Krav Maga is a military combat style introduced by the Israeli Self-Defense Force. In the early 2000s, this became known as a civilian martial arts style. Similar to other martial arts style, a qualified instructor is important to learn the principles and techniques of Krav Maga. However, you can still learn this on your own if Krav Maga schools or training centers are not available in your area or if you don’t have the budget to pay for a personalized training.
This martial art style is an effective and easy-to-learn self-defense system. Krav Maga training includes a combination of combat and self-defense principles and techniques. A Krav Maga practitioner who is well-informed and well-trained can be described as a walking human weapon.
To get started in Krav Maga training you don’t need much. What you do need is dedication and:
- a good mindset: engage training with your mind as well as your body
- some good training recources like enrolling in a school, but even the right books or video courses can get you started
- look at what others are doing and ask them for tips
- oberseve good training habits and stop overthinking
In this post I’ll get more into what exactly you can do to get you started in this great sport (more on that below if you want to skip to it). But first a bit about the history of Krav Maga to know more about it’s background and why it is the way it is.
How did Krav Maga get started?
In order for you to understand and appreciate Krav Maga techniques and principles, knowing its history is essential. The beginnings of Krav Maga can be traced back during the pre-World War II. It all started with a young Jewish athlete from Czechoslovakia (currently Slovakia). The athlete is Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was well-known locally and internationally as a gymnast, wrestler, and boxer.
In the middle of the 1930s, anti-Semitic groups and fascists became powerful and started inflicting violence on the Jews.
Having strongly felt the responsibility to protect his neighbors, he formed a group of young men to safeguard and protect the Jews community against the attackers. He had found out that his sport martial arts training is not enough to defeat the anti-Semitic group. To win in a street fight requires excellent techniques and positive mindset. Therefore, Imi started combining his martial arts expertise with another fighting technique, that is, disabling and neutralizing the attacker during a fight.
Living in 1940’s Nazi government
In 1940, Imi lived under a Nazi-allied puppet government. He then went to Palestine to become part of the Zionist Movement, a group that defends and supports the Jewish national state in Palestine.
He then tied up with Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary group that aims to safeguard and protects Jewish immigrants from locals. Imi’s military abilities and teaching skills immediately caught the attention of Israeli army leaders. So, they made him a leader of the elite military forces, which include the Palyam (marine commandos), Haganah, and Palmach (elite strike force).
Imi was a Krav Maga instructor for around 20 years in the Israel Defense Forces. In 1964, after serving in the military, he focused his time and energy on improving the self-defense system and teaching Krav Maga techniques to local citizens.
Because of his passion, he established the Krav Maga Association (KMA) in 1974. This is a not-for-profit organization that is committed to providing Krav Maga instructions and promoting this self-defense system all over the world.
Some of Imi’s followers introduced Krav Maga to the USA. Unexpectedly, this became the close-combat system of choice of most police and military forces in the USA. This paved the way for the establishment of many Krav Maga organizations in the USA. Throughout the years, these organizations have been collaborating with groups in Israel to promote and teach Krav Maga in America.
What are the benefits of Krav Maga?
Krav Maga is a Hebrew term, which means “contact combat”. Those who are not so familiar about this self-defense system find this a bit complicated and profound. However, Krav Maga can be used by anyone regardless of his or her fitness level, size, and strength. The easy and practical principles and techniques that are very useful during real-life battles make this martial arts discipline interesting and great.
You don’t have to have martial arts experience to become an effective Krav Maga practitioner. If you have been excited and curious about this self-defense system for a while now, you may have already done your research or even asked those who have Krav Maga experience if this is effective as a fighting technique. Apart from gaining effective self-defense skills that will certainly save your life,
Krav Maga provides these great benefits:
- It is a great form of workout: You are thought in Krav Maga to make use of everything you have in fighting, including your body. Each class requires you to undergo a set of warm-up exercises and drills, which include interval cardio and strength training. These powerful exercises will definitely enable you to effectively execute self-defense moves. What’s more is that it will improve your heart function and help you get in shape.
- It boosts your confidence: As you move forward with the training and improve your self-defense skills, you will certainly feel empowered and inspired. If you will constantly follow the routines of the training, you will have the confidence to fight against the challenges and circumstances of life.
- It keeps you aware of your surroundings: Krav Maga fighters based their moves and techniques on their instincts. They fend off attackers by simultaneously using their body and head. As they continue to train, they become expert at understanding and interpreting situations and execute their attack plans through improvisation.
Krav Maga Guide for Beginners
Are you interested to learn about the world’s most effective and realistic self-defense style? You have come to the right page. This guide will reveal the essential techniques, principles, moves, and equipment associated with Krav Maga. So, let’s get started.
Krav Maga is more than just martial arts. It does not only involve using various styles of blocks and strikes to win over a controlled fight, but this fighting system is about saving a life. This is not about having fun in a fight club or displaying artistic fighting moves in a mall during a holiday. In Krav Maga, there are several important principles and techniques to keep in mind when fighting against an attacker.
The first line of defense during an attack is having a sharp awareness of your surroundings and the moves of your attacker. Instead of focusing your attention on your phone or something else, begin to thoroughly observe your attacker. Have presence of mind. Clear up your mind and focus your attention on the current situation.
Be the Attacker
It is always the goal of a Krav Maga fighter to become the attacker regardless of how he is attacked. Even if he is thrown against the wall, punched, pushed, or struck with a weapon, he still maintains his aggression to simultaneously defend and counterattack. His moves are violent yet smart. He makes use of the natural movements of his body and plays to his attacker’s weaknesses.
Krav Maga instructors aim to provide training that are safe yet realistic as much as possible. Through the use of training gears like gloves and protective helmets, you can practice Krav Maga moves at a normal speed. Krav Maga experts believe that how you practice reflects your actual performance during a fight. Therefore, it is best to exert full effort and create strong muscle memories as you practice defense and attack moves.
Counteract the Threat
The main goal of Krav Maga fighters is to neutralize the attack as soon as possible. This goal is the basis of all other Krav Maga principles. It is always the aim of Krav Maga practitioners to paralyze and control their opponents. You don’t have to think too much about fighting etiquette if your life is at risk. Thus, you must use whatever you have and do whatever you can to save your life.
There are no complicated movement patterns in Krav Maga. Blocks, holds, and strikes are some of the simple moves of Krav Maga. These easy and simple moves allow fighters to counteract attacks as quickly as possible.
Synchronize Defense and Attack Moves
In martial arts, offensive and defensive moves are usually executed separately and discretely. For instance, when your first move is blocking, which is a defense technique, you need to find an opening before you kick, an offense technique. The disadvantage of this approach is that it is responsive. You will likely end up executing a series of unending defense moves.
Whereas in Krav Maga, the fighter is able to execute a combination of defensive and offensive moves simultaneously by interrupting the attack and at the same time performing counterattack moves. For instance, if your opponent attacks your throat, your goal is not only to escape from the attack but also to fight back by attacking his eyes, groin, or throat. The aim here is to counterbalance the threat as soon as possible.
Make Use of Continuous Motion or Retzev
Retzev is a Hebrew term that means continuous motion. This is another important principle involved in Krav Maga. Retzev is characterized by a continuous assertive defense and offense movements to neutralize the attack. As your opponent responds to your counterattacks, you will continue to attack him with headbutts, punches, and kicks until the threat is neutralized. When using Retzev, it is necessary for a fighter to use his instinct and not depend on routines. A well-versed Krav Maga fighter is able to respond to attacks without delay and doubt.
Make Use of Available Weapons
Krav Maga is designed to enable fighters to use knives and firearms conveniently. Apart from using these standard fighting weapons, you are trained in Krav Maga to use any available objects such as chairs, belts, keys, and pens as weapons. These common objects, when integrated into Krav Maga, can be used to neutralize attackers as soon as possible.
Counteract Weapon Attacks
Apart from weapon handling training, Krav Maga also focuses on defending oneself from armed attackers.
Target Sensitive Soft Tissues and Pressure Points
One of the popular Krav Maga principles is hitting the attacker on the sensitive parts of the body and pressure points. A lot of counterattack moves include groin attacks, throat strikes, and eye gouging. Many people questioned and criticized these techniques. However, Krav Maga advocates pointed out that these aggressive counterattack moves conform to its main goal, which is to neutralize the attack.
When you encounter a street fight, the attacker does not have any sports rule in mind. His main goal is to injure, hurt, or even kill you. Therefore, being aggressive in attacking your opponent is definitely reasonable. When your life is at risk, you don’t have the time to think of any fighting etiquette.
Subdue Your Opponent
Aside from aggressive attacks, Krav Maga also involves subduing moves to weaken your attacker. Grabs and joint locks enable you to take control over your opponent, thereby lessening the threat.
Learn more from our guide to getting started in Krav Maga sparring matches.
What are basic Krav Maga Moves?
Every sport has it’s beginners moves and more advanced ones, and to get started in a new sport like this you’ll have to get the basics down first. Here’s an introduction into the first moves you’ll need to learn.
The most basic Krav Maga moves are:
- the Neutral Stance
- the Fighting Stance
- basic punches
- basic elbow work
- the groin kick
- the stepping side kick
- the palm strike
Below you’ll learn more about performing these basic moves.
Krav Maga training starts with a neutral or passive stance. This stance refers to the normal body position: legs are shoulder-width apart, arms down, and footing is not perfect. This posture depicts that you are not aware that an attack will occur.
Fighting, guard, or self-protection stance allows a fighter to quickly move his feet and execute fighting strikes with power. This position will serve as a natural protection against the attack. After an initial attack, it is normal for fighters to slightly move their feet, position the power leg behind, raise their hands with thumbs at chin level, position elbows near the ribs, and open the palms outward. This position does not imply that the fighter is aggressive, but this prepares him to counterattack and protects the vulnerable portion of the body, that is, the head and the torso.
Many fighters underestimated the power of straight punches. But actually, a well-executed punch to the neck, nose, or jaw can cause several damages to your opponent. In Krav Maga, punching is considered an effective initial offense.
To do this, execute the fighting stance. Then, perform a straight punch using your front arm, rotate your front foot, and straightly extend your arm while turning your fist horizontally. Make sure that your arm is in line with your shoulder. Then turn your torso as you punch using your two large knuckles.
The tip of the ulna or the bottom of the humerus is usually used to come in contact with an opponent. These two bones make up our elbow. There are elbow strikes that you need to learn in Krav Maga. You can strike your opponent in several directions, for instance, forward and horizontally and elbow behind. Rotating the balls of the feet along with the torso is necessary to execute a powerful elbow strike.
Hitting the balls is a good fighting technique. This is usually done by performing the thrust knee or groin kick move. The groin is a very sensitive part of the body and is the hardest part to protect. The groin kick is a powerful technique in Krav Maga. Groin kick is performed by using the arched portion of the foot (located between the ankle and toes), slightly leaning backward, and pushing the hips forward.
Stepping Side Kick
Stepping sidekick is an effective move to stay away from your attacker especially if he is beside you. You can do this by crossing your leg to your opponent’s direction and at the same time transferring your weight to your leg. Rotate your hips slightly and culminate with a kick through your heel. This is a powerful move to use when you aim to hit your opponent’s knee, shin, or abdomen.
Palm strike involves the same body movements as punch. However, rather than using a clenched fist to hit your attacker, you are required to use the muscular part at the bottom of your hand, which is located near your wrist. This portion of your hand is very strong that it won’t get injured when you hit the bones or skull of your opponent. Palm strike is effective when you aim to hit the attacker’s neck or head.
What are basic Krav Maga Defenses I can use?
Although most martial arts involve various defense techniques depending upon your angle of attack, Krav Maga has only one defense concept, the 360 blocking. This is executed by blocking the opponent’s strike with your forearm coupled with the appropriate body position. In a fight, you don’t know the exact target of your opponent; therefore, the 360 blocking is a powerful defense technique to protect your body.
Front Choke Defense
A violent way of strangulation is the front choke. This is a life-threatening attack. It cannot only strangle you, but it can also trap you over a ledge or into the ground or push you against a wall. To counteract this, you just have to raise your arm straight up and twist your body to a 180-degree angle. As you twist your body, trap your attacker’s arm, and immediately free yourself and perform those counterattack moves.
What Krav Maga Training Equipment will I need?
You can practice without any gear to get started, but if you’re getting a bit more into it you might want to get yourself some equipment.
The basic training equipment you will need for Krav Maga is:
- a pair of boxing gloves
- protective helmet (if you’re really a beginner)
- a Tombstone striking pad
- a punching bag
Here I’ll explain what the benefits of these are.
A pair of boxing gloves enable you to practice well Krav Maga moves. It allows you to master those punching moves, helps you strengthen your wrist and forearm, and enables you to properly position your knuckle as you strike your opponent. You can strike a punching bag or focus mitts or even hit your partner directly. Through the use of boxing gloves, your hands and your partner are protected from injury.
So if you’re a real beginner and getting into sparring with others, you might want to consider getting a protective helmet. It can get pretty rough and if you’re not completely comfortable with blocking yet, a massive blow might hit you by surprise.
Tombstone striking pad
The tombstone is a multi-angled surface striking pad that is closely associated with Krav Maga training. You can severely hit it, thereby enabling you to practice combative moves at all angles. A training partner is necessary when using this equipment.
If you are having a solo Krav Maga training, a good hanging or standing punching bag is necessary. Take note that when you opt for a hanging bag, each strike will create a counter-swing, which is a bit annoying. You can also choose to have a body opponent bag. This is a realistic way to exactly hit your target body part.
How to Get Started with Your Training
Starting a new journey is a bit difficult. Whether it is learning self-defense moves, changing your lifestyle, or starting college, the first moves are always tough. So if you are new to Krav Maga, you may find the techniques and moves a bit intimidating and complicated. However, it is exciting. There are several ways that you can do to ignite your passion at the start of your journey.
Have the Right State of Mind
When it comes to physical training or personal fitness, many people believed that this only involves conditioning the body. However, having the right state of mind is important in physical training since the mind and body are closely connected and inseparable. Therefore, if you want to engage in physical activities, it will all start in conditioning your mind.
Many Krav Maga beginners think that they are only engaging in a body training program, which is a big mistake. The truth is Krav Maga training requires a comprehensive integration of the mind and body. When your mind is not set, you cannot execute physical moves efficiently and effectively.
Choose and Gather Your Resources
Krav Maga self-defense system is designed to be used in a real-life fight. It can be practically used in the streets or on the battlefield during a close fight. If you are interested in learning Krav Maga, you may choose any of the following ways to start your training:
1. Enroll in a Krav Maga class:
Similar to other martial arts styles, one of the best ways to learn Krav Maga techniques is by enrolling yourself in a Krav Maga school. In a Krav Maga class, you will be guided by great instructors on how to execute moves effectively. You can also meet like-minded people, your teammates, who will support and encourage you.
Because Krav Maga is specifically developed for a real-life fight, it requires practitioners to be efficient in executing aggressive moves. Therefore, you will need experts who can help you develop or enhance fighting skills and knowledge so that you can be able to protect yourself against real-life attacks.
Since Krav Maga has increased its popularity nowadays, a lot of schools and gyms have emerged and claimed that they offer genuine training and are accredited by legitimate organizations. That is why choosing the right Krav Maga school is very crucial.
2. Attend a Krav Maga training camp:
Krav Maga camps are usually held in Israel. Joining a camp enables you to learn the techniques and principles in just a short period of time. Plus, it is very inspiring to learn this skill in its place of origin, Israel.
3. Read Krav Maga books:
To truly understand and appreciate its techniques and principles, it is a good idea to read Krav Maga books. Understanding the theory behind Krav Maga allows you to effectively execute moves in the actual fight.
4. Buy DVDs:
Reading books is not enough. You really need to actually practice the moves. So if you don’t have the capacity and opportunity to sign up for a Krav Maga course or class, using DVDs enable you to fully understand the concepts and practice the actual moves with the proper techniques.
However, it is still essential to consult Krav Maga professionals before actually imitating the moves you have seen in DVDs. Doing so can prevent injuries and other untoward incidents that may happen in your home. So, make sure that the Krav Maga DVD that you have chosen are highly recommended by professionals.
Observe Good Training Habits
Krav Maga is undoubtedly a practical self-defense system that is easy to learn. This is best used during real-life street fights. A lot of people are convinced to learn this self-defense style because of its simplicity and practicality. The logical movements in Krav Maga make it different from other martial arts styles.
Although it is simple and easy to learn, gaining enough strength and being flexible are essential if you want to become an efficient Krav Maga practitioner. Krav Maga training requires hard work, patience, dedication, and right methodology.
The following are some of the few tips that will help you sustain in your Krav Maga training:
1. Begin slowly.
Learn each technique slowly. Do not rush in learning all techniques at one time. When you rush in executing the movements, you will likely make more errors. It is best to completely understand first a particular technique and slowly execute each movement. Your body will eventually get used to a particular move.
Then, you can now proceed to learn and to execute another move. Do not hesitate to ask your trainer, instructor, peer, or partner to minimize or slow down their attacks when necessary. When you train, you don’t have to prove that you are good in front of anyone. So, take it slowly but surely.
2. Move purposefully.
Even though you are slowly internalizing each move, it is still important to avoid splitting up a certain technique into several steps. One of the principles of Krav Maga is movement fluidity. Train your mind and body to get used with executing continuous movements. Although your speed is slow at first, make sure that the delivery and purpose of your moves are not compromised.
If you need to extend your kicks and punches and be decisive as you strike, then do so. Bear in mind that your goal in Krav Maga is to overcome real-life attacks and neutralize the threat. Thus, your mental condition, attitude, and movements as you train should reflect your main goal.
3. Speed up.
When you get used to the movements, you may start increasing your speed. Keep in mind that the initial rule in Krav Maga training is to avoid yourself getting hurt. So, it is apparent that your safety and your partner’s safety is important as you increase your speed.
Maintain similar body mechanics as you had when you are training at a slower pace. If you notice that you had made a mistake in your movements, slow down a bit and repeat the movement until you have perfectly executed it.
4. Stop overthinking.
Whether you are training in school or at home, you will certainly discover moves and techniques that you have not yet tried. You may find it difficult at first and start to overthink. However, overthinking has no place in Krav Maga training. You will get to experience those complicated and stressful moves and drills later on as you progress in your training.
When you are capable of executing all Krav Maga moves, you can eventually use all these to protect yourself and neutralize the threat in real-life street fights. In real settings, you do not need to anticipate the attack of your opponent. All you need to do is to respond to whatever is the attack using defensive moves that you have learned during the training. To win in a fight, it is best to combine your training insights and natural instincts.
If you have made an error in your move, you don’t have the time to correct it. Instead, continue to execute defensive moves and perform offensive moves when necessary and given the opportunity. However, be mindful of your mistakes and strive to avoid it if you encounter a fight the next time around.
5. Practice, practice, practice.
Even if you are not in a formal training, you can always practice Krav Maga moves anytime, especially during your free time. If you can allot 10 to 15 minutes a day for practice, then that would be great. You can simply imagine your opponent’s attack and execute the right defense moves. You can absolutely assess your form and correct your mistakes as you practice.
6. Stick with the basics.
The key to becoming a successful Krav Maga practitioner is to have a strong foundation of the basic principles and techniques. What is nice about Krav Maga is that advanced moves are created out of basic tactics, movements, and principles.
Learning how to defend yourself against an attacker who is using a bayonet connected to a rifle is pretty cool, but this is not practical. However, if you encounter an attacker with this type of weapon, you can certainly defend yourself using a straight punch move and executing offense moves. That way, you have a great chance to neutralize the threat.
Krav Maga is a practical fighting system with the main goal of neutralizing the threat by executing the appropriate defense and offense moves. Because of the increased popularity of this self-defense style, many people nowadays begin to engage in Krav Maga training.
This can be done by enrolling in a class or training at home using DVDs and books. Having the right state of mind and body, training slowly, and staying safe are the keys to becoming a successful Krav Maga practitioner.