Krav Maga: “contact combat” is a self-defense system and latest form of martial arts developed for the Israel Defence Forces that consists of a wide combination of techniques sourced from different martial arts like aikido, judo, boxing and wrestling, along with realistic fight training. Krav Maga is extremely efficient and has brutal counter-attacks; it is also known for its focus on real-world situations. It was developed by Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld from the street-fighting skills and his training as a boxer and a wrestler. He developed it as a means of defending the Jewish quarter against fascist groups in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (presently Slovakia) in the mid-to-late 1930s. In the late 1940s, following his migration to Israel, he began to provide lessons on combat training to what was to become the IDF, who went on to develop the system that became known as Krav Maga. It has since been refined for civilian, police and military applications.
Krav Maga has a philosophy emphasizing threat neutralization, simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers, and aggression. Krav Maga has been used mainly by the Israel Defense Forces’ special units and reconnaissance brigades and recently by regular infantry brigades, and several closely related variations have been developed and adopted by law enforcement and intelligence organizations, Mossad and Shin Bet. There are several organizations teaching variations of Krav Maga internationally.
Krav Maga: Basic principles
Krav Maga encourages students to avoid confrontation. If this is impossible or unsafe, it promotes finishing a fight as quickly as possible. Attacks are aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the body, and training is not limited to techniques that avoid severe injury; some are even intended to permanently injure or cause death to the opponent. Drills provide maximum safety to students by the use of protective equipment and the use of reasonable force.
Students learn to defend against all variety of attacks and are taught to counter in the quickest and most efficient way.
Ideas in Krav Maga include:
- Counterattacking as soon as possible (or attacking preemptively).
- Targeting attacks to the body’s most vulnerable points, such as: the eyes, neck or throat, face, solar plexus, groin, ribs, knee, foot, fingers, liver, etc.
- Maximum effectiveness and efficiency in order to neutralize the opponent as quickly as possible.
- Maintaining awareness of surroundings while dealing with the threat in order to look for escape routes, further attackers, objects that could be used to defend or help attack, and so on.
Training can also cover the study and development of situational awareness to develop an understanding of one’s surroundings, learning to understand the psychology of a street confrontation, and identifying potential threats before an attack occurs. It may also cover ways to deal with physical and verbal methods to avoid violence whenever possible.