Krav Maga (pronounced Krav Ma-gah) means contact-combat in Hebrew. Krav Maga is essentially a non-competitive eclectic self-defence system founded by Imi Lichtenfeld and gradually developed by him over the years. Rooted in anti-Sematic Slovakia in the mid-30’s, throughout the 40’s -before and after the state of Israel was formed - and for the duration of about 20 years of IDF service, Imi refined his unique method for self-defence and hand-to-hand combat.
Krav Maga is the official self-defence and combat system used by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), Israeli Police and Security Services and many law enforcement agencies around the world.
Krav Maga is also taught in institutions governed by the Israeli Ministry of Education and has been taught to civilians all over the word as well. Developed and refined during years of conflict, Krav Maga emphasizes easy-to-learn techniques that have been battle-tested in real life, threatening situations. These training methods have been used by Israel's most elite combat units and proven effective time and time again.
Krav Maga provides simple solutions to fighting more than one assailant, armed or unarmed, in today’s reality.
Core Principles of Krav Maga
The goal in Krav Maga is to keep one safe. In a violent situation - there are no rules. You need to do anything in your power not to get hurt. What “everything in your power” means?
Taking preventative measures comes first. Be aware and avoid violence. You can prevent yourself from getting in to a danger zone by keeping your eyes and ears open. If you see a problem around you, stay away. If you have no choice then a kick to the groin, spitting, biting, gouging and hair pulling are all very legitimate. Never escalate the situation and remember - fighting is the last resort. However, if you must fight, then follow these rules:
1. Aim to your opponent’s weak points. Vulnerable targets of the body, such as eyes, nose, throat, groin and more, are not organs that can develop muscle and therefore even the strongest or biggest attacker is not immune to attacks in those areas. Since Krav Maga is not a sport, and a violent situation is not like sparring with your friends at the gym, attacks should always be directed to your opponent’s vulnerable spots. Attacks to these spots will cause great affect and won't be blocked by muscle or fat. If you want to stop the fight, you have to fight back!
2. Quick and powerful responses. In a nutshell, Krav Maga is all about responding quickly, from 0% to 100% in a split of sec. Explosive power and a lot of mental work is essential in Krav Maga. We learn how to react efficiently under stress. Attacks must be quick and powerful, otherwise they don’t count.
3. Speed and technique are important than strength. Techniques based on quick responses and efficiency are not strength-dependent. A teenage girl must be able to defend herself against a male adult. This does not mean however that strength is not important: of-course, the stronger you are, the better, but it is not the most important and determinative characteristic a good defender must possess.
4. Acquire skills for real-life-situations. Every person attacks in a different way. Most likely, a real attacker will be different (size, strength, aggression and his technique) from those you trained with. Therefore, Krav Maga stresses improvisation and learning to enrich one’s “toolbox”. The more we train, the more tools we gain. Sometimes we have to react under unfamiliar or adverse circumstances, such as dark surroundings, body positions, with limited movement ability or under extreme stress and fatigue. The techniques are taught in their ideal form, with the best possible reaction to a given situation.
5. Repetition is crucial. Practicing techniques on a one time basis is never enough. There is a difference between what your brain understands to what your body can perform. We train hard to create muscle memory. Once we “earn” it, it’s there for us. Your body remembers better than your brain.
6. Simplicity. Maga techniques were designed based on our human natural reactions, therefore if practiced and refined, it will be easy to perform under stress. Simple is effective and efficient.
7. Krav Maga adjusts to your abilities. Not everyone can kick high, split their legs very wide or lift 200 pounds with one hand. We do not to make you do those things, but work with what we’ve got. In Krav Maga you can find the way to work with your proportions. A heavy person can emphasizes fist fighting; a small person can take advantage of his frame for quickness.
8. Minimal fighting. When you have the upper hand, and your opponent is no longer a threat - so stop fighting! We must respond according to the needs and not beyond them. Crossing this line between self-defence to unnecessary aggressive behaviour results in losing control! If you lose it, you lost more than just this fight.
9. Stay on your feet. You DON’T want to fight on the ground. It takes only one time that you face more than one attacker and your ground skills just won’t count. If you want to finish the fight fast, ground fighting won’t be the right solution.
10. Krav Maga is an ever-changing set of techniques. Since Krav Maga is a reality, street-based self-defence method, it only makes sense to keep it up to date with knowledge and practice of today’s reality. As long as the above principles are kept, it is encouraged to evolve ALL the time. If we find a better and safer way to respond, we adopt it. Threats always changes, 500 years ago, swords were very common, today, it’s knives and guns. Who knows what the next is? Krav Maga is there to provide the best available solutions. Krav Maga is not about ego, and not about staying loyal to any tradition. It is about being safe.