Elite Martial Arts
Elite Martial Arts is the only krav maga training centre certified by the Krav Maga Association of Canada in downtown Toronto. Located in the Wynn Fitness studio on the Esplanade, it's owned and operated by Dan Novak, a Peace Officer working in the corrections system. Novak has a Black Belt which he obtained training with Edward Wood of The Krav Maga Association of Canada, and he is a certified Advanced Level Krav Maga Instructor.
In case you're unfamiliar with it, Krav Maga is a self-defense system used by the Israeli army that, unlike many other Martial Arts or self-defense methods, is based on the fact that there are no rules in a real street fighting situation.
Novak is a really nice guy, which is good because the man is basically a lethal weapon. I wouldn't be surprised if he has to travel in the luggage compartment of planes when he flies. At just 5'6, 165 lbs, Novak has been taking martial arts for years in order to meet the physical demands of his line of work. When he discovered krav maga, he knew he had found his calling. His passion for both the system and for teaching it are evident.
Novak calls me to set up a training session and then follows it up with an email giving me some basics on what to expect and asking me about my experience with martial arts (almost none). When I show up midday on a Monday, he kindly pays for my parking when I realize I've forgotten my wallet at home and don't have even a penny on me. After this embarrassing faux pas, he generously presents me with a t-shirt and my own set of gloves, exuding unbridled enthusiasm to having the opportunity to introduce me to krav maga.
Kind, passionate and sincere he may be, but I would never want to mess with this man! Novak puts me through the type of training he general provides for his students during a 1 hour class. While you can definitely get a great workout from it, the focus of krav maga is definitely on self-defense. From just one session, I feel like I learned quite a lot in this regard, which is great since I'm a relatively small woman who should probably be concerned about such things. What makes Novak's approach so valuable, is he doesn't just teach you the moves, he explains how and why you would use them in real life situations.
Novak warned me at the beginning that he doesn't dumb anything down - his teaching approach and intensity is basically the same for everyone - and he really wasn't kidding. A 92-year old granny with osteoporosis should probably not train with him. Even some sturdier folks might be a bit intimidated by his style, and Novak himself concedes it may not be for everyone.
I suggest that no matter how tough or fit you think you are, you eat a few pieces of humble pie before you try this...and make sure you let Novak know if you have any injuries or physical limitations. Fortunately, he takes a very encouraging and personal approach to his teaching and makes you feel that no matter what your starting point, you too can learn to kick some ass.
Despite his intense passion for krav maga, Novak reassures me that he does not encourage his students to be fighters. In fact, he always advises them to avoid a physical altercation whenever possible. When it's unavoidable, however, the krav maga techniques teach you strategies for protecting yourself, and, if necessary, ahem, "subduing" your attacker, using whatever means that are required.
Elite Martial Arts currently offers evening and weekend classes and Novak welcomes anyone interested in trying it out for either fitness and/or self-defense reasons. Wynn Fitness members can get 6 months, unlimited classes for $90/month or 12 months, unlimited for $80/month. For the general public, rates start at $105/month for 6 months or $90/month for a year. If you are not currently a Wynn member but purchase a package with Elite Martial Arts, you are also eligible for a Wynn Fitness discount.
Photos by Jesse Milns