KRAV MAGA – SUPERIOR MARTIAL ART OR JUST ANOTHER FAD?
I get asked this question a lot and at the same time I hear many misleading answers. Let me try to lay down some facts, point differences and hopefully help you form your own opinion.
What is Krav Maga?
Krav Maga in Hebrew means contact combat. It was developed in 1930′s by Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was born in Budapest in Jewish family and later on moved to Bratislava. Imi was a gifted wrestler, boxer and a champion on National Wrestling Team.
When Adolph Hitler came to power, Jewish communities came under constant attacks and anti-Semitic riots. Imi and his colleagues decided to defend their people. Fighting on streets of Bratislava , usually out-numbered, Imi realized that techniques he learned in boxing and wrestling weren’t always applicable in the street fight. He started to adopt and develop the system known today as Krav Maga.
When World War II erupted Imi moved to Israel where he became the Chief Instructor of Physical Training in the Israel Defense Forces. During his IDF years he worked on perfecting Krav Maga and shaping it into best military hand to hand combat that ever existed . After retiring from army Imi opened up his own school and began adopting Krav Maga for civilian and law enforcement use. During that time he trained many great instructors.
This is how Krav Maga was developed over the years. The main focus was: it had to work on the street or a battle field in the real life treating situations. It was never meant to be just an martial art but rather an effective, easy to learn and retain self-defense system.
So, what is the difference between Krav Maga and other Martial Arts?
First thing you will notice when you start training Krav Maga is that there are no forms, no kata and no choreographed moves. Krav Maga takes your natural instinct and your movement and turns it into easy to learn and remember, yet powerful and effective self-defense technique.
Many techniques come from Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Karate and even Judo, however they were adopted to work in the real life situations. If they were too complicated to learn they got simplified, if they were to slow, they were accelerated and if they weren't 100% effective they got modified.
Krav Maga practitioners are being prepared for a real life threatening attack. Attack that will come unexpected, carried by two, three or even more attackers possibly armed with weapons: a stick, a knife or even a gun. They learn how to fight on the ground. They learn how to fight after being totally exhausted.
They learn how to fight for their life.
There are no rules in Krav Maga and for that reason there are very few Krav Maga competitions. For those competitions that exist some rules have to be put in place to protect the fighter.
It's just too brutal as a sport.
There are 5 main targets in Krav Maga: eyes, nose, throat, groin and a knee. No matter how strong your opponent is he cannot go to the gym and exercise his eyes his knee or his nose.
You destroy one of those targets, you destroy your attacker. Everything around you becomes a weapon: car keys, a pen, a wall.. Every part of your body is a weapon: your knees, elbows, your teeth and even fingernails.
There is only one objective – Survival.
The average street fight lasts 8-12 seconds. The first 3 seconds will most likely decide the outcome.
Krav Maga teaches to recognize and neutralize the threat by defending and counter-attacking simultaneously, switching seamlessly from defense to offense and overwhelming attacker(s) with “retzev”, which in Hebrew means continues motion.
If I had to answer the question what Krav Maga really is, I would say it's a state of mind. Knowing that being a victim is no longer an option and the comfort of possessing skills to support that conviction.
Written by Greg Dziewonski