Krav Maga is essentially a gym workout routine mixed with practicing a lot of fighting maneuvers at its core and since it’s a full contact sport, you’ll need some protective gear so you won’t hurt yourself or your sparring partner. Practitioners, especially the newbies, will most likely make mistakes and probably several times throughout the training and hurt themselves in the process.
For this reason, the key parts of your body have to have adequate protection while anticipating the mistakes you’ll make during training. Krav Maga utilizes almost all of your body parts executing the moves in fluid perfect precision and applying the exact amount of pressure and power behind your attacks.
Strikes will include fists, palms, and elbows to hit the opponent and often when your skin comes into contact with hard or semi-hard surfaces, especially those areas where the muscle tissues cover less of the bones in your body, injuries are bound to happen. Strikes will also cause impact injury, while takedowns and throws might cause slight abrasions when friction is exerted too much on the skin.
These are just some of the scenarios that could occur during training. Now you won’t see this in these Hollywood movies that use Krav Maga for training.
Sports and Other Martial Arts Use Protective Gear Too
Gymnastics, boxing, wrestling, archery, football, basketball, baseball, cycling, BMX, karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, taekwondo, and many others use protective gear during training and even while in a match or competition. Krav Maga having borrowed more than 50% of the techniques of most of these martial arts and sports should also follow the basic routines in training, and in fact, it does.
Basic gears such as boxing gloves, MMA gloves, headgear, cotton hand wraps, etc. are important when training in Krav Maga, other martial arts and in various sports. After all, you do not train to sustain an injury, you train to be better and the only time injuries are acceptable is during competitions where the tradeoff is the gold, silver and bronze medals or some trophies.
Important Krav Maga Gears You Should Have
Although in your first few weeks in a Krav Maga school you will not be asked to spar with your classmates or the instructor, you will, however, be asked to do some basic punches and kicks on the punching bag, body shield, and uppercut shield.
But even soft cushion covered blunt force gears like these could still have a devastating effect on your extremities, and as you hit the punching bag or body shield or the dummy; each time the kinetic energy is released at the moment of contact, which, over time and in repeated motion, is enough to rip apart your skin.
First off you’ll need to wear basic athletic clothing like shorts and a t-shirt, a tank top, or long pants such as sweatpants or yoga pants. These types of clothes help your body to achieve full range of motion.
Besides the tank top or t-shirt that you’ll wear you may also need to wear a rash guard. It’s a very stretchable clothing with long or short sleeves and works like a spandex.
Rash guards protect your skin from abrasions as we’ve discussed earlier and you can wear it comfortably even when you sweat through it while training.
- Mouthpiece – A mouthguard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, arches, lips, and gums.
- MMA Gloves – Unlike boxing gloves which are fully cushioned, MMA gloves are smaller, fits around the hands almost tightly and has openings on each finger to allow the MMA fighter to grapple with his opponent. They also only have a meager 4 – 6 oz of padding and are designed to provide some protection to the wearer.
- Headgear – Boxing headgear could be used in Krav Maga, but some KM headgears have impact-proof reinforced acrylic plastic face protectors, which are designed to neutralize the force delivered by a punch or a kick to the head.
- Groin Guard – Also known as jockstrap the groin guard/protector has a latex cup that shields the male genitalia from impact forces that might cause serious health concerns for the person at the receiving end of a punch, kick, elbow or knee strike (although it may be more accidental than intentional).
- Shin Guards – The shin bone runs between your knee join and your tarsus, and because the shin bone has little muscle and tissue covering on it, it is a vulnerable part of the body. By wearing shin guards or shin pads you make sure that you will not sustain injuries during training as accidental hits are common among KM trainees.
- Pads – Curved mitts and target pads are great for strikes and kicks training with a partner. This KM equipment will enhance your speed and power behind your hits which will make you a more efficient fighter.
- Footwear – Shoes are very important as they will help you train properly and also offer protection to your foot when needed. Try to stay away from flat tread shoes as they make you vulnerable to injuries, especially if the training requires you to do a lot of twists and turns with your feet. Find shoes that have good ankle support and toe protection as these features will help avoid injuries like sprains while training (also read our complete article on Krav Maga shoes)
- Dummies – Dummies are great tools to practice strikes, holds, and throws. They are safe as they are made of latex and you won’t be able to harm yourself or anyone else for that matter, all the while you’ll be getting better at your KM skills.
- Fake Weapons – The only time it’s good to use real weapons in practicing weapons disarming tactics is during real fight situations because it’s never a good idea to use a real knife or gun during training. Always keep in mind safety first and be exceedingly proficient in training with fake weapons before you even consider using real ones. Even masters would not think about using real weapons for training, so why would you?
Combining Multiple Physical Fitness Routines and Krav Maga Basic Drills
Most Krav Maga schools incorporate various workout routines with basic drills for beginners and the reason behind this is to maximize the potential of each student when they get to the hardcore training, which is physically demanding.
Much like any other martial arts stretching your limbs, building up your strength, stamina and agility will all contribute to your overall performance.
Even novices understand the principles of hierarchy and no one can automatically become a master of any art unless they go through the ladder of success like a student going through various degrees of school.
Fitness Routines for Newbies
The best way to become successful in martial arts training like Krav Maga is to train your body to push beyond its limits and be the very best that you can become. Each KM school have their own sets of workouts and KM drills that work in tandem with one another. Below are some examples of fitness routines that you are required to do if you’re a newbie:
- Cardio: This high-intensity fitness program is primarily designed for the ultimate weight loss achievement by targeting your cardiovascular system to burn lots of carbohydrates in one go.
- KM Bag: It’s basically a punching bag that has been made stationary by placing a donut-shaped immobilizer foam underneath to keep it from swinging. You use this KM bag to practice your punches and kicks.
- CrossFit: This workout program is a combination and fusion of high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport, calisthenics, strongman, and other exercises.
- Mobility: Then after you’ve done all the other fitness programs you will undergo a mobility program that combines yoga and physical therapy to help your muscles relax and prevent any muscle or soft tissue injuries.
Other Krav Maga Equipment Used for Training
Punching Bags, Boxing Gloves, and Mitts
The punching bag will help train to improve on your punches and make them stronger, while the training mitt is designed to enhance your reflexes while you’re fighting. Both are essential if you are going to be a great fighter that can take on single or multiple opponents at a time.
Use the boxing gloves when you train with the mitts and your sparring partner will guide you with your head movements and dodging his counter punches as you continuously hit the mitts on his hands throughout the drills. You’ll also need to use the boxing gloves when you train with the punching bag as it will cause some minor injuries on your fists and knuckles.
Rings and Bands
Suspension rings are similar to those used in gymnastics in various sports games like South East Asian Games and The Olympic Games, except they have stretch bands and in Krav Maga, they are used for muscle training instead of gymnastics.
A dowel is a wooden rod that’s used in tandem with physical exercises like shoulder rotations or strengthening the abdominal muscles by hitting it with a dowel-like what boxing champ, Manny Pacquiao does in one of his training.
Weight training is also part of Krav Maga as is with almost all other sports and martial arts. Not only weight necessary for strength training, they’re also essential for weight loss, so you’re really getting two for the price of one here.
Pull-up bars is a great tool for building your upper body strength because it uses your own weight to build strong arm muscles like the biceps and triceps.
Boxers who train in jumping ropes do it for only one purpose – to improve on their legwork, but it also has other benefits such as improving your cardiovascular health and burn lots of calories to help you lose weight. The same benefits are aimed at Krav Maga when you are required to train with jumping ropes.
Also called fitness ball is a rubber ball or sometimes a basketball that’s filled with sand to make it heavier, which is necessary for some specific workout routines. It helps to strengthen and tone your muscles and will give you a better built.
Self-myofascial release, also known as “foam rolling,” or fascia training as it is commonly known in sports medicine is a type of exercise that uses foam rollers to improve the functions of muscles and soft tissues of your body including the tendons, ligaments, joint capsules, and muscular envelopes. It’s also a tool used for post-fitness recovery which helps correct your posture, relax the spine and keep your body flexible.
In some Krav Maga schools, you’ll also undergo plyometric training which will help increase your muscle strength and enhance your speed – both are needed in performing extreme KM techniques that will dominate your opponent.
Practicing Solo or with a Partner
Practicing on your own or with a sparring partner is also done in Krav Maga for fighters to hone their skills and improve on it as time goes by. All the same, whether you’re practicing solo or with a partner you should wear basic athletic clothing as well as KM gears to protect not only yourself but also your partner.
Strikes with the fist, palm heel, elbow, and knee should be done against a punching bag or a KM bag, body shield and uppercut shield. Kicks can be done on a KM bag or body shield, while throws, grapples and takedowns are done with the latex dummy or with your sparring partner.
With your MMA gloves on practice, slow punches and open palm heel strikes on an imaginary target on the air, on a dummy or your partner as he/she holds up those mitts to coordinate your legwork and overall movements. As you progress dial up your strikes’ power and speed until you hit the target with the maximum amount of force and hits you can exert.
Doing this daily or almost daily will significantly improve your strikes’ power and reaction time.
Elbow and Knee Strikes
Practice your elbow and knee strikes on a KM bag or with a dummy. If you have enough resources, then purchase a Loadstar Sensor to measure your progress. This device measures how much force PSI (pounds per square inch) your punches and kicks can generate and would be a great tool to motivate you to improve more and more.
Since your legs have more power than your strikes and punches, then it may be best to practice to hit as many times as you can in a 3-second burst like what they do in taekwondo. You can watch some taekwondo videos and copy or mimic those amazing kicks as they could be useful in a fight.
Taekwondo kicks will not interfere with your KM moves as long as you do not primarily rely on them in all of your fights. Use them wisely like only when your opponent is open or to keep him at a distance where he won’t be able to strike back.
Throws, Grapples and Take Downs
Although throws, grapples, and takedowns are better practiced with a sparring partner, because you will learn a lot of moves that you won’t learn with a dummy, it isn’t safe to do this if you’re a newbie. But not to worry because your Krav Maga instructor will teach you everything you need to know about this stuff anyway.
So just follow the basic drills and improve on your skills every chance you get.