Women's 2 Day Seminar and Krav Maga Instructor Emily Webb for

Instructor Emily Webb:

Empowering Women of All Backgrounds

By Emma Gabriel

Emily Webb is a Krav Maga Blue Belt and Phase C Instructor. She has been a Krav Maga Instructor since 2011, and is also a renowned tango Instructor and entrepreneur. We here at Krav Maga San Francisco got a chance to ask Emily about her work with women in her specialized self-defense seminars. It turns out she has the right combination for putting power in your punch.

KMSF:

We have a lot of testimonials from students who took your women’s self-defense class. They are overwhelmingly positive and tell us how much more confident students are since learning to use their voice and body to protect themselves. What’s the shift you see in your students who have little to no background in martial arts or self-defense? Have you seen any remarkable shifts?

Emily:

Absolutely. What get me the most is I see women come in with no voice, when they’re challenged, they just shut down. But they end up leaving so loud, in a good way! The other one is they come in with no fighting skills. I can honestly say, though, that everyone comes out a different person. If they need to, they have a switch they can hit. It’s up to them to maintain that new way of thinking. That’s why I always recommend that students who do the two day Women’s Seminar come back and train regularly—to keep those skills they’ve learned.

I’ve seen many women come in fresh off the street who start training in our women’s seminar. I love to see in the final drill, at the end of two days, just ho fierce they’ve become! We’ve put them through the gauntlet, and we see what comes out of them.

For a lot of us, it is already in there. If we lived in the wild tens of thousands of years ago and had to hunt for food, we wouldn’t [be so hesitant to react to threats]. Unfortunately, society has trained us to not make a scene when our instincts are poised to react to a threat. Part of what Krav does is it gives us permission to make a scene… To say that my comfort and safety are as important as yours. It gives people permission to stand up for their safety and their comfort level.

KMSF:

You mention on our website that you are a survivor of past abuse and assault. What did training in Krav Maga do within you? How did it help you erase *victim* from your vocabulary?

Emily:

I was a pretty big mess when I came into Krav Maga. I had no voice, and no ability to set boundaries. I had so much fear. I walked around in so much fear! And that fear is really debilitating. It detracts from every area of your life.

At first, I was nervous. I knew I had a few skills, but wondered if I could put them to use. As I continued, I found I have a switch: It’s the switch of a fighter. I found myself able to use it in various circumstances. It re-framed my mental [outlook]. When it comes down to it, I’m worth fighting for, and so are other people who are being put down.

KMSF:

You also teach Tango. How does that system of movement inform your approach to teaching self-defense?

Emily:

In tango, we have a movement that is called “the embrace.” One of the key things is to know if you are comfortable with it or not. For some students, they go into the embrace posture and are very close with their dance partner, and they’re fine with it. For others, they are not comfortable with it, and they are encouraged to communicate that freely, without judgment.

KMSF:

I don’t think there’s any doubt that giving women the tools to be more confident, safe, and aware is very empowering. Each individual is different, though. Some women find the physical confidence of training in Krav Maga a good way to cope with everyday stress. Others are dealing with experiences of trauma, fear, and difficulty. Regardless of whether we are battling through adverse circumstances or augmenting a position of strength, Krav Maga has a very important role to play in our lives. And you’re the one who brings it into focus for so many of us. Many women you teach have survived physical or sexual assault. How does the women’s seminar help them, in particular, change as individuals?

Emily:

So, we can change on mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual levels. The easiest to change is the physical level, and that’s mostly what we deal with. For example, when you hit the bag, that is moving your body and conditioning it to react in response to a decision. We’re going to move the body, and if there is an emotion, we’re going to move it through the body. When we’re doing that, we’re processing responses through the body and effecting real changes in what our mind and body go through in similar circumstances.

In the Women’s Seminar, we will work with the emotional state if it comes up. Working in pairs and partnerships helps students build trust. I always suggest that if something comes up for a student that she communicate it so we can address it together.

KMSF:

I’m really excited about the Advanced Women’s Seminar coming in November. This seminar is available to women who have taken the two-day Women’s Seminar or who have been a Krav Maga student for at least a month already. What are your hopes for this seminar?

Emily:

My hope is that people come out even more kick-ass than when they came in! That we give women more tools, confidence to assess situations, and to get home safely. It’s still Krav Maga, but it’s very different from a normal Krav Maga class. We will build on all the techniques we learned in the two-day seminar: choke holds, elbows, groin kicks, defenses. And we will learn an adapted set of techniques especially for women’s self-defense scenarios.

KMSF:

What are your hopes more broadly for empowering women?

Emily:

Within this political climate, I want women to stand up. We have the capacity to stand up. I want for us to have an influence in the culture. To say, “I don’t agree. This is my truth.”

KMSF:

Awesome. Finally, what’s your advice for women considering coming to Krav Maga, or the Advanced Women’s Seminar, but may be on the fence or even intimidated?

Emily:

Well, we have women in almost all the classes already! But with beginners, a lot are intimidated… Krav Maga, I hear, is a place that is supportive, where people want to help you grow, to get better. It has a really great, wide-ranging group of people. We are not a hardcore, fight club, crazy, macho gym. We are friendly, average people. We’re always concerned about safety first: mental, emotional, and physical.

My hope is that people come out even more kick-ass than when they came in!

Instructor Emily Webb

Learn more about Instructor Emily here.