What Is Krav Maga Self Defence?
The best way to understand what is Krav Maga Self Defence is to consider it’s history, development, and in particular the surroundings in which the Krav Maga fighting system came about.
Its founder is Imi Lichtenfeld, Hungarian at birth, Imi seems to have been a natural athlete from a young age, being well versed – and winning awards nationally and internationally – in gymnastics, wrestling and boxing. When you also consider that Imi’s father was both a policeman and a self teacher then you can see Imi would have had the ingredients to become an accomplished fighter.
But there was another factor to add to the mix. Namely that when Imi was growing up in Bratislava in the 1930′s, as was the case in some other cities in Europe, he, his friends and family and fellow Jews were the subject of violent anti-Semitic actions and persecution! He and his friends had plenty of opportunity to hone their martial skills during their frequent run-ins with Nazi gangs.
You can see that this last experience would have been the galvanizing ‘hands-on’ factor that led Imi to mould his art into a decisive street fighting system that over time it became.
When the situation in Bratislava become too severe he left for Israel (then Palestine) where he continued to exercise and teach his skills. The culmination at this time came about when he was invited by the Israeli government to establish a fighting system for the Israeli military. Naturally he accepted, and the resulting system, a distillation of his combat skills subsequently became known as Krav Maga (which is Hebrew for contact combat or hand-to-hand fighting). You may also see Krav Maga referred to as Israeli Ju Jitsu – now you know why!
Krav Maga Self Defense – a martial art fit for the Israeli military!
Krav Maga is considered by it’s exponents to be the most devastating fighting system in the world! I would argue that no such beast exists; however it certainly ranks as one of the easiest and quickest fighting systems to learn, AND which is most certainly very effective in its application.
In essence Krav Maga fighting teaches to neutralize an attack in the instant! It does not entertain complicated or drawn-out impractical defence / attack routines. Rather it takes down your opponent there and then with whatever weapon (part of your body) is best placed. And targeted to the attacker to cause maximum discomfort.
And if the circumstances requires a ‘pre-emptive’ attack, then so be it, Krav Maga training encourages that if necessary!
Strategy of Krav Maga Techniques
Keeping it simple, Krav Maga fighting places emphasis on fast decisive strikes that take-out ones opponent: game over! As you might imagine, the body weapons used include the hands (punches, heel strikes, chops etc), elbows, and legs (usually low – risk – kicks), the head (butting). In addition to striking, practitioners also learn take-downs and chokes.
In the undesirable situation that the fight goes literally to ground, Krav Maga training teaches ground-fighting techniques.
The thing to appreciate about the Krav Maga techniques is that it covers a small suite – not an encyclopedia – of techniques that work. They are thoroughly learnt, so that they become – reflex! Try doing that with an encyclopedia of techniques – you can’t!
The preferred target areas are the opponents face, eyes, throat, groin, knee etc – you get the picture, strike vital areas fast, and achieve high impact results.
Both armed and unarmed – in addition to unarmed combat, Krav Maga training teaches defence against weapons – knives, sticks, guns. Again, these techniques are simple to learn, easy to apply (well as easy as it can be relieving someone of their knife or firearm that is!) and effective. If you want to see this in action check out this digital course that came across.
The Continued Evolution of Krav Maga
Imi himself created his fighting system over many years. He consolidated the best material into the system that he taught to the Israeli Military. But he didn’t stop there. He actually taught variants to different people. For instance it is well recorded that he taught a ‘civilian’ version of Krav Maga fighting techniques.
Since Imi’s death in 1988 various versions / interpretations / embellishments of Krav Maga self defense have been taught – not just by different Krav Maga instructors such as Guy Dar (more on hime later), but also under the patronage the various associations that have sprung up since his death.
And this is often the way, just look at Karate or Aikido – where even amongst the same ‘styles’ (eg Shotokan Karate) different associations formed (the JKA – Japanese Karate Association, and the Shotokai to name ‘just’ the two big ones that sprng to mind).
With the Krav Maga martial art one of the interesting observations to me is that teachers have integrated into their Krav Maga training the best and most useful elements from other fighting systems such as Muay Thai – hopefully without evolving their Krav Maga into an encyclopedia of techniques at the same time!
Later on I will be reviewing a set of krav maga training videos by Guy Dar. Guy is a modern teacher of Krav Maga who seems to have remained faithful to the original teachings of classical Imi’s Krav Maga.