by Stefka FanchiKrav Maga

Because my schedule isn’t crazy enough, and there just isn’t enough conflict in my life, three times per week I train in krav maga.

Krav maga is a mixed martial art developed for the Israeli armed forces that brings together multiple elements of a variety of martial art forms to create a very practical and, above all, effective self-defense method. I spend Monday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings punching, kicking, and defending chokes and other attacks, and then I come into work sporting the most beautiful bruises, split knuckles, and sore muscles. My co-workers wince, shake their heads, and often ask why I would do that to myself. The truthful answer is that it makes me feel like a badass.

One of the elements of krav maga that makes it stand apart from other martial arts is the emphasis on simultaneous combatives when defending an attack; in other words, at the same time you are staving off an attacker you are also launching an offense, repeatedly striking the attacker until he is no longer a threat (see, I told you I was a badass). This strategy greatly increases the effectiveness of the defense, knocking your attacker off balance both physically and psychologically, making it more likely that you will survive the attack. I was reminded of this today not at the gym but at work, while reviewing Habitat for Humanity of Colorado’s advocacy agenda and strategy for 2016.

Each year HFHC gathers input from affiliates and other partners in affordable housing, meets with state legislators to learn more about what might happen in the upcoming session, then puts together a policy agenda that outlines our objects and strategies for putting decent affordable shelter on the hearts and minds of decision makers at the Capitol.

Now, let me pause for a moment to emphasize that, in the Colorado circle of affordable housing leaders, we all know what we need in order to keep up with the growing housing crises: bold public policy resulting in a permanent, dedicated source of public funding to leverage private investment in the development and preservation of the entire spectrum of affordable housing. There is no dissent on this point, and it is the number one advocacy priority of every housing organization working at the capitol. We go into each legislative session with a fire in our bellies to make this happen.

Yet, as Habitat for Humanity of Colorado and our other partner agencies meet with legislators from both sides of the aisle, we inevitable hear a litany of reasons why this isn’t feasible. This is an election year, and candidates are either keeping their heads down in defense or looking to make a name for themselves with their respective base. Asking for an increase in spending – no matter how needed or how well-documented the return on investment – is political suicide. Instead of looking for the long term solution, we should take what we can get today…and we might not even get that, so let’s all rally to protect it.

And so that fire in our bellies begins to cool, and to feel a little bit more like an ulcer. Our strategy shifts from creating new solutions to defending the old ones that we know aren’t working anyway. We allow the shortsightedness of others to move our abundance thinking to scarcity thinking, and we wrap our arms around our food like a prisoner at mealtime. We are assaulted by reality, and all we can do is defend.

But what if we learned a lesson from krav maga, the best and most practical self-defense method available? What if, instead of choosing between offense and defense, we could do both simultaneously?

This year, instead of reverting to an exclusively defensive position – defending HOME and CDBG, maintaining state line items levels, extending the state low income tax credit – let’s simultaneously seek new and creative sources of funding. Let’s look beyond the problems of today to see where they will lead us tomorrow, and let’s make sure that we develop solutions today to prevent that march. Let us not allow the tyranny of political reality to quench the fire in our bellies, and instead find ways to fan the flames so that we can continue the fight and take it to the streets.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity’s 2016 Legislative agenda and priorities, click here.

Visit to learn more about krav maga.