Body by Boston: Be a Fighter

By Shannon Fischer | Boston Magazine |

IT COULD BE SOMETHING in the national mood that has made combat sports so popular. Or it could be that we want to look a little more like Brad Pitt brawling in Fight Club. Whatever the cause, when you’re ready to graduate from spectator to participant, here’s what you need to get started. First step: Find a fighting style that suits your goals and temperament, then get acquainted in a beginners’ class.

Brawler’s Ball

There’s no rush like a street fight

In the dark alleys and empty parking lots of the real world, fights don’t start with a bell. They just start — fast and ugly — and end almost as quickly. If you want to be the one standing when it’s all over, there’s a special type of training just for you.

[sidebar]Krav Maga is based on “reality defense” — the kind where you’re outnumbered, outweaponed, and taken by surprise. The style was developed back in the first half of the 20th century for the Israel Defense Forces, and it remains the IDF’s martial arts system of choice. Its goal: to incapacitate an aggressor as quickly and brutally as possible. Not exactly your kid sister’s tae kwon do.

Locally, a handful of facilities teach it, including the Boston Academy of Krav Maga, with instructor Gershon Ben Keren.

But the classes aren’t filled with tattooed tough guys slamming one another violently around. Instead it’s young, clean-cut urban professionals slamming one another violently around. Yes, violently: Classes hit the mats for a solid hour of bruising, full-contact movement, pushed to a frenetic pace that’s intended to mimic the emotional stress of a fight. Students regularly break into chaotic, everyone-against-everyone melees.

The farthest thing from pretty or graceful, but then again, that’s the point.

Illustration by Resident Alien