It is an interesting observation that people in modern times live longer than their ancestors, move faster than them, have a larger world, access to more information, yet cannot take the time to sit and fully absorb anything.
This is just a fact of life. Short term memories must be measured in nanoseconds. We have trained ourselves to not remember phone numbers, directions, or addresses. Now we simply refer to the device in our pockets.
What does this have to do with the title of this article? You may be thinking, “Hey, this says Krav Maga. I thought I was about to learn about martial techniques and self-defense.”
I will get to that soon enough. First I must establish a baseline from which to build my case, a solid foundation to erect my argument. I hope by the end of this article you are pulling out that device I spoke of earlier and looking up Krav Maga schools in your local area.
So on to it then? The world moves fast and people even faster. Our days are packed full of activities. We can no longer spend hours a day devoted to a single endeavor. Instead, we must settle for minutes a day or hours a week.
With the right guidance, a bit of diligence, and a fair amount of consistency one can make great advancements in the realm of self-defense. All one needs is somewhat of a short cut to the most effective and devastating skills and abilities. Enter, Krav Maga.
What is Krav Maga?
Krav Maga, a modern form of close combat developed for the Israeli Mossad and the IDF. Krav Maga combines the most effective self-defense elements from the world’s most tried and tested forms of fighting.
It uses kicking techniques from karate and taekwondo, punching techniques from boxing, knees, elbows, and clinch wrestling techniques from muay thai, and grappling techniques from aikido, wrestling, and judo.
Krav Maga was created with the goal of training soldiers to be fast and efficient hand-to-hand fighters capable of handling most real-world situations. This is why it stands apart from its more traditional counterparts, real world application.
Many of the popular martial arts adhere to a classical training curriculum where the bulk of the training time is spent developing technique, a strong body, and character. The hope is that over time the student, through life experience, will know through instinct when, where, and how to best use his/her techniques.
The drawback, where many of the classical styles fall short, is in the amount of time it takes one to become proficient enough to defend themselves. It is okay for the hobbyist to devote a few hours a week and many years of his/her life to learning a martial art.
The possibility of using their art in a defensive situation is slim. For this reason those individuals concern themselves more with personal development whether that be spiritual, mental, physical, or a combination of the three. Self-defense takes somewhat of a secondary role in training.
Classical training styles model the warriors of old where fighting and training was a way of life, a path to follow. Only now we are not able to spend all of our time training for combat.
Like I said in the beginning, we are only allowed limited time for training. Krav Maga removes the “way of life” elements from training.
True enough one may devote a lifetime to any activity but that is largely left up to the individual fighter. Krav Maga has its focus solely on function. It is a technique whose purpose is survival by any means.
This particular art’s strength is simplicity. They train the fighter in a few simple basic strikes and kicks. These are easy to remember, do not take years to develop, and can be applied without too much trouble under the stress of combat.
Then they combine those techniques with a simple and direct philosophy. After that, the training is situational. They learn to apply those skills to a variety of opponents and situations.
Traditional or classical martial arts were taught using a very straight forward formula. First the student learns basic stances, blocks, strikes, kicks, and movement methods.
Then the student is taught kata which are combat patterns similar to shadowboxing only they are not random and spontaneous like shadowboxing. From these kata the student learns to pick out and use sections for self-defense purposes. What section a student uses depends on their experience and the situation.
The only elements left at that point are sparring sessions where the student can experiment with different techniques under somewhat live fire situations, body building methods to make the body more athletic, and conditioning of the natural weapons.
This style of training is for the lifelong practitioner or the live in student that practices every day. Krav Maga borrows parts from this type of training. Krav Maga leaves out the kata and reduces the large list of techniques down to the simplest and most effective few.
Krav Maga Techniques
Krav Maga utilizes a variety of techniques across a few different categories. They use strikes, kicks, locks, throws, and weapon techniques.
The techniques they have chosen are those that are learned the fastest and easy to recall. The most important thing about Krav Maga is that these techniques are all based on a very straight forward and direct combat philosophy. This philosophy is then applied to a scenario based combat drills. I will give examples of these drills later.
The human hand is a very useful tool that is made for fine motor function. What it was never really intended for was for the purpose of striking things with. It is laden with small and brittle bones that are more likely to fracture upon impact than deal a great amount of damage.
The Krav Maga specialist is aware of this. Their methods of using the hand are as such. When striking the head or anything solid then strike with the palm. This allows one to put a fair amount of force into an object while reducing the risk of fracturing the hand.
When striking a soft target like the throat, genitals, or solar plexus, use the hard parts of the hand such as the knuckles of a closed fist. This is to ensure that one can have maximum penetration and possibly rupture a vital organ. The fingers of the hand are used to grip tissue and press into cavities.
Examples of attacks with the fingers are things like eye gouges to blind an opponent or a fish hooking. Though these techniques may seem brutal they are only used for the propagation and protection of life, or at least it should be.
The Krav Maga fighter also learns to use the elbows to attack the body at close quarters. Elbows act as clubs and can attack both hard and soft targets with great effectiveness.
Everything from knocking your opponent out with a hard strike to the temple to a crippling deep blow to a liver that leaves your opponent in a heap on the deck can be achieved with a well-placed elbow strike.
The beautiful thing about attacks with the elbow is that they can be immensely effective with little to no training so it can be utilized immediately after learning.
The foot, unlike the hand, is designed to sustain a certain amount of pressure without damage. Kicking techniques are made more effective by the addition of a shoe.
In traditional martial arts students train with bare feet. Kicking with a bare foot requires a fair amount of training and can damage the foot if done grossly wrong. Wearing a shoe gives the foot greater stability and protects the toes. Kicking techniques can become deadly if one were to wear steel toe footwear.
In Krav Maga the kicks are simple and aimed at targets that are easy to get to. Targets like the groin, knees, and small bones of the foot can be accessed by most people with average levels of strength and physical abilities. Kicking in a fight is poses a greater risk to the defender than strikes with the hand.
For the moment of the kick the defender is standing on one leg and immobile. When kicking one’s balance and stability are compromised. Kicks to lower parts of an attacker’s body are have the feet travel a shorter distance so they are faster and the kicking leg can be returned to the ground faster.
Just as the Krav Maga fighter will use his/her other parts of the arm for striking such as the forearm and the elbow, when using the leg they will also make use of the shin and the knee. Kicks with the shin, given enough training and proper power generation, can be powerful enough to knock someone completely off of their feet.
The kicking with the shin is equated to swinging a baseball bat and can have a similar effect of breaking an opponent’s leg. If ever aimed higher than the lower body the shin can easily shatter a ribcage. Aiming for the ribs serves the added risk of having the kicking leg grabbed by the attacker and that can leave you on the ground wrestling for your life.
Strikes with the knees can cause devastating effects with little effort. Knees are a very effective close quarter weapon. Even a knee strike to an attacker’s thigh muscle can cripple him for a short period of time, enough to break free and run away.
The knee strike is the preferred weapon when attacking the groin. Attacking the groin with the knee, at the very least, is extremely painful. With a well-placed and well directed knee strike one can rupture the sensitive genitals, crack the pubic synthesis, rupture the bladder causing evacuation, or bruise the perineum.
Krav Maga practitioners, when striking, don’t really focus on building long strings of combinations like a boxer or kickboxer. Instead they use the HARD, FAST, and REPEATEDLY method when striking.
When they go for an open target they just beat it in like they were using a hammer until they achieve the desired effect. In demonstrations it is not uncommon to see Krav Maga practitioners to aggressively strike or kick the same target on an opponent multiple times. This is a great tactic for smaller defenders as it compounds damage to a specific target.
A smaller defender may not have the power to render his/her opponent unconscious or incapacitated with but a single blow, but striking the same target over and over again allows the damaged to build up across a number of strikes.
Also this method of defense uses high levels of aggression and what is called volume striking to gain momentum and overwhelm the opponent. By momentum I mean striking an opponent so often he is not able to recover enough to continue with his initial attack or start a new attack.
The locks used in Krav Maga are similar to those used in karate or aikido but shorter in duration and used for a different effect.
Where aikido or karate are high skill arts and may use locks to gain control over an opponent and subdue him by making him submit a Krav Maga fighter uses some of those same locks as intermediary movements.
If they can break a limb or choke their opponent out then all the better, but the real value of a lock for them is to get the opponent in an open position where the defender can hammer strikes into vital targets.
The Krav Maga fighter is not concerned with his/her attacker submitting or tapping out so to speak. Their ultimate goal is to neutralize the threat. They will lock a joint for a split second only to get free and have proper posture to start throwing strikes and kicks as quickly as possible.
If they pin an opponent they will do so long enough to gain superior positions in order to start striking vulnerable targets.
They don’t waste large amounts of time learning or performing complicated high precision locking techniques that are more likely to get them injured than save their lives. Locks of this sort take time and dedication to master.
This is probably where the most technical side of Krav Maga is hiding. I am not saying that they do not keep it simple when it comes to throw but I am saying they have a wide variety of throwing techniques to address threats from different bodily angles and positions. To accomplish this they use a list of throws and takedowns longer than that of the strikes, kicks, and locks.
A very quick way to establish dominance in a fight is by grounding your opponent. Human, by design are awesome when it comes to adaptability. We can walk, run, climb, and swim. There is almost no environment we cannot adapt to, survive in, or thrive in.
One drawback to this adaptability comes in the form of instability. We are grossly clumsy when compared to other mammals. Cats always land on their feet but humans are constantly tripping and falling. Not only that, but we are not designed to function lying on the ground.
In Krav Maga the defender is made aware of these facts. They learn to never leave your opponent on his feet and to stay up on theirs if it can be helped.
Using different methods of leverage and manipulation of the opponent’s balance they can drop their opponents to the ground and then be free to seek safety. Krav Maga makes use of throwing techniques and takedowns from multiple martial sources such as karate, kung fu, judo, BJJ, wrestling, and aikido.
The determining factors to what throws they choose are their level of effectiveness and how easy they are to learn and employ. No technique would do the fighter much good if it took huge amounts of strength to perform and countless hours to be able to use.
Throws in Krav Maga, like every other technique, should cause maximum effect with minimal effort and throws are devastatingly effective. Nothing strikes harder than smacking your opponent into a planet.
Watch an example of Krav Maga defenses against locks, holds, and throws.
Weapons and Armor
A weapon is any implement one can use to make his/her attack stronger and increase its effectiveness. Armor is any implement one can use to make his/her defense stronger and increase its effectiveness.
Krav Maga is unique in that out of many of the combative systems being taught it alone has the most diverse curriculum in dealing with weapons and weapon fighting.
I am strictly speaking on the defensive side. There are indeed many weapon based fighting systems that have endless techniques with a wide range of weaponry but Krav Maga pioneered bare hand defenses in a variety of scenarios against aggressors wielding an assortment of modern weaponry.
Of course anyone looking to defend themselves will need to learn techniques of defending against conventional weapons knife, club, and gun. They will also need to learn to wield those same weapons as those are the tools of this era.
If you are attacked out on the street today by an armed attacker they will more than likely have some rendition of one of these weapons. Let us not forget about weapons of opportunity and improvised weapons.
The three classes of weapons mentioned gun, knife, and club are really a projectile weapon, an edged weapon, and a blunt instrument, respectively. A defender must learn the dangers of facing such weapons as well as the pros and cons of utilizing such weaponry.
Going armed to the teeth with a firearm, tactical folding and fixed blade knives, and an extendable baton may not be an option. Someone may be in an area where such weapons are forbidden, though a knowledge of their use will aid the Krav Maga fighter in the event they are caught off guard and unarmed.
A simple ballpoint pen or a shard of broken glass is enough to pierce skin and an act as an edged weapon. A cup of scalding hot coffee or a hand full of tacks thrown at an opponent can make for an effective projectile weapon if the situation calls for it. Aim for the eyes.
Anything that has a good bit of heft to it and can be swung can be effectively used as a bludgeoning tool when your life depends on it. With a knowledge of weapons and an understanding that there are no rules only the will to survive, the Krav Maga defender can walk with no weapons into any room and still be armed to the teeth.
Armor, in the sense of improvisation, is anything that can be used to aid in defense. When faced with a knife wielding attacker a laptop case can make an effective shield.
A wooden chair can make both an effective shield and a bludgeoning tool. Just ask anyone that has ever had the wonderful experience of getting into a bar fight. Thick clothing can even provide some protection against certain weapons.
Watch an example of Krav Maga defenses against various types of weaponry.
One area where Krav Maga training stands out from nearly every other form of self-defense training is its very specific scenario based training.
They do, like every form of self-defense training should, teach techniques that prepare the student for a wide variety of unknown attacks with the hope that they will be able to choose the right technique at the right time. However, they also spend significant time training for specific situations that are most likely to happen.
They have defenses against knife wielding attacks from various angles and they have defenses against someone holding you hostage at knife point while another assailant closes in on you with also wielding a knife.
They train what steps to take to get out of and survive such an attack. They plan on having to defend against multiple attackers that are armed with various weapons.
They set up crazy impossible situations and figure out the best course of action with the highest possibility of survival. At the end I will attach some video examples of these training scenarios.
Watch an example of Krav Maga defenses against multiple attackers.
Now that we have discussed a little about what Krav Maga has to offer we will answer the question of how it will help the prepper specifically. True enough that any form of combat, martial art, or self-defense training would aid one who’s goal is survival in bad situations, but why Krav Maga?
Krav Maga addresses the modern threat. Where a classical skill based style, though still a viable option, spends large amounts of time building raw skill, Krav Maga begins with readily applicable techniques.
There is no telling when an attack will happen, you will be caught off guard, or the S@#% will hit the fan. So you may need self-defense techniques the same day you learn them or a year later. You can never know.
Because of this, the techniques have to be ready to use immediately. With time, with experience and training, the techniques will grow mature and become stronger and more efficient, but on day one they can be used. Many of the classical systems and the combat sport based styles do not provide this the way Krav Maga does.
The underlying principles that govern Krav Maga is its true strength the prepper will take away from the training. Keep things simple and direct.
Use what works and don’t take needless risks. Use massive amounts of controlled aggression and don’t stop until the threat is neutralized. Above all, survive and make it home safe. Grow a survivor’s mindset.
A prepper will want to learn to use every bit of equipment they carry to its fullest. Your BOB can make an excellent weapon and shield. If you have body armor at your disposal don it, learn to move in it, wear it when you train. Learn to fight and move in your everyday shoes and clothing.
You will fight the way you train so train smart and be realistic. If you bug out your point is to be mobile right? Fight like that. Krav Maga has ground fighting techniques. You want to focus on those that allow you to get up and get away. Remember when I said the human body was not designed to fight while laying down? That applies to you as well.
How to find a good school
To find a good school first look online in your local area. See what is close to the house. If it is convenient then you are more likely to keep up with training. Most schools now will have an online presence, a website. Visit their site and see what they have to offer. Determine beforehand what you think you may be looking for.
You may or may not have any training already and may or may not know what to look for. This is okay. Still try and have some idea of what training you would like to have. This will at least give you a heading while on your search.
For example, in the wake of the active shooters attacking large groups of people, I would like to learn what steps to take in the even that someone wielding a firearm comes into my place of works and begins shooting people indiscriminately.
Then I would look on Krav Maga websites and be on the lookout for anything that has to do with active shooter response training or how to disarm a gun wielding attacker.
After you have found one or two schools you think you may have what you looking for contact the instructor. Ask him/her what types of things they teach.
Not all Krav Maga is created equal. There is no better or worse but different teachers breed different styles. There may be one that suits your learning style better than another. See about sitting in on a class and just watching. See how class goes and if you feel comfortable working with a particular organization.
Find out if you can attend on a trial basis, maybe two or three free sessions to see if it is something for you. The instructor should have a genuine drive to want to help you defend yourself. Beware of people that just want to fluff their own egos or are just in it for the money.
Check the teacher’s credentials and ask him/her about their experience. Chances are a teacher that has been teaching five years and spent ten years on the street as a cop will have a very different approach to a teacher that has been teaching fifteen years and has been in three fights.
They both have the knowledge and they both have experience. The cop will have a wealth of street knowledge that he can pass on to you. You cannot however discount the teacher that has only had three fights.
They have taught for fifteen years and has more experience imparting that knowledge to other people. Teaching and doing are two completely different skills. Remember that.
Then make your decision and follow through with it. Commit to training, whatever you decide. You must commit though. They say it takes four weeks for results to start happening, four more weeks for people to see a change in you, and four more weeks for you to see a change in yourself.
So at the very least, when you start, keep at it for three months until you decide you must reevaluate your choice.
I am from Houston, Texas. I began studying combat when I was six with my first teacher being my father. He took me into our backyard and began teaching me the deadly arts of western boxing.
Later on I got into the Asian styles, and it was a flood of whatever I could get into: Taekwondo, Shotokan, Tangsoodo, various styles of Kung Fu, Aiki-jutsu, and Iaido. I also got into Viking Combat for a while and learned sword and shield techniques.
A few years back I joined the world’s greatest Air Force. I did some time in the sandbox and made it home without a single scar, physical or otherwise.
The majority of my bushcraft comes from a combination of my time as a boy scout, my father, small pockets of military training, and my mentor Vietnam-era old corps force recon Marine.