Krav Maga is a reality based self-defence system that was developed in Israel, originally for use in the military, and is now used by civilians for self-defence. Literally translated as ‘contact combat’ Krav Maga teaches practitioners all aspects of dealing with violent confrontations, from avoidance and de-escalation, to fighting when necessary and escaping the danger zone.
Krav Maga is extremely effective and also relatively easy to learn because the techniques are based upon the body’s own natural reactions. This means that what you learn in training is much more likely to be retained and activated under the stress of a real-life violent situation than something that is very complicated.
Krav Maga teaches practitioners many things including:
- How to defend against strikes and kicks
- How to escape from grabs and holds
- How to deal with threats from knives and guns
- How to defend against knife attacks
- How to deal with multiple attackers
- Fighting and defending on the ground
History of Krav Maga
The system was developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, a Hungarian born Jew, who grew up in Bratislava in Slovakia in the 1920s. A talented boxer, wrestler and gymnast, Imi, with the help of other young Jewish men, stood up against the anti-Semitic gangs that were causing havoc in much of Europe during the 1930s. It was during these confrontations that he first realized that boxing and wrestling weren’t sufficient to use in the street against real attacks, often involving weapons and multiple attackers, and so he began to develop what would later become Krav Maga.
With the outbreak of war, Imi eventually fled the Nazi occupation of Europe and headed for Palestine in 1940. Once he arrived there his fighting abilities were quickly recognised by Israel’s pre-state military organisations and he began training soldiers in his fledgling system.
For 20 years Imi served in the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) as Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga. After he retired from the military in 1964 he began teaching the system to civilians for self-defence purposes, first in Israel then, with the help of his top students, the rest of the world.
The Principles of Krav Maga
The basic principle of Krav Maga is to do as much damage to your attacker in the shortest possible time in order to escape and get to safety. This is done by using counter-attacks at the earliest opportunity to overwhelm the attacker making them either unwilling or unable to continue hurting you. You want to switch from defending to attacking as quickly as possible. Attacks are aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the body – meaning those that can’t be conditioned and will be effective on everyone regardless of size – for example the eyes, the groin, and the throat.
Krav Maga as a system contains both technical and tactical elements. The technical side deals with learning self-defence techniques to escape from specific situations, as well as more general fighting skills. The tactical side of Krav Maga involves things like situational awareness, avoiding and preventing danger, and scanning for further dangers after an attack is over. Combining these two elements makes Krav Maga a highly effective self defence system.