Tracie Ide took her first class in Krav Maga, the Israeli defense method, in 2008.
“I got a flier in the mail. It had a guy hitting a bag. I wanted that fitness aspect,” Ide said.
After one class, she was hooked.
The former nanny and stay-at-home mom loved the speed and power of Krav Maga. She loved the physicality of the method, which translates from the Hebrew into “contact combat,” and its end goal: stopping violent encounters and getting home safe.
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That first Krav Maga class had been a special class offered at a local taekwondo school. To continue her studies, Ide had to travel outside of Idaho. She did. A lot. Today she holds numerous certifications and honors, including the 2014 Krav Maga Alliance Instructor of the Year Award. In 2012, she opened Boise’s first Krav Maga school, Idaho Krav Maga, on the Boise Bench.
On July 18, she’s offering a special women’s self-defense seminar. The $39 fee will go to the Boise Rescue Mission’s City Light Home for Women and Children. Attendees will get what Ide calls a fun but “intense experience.”
That will include a warm-up to get people moving and break the ice, a brief talk about the origins of Krav Maga, basic defense methods such as finding targets on an attacker, how to escape being tied up, and the fine art of using knees and elbows as weapons.
“We like to say that diamonds aren’t a woman’s best friend. Elbows and knees are,” Ide said.
Her smile and long blond hair, worn loose, belies her ability to transform into a vocal, spinning being, not unlike a Tasmanian devil when she’s demonstrating Krav Maga defense moves.
A BIT OF EVERYBODY
Most nights of the week, students gather at Idaho Krav Maga to hone their skills. Ide estimates that around 100 students attend classes. Business is growing, she said. She has just started to market the school. She is one of three certified instructors. Two or three new students come to check out the program each week.
Her students are “a little bit of everybody,” she said. The male to female mix is about 60/40.
They range from kids as young as 3, “little warriors,” to an older man who uses an oxygen tank, to a woman in her 60s who’s discovering the joy of building muscle tone for the first time in her life, to a 21-year-old man who’s a medic in the Navy.
Christina Walker’s 14-year-old twins attend Teen Krav class two times a week, plus weekend workouts and frequent drop-ins for adult classes.
“Here’s my bragging mom hat. Because they’re just that good,” Walker said.
She admits that her fondness for Krav Maga is in some ways at odds with her work as a social worker. She’s getting her master’s degree at Boise State and interning at the Nampa Family Justice Center.
“By nature, social workers are pacifists, working towards the idea of ‘the better self,’ and not hurting anyone else,” said Walker, but she loves the self-defense focus of Krav Maga, and the physical discipline.
“My daughter doesn’t want to go out into the world as a violent person. But if violence comes to her, she’ll be prepared,” Walker said.
Walker’s son has benefited from the practice in other ways. At first, he was a “wild fighter” teeming with unbridled energy, Walker said. Krav Maga has taught him control and focus.
Women’s self-defense is a natural match with the Boise Rescue Mission, said spokesman Jason Billester. About half of the people seeking help at the mission are women and children.
“We’ve seen this steady increase over the last years. Family is no longer available. A lot of our guests are moms running in survival mode,” Billester said.
Julie Jones, director of the women’s and children’s ministry at City Light, said that just last week a woman spent a night at City Light after giving birth at a local hospital. She was fleeing a violent home and had an airline ticket in hand to return to her family in another state. She just needed a safe place to spend the night. Summer is City Lights’ busiest season, Jones said. Longer days can mean more substance abuse, which can lead to more violence.
In some cases, the families of women with children are willing to take them in during the school year, but they’re not as keen to offer support when school is out. The shelter will never turn anyone away, Jones said. But that makes for a full house. Currently, 110 women and children are receiving emergency services from the Boise Rescue Mission. Most summer nights between five and 10 cots are set up as overflow accommodations in the City Light dining room.
In hosting the self-defense fundraiser, Ide wants to help give women tools to protect themselves while raising public awareness about City Light and the work it does.