Krav Maga


Krav Maga (meaning: “contact combat” or “close combat”) is an eclectic hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel. It was derived from street-fighting skills developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, making use of his training as a boxer and wrestler, as a means of defending the Jewish quarter during a period of anti-Semitic activity in Bratislava in the mid- to late 1930’s. In the late 1940’s, following his emigration to Israel, he began to provide hand-to-hand combat training to what was to become the IDF, developing the techniques that became known as Krav Maga. It has since been refined for both civilian and military applications. Unlike most martial arts, Krav Maga is essentially a tactical defense skill. Its philosophy emphasizes threat neutralization, simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers, and aggressive endurance in a ‘him-or-me’ context. Krav Maga is still used by the Israel Defense Forces and several closely related variations have been developed and adopted by law enforcement, Mossad, FBI, United States special operations forces, Irish and British Special Forces. There are several organizations teaching variations of Krav Maga internationally.

Basic principles

Krav Maga is not a martial art by traditional standards. There are no rules for Krav Maga fighting, and no built-in distinctions in training between men and women. It has no sporting federation, and there are no official uniforms or attire, although some organizations, internally, do recognize progress through training with rank badges, different levels, and belts.

Techniques generally focus on training combatants in conditions approximating real-life scenarios. Krav Maga trains combatants for situations where losing would be potentially fatal. Its attack and defense maneuvers aim to neutralize the threat and facilitate rapid and safe escape. These include a variety of fast and fluid crippling attacks to vulnerable body parts through various efficient and often brutal strikes. The improvised use of any available aids is encouraged – maximizing personal safety in a fight is emphasized.

Krav Maga training programs involve rapid learning, with offensive and defensive techniques introduced from the first lesson and retzev (pronounced ret-zef and meaning “sequencing”) playing an important part in both training and maneuvers.

While no limits are placed on techniques to be used in life-threatening situations, during training the legal need to minimize damage is generally stressed (at least in civilian contexts), and instructors are required to demonstrate how to moderate the techniques to suit the seriousness of the circumstances.

Krav Maga basic training emphasizes the following:

  • Do not get injured or injure training partners.
  • Employ pre-emptive defensive techniques
  • Change quickly from defensive into offensive techniques (i.e., respond to an attack with overwhelming force), in the quickest time possible
  • Use the most natural, quickest, reflexes of the body
  • Exploit the opponent’s vulnerabilities to their extreme
  • Employ the aid of any available objects

Krav Maga trainees learn to deal first with the immediate threat and then prevent further attacks, if necessary by neutralizing the attacker. Training is conducted in a methodical manner taking the practitioners’ strengths and weaknesses into account.

Basic training

Krav Maga has taken many techniques from various martial arts; however, unlike the set routines and choreographed moves in martial arts, Krav Maga teaches realistic fighting and self-defense – attacks in social settings (pubs, clubs, street etc). Typical training often includes exercises simulating fighting against one or several opponents and/or whilst protecting another. This can also involve a debilitating scenario – the use of only one arm, while dizzy and against armed opponents.

Basic training is a mixed aerobic and anaerobic workout, relying heavily on the use of protective pads. In striking this helps the trainee practice maneuvers at full strength, while the holder experiences the impact felt when getting hit.

Various personal guards are available for protection, offering a realistic level of violence without risk of injury. Some schools incorporate “Strike and Fight,” which consists of full-contact sparring intended to familiarize the student with the stresses of a violent situation.

Training within extreme acoustic, visual, and verbal scenarios prepares students to ignore peripheral distractions and focus on the needs of the situation.[citation needed]Other training methods to increase realism might include blindfolding or exercising trainees to near exhaustion before dealing with a simulated attack as well as training outdoors on a variety of surfaces and restrictive situations.

Training will also cover situational awareness in order to develop an understanding of one’s surroundings and potentially threatening circumstances before an attack is launched. It may also cover “Self Protection”: ways to deal with potentially violent situations, and physical and verbal methods to avoid violence whenever possible.

Classes will feature a warm up to raise the heart rates, moving on to stretching. Various techniques are then shown which end in a retzev (fluid defense/attack).


  1. Wikidpedia: Krav Maga
  2. Tucker, Ken (2004-09-12). “Kick! Punch! Slap!“. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved on 2009-05-07. 
  3. Complete History of Krav Maga“. Retrieved on 2009-04-09. 
  4. Krav Maga USA – History“. International Krav-Maga Federation. Retrieved on 2009-04-09. 
  5. Our History“. Krav Maga Worldwide. Retrieved on 2009-04-09. 
  6. Krav Maga Federation“. Krav Maga Federation. Retrieved on 2009-04-27. 
  7. Krav Maga, a Generalization!“. Retrieved on 2009-03-19. 
  8. Tactical Krav Maga Self Defense
  9. Israeli Krav Maga – FAQ Page
  10. History of Krav Maga
  12. International Krav Maga Federation
  13. International Krav Maga Federation
  14. Duvdevan Training Documentation
  15. Former Special Forces Operator Still Trains Units
  16. Police Training Documentation
  17. Israeli Presidential Security Staff Trains in Krav Maga – Article Bottom of Page


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