“Don’t Get Knocked Out” was the title of a free seminar presented by Sensei Avi Avramcheyiv from The New York Self Defense Academy in Queens last Sunday the 15th of December. The goal of the seminar: to teach people how to combat the so called “knockout game” that has caused several injuries and at least two deaths around the country. Sensei Avi, a local Krav Mage (Israeli Self-defense) and martial-arts instructor, was deeply disturbed by this senseless brutality that had hit close to home, Kew Garden Hills in Queens, a few weeks prior. As a former special-ops soldier in the Israeli army and black-belt, Sensei Avi knows exactly what to do against these kind of thugs. He was also unhappy with some wrong techniques being shown on TV that, he believed, were misleading and endangering people. He therefore set out to impart his knowledge to others, free of charge, with a two hour long seminar.A group of about fifty men and women of all ages gathered atthe Young Israel of Queens Valley Synagogue to learn how to “not get knocked out”.
Sensei Avi emphasized the importance of removing the element of surprise by developing awareness to the situation, adopting preventive behavior and risk reduction. The awareness level of all the participants was heightened by the graphic illustrations from ABC News showing video surveillance of young men knocking out unsuspecting people. Avi then went on to explain how one would adopt preventive behavior which would reduce the risk of becoming a victim. He said to pay attention when outside, “do not text and walk!” Use mirrors of cars and reflections from windows to see everything around you. If you see a group of teenagers, keep eye contact, free up your hands and prepare to attack. If you can go into a store or change your route, do it. Just do not turn your back to them. If you do, then they can attack from behind as was the case in one of the attacks on a young woman in London who saw the danger but turned away. The perpetrators are looking for an easy target to knock out with one punch; do not become easy targets.
Avi went on to demonstrate a simple technique from Active Krav Maga to perform if you are attacked which utilizesnatural reflexes. These moves can be easily mastered by anyone in as little as one session. There is no need for fancy flying kicks or flips like in a Jackie Chan movie. Krav Maga is about dealing with real life situations. Simple, reflexive moves targeting vulnerable points in the body like the throat and groin is what will save you on the street. Avi demonstrated some of these real life situations like chokes and defense against a knife, gun and stick. Avi believes that “muscle memory” is of the utmost importance in being able to defend yourself. Therefore, all the participants had the chance to practice the techniques on each other.
Tyra Boid, one of the participants and a strong advocate for women’s empowerment through awareness and self-defense said about the seminar: “It’s a much needed form of defense and I admire that he and his team took time out of their schedule to inform their community of what’s going on in the streets nowadays. He informed, demonstrated, instructed, engaged and he brought his community together to get involved…We are our first line of defense and once it’s been breached, well…hindsight is 20/20. Instead of saying what I could’ve or should’ve done – it will now be what I DID do.”
By Riki Quinn
Self Defense Instructor at New York Self Defense Academy