As much at we can, Colorado MA News, tries to visit martial art facilities and events within the region to interview school owners, instructors, and their students. It helps in connecting the Colorado martial arts family on a more intimate level and keeps everyone informed, if they feel the inclination. Today’s journey takes me to MartialArts 4 Colorado, located in the heart of Thornton,CO. This facility has integrated reality-based self defense into their child/family Tae Kwon Do program. Owner/operator, Steven Marak, spent many years learning self defense as a necessity. Combined with his training in both Tae Kwon Do and Krav Maga, Mr. Marak has created a Krav Maga method for the Tae Kwon Do practitioner. He calls it, Krav Maga Do. I spoke with him about the subject. Here are a few statements from him and from a few of his students.
“…I just want children to be able to protect themselves. They need to realize that the body goes through certain physiological changes when under stress. I want them to address those issues when training and not while it’s happening. Too many children become a victim. If I can help just one child get home safe, then I will have done my job.” He went on about the dangers that children face everyday and how families might be relying on technology a little too much to keep their kid’s safe. As I was speaking with him, a few young students walked in. I asked them what they thought about the Krav Maga Do program. “I like hitting the pads,” one child exclaimed, while running onto the mat. Another one yelled out from across the mat, “It’s really, really fun!” “We perform countless strikes during our Kid’s Krav week. Repetition is muscle memory. I want it to be second nature for them.” As he went on about self defense, I sensed urgency in his voice- as if he felt responsible for their safety. “I know what it is like to fight for survival. It is a scary thing. You have to learn to recognize it early. If confronted- most people will freeze up, initially. This creates doubt and uncertainty. It is at this time to act fast. Sparring on the mat and performing poomsae is important for training. But I want to, somewhat, simulate the stress levels involved in a panicked response and the fight or flight response- of course, within a child friendly environment.” Then he added, “And then there is the subject of weapons and ‘taking it to the ground’. That also needs to be addressed.” He went on by saying, “The biggest percentage of Tae Kwon Do students quit before black belt. It is those students that must learn Krav Maga Do. In my opinion, anyway.”
Finally I asked him, “Why did you place a ‘Do’ on the end of ‘Krav Maga’? He laughed really loud and then looked directly into my eyes and said, “I am protecting, because it is in my nature to do so.” Protecting what, I asked. “Protecting the integrity of the Krav Maga name, its method, and what it represents. I am in no position to try and change that, nor do I feel the need. But Krav Maga can be brutal in the eyes of the parent and we are a family based Tae Kwon Do school. So, I have toned it down to be more suitable for the Colorado family not war-torn Israel.” He went on by saying, “there are also a few vital techniques that differ from Tae Kwon Do versus Krav Maga. I created Krav Maga Do to embrace the differences, not to choose between the two. It was necessary.” As his next class began to line-up, he got up and said to me, “I have lost many things important to me in my lifetime. I will not lose a student in the hands of violence.” He then bowed to me while offering his hand, and then turned to the mat and yelled out, “Get us started Ms. Danielle!” “Yes sir!” She replied.
I walked towards the exit, faced the class, and bowed with great respect. I left the martialArts 4 Colorado facility sensing that he cares for his students and that he and his Krav Maga Do have a deep personal drive that propels him and his students forward along with Tae Kwon Do.