East Valley Krav Maga center teaches women to defend themselves

TEMPE – The #MeToo movement to raise awareness about sexual harassment has resonated with women around the world, exposing the pervasiveness of the problem and prompting more women to think about their own safety.

Here in Arizona, some women are making moves, literally, to protect themselves using an Israeli self-defense system called Krav Maga, which was developed for the Israel Defense Forces. The name means “contact combat” in Hebrew.

“We’ve had some women come in after the fact they’ve been attacked,” said Ivvette Rios Hofrichter, an instructor at East Valley Krav Maga in Tempe.

“Everything that you learn is kind of broken down for you,” Hofrichter said. “You try it slow, then you try it fast, then you try it with a partner. And it was a very simple method, so that anyone from any background, any age, any physical fitness level, could learn in a … shorter time frame.”

Ivvette Rios Hofrichter (right), a Krav Maga instructor at East Valley Krav Maga, practices drills with a student at the Tempe facility. (Photo by Nicole Gutierrez/Cronkite News)

Instructors at East Valley Krav Maga conduct 50 self-defense classes a week, teaching students to effectively use their bodies to target the most vulnerable parts of an attacker.

“The most common attacks on females are things like choking and bear-hugging from behind,” Hofrichter said.

Hofrichter said that in our culture, men are often taught not to hit women. And because of that, men may turn to choking instead.

A recent Quinnipiac University telephone survey of 1,415 voters nationwide indicated that 60 percent of the women voters they reached in the U.S. have been sexually harassed.

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