With this article I’ll try to explain what Krav Maga is, why it looks and works as it does. It will not focus on who we have been training during the years, instead I’ll focus on the essentials in Krav Maga, the system, the thinking and a little bit on other important aspects.
To start the article I’ll just explain briefly who I am and my relationship to Krav Maga.
I have been involved in Krav Maga (IKMF) since 1994 now. In 1996 i went through the first IKMF Instructor course outside Israel and passed, since then I have been teaching regular students. 1998 i started Krav Maga Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden (today we are active in 4 Swedish cities). In 2002 I started teaching professionals (special units, military, law enforcement, paramedics, air-marshalls, VIP protectors, security personnel) through the IKMF GIT.
Today I’m part of the Global Instructor Team of International Krav Maga Federation and the highest level instructor/practitioner outside Israel. I met Eyal Yanilov the first time in 1994, have had close contact with him ever since and consider him as an great friend and mentor.
In 1995 I met Imi Lictenfeld in Netanya, this was a “unreal” experience, when meeting Imi in 1995 he among other things told me “welcome to the family”, those words will always stay with me and I therefore consider us all in the IKMF as a great family that works towards the same goals, share the same values and are great friends! During that trip I also met Amnon Darsa who is a great friend and an excellent instructor in the GIT.
Well, enough about that and back to the focus, the center, the goal… Krav Maga
The founder of the system was Imi Lichtenfeld (1910 – 1998), Imi had an exceptional gift of going into the mind of an attacker, to think like the aggressor and to act like him. With this gift and a lifetime of experience in real life situations, as a boxer, wrestler and gymnast (international level), with the teachings of his father (Samuel Lichtenfeld, who was a police officer,strongman and hand to hand teacher at the police department in Bratislava) he created the foundation of Krav Maga.
Krav Maga (IKMF) is a horizontal system based on the natural reactions and instincts that we are born with. By first listening to the body and then refining those same instincts to get a more technical correct solution to the specific problem we get a highly realistic and functional system, this is the reason that Krav Maga is what it is!
By horizontal I mean that Krav Maga is a system that addresses all the different problems that can arise in regular or professional life, there is no specialization towards gun or knife defenses, we do not put all efforts in fighting with (or against) sticks or knifes. The techniques we have are extremely effective and the most realistic solutions there is but we do not focus on one “subject” in the world of self-defense. We try to get the practitioner to a point where he/she is as wide as possible in techniques, knowledge and tactics against whatever problem that may arise in daily or professional life.
Knife, stick, gun, chokes, punches, kick, threats, attacks and so on, whatever it is, we defend it.
Krav Maga is born from hard earned lessons from real life situations, from the experience of all the instructors and practitioners that was before and are now, if something is not safe enough for the person using it… it will be changed or removed (mistakes can happen but if it’s a recurring problem there will be changes). We have the experiences from people from all parts of society, special units, civilians, Law enforcement, solders, paramedics, clerks, business men, correctional officers, forensic psychologists, IKMF is a organization that develops continuously and draws it feedback from all the people within it, we do not stop evolving and are always eager to improve.
Nothing overrules the first rule of Krav Maga which is “Do not get hurt!”
What we do to get a new student “on his feet” is that we teach the basic techniques of kneeing, elbowing, punching and kicking towards a target that is in front of, by the side of or behind, not a lot of them – just enough to be effective in a short period of time. We teach defenses against straight and circular attacks, releases from a few chokes and holds (standing and lying), how to deal with falls and the idea that everything is allowed to defend yourself. We give the students the understanding that realistic training is essential to their development and safety in real life situations.
This arsenal will help the student understand the principles, ideas and mentality of Krav Maga, it gives a functional self-defense fast and at the same time it gives the foundation to build the rest of the system – if this part isn’t done correctly the rest of the structure will crumble.
There are some moves that are extremely important to the system, both as a technique and as a teacher of the mentality of the system, they teach the student to react, to counter as early as possible, to move, how to move, with what type of energy and in what mental state he/she has to perform to increase the chances of a successful outcome of a violent confrontation.
Lets take a look at the 360 outside defense.
The 360 is an instinctive defense. There is no step, no body defense, there is just hand defense and a counter (unless there is time for a step) – by this I mean the initial reaction to an attack, not the continuation of the event which would be more counter attacks and then finishing the situation appropriate to the situation (role of the defender, single/multiple attackers, control/no control and so on and so on – there’s no end to the possibilities here). The most basic continuation is to attack the attacker in the same manner as the first attack with straight punches and knees/kicks.
The 360 relies on the natural reaction of the body – which is to raise the hand to defend/stop the attack – this reaction is the same no matter if there is a knife in the hand of the attacker or not, it has been perfected to deal with as many situations as possible (knife/no knife). It creates a safe distance between the target and the attacking hand whether it is empty or has a knife in it.
The mentality in the 360 is that of an attack, NOT of a defense, the 360 teaches the student to react extremely aggressive towards an attack which teaches the student to “not think” in a situation where he/she has to use Krav Maga in real life. Except of that it creates a stoppage to the “plan” of the attacker since he will react in some way to the punch (pain, surprise…) and forces him to “reboot” the brain to get back to the mental state he was in before the counter from the defender. The process of “rebooting the brain” takes some time and while it is going on the defender gets time to continue the defense by attacking more or running away.
Aspects & Considerations
There is basics in the system that the student learn in the beginning of his/her “career”, these techniques are the most efficient way to solve a problem, for instance if a straight attack is coming between your hands you react with an inside defense and if it is coming outside your hand you will react with an outside defense, after the initial defense of the hand you have to move the body to separate between the attack and the target, then step away from the line of attack. Depending on your readiness in the specific situation you counter as early as you can – this can be done in different rhythms and paces.
Further down the road the student will get to learn techniques that increases their personal abilities further, this is done to improve the basic techniques and understanding of the system as a whole. Some of these techniques are not as reactional and direct as the basics but they add to the personal abilities to attack, defend, move or avoid.
There is three aspects/abilities that has to be improved to increase the chances to survive a violent confrontation
- the mental aspects
- the technical skills
- the tactics
We can move them around and debate on which one is the most important as long as we want, but if one of the legs of the tripod isn’t there it will fall, if one is to short it has to be lengthened. This way we get a good base and a solid foundation to start from. The higher the tripod the harder it gets for an attacker to reach the top of it and defeat us.
This article is related to the Krav Maga of IKMF.