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What is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is a self-defense system credited to Imi Lichtenfield, who developed the technique in defense of those in the Jewish quarter of Bratislava. It has been adopted by branches of the Israeli Defense Forces. The name is from two Hebrew words: Krav meaning battle, and Maga meaning contact.

Signature aspects of krav maga

The most noticeable concept of Krav Maga is finishing a conflict as quickly as possible. To accomplish this goal, attacks are directed to the most vulnerable parts of the body. There are no rules of conduct other than to defeat the opponent. While training provides superior protection, use of Krav Maga in practical applications has only one goal – defeat the opponent regardless of the harm done.

Basic principles

Since neutralizing an opponent as quickly as possible is the primary goal, all of Krav Maga’s principles are geared toward that goal. The basic concepts comprise

  • Maintaining constant awareness of one’s surroundings in order to facilitate escape, assess possible weapons, and identification of further attackers
  • Targeting attacks to a foes most susceptible areas – face, throat, groin, legs, eyes
  • Counterattacking as quickly as possible
  • Neutralizing a foe as quickly as possible

In addition, those trained in the method are taught to use any available item as a weapon. They also incorporate a variety of kicks, punches, thrusts, throws, and other techniques gleaned from other martial arts. Maximum efficiency and effectiveness are hallmarks.

Unlike other martial arts, there are no uniforms are specific equipment. In the greatest sense, Krav Maga is a survival skill to be used in life threatening circumstances. There is only one rule, and that is there are no rules.


As Krav Maga has grown in popularity, it has adopted the belt system used in other martial arts. As in its related disciplines, the purpose of the belts is to denote levels of achievement and skills possessed. Instructor certification is available from national and international certification boards in order to ensure safe and proper training is delivered to participants.

Finding a program

If you are looking for a Krav Maga program, there are some things you should expect. When visiting a facility you should find it clean, well-lighted, and well-equipped. The instructor should be certified by a national or international federation and he or she should be humble. The true Krav Maga master has no need to boast or be a self-promoter.

Because Krav Maga is simple (and brutal) you should not be bombarded with promises to teach elaborate moves or hundreds of techniques. While fitness is a natural result of any athletic endeavor, Krav Maga is not about a show-stopping physique – it is about how to handle yourself in adverse situations.

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