Meet the first Kashmiri instructor of Israeli combat method Krav Maga

As Kashmir’s first-ever certified Krav Maga Instructor, Ashfaq Wani is a ‘lone wolf’ when it comes to teaching the practical combat method of Israel.

In his domain, Ashfaq Wani has been active and subtle. With a “never say die” attitude, he has emerged as an adventurous athlete of the valley—often questioned for his resilience, but always lived by his sports belief.

The friction, rhythm and then the rigorous training saw bruises on his knuckles, fists, shins, foot, but he did not give up. Like a hawk, in between those gruelling hours in a single-room established academy in Varmul while sweating profusely, he stood tall with legs aching—to do a shadow practice apart from the traditional routine.

From the punching bags to the well-thought-out methods, self-defence has become a part of his life. His energy came from non-stop practice since he was quite young. His routine training has been running on an empty stomach—to ascend the stairs while carrying ankle weight. Pragmatically, he threw challenges to encourage himself on ground zero.

At 27, Wani has already scripted history by becoming J&K’s first-ever certified instructor of famous- Krav Maga, the practical combat method of Israel.

The passionate sportsperson was trained at one of the elite Krav Maga organisations – Krav Maga Training India (KMTI) in Hyderabad.

It’s affiliated with Krav Maga Training in Italy and serves as the member of Sami Combat System in Austria. Secondly, it is ratified by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI). KMTI eventually boasts of nursing the elite commandos of India.

Krav Maga Training is an integration of Israeli Krav Maga and Filipino Pekiti Tresia Kali which has been specially framed for Indian Special Forces. It was introduced in 1948 — the year when Israel was born.

“I take great pleasure in it, and it is a proud moment for me to become the first from J&K to get certified by Special Forces instructors and to become a certified Krav Maga instructor,” says Ashfaq, who’s also trained in Jeet Kune Do, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Judo, Sanshou and MMA.

Apart from serving as a combat instructor in Kashmir, he is also a black belt in Kung Fu, Taekwondo and Jeet Kune Do.

In Kashmir, youth are often being trained to bag medals owing to the sports-oriented martial arts, but Ashfaq has dared to tread an unconventional path. To atop it, he has been imparting self-protection training to the youth including girls in the valley.

As contact-combat instructor, Ashfaq is doing a very tiring and exhausting job. But the instructor is quite assertive about cherishing the gruelling training.

“The beautiful part of training was to live and experience military code of conduct and to train like commandos,” Ashfaq says. “Such training offers so many life lessons and ethos that you can carry throughout your life. They transform you into a ‘fighting gentleman’.”

As the blend of reality-based techniques before settling to adapt it, Krav Maga aims at transforming people into human fighting machines to counter urban violence. “Indeed, it’s a massive achievement to get trained in the military combat system,” Ashfaq says.

Following his indefatigable efforts, the impressive debut in Krav Maga has become a timely addition in Ashfaq’s training repertoire.

However, he is vocal about the self-defence rather than opting for filling his cabinet with medals.

A representation of Krav Maga.

“We used to get up at 6:00 am in the morning and training would continue and stretch out for around 10 to 12 hours each day. It included endurance training, hand-to-hand combat, armed, unarmed combat and self-defence under real-life scenarios, followed by first aid treatment, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and nutrition to name a few,” Ashfaq details his practice.

Across the globe, more and more youth are practising Krav Maga that teaches empowerment and to fight back with resilience.

“Training has been brutal and ruthless, and at a very same time, it has been scientific and efficient for countering day to day violence,” Ashfaq continues.

Now, as Krav Maga is on a roll, it would be interesting to see how people will hold perceptions regarding the premiere commando skills in the conflict-torn region.

“Krav Maga can be instrumental in Kashmir scenario,” Ashfaq reckons. “I believe Kashmiri martial artists alongside with medals need a reality-based combat skill set to protect their life, honour and loved ones in the conflict zone of Kashmir.”


Tahir Ibn Manzoor is a New Delhi-based sports journalist, working with Sportzwiki. His work has featured in ESPNcricinfo, ESPN India, Wisden India, Femina India, Dawn, Sport 360, Times of India. He tweets @TahirIbnManzoor.


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