Krav Maga is a reality-based self-defence and fighting 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.
Although it was originally an Israeli military system, thanks to its effectiveness and adaptability, it is now used all over the world, not only by militaries, but also law enforcement agencies, SWAT teams, special forces units, security forces, close protection personnel, and of course by civilians.
Krav Maga has become the ultimate self-defence system for civilian use and is suitable for men, women, kids, and teenagers alike.
History of Krav Maga
Krav Maga 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 in Israel for self-defence purposes.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Imi’s top students started to spread Krav Maga around the world, first in the USA, then Europe and the rest of the world. Today Krav Maga is used the world over and continues to grow in popularity.
Krav Maga – An Integrated System
Krav Maga is an integrated system of ‘Self-Defence’, ‘Combat and Fighting’, and ‘3rd Party Protection’. These are the 3 ‘pillars’ that make up the system, regardless of whether it’s used for military, law enforcement, or civilians.
This is effectively problem solving. Taking specific problems, and applying specific solutions, based on the human body’s natural responses, and depending on the mental state and physical position of the defender.
The goal in self-defence should be to try to avoid the danger entirely if possible. If it can’t be avoided then try to use de-escalation tactics to calm things down in order to prevent a physical confrontation. If that fails, and there is no other option, then using physical techniques to prevent yourself from being harmed is what you need to do, and here the goal is to do enough in order to make your escape and get yourself to safety.
In the ‘self-defence’ section of the system examples of the types of problems worked on are:
- Defending punches and kicks (from all angles and positions)
- Defending knife and stick attacks
- Dealing with threats from knives and firearms
- Preventing and releasing from all kinds of grabs and holds
- Defending against various attacks when on the ground
Combat & Fighting
The ‘combat and fighting’ section of Krav Maga teaches fighting skills and tactics to be able to overcome an aggressor and even how to deal with multiple attackers.
The goal in combat and fighting is to do maximum damage in minimum time, whilst sustaining as little damage yourself as possible.
Some examples of the things we train on are:
- The fundamentals of striking and kicking (including power generation)
- Feints and fakes in fighting
- Trapping of opponent’s hands
- Takedowns and throws
- Using common objects as weapons
- Using firearms as impact weapons
- Tactics for dealing with multiple attackers
- Ground fighting
3rd Party Protection
The ‘3rd party protection’ section of the system deals with defending and protecting another person from danger and getting them to safety.
The goal in third party protection is to protect the third party and get them to safety. This may sometimes contradict the goals of self-defence.
Examples of what we cover here are:
- Defending a 3rd party from all kinds of attacks, both un-armed and armed
- Protecting a 3rd party against threats with weapons
- Using pre-emptive measures and de-escalation tactics to avoid danger
- Training how to remove and evacuate a 3rd party from the danger zone
These 3 pillars of Krav Maga are integrated into training, and often overlap, however they are distinct in their own right and, as seen above there are some contradictions between them in terms of the goals, tactics, and the required mindset.
Training in all 3, understanding the different objectives, and the correct tactics to use is crucial in order to develop your overall understanding of the system, and ability to use Krav Maga in a variety of situations
Krav Maga Training
Krav Maga training can be divided into four lines, although in practice they often overlap. These four lines of training are:
Most training will cover more than one of these aspect at the same time, and it’s important to work on and develop all 4 equally to become a well-rounded practitioner and develop a full skillset.
This is focusing on the finer details of techniques, whether that’s fighting techniques (such as punches and kicks), self-defence techniques (like releasing from chokes), or 3rd party protection techniques, technical training programmes the movements into your muscle memory until they become automatic and you can do them correctly without thinking about it.
Tactics in Krav Maga largely refers to decision making. That can be the decision whether to use physical techniques to solve a problem, or to try to de-escalate to prevent it from happening in the first place. It can be the decision to use one technique rather than another, or knowing when to continue fighting, and when to disengage and make your escape. Making the correct decisions in the heat of the moment can be the difference between life and death in a survival situation, so this aspect of training is very important.
This is about making your body as capable as possible to do the things you need to do in Krav Maga. Becoming stronger, fitter, more flexible, more mobile, and developing good control over your body are all important things if you want to be good at Krav Maga.
Developing the mind is every bit as important as developing the body. In Krav Maga mental training consists of four aspects – combat mindset, focus and concentration, relaxation, and the diffusing of destructive emotions. Using various training methods, these four elements must be worked on to develop the mind to its maximum capability.
These four lines of Krav Maga training often overlap in practice, but they should be understood as separate aspects and trained on equally in order to develop fully as a Krav Maga practitioner.
As you can see, Krav Maga is a complete system that trains practitioners on all aspects of dealing with violence in order to develop the skills needed to defend yourself and others. It’s no wonder that it has become the most popular system of self-defence used the world over by so many people with so many different roles and objectives.