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By Lisa Bolivar

PORT ST. LUCIE — Karissa DiMauro of Stuart may be only 13 years old, but don’t mess with her because she’s been taking classes in Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defense technique used by law enforcement officials against unruly suspects.

Karissa will be taking part in a special seminar sponsored by Krav Florida on Thursday at the Sochin Martial Arts facility in Port St. Lucie. The three-hour seminar is being taught by Krav Maga expert Eyal Yanilov of Israel.

Karissa has been taking Krav classes at the martial arts facility for about seven months along with her father, John, and sometimes her mom.

“My dad and mom thought it would be good for me to learn to defend myself, ” Karissa said.

Unlike other martial arts styles, Krav Maga does not require a person to be physically fit or of much size, said Krav Florida instructor and Port St. Lucie Police Officer Jimmy Olson.

“What I found is Krav Maga is extremely useful to the general public, so not only do we train police officers, but everybody needs to be able to defend themselves,” Olson said. “You can’t rely on the police to be everywhere when you need one.”

Thursday’s seminar will not teach students to master all the skills, but it will introduce them to the techniques and why learning them is a good idea.

“The neat thing about Krav Maga is it’s tailored to natural and intuitive response. Unlike traditional sorts of martial arts it doesn’t require years of training to become proficient in some of the techniques; we just need to get you thinking about self defense,” Olson said.

With only 30 seats open for the seminar, Olson is encouraging people to register early for the $70 event. Beginner classes start at about $55 a month and meet twice a week. Other more intensive classes also are available, Olson said.

The DiMauros say self-defense classes are worth the time, and they hope that their petite teen will be safer when she’s out on her own in the world in just a few years.

“I’m a former Marine, and things like that catch my eye,” said John DiMauro. “I have always respected the Israeli army, so to speak, and I thought it was something to do because it’s not martial arts, it’s self defense. I didn’t want to stick her into the same old karate class, I wanted her to experience something different.”

Karissa said it already is working for her.

“I feel safer,” she said. “Me and my friend walk to Publix a lot, but now when we are walking I feel a lot safer because if someone came up and tried to hurt us, I know how to react to it.”


Krav Florida is hosting a unique Krav Maga seminar taught by former Israeli Defense Force member and the world’s highest-rated Krav expert, Eyal Yanilov.

When: Thursday, Aug. 12

Time: 7 to 10 p.m.

Where: Sochin Martial Arts, 462 S.W. Port St. Lucie Blvd., Suite 101, Port St. Lucie

Cost: $70

Information: visit: http://www.kravflorida.com/. To reserve a seat call (772) 245-9039