Don’t Be a Victim! A Free Defense Class for the Italian and Italian-American Communities

Comites-NY promoted a Krav Maga session to give the Italians living in the Tri-State the techniques to stay safe in the Big Apple

Self-defense classes won’t try to turn you into Bruce Lee or into a black belt. But, if a person attacked you on a dark street, would you know how to fend them off?

The Italian and the Italian-American communities of the Tristate learned some basic skills to help them do just that at the free self-defense class organized by the Comites Community Outreach Commission in collaboration with Civil Rights Commission.

“FEEL SAFE in the community, DON’T BE A VICTIM”, that was the purpose of the 60-minute session of Krav Maga, a martial art originally developed for the Israel Defense Forces. Hebrew for “contact combat,” the technique is derived from a combination of aikido, judo, karate, boxing, and wrestling. It is well known for its extreme efficiency in real-world situations. Teaching people simple moves to help them get away, Krav Maga (the correct pronunciation is by stressing the last vowel, ma-GA) requires no strength. In only one hour, the almost 50 attendees to the event learned how to react to a surprise attack such as a choke hold or a person grabbing your arm.

Mike Gizzo, a qualified Krav Maga instructor from the Krav Maga Institute in New York City, led participants through a round of scenarios they might run into on the streets, from being grabbed from behind, to being cornered with a knife. In the large theater of Our Lady of Pompeii Church, the church founded in 1892 to serve the Italian-American immigrants who settled in the Greenwich Village, the participants were paired with one another and took turns as the assailant or the defender.

Event attendees practicing Krav Maga self-defense techniques

As immigrants, the Italians who live abroad, women and LGBTQ+ can tend to be vulnerable populations that need self-defense, as the enthusiastic feedback showed us.

“The idea of creating a self-defense event came through my clinical experience as a therapist. Episodes of violence and discrimination are ubiquitous in the media. But these phenomena are not new. Clients—often immigrants, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women — experience and fear attacks. Often, as clinicians, we can only help one person at the time. But ComitesNY offers a slightly broader possibility of change. Community Outreach Committee found the perfect location and an amazing instructor. But still, Community Outreach Committee could not secure funding. Thankfully, the Civil Rights Committee came to the rescue with funding. Teamwork and funding are crucial for developing Progetto Benessere, that is, initiatives for people’s wellbeing” Leide Porcu, therapist and the President of Comites Community Outreach Commission, explained.

Two event attendees practicing a Krav Maga technique

Thanks to the support of Alessandro Crocco, President of Comites, Enrico Zanon, Treasurer, Dario Corradini, Secretary, and Francesca di Matteo, founder of StrategicA Communication, the event was possible thanks to the donation of Enchanting Engagements, the main sponsor of Comites Civil Rights Commission, led by the attorney Claudia Carbone.

“The Civil Rights Committee of Comites NY welcomed the idea of the Outreach Committee of Comites NY to organize a self-defense Krav Maga class and open it to our communities for free. As the President of the Civil Rights Committee, I believe that the Krav Maga event aligns with our #knowyourrights project and falls into the domestic violence awareness project that we have been working on since November, 2023.  Thanks to a donation of Enchanting Engagement, we are committed to share awareness on domestic violence among our communities, create a safe space and offer tools to not be a victim and get stronger together” Claudia Carbone remarked. “The Civil Rights Committee is happy to collaborate with other Committees of Comites of NY on events such as the free self-defense class, which was a great occasion to bring people together and offer basic tools in dangerous situation that, unfortunately, each of us could face every day at home and when we leave our houses.”

This free-of-charge class could be the first of a series. Stay tuned!

Krav Maga class promoted by Comites-NY

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