Martial art is an ‘inspiration’ says Midlands priest

Viesturs Vavere and Lance Manely at a Krav Maga session at Trinity School.
Viesturs Vavere and Lance Manely at a Krav Maga session at Trinity School.

Lessons in a self-defence practice developed for the Israeli military that combines techniques including boxing, Muay Thai, Judo, jiu-jitsu and wrestling are taking place in Leamington.

Krav Maga was developed from street-fighting skills by Slovakian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld, a boxer and wrestler, who wanted to defend Jews against fascist groups in Bratislava in the mid-to-late 1930s.

Since the 1940s, the practice has been used by the police and military and continues to be used by the Israeli Defence Forces.

Leamington writer Lance Manley recently tried out the practice at an evening session at Trinity School and spoke to Viesturs Vavere, a Latvian Lutheran priest who trains with Krav Maga Midlands.

The 55-year-old, who works in churches across the Midlands serving Latvian congregations, when asked by Lance why he took up Krav Maga, said: “We live in an increasingly dangerous world and there is a saying: ‘have another day by being safe today’.

“Also a Christian must be able to protect not only his family, but also other people who need help. Be ready for things that could happen.”

Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks. The philosophy taught to students of the practice includes simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers and aggression.

Stating that he now considers Krav Maga to be a major life inspiration to him, Viesturs said he did not think that taking up a self-defence sport was in conflict with his religious life.

He said: “First of all, a Christian is a warrior. A Christian must know how to fight and how to protect people. You don’t take what is written in the Bible literally.

“If you read very carefully the Old Testament, you can see all these prophets and also judges, like King David and also Samson, they were warriors. There is no contradiction.”

Krav Maga classes for adults are currently taking place at Trinity School in Guy’s Cliffe Avenue, Leamington, with beginners’ sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7pm to 8.30pm, ‘fighting fitness’ sessions on Tuesdays from 8.30pm to 9pm and ‘contact combat’ sessions on Thursday from 8.30pm to 9.30pm.

To find out more and to book an induction session, visit