To begin, let’s translate the definition of Krav Maga from Hebrew into English. Krav Maga translates to “contact combat”. If we compare the translation of Krav Maga to say, Karate, which translates to “open hand or empty hand”, we can already see that just by translation alone, there is a very distinct difference.
While discussing with other students how Krav Maga is technically a “martial art”, we really felt like it could be considered so much more than that. Through our discussion we came to think that Krav Maga could be thought of as a self defense system that consists of effective (and easy to learn) parts of many different martial arts. In Krav Maga you will find techniques from Judo, Aikido, Boxing, Wrestling, KickBoxing, and Jiu Jitsu just to name a few.
Now that we’ve laid a little bit of the background of Krav Maga, how can it help you? Well, Krav Maga can help in various ways, and that is likely to differ from student to student. So, let me lay out some common themes we see when people come talk to us about Krav Maga.
- You are looking to become more fit, and I don’t mean running the circuit of machines at your local gym “fit”. I am talking about full body and mind, fitness.
- You recognize that the world is not all rainbows and unicorns and the threat of criminal assault is, unfortunately, very real. So, you are looking for a way to defend yourself or your loved ones should you ever have to.
In either case you get both, a win-win. You get the physical fitness that you set the pace on based on what you are capable of AND you get the practical application of ways to defend yourself and your loved ones.
I’m going to take a famous quote from Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid) where he said to Daniel-san, “Best defense, no be there.”. In Krav Maga, the same logic applies. The best way to stay out of an altercation or confrontation is to avoid it completely. So, part of Krav Maga is teaching situational awareness and recognizing a bad situation brewing and avoiding it altogether.
Then, when possible, de-escalation is also taught, and as a final resort, utilizing what you have learned to neutralize the threat to you or your loved ones as quickly and effectively as possible so you all walk away alive.
This brings me to a point about a big difference between Krav Maga and a lot of other martial arts that are popular today.
Let’s do a bit of role playing for this. I am going to be a good friend of yours who studies a martial art of (fill in the blank) _____________ [Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, KickBoxing].
We are catching up one night and you ask how my weekend was. I excitedly tell you that I competed in a _____________ competition over the weekend. You, being the good friend you are, might ask something like, “Wow, that’s awesome! How did you do?”.
We are catching up one night and you ask how my weekend was. I tell you that it was one of the scariest weekends I have ever had. I tell you that while walking to my car after leaving a store, some hoodlums tried to assault me. You, being the good friend you are, would probably ask (in horror), something like, “Oh my gosh! Are you OK?!”.
This is where Krav Maga differs from your “competition martial arts”. In Krav Maga, you aren’t trying to win a trophy or increase your local, regional, or national rankings. You are trying to live through the horror that is a criminal assault.
When there is a criminal assault, the criminal is not going to go back to his corner after he scores a point on you in the parking lot. Therefore, a lot of the techniques taught in Krav Maga are unsuitable for competition.
You are trying to survive, so there are no rules. Poking the attacker in the eyes, attacking their most vulnerable areas (which are off limits in a competition), rupturing their ear drums, or using anything within reach as a weapon are all on the table. Your goal is to survive, not win a trophy.
The final point I will make about the civilian application of Krav Maga that we also teach is identifying where the line in the sand is (legally) when you have neutralized the threat and should disengage. The emphasis being on the threat being neutralized.