The greater Spokane area is home to over 80 martial arts studios, yet there is only one official studio that teaches the self-defense system of Krav Maga.
Krav Maga Spokane (KMS) has held this pioneer title since it first opened its doors over 13 years ago. Located at 116 E. Augusta Ave., its mission revolves around teaching the skills of Krav Maga — an Israeli form of self-defense that is best known for being the martial art of the Israeli army.
According to Brayson Buckner, owner and lead instructor of KMS, Krav Maga is unique because of its interdisciplinary nature. Although it is a relatively new form of martial arts, it was designed to be easy to learn and straightforward while being extremely effective.
“Krav Maga is kind of considered one of the original mixed martial arts because the techniques actually come from different styles,” Buckner said. “And the premise behind [it] is to follow principles, not rituals.”
Buckner began practicing Krav Maga in 2007 and credits it with bringing him out of an extremely dark time in his life. The impact Krav Maga made inspired him to open his own studio just two years later.
“When I saw how [Krav Maga] helped me through the tragedy, I thought to myself, you know, what if I can save one kid from some of the tragedies that I saw?” Buckner said.
A main mission of KMS and its employees is to cater to the holistic health of its members. Buckner believes being in shape and training is a large part of Krav Maga, but it is also about maintaining mental health. The sport can act as an outlet to release stress, anger and anxiety.
It is for this reason that Buckner encourages young adults and college students who are dealing with excess stress to train in Krav Maga.
“I like to tell my students that when you get rid of the mental stress and you don’t mask it, you’ll do better at homework, have better relationships and won’t be as stressed,” Buckner said. “And so really, investing in this is investing in your education, along with your personal health and safety.”
KMS is dedicated to making the studio a safe space where all people feel welcome. To accomplish this, it holds all-female seminars so that their non-male members feel comfortable training in what is usually a male-dominated skill.
The studio also offers an array of classes to ensure that people of all skill levels can train. While their primary focus is honing Krav Maga skills, workout classes are also held. Everything from yoga to cardiovascular exercise are held in addition to Krav Maga classes.
Buckner finds that Spokane’s spike in violent crime has made it increasingly necessary for people to train in self-defense. He believes the more prominent this violence becomes, the more important it is for people to understand that they are in charge of their personal health and safety.
“I have said to members that in almost 13 years of being in business there’s [currently] probably a higher chance of you having to use the skills we teach you here than I’ve ever seen before,” Buckner said.
Mikaella Croskrey, a level one instructor at KMS and GU alum, became an instructor because she wants to help others — particularly young women — cultivate self-defense skills. 60% of KMS’s members identify as female and Croskrey’s goal is to teach these women how self-defense is not just a physical ability, but a mindset.
“Self-defense is understanding that you can do something to protect yourself and that you don’t have to be the victim,” Croskrey said. “The confidence and the mindset that you can take care of yourself is incredibly empowering.”
Croskrey’s favorite part of working at KMS is the environment that the studio fosters and being able to make an impact on different people. She believes that the training offered paired with the community allows for KMS to truly change people’s lives.
Similarly, Buckner says that the most rewarding aspect of running KMS is the relationships he has built and the feedback from members about how its training has helped them in life.
“We realize that we’re affecting [people] and it really just inspires us as instructors to just keep going, providing the quality training,” Buckner said. ,[And] be a great safe place for everybody.”
Krav Maga Spokane is open Monday through Saturday. For more information about the studio, visit its website at www.kravmagaspokane.com.
Amelia Troncone is a staff writer.