The following is a no-holds-barred discussion of self-defense techniques.

Or, as Israeli Krav Maga instructor Don Melnick puts it, "Get over the 'ick' factor in eye-gouging."

"This is not fluff or a demonstration of skills," but a "real-world way to save your life," says Melnick, who has trained in Israel four times. "Krav Maga is not a strength-on-strength [approach], but techniques."

It's a cold afternoon in Cherry Hill, and 14 real estate agents from Camden and Burlington Counties are lined up in four rows facing Melnick, who begins "awareness training" - the No. 1 aspect of Krav Maga, which in Hebrew means contact combat.

Krav Maga is used by the Israeli Defense Forces as well as by police in many countries and by FBI agents.

It's a self-defense system that was developed by Imi Lichtenstein, who taught fellow Jewish residents of Bratislava, then in Czechoslovakia, to defend themselves against fascist toughs in the 1930s.

The real estate agents are here for Melnick's class because they recognize that the nature of their business often brings them into harm's way.

Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach agent Carol O'Connor, of Marlton, who has been studying Krav Maga with Melnick for seven years, thought local Realtors might benefit from a training demonstration.

Potential sources of danger to an agent, as outlined in a 2010 article in Realtor magazine, include entering vacant or foreclosed homes, meeting with clients for the first time, showing properties for the first time, open houses, "flashy" personal marketing, and transporting strangers in their cars.

"Real estate agents deal with a lot of people [they] don't know," Melnick tells the group, and "you need to be aware of the potential dangers."

How does one extricate oneself from a bad situation?

"The first is avoidance," Melnick says. In other words, when you see trouble coming, walk the other way.

"Then there is 'verbal de-escalation,' when you talk you way out of it," he says.

There is escape and evade - and then you "run away fast."

And then there is Krav Maga, in which "pure, instinctive, reactive self-defense can be used to get you out of the situation," Melnick says.

Instinctive and reactive self-defense "takes thinking out of the equation, because the more you think, the more the chance of getting punched in the face," he says.

"Krav Maga is easy to pick up," says Mimi Rowland, Melnick's assistant. "There are two different ways of driving your elbow into someone's face.

"In a knee strike," Rowland says, "you pivot on one foot, and bring the other knee into the lower part of the attacker's body, driving the knee forward, and putting the full power of your body into it."

If you are attacked, "use weapons of opportunity, anything at your disposal, including throwing change [from] your purse, spitting, or throwing a water bottle," Melnick adds.

Knowledge and use of Krav Maga should be combined with simple, common sense, he says.

"You need to be aware of and understand your surroundings at all times, and to protect your valuables.

"Be mindful that when you are talking into your cellphone, you tend to lose sight of what is around you, and that's when you are very vulnerable," Melnick tells the agents.

"Watch body language and for signals," he says. "Never let people behind you. And make sure that people know where you are at all times."

"Krav Maga is a chess game," he says. "You need to know the moves to outmaneuver your opponent."

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