People Who Inspire Us: Follow the Leader Barney Foland, owner of the Krav Maga Training Center (Hebrew for Contact Combat) . After having been a student at Krav for many years, I noticed that they put on many free programs for kids and others who are struggling. This is a school that gives back to their community.
You have done free Krav classes for so many disadvantaged groups, how do you decide who you make the offer to?
We only have so much time so we try to concentrate on local groups that make a difference in our community. Each group has specific needs and we design the program to meet their needs. Some examples of the groups we have worked with are:
Homeaway From Homelessness – We put together several programs for a group of middle school kids. These kids are homeless or from low income families. We did a Self Defense series, a fitness series and a yoga series. www.homeaway.org
Larkin Street Youth Center – We work with the counselors to give them free memberships to give the teens that are staying drug free and holding down jobswww.larkinstreetyouth.org
At the Crossroads – This group has volunteers that go on the street after midnight and talk to youth that are homeless about programs that can help them – We did a few seminars for the volunteers to help them learn how to protect themselves. www.atthecrossroads.org
What group that you trained did you see most affected by the skills you were teaching them?
It has to be the Homeaway kids since we have been working with them for 5 years now. We have put together several programs to teach the kids different skills. The self defense program is meant to empower them, build self confidence, and give them the ability to release stress. The fitness program was designed to get them into shape, and the yoga program to teach them how to relax and get outside their bodies.
How do you think Krav Maga helps change people’s lives?
Krav Maga has a two fold benefit, you learn a real self defense which in itself is empowering, confidence building, and gives you the ability to relieve stress. Krav Maga is also a great workout which gets you into great physical condition. It is the best of both worlds.
What’s the best Krav Maga story you have heard from one of your students?
A woman came into the school and asked to speak to me. When I approached her she thanked me for saving her life. She said she had been a student several years before but had stopped coming in when she moved into the North Bay. Over the 4th of July weekend she had come back into the city to celebrate with friends and was staying with one of them. She was a little late getting ready for the barbeque and stayed behind while the rest of the group was being picked up.
There was a knock at the door and without thinking she opened it assuming it was her friends coming back to pick her up. Instead it was a large man in a ski mask with a knife. As she realized what was happening he lunged at her. She was able to defend the initial attack, give him a swift kick and push him back out the door, slammed it shut and was safe.
She had only studied with me for a couple of years but because of her Krav Maga training she had instinctively reacted to the threat and saved herself from harm.