Krav Maga /krɑːv məˈɡɑː/ (Hebrew: קְרַב מַגָּע [ˈkʁav maˈɡa], lit. “contact combat”) is a self-defense system developed for the military in Israel that consists of a wide combination of techniques sourced from Aikido, Judo, boxing and wrestling along with realistic fight training.
Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and its extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks.
It was derived from street-fighting skills developed by Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld, who made use of his training as a boxer and wrestler as a means of defending the Jewish quarter against fascist groups in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in the mid-to-late 1930s. In the late 1940s, following his immigration to Israel, he began to provide lessons on combat training to what was to become the IDF, who went on to develop the system that became known as Krav Maga. It has since been refined for civilian, police and military applications.
Krav Maga has a philosophy emphasising threat neutralisation, simultaneous defensive and offensive manoeuvres, and aggression. Krav Maga has been used mainly by Israeli Defense Forces, special units and reconnaissance brigades and recently by regular infantry brigades, and several closely related variations have been developed and adopted by law enforcement and intelligence organisations, Mossad and Shin Bet.
The name in Hebrew can be translated as “contact combat”. The root word krav (קרב) means “combat” and maga (מגע) means “contact”.
Krav Maga encourages students to avoid confrontation. If this is impossible or unsafe, it promotes finishing a fight as quickly as possible. Attacks are aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the body, and training is not limited to techniques that avoid severe injury; some even permanently injure or cause death to the opponent. Drills provide maximum safety to students by the use of protective equipment and the use of reasonable force.
Students learn to defend against all variety of attacks and are taught to counter in the quickest and most efficient way.
Ideas in Krav Maga include:
- Counterattacking as soon as possible (or attacking pre-emptively).
- Targeting attacks to the body’s most vulnerable points, such as: the eyes, neck or throat, face, solar plexus, groin, ribs, knee, foot, fingers, etc.
- Maximum effectiveness and efficiency in order to neutralise the opponent as quickly as possible.
- Maintaining awareness of surroundings while dealing with the threat in order to look for escape routes, further attackers, objects that could be used to defend or help attack, and so on.
- Training can also cover situational awareness to develop an understanding of one’s surroundings, learning to understand the psychology of a street confrontation, and identifying potential threats before an attack occurs.
- It may also cover ways to deal with physical and verbal methods to avoid violence whenever possible.
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