took some real life experience before he realized he wanted to teach martial arts. After several menial dish washing jobs, Randall realized that karate instruction was his life’s mission. Subsequently he began teaching taekwondo in high school and continued teaching throughout college.
Choosing Krav Maga
Eventually, Randall choose Krav Maga as his lifelong martial arts form because, in his own words, “Krav is two times as effective and take half of the time to learn”. Krav Maga is unlike taekwondo and kenpo, which emphasize specific kicks, punches and precise sportsmanlike technique. Instead, Krav Maga centers on the utilization of practical, nearby objects such as a rock, a fire extinguisher, coffee or even gardening tools in a self defense encounter, or to simply flee an assault or attack.
South Florida as Choice
After college, Koch moved to New Port, Oregon, all the while continuing with his martial arts teaching. Eventually, Koch yearned for a larger, more cosmopolitan home base with three criteria: warm weather, high levels of violent crime and a large metropolis. South Florida checked off all the boxes.
He made the move and opened his first studio in Pompano.
Enamored with Oakland Park's Small Town Charm
Randall moved his studio from Pompano Beach, his home for 13 years, to nearby Oakland Park in 2021. He selected Oakland Park because of the small town, family oriented, community vibe the city offers.
The original Pompano Beach location, was located in a sketchy and high crime neighborhorhood. By contrast, the Oakland Park location on Floranada Road is brightly lit, has ample parking, and is easily accessible to downtown Fort Lauderdale for the after work and BSO crowd.
Krav Maga In Oakland Park
Krav Maga International is a 2000 square foot facility on Floranada Road in Oakland Park. They offer Level 1-5 Israeli Krav Maga training for self defense. Level 1 and 2 are beginner level, which emphasize basic kicks, punches from standing and the ground, while Levels 3-5 emphasize advanced punching, weapon defense, and fending off multiple attackers and third party protection.
The instruction is intense and practical. The classes teach handgun, long gun, knife and stick attack disarmament, chokehold and wrist grab escape, active shooting neutralization, bear hug, floor attack maneuvers and more.
The practicality of this martial arts style is in its approach. “Go Home Safe” is the Krav Maga mantra. It is implemented by employing the following rules : defend when necessary, verbally deescalate when feasible, improvise with nearby objects, and flee when possible.
The studio also offers fitness and conditioning classes. These classes are reminiscent of Tae Bo and kickboxing of the early 2000s.
Rising Demand for Krav Maga Amidst Tragic Circumstances
Randall jumpstarted his business initially by tucking flyers and mailers on doorknobs, by erecting lawn signs, and by building a strong website. His first students were primarily women, who gravitated to him from Billy Blank Tae Bo workout popularity in the early 2000s. BSO officers, homeland security agents and FBI agents were also drawn to his style.
Many of his students in South Florida sought out Krav Maga and taser classes for protection and security on the heels of the Stoneman Douglas tragedy in 2018, and other code reds and assault weapon attacks at work places.
Randall shares, “Anytime a crime or mass shooting occurs like the Stoneman Douglas shooting or the Tampa gym attack of January 2023, the demand for self defense and weapon disarmament increase.”
Empowering a Diverse Demographic
Randall shares that his ideal demographic is a population aged 12-73. Kids under 12 are not an ideal population for Krav Maga due to groin kicks, double thumb in eye gouging moves and other aggressive techniques.
Tom Schafer, a 9 year student of Krav Maga International shares,
“I always wanted to learn martial arts, and as more assault weapon attacks occurred, I decided to learn Krav Maga. After I got divorced, I had more free time, so I began Krav Maga, and I never looked back. Randall is a diamond in a haystack.”
Kim Praitano, CEO of Gilda’s Club and Randall’s level 1 self defense instructor for years, shares that family sentiment. “I started Krav Maga when I narrowly escaped an assault situation. I took classes, and decided to teach so I could help others master Krav. Besides, we are all a family here, and we look out for each other. I was an older student to begin with, but Krav has taught me that I can learn self defense at any stage of life.”
Try Krav Maga for Self Defense and Fitness
Koch encourages adults to learn beginner level Krava Maga, or to try his fitness and conditioning classes. As inflation and economic stress drive crime, it is wise to familiarize yourself with basic self defense kicks, holds and grabs, and weapon disarmament. If you have been watching the news and feeling defenseless, Krav Maga offers many classes to hone your self defense skills.
Krav Maga International is located on 969 NE 45th St. (Floranada Rd.), Fort Lauderdale, FL – (954) 957-5728. Koch offers the first class free and his class schedule is available on his website kravmagatraining.com.
His classes are available Monday-Friday 6:00-9:00 PM, Saturday 8:00-noon and Sunday 8:00-noon.