Husband and wife team Chris and Amanda Hamm want to help you stay safe in your surroundings.

As owners of Texas Legacy Arts in Harker Heights, and with the assistance of trained staff members, they teach traditional taekwondo to children and adults. They also added Krav Maga to their class schedule — an intense form of mixed martial arts that Amanda said “includes adapted techniques from everything.”

“It teaches how to strike (an attacker) and where for the most effectiveness,” she said. “It also teaches a new mentality — how not to be scared and take control of a situation. Confidence is a big part of it.”

“(Krav Maga) trains the body to move before the mind thinks about it,” Chris said. “You train to be the attacker, not the victim. Just do it.”

Krav Maga is a fairly new form of martial arts training that dates back to the 1930s and 1940s. According to Wikipedia, “it is a self-defense system developed for the Israeli Defense Forces using a combination of aikido, judo, boxing, wrestling and street fighting. The practice was brought to the United States in the mid-1990s for civilian use, by men who had trained in the discipline in Israel.”

“Krav Maga is like a mix of martial arts or UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) without rules made for self-defense — it is made for combat,” Chris said. “It teaches self-defense and awareness to your surroundings at all times.”

He said awareness includes how you use a cellphone when you are out in public. “Cellphones are a distraction, whether it’s in your ear or in front of you,” he said. “If you are not aware of what is going on around you an attacker can approach you.”

Other common sense tactics include staying in a lit public area if you are out at night, staying away from buildings and large groups.

“Krav Maga is having awareness once an altercation starts,” he said. “Know who the ring leader is (if there is more than one person), and be aware if anyone has weapons. The immediate reaction, taking into consideration the element of surprise, is as soon as you get grabbed you attack. If there is a knife, how would you defend yourself against it?”

Chris said Krav Maga is taught by certified instructors and is a high intensity workout that not only burns more calories then traditional exercise, but also teaches how to be ready to defend yourself in the event of a personal attack.

“It has a lot of success with women,” he said. But it’s not for everyone, and he doesn’t recommend couples partnering up for this high-intensity sparring.

“This is a contact exercise and injuries can occur,” said Chris, who is a fourth-degree black belt in taekwondo.

You must be 18 or older to take the class; however, he said he would consider a 16-year-old with parental consent. For older folks who want to work out, he said people in their 40s and 50s must have a doctor’s release to practice this form of self-defense.

Kindred spirits

Chris and Amanda Hamm met nine years ago and married one year later. They have two children ages 7 and 2. Chris, a martial arts instructor, was working at a bookstore in the Killeen Mall when Amanda came and bought a book about medieval ethics and sagas — the last one that Chris had coveted. They saw each other again when Chris was invited to be a guest lecturer at her college and she was in the audience. He said he remembered her from the bookstore.

“I knew I was going to do something,” he said. He asked around about her and was given her email address.

After waiting a little while, he emailed her. When they finally met officially, he said they hit it off. “It was just chemistry,” he said.

They had a lot in common. They both enjoyed exercise and the both liked medieval fantasy and science fiction.

They evolved as a couple, both attending Central Texas College. Chris knew he wanted to do something that would share his passion for martial arts, so while still working at the book store and attending college, he opened his own martial arts school, teaching classes at the local community center.

When his class size grew, he asked Amanda to help with the business side of the school. “The financial part of the business — ordering uniforms, equipment,” he said.

By 2009 they had outgrown the space at the community center and decided it was time to expand. In 2010, they opened their first school in a 1,200-square-foot building.

They continued to grow and outgrew that building in 2011, when they moved to a location in downtown Killeen, where they taught for five years. In 2016, they opened a new school in a space with 6,500 square feet.

In addition to Krav Maga, the studio also offers adult martial arts, kids martial arts, birthday parties and summer camps.

“Taekwondo is a favorite, depending on what students are looking for,” said Amanda, a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, who teaches the art to children and adults.

“Taekwondo is more structured; it has a specific belt ranking system. Students can learn at each belt rank starting as young as 3 years old to adult. Krav Maga is more about ability, not ranking,” Chris added.

Catherine Hosman is editor of Tex Appeal Magazine. Contact her at editor@texappealmag.com or 54-501-7511.

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