Croatian Heroes – Kristian Družeta

Kristian Družeta will tell you he is just a regular guy, born into special circumstances. Special circumstances, training and life experiences that have led to his present position: Director and Head Instructor of the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF), Croatia. We have got together to talk about self-defense, his book, and heroes.

Military Hero

The first things you notice about Kristian are his kind eyes and strong physical presence. Born in Croatia into a military family he had a typical military upbringing and discipline seems natural to him. Conscripted into the army as war broke out in ex-Yugoslavia, he went to war, continuing his military career afterward and did three tours in Afghanistan completing 23 years as a soldier.

That alone makes him a hero. But he didn’t stop there. He graduated from the Faculty of Kinesiology at Zagreb University and has numerous qualifications in close protection and security. With lifelong training in various martial arts including karate, Tae Kwon-Do. Bujinkan Tai Jutsu, he says, “None if these martial arts gave me what I needed. I was looking for something that could be used for self-defense and close-quarter combat. I found Krav Maga”

Krav Maga is an Israeli close combat and self-defense system originally developed for the Israeli Defense Force. It is known for its effectiveness and focus on real-world situations.

Hero of another kind

Kristian says “I have direct experience what violence is, I have suffered from violence and been violent. This is my life experience. Everything I have faced in life has directed me to the field of self-defense. I teach others how to protect their or others’ lives and, hopefully, how to make this world safer and live in non-violence.”

As a Krav Maga self-defense trainer he trains people how to defend themselves in case of attack and stresses that the training is both physical and mental for each phase: developing awareness of the surroundings, de-escalation tactics, efficiency if you have to engage, and taking responsibility for the aftermath.

The culmination of his experiences led to the publication of his book Bodyguard – Close Protection Operative. Intended as a handbook for close protection professionals, it will be translated into English soon. There is currently a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo for contributions to this project.

Everyday Hero

Kristian helping a woman trapped in an overturned car

Kristian is ready to put his skills into use to help others at any opportunity. He told me of the time he was the first on the scene of a car accident. Without hesitating he went to help a woman trapped in an overturned car. Trained in CPR and First aid he was able to get her out of the car, perform a primary check and stabilize her until the ambulance arrived.

“This is why I have signed up to the Heroes Nearby initiative. It’s an excellent tool to develop self-awareness, to be proactive and preventive in everyday life. The Heroes Nearby application can be used in many other situations when we need help or support from the community such as, while sailing or with car trouble. When I saw this project and application my first reaction was that we have found a solution for many challenges in real life where we can ask for help or where we can provide timely help to people who need it. There is a lot of good will behind this project.”

Personal Heroes

Kristian with his family

When I ask him who his personal heroes are, the answer is surprising. “My children!” he says without hesitation. “My personal heroes are my children. They have taught me so much more than I have taught them.”

He laughs when I ask him about his favorite superhero. It’s Spiderman. A regular guy, who had a strange encounter with a spider and then everything changed. Kristian Druzeta and Peter Parker – just two regular guys with extraordinary life circumstances that made them heroes.

By Merryn Wainwright


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