Krav Maga Instructor Sasha Khlybova

Teaching Krav Maga Teens:

An Interview with Instructor Sasha

By Emma Gabriel

I recently got a chance to talk with Instructor Sasha Khlybova, one of our Krav Maga kids teachers. She has been teaching youths aged 10-14 years old since January. Sasha loves teaching our kids, and is a phase C certified instructor. I asked her about what the kids love about Krav Maga, what her favorite part of teaching is, and how she helps students grow.

Preparedness and Parent Involvement

How does she get her students prepared for the world? One of Sasha’s focal points is recognition—it’s essential that young people can recognize when a situation is escalating, compromised, or outright dangerous. Likewise, they need to recognize how they can react—by using their voice to bring attention to a situation, identifying escape routes, or circumventing obstacles or a group of hostile people. She helps her students think about whether someone is getting ready to bully them or someone they’re with, and even to recognize and avoid an adult who may have harmful intentions. Implementing quick decision and response skills, as well as combatives and escape, gives her students resolutions to these in-class scenarios.

Parent engagement also motivates Sasha to deliver blockbuster Krav Maga to our young people. One parent she spoke with didn’t like a rigid teacher from another tradition. The traditional discipline was likely too much for a teen or near teen to enthusiastically engage with, she said. Fortunately, here at Krav Maga San Francisco, classes are not just dynamic and engaging, but teach effective and proven self-defense from the get go.

How Teens Krav it Up

Sasha knows her students come to have fun and love doing physical things with their friends. They’re socially engaged with peers in a respectful, informal, and collaborative environment. To facilitate this learning style, she integrates learning games into the curriculum, like Rochambeau (rock, paper, scissors). This helps engage the students mentally and physically, and helps them get accustomed to the unscripted nature of using practical self-defense.

As a certified Krav instructor, Sasha makes sure to keep the curriculum appealing. She mixes up a set of combatives for the students to learn and defend against. These techniques include hair grabs, rolls, bear hugs, fall breaks, stick defense, and of course, the always popular “circle of death” (being surrounded). A very challenging toolkit to master!

The Krav Maga Advantage at Any Age

Reflecting on the advantages Krav Maga has in comparison to traditional martial arts, Sasha says, “It’s not like, bow in and do a kata” (a choreographed movement, like in Karate). Other arts have a more choreographed dance-like form, with a lot of specific steps. That means it can take years for specific combatives to be used effectively when needed in an unpredictable encounter. Sasha also reflects on katas, saying, “It’s good to be able to block and strike… But because they’re not practicing with another person, it’s not part of their muscle memory, knowing when to apply them to different situations… That’s harder to grasp.”

Focus on the Future

What is Sasha looking forward to this this coming schoolyear? Of course, she is eager to get some students to test and advance into adult classes. By getting them knowledgeable and prepped for adult classes, they will be able to train for more real-life situations. She is also eager to put in a testing system for young people, and to possibly develop a sparring system for them.

The only way forward is through the present. All of us at Krav Maga San Francisco want the very best for you and your children. We continue our dedication to effectively prepare kids and teens to stay safe and aware at all times. With Instructor Sasha at the vanguard of our teen classes, the way is assured.

“Sometimes you just wanna be a ninja… You know, if you were a kid.”
~Instructor Sasha

Learn more about Krav Maga for young people here.