Krav Maga Self Defense seminar for teens, by teens on Sept. 16

Torrey Pines High School senior Sanil Gandhi is leading a Krav Maga Teen Self Defense Seminar on Saturday, Sept. 16 at MMA Academy in Sorrento Valley. The seminar, with members of the Torrey Pines Krav Klub, is $10 and all proceeds will be donated to Pissed Off Chicks, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting assault victims founded by Anne Marie Mihalkanin and Michael Mihalkanin, lead instructor at MMA Academy.

Sanil, a longtime MMA Academy student, was moved into action after volunteering at one of Pissed Off Chicks’ self defense seminars for victims of assault.

“It was very emotional and that’s when I realized how traumatic it was to be assaulted. Growing up in Carmel Valley, I never realized what other people were going through. It was really eye-opening for me,” said Sanil. “It struck me that maybe I could do something in my own community to make a difference.”

Sanil said self defense is an important tool for teenagers to learn as statistics show that 14- to 25-year-olds are at the highest risk for sexual assault. One in three females will be sexually assaulted at some point in their life and one in eight males will be sexually assaulted at some point in their life. More than 27 percent of female college seniors reported having experienced some form of unwanted of sexual contact since entering college.

“The whole purpose of the seminar is to spread awareness about self-defense and boost the confidence of teenagers so that they feel like they can protect themselves,” said Sanil.

Sanil has taken Taekwondo for 11 years and is a first degree black belt. After earning his black belt, he switched to Krav Maga training, where he is currently in level 3. Krav Maga is the official defensive tactics system of the Israeli Defense Forces and is considered to be one of the most practical systems of self defense in the world, emphasizing defensives against real attacks. In his training, Sanil has learned how to take on threats of choking, knife and gun attacks or multiple attackers at the same time.

At MMA Academy, Sanil is also a teacher himself — he is a Taekwondo instructor for the junior black belt classes and is training to be a Krav Maga level 1 instructor.

Sanil started the Krav Klub at Torrey Pines last year and they meet every other week. Sanil led the club through basic combative punches and kicks and incorporated different self defense techniques as the year progressed.

“Seeing the club members improve inspired me to plan the seminar because I felt like even if only a few people show up, it can expose them to self defense and it could really be helpful,” Sanil said.

In addition to starting the club at Torrey Pines, he also would like to start his own YouTube channel with instructional self defense videos to help reach even more people.

“It’s good to have the self esteem to know that you can protect yourself if it ever came to that,” Sanil said.

MMA Academy is located at 3962 Sorrento Valley Boulevard, suite 900, San Diego, 92121. To sign up, contact Sanil at