What is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is a self-defense system developed by the Israel Defense Forces for training military personnel in hand-to-hand combat. Krav Maga uses instinctive movements aggressive counter attacks and a no-holds-barred mentality without the ceremonial elements of traditional martial arts.

Krav Maga will teach you to use punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and grappling techniques to defend yourself. It is a unique and practical system because it was designed to bring people to a high level of proficiency in hand-to-hand combat and self-defense in a very short period of time.

Krav Maga by design stresses efficiency, aggression and, above all, survival. This design philosophy resulted in traditional elements of martial arts practice like forms, katas, and rules for competition, being omitted from Krav Maga training, so in addition to the previously mentioned striking and grappling techniques, Krav Maga also teaches techniques like headbutts, groin strikes, strikes to the back of the head, eye gouges, and throat strikes. All of which would be considered illegal in a sanctioned sport fight or martial arts competition.

To get a little deeper into answering the question “what is Krav Maga”, it’s important to look at why Krav Maga was developed to begin with. That starts with Krav Maga’s creator, Imi Lichtenfeld.

Imi Lichtenfeld was born in Hungary in 1910 and grew up in Hungary where he practiced boxing and grappling his whole life under the tutelage of his father, Samuel. Imi joined Nazi resistance groups in Europe during WWII and fought back against Nazi oppression until the end of the war when he and thousands of others could immigrate to the newly formed nation of Israel. Imi’s hand-to-hand combat skills became the foundation of the Israel Defense Forces training, known today as Krav Maga. For more on Imi’s story click here.

Imi Lichtenfeld

Imi’s expertise in multiple aspects of hand-to-hand combat as well as the pressure of training people to defend their newly formed nation in a very short period of time lead to the distillation of technique and tactics. This in turn lead to the development of what is Krav Maga’s no-holds-barred mentality. There are no rules on the battlefield, thus there is no consideration for rules or “fairness” in Krav Maga. The only “rule” is to win. The only success is survival. 

Imi understood that the IDF recruits would learn faster and retain their training more easily if they understood the principles behind the techniques and behind their training as a whole.  

What is Krav Maga?

  • Striking
  • Grappling
  • No holds barred mentality 

Some of the key principles that Krav Maga utilizes are as follows;

  1. Identify the immediate danger.
  2. Use your body’s natural reaction.
  3. Defend and counterattack simultaneously.
  4. When counterattacking, aggressively target vulnerable areas.
  5. Techniques must be effective regardless of size or strength.

Every aspect of Krav Maga training is based on these principles. Adhering to the same principles unilaterally makes Krav Maga easy to learn and easy to retain. Students learn one defense for multiple attacks. Ultimately students have to remember fewer details and can apply systemic action to fight back and win if they are attacked. 

This becomes very important in dealing with some of the scariest types of assaults and attacks, like those involving attackers armed with guns, knives, and blunt weapons. Krav Maga training, because of it’s military background, trains people to deal with these sorts of real-world dangers. Krav Maga does not train people for rules based competitions.

What is Krav Maga?

  • Military roots
  • Principle based
  • Easy to learn 
  • Easy to retain
  • Always adapting

Krav Maga, as a system, is always adapting and changing. If a better technique is discovered, and it holds up the the basic Krav Maga principles, the old technique is omitted and the new technique is adapted into the system.

Imi eventually realized that the same principle based, always adapting, Krav Maga training the IDF was receiving would be beneficial, possibly life-saving, for civilians around the world. 

In the early 1980’s Krav Maga Worldwide’s Chief Instructor Darren Levine was one of a select group of people invited to train with Imi in Israel at the prestigious Wingate Institute. Imi’s vision was to spread Krav Maga throughout the world and make people safer so they could “walk in peace”.

Several years later Darren achieved the rank of Black Belt under Imi and was given a Founder’s Diploma, which was essentially special consideration from Imi and the Krav Maga Association of Israel to bring Krav Maga to the United States. Shortly after that Darren founded the Krav Maga Association of America and eventually Krav Maga Worldwide. 

What is Krav Maga?

Check out this video to see the techniques you will learn in Krav Maga Level 1!

Krav Maga is a self-defense system. It will teach you how to use your body to fight back and win if you are attacked. It was originally developed for military personnel and brought to civilians by Imi Lichtenfeld and Daren Levine. Today thousands of civilians train at Krav Maga Worldwide certified training centers in our self-defense, fitness, and fight programs. Krav Maga Worldwide training is also trusted by law enforcement agencies and military units around the world who train with our Krav Maga Worldwide Force Training Division. 

The best way to really understand the answer to the question “what is Krav Maga” and to find out what Krav Maga is, is to come in and take a class at a certified Krav Maga Worldwide training center. 

We have around 150 certified training centers around the world and many of these training centers, like our HQ Training Centers in West Los Angeles, CA and Sherman Oaks, CA offer Krav Maga classes 7 days a week and a FREE trial class.