Krav Maga: The Time-Honored Art of Kicking Ass

Adapt, defend, disarm.

Be real:  The gloves are always off in street-fighting scenarios, and this badass self-defense discipline bends all the rules you thought you knew about hand-to-hand combat, especially when you've got multiple attackers on one. Check out the real deal on Krav Maga below and why you should learn it STAT...

Krav Maga (pronounced “krahv mahGAH”) is a discipline of Israeli Martial Arts dating back to the 1950s, and if you haven't heard of it yet you must've been living under a rock.

Translating to “contact combat” from Hebrew, this contemporary, powerful and dynamic self-defense and fighting system was originally taught to the Israeli Army, and is now embraced globally by civilians, military, and even law enforcement institutions like the FBI and SWAT alike.

Hailed for its techniques that are both intuitive and practical, Krav Maga is a brutally effective tactical mixed martial art that draws on your natural instincts to cultivate skills rapidly and effectively.

The combative self-defense system combines other mixed martial arts like boxing, judo, jujitsu, and aikido. Learning these invaluable skills empowers you to have the ability and confidence to defend yourself in potentially dangerous scenarios.

Equally as fascinating as the technical aspect is the philosophy behind Krav Maga and those who practice the discipline - with an overarching goal to neutralize threats as quickly as possible.

As quoted by the founder Imi Litchenfeld, the purpose of training Krav Maga is “so that one may walk in peace.”  Following this ideology, true disciples will maintain that the best way to win a fight is always to avoid it in the first place, and not overlook the importance of awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation.

Here are 3 simple yet effective and potentially life-saving tips from Krav Maga to keep in your back pocket for when push comes to shove:

3. Aim for the Soft Spots

A general rule of thumb is to aim for the pressure points on the body, or “soft spots”.

The key to identifying the “soft spots” are any parts of the body that cannot be strengthened through exercise. The usual suspects are the eyes, throat, and groin, but also include the nose, ears, jaw, knees, and even the Achilles tendon.

Targeting these areas will greatly increase the potency of your strike and overall efficacy of your defense.

2. Defend & Attack Simultaneously

Rather than regard defensive and offensive moves as separate and consequential movements, (e.g., first you block as a defensive move, then you strike as an offensive move), Krav Maga seeks to combine these movements in order to intercept an attack and counter attack at the same time.

Keeping this principle in mind when learning the moves will maximize efficiency and provide insight into the logic of the movements.

1. Maintain the Retzev

Following the principle of simultaneous defense and offense is the notion of ‘retzev’, a Hebrew term translating to ‘continuous motion’.

With the overarching goal of neutralizing your attacker, employing retzev involves fighting and defending with a continuous series of aggressive defensive and offensive movements until the attacker is no longer a threat.

This type of fighting is highly instinctive and visceral, and cannot rely on a pre-set routine to utilize. Keep in mind though, if you ever need to whip out your Krav Maga skills to defend yourself, you'll have a healthy dose of adrenaline coursing through your body. Use it to your advantage.

Above All, Keep it Simple

Aligned with its utilitarian and no-frills nature, Krav Maga movements tend to be simple yet highly effective without the necessity of fancy and complex katas or patterns.

With the bulk of the techniques mainly consisting of strikes, holds, and blocks, Krav Maga was designed to be able to be employed as soon as possible.

Once you’ve mastered some basic moves like the groin kick and hammerfist punch, you’re already exponentially more equipped to handle potentially dangerous situations and subdue any perpetrator.

Maggie Johnson | MME Lifestyle Contributor

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