What Is Krav Maga Anyway?

What is Krav Maga anyways cover

5 things to know about Krav Maga…

  1. Krav Maga is a no-holds-barred self-defense system developed by the Israel Defense Forces, based on instinctive movements and aggressive counterattacks.
  2. Krav Maga includes illegal moves such as groin strikes and eye gouges, and focuses on dealing with real-world dangers.
  3. Imi Lichtenfeld, the founder of Krav Maga, developed the system based on his experience with different types of hand-to-hand combat and pressure to train people to defend their newly formed nation in a short amount of time.
  4. Key principles of Krav Maga include identifying the immediate danger, using your body’s natural reaction, defending and counterattacking simultaneously, aggressively targeting vulnerable areas, and making techniques effective regardless of size or strength.
  5. Since its inception, Krav Maga has constantly evolved, with new techniques incorporated into the system and old ones abandoned. It has spread to every corner of the world.
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Want to know what Krav Maga is? I got involved in Krav Maga more than a decade ago. What initially attracted me to it was how much different its training methods were when compared to traditional martial arts. In the time since I began my Krav Maga journey I’ve seen the popularity of this fighting style increase dramatically, and with good reason.

For me, Krav Maga is an insanely cool system of self-defense that is the exact opposite of mainstream martial arts (I should know, I was part of mainstream martial arts!) both in its approach and conduct. This is probably the reason why it has gained such a widespread following-especially among adults.

So, if you’re new to the world of martial arts and self defense then keep reading because I’m going to give you the lowdown on what Krav Maga is and who it’s good for (hint: it’s not for everyone).

So, buckle up and enjoy the ride…

What is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is an Israeli martial art that was developed for the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). The term, Krav Maga, itself is Hebrew, and means “Contact Combat”. It’s used as a combat system for the IDF to train their military units against a variety of attacks in the shortest time possible. So you know it’s legit. 

However, this isn’t your traditional martial art; it’s a unique blend of techniques. The foundations of Krav Maga incorporate elements from many martial arts, including (but not limited to) Muay Thai, boxing, grappling, and much, much more. Basically, if it works, Krav Maga is going to use it. 

As the Krav Maga system developed it was adopted outside of the Israeli military—Krav Maga’s techniques have been adapted into different forms such as for civilian use and for law enforcement agencies. 

Imi Lichtenfeld demonstrating his Krav Maga skills.

A Brief History of Krav Maga

Krav Maga’s story is generally considered to have started with, Imi Lichtenfeld (also known as Imi Sde Or). Born in Hungary in 1910, Imi, revered by many as Krav Maga’s creator, grew up learning boxing and wrestling under his dad’s watchful eye. 

As anti-Semitic groups began to rise in pre-war Europe, Imi and fellow Jewish boxers and wrestlers found themselves organising into groups to help with the protection their Jewish community. 

After WWII broke out, Imi fled to British Mandatory Palestine, where he joined the British supervised resistance group the Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion, fighting against Nazi oppression. And after the war, he ended up in the newly formed nation of Israel. 

That’s where his hand-to-hand combat skills laid the groundwork for what we know today as Krav Maga.

What Makes Krav Maga Different?

The real defining feature that makes Krav Maga stand out, is how it combines instinctive movements, fierce counter-attacks, and a “take-no-prisoners” mentality to achieve it’s goal, which makes it really effective when it comes to real-world situations. 

Nothing is off limits when it comes to Krav Maga. Some of the techniques might even raise a few eyebrows, like headbutts, groin strikes, and eye gouges. You won’t generally see these moves in your average martial arts discipline or combat sport, that’s for sure. 

But Krav Maga isn’t about playing nice—it’s about being efficient, aggressive, and, above all, finding the best way to survive a violent encounter. 

That’s why it has a no-nonsense approach to self-defense, that you don’t need a law enforcement or military background to learn. This makes it perfect for those looking to gain a high level of proficiency in a short amount of time.

Krav Maga doesn’t bother with the traditional martial arts stuff, like forms, katas, or competition rules. 

Instead, it uses realistic fight training that deals with real-world potential threats, like bad guys wielding guns, knives, or even a baseball bat.

The training also focuses on situational awareness and mental toughness, ensuring that Krav Maga students can handle a variety of dangerous situations.

Imi’s experience and the need to quickly train people for self-defense led to Krav Maga’s no-holds-barred approach. There’s no time for rules or “fairness”—it’s all about winning and surviving. 

This mindset has been passed down through the generations, with instructors like Eyal Yanilov and countless others building on Imi’s martial arts knowledge and legacy.

Krav Maga is built on some solid principles, like identifying danger, using your body’s natural reactions, defending and counterattacking at the same time, targeting vulnerable spots, and making sure techniques work no matter how big or strong you are. 

These basic principles make it an efficient way to learn self-defense, even for those with no prior martial arts experience or physical training.

One of the best aspects of Krav Maga is its adaptability. As a constantly evolving system, it incorporates new and improved techniques from various martial arts, while discarding outdated ones. 

This philosophy was applied by Imi and has been maintained by organisations like Krav Maga Worldwide and countless others around the globe, ensuring that practitioners always have the most effective tools at their disposal.

The popularity of Krav Maga has exploded in recent years, with classes and training centers popping up all over the United States and beyond. It’s a fantastic option for anyone seeking practical self-defense techniques that can be applied in real-life situations. There is something for everyone, from advanced students to complete beginners.

How Do I Get Started?

Now, you might be wondering, “Where do I even begin?” 

Well, fear not! The first step is finding a reputable Krav Maga training center, instructor or training partners. If you want to get proper training you can check out My Krav Life’s comprehensive Studio Directory here. We have compiled the largest directory of Krav Maga studios from around the world.

Look for a studio with a solid background in the system and a connection to reputable organizations like the Krav Maga Association, Krav Maga World Wide or Krav Maga Global, just to name a few.

Once you’ve found a great place to train, it’s time to dive into your first class. Krav Maga classes often start with a warm-up, followed by learning and practising various techniques. 

You’ll be introduced to simple moves that can be applied in real-life combat situations, like how to defend against street fighting or violent attacks.

As you progress in your Krav Maga journey, you’ll work on developing continuous motion and offensive movements, focusing on both defensive tactics and ground fighting. 

You should also learn verbal methods to defuse tense situations, as well as how to subdue an attacker.

In order to become a true Krav Maga practitioner, hard work and dedication are key. Your goal should be proficiency, the confidence to ‘Get home safe’, and not just the Black Belt or Expert Level rank. Rank should be regarded as motivation to progress further and not the end goal.  

However, even if you’re not striving for black belt status, Krav Maga can still provide you with valuable self-defense skills that can be applied in your everyday life.

As Krav Maga continues to spread across the globe, it’s changing lives and helping people from all walks of life feel safer and more confident. 

Imi’s vision of a world where people can “walk in peace” is becoming a reality, thanks in part to his legacy and the dedicated instructors and students who continue to practice and teach the system.

So, whether you’re an experienced martial artist of a complete newbie looking to improve your physical fitness, enhance your self-defense techniques, or simply want to try something new, Krav Maga is a great way to achieve your goals. 

With its foundations rooted in real-world applications and a focus on practical techniques, it’s no wonder that Krav Maga has become a popular choice for self-defense training.


So, what is Krav Maga? Krav Maga is a powerful and efficient self-defense system that has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the Jewish Quarter and the State of Israel and is now a global phenomenon.

Its unique blend of instinctive movements, offensive and defensive tactics, and adaptability make it an excellent choice for anyone looking to learn how to protect themselves in dangerous situations.

Krav Maga isn’t for everyone though. You have to be comfortable with the fact that you will be learning the fundamentals of violence. It deals with the realities of the world as it is and prepares you for it, not for the way the world should be.

Where, Krav Maga does deal with the mental realities of life, it is not designed as a means of self perfection or character development. So if that’s what you’re looking for you should consider a Martial Art like Karate.

I would also caution anyone that has gone through trauma, especially physical or sexual, before entering a Krav Maga class. I have seen many people get triggered from some of the exercises that we employ. If you do have a traumatic past, make sure to make the instructor aware of this so they can modify the training for you so it helps you instead of hindering you.

So, what are you waiting for? Lace up your sneakers, find your nearest Krav Maga training center, and get ready to embrace a whole new world of self-defense. And remember, the journey to becoming a Krav Maga practitioner is filled with hard work, dedication, and the pursuit of a safer, more confident life. Happy training!

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