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Walking by an airy gym in DTLA the other day, we were intrigued by what looked like a class in ballroom dancing being taken by really angry couples. We inquired and were told this was Krav Maga, the Israeli army self-defense technique.

After a free beginner?s class at the new Krav Maga Unyted gym, we?re sold on the method?s benefits for civilians like ourselves. In Krav Maga (Hebrew for ?contact combat?), students warm up with air punches and kicks toward a mirror, then pair off for attack-and-defense role-play. To the electro-pop strains of Icona Pop, we swung heavy cushions at one another, threw hammer punches and even practiced neutralizing an assailant who put us in a headlock--while we had our eyes closed (a tip: slap their groin while pushing their head back).

Our more seasoned sparring partner said Krav Maga gives her daily confidence--plus, unlike so many weekend self-defense courses, ongoing sessions mean your skills continually improve. And at Krav Maga Unyted, where monthly memberships begin at $135 a month, they?ve got your back--the desk attendant takes your lunch order so it?s waiting for you at a nearby café to pick up post-workout.

Krav Maga Unyted, 334 S. Main St., #1106A; 213-223-6233 or

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