Originating from Israel, Krav Maga focuses entirely on its real life applications, highlighting the ability to neutralize any oncoming threat with both offense and defense. As a hybrid martial art, it combines boxing, judo, aikido, and jujitsu to create a tactical means to put an end to confrontation, sometimes as fast as one can say ‘Israel Defense Forces’ (where it is taught).
Krav Maga has been considered as one of the most effective mixed-martial arts in self-defense.
Growing up in Bratislava, Slovakia, Imi Lichtenfeld’s exposure to combative sports and self-defense at an early age, as his father served as the chief inspector in the Bratislava Police Force. In his youth, Lichtenfeld spent a majority of his time in his father’s gymnasium. It was here, he trained and honed his skills in boxing, wrestling and gymnastics. He eventually went on to win a few championships on both national and international levels.
Later in his life, Lichtenfeld would utilize these skill sets in developing one of the most famous hybrid martial arts.
The rise of anti-Semitic riots plaguing the streets of Bratislava, Czechoslovakia during the 1930’s served as that extra push in the journey of the development of Krav Maga. At this point in time, Lichtenfeld placed himself at the forefront. He put a group together that would help defend the neighborhoods that were coming under attack by anti-Semitic thugs.
Consisting of Jewish boxers and wrestlers much like himself, he led this group forward against national socialist party. He later realized that the skills he had in such competitive sports such as boxing and wrestling could not be applied as practically as he had hoped in the real world. When it came to real-life street fighting, there were no rules and guidelines holding anyone back. There was only brutality.
From this sudden realization, Lichtenfeld began to spend the years to come in reviewing and developing new techniques. The techniques would later transform into Krav Maga. Focusing on the practical aspects of self-defense and combat, he left Europe and join Israel’s paramilitary organization. He joined the organization to help protect Jewish refugees. Here he continued to refine the skills, knowledge, and techniques involved neutralizing any threats with the least amount of conflict.
People translate the word ‘Krav Maga’ in Hebrew as meaning ‘contact combat.’ From its history and origins, it has never been about pure combat. In fact, its uses have always centered around learning how to best avoid confrontation. Most of the techniques and principles Lichtenfeld encouraged were to end a fight as quickly as possible. As if all attempts to avoid appeared futile.
Due to its pragmatic nature, there are no rules and restrictions in ‘how to fight.’ Just as he once realized back in his youth, on the streets, anything goes.
Compared to other branches of martial arts, Krav Maga does not depend on a pre-set routine of attacks. Instead, it relies on the idea of retzev, which means continuous motion. Rather than first defending and then going in for the attack, they teach you to do both simultaneously.
In order to bring down the assailant as quickly as possible, the combination of a defensive movement with another offensive movement is key to ‘survival.’ For example, if there is an attacker that grabs your throat or shoulder, it is best to continue an onslaught of counterattacks by jabbing their eyes, throat, groin, legs, etc.
While continued motion of attacks are useful, it can only be worth doing if you know where to strike. For this reason, Krav Maga makes sure to teach you how to hit areas with soft tissue and pressure points. Many of spots to focus striking are places many people have considered rather ‘cheap’. But as mentioned before, the point is not to uphold a sense of fighting etiquette. It is just simply to take down an assailant that is out to possibly end your life.
There are many situations where people confront you with guns and knives. So they teach you how to think on your feet and use surrounding objects as weapons to neutralize the attacker. Additionally, during his time in Israel military training soldiers, Lichtenfeld made it a point to ensure they trained all Krav Maga practitioners in the use of weapon combat. And so understanding how to work a knife or gun to make sure your attacker stays down is given.