Krav Maga self-defense course hosted by Campus Safety and Security 

Donte Pastrano instructs a North Central student in a self-defense workshop, an event hosted by Campus Safety and Security on Saturday, March 18. Photo by Kathryn Hoffland.

Donte Pastrano instructs a North Central student in a self-defense workshop, an event hosted by Campus Safety and Security on Saturday, March 18. Photo by Kathryn Hoffland.


The College Life Center gymnasium was filled with intense energy March 18 as members of the North Central community learned introductory self-defense techniques in the Krav Maga style from Gail Boxrud and Donte Pastrano, two Minneapolis based Krav Maga instructors. The course was offered a second time March 20 to allow as many individuals as possible to participate.

The North Central Campus Safety and Security department organized and hosted the courses which were offered free of cost to North Central students, faculty and staff. A total of 64 individuals from the North Central community registered for one of the two courses being offered.

James Crabtree, director of the campus safety and security department, has researched self-defense solutions for the North Central community throughout the past year. Planning for the introductory Krav Maga courses began in January.

Boxrud and Pastrano own and operate Krav Maga Minneapolis, and are certified by the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF) to teach Krav Maga to law enforcement personal, civilians, women, children and bicyclists. Each segment of individuals receives specific training for their age, gender, or situation. Boxrud and Pastrano are both ranked Expert 1 according to the IKMF ranking system. The expert levels of the IKMF ranking system indicate the highest levels of training and ability.

Krav Maga is a simple self-defense system that incorporates an individual’s natural reaction to an attack. Crabtree noted that Krav Maga is well known in the law enforcement industry as a standard of self-defense for both police and civilians.

“When you are under stress you won’t remember complicated stuff,” Boxrud said. “The idea behind it is to respond with an instinctual reaction and then counter attack as soon as possible.”

Krav Maga was developed in Israel in the 1940s and is still used by the Israeli Military. There is a strong emphasis on quickly counter-attacking and using simultaneous offensive and defensive moves. The fighting style is hand-to-hand combat and is useful with unexpected attacks.

At the introductory course students were introduced to a variety of Krav Maga techniques. The 90 minutes of instruction time were highly interactive for the attendees. Boxrud and Pastrano demonstrated each technique, and explained the specific movements involved. The course participants were then given ample time to practice each technique with a partner. Each of the techniques covered during the course were self-defense methods for common attacks seen in cities.

Krav Maga seeks to increase people’s awareness of their surroundings so they are able to avoid attacks, as well as build confidence as individuals so they can defend themselves against an attack should the need arise. Sarah Sanders, a junior social work major, registered for the course hoping to gain confidence in her ability to protect herself or others.

“[The Krav Maga instruction] affects the way I walk now, and I am less afraid and more aware of my surroundings,” Sanders said. “We learned to react based on our natural instincts of defense and got to know a few people personally because we got up in each other’s space during the session which was both humorous and helpful.”

Boxrud and Pastrano have taught many introductory Krav Maga courses at colleges. Boxrud finds the training process fun, and appreciates hearing stories from people who have used what they learned from these seminars. Most often, she hears that people have almost had to use the training, but were able to avoid fighting through prevention techniques gained while learning Krav Maga. Boxrud and Pastrano had a great time engaging with the individuals who participated in the courses.

“They were really fun,” Boxrud said of the group attending the course March 18. “They were willing to get in and do [the techniques].”

About the author: Kathryn Hoffland