You may know Rachel Klingberg as the Lubin School of Business Webmaster. By day, she’s behind the screen taking care of all of your programming and coding needs. By night, she’s taking no prisoners.
It all started in 2003 when Klingberg found an article highlighting martial arts that were good for women. The rest is herstory.
Now, three times a week for the last seven years, Klingberg has been heading to Chelsea Studios, where she practices a Russian Martial Art, “Systema.” A military fighting art based on the training of the elite Russian Special Forces, Systema dates back to the 10th century.
“The style combines an individual’s strong spirit with extremely clever and versatile tactics, relying on fluidity and agility rather than brute strength,” says Klingberg. “For me, the self-defense aspect is really the best thing about it. I think every woman should have self-defense (training).”
Throughout her training Klingberg has been put into some pretty intimidating situations: sparring against men who are both bigger and stronger; knife disarms; blindfold training; and even two-on-one’s, all with no mats or protective gear to mimic real life. “They want everyone to get really tired before sparring, because the more tired you are the more relaxed you are,” said Klingberg, who adds that “they want you to experience having to defend yourself when you’re exhausted, because chances are you could be assaulted late at night when you’re tired.”
But don’t ask her about belts or trophies or tournaments. Systema is for self-defense and combat and is not a sport, so competition is discouraged. But that doesn’t mean Klingberg hasn’t walked away a winner—Klingberg says her confidence has gotten a major boost. “It’s good to be the most dangerous person in the room.”
Because of its non-lethal means of controlling unruly people, Systema was demonstrated at the United Nations as part of a nonviolent peacekeeping panel in 2007, which Klingberg attended and reported on. Systema will also be the featured fighting style of the upcoming Richard Gere thriller The Double, with fight scenes choreographed by Klingberg’s senior Systema instructor Martin Wheeler.
And while you may think you now know Klingberg’s hidden talents, think again: She’s got another up her hand-woven sleeve.
When she’s not busy putting her skills to the test at Pace and at Systema class, she’s creating historical costumes with an edge for her Steampunk group. A sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction, Steampunk offers a unique approach to technology: re-imagining modern capabilities with 19th century machines.
With an online community and Facebook page, Klingberg and other Victorian sci-fi aficionados organize events throughout the year where they meet up dressed in 19th century costumes, most of which they design and sew themselves. Check out the Steampunk blog and community here.
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