A Primer on Krav Maga: The Combative System of the Israeli Defense Forces

by Brett on July 10, 2013 · 79 comments

in Manly Skills, Tactical Skills

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I can’t remember how I first heard about Krav Maga, but I do remember being immediately intrigued. All martial arts have an appeal to most men and their fighting spirit, but Krav Maga’s draw owes less to the mystique of many of the traditional disciplines and more to a distinct aura of bad-assitude. It’s a simple and effective “street fighting” self-defense system that’s more martial than art. A well-trained practitioner of Krav Maga is basically a walking human weapon.

Wanting to learn more about Krav Maga, I first looked for a reputable gym that taught the system in my area, but I unfortunately came up short. So I got a set of Mastering Krav Maga DVDs for Christmas last year to familiarize myself with some of its basic principles. Wanting to know still more, I then called up David Kahn, the badass dude who made the videos and the Chief Instructor of the U.S. Israeli Krav Maga Association, to get his insights firsthand.

What I discovered is that Krav Maga is a brutally effective tactical mixed martial art/combative and self-defense system that lives up to its reputation. If you too have ever wondered what Krav Maga is all about, here’s your primer.

The History of Krav Maga

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Imi Lichtenfeld, founder of Krav Maga.

To fully appreciate Krav Maga, David says, you need to know its history.

The origins of Krav Maga can be traced to pre-World War II Czechoslovakia (present-day Slovakia) and a young Jewish athlete named Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was a nationally and internationally renowned boxer, wrestler, and gymnast. Beginning in the mid-1930s, fascist and anti-Semitic groups rose to power in Czechoslovakia and began inflicting violence on Jewish communities. Feeling duty-bound to protect his neighbors, Lichtenfeld organized a group of young men to patrol his community and defend against would-be attackers. He quickly learned, however, that his training in sport martial arts was no match for the anti-Semitic thugs he encountered. Fighting for points in a match and fighting for your life in a street fight require a different mindset and different techniques. To effectively defend himself and his community, Imi began synthesizing his martial art knowledge and started placing an emphasis on attacks that quickly disabled and neutralized a threat.
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By 1940, Imi found himself living under a Nazi-allied puppet regime and decided to head for Palestine to join the Zionist Movement and fight for a Jewish state of Israel. When he moved to Palestine in 1942, he joined the Haganah, a pre-Israel Jewish paramilitary organization with a mission to protect Jewish settlers from locals who did not welcome the new arrivals. Israeli military leaders quickly noticed Imi’s fighting skills and his ability to teach those skills to others. They put him in charge of training the military’s elite fighting forces, including the Palmach (elite strike force), the Palyam (marine commandos), and the Haganah.

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After Israel gained statehood in 1948, these separate fighting forces were merged into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and Lichtenfeld was named the Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness at the IDF School of Combat Fitness. It was in this role that he developed what today is known as Krav Maga. Lichtenfeld needed a combative system he could teach new military recruits in just three weeks — one that was simple, efficient, and effective, and could be applied in a number of lethal situations. To create such a system, Lichtenfeld combined the most effective techniques of boxing, aikido, judo, wrestling, and jujitsu into a single, fluid, fighting military discipline that emphasized continuous motion, simultaneous defense and attack, and attacks to an assailant’s soft tissue and pressure points. He called his self-defense system “Krav Maga,” meaning “contact combat” in Hebrew. It quickly became the official combative of the IDF and continues to be today.

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After retiring from the IDF, Lichtenfeld began teaching Krav Maga to Israeli citizens.

Imi taught Krav Maga for nearly 20 years in the IDF. After retiring from military service in 1964, he began devoting his time and energy to modifying and teaching the self-defense system to civilians. Imi opened two Krav Maga studios in Israel where he taught thousands of students and instructors, all while continuing to add and improve upon the fighting discipline he had developed in the military. In 1974, Imi founded the Krav Maga Association, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and teaching Krav Maga in Israel and throughout the world.

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Krav Maga is still the official combative system of the Israeli Defense Forces.

A few of Imi’s early disciples brought Krav Maga to the United States, and it quickly became a preferred close-combat system in many U.S. military and police forces. Several commercial Krav Maga organizations have formed over the years to teach and promote Krav Maga in the U.S., each with a counterpart in Israel. Each of these organizations claim to be the “true” heir and guardian of Imi Lichtenfeld’s original Israeli Krav Maga, and go out of their way to show their connection to Krav’s founder.

The Principles of Krav Maga

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As mentioned above, Krav Maga is a tactical mixed-martial art/combative and self-defense system that combines boxing, judo, jujitsu, and aikido. In recent years, other martial arts have been incorporated into Krav Maga such as muay Thai and Wing Chun.

Neutralize the threat. The primary goal in Krav Maga is to neutralize your threat as quickly as possible. This overarching goal governs all the other principles of Krav Maga. Because your aim is to dominate and incapacitate your attacker as soon as possible, pretty much anything goes in Krav Maga. You can’t worry about fighting etiquette when your life is on the line. You do whatever you have to do to preserve your life.

Keep it simple. There aren’t katas or patterns in Krav Maga. Just strikes, holds, and blocks. Krav Maga was designed so that it could be put to use as soon as possible.

Simultaneous defense and attack. Many martial arts treat defensive and offensive moves as separate and discrete actions, e.g., first you block (defensive), then you kick when you find an opening (offensive). The downside of this approach is that it’s reactive and you typically just end up in a cycle of never-ending defensive movements. In Krav Maga, the fighter looks to combine an offensive movement with every defensive movement — he wants to disrupt the attack and simultaneously counterattack. For example, if an attacker goes for your throat, you’d not only try to deflect his attack, but also simultaneously counterattack by going for his eyes, groin, or throat. The goal is to neutralize your threat as quickly as possible. (Sidenote: Wing Chun also has a similar simultaneous defensive/offensive principle.)

Retzev, or continuous motion. Related to the principles of simultaneous defense and attack is retzev, a Hebrew word for “continuous motion.” David Kahn describes retzev as a “seamless explosion of violence,” in which the goal is to neutralize your attacker with a continuous series of aggressive defensive and offensive movements. As your attacker reacts to your counterattacks, you’ll respond with more punches, kicks, and headbutts until the attacker is no longer a threat. Retzev requires a fighter to work from instinct and not rely on a pre-set routine. A well-trained practitioner of Krav Maga will know how to react to any type of threat without hesitation.

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Use of weapons of opportunity. You can easily incorporate firearms and knives into Krav Maga. Besides these traditional weapons, Krav Maga also teaches practitioners to improvise and use any object at their disposal as a weapon. Keys, pens, belts, and chairs can all be incorporated into Krav Maga techniques in order to neutralize your opponent as quickly as possible.

Weapon defense. Besides teaching students how to use weapons, Krav Maga also shows how to defend yourself from an armed attack.

Focus on vulnerable soft tissue and pressure points. A well-known principle of Krav Maga is its emphasis on attacking vulnerable soft tissue and pressure points. Many counterattacks involve eye gouging, groin attacks, and strikes to the throat. Some criticize Krav Maga for this, arguing that “it’s not manly to punch a guy in the nuts.” I brought this criticism up with David during our conversation and this was his response: “Krav Maga’s goal is to neutralize a dangerous attacker as quickly as possible. Plain and simple. Sometimes a strike to the groin is the best option to neutralize an attack. When you’re violently attacked in the street, the person attacking you isn’t following some sportsman’s code of chivalry — he wants to hurt, maim, or possibly kill you — so why should you give him the courtesy of not punching below the belt? You can’t worry about fighting etiquette or what’s ‘manly’ when your life is at stake.”

Subduing techniques. In addition to striking attacks, Krav Maga also utilizes subduing techniques in order to de-escalate a violent confrontation. Joint locks and various grabs are used to exert control over your attacker and put you in a position to end the threat.

Krav Maga in Action

How to Get Started in Krav Maga

Join a Krav Maga gym. The best way to get started with Krav Maga is to join a Krav Maga gym. “Krav Maga, like any martial art, is best learned in a group and under the guidance of a well-trained instructor,” says David. Because Krav Maga is designed to prepare you for real-life attacks, you need to have people who can help simulate those situations for you in a gym. It’s hard to practice how to defend and counterattack a headlock if no one is there to put you in a headlock.

David did have one caveat about joining a Krav Maga gym. Because of Krav’s growing popularity in the United States, there are a lot martial arts studios saying they teach Krav Maga in order to get new students, even though the instructors sometimes have little or no formal training in the system. “Do your research and make sure the instructors are legit,” David says. If the instructor has trained in Israel, that’s a good sign.

As mentioned above, there are several competing Krav Maga organizations that claim to be teaching the “true” Krav Maga of Imi Lichtenfeld. It’s a touchy subject among Krav Maga followers and there have been lawsuits between the groups. David is the Chief Instructor of the U.S. Israeli Krav Maga Association (IKMA), a non-profit formed in 1978 by Imi Lichtenfeld to govern and promote the teaching of Krav Maga. There are gyms across the country that associate with U.S. IKMA. David teaches at the gym in New Jersey. If you’re in the area, stop by and check it out. David is a super nice guy and you’ll learn a lot.

Buy videos and books. If you can’t find a reputable Krav Maga gym in your area, there are plenty of instructional books and DVDs on the subject. Watching a DVD is definitely no substitute for actually training in a gym, and you shouldn’t try out moves you’ve learned solely by video in a street fight, but the DVDs will give a basic overview of Krav Maga and its techniques. I highly recommend David’s set of DVDs, Mastering Krav Maga. They’re very well-done and David does a great job explaining and demonstrating the methods and movements.

 

{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michael July 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I took classes in Krav Maga for about two years and i loved every minute of it. If you are looking for a Krav class make sure that you check out the head instructor first. The guy who taught my class was a firearms instructor for the LAPD and was a marine who served in desert storm.

One of the main things you will learn is common sense. People would ask me how i would fight off four thugs robing me at an ATM at 3AM in the baddest part of town. My answer was always that i would not be at an ATM at 3AM in the baddest part of town.

2 J. Delancy July 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Thanks, Brett. I’ve been thinking about joining a Krav Maga class for some time now and this post is the just the motivation I needed. I previously studied jujitsu and can recognize some of the techniques in the videos you added.

3 Rafy July 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Proud practicioner of Krav Maga here. No nonsense, no BS, just common sense techniques to come out alive from tough situations in real life. Every man who wants to be able to protect himself and his family should learn it.

4 lani July 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the way to got – with some Muay Thai ;)

5 bRobert July 10, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Aren’t you in the Tulsa area? It’s not Krav Maga, but Dan Inosanto’s system of martial arts are so similar I can’t tell the difference. Essentially it’s JKD, Kali, Silat, and Muay Thai.

In Tulsa, there is Relentless Martial Arts, which you are able to walk in and visit at any time.

http://www.relentlessmartialarts.com/

6 Leo July 10, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Looking forwards to starting at a Krav Maga gym!

7 Licinio July 10, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I’m taking Krav Maga classes now and they’re just perfect, a lot of wisdom and utility for the real life situations. No fancy moves, no too much thinking, just instinctive and easy biomechanic moves to end the dangerous situations as quickly as possible and get you home alive and safe.

8 Ben July 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Thanks for sharing Brett!

9 Chris July 10, 2013 at 10:17 pm

This idea that somehow “sport” martial arts are not effective in the “street” needs to stop. That video looks an awful lot like sport martial arts. The only difference is groin strikes and eye gouges, and those are not things that really need to be taught.

I see nothing wrong with Krav Maga per se, but there seems to be some weird fixation with martial arts used by various armies. My understanding based on some personal experience and friends in the military is that you don’t get very specific, one on one training in the military like you do at an MMA gym. For this I think “sport” styles are superior.

10 Nikolai July 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Krav Maga is a fantastic martial art — but it should definitely paired up with learning another art (such as Muay Thai, Jui Jitsu, etc). While it is fantastic, it indeed has it’s flaws — especially when it comes to on-the-ground combat or taking on groups. However, it’s fantastic for 1 vs 1 defense or disarming someone.

Be sure to pick up something like Muay or Jui Jitsu if you’re going to learn this! I speak from experience and it’s really served me well. I’ve won a 12 card tournament knowing Krav & Muay Thai alone.

11 Chris July 11, 2013 at 1:43 am

From time to time I’ve had some thoughts about learning Krav Maga, as it seems effective and does not involve any philosophy to go along, like Oriental martial arts, which is a good thing. The only thing I’m worried is that having power of hurting people (especially in a way that Krav Maga allows) may change people. I talked with my cousing who knows Krav Maga and he said that now he cannot stop perceiving people as a threat. He said that talking to me, he found four ways to subdue me. I don’t know If i want to be a killing machine 24/7.

What is more, in our current situation you most often do not fight for your life, I doubt street thugs and muggers would really want to kill me.I suspect that in most cases they would prefer the contents of my wallet and to humiliate me to raise their self-esteem. On the other hand, if I kicked one of their triends in the groin before being subdued by their sheer numbers, they just might want to do the same to me. But multiple times.

12 Adam July 11, 2013 at 1:44 am

After many years practicing martial arts (Judo, BJJ and some military combatives) I’ve come to understand that one needs to become a fighter athlete and an all-around guy. The style matters, but no one style is complete.

eg. BJJ and MT is great for MMA, but it doesn’t teach situational self-defence and necesary brutality, but it prepares You for fighting through hours of “as real as one can go without serious injury” against a training partner who really wants to win (choke You, beat You up). That’s the strenght of modern fighting styles based around MMA and BJJ.

Krav Maga and military combatives on the other hand focuses on common sense risk avoidance and situational self defence, weapon usage and empty handed defences, but (with some instructors) it lacks physical athletic preparation and real sparring (come on, You can’t practice groin kicking and eye-gouging for real and walk away from training 3 times a week). People don’t like to get tired or training strenght and endurance needed to become a fighter athlete and think that Krav Maga will teach them some “miltary brutal war proven techniques” to take the opponent out in a few seconds (what if the fight goes beyond those few initial seconds You thought it would last?).

My advice (if You are looking for self-defence) is to look for an instructor that teaches the basics – footwork, strikes, grappling, throws, ground techniques and then adds situational defences and “dirty tricks”. And don’t forget athletic preparation and SPARRING! You have to fight to learn to fight.

You want to have Your balance and orientation, strenght and endurance in a fight, so You can manouver Your opponent to a place where You can apply Your finishing technique.

Look for an all around gym (or two) and in due time You’ll forge Your own style that suits You best and will prepare You in the best manner possible.

13 csaba July 11, 2013 at 4:10 am

Great article. I’ve been thinking about joining some kind of martial arts, but I haven’t had the time yet (although I go to gym 3 times a week). I coudn’t decided between Krav Maga and Muay Thai. I had a serious knee injury two years ago while playing football, so maybe Muay Thai (where your work a lot with your legs) wouldn’t be the best for me.

14 Robert Roy July 11, 2013 at 5:56 am

I did Krav Maga but due to relocation I had to leave the gym.

What the article don’t covers: Krav Maga at gyms teaches you also about avoiding a conflict. There a simple things which makes you an analyst on the street. You instinctively know the weak spots of a person coming up on you (clothes, piercings etc.), the threats (glass bottle – drinking alcohol in public is allowed in my country) and possible escape routes.

But keep in my mind: You have to do all those techniques instinctively! Just because you watch tons of movies doesn’t mean you can apply that in a real life situation. You have to train over and over gain. It’s best with a good friend of yours. Keep practicing your movements so you could do them in an instant right atfer you got rudely awakened in the middle of the night.

One last hint: Keep it as simple as possible! Everything’s allowed, no compromise. The aggressor steped over a line by attacking and threatens your life (yes, nowadays every attack against you and your loved ones can be considered as an attempted homicide) so there is no further line. Act like that.

15 B July 11, 2013 at 7:26 am

If you join the Israeli army, you get two weeks of combatives training. Your average Israeli soldier has no idea that the program their army uses is marketed worldwide as a self-defense system.

Martial arts aren’t really important in a modern army – they’re only there for exercise, stress relief, and competition between soldiers. It’s definitely a strange marketing pitch, that a minor combatives course is somehow superior to years of training a competitive art. The martial arts are different things to different people, but if your interest is in learning to fight it’s a safer bet to choose something that’s been proven in the cage. Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing Savate, San Shou, and Kyokushin Karate are all pretty reliable striking styles. Judo, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Sambo, or Olympic/Catch/Shoot wrestling are all pretty reliable grappling styles.

16 Taz July 11, 2013 at 8:11 am

I think the coolest thing about Krav Maga is the short training time span needed to become (at least somewhat) effective.
Three weeks! That’s amazing.

17 Simone July 11, 2013 at 8:27 am

Krav is fantastic for women, too! Although I had a martial arts background before recently beginning krav maga classes, I’m amazed at what I have experienced in only a few weeks. There is no one “perfect” system as other commenters have noticed, but in my opinion, krav is a great place to start for practical self defense and combat techniques.

Chris notes that groin strikes and eye gouges “do not need to be taught,” but I disagree. Maybe for some people they are instinctive, but as someone who is typically less aggressive — or for anyone who is less experienced with combat — it is hard to know how you would react when threatened. You also rely on muscle memory when adrenaline floods through you, sometimes to your detriment (take the police officers who would pause in a firefight to collect their shells when reloading their revolvers, because that’s what they always did at the firing range).

Anyway, in my experience thus far, krav has come across as very functional and straightforward. It gets your adrenaline going, teaches you realistic and useful moves, and emphasizes common sense (like Michael notes above). I definitely recommend trying it out, for both men and women!

18 peter July 11, 2013 at 8:35 am

As this style teaches, I would not focus on teaching or learning a single style, I have found kick-boxing combined with maui thai and deep ju jitsu knowledge will let you win any fight.

Also the purpose is not always killing or harming an opponent, so knowing how to submit or subdue people without injury is a necessary skill.

19 John July 11, 2013 at 8:47 am

There is no superior Martial Art only Superior Martial Artist.

20 Jon July 11, 2013 at 9:11 am

I live in Colorado Springs. If you are local check out Doug Erickson at Peak Krav Maga. He is a local Deputy sheriff. For Denver Check out Colorado Krav Maga. No BS and cheating is actively encouraged.

21 David Webb July 11, 2013 at 9:14 am

Krav (especially here in the states) is like most any other martial art in the respect that your experience is really going to come down to the quality of your school/teacher.

I am fortunate that the head of my school knows his stuff, has trained in other disciplines, & so have all of the instructors. We have instructors who are originally Muay Thai guys, BJJ, etc.

The school I attend has even hired a BJJ guy for grappling specific classes. Seeing as how you constantly read on the internet about Krav lacking a ground game (which is, overall, pretty accurate), it gives me confidence that the head of the school I attend pays attention to the criticisms and has moved to shore up that weak spot.

Also, all the instructors I have spoken with are pretty adamant that we get any and all training we can. They encourage us to take BJJ, Muay Thai, Aikido, etc.

Unfortunately there are a lot of McDojo places around the States, with more & more popping up every day.

I think a good Krav school is great for someone with absolutely no experience who wants to quickly learn the 20% that will make them better than 80% of the American public. Stick with it and you’ll get even better. Even better than that, stick with it AND branch out. I love Krav, but I am attending my first BJJ class tonight.

Just because we train one style doesn’t mean they others suck or that we have to hate them. Just because someone rides a Harley doesn’t meant they have to hate Triumph or Honda. They’re not the enemy. They’re just different. They’re all good at things the others aren’t.

But yes, Krav is good but be sure to branch out and experience what other systems have to offer.

22 Aidan July 11, 2013 at 9:22 am

Been practicing Krav for over three years now, and I can say without a doubt that it’s an incredible system that will get you on the right track. It’s simple, and that’s why it works so well.

23 tim_lebsack July 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

Years ago, when I worked for a book retailer, a customer complained that the Aikido books were shelved in the sports section.
“Where should they be shelved?”
“Maybe… Philosophy??. Anyway, Aikido is not a sport.”

I suppose that’s the difference between Krav Maga and Sport MMA. The goal in Sport MMA is to gain points – the goal in Krav Maga is to stay alive.

24 Rick July 11, 2013 at 9:38 am

Krav Maga is very similar to the Israeli theory of war. Get the job done as quickly as possible, attack fast and hard. I’m currently taking a Okinawan Karate class and one of the things constantly being said is that you don’t want to spend a lot of time dancing around and you use whatever works. Kicks or punches to the throat or groin, eye gouges, and soft tissue strikes. We also perform Katas to familiarize ourselves with using multiple defense/offense techniques at once and we are constantly practicing multiple defense-offense techniques starting simple and working to complex.

25 Tony July 11, 2013 at 10:00 am

I have taken kick boxing and BJJ and liked what they had to offer but neither held my attention for very long, while getting my chl I was visiting with my instructor , he mentioned Krav Maga which I had never heard of, so a fried and I did some research and found a local place and started taking classes and I cant wait to go every time there is a class, I love the hands on application and that every class isn’t the same , go find a local spot and give it a try most offer a free class or two for you to see what its about.

26 Chase July 11, 2013 at 10:18 am

@Chris: I have taken Krav for several months now and I disagree. I have also taken Taekwondo and Judo in the past (albeit at a younger age and at places more McDojo than my Krav school).

I would say that most people I’ve ever known that have taken “sport” martial arts eventually figure out that they are not effective self defense systems unless they have many years of very dedicated practice “under their belts”. You occasionally hear about some black belt beating the crap out of someone but unless it is something basic and straightforward like Boxing or Wrestling chances are your Taekwondo and Judo go right out the window as soon as someone takes aggression on you.

By contrast, I was learning about throat, eye and groin strikes on the very first day of Krav, precisely because they are against the rules in other “sports”, precisely because they are so effective. Yeah, in order for your Krav not to just go out the window in a fight, you also need some experience and dedicated practice in it, but the difference is that Krav moves aren’t designed to get someone into a hold or score points in a ring, it’s designed to end the fight as fast as humanly possible, using anything you have at your disposal, cheating and being as “dirty” as you can.

That’s precisely what makes it more effective than a “sport” martial art. If someone is only going to take 6 months or a few years of a martial art, Krav will serve them way better than just about any other fighting system.

And for the record, the kind of instruction you receive depends on the school you attend a lot more than the system you’re taking. There are usually at least 2-3 instructors for a class size of 14-18 when I attend, and I have always felt like I get plenty of one on one instruction. Every single move we do is practiced with a partner and the instructors are constantly going around the room, evaluating everyone’s technique, offering feedback for positive improvement.

27 Avi Goldman July 11, 2013 at 11:10 am

The best is still Filipino Martial Arts, but since the best systems aren’t commercialized it’s a hit and miss finding a good teacher. Usually still taught in backyards, word of mouth, a friend of a friend gets you in type a deal. But many eskrima/arnis teachers are getting to Israel.

Bruce Lee’s JKD was good in the 70s, but (at least in LA) has been yuppized and feels too much like a business and all yuppy bs that comes with it.

Krav Maga is the best of both worlds, IMHO consistency in instructors and quality in venues.

This is where I train mainly, but I still go out of my way to seek other arts–it’s kinda like rock hounding, once in a blue moon you find real gems. Simi Valley Krav Maga, great staff, great KM!!!

28 Mario July 11, 2013 at 11:22 am

Would you recommend this for kids? I have two boys ages 8 and 5. they both do tae-kwon-do and are both red belts. we have been hearing about this for a while and watching the videos is making me think.

29 JTR July 11, 2013 at 11:31 am

As a Krav Maga Force H2H instructor, I was hoping a Krav article would find itself here. Part of being a man is the ability to protect those who can’t protect themselves (including those who depend on you). Krav Maga will give you the tools you need!

30 Fox July 11, 2013 at 11:33 am

Very timely, I’ve got a gift membership to the local Krav Maga gym and have just been postponing my start date. After getting today’s post in my inbox I signed up to start tonight. This is why I love AOM, thanks for the awesome overview and the motivation to finally get started.

31 Nathan July 11, 2013 at 11:38 am

For me if I started Krav Maga It would be my branching out, due to having been a practitioner of Shaolin Kungfu. You do have to check out the head instructor and like Brett said it is a good sign if they go to Israel to receive training, the name of the instructor helps to in a way. Plus if they continually go to Israel to receive updates on training. The one that is near me that is most authentic is in Boston, and the instructor has received training from Haim Gidon.

32 Big Bad Moose July 11, 2013 at 11:46 am

I took Krav (we only called it “Krav”) classes for a few years awhile back before I moved to another city.

The classes are limited and training is intense, inclusive and to the nitty gritty of all techniques. You can apply the very first move you learn very very well. I learned more in 4 months of Krav than I did in 2 years of Karate when I was a kid. I don’t remember any Karate moves, but with all the Krav training and drills, it’s like second nature, or a sixth sense. You just know what to do and when.

I can vouch for its effectiveness. It has saved my hooves 3 out of 3 times. Even in Canada, not everyone has good intentions.

Regards,

BBM

P.S.: Brett, I am humbled by seeing a primer article on the one martial art that has made sense to me. It’s true what you said, I feel like a walking human weapon. However, I felt more like a tiger or a lion.

33 John July 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I’ve been considering Krav Maga for the last couple weeks after researching and getting information on 2 nearby gyms from friends. Once I saw this posted, I decided to follow through and try out a class tonight! Also glad to see the dialogue in the comments, appreciate everyone’s info.

34 Andrew A F July 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I’ve bounced around the martial arts community for a lot of years, first in Fencing and Jiujistu, and then briefly in MMA, and now Silat.
Ironically, I find that extreme self-defense/CQC systems like Krav Maga, Jeet Kun Do and KFM have the same strengths and weaknesses as sport fighting systems. They use a very simple technical systems, focusing more on conditioning and reflexes. The plus side of this is that you can learn them and reach a moderate level of effectiveness much faster than you could through a traditional system.
In the longer run, though, think this gets to be self-limiting. Eventually you hit a wall with your conditioning, and then you can find yourself at a disadvantage to someone with a deeper bag of tricks.
In the long run, I think the best way to go is to find a school which teaches a traditional style, but incorporates some of the newer physical and mental conditioning methods. That way you get the best of both worlds.

35 David July 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm

If you guys like no nonsense type stuff, check out Jim Grover aka Kelly McCann. His stuff is simple, gross motor based, and derived from WWII combatives, and has all been updated and revised for modern situations and considerations.

I studied MMA for about 5 years before discovering combatives, like Krava Maga. MMA athletes are specialized and put a lot of time into their training and skill development. Combatives are for people who are only looking to defend themselves. They both have a ton of merit and both will teach to you defend yourself. The MMA classes will teach you how to fight anyone hand to hand and will give you a tremendous advantage over someone that hasn’t spent as much time on the mat as you have. That covers a lot of people, almost everyone, really, except for armed attackers. There are no weapons in MMA so you’ll never see weapon defenses in a true, sport based mma class. You will in a BJJ class, a Krav class, etc, but not in a mma class. When was the last time you saw GSP with knife?

Combatives will teach you a broad range of skills that will allow you to easily apply the principles of hurting people to defend yourself. Combative’s are, in a sense, mma with weapons and multiple attacker defenses included. Every good combatives class should have a ground fighting curriculum(most Krav schools do, by the way) as well as the other stuff. The problem is that you WILL NOT be able to hang with that BJJ blackbelt or that local MMA gym rat in their realms(empty hand and grappling scenarios without weapons). You’re lying to yourself if you think you’re going to avoid a ten year BJJ blackbelt’s triangle if you haven’t been grappling for as long, and know his set ups and tricks. Its just the truth. Anyone that has actually stepped onto the mat with a great grappler knows just how quick that takedown comes and how easily the submission follows. Krav guys aren’t in the UFC for a reason. There may be a few, but that stuff doesn’t work on guys who have been training MMA for a long time. And its because Krav focuses on basic self defense/combatives and does not specialize on hand to hand combat.

I’m not basking Krav. Its one of the best systems out there for self defense in all scenarios. Maybe the best, really. The same to be said for Kelly McCann’s stuff. Just like Krav its based off of proven techniques that are simple to learn, and that is exactly how the average, non combat sport participating type individual should train. Keep it simple. Have a broad range of skills. Krav is awesome here, and I feel that everyone should be taught the type of self defense you learn in Krav in high school. it works, and its simple to learn.

It can be summed up like this: Krav/combatives guys are like lightbulbs. They can fill the whole spectrum of self defense with their skills the way a lightbulb can fill the space of a room with light. Its not hyper focused, but it works and it helps get the job done in most situations. On the other hand, MMA guys are like lasers. Lasers are specialized and can cut through hard material when needed. They cannot fill a room with light. An mma only devotee will never be able to fill the other parts of the self defense spectrum. Foul shots, concrete, friends and weapons all happen on the street, and mma guys never see this in training. They fight guys that are only going to fight them in the manner they have agreed to. They are specialized lasers. They have a small high intensity beam they produce that is really awesome for one thing(empty handed one on one combat). If the light bulb tries do the lasers job of drilling through material its going to fail. If the laser tries to fill the room it will fail.
I suggest you invest in both combative programs like Krav Maga and mma training interchangeably. If you’re interested in self defense in a total manner, just go to a reputable Krav Maga school and you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for. That stuff is legit. But when you’re done training Krav(you never really are, a warrior has to keep his weapons sharp!) or get a little tired of it head on down to your local MMA gym. Try to apply what you’ve learned in Krav(minus the foul stuff, fellas)on the MMA guys. You’ll be surprised to see that you’ll need to up your game to pull that stuff off agaisnt those guys, and that you’ll also have to learn their tricks if you ever want to be able to handle them empty handed. When you make those adjustments you will have grown and your self defesne skills will be complete.

36 Cory July 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I was looking for a new physical activity for after work and this sounds perfect. Just signed up for my first Krav Maga lesson. As always, thanks for the excellent article!

37 Molotov July 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm

KM instructor here. For an example of some our system, I’ve attached a couple videos from our NC network, TKM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKjxfSEJSQU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro3pEw1Z7m4

38 Shawn July 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Like some have already mentioned, the quality of a martial arts studio comes down to the qualifications and character of the instructor.

I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to learn Krav from an excellent instructor here in Canada, one who carefully protects the positive atmosphere of his classes. He doesn’t tolerate people who just want to be a dick and hurt people.

Our Krav class has a very high cardio component, and includes a sparring program called Fit To Fight. Our instructor also augments the program with special seminars from professionals in law enforcement and martial arts training.

Taking Krav has also greatly increased my respect for other disciplines such as boxing, Jiu Jitsu, and wrestling.

Some of the folks in my class are also taking MMA training. From what they tell me, the time commitment required for MMA is more than what most people can afford. If you’re single and want to do MMA, all the best to you!

Aside from the sparring, what I love most about Krav is the stress drills. Very exciting and inventive drills, usually in groups with 2-3 attackers, and done at the tail-end of the class, when you’re already dead tired. That’s when you have to dig deep to persevere and respond successfully.

Did I mention shock knives? ;)

39 Doug July 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Very effective fighting style. I want to echo the gentleman’s comment above about not being at an ATM in the worst part of town at 3 am. Those of us that carry firearms for self defense daily live by the rule: “Don’t go stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things”. 99.99% of all your violent force confrontations will be avoided in this manner.

40 Leighton July 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm

The great benefit of full-contact sport fighting is that it allows you to practice what you’ve learned at 100% intensity. Drills are useful routines, but there’s no pressure in a drill environment. When your ass is on the line, those drills go right out the window. You need to learn how to deal with the “if I don’t hurt him, he’ll hurt me” atmosphere, and that means sparring. You can’t spar with eye gouges and groin strikes.

Imagine: you’ve spent weeks drilling your throat punch on a dummy that doesn’t fight back. Meanwhile, a nak muay, boxer or MMA fighter has spent those weeks throwing chin punches to live opponents who want to render them unconscious. Which would be more difficult: for the Krav practitioner to react to the pressure of real combat, or for the boxer to direct his punches two inches lower?

I’m a boxer and a jiujiteiro. I’ve never trained in Krav, but two friends of mine do, and I beat them raw when we spar even though I weigh thirty pounds less than either of them. I’m not saying Krav is garbage – those are two people, hardly enough to warrant a sweeping statement – but it should definitely be partnered with a sport art that demands sparring and major conditioning, such as boxing or wrestling. After I wreck them for half a round or so, my friends always gas, and fatigue is lethal against a conditioned opponent.

41 Andy July 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Brett, I actually attend a Krav Maga class in downtown Tulsa taught by a certified instructor. I’m positive he’d love to have you visit for a couple sessions. Feel free to email me at paaiyan (at) cox.net and I’ll hook you up with a schedule and other info.

42 Krav Maga July 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Anyone in these comments that has said the BJJ or thai boxing is going to help you in a street fight is straining credibility. Sure, it won’t hurt to know something about grappling or stand up, but watch the UFC, the highest level of MMA. The self proclaimed baddest men on the planet. What stops every match? Groin and eyes. Doesn’t matter how big you are, or how tough, or how well trained. Your eyes and balls aren’t tough. Don’t get me wrong, I love and respect BJJ and muy thai. They can be adapted to street self defense, IF you’ve learned the sport version really well first, and have a strong foundation. But if you want to learn how to get away on the worst night of your life, that you never hope happens, something like krav maga is your martial art. Don’t fall for the cardio-Krav Maga BS either. Find a real school like the KMF in NYC, that can trace their teachers back to the current grand masters.

43 Kravist July 11, 2013 at 10:07 pm

@Leighton: Krav Maga isn’t something you spar for fun. Its value doesn’t come out until you are actually trying to damage someone. Krav isn’t about landing a stomach punch or scoring imaginary points – it’s about destroying your opponent — it’s about fear for your life. It’s hard to get into that mindset in training and I don’t think you can understand that coming from a “this is violence for the purpose of recreation”-mindset.

As for full-contact sparring – there are gyms that do it. My gym does – from bare-fist strikes to unprotected kicks. We don’t do eye gouges for obvious reasons, but everything else goes – even groin strikes with full force. We use reinforced muay thai cups for those, and a mouth-guard. That’s about it.

Dealing with pain and maintaining your focus under stress and pressure is the EPITOME of the mental part of Krav, which is arguably one of the biggest points it has until you’ve trained a few years; without aggression, Krav is worthless. So when the instructor buries his shin in your stomach while you are doing 360 spars with a partner, it’s to remind you to ALWAYS be on your toes – always be ready to withstand the strike you do not see coming. In real life, if you get stressed out, you might die. Which means that training Krav = training under stress.

And for those who say Krav is about reflexes and conditioning — what? I am sorry, but that is bollocks from start to end. It is about neither. If you train at a gym where you are told that Krav is about conditioning, you are being scammed something fierce.

Second, the reason Krav doesn’t have a ground-game is because in >90% of the scenarios Krav is meant for, if the fight goes to the ground you are already well on your way to losing – if not already having lost. If you train Krav, you NEVER want to be on the ground. Not because you can’t figure out a way to get out from it, but because it is fucking dangerous. You’re fighting 2 guys and you let one of them take you down. Great, while you try to use the BJJ you learned on the side to choke the one motherfucker, the other just strolls over and stabs you dead.

You never want to go to the ground – even if you are good. Never know when something happens that necessitates running away – maybe some of his friends arrived and are ready to put the beat down on you? Kind of hard to run away when you are on your back.

44 Mark July 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I trained in Krav Maga for 3.5 years before moving to Canada from the UK.

It’s a great system, simple and devastatingly effective in execution of it’s purpose – to eliminate the threat as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I haven’t found a reputable school here in Canada yet, one word of advice that you’ll hear from anyone who was pretty serious with their Krav, choose your instructor carefully – and stay away from anything Krav-related with the word “commando” tagged on somewhere!

The “commando” Krav Maga you’ll see advertised a lot was created by a fraudulent guy who claimed to have been ex-Israeli special forces, when in fact he’d never even been in the Military.

He was however, an efficient marketer, hence the popularity of his “commando” system.

45 B July 11, 2013 at 11:40 pm

There’s a documentary called “Choke” about a mid-90s vale tudo tournament. In it, a tiny japanese wrestler gets eye gouged so hard by a dutch kickboxer that he is blinded for life in one eye. While suddenly and permanently blinded, and with his face so puffed up that he can’t even see punches coming with his remaining eye, he goes on to beat two people much larger than himself. Groin strikes are similar: they hurt like hell unless you’re in an adrenal state, but they’re not debilitating in any way.

This is a weird, common misconception among the traditional martial arts caused by not pressure-testing techniques. I encourage you to go to local martial arts schools of other styles and attempt to put your theory into practice.

46 Bruce July 12, 2013 at 4:56 am

What happens if the guy your fighting knows Krav mag to? Or what if he is packing heat, or fully loaded down with explosives, and when yu grab him he blows up, and you to ? Most punks and gang bangers are carrying weapons now a days. Hand to Hand fighting is obsolete on teh street. Usually when a punk, or gangs of punks come at you, you are outnumbered 5 to 1`, and they are carrying knives or guns or both. Just like a pack of wolves!

47 Big Bad Moose July 12, 2013 at 8:53 am

Many have have commented about other martial arts and their advantages over, similarities and disadvantages to Krav, but like one said, “There is no better martial art, just martial artist.”

Have you ever heard the expression,” The only thing that can beat a Judo practitioner is a better Judo practitioner”? I’ve had a run in with Judo guys. Being a pure Krav man, I found it annoying being swung and thrown about. However, if they’re unaware of your training, they don’t expect eye gouging, neck striking, or groin shots most of the time unless you make it obvious you’re going for them. Often, a bag of tricks loses to dirty tricks.

Regards,

BBM

48 Claude July 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

@ Bruce

Not sure I understand your comment. First, did you read the article and watch the videos? Fighting multiple foes is covered.

Secondly, what is your point? Training to protect yourself is a waste of time because you’re doomed anyway? How can hand to hand fighting be obsolete in a self defense situation?

49 james pader July 12, 2013 at 11:00 am

nice article. I especially like the old pictures.

50 Tim July 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I’ve been doing Krav Maga since 2008.

I can say from my standpoint, it has given me the skills to walk in peace without fear.

If you attack me, I am going home but I don’t know about you.

51 Dave Tindell July 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I’ve been training in martial arts for 12 years now (late bloomer) and although I haven’t had the opportunity to train in Krav Maga, I’ve done a lot of work in a Russian art called Systema. It incorporates some KM with things like aikido/hapkido and focuses a lot on breathing, staying calm and focused and being aware of your surroundings to evaluate and avoid possible threats. The master instructors are Russian Spetsnaz vets and while they are some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, they can handle themselves. But in every art I’ve studied, the number one rule of self-defense is always “don’t be there”. That usually involves profiling, which makes liberals very squeamish but when I was in Israel our guide told us the most important tactic used by their security people is, you guessed it, profiling. So far it seems to have worked pretty well over there, so there’s something to it.

52 Seth July 12, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Brett,
Check with your local Jewish Community Center to inquire about classes.

53 Moscow_Mike July 12, 2013 at 7:32 pm

As a BJJ and a Muay Thai practitioner of almost 2 years I realize how little I actually know it terms of combat and when faced with real agressive opponent much of the training does seem to fade. However, I now do feel more confident in stifling physical attack. Also, studying these “sport arts” made me more interested to eventually pick up in other grappling and striking techniques (Sambo, Catch Wrestling, Boxing), which only further enriches my ability to protect myself. In my opinion learning multiple disciplines (not at the same time) is the best way to protect yourself/friends from an attacker.

If you are not doing any kind of training do yourself a favor and start be it Krav, Systema, Sambo, BJJ, Muay Thai, Boxing, etc…

P.S. As Shawn pointed out MMA does require an incredible amount of time. Guys at my gym are literally there 7 days a week for more than 2 hours at a time.

54 Terance Schmidt July 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Having done martial arts for a number of years, I’ve heard all the arguments about “which is the best martial art”? My answer is that the one you practice a lot is the best one.
To illustrate, if I practice the best art in the world twice a month, and you practice the worst daily, you’ll most likely be kicking my butt. So, find a place close to you with people you think you’ll like to hang out with a bunch. Oh, and if you can go down the street and train with Dan Inosanto, do that.

55 John July 12, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I trained in JKD not Krav but they are similar in approach from what I know. I don’t understand why KM is so trendy these days. I prefer JKD because this is ‘Merica and JKD is the ‘Merican martial art! The USMC combat system is based on JKD.
@Bruce I don’t think You know what You’re talking about.
Man I miss 2 on 1s, 3 on 1s! Good Times! In other words You DO train for such situations.
@Mario I did TKD as a kid and here’s My advice. Keep Your kids in Tae Kwon Do until they are black belts, and closer to 18. The things they will learn in this type of training could well land them in jail, until they are mature enough to judge the right situation to use them in.

56 Jake July 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I think I saw this martial art featured heavily on one a military-type show on the IDF. Is this the art that they jokingly refer to as Jew Jiutsu?

57 Dan July 13, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Just a few thoughts on some of the comments I came across. The key difference between “sport” and “realistic” systems is how they train. If you have never been punched to the face, trained to strike the eyes/groan/vitals, how can you possibly expect your body to react quickly with proficiency when you are suddenly attacked and all you can do is respond? You don’t have time to think about what your’e going to do. I view that as the key difference between sport and realism. If you’ve never trained a response, it’s somewhat unbelievable to think that you will respond that way in a violent situation. You must train elements of real violence into your system or else it’s nothing more than a sport. Sports are there for points and entertainment. Most lethal fights are over within seconds. If all the UFC fights were over in 8 seconds, how much money do you think they would make in the sport?

There are definitely some skills common to both, but at the end of the day combative sports are sports and a sport has rules. A person trained in sport fighting may or may not have an advantage, depending on how he trained. Remember that your body will respond to how you have trained it. If you don’t train it, then don’t expect it.

58 Bruce Egert July 14, 2013 at 6:21 am

Echoing all other accolades for a great column by Brett. I know someone who is skilled at this martial art, having been in the IDF for several years. I will now explore more about it with her.

59 John July 15, 2013 at 1:18 am

Brett,
I really enjoyed this article. I myself am a martial artist, but on a slightly different spectrum. I won’t express my opinions here, but I have studied many different arts (and when I say study it means, test run a gym, and read and observe as much as possible) and fully believe in Krav Maga.

First off, a technical note: I am first and foremost a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu player. So when you list Jiu-Jitsu in an article if it is spelled Jiu-Jitsu it Evers to the art as created in Brazil (Portuguese). Jujutsu is the original father art of Jiu-Jitsu and Judo (Japanese). Hardly anyone studies true Japanese jujutsu anymore. Judo and its updated cousin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are what most instructors today use as their grappling base.

Second, along side Krav Mags I highly recommend practicing Jiu-Jitsu as well for another aspect of defense. There is no better substitute for ground fighting than the original art. As well that, Jiu-Jtsu offers self defense from another perspective; especially that of mild confrontations that only need a little force.

60 Ian July 15, 2013 at 2:29 am

Interesting story (well, potentially): I worked with David Kahn for a while in college, when I was employed by a partner of his, and we routinely discussed Krav Maga.

One day I asked him, “David, what would you say is the best way to deal with a gun staring you in the face?” His response was one that I’ll always remember as truly zen-like, and it planted the seed of true self-control in my mind. He replied with, “The best way to handle a gun in your face is to avoid situations where a gun would be put in your face in the first place. And if that doesn’t work, my best defense is always…” and he made the motion of running away as fast as you can.

I respected that, because here is one of the most physically dangerous men in the world telling me the best thing to do is avoid conflict altogether, and if that fails, run. No macho attitude, no chest beating, no trying to outsmart or out-move your opponent. Just avoid dangerous conflict to begin with.

I realized as a young man that the badassery in this situation doesn’t come from defeating your opponent, but rather from having the composure to understand and accept your own vulnerability. No one is bulletproof.

61 Shane-San July 15, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Excellent post. I have trained in Krav Maga for about 1.5 years. Prior to discovering krav maga I trained in Aikido for four years-completely opposite objectives and training! But krav maga fascinates me. I am fortunate to be part of a gym that also teaches BJJ, muay thai and yoga (though I only take krav currently). The instructors are very well-rounded and are always trying to push the envelope in terms of stress drills and making the training as realistic as possible. I highly recommend krav maga training, as it takes into account the adrenal state and stress, values simplicity over complexity, and has been tested by the military and the police in real-world situations.

62 Shane-San July 15, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I forgot to mention, an excellent book resource on krav maga is Complete Krav Maga, by Darren Levine and John Whitman. This is the book that convinced me to try krav maga. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Krav-Maga-Self-Defense-Techniques/dp/1569755736/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373939713&sr=8-1&keywords=complete+krav+maga

63 Nick July 16, 2013 at 7:13 am

David Kahn is the head instructor at my Krav Maga gym. He is one of the most skilled fighters I can think of and he is a brilliant instructor. Krav is an invaluable skill and it is definitely worth checking out, I would recommend it to anyone. Great column.

64 Justin July 16, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Can anyone recommend a Krav Maga gym in Seattle?

65 Brian July 18, 2013 at 9:41 am

I have to agree with an earlier post the style doesn’t really matter. The main indicator of success in a fight is the willingness to cause harm. If you are being attacked the other guy is probably better at fighting than you even if he never trained. The reason isn’t because he knows what to do it’s because he probably just doesn’t care about other people. If you have EVER thought “no I wouldn’t gouge their eyes out” then you are already at a disadvantage to a genuine threat. If your first reaction to that idea is “yeah absolutely gouge their eyes out” then you have a whole different set of problems. If you are a well-adjusted, social person you are probably going to loose your first fight. The reason Martial artists are better at fighting is because they are trasinign their brain to accept the fact that they will harm someone. Krav Maga is probably better at that because it doesn’t make any apologies; its philosophy is everything is fair – you get attacked take out their eyes. Basically, hurting people isn’t physically difficult, we’re pretty soft overall, it’s mentally difficult. Most of us wouldn’t want to permanently maim another human. If the other guy doesn’t share your good intentions you already lost.

66 Chad July 24, 2013 at 9:54 am

Good article, thanks for the information.

I actually found out about Krav Maga a few years ago after playing Splinter Cell: Conviction. I know, I know… pretty lame, but I was impressed with how clean and straightforward the techniques were in the game.

I ended up trying Systema instead and really hating it, so perhaps it’s time to take another look at Krav Maga.

67 אריאל August 1, 2013 at 6:15 am

Just a tiny remark: it’s RETZEF, not RETZEV. I loved the article, but as a Hebrew speaker this bothered me a bit.

68 Ian ST John August 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Under high pressure situations, most people people fall back to their level of training rather than rise to the occasion. If we haven’t trained full speed, full power, blocks and strikes, it’s unlikely that we will be able to conjure them up on demand. Full contact suits are available but are prohibitively priced and dependant on a training partner. A BOB XL or Makiwara will enable training most strikes at full power without gloves. Punches are the exception.

Developing grip and wrist strength and the associated forearm muscles, supports combatives, point shooting, yoga, calisthenics and general daily activity. Wrist curls, wrist rolls and Ivanko gripper workouts are effective. Triple the attention given the non-dominant arm in physical development and martial drills. Current doctrine is to dedicate 80% of the training schedule to strength, fitness and combatives with tactical firearm drills consuming the balance.

Marc McYoung’s ‘Street Safe’ DVD covers typical criminal modus operandi and evasive techniques. ‘Street robberies and you – The basics’ offers some off the record advise from an experienced cop.

69 Henry August 23, 2013 at 9:36 am

Boxing and wrestling – everything else BS.

70 Michael Miller August 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm

If you are in the Vancouver British Columbia area look up Wolfe’s Combatives. Not Krav Maga per say but fantastic reality based street survival fighting techniques and mind-set are taught here.I am not a student but have long been a fan of Bill Wolfe.

71 The Strongest Karate September 5, 2013 at 10:21 am

There are Krav-haters out there and I am not one of them. That said, one must be careful about falling in love with the marketing rather than the style.

Krav is marketed as the official style of the IDF and that is probably true. However, the IDF is a modern military, just like the USMC and both forces actually spend very little time on h2h combat. Most of their combat training is on how to kill a guy from a really far distance (as it rightly should). So we cannot rely on the whole “well it is used by the IDF and they’re badasses” schtick.

Also, while the video is extremely impressive, and shows devastating techniques, it is also not unique to Krav. You can go to any style that incorporates striking and grappling and find examples just like this. In fact, as a new martial art, Krav has borrowed many of the techniques we see here from those very styles!

Long story short: is Krav good? Yes. Is it uniquely so? No. Can you get excellent self defense training elsewhere? You bet.

72 Stephen Lamade September 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Just a few observations:

1. Many martial artists and self defense devotes believe in themselves and their arts, but anyone can be beaten by anyone at some time, given the right circumstances. It pays to be conscious about where you go, who you see, and how you respond to people.

2. Extreme violence (risk of death or injury to yourself or family) is very rare. It’s best to cultivate habits that will avoid all the other bullshit that can antagonize people.

3. A lot of criminals use weapons to hurt other people.

73 Brian September 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I’ve been taking Krav classes for a whopping total of 3 weeks now. Other than the “fighting stance”, I’ve found it to be natural and practical. I have a background in kickboxing and TKD, and I can use those skills within the Krav Maga system. As they say, anyone can do it, but it’s not for everyone. For one, training in Krav HURTS. Finding a good training partner in class can help that quite a bit, but sooner or later, you will take an accidental punch or someone won’t pull their groin kick fast enough. The 5-on-1 drills are intimidating and unbelievably exhausting, but fun as hell at the same time. If you want to learn a martial art, this isn’t it. If you want to learn how to fight and win, find a Krav training center and go try it out.

74 Brian Carmody December 30, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I started a blog about applying krav maga principles to other aspects of life.
In the last few months it has grown into a blogging business for martial arts school owners that love to teach, train, and run their business, but don’t love to write or keep up with a blog…which requires consistency.

It has been a blast. The people I train with and learn from are so committed to helping each other out.

And I agree with many of the comments here. It is a devastating set of skills that are difficult to turn into a sport, or recreational sparring. But I love the real-life skills. I’m much faster now.

Keep training everyone. And have a safe and healthy 2014.

Brian

75 CPT_Dad January 13, 2014 at 11:43 am

Bottom line for me: Krav Maga is Art of Manliness worthy.

As someone who has trained soldiers and civilians, I would say nothing instills more self confidence than knowing you can take a punch in the face and give as good as you got. It changes the way you see yourself.

Krav is a great way to pull that manliness out of you. BJJ is awesome for testing your strength and skill in a relatively safe way. Boxing is amazing.

Which is right for you? Whichever you are going to commit to. That’s the one that will bring you and your family home safe. A poor plan of action violently executed is a lot more effective than the ‘best plan’ poorly implemented.

76 Larry February 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm

@Mark July 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Before you go “Commando”, check this: http://viralets.com/1761/Moni_Aizik_and_Commando_Krav_Maga

Also, Who is Darren Levine?http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=64730

“I trained in Krav Maga for 3.5 years before moving to Canada from the UK.

It’s a great system, simple and devastatingly effective in execution of it’s purpose – to eliminate the threat as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I haven’t found a reputable school here in Canada yet, one word of advice that you’ll hear from anyone who was pretty serious with their Krav, choose your instructor carefully – and stay away from anything Krav-related with the word “commando” tagged on somewhere!

The “commando” Krav Maga you’ll see advertised a lot was created by a fraudulent guy who claimed to have been ex-Israeli special forces, when in fact he’d never even been in the Military.

He was however, an efficient marketer, hence the popularity of his “commando” system.”

77 Mark Miles March 25, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Great self defense system… too much politics though. I believe the most credible source out there is Eyal Yanilov. Many who are “in the know” agree on that.
http://www.maxkravmaga.com/public/Eyal-Yanilov.cfm

78 Diocletian March 25, 2014 at 11:17 pm

I treat any threat as a literal threat to my life, and I respond accordingly–the law be damned ! I have a very simple proposal that I make to anyone who starts a fight with me. I tell him/her that I will agree to fight on the condition that the fight is to the death, that it will be my intention to murder him/her, so he/she had better intend to murder me. I let my opponent take the first swing, not so much for legal reasons (in Massachusetts, it is illegal to defend oneself) but to establish who is the factual aggressor, which will fully justify my killing in self-defense. A jury or a judge might not regard my killing in self-defense in any threatening situation, but I do not require someone else’s opinion of what is justified, no matter how many tin badges or robes someone may wear, or how many persons serve on a jury. They were not there. They are not I. My life is not theirs to live, much less rule. My life is my personal property, and I will use deadly force against any man, woman, or child who threatens my life. Yes, even a child, for the same reasons that American soldiers shot and killed Vietnamese children who would approach their camps because the little bastards and bitches were armed with explosives. Krav Maga is a fantastic method of self-defense; however, I have found having a murderously-intent mindset and pumped-up adrenalin are sufficient for me to take down any opponent, for once I start acting in self defense, I unleash hell, grab hold of anything that I can use as a weapon, fuck all consequences, and fight as if my life depended upon it, which it does ! Raw, focused vengeful rage, and the energy channeled into murderous intent, substitute for weeks or months of training in the safe environment of a gym. Adrenalin trumps physical training and enables one to fight like a trained expert. Add murderous intent, and one is practically unstoppable.

79 Linda Kiff March 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

I hope you don’t think I’m wasting your time. I would like to find a krav maga class near where I live (Enterprise, AL) that is ok with teaching elderly disabled, rather than focusing on only the young and fit members. I’m a 60 year old retired Air Force disabled vet and have all kinds of aches and pains which somewhat limit my mobility. I still want to learn some form of self defense and Krav Maga always interested me more than the others. (There doesn’t seem to be much point in learning a self defense skill if it only works in a studio)

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