In Krav Maga we have no combat contact rules whatsoever. All parts of the opponent’s body, particularly the most vulnerable points, are a fair target and can be struck with any part of your own body and with any improvised weapon from the immediate environment.
In Krav Maga we have no tournaments nor any fully competitive fights; any such competition would result in the serious injury to one of the combatants. As Richard Douieb, founder and director of the FEKM often reminds us, when we see examples of Krav Maga what we are seeing is a demonstration of some of the skills. Never the real thing. So in this sense Krav Maga is not an art and is most certainly not a sport. It is a highly effective self-defence and contact combat system designed to neutralise a threat against un/armed opponent/s in the shortest time possible.
As the founder of Krav Maga, Imi Lichtenfeld (1910-1998) instilled in all his students, we train so that we may walk in peace.
So you may be thinking now, as I did when I started on my Krav Maga journey, if there are no rules and if I can improvise with my own body and any environmental weapons, in what way can Krav Maga be called a fighting system?
Now we get to the heart of what exactly is Krav Maga. Krav Maga was created my Imi Lichtenfeld for the Israeli Defence Forces in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. It is designed to be an extension of natural, intuitive body movement. It is designed to neutralise threats quickly in any reality-based situation.
Krav Maga is designed around four core principles: simplicity, efficiency, directness and control.
The four governing principles of simplicity, efficiency, directness and control drive all Krav Maga teaching and practice and define Krav Maga as a unique, modern, evolving and clearly identifiable self-defence and contact combat system. This is why Krav Maga proficiency can be achieved in a relatively short space of training time. We don’t learn hundreds of katas and forms – we learn a handful of principles that are taught and applied over and over again in a multitude of defence and striking techniques.
When watching a trained Kravist fight, the four core principles of simplicity, directness, efficiency and control will be present in everything they do. And if they are not – it is not Krav Maga. And that is regardless of the situation (e.g. demonstration, Hollywood movie or real fight for survival), the combatants (of any age, gender, size) and the location (training club, night club, dark street).
Imi Lichtenfeld studied the body’s natural responses to threat and developed Krav Maga around these rapid, instinctive, responses. This makes Krav Maga defences simple, intuitive and fast to learn. There are better looking martial arts than Krav Maga but few are as effective in real-life situations where there are no rules and anything can happen next.
Each Krav Maga strike and attack takes the shortest, most direct route to the target. We don’t load, prepare or ‘telegraph’ any strike. The Krav Maga fighter will close the gap to their opponent very quickly and control the fight and the opponents body from very close range. We also train to use all parts of our body as ‘weapons’; fingers, fists, palms, elbows, head, knees, shins and feet.
In Krav Maga we target the body’s most vulnerable points and physiological weaknesses. The objective is to end the threat quickly and decisively regardless of the opponents size and weight. We also practice something unique to Krav Maga, known as ‘bursting’ – defending and delivering the first strike in one single, simultaneous movement. We then continue to strike in a rapid, rhythmic sequence and we don’t stop until the threat is neutralised.
Ultimately, perhaps the most important principle is that of control; rapid assessment of the situation, avoidance if at all possible and the use of appropriate and controlled force where exit is not possible. Our founder Imi Lichtenfeld created Krav Maga “so that one may walk in peace”3 and that philosophy is at the heart of all our training and all our actions.
For now, happy training everyone.
1 Richard Douieb, Beginners Guide 2014
European Federation of Krav Maga (FEKM)
2 Richard Douieb, Beginners Guide 2014 European Federation of Krav Maga (FEKM)
3 Imi Lichtenfeld, founder of Krav Maga