Ann Nyathira @PeopleDailyKe
He is soft-spoken and has a friendly demeanour, stands tall and composed. But do not be deceived and rattle him because Yuly Sensei Grosman will show you his other side: his expertise in self-defence.
He is an accomplished security consultant and an international Shadow Krav Maga instructor with a karate first Black Belt. He is also the owner and director of Sacura Martial Arts Academy, where he teaches self-defence classes. Yuly founded the school in Karen, Nairobi in 2015, intending to equip Kenyans with what he calls one of the best skills in manoeuvring dangerous situations without increasing violence.
“When I founded Sacura, I set out to transfer survival skills to my students. My goal is not to create a paranoid society, but rather, give solutions to real-life dangerous situations that make us feel out of control. The world has become a dangerous place,” says Yuly.
I find him overseeing a Shadow Krav Maga exam. In Hebrew, Krav Maga literally means contact combat. Krav Maga has a philosophy emphasising threat neutralisation, simultaneous defensive and offensive manoeuvres and aggression.
Learners are taught how to stop violence without using violence. Krav Maga encourages students to avoid confrontation.
If this is impossible or unsafe, it promotes finishing a fight as quickly as possible using reasonable force. Yuly emphasises self-control is paramount in any stressful and traumatising situation.
Where it started
But where did his journey in the world of martial arts start? Well, an only child, Yuly was born in Russia. However, life under communism was tough forcing his family to seek opportunities in Israel in 1990 when he was 12.
From the moment he arrived in Israel, he took on many miscellaneous jobs to make sure he could attend his local martial arts school, specialising in Karate, Krav Maga, and Aikido.
In 1996 he joined the Israel Army where he worked for six years before joining a security company until 2006.
Yuly first came to Kenya in 2006 while working for an Israeli company exporting flowers to Europe, US, and Russia. This job allowed him to visit Kenya every two to three months. That’s when he fell in love with the country and decided to permanently settle in Kenya in 2012.
Today, he is a household name. Discipline, patience and passion have kept him soldiering on in the security industry in Kenya, Israel and beyond.
He trains people from all walks of life including his nine-year-old twin daughters, Alisa and Victoria. Yuly is a staunch believer that violence does not discriminate.
“Over my career, I have trained thousands of individuals including, military personnel, police, security forces, night club bouncers, personal bodyguards, nurses, customer service professionals, and so many others,” he says with an air of authority.
Rodrigo Espinoza, a father of twin girls who are Yuly students sits on the floor of the training hall as he watches his daughters. The girls take on each other and the master of martial arts manoeuvres in an exam that will determine their graduation.
“The world we live in today is more dangerous than ever, especially for women and children and sometimes even men. That’s why I chose to enrol my girls for Krav Maga class,” explained Rodgrido who ensures his daughters strictly don’t miss a single class.
He adds, “Crime and violence are prevalent in our communities and no one wants to feel helpless no matter their gender or age. I believe this training will help my daughters be aware of their surroundings as they go about their life,” adds Rodrigo.
Yuly light-heartedly rolls his eyes when his students call him masters of cool moves, the modern-day Jet Lee. He narrates that Krav Maga is not about being the ‘cool’ one in the crowd.
“I have worked in dangerous situations, including during the Second Intifada (2000-2005) where I worked as the head of security for one of the most frequently attacked hospitals in Tel Aviv. Being cool is not a priority in life-threating situations,” he says.
Second Intifada, also is known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada, was a period of intensified Israeli–Palestinian violence, which Palestinians describe as an uprising against Israel.
Yuly believes that an attack can happen anywhere be it in a car, office, plane or nightclub. With skills, you would be more aware of your surroundings at all times and better be able to make split-second decisions that can save your life.