Krav Maga is a specialized self-defense system that incorporates a wide variety of influences. Effective as both a defense tactic and as a comprehensive full-body workout routine, Krav Maga has risen to popularity all across the world. This hand-to-hand combat technique combines aspects of boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, Aikido, and Judo, which has fortified it as one of the most diverse and complete defense and workout options.

Whether you’re simply looking to stay in shape, or you’d like to empower yourself with a proven self-defense approach, Krav Maga is the total package. You’ll learn how to break out of common holds and strikes to neutralize attackers, even those with weapons. With guidance on the skillful use of the knees and elbows, along with instruction on strong punches and kicks, you can become a formidable force should you ever need to protect yourself.

What is the Krav Maga Approach?

stylized martial arts

Israeli Defense Forces, reconnaissance and infantry brigades, and many law enforcement teams use Krav Maga as a primary tactic in altercations. The no-nonsense sensibility of Israeli self-defense tactics makes them an ideal system for use in real-world situations, such as street fights, robberies, and violent crime. The central goal of the approach is to avoid any superfluous confrontation— finishing a fight and neutralizing a situation as quickly and easily as possible is of utmost importance. The emphasis on counterattack aims to maximize effectiveness and efficiency while simultaneously ending a threat.

What is Self-Defense?

self-defense instructor

An understanding of self-defense begins with developing a keen awareness of your surroundings. Defense isn’t limited to simply handling a physical confrontation. Lines of defense should start long prior. Building awareness and avoiding a possible threat is the first stage of self-defense. The next line of defense entails the ability to prevent a hostile situation from escalating.

Another way to increase awareness is to keep vigilant, noting possible escape routes, additional threats, and objects in your vicinity that could be used to attack or defend. Aversion and avoidance of a hostile situation is the ideal outcome in Krav Maga. The goal is to seek safety by neutralizing a violent opponent, rather than just trying to win a fight. The average attacker will likely strike with passion, but little technique. With some training to provide technique and know-how, Israeli self-defense tactics can help you neutralize threatening situations, avoid confrontation, or quickly and effectively end attacks. With some consistent training and practice, you’ll see that fear is largely negated. You can learn to master control of your body and face obstacles without panic. A battle isn’t all about brute strength and size, but rather mental aspects, such as handling your nerves.

One of the many strengths of the Krav Maga approach is that it can be employed effectively by anyone, in any situation, and in any attire. Since many threatening situations occur unexpectedly, a comprehensive self-defense system must be usable whether you’re on the street, in your home, or at your work. If a situation requires the use of physical force, Krav Maga aids by targeting the most vulnerable parts of the body: the eyes, neck, throat, face, solar plexus, groin, ribs, knee, foot, and fingers.

Kick the Groin

man kicking

Since Israeli self-defense tactics are centered around neutralizing the opponent, the first basic technique is a kick to the groin. To do this, start from a staggered stance with your dominant leg positioned behind. While facing your opponent squarely, begin the kick by driving your knee forward, then letting your leg unfold up and through the target. The purpose in trying to kick “through” the target is that if you kick an object planning for mere impact, much of the follow-through power of the kick will be lost. Kick as high as you can. During your kick, you should lean back slightly from the waist to keep your balance. Aim directly between the attacker’s legs, directing your kick into the groin. Since the blow is delivered from below, the striking surface should be anywhere from the top of the foot (think your shoelaces) to the shin. The idea is to deliver the blow with as much speed and power as possible.

Blocking a Strike

martial arts on beach

In an altercation, you won’t always have the advantage of striking first. Oftentimes, your first act will be blocking a strike. To do this, raise your arms with elbows slightly bent and use the surface of your arms and forearms like a shield to stop a strike coming from outside the shoulders inward. This tactic is effective against a variety of punches, such as a hook or an overhand. But, in Israeli self-defense tactics, blocking isn’t always about stopping a blow completely—it may be more efficient to redirect the energy of a punch, which can send the attacker off balance, lending you an enormous advantage. A straight punch coming down the middle can be effectively redirected with this blocking technique.

The next step after blocking a strike is to put yourself in a position to launch a counter-attack. The idea is to use your primary hand for the block and then employ the opposite hand to deliver a strong counter-attack on the off-balanced opponent. This counter-strike should hit a vulnerable area, such as the nose, jaw, or throat.

Landing such a counter-strike may not be as easy as it sounds. Body control and technique is always essential in the practice of Israeli self-defense tactics. Any powerful attack or counter-attack requires you to hold a perfect fist—otherwise, you’ll be in danger of injuring your hand or weakening your attack. For proper technique, bend the middle set of knuckles inward, then fold the other fingers in toward the center of the palm. Place your thumb over the pointer and middle fingers, but behind the knuckles. When you deliver the blow, maintain a straight wrist, perfectly aligned with your arm. The more you can keep your fist in a perfect line with your arm, the more force you’ll deliver.

Escaping a Choke-Hold From the Front

man being assaulted

A common attack you may encounter is a frontal chokehold. If you’re not careful, you can be quickly debilitated by this move, effectively ending the fight. A central focus of Israeli self-defense tactics is to keep you in control of the fight and to allow for release from any potential holds. With a quick, decisive move, you can break away from a chokehold without much trouble.

The power behind a chokehold is derived from the thumbs—without them, the chokehold and overall threat are neutralized. Therefore, your first priority is to unlock the attacker’s thumbs from your throat. To do this, make your hands into hooks by pressing your thumbs against your index fingers, then shoot your hands to the attacker’s thumbs and pluck downward and back, as if taking your elbows toward your back pockets.

While plucking the opponent’s thumbs away, launch a counterattack with your knees. Your attacker’s biggest vulnerability while performing a chokehold is that his entire lower body will be exposed. Use this opportunity to deliver a strong knee to his groin. If the attacker is standing further away, such as at arm’s length, then deliver a full kick to the groin with your foot. Your best move would be to fully appraise the distance from your opponent—you can then decide whether to utilize a knee or full-leg kick attack. In Israeli self-defense tactics, getting your feet set and delivering strong knees or kicks will be far more effective than a series of frantic, weaker kicks. Remember: always attack from a place of strength and balance. Do as much damage as you can while being choked— as soon as you can break away, escape the scene.

Defending Against a Bear Hug From Behind

instructor throwing student

The bear hug from behind can be a devastating attack if you’re unprepared for it. Once you feel the attack, immediately drop your weight as low as possible. This means squatting to a position where your thighs are parallel with the ground. This makes your base heavy and restores balance to your position. That stance will make you far more difficult to move and control.

As you return weight and strength to your base, send out quick, strong strikes with your elbows. Aim for the attacker’s groin and, if in reach, their face. The goal with Israeli self-defense tactics is for you to create space between you and the attacker. The more wiggle room you get, the better you can maneuver yourself into an optimal position to win the fight.

Once you get some space and the attacker has loosened the bear hug, turn toward the attacker, keeping your elbows high to protect your face. If you feel you need to hinder your opponent more, finish the fight with more quick, decisive blows to the body’s weak zones. Move away from your attacker as soon as you can.

You may notice how frequently the groin is mentioned as a target for attacks. It should always be your first target because it’s the fastest way to bring an opponent to their knees and gain control of the situation.  

The Importance of Technique

woman on medicine ball

Most attackers will try to use brute force to overwhelm you. For this reason, the hallmark of Israeli self-defense tactics is technique. No matter how big or strong an attacker is, you have a great advantage if you have a better fighting technique. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s time-tested and proven, evidenced by smaller, more skilled fighters taking down larger opponents.

Another key to Krav Maga and Israeli self-defense tactics is confidence. Fear is a factor that can predetermine the outcome of a battle long before it has begun. An important part of the Krav Maga self-defense system is building confidence and resilience to intimidation. If you can enter a fight with a solid game plan, which includes a backup plan, you should be able to increase your chances of success. Mental tenacity is a strong underlying factor in every conflict. A huge part of Krav Maga is building that mental strength and translating it into physical strength.

Staying Calm

wan in water

Combat may seem to be all about kicking, punching, and improving your techniques. But all of that skill and training can become moot if you get frantic, lose track of your breathing, or stress out. The core of everything you do as a person is breathing. If you lose control of your breath, control of everything else will be lost as well. Israeli self-defense tactics center around a keen focus on maintaining conscious and controlled breathing. High-stress situations may naturally raise the heart rate and breathing, but it’s possible to ameliorate such symptoms. The irony of self-defense is that the calmer you are, the better you’ll be able to perform. This is another area in which an individual with training will have the advantage over someone who is untrained and just looking provoke a fight. Getting over-excited leads to mistakes which highlight some of the core concepts that Krav Maga relies on: calm, efficiency, and control.  

Find Out What Krav Maga Can Do For You

If you’re looking for a way to stay in shape, tone your body, focus your mind, and arm yourself with proven Israeli self-defense tactics, Krav Maga is the course for you. We offer programs in Self-Defense, Fighting, Fitness, Law Enforcement/Military, the km-X Youth Program, and all are equipped with full certification and licensing upon completion. Rise through the ranks with belt promotions and award ceremonies to help celebrate your accomplishments and track your progress.

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