Effective Self-Defense

effective self-defense with elbow strikes

Motivation for training in martial arts comes from myriad different places including learning self-defense, getting in better shape, making a cultural connection, the desire to compete, and more. Training in martial arts specifically for the purposes of self-defense, requires time, effort, and consistency. The learning process is faster for some but without time, effort, and consistency there is no way to develop the skills that are needed for self-defense. Like learning anything new, learning and building self-defense skills requires comprehension of what is being taught and the ability to apply what is taught in order to be effective. Self-defense is a somewhat tricky concept in this regard because the application of the material being taught is applied in somewhat controlled training situations. This includes full-contact sparring and training situations. There is always an element of control to ensure safety. There is no way to go all out and literally fight for your life in every training session. 

effective self-defense training

This brings up the the concept and question of overall effectiveness. How does a person know if they are effective at self-defense, or if they are learning, and training in, effective self-defense? It’s a topic and concept that can be analyzed and debated but, really, there’s not one clear cut answer. The sport of Mixed Martial Arts originated from this question and the concept of finding the most effective martial art. Who would prevail in a fight between a boxer and a grappler, or a sumo wrestler and a kick boxer, etc. That original concept however has brought about the evolution of MMA training into the best way to prepare for and win an MMA sport fight. Self-defense however isn’t just about being in a fair fight. In terms of self-defense there might be some overlap of skills with sport fighting but, again, these athletes aren’t fighting to the death in the cage, they are fighting to win a contest about fighting. 

effective self-defense training on the ground

If you are consistently dedicating time and effort to learning self-defense because you want to be able to protect yourself, you want to be sure that the training you are involved in is, at the end of the day, effective. Meaning, your investment of time and energy will develop in you the ability to protect yourself, and protect the people you love, from harm. Looking at this goal from a very broad perspective it can be argued that the most important elements of the martial art or self-defense system you choose train in are the philosophy behind the martial art or system and the skills that the martial art or system can teach you. When you apply this sort of analysis to Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense training it’s easy to see why Krav Maga is in fact effective self-defense training. 


Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense comes directly from the creator of Krav Maga, Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was an accomplished boxer and grappler prior to WWII when he joined Nazi resistance fighters in Europe and eventually immigrated to Israel at the war’s end. The new nation of Israel needed to form and train an Army for its defense. Imi was selected to train Israel’s armed forces (known today as the IDF) because of his combat experience. The majority of the people who joined Israel’s new Army had no fighting experience, which presented a huge challenge in terms of training time.

krav maga near me darren levine and imi lichtenfeld

Imi’s expertise in multiple aspects of hand-to-hand combat as well as the pressure of training people to defend their newly formed nation in a very short period of time lead to the distillation of technique and tactics. This in turn lead to the development of what is Krav Maga’s no-holds-barred mentality. There are no rules on the battlefield, thus there is no consideration for rules or “fairness” in Krav Maga. The only “rule” is to win. The only success is survival.

Krav Maga by design stresses efficiency, aggression and, above all, survival. This design philosophy resulted in traditional elements of martial arts practice like forms, katas, and rules for competition, being omitted from Krav Maga. Krav Maga stresses survival and teaches techniques like headbutts, groin strikes, strikes to the back of the head, eye gouges, and throat strikes. All of which would be considered illegal in a sanctioned sport fight or martial arts competition.

It’s this philosophy and the efficiency with which it is manifest in training, that sets Krav Maga apart from other martial arts. Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense training is really a system that teaches people to fight back against attackers by any means necessary in order to survive and go home safe. If you consider this in terms of effective self-defense it becomes difficult to argue that any other way of looking at self-defense is really logical or practical. Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense teaches people how to fight aggressively in order to protect themselves, and the people they love from harm. It’s not a system meant to teach people simply to “win” a contest. The Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense philosophy actually promotes the idea of not even being in a fight to begin with. 


Krav Maga Worldwide teaches effective self-defense skills

The merits of the Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense philosophy are clear however when thinking about any self-defense system or martial art in terms of being effective, there has to be some consideration for the skills that the training is teaching. Realistically, anyone who wants to learn fighting skills, and as such the skills they would need to defend themselves effectively, must learn how to strike while standing up, how to fight while on the ground, and how to handle the transitions between standing and going to the ground and vice versa. Self-defense in the real world isn’t just about knowing how to win a fistfight, though. In order for a person to really be prepared to defend themselves, they have to have some knowledge of what to do against an armed attacker. 

The skills that Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense teaches are valuable because they involve all of these elements; stand-up fighting, ground fighting, transitions, and weapons. When you train to develop these skills with Krav Maga Worldwide’s no-holds barred mentality, you can be sure that your time, effort, and consistency are going to yield effective results.

Stand-up Striking

Krav Maga Worldwide teaches students to use punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and a variety of other strikes (like palm heel striking, eye gouges and chops) to fight back and win if they are attacked. Striking is really the foundation of hand-to-hand combat. If a system or martial art doesn’t have a focus on strikes that will do damage to an attacker efficiently, it should be considered lacking. 

Krav Maga Worldwide striking teaches with efficiency because of it’s no-holds barred mentality. Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense doesn’t just teach students how to throw a punch, kick, or elbow, it teaches students what to target on an attacker in order to make the most damage in the shortest period of time. That’s why one of the first things students learn in Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense is a front kick to the groin. Nobody can condition their groin to take more damage or become stronger. A well placed kick to the groin will cause pain in the attacker and it will also inhibit their ability to function. This in turn gives the defender a chance to end the fight and get away. 

krav maga is the best self-defense system

Some of the striking techniques taught in Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense are the exact same as those taught in Muay Thai and Western-style boxing. Their application comes from a different mindset and philosophy. So a student at a Krav Maga Worldwide certified training center is learning the same skills as someone at a Muay Thai school, or Boxing gym, they are just learning a different way to put those skills to use. 

In order to become proficient at stand-up striking there has got to be some sparring and training against live, resisting opponents. Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense includes live sparring and training and most Krav Maga Worldwide certified training centers have full-contact fight programs through which students can hone their skills. It’s a well-rounded approach and system that provides the edge of self-defense mentality. 

Ground Fighting and Transitions

Krav Maga ground fighting sweep effective self-defense

Ground fighting is, just as the name says, fighting while on the ground. Transitions are the throws, takedowns, sweeps, and technical get-ups that take the fight from the feet to the ground and vice versa. Imi Lichtenfeld was a boxer and a grappler so he knew the importance of training for these grappling related elements of fighting. 

Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense teaches students how to deal with being in a bad position while on the ground, and basically how to escape. Being on the ground in a fight that is not a sport fight is dangerous and Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense does not promote or train for the idea of a prolonged ground fight. The mentality is to escape from bad positions so that one can improve their position. In superior positions on the ground the mentality is to control that position, do damage, and then get out and get away. 

Krav Maga ground fighting

This may put a Krav Maga Worldwide student at a disadvantage against, for example, a jiu-jitsu expert in a ground fight but in terms of well-rounded, practical, self-defense skills the techniques and philosophy involved in Krav Maga ground fighting are essential for survival. 

The same holds true for Krav Maga Worldwide’s approach to fighting back against being taken down or thrown. In general Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense stresses takedown defense and aggressively fighting back against getting tackled or thrown. There is also takedown training so that, as mentioned before, if a fight is going to go to the ground the Krav Maga Worldwide student has a chance to control, make damage, and get out, from a superior position. Similar to ground fighting, this might put a Krav Maga Worldwide student at a disadvantage against a high level wrestler or judo expert but the Krav Maga Worldwide system teaches essential skills for self-defense, not details of techniques that take years of specialized training to master. 

Weapons Defenses

Krav Maga knife defense

In an ideal world, defending against an armed attacker wouldn’t be a consideration. It was a reality for Imi Lichtenfeld however and he knew the importance of training every person to be able to have the ability to fight back and win against someone armed with a knife, gun, stick, or other blunt object. Krav Maga is really self-defense system that developed from training people to be soldiers so Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense training maintains these roots and teaches people defenses against armed attackers. 

Some of these defenses are as simple as keeping a safe distance and getting away without engaging the attacker at all. Other techniques involve important concepts of movement, redirection, control, counterattacking, and disarming the attacker. 

The permutations and “what if’s” that arise when thinking about situations in which there is a knife, gun, etc are myriad. There’s really no way to train for all of them but what Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense teaches is tactics, mindset, and skills, that give a defender the best chance of survival in these situations. There has to be some consideration for dealing with armed attackers in the martial art or self-defense system that you are making the consistent time and effort to train in.

Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense training is effective self-defense training.

Krav Maga stick defense

Overall Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense is about survival. Fight back, win, go home safe, by any means necessary. The system teaches people real skills and real tactics that continue to be taught to the IDF as well as other military units, and law enforcement agencies around the world. The Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense system is battlefield tested. It’s meant to give people real skills so that they can be safer and stronger. If what you really want from your training is to compete in martial arts fighting at a high level then, yes, you are probably going to get more value for your time, effort, and consistency at a gym meant for competition training. However if are looking for in your training is the means to develop skills that will give you the ability to protect yourself and your loved ones from harm, Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense is the most effective training. 

All of our certified training centers around the world have expert instructors who have dedicated their own lives to helping people learn these skills. Imi Lichtenfeld’s vision when he trained Krav Maga Worldwide’s Chief Instructor Darren Levine, was that Darren help people all over the world get access to Krav Maga training so that every person could “walk in peace”. That’s the direct line from Imi Lichtenfeld to Krav Maga Worldwide, and that’s the mission we continue to work for today. 

You can take a FREE trial class at our HQ Training Centers in Los Angeles by filling out our contact form. Many of our certified training centers around the world also offer a free trial class. If you need help finding the certified training center closest to you click here…or give us a call at 1-800-572-8624

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