THE women of Melbourne are learning to give as good as they get as the IDF self-defence phenomenon Krav Maga sweeps the city.
The close-quarters combat technique has become the first line of defence against would-be attackers – and unwanted calories – among celebrities and gym junkies the world over, and now women in Melbourne’s Jewish community are starting to reap the benefits thanks to Avi Yemini, owner of the IDF Training gym in Caulfield.
Yemini, a former IDF soldier, said the all-women’s class – already more popular than the male’s class despite being in its infancy – was created due to popular demand.
“We had a couple of female instructors who came through the training and we just thought it was something the gym needed.
“My wife wanted to train and other religious and non-religious women were saying they wanted to learn too. There wasn’t an environment in which they felt safe to do that,” Yemini said.
Former Mount Scopus Memorial College student Melinda Slonim, 22, a proficient black-belt fighter in karate and qualified Krav Maga trainer, is leading the all-women’s class.
She said the new sessions have attracted a large contingent of religious women, enticing them to step into the gym.
“I’ve grown up in the religious community and I’ve seen so many girls who don’t do any sports because they can’t touch men, and I thought it’s not fair for them to miss out on being able to defend themselves and possibly their lives, simply because of their religious beliefs.”
Slonim said the sessions, which simulate real-life scenarios like nightclubs by using strobe lighting and blaring music, have proven transformative for some participants, eager to learn to defend themselves.
“The aim of his class, and Krav Maga in general, is to create confidence and self-belief, so we aim to get people to understand that they can actually do it,” Slonim said.
In addition to fostering women’s empowerment, Yemini said the fitness institution’s fierce loyalty to Israel has sparked criticism from some, yet the owner vows to maintain the gym’s Israeli connection.
“People say they’re interested in the style but not the politics. We just believe Krav Maga is the Israeli army’s self-defence system. We support Israel 100 per cent, if somebody doesn’t like it, they can go do karate,” he quipped.
The women’s class will run from 6-7pm on Mondays. For more information, visit www.idftraining.com.au.