Krav Maga has become one of the world’s most prolific self-defense techniques to have ever been established, and it is also one of the first hybrid martial arts to achieve such notoriety.
Like most martial arts techniques, Krav Maga also has its basic fighting stances and it is designed to prepare the practitioner for battle.
Assuming a battle position needs to be done instinctively whenever a threat appears and the reason for it is because the fighter can successfully defend himself and deliver a counter-offensive by anticipating the attack before it happens.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Basic Krav Maga Stances
- 2 Intermediate Fighting Stances and Strikes
- 3 Advanced Krav Maga Fighting Stances
- 4 The Ability to Engage Enemies Without a Weapon
Basic Krav Maga Stances
It’s important to familiarize yourself with the basic stances of Krav Maga as this will help you prepare for battle both physically and mentally. Once you’re able to memorize the basic fighting stances, then you can move on to the intermediate and advanced fighting stances, evolve and improve your techniques as well as strikes.
Below are the 3 basic stances for Krav Maga:
- Neutral Stance – is simply just standing in a normal relaxed position.
- Self-Defense Stance – you get into this mode when you align your hands to the height of your chest (fist can be closed or open), your face is still exposed, feet are heel, and your toe and shoulder are a width apart.
- Fighting Stance – finally you enter the fighting stance when you raise your hands to your eye level in order to anticipate your opponent’s strikes and protect your head at the same time. Chin tucked, your shoulders are raised higher than normal, feet are heel, and your toe and shoulder are a width apart. One of your rear heels is lifted and your knees are slightly bent in preparation for sprinting action.
Intermediate Fighting Stances and Strikes
Having learned the basic Krav Maga stances we then proceed to the intermediate and advanced fighting moves of this martial art.
Even though Krav Maga is a hybrid martial arts it has completely evolved from the roots it was borrowed from and you may notice a slight difference between the fighting stances of the other martial arts techniques and its own unique fighting stances.
So now let us look into the different stances for intermediate and advance Krav Maga fighting techniques.
Translated as “continuous motion” in Hebrew, the retzev is a series of unchoreographed moves based on your body’s natural reflexes enhanced to dynamically react to many scenarios seamlessly, in various ranges, against weapons, multiple attackers, and so on.
There are no katas or drills for retzev and you are trained to merely react to your opponent’s attacks in order to deliver an explosive counter-attack on your terms.
Unlike the kata of most martial arts, the retzev is not a set of predetermined methods but follows your body’s natural rhythmic movements that you can use for both offensive and defensive techniques.
Punches and Strikes
Krav Maga follows the same principles that most martial arts does which is by scrunching your fingers into your palms, then folding your thumbs over your index and middle fingers (and tightening your fist around them).
Doing the opposite which is wrapping your fingers around your thumb will 100% cause injury, so don’t ever do this.
Another mistake people make when punching or striking a dummy, punching bag or their opponent is keeping their fists closed at all times. This will transfer all of the forces onto your knuckles, bones, and joints (not to mention it will tear your skin after several contacts) and will wear you out quickly.
What you should do instead is loosen your grip when your hands are resting and only clenching your fists at about 6-7 inches from the target before it connects. This will ensure that you will deliver the maximum amount of force by harnessing the kinetic energy you accumulate before and at the moment of impact.
The jab is the least powerful of all the strikes; however, you can do in a rapid and succeeding responsive light attacks that will keep your opponent at a safe distance and off balance.
Do not rely on it too much though as a smart opponent will find a way around it and overcome this kind of defensive move. Instead, switch to a powerful strike when the opportunity arises. The jab should only be used to set up your opponent for your next destructive attack.
The cross in Krav Maga is the same as what they teach in boxing. To perform the cross punch you must first position your feet properly. Put your left foot forward and your right foot back (if you’re right-handed, reverse your leg placement if you’re left handed), then lift your fists at eye level.
Throw a jab to test the defenses of your opponent as well as his reaction time, and then if you can find an opening go ahead and throw your left or right cross punch.
Make sure you swivel your hip and your heel to transfer the power from your lower body into your punch and deliver more damage to your opponent.
Again the right hook punch (if you’re right-handed) is also another punching style that they teach in boxing and you do it by making a curved punch horizontally with either hand to hit either side of your opponent’s mandible or temple.
The cross is an incredibly powerful attack because of the pivoting of your hips and feet with proper weight distribution.
As a rule of thumb most fighters use one or two initial jabs before making the cross; however, if you’ll practice hard enough, then you can perform the cross at lightning speeds that your opponent won’t even have the time to react to it.
Then the jab won’t be necessary, but do exercise caution as after performing this technique, you’ll leave yourself completely vulnerable.
The Uppercut Strike
The uppercut strike is the most powerful close-range attack ever conceived. Some people call it, “the ice breaker,” because it can shock and stun your opponent. Potential targets for the uppercut punch include the chin, neck, midsection and even the groin.
The uppercut punch is a great way to tear down your opponent’s defenses while counter-attacking.
The best time to employ the uppercut strike is when your opponent is trying to pin you against the wall, trying to choke, while both of you are grappling, or if he’s trying to strangle you from the front. The distance between you two is too close for him to react to this kind of surprise attack and you’ll instantly be able to put him down if you attack him fast and hard.
The Hammer Fist Strike
The opposite of the other types of strikes, the hammer fist strike may not be as strong as the other punches, especially since they all involve the knuckle bones, but it does create damage on soft tissues.
Like the uppercut punch, the hammer fist strike is best utilized at close ranges and is also ideal for striking an opponent while you’re grappling. Targeting soft tissues such as the nose, throat, base of the skull, etc. will incapacitate or even kill your opponent.
There is also a variation to the hammer fist strike which is called the mouth of hand strike which uses the thumb and the knuckles to strike at the opponent.
You can use it as a combination punch with both your fist on one or more opponents while doing the retzev.
The Palm Heel Strike
The knuckles on your fist are not the only solid parts of your body that can do a lot of damage to your opponent. The meaty portion of your palm (the part where the wrist joint is located can have the same effect as the knuckles on your fist when they connect to key areas on your opponent’s body.
The mechanism with how a conventional punch or strike works is the same when making a palm heel strike, except you use your palm instead of making a fist with your hand.
Adjusting the angle of your hand as you make the strike will add more power to your attack and do serious damage to your opponent.
Also read: is Krav Maga effective?
Advanced Krav Maga Fighting Stances
I know that this has already been discussed above, but we will go over it again just to show you how to progress to the other positions employed during combat.
So there’s the neutral stance and then there’s the fighting stance, then furthermore it unfolds into the different fighting stances.
The Dominant Side
Your dominant side if the hand that you’re familiar with, so if you’re always using your right hand for doing work, then that’s the one you’ll most likely use in fighting and it’s your dominant side. If you’re left-handed, the southpaw stance is just the contrary. You’d be like the 8-division world boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao, using his front arm for jabs and fast attacks and his left arm is reserved for power strikes.
In Krav Maga you will be taught how to familiarize both sides, so you can rely on them confidently even if your dominant side is damaged or impaired in combat.
The Feet Position
You must position your feet in such a way that will maximize the potential for your agility. You want to be able to move in every direction in a flash.
So point your feet towards your opponent and they must be slightly diagonal with your toes angled at 25 – 30 degrees inward (if you’ll draw a straight line between you and your opponent).
Raise your heels a few centimeters off of the ground to help you sprint a lot faster and enable yourself to change positions and move in any direction you want faster and using less energy than what’s necessary.
The Hands Position
Position your hands in such a way it will allow you to strike or punch, but also can curl up fast to cover your head from your opponent’s punches.
The proper way to do it is to raise your hands to your chin level. Only close your hands to a fist when striking or punching, but keep them loose and open when defending yourself.
While it is true you will leave your body seemingly defenseless, you really are not, because you can do the retzev and move around to avoid your opponent’s attacks or block them using a combination of your legs and arms in deflecting punches, strikes, and kicks.
Of course, since you’re trained in Krav Maga, you are able to tolerate pain from your opponent’s strikes and do a counter-offensive immediately.
Find your center of gravity and you will find your body’s balance. Keep your feet apart as wide as the width of your shoulders.
Keep in mind that you should be able to squat so you can sprint into action and attack your opponent when the opportunity arises or you can change stance or position yourself in another area to change your battle tactics.
Simulation and Tactics
Once the Krav Maga practitioner is able to familiarize all of the above stances and strikes, then the instructor will lead him on to practice the tactics via fighting simulations.
Practitioners will do practice fighting with the KM bag, dummy, and other practitioners to sharpen their fighting skills and hone their tactics.
They will also engage in games that are specifically designed to harness their reflexes and these include:
- Snatching a coin from an open palm
- Touching/hitting games
- Using sticks, arnis, nunchakus, etc. to play ping pong or any other game that will test the practitioner’s hand-eye coordination to its limits.
Offensive and defensive simulation techniques will also be practiced as part of the advance Krav Maga fighting strategy.
Attacks are performed in:
- A passive or semi-passive stance
- A general outlet stance
- A ready stance
- From multiple directions
- From various heights (e.g. fighting on the stairs or one of the fighters is in an elevated position)
- While retreating to a safer place or advancing to corner the opponent
- From other positions such as sitting on the ground or lying on one’s back
Defenses are also performed against:
- Against punches and strikes from any direction and then they are taught some counter attacks and later to come up with their own counter-offensive moves in the most efficient manner.
- Multiple attackers
Basically, all warriors understand this fact which is why they train with the sword and the shield in ancient times. Each soldier was trained to rely on their shield for defense and on their sword for attacking their enemies; however, when they fight collectively they become a stronger force which also increases their chances to survive and successfully complete their mission.
After thousands of years of somewhat inefficient fighting styles things changed, and in the 5th century BC an Indian Buddhist monk named, Buddhabhadra, created what martial arts experts call as “the first institutionalized systematized and enhanced fighting techniques” known as the Shaolin Kung Fu.
This fighting method spread throughout Asia as it has become popular, but for a time being admitted to these schools was a privilege to only the few elites (people who are in top physical condition), until a man called, Imi Lichtenfeld, simplified the fighting methods and created his own self-defense technique which he calls, Krav Maga.
You’ll definitely want to learn these stances when going for these different belts for Krav Maga when progressing your skills.
The Ability to Engage Enemies Without a Weapon
By the 15th century AD Jujutsu (the original Japanese version) was invented to teach samurais to be able to defend themselves against armed opponents in case their weapons fall from their grip by accident.
And although the ancient Greeks and the Romans taught their soldiers self-defense, it wasn’t as effective as the Japanese samurais’ self-defense in battle as they have successfully not only defended themselves but also steal their opponent’s weapon and used it against them.
The sacred truth was then realized as enlightened masters realized that swords and spears were not actually the real weapons to be feared, but the very skilled warrior that wields them are.