What is krav maga workout?


Adding Krav Maga to Your Exercise Routine

Krav Maga, pronounced “krahv muh-GAH,” is a type of martial art that includes self-defense moves and techniques. Krav Maga was developed during the 1940s in Israel by a man named Imi Lichtenfeld, who taught his self-defense techniques to soldiers. Since then, Krav Maga has become an increasingly popular form of fitness and self-defense across the world, including the United States, where it is a trendy and challenging way to get in shape.

Krav Maga: New Exercise Moves

Krav Maga uses techniques and moves from other forms of martial arts, including jujitsu, judo, and boxing, but it also uses weapons and props. In Krav Maga classes, students are taught to defend against an opponent or multiple opponents wielding weapons — even guns and knives.

Krav Maga also teaches ways to use the body’s reflexes for self-defense, and how to target an attacker’s physical weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Many Krav Maga classes also offer sparring sessions, under close supervision. While it’s not a required part of most fitness classes, it is an option for people who want to focus on the self-defense techniques of Krav Maga in addition to its fitness benefits.

There are also Krav Maga-inspired classes that focus on cardiovascular conditioning, elements of yoga, and sports circuit-style training. Additionally, there are also classes for women only.

Krav Maga: Exercise and Fitness Benefits

Krav Maga is a high-intensity form of martial arts that burns calories and builds muscle tone. Like most exercise classes, Krav Maga sessions begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down period, with plenty of training and aerobic exercise in between.

Krav Maga includes kicks, punches, and other vigorous aerobic moves that also tone muscle. It’s a good way to boost strength and stamina, and also lose weight.

Not only will you improve your physical fitness, but Krav Maga workouts are also designed to sharpen your mental fitness. Since Krav Maga prepares you to defend yourself both physically and mentally, participants often find it boosts confidence and reduces stress.

Getting Started With Krav Maga

Self-defense training classes are likely to be available at an officially licensed Krav Maga training center or other martial arts studio. Mainstream health clubs are offering classes as well; contact clubs in your area or check online to see if Krav Maga classes are on their schedules. Many gyms may offer Krav Maga-based fitness classes, focusing more on the fitness and workout aspects while still incorporating some self-defense moves.

Unlike some other martial arts, Krav Maga doesn’t require a special uniform to participate. You can wear your usual comfortable workout clothes and a pair of supportive sneakers or boxing shoes to train. Krav Maga is appropriate and available for all ages, even children.

If you want to learn self-defense techniques or are just looking for a new exercise routine, check out Krav Maga. You can learn to protect yourself, improve your self-confidence, tone up, and burn calories, all at the same time.

On a typical Tuesday night, when most of my friends are headed to Spin or yoga class, I put on a groin guard and grappling gloves to get punched, kicked, and choked — voluntarily. This might sound like some kind of underground club for masochists, but it’s actually one of the best workout classes in existence, and it can save your life. I’m talking about Krav Maga, the self-defense system widely used by the military, law enforcement, and, weirdly enough, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (it’s not every day you get to lump all those groups together). I’ve been completely hooked on Krav Maga ever since the first attack I thwarted in class nearly five years ago, and I think more people should share my (very healthy) obsession.

My first foray into Krav Maga was in 2010, when I was avidly obsessed with action movies, especially ones involving seemingly invincible spies (the Bourne trilogy is my all-time favorite). Believe it or not, I actually applied to the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA that Summer. (Still haven’t heard back yet, guys. Did my applications get lost?) With my pipe dreams brutally dashed, I decided to settle for the next-best thing: turning my life into an action movie, starring myself.

The first Krav Maga school I tried out laid a great foundation for my Krav Maga training, but I found it to be too fitness-based and not focused enough on the actual techniques. The next school I tried, the Krav Maga Institute NYC (KMI), has essentially become like a second home to me. I am indebted to KMI and its team of knowledgeable, skilled, and hilarious instructors for helping to shape me into the woman I am today. (Plus, there’s not another bunch of people in the world I’d rather do pickle backs with.)


While having such top-notch teachers is crucial to your experience, it’s ultimately the system itself that will transform you — physically, mentally, and even spiritually. Here are all the reasons I’m obsessed with Krav Maga and why you should be too.

It Works

Given that the system was originally developed for the Israeli armed forces, you know it has to be pretty effective. Krav Maga means “contact combat” in Hebrew, and that’s exactly what it is. Developed by Imi Lichtenfeld in the 1940s, when the Israeli Defense Forces were concurrently forming, Krav Maga was designed to be yet another weapon in a soldier’s arsenal. In other words, your body is a weapon, and it can defend against anything, including guns and knives.

Since then, the system has been adapted for law enforcement and civilian use, but the fundamental principles remain the same. Some of the most important principles for civilian practitioners include defend and counterattack simultaneously, be as aggressive as possible, and don’t get hurt.

To put it even more simply: you’re fighting for your life. Even though it’s known as a self-defense system, Krav Maga practitioners must also learn fundamental fighting skills — how to properly punch, elbow, kick, etc. It’s as much an offense system as it is a defense system.

However, what is perhaps paramount above all else, for KMI and any true Krav Maga school, is safety in training. Yes, students are encouraged to display explosive aggression and are being “attacked” constantly, but the system was also designed for its practitioners to train without getting hurt. And not getting hurt is Krav Maga’s primary goal.

It’s Reality Based

What distinguishes Krav Maga from other martial arts is how realistic and practical it is. The confrontations we deal with in class mirror the real world — muggings, sexual assault, bar fights, etc. — not controlled scenarios that involve another martial arts practitioner and a matted arena. That’s also why Krav Maga is not a competitive martial art, like Muay Thai or jujitsu, because the techniques are designed to inflict maximum damage. However, that’s also what makes it so effective.

To truly simulate real-life threats, we often practice stress drills in class, which can entail a circle of people pushing into you with punch pads and screaming in your ear or surprise attackers trying to stab you at unexpected times. Sometimes we simply spin around 10 times before performing a defense. These drills are designed to exhaust our bodies and disorient our senses, so that we can practice the techniques under stress. In real life, your attacker is not going to wait for you to get in position before launching an assault, so you better be prepared to fight back under unideal circumstances.

Anyone Can Learn It

The beauty of Krav Maga is that it’s designed for anyone and everyone to learn. It doesn’t matter if you’re 6’5″ and 300 pounds or 5′ and 90 pounds. I had the privilege of chatting with Darren Levine, chief instructor of Krav Maga Worldwide and one of the highest-ranked instructors in the world, who told me, “One thing that instructors must always remember — Krav Maga is a system for everyone. And just because you have the physical ability to do something, it’s not Krav Maga if only 10 percent of your students are also able do it. Krav Maga is for everybody.”

In fact, one way to think of Krav Maga is that it’s the great equalizer. The system’s techniques allow the 90-pound girl to neutralize the 300-pound guy by focusing on the attacker’s vulnerable points. And you don’t need any prior martial arts experience to become proficient.

“The more simple the techniques, the more direct, the less fuss, the more effective,” Levine explained. “That’s how you measure the technique, not through your ego or how fancy you look doing them.”

It’s a Great Workout

If your body is a weapon, then you’ll want to make that weapon as strong as possible. Think of Krav Maga as the metalsmith who not only forges the sword but also fortifies it to make it as lethal as possible. (You are the sword, in case that wasn’t clear.) In every class, we have a warmup, power drills, and exercises that combine cardio and strength training at intense intervals. So not only are you learning the techniques that will help save your life, but you’re also conditioning your body to carry out those techniques more effectively and last longer in a fight.

And for those who are more fitness-focused, KMI offers an Elite Military Fitness class, which is what I imagine Navy SEAL training to be like; Combat Cardio class; and a kettlebells class. Truly dedicated students who can fit all of these classes into their schedule will go from civilian to Jason Bourne in a matter of weeks.

It Will Help You in Other Areas of Life

It’s only natural that once you’ve gained some physical confidence, that confidence will carry over into other areas of your life. Developing mental resolve in handling hypothetically threatening situations, strengthening your muscles with strikes and power drills, and gaining a better understanding of your body and its instincts are all working toward optimizing you as a whole, and you’ll notice the benefits extending far beyond class.

I asked Patrick Lockton, director of KMI and the first instructor I met at the school, for his insight on this. Lockton said, “The interesting thing is that we did a survey on this about two years ago. We asked our students what they felt were the three main benefits of their training at KMI. We were expecting them all to say weight loss or being fitter, or ‘the self-defense and fighting skills saved me and my friends’ or something. They actually didn’t focus on those aspects at all. By far the most common response to the question was boosting self-confidence.”

How exactly does getting attacked over and over again boost one’s self-confidence?

“The training changes people’s psychological patterns and opinions of themselves, others, and life in general,” Lockton said. “Strange things happen when you realize you are capable of a lot more than you thought.”

Indeed, Krav Maga is like a doorway into a new part of yourself. Once that doorway’s been cracked, the rest of you comes flooding through and suddenly you feel like you can accomplish anything.

“The KMI mind-set helps people start believing in themselves, and this can make a huge difference in someone’s life,” Lockton continued. “Students can easily translate their success in training to success in their lives.”

You Will Make Life-Long Friends

Besides learning invaluable self-defense skills, you’ll also be experiencing an unparalleled kind of camaraderie in class. Nothing brings people closer like going through physical and mental hell together for the sake of self-improvement. Everyone, even the ones who are normally curmudgeons in their normal lives, are supportive and positive in class. It’s kind of hard to be a jerk when you’re getting kicked in the groin. And if you can get past beating each other up (one of my friends in class kicked me in the ear once), you can probably get past anything.

Over the last two and a half years, I’ve made friends with people from all walks of life, of all ages and backgrounds — financial analysts, scientists, nurses, etc. These are people I normally wouldn’t meet and get to know in my normal life, but after taking turns putting each other in headlocks and blood chokes, you kind of want to give them your firstborn.

And there’s honestly no bonding experience like our Krav Maga tests, which determines if you’re ready to go up a level in training (think of belt tests in karate). These are grueling four-hour-long tests that combine technique display, exercise drills, and hardcore conditioning — the easiest level ends with 50 burpees. “Intense” is an absurd understatement. But when you’re drenched in sweat and on the verge of vomiting and you look around you at everyone else going through the same thing, and when your testing partner puts their hand on your shoulder and says, “You got this,” you feel like you would do anything for these people.

My fellow classmates are more than just the people who train next to me at the gym after work; they’re my family.

It Can Save Your Life

In case this hasn’t been emphasized enough, Krav Maga can save your life. If you live in a densely populated city with a high crime rate, it might actually come in handy one day (but hopefully it won’t). Even if you don’t — even if you’ve never encountered physical danger in your entire life — you never know when a threat might present itself. And if you happened to have applied for an intelligence agency and they decide to finally call you back, well, Krav Maga will come in handy then too.

Image Sources: Andrew Dallas of the Krav Maga Institute NYC and Instagram user aliciaql

Amber Putnam, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Scott Doberstein, M.S., Kari Emineth, M.S., and Carl Foster, Ph.D., with Daniel J. Green

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Krav Maga—which is Hebrew for “close combat”—is a relatively new addition to the martial arts–style offerings in the fitness industry. Its history, which dates back to the mid-1930s, is fascinating. Imre Lichtenfeld developed Krav Maga as a means of self-defense in response to the anti-Semitic riots that were threatening Jews, particularly in Czechoslovakia. Lichtenfeld served for 20 years in the Israeli Defense Force after the State of Israel was formed in 1948, during which time he further refined his self-defense techniques using components of kickboxing, karate, jujitsu and judo.

Lichtenfeld’s first black belt student, Eli Avikzar, continued to develop Krav Maga into what it is today. The Krav Maga Association was formed in 1978 and there are currently 134 recognized Krav Maga Institutes around the world.

A fitness-oriented Krav Maga workout like the one used in this study features dynamic, full-body movements. In addition to a standard warm-up and cool-down, Krav Maga workouts include a variety of self-defense moves. The aerobic nature of the workouts comes from long sequences of kicks, punches and other combative moves.

Krav Maga is following in the footsteps of other martial arts classes, including kickboxing, karate and mixed martial arts, as it becomes increasingly popular in the fitness world. But is it a good workout? ACE called on John Porcari, Ph.D., and his research team in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse to find out. The purpose of this research was to determine the relative exercise intensity and energy expenditure of a single Krav Maga workout and to determine whether it meets exercise programming recommendations.

The Study

The researchers recruited 16 apparently healthy male and female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 29 years old (Table 1). All were recreationally active, meaning they exercised at least three times weekly for the prior six months and had no cardiovascular or orthopedic contraindications to exercise.

Prior to the study, each participant performed a maximal exercise test on a treadmill to determine maximal heart rate (HRmax) and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). In addition to recording heart rate (HR) throughout the test, the researchers collected ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) every two minutes.

Each participant performed at least two practice sessions to become familiar with the Krav Maga workout. Once the research team deemed them to be proficient, the participants completed a 60-minute Krav Maga workout session by following along to a pre-recorded DVD. Heart rate was recorded each minute during the workout and RPE was assessed every five minutes. Finally, the HR values were inserted into individual HR/VO2 regression equations (as determined during the maximal exercise test) to predict VO2 on a minute-by-minute basis during the Krav Maga session.

The Results

The physiological responses to the Krav Maga session are summarized in Table 2. As you can see, there were no significant differences in HR, RPE, %HRmax or %VO2max between males and females, though males achieved significantly higher VO2 and metabolic equivalents (METs) during the workout and expended significantly more calories than the females.

Exercise intensity data are also graphically presented in Figures 1 through 3. The research team represented the intensity in terms of %HRmax and %VO2max, as that is how it is most often represented in the comparative literature.

Figure 1. Relative HR responses (% HRmax) during the Krav Maga workout. The boxed region indicates the ACSM guidelines for improving cardiorespiratory endurance (64-76% of HRmax corresponds to moderate intensity and 77-95% of HRmax corresponds to vigorous intensity).

Figure 2. Relative oxygen consumption responses (%VO2max) during the Krav Maga workout. The boxed region indicates the ACSM guidelines for improving cardiorespiratory endurance (46-63% of VO2max corresponds to moderate intensity and 65-90% of VO2max corresponds to vigorous intensity).

Figure 3. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) response during the Krav Maga workout

The Bottom Line

The purpose of this study was to determine the relative exercise intensity and energy expenditure of a Krav Maga session and to compare those values to guidelines for improving cardiorespiratory endurance and for weight management .

ACSM (2018) recommends that individuals exercise between 64 and 95% of HRmax or 46 and 90% of VO2max to improve cardiorespiratory endurance. In this study, exercise intensity averaged 78% of HRmax and 66% of VO2max, which places it on the borderline between the moderate- and vigorous-intensity ranges. It should be noted that these averages included the five-minute warm-up and five-minute cool-down.

As shown in Figures 1 and 2, the participants were exercising in the vigorous-intensity range for the majority of the workout portion of the Krav Maga session. This is similar to findings on research on other martial arts (Hausen et al., 2017; Buermann et al., 2012; Milanez et al., 2012; Bridge et al., 2007; Imamura et al., 1999; Francescato, Talon and Di Prampero, 1995). Similarly, the average MET requirement for the Krav Maga session was 8.8 METs, which falls into the vigorous-intensity range. This is slightly more intense than running at 5 mph or bicycling at 13 mph.

In terms of caloric expenditure, it is recommended that people expend between 1,200 and 2,000 calories per week during exercise, or 240 to 400 calories per exercise session (assuming five sessions per week) to positively affect body composition (Donnelly et al., 2009). The participants in this study burned an average of 616 calories during the one-hour Krav Maga session, placing it well above that recommended range.

Finally, the researchers looked at RPE for all participants, which fell in a range of 11 to 14 and would classify Krav Maga as a moderate-intensity activity.

Overall, the results of this study indicate that the Krav Maga workout used in the study met ACSM guidelines for improving cardiorespiratory fitness and managing body weight. The HR, VO2 and RPE measurements all indicate that exercisers can expect a moderate-to-vigorous intensity workout that teaches self-defense techniques while simultaneously providing a full-body workout. Importantly, Dr. Porcari reports that the participants really liked the workouts, saying that they found it a fun way challenge themselves.

American College of Sports Medicine (2018). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Testing and Prescription (10th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Bridge, C. et al. (2007). Heart rate responses to taekwondo training in experienced practitioners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21, 3, 718–723.

Buermann, M. et al. (2012). Can you QiDance your way to fitness? Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 11, 771–772.

Donnelly, J. et al. (2009). Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41, 459–471. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181949333

Milanez, V. et al. (2012). Heart rate response during a karate training session. RBME, 18, 1, 1–9.

Benjamin Oliver

A young woman moves backward, forward, left and right across the studio mats on the balls of her feet. Strands of her hair stick to her sweaty face and the knuckles of each fist rest against her cheekbones. Her eyes track her opponent as she ducks punches and kicks. She’s practising Krav Maga, the hand-to-hand combat system used by the Israeli military. In a Krav class, you’ll build strength, stamina and confidence in your ability to stay vigilant and safe on the roads.

Instructors Colleen Daly and Chris Torres (pictured) have formatted the defence moves into hour-long classes. Daly, a marathon runner, thought she had a strong fitness base – until she tried Krav.

‘I don’t feel I’ve had a workout that has challenged me as this has,’ she says. Because Krav classes simulate attack situations, students must continue each move until the instructor calls ‘time’, which makes for an intense, unpredictable workout. So schedule Krav sessions just once or twice per week.

(Related: 5 cross-training workouts to make you a better runner)

Torres recommends learning to do the following moves with a Krav instructor to develop correct form and technique. This 24-minute partner workout is a good way to hone skills between classes.

1/ Shoulder and knee tag (8 minutes)

Benjamin Oliver

You and your sparring partner face each other in the fighting stance: knees bent, feet shoulder-width apart, with one leg in front of the other and the knuckles of both forefingers resting on your cheekbones. Move by stepping all directions, maintaining your fighting stance as you try to tap the outside of each other’s shoulders and knees. Continue for three minutes, rest for one minute, then repeat.

2/ Squats (1 minute)

Benjamin Oliver

A strong punch comes from the core and lower body. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, pushing your knees over your toes as you squat low, then push through your heels to stand. Repeat consistently for 60 seconds. This will be your active break between each move.

(Related: Quick guide to squatting technique)

3/ Arm stop and knee to groin (4 minutes)

Benjamin Oliver

Your partner holds a tombstone striking pad and charges. Block his progress with your forearms, then grab his shoulder as you hit the pad with an ‘up knee’. He steps back, then charges again. Switch after two minutes.

4/ Squats (1 minute)

5/ Punches (2 minutes)

Make a fist with your thumb on the outside of your grip. Rotate at the hips as you extend, exhale as you hit the pad, bring your hand back, then strike with your other hand. Switch after one minute.

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6/ Squats (1 minute)

7/ Flurry and sprawl (6 minutes)

Benjamin Oliver

Throw a flurry of hard punches, going ‘all out.’ Your partner may call ‘defence’ to force you to drop your hips to the ground before popping up and continuing the flurry. Switch after three minutes.

8/ Squats (1 minute)

Work-Life Balance For Krav Maga Training

It can be tough to keep a balanced exercise schedule in the best of times, but when pressures and demands start creeping in from your home, office, or school, it can seem almost impossible. It’s easy to put off your exercise when think your Krav Maga training schedule is a hobby, work is work, and family is family. That can easily turn into a slippery slope that leaves you out of shape, out of practice, and out of sorts. Our lives may get busier every day, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up training altogether.

Flexibility Is Key

You can’t always determine when work deadlines fall, assignments are due, but you can create a balanced exercise schedule that allows for flexibility. This not only lets you better balance your commitments, it helps you prepare for the unexpected, already an important aspect of Krav Maga. Here are some examples of how and where you can find or create flexibility in your routine.

Changing It Up

  • Cardio – Cardiovascular exercise can be one of the easiest areas to improvise with when the need arises. If your usual routine is a jog at a specific time of day, find a different time to jog. You may not be happy with an early morning or a late evening jogging session you aren’t used to, but your body will still get the exercise it needs. If you won’t be able to do your usual method, such as if you use a bike or stair stepper at the gym, convert it to a different exercise. Even jogging, jumping, or squats in place can help you keep a balanced exercise schedule on track when life throws you a curveball.
  • Strength – Hitting the weights feels great, but a business trip that takes you away from your gym or a PTA meeting that eliminates your spare time can derail your goals. Luckily, exercises based on isometrics and bodyweight resistance can work as a stop gap until your next session. Crunches, planks, squats, and dips require little to no equipment. It also may be time to invest in a small amount of home equipment, like adjustable dumbbells, to provide even more options when needed.
  • Training – Krav Maga provides self defense and fitness benefits that you carry with you when you leave the training center. If you can’t make your regular Krav Maga training schedule, check with your location and see if other classes are available. You can also speak with the instructor about the potential for coming early to the next session for some additional training, work with a partner in your class who can make additional sparring or training time throughout the week, or take some time to practice on the fundamentals yourself if no one else is available. Krav Maga Worldwide also offers an online academy at www.kravmagaworldwideacademy.com The online academy offers an introduction to Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense training for free, as well as other training curricula available with a paid subscription. The online academy is a great way to review lessons and learn new material that will supplement your training at the training centers.

Plan Ahead

Just as we teach in class, awareness and planning go a long way when the unplanned occurs. Ask yourself now, if my schedule changed, how could I continue a balanced exercise schedule. If you find deficiencies in your preparedness, fix them now. As always, if you are looking for real-world self-defense and a healthier you, call or visit a Krav Maga Worldwide location or affiliate and register for classes today.

Krav Maga is a military combat style introduced by the Israeli Self-Defense Force. In the early 2000s, this became known as a civilian martial arts style.

Similar to other martial arts style, a qualified instructor is important to learn the principles and techniques of Krav Maga.

However, you can still learn this on your own if Krav Maga schools or training centers are not available in your area or if you don’t have the budget to pay for a personalized training.

This martial art style is an effective and easy-to-learn self-defense system. Krav Maga training includes a combination of combat and self-defense principles and techniques.

A Krav Maga practitioner who is well-informed and well-trained can be described as a walking human weapon.

To get started in Krav Maga training you don’t need much. What you do need is dedication and:

  1. a good mindset: engage training with your mind as well as your body
  2. some good training recources like enrolling in a school, but even the right books or video courses can get you started
  3. look at what others are doing and ask them for tips
  4. oberseve good training habits and stop overthinking

Here is Kevin Mack on his Youtube channel talking about the Krav Maga mindset that he values for his school and students:

Read our buying guide for essential Krav Maga accessories

What I’ll cover in this in-depth post:

What are the benefits of Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is a Hebrew term, which means “contact combat”.

Those who are not so familiar about this self-defense system find this a bit complicated and profound. However, Krav Maga can be used by anyone regardless of his or her fitness level, size, and strength.

The easy and practical principles and techniques that are very useful during real-life battles make this martial arts discipline interesting and great.

You don’t have to have martial arts experience to become an effective Krav Maga practitioner.

If you have been excited and curious about this self-defense system for a while now, you may have already done your research or even asked those who have Krav Maga experience if this is effective as a fighting technique.

Apart from gaining effective self-defense skills that will certainly save your life,

Krav Maga provides these great benefits:

  • It is a great form of workout: You are thought in Krav Maga to make use of everything you have in fighting, including your body. Each class requires you to undergo a set of warm-up exercises and drills, which include interval cardio and strength training. These powerful exercises will definitely enable you to effectively execute self-defense moves. What’s more is that it will improve your heart function and help you get in shape.
  • It boosts your confidence: As you move forward with the training and improve your self-defense skills, you will certainly feel empowered and inspired. If you will constantly follow the routines of the training, you will have the confidence to fight against the challenges and circumstances of life.
  • It keeps you aware of your surroundings: Krav Maga fighters based their moves and techniques on their instincts. They fend off attackers by simultaneously using their body and head. As they continue to train, they become expert at understanding and interpreting situations and execute their attack plans through improvisation.

Krav Maga Guide for Beginners

Are you interested to learn about the world’s most effective and realistic self-defense style? You have come to the right page. This guide will reveal the essential techniques, principles, moves, and equipment associated with Krav Maga. So, let’s get started.

What are basic Krav Maga Moves?

Every sport has it’s beginners moves and more advanced ones, and to get started in a new sport like this you’ll have to get the basics down first. Here’s an introduction into the first moves you’ll need to learn.

The most basic Krav Maga moves are:

  • the Neutral Stance
  • the Fighting Stance
  • basic punches
  • basic elbow work
  • the groin kick
  • the stepping side kick
  • the palm strike

Below you’ll learn more about performing these basic moves. First, here’s a complete 30 minute KRav Maga beginner’s class to get you started:

Neutral Stance

Krav Maga training starts with a neutral or passive stance. This stance refers to the normal body position: legs are shoulder-width apart, arms down, and footing is not perfect. This posture depicts that you are not aware that an attack will occur.

Fighting Stance

Fighting, guard, or self-protection stance allows a fighter to quickly move his feet and execute fighting strikes with power. This position will serve as a natural protection against the attack.

After an initial attack, it is normal for fighters to slightly move their feet, position the power leg behind, raise their hands with thumbs at chin level, position elbows near the ribs, and open the palms outward.

This position does not imply that the fighter is aggressive, but this prepares him to counterattack and protects the vulnerable portion of the body, that is, the head and the torso.


Many fighters underestimated the power of straight punches. But actually, a well-executed punch to the neck, nose, or jaw can cause several damages to your opponent. In Krav Maga, punching is considered an effective initial offense.

To do this, execute the fighting stance. Then, perform a straight punch using your front arm, rotate your front foot, and straightly extend your arm while turning your fist horizontally.

Make sure that your arm is in line with your shoulder. Then turn your torso as you punch using your two large knuckles.


The tip of the ulna or the bottom of the humerus is usually used to come in contact with an opponent.

These two bones make up our elbow. There are elbow strikes that you need to learn in Krav Maga. You can strike your opponent in several directions, for instance, forward and horizontally and elbow behind.

Rotating the balls of the feet along with the torso is necessary to execute a powerful elbow strike.

Groin Kick

Hitting the balls is a good fighting technique. This is usually done by performing the thrust knee or groin kick move. The groin is a very sensitive part of the body and is the hardest part to protect.

The groin kick is a powerful technique in Krav Maga. Groin kick is performed by using the arched portion of the foot (located between the ankle and toes), slightly leaning backward, and pushing the hips forward.

Stepping Side Kick

Stepping sidekick is an effective move to stay away from your attacker especially if he is beside you. You can do this by crossing your leg to your opponent’s direction and at the same time transferring your weight to your leg.

Rotate your hips slightly and culminate with a kick through your heel. This is a powerful move to use when you aim to hit your opponent’s knee, shin, or abdomen.

Palm Strike

Palm strike involves the same body movements as punch. However, rather than using a clenched fist to hit your attacker, you are required to use the muscular part at the bottom of your hand, which is located near your wrist.

This portion of your hand is very strong that it won’t get injured when you hit the bones or skull of your opponent. Palm strike is effective when you aim to hit the attacker’s neck or head.

What are the Krav Maga Defense basics?

360 Blocking

Although most martial arts involve various defense techniques depending upon your angle of attack, Krav Maga has only one defense concept, the 360 blocking.

This is executed by blocking the opponent’s strike with your forearm coupled with the appropriate body position. In a fight, you don’t know the exact target of your opponent; therefore, the 360 blocking is a powerful defense technique to protect your body.

Front Choke Defense

A violent way of strangulation is the front choke. This is a life-threatening attack. It cannot only strangle you, but it can also trap you over a ledge or into the ground or push you against a wall.

To counteract this, you just have to raise your arm straight up and twist your body to a 180-degree angle.

As you twist your body, trap your attacker’s arm, and immediately free yourself and perform those counterattack moves.

What Krav Maga Training Equipment will I need?

You can practice without any gear to get started, but if you’re getting a bit more into it you might want to get yourself some equipment.

The basic training equipment you will need for Krav Maga is:

  • a pair of boxing gloves
  • protective helmet (if you’re really a beginner)
  • a Tombstone striking pad
  • a punching bag

Here I’ll explain what the benefits of these are.

Boxing Gloves

A pair of boxing gloves enable you to practice well Krav Maga moves. It allows you to master those punching moves, helps you strengthen your wrist and forearm, and enables you to properly position your knuckle as you strike your opponent.

You can strike a punching bag or focus mitts or even hit your partner directly. Through the use of boxing gloves, your hands and your partner are protected from injury.

Protective helmet

So if you’re a real beginner and getting into sparring with others, you might want to consider getting a protective helmet. It can get pretty rough and if you’re not completely comfortable with blocking yet, a massive blow might hit you by surprise.

Tombstone striking pad

The tombstone is a multi-angled surface striking pad that is closely associated with Krav Maga training. You can severely hit it, thereby enabling you to practice combative moves at all angles. A training partner is necessary when using this equipment.

Punching Bag

If you are having a solo Krav Maga training, a good hanging or standing punching bag is necessary.

Take note that when you opt for a hanging bag, each strike will create a counter-swing, which is a bit annoying. You can also choose to have a body opponent bag. This is a realistic way to exactly hit your target body part.

Krav Maga Principles

Krav Maga is more than just martial arts. It does not only involve using various styles of blocks and strikes to win over a controlled fight, but this fighting system is about saving a life.

This is not about having fun in a fight club or displaying artistic fighting moves in a mall during a holiday. In Krav Maga, there are several important principles and techniques to keep in mind when fighting against an attacker.


The first line of defense during an attack is having a sharp awareness of your surroundings and the moves of your attacker. Instead of focusing your attention on your phone or something else, begin to thoroughly observe your attacker.

Have presence of mind. Clear up your mind and focus your attention on the current situation.

Be the Attacker

It is always the goal of a Krav Maga fighter to become the attacker regardless of how he is attacked.

Even if he is thrown against the wall, punched, pushed, or struck with a weapon, he still maintains his aggression to simultaneously defend and counterattack.

His moves are violent yet smart. He makes use of the natural movements of his body and plays to his attacker’s weaknesses.

Be Realistic

Krav Maga instructors aim to provide training that are safe yet realistic as much as possible. Through the use of training gears like gloves and protective helmets, you can practice Krav Maga moves at a normal speed.

Krav Maga experts believe that how you practice reflects your actual performance during a fight. Therefore, it is best to exert full effort and create strong muscle memories as you practice defense and attack moves.

Counteract the Threat

The main goal of Krav Maga fighters is to neutralize the attack as soon as possible. This goal is the basis of all other Krav Maga principles. It is always the aim of Krav Maga practitioners to paralyze and control their opponents.

You don’t have to think too much about fighting etiquette if your life is at risk. Thus, you must use whatever you have and do whatever you can to save your life.

Think Simple

There are no complicated movement patterns in Krav Maga. Blocks, holds, and strikes are some of the simple moves of Krav Maga. These easy and simple moves allow fighters to counteract attacks as quickly as possible.

Synchronize Defense and Attack Moves

In martial arts, offensive and defensive moves are usually executed separately and discretely.

For instance, when your first move is blocking, which is a defense technique, you need to find an opening before you kick, an offense technique.

The disadvantage of this approach is that it is responsive. You will likely end up executing a series of unending defense moves.

Whereas in Krav Maga, the fighter is able to execute a combination of defensive and offensive moves simultaneously by interrupting the attack and at the same time performing counterattack moves.

For instance, if your opponent attacks your throat, your goal is not only to escape from the attack but also to fight back by attacking his eyes, groin, or throat. The aim here is to counterbalance the threat as soon as possible.

Make Use of Continuous Motion or Retzev

Retzev is a Hebrew term that means continuous motion. This is another important principle involved in Krav Maga. Retzev is characterized by a continuous assertive defense and offense movements to neutralize the attack.

As your opponent responds to your counterattacks, you will continue to attack him with headbutts, punches, and kicks until the threat is neutralized.

When using Retzev, it is necessary for a fighter to use his instinct and not depend on routines.

A well-versed Krav Maga fighter is able to respond to attacks without delay and doubt.

Make Use of Available Weapons

Krav Maga is designed to enable fighters to use knives and firearms conveniently. Apart from using these standard fighting weapons, you are trained in Krav Maga to use any available objects such as chairs, belts, keys, and pens as weapons.

These common objects, when integrated into Krav Maga, can be used to neutralize attackers as soon as possible.

Counteract Weapon Attacks

Apart from weapon handling training, Krav Maga also focuses on defending oneself from armed attackers.

Target Sensitive Soft Tissues and Pressure Points

One of the popular Krav Maga principles is hitting the attacker on the sensitive parts of the body and pressure points.

A lot of counterattack moves include groin attacks, throat strikes, and eye gouging. Many people questioned and criticized these techniques.

However, Krav Maga advocates pointed out that these aggressive counterattack moves conform to its main goal, which is to neutralize the attack.

When you encounter a street fight, the attacker does not have any sports rule in mind. His main goal is to injure, hurt, or even kill you.

Therefore, being aggressive in attacking your opponent is definitely reasonable. When your life is at risk, you don’t have the time to think of any fighting etiquette.

Subdue Your Opponent

Aside from aggressive attacks, Krav Maga also involves subduing moves to weaken your attacker. Grabs and joint locks enable you to take control over your opponent, thereby lessening the threat.

Learn more from our guide to getting started in Krav Maga sparring matches.

How to Get Started with Your Training techniques

Starting a new journey is a bit difficult. Whether it is learning self-defense moves, changing your lifestyle, or starting college, the first moves are always tough.

So if you are new to Krav Maga, you may find the techniques and moves a bit intimidating and complicated. However, it is exciting. There are several ways that you can do to ignite your passion at the start of your journey.

Have the Right State of Mind

When it comes to physical training or personal fitness, many people believed that this only involves conditioning the body.

However, having the right state of mind is important in physical training since the mind and body are closely connected and inseparable. Therefore, if you want to engage in physical activities, it will all start in conditioning your mind.

Many Krav Maga beginners think that they are only engaging in a body training program, which is a big mistake.

The truth is Krav Maga training requires a comprehensive integration of the mind and body. When your mind is not set, you cannot execute physical moves efficiently and effectively.

Choose and Gather Your Resources

Krav Maga self-defense system is designed to be used in a real-life fight. It can be practically used in the streets or on the battlefield during a close fight.

If you are interested in learning Krav Maga, you may choose any of the following ways to start your training:

1. Enroll in a Krav Maga class

Similar to other martial arts styles, one of the best ways to learn Krav Maga techniques is by enrolling yourself in a Krav Maga school. In a Krav Maga class, you will be guided by great instructors on how to execute moves effectively.

You can also meet like-minded people, your teammates, who will support and encourage you.

Because Krav Maga is specifically developed for a real-life fight, it requires practitioners to be efficient in executing aggressive moves.

Therefore, you will need experts who can help you develop or enhance fighting skills and knowledge so that you can be able to protect yourself against real-life attacks.

Since Krav Maga has increased its popularity nowadays, a lot of schools and gyms have emerged and claimed that they offer genuine training and are accredited by legitimate organizations.

That is why choosing the right Krav Maga school is very crucial.

2. Attend a Krav Maga training camp

Krav Maga camps are usually held in Israel. Joining a camp enables you to learn the techniques and principles in just a short period of time. Plus, it is very inspiring to learn this skill in its place of origin, Israel.

3. Read Krav Maga books

To truly understand and appreciate its techniques and principles, it is a good idea to read Krav Maga books. Understanding the theory behind Krav Maga allows you to effectively execute moves in the actual fight.

4. Buy DVDs

Reading books is not enough. You really need to actually practice the moves. So if you don’t have the capacity and opportunity to sign up for a Krav Maga course or class, using DVDs enable you to fully understand the concepts and practice the actual moves with the proper techniques.

However, it is still essential to consult Krav Maga professionals before actually imitating the moves you have seen in DVDs.

Doing so can prevent injuries and other untoward incidents that may happen in your home. So, make sure that the Krav Maga DVD that you have chosen are highly recommended by professionals.

Observe Good Training Habits

Krav Maga is undoubtedly a practical self-defense system that is easy to learn. This is best used during real-life street fights.

A lot of people are convinced to learn this self-defense style because of its simplicity and practicality. The logical movements in Krav Maga make it different from other martial arts styles.

Although it is simple and easy to learn, gaining enough strength and being flexible are essential if you want to become an efficient Krav Maga practitioner.

Krav Maga training requires hard work, patience, dedication, and right methodology.

The following are some of the few tips that will help you sustain in your Krav Maga training:

1. Begin slowly

Learn each technique slowly. Do not rush in learning all techniques at one time. When you rush in executing the movements, you will likely make more errors.

It is best to completely understand first a particular technique and slowly execute each movement. Your body will eventually get used to a particular move.

Then, you can now proceed to learn and to execute another move. Do not hesitate to ask your trainer, instructor, peer, or partner to minimize or slow down their attacks when necessary.

When you train, you don’t have to prove that you are good in front of anyone. So, take it slowly but surely.

2. Move purposefully

Even though you are slowly internalizing each move, it is still important to avoid splitting up a certain technique into several steps. One of the principles of Krav Maga is movement fluidity.

Train your mind and body to get used with executing continuous movements. Although your speed is slow at first, make sure that the delivery and purpose of your moves are not compromised.

If you need to extend your kicks and punches and be decisive as you strike, then do so. Bear in mind that your goal in Krav Maga is to overcome real-life attacks and neutralize the threat.

Thus, your mental condition, attitude, and movements as you train should reflect your main goal.

3. Speed up

When you get used to the movements, you may start increasing your speed. Keep in mind that the initial rule in Krav Maga training is to avoid yourself getting hurt.

So, it is apparent that your safety and your partner’s safety is important as you increase your speed.

Maintain similar body mechanics as you had when you are training at a slower pace. If you notice that you had made a mistake in your movements, slow down a bit and repeat the movement until you have perfectly executed it.

4. Stop overthinking

Whether you are training in school or at home, you will certainly discover moves and techniques that you have not yet tried. You may find it difficult at first and start to overthink.

However, overthinking has no place in Krav Maga training. You will get to experience those complicated and stressful moves and drills later on as you progress in your training.

When you are capable of executing all Krav Maga moves, you can eventually use all these to protect yourself and neutralize the threat in real-life street fights.

In real settings, you do not need to anticipate the attack of your opponent. All you need to do is to respond to whatever is the attack using defensive moves that you have learned during the training. To win in a fight, it is best to combine your training insights and natural instincts.

If you have made an error in your move, you don’t have the time to correct it.

Instead, continue to execute defensive moves and perform offensive moves when necessary and given the opportunity. However, be mindful of your mistakes and strive to avoid it if you encounter a fight the next time around.

5. Practice, practice, practice

Even if you are not in a formal training, you can always practice Krav Maga moves anytime, especially during your free time.

If you can allot 10 to 15 minutes a day for practice, then that would be great. You can simply imagine your opponent’s attack and execute the right defense moves. You can absolutely assess your form and correct your mistakes as you practice.

6. Stick with the basics

The key to becoming a successful Krav Maga practitioner is to have a strong foundation of the basic principles and techniques. What is nice about Krav Maga is that advanced moves are created out of basic tactics, movements, and principles.

Learning how to defend yourself against an attacker who is using a bayonet connected to a rifle is pretty cool, but this is not practical.

However, if you encounter an attacker with this type of weapon, you can certainly defend yourself using a straight punch move and executing offense moves. That way, you have a great chance to neutralize the threat.

How did Krav Maga get started?

In order for you to understand and appreciate Krav Maga techniques and principles, knowing its history is essential. The beginnings of Krav Maga can be traced back during the pre-World War II.

It all started with a young Jewish athlete from Czechoslovakia (currently Slovakia). The athlete is Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was well-known locally and internationally as a gymnast, wrestler, and boxer.

In the middle of the 1930s, anti-Semitic groups and fascists became powerful and started inflicting violence on the Jews.

Having strongly felt the responsibility to protect his neighbors, he formed a group of young men to safeguard and protect the Jews community against the attackers. He had found out that his sport martial arts training is not enough to defeat the anti-Semitic group.

To win in a street fight requires excellent techniques and positive mindset. Therefore, Imi started combining his martial arts expertise with another fighting technique, that is, disabling and neutralizing the attacker during a fight.

Living in 1940’s Nazi government

In 1940, Imi lived under a Nazi-allied puppet government. He then went to Palestine to become part of the Zionist Movement, a group that defends and supports the Jewish national state in Palestine.

He then tied up with Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary group that aims to safeguard and protects Jewish immigrants from locals. Imi’s military abilities and teaching skills immediately caught the attention of Israeli army leaders.

So, they made him a leader of the elite military forces, which include the Palyam (marine commandos), Haganah, and Palmach (elite strike force).

Imi was a Krav Maga instructor for around 20 years in the Israel Defense Forces. In 1964, after serving in the military, he focused his time and energy on improving the self-defense system and teaching Krav Maga techniques to local citizens.

Because of his passion, he established the Krav Maga Association (KMA) in 1974. This is a not-for-profit organization that is committed to providing Krav Maga instructions and promoting this self-defense system all over the world.

Some of Imi’s followers introduced Krav Maga to the USA. Unexpectedly, this became the close-combat system of choice of most police and military forces in the USA.

This paved the way for the establishment of many Krav Maga organizations in the USA. Throughout the years, these organizations have been collaborating with groups in Israel to promote and teach Krav Maga in America.null

Final Thoughts

Krav Maga is a practical fighting system with the main goal of neutralizing the threat by executing the appropriate defense and offense moves.

Because of the increased popularity of this self-defense style, many people nowadays begin to engage in Krav Maga training.

This can be done by enrolling in a class or training at home using DVDs and books. Having the right state of mind and body, training slowly, and staying safe are the keys to becoming a successful Krav Maga practitioner.

Combining Krav Maga and physical training by Tommy Blom

In KMG we talk about 4 “legs” that we need to improve all the time, Technical, Tactical, Mental and Physical. If one of them is lacking the whole platform on top of them will fall to one side. I will talk about adding to Krav Maga and physical training.

Physical qualities are without a doubt an extremely important part of your Krav Maga. Lets think about it, if you can perform a deep squat with a heavy weight without compensations and help, your body has a bigger engine that will be more efficient in generating force, which means that you can punch harder, kick harder, and move faster. In short, you will be a better practitioner of Krav Maga. Are you training Krav Maga two times a week, three times a week, five times a week? Do you have time to add another activity to your schedule? Do you really need to, and if so what should you focus on and how much of it should you do?

First of all, Krav Maga is your main activity. That means that all your other activities, all your other training should help you become better at Krav Maga. If you break yourself in the gym, your Krav Maga will suffer because of sore muscles, lack of energy and so on. In addition, I guess we can agree on that that is counter productive for your main goal: To improve your Krav Maga skills.

Make sure that you focus on quality of movement and that you don’t overtax your CNS (Central Nervous System) by going all out in the gym every session. You do not need to get tired to get stronger.

(Click on Image for full Size)

Activity that suits you

Make sure to choose the right activity for you; ask yourself (and your trainer) what you need. Do you need strength, mobility, speed, flexibility, endurance…? There are many different qualities to choose from; we are all different with varying “left overs” from earlier training or injuries. Find what you need now, at this moment and go with that.

Choose a few exercises to focus on, exercises that are “high pay-off” exercises. Exercises that help you improve what you need to improve. Focus on exercises that connect your body as much as possible – because in Krav Maga you need coordination and a body that works efficiently as one unit. Focus on exercises that follow natural movement patterns as squat, bend, lunge, pull, push and carry.

Your body is a highly integrated organism and when you improve one quality you will most of the time improve in other qualities too. What I mean with this is that if you focus on strict push-ups (where you can hold a tight plank with abs, glutes and legs in tension) for a few weeks and then you change to pull-ups. There is a big chance that your pull-ups has improved too, without working them at all, and vice versa. This is because you trained on getting stronger and improving your full body tension which will “spill over” to other exercises.

Staying too long at the same exercise routine can be counter productive. Use the same regimen of exercises for 4-6 weeks and then change to some other exercises. Planning your training this way will allow your body and brain to adapt to the exercises that you are currently doing but not stagnate, you will change to a new routine before that happens.

This will help you work on different qualities and it will also help you to improve your GPP (General Physical Preparedness) which is what you as a Krav Maga practitioner need, a general wide base of physical preparedness so that you will be able to fight for a few minutes if you need to (sometimes after sprinting).

Another thing that determines your physical routine is what you have at hand, do you own Kettlebells, do you go to a gym that has barbells and kettlebells, do you have time to go to the gym, do you need to go to the gym? If you don’t have the possibility to go to the gym, you will do fine with bodyweight training and kettlebells.

Bodyweight training

Make sure that you treat your bodyweight training with the same detail that you use in technical Krav Maga training. You start at the weight you are comfortable at and progress when you are ready for it, make sure that you do not cheat the exercises, treat them like practicing a technique in Krav Maga and make sure that you are at the correct level. You will get stronger over time and trying to rush it might bring you injuries.

Here is a an example of a push up progression, from not being able to do one push up to being able to do One arm-One leg push up with the feet elevated. You will feel a difference after a few weeks. Progress to the next level when you can do 10 strict repetitions (two hand versions), 5 strict repetitions (one hand versions) on the level you are at. The plank is a different thing, progress when you feel strong enough to attempt the push up without loosing tension in the plank.

Push up progression:

This is just an example on how you can treat a bodyweight exercise the same way that you treat the barbell while doing bench press, dead lifts or squats, you start at a weight that you can lift with good form and add weight as you get stronger.

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The kettlebells are in my (and others) opinion the ultimate tool for bringing you strength, work capacity, conditioning and over all GPP at the same time. As long as you learn the techniques correct the kettlebell will bring you to a new level of fitness in a short period of time. You will get stronger at the same time as you are increasing your conditioning, and you can get it all in a 15-20 minute training session.

Within Strongfirst we talk about the 6 major lifts

They are all good lifts and will bring different qualities to your physical development.

The starting point for kettlebell training

Start with Sumo Dead Lifts, the Swing (two hand and one hand variations), the Get-up and the squat. If you add these lifts to your “arsenal” and practice them you will be able to elevate your GPP in a fast and safe way.

These fundamentals will help you regain some movement patterns. Your legs, your back, your shoulders, your abs and your core (among other things) will get stronger and more stable over all it will give you a much better base to fight from. At the same time as your conditioning will improve which will make you “a better machine”.

Barbell training

The last modality for strength is barbell training.

The barbell training is a world with a huge amount of different lifts but I recommend that you stay with the basics lift where you have a big payoff and a low risk. They are lifts that incorporates big muscles groups, they connect your body when done right and they will make you stronger.

The lifts


Over all mobility and flexibility is very much needed in Krav Maga, the better you move and the better you control your movement the better your Krav Maga will be.

Primal Move has a very good approach to over all body control, mobility and ways to regain lost movement patterns, patterns that we loose when conforming to modern life with a lot of sitting and not enough moving around like we are supposed to do. Of course there are other options to mobility too. Just make sure that you find a system that will bring a complete solution so that it is just stretching without any stability work, preferably it is a system where you can pick up a good routine that you can use as a joint mobility/stability warm up before your training sessions. Again, find out what you need and try to work on that “knot” until you have loosened it and can move on.

Sometimes mobility is what you need; sometimes stability is what you need.

As I wrote a bit earlier in this article, it is up to you (together with your instructor) to find what you need at the moment and start there. If you are big and strong and feel like you might need to focus on mobility for a while, then that is definitely where you should put your efforts to take your Krav Maga to the next level. If you are very mobile and flexible then your best bet will be to try to add more strength and stability to improve your Krav Maga.

Remember that finding a good balance between the different qualities is the best you can do for your body.

Whatever exercises or modality you choose to work on/with, make sure that you seek out a good coach that has the correct knowledge and education to teach you how to do it correct (in the same way as you choose your Krav Maga instructor). If you are lucky your KMG Instructor is already certified with Strongfirst (Bodyweight, Kettlebells, Barbells), Primal Move (Bodyweight, Movement) or FMS (Functional Movement System) and can help you with a good assessment of your physical status and your needs.

Tommy Blom, currently Expert 5, is the highest ranking practitioner/instructor outside of Israel.
He started training Krav Maga more than 20 years ago (in 1994) and he took his instructor course in 1996.
Tommy works with StrongFirst, Primal Move and FMS (Functional Movement Systems), as well as being a former MMA fighter.
You can read more about Tommy on his website: www.tommyblom.com

Krav Maga Self Defense: Training with Resistance


Warning: controversy ahead. Most Krav Maga—the combat-proven hand-to-hand fighting system of the Israeli Defense forces—is not what it says it is.

Krav Maga advertisements promise “no rules,” “no rings,” “no refs,” and “no rituals.” Yet all Krav Maga training centers have a litany of protocols, guidelines and safety equipment. Students are told how and when to attack, what is OK and not OK, and what gear to wear. The training is even compartmentalized by level—and in some cases by gender or age.

Some centers line up students and have them bow to other students or to instructors, or to a photo of the founder. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is antithetical to the marketing.

Most Krav Maga instructors use faux reality training, cleverly labeled “scenario training.” Scenarios can range from gun defenses in lowlight areas on unstable terrain and in improbable positions, to confronting multiple attackers armed with knives, sticks and bottles. Though it might seem realistic, such training actually takes place in a controlled, scripted environment. Training to address a gun to the back of your head with someone on your back is simply a waste of time. Instead, training should emphasize steps needed to avoid such a situation. If you don’t have the ability to avoid this type of situation, you probably don’t have the ability to get out of it.

To prepare for the real thing, you need to include wrestling, boxing, and kickboxing in your Krav Maga training. (It’s no coincidence that Imi Licthenfeld, the founder of Krav Maga, was an accomplished boxer and wrestler before immigrating to Israel.) You should do what virtually every Krav Maga organization on the planet rejects, demeans or discredits. You should train, every day, with resistance. The resistance should be progressive, but it should always be present. Students should learn to feel the push and pull, to create resistance and to succeed and fail, in real time.

Training with resistance offers instant feedback. If you are not occasionally failing, you are not training.

When I train my students at Fit to Fight, we start with basic wrestling moves like arm drags and pummeling. Then we progress to underhooks, duck-unders and Russian arms, as well as to basic clinch work from Muay Thai. Take a look at the video at the top of this article to see how a basic movement taught to beginners can later be incorporated into more advanced training.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Krav Maga is the kick-ass fighting system used by everyone from the FBI to the Bourne films and Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher. The gloves are off, and MH is here to teach you everything you need to know to protect yourself – while getting fighting fit, too. See this as your very own defence class.

(Related: Do you have what it takes to join the SAS?)

Write off your assailant

Developed in conjunction with the Israeli defence forces in the aftermath of WWII, Krav Maga (Hebrew for ‘contact combat’) isn’t like other martial arts. “There are no competitive or sporting elements, or any complicated movements to learn,” says Jon Bullock, expert level instructor at The Institute of Krav Maga UK (institute-kravmaga.co.uk). “It is a modern system designed for problems that are faced in the modern world.”

Sorry Mr. Miyagi, there’s no kindly bows here – only deadly efficiency. “We use the body’s natural weapons: palm, fist, legs, knees, elbows, head – as well as other more extreme measures that may be necessary, such as biting,” Bullock explains. “Krav Maga also promotes using the environment and common objects for self defence where appropriate – such as bags, chairs, keys, and pens.” Forget the nunchucks, for a Krav Maga expert, the pen really is mightier than the sword.

(Related: The weight-loss MMA workout)

Dark ops

Don’t expect them to go easy on you though; after all, the bad guys never do. “Krav Maga uses stress inoculation in order to prepare trainees for a violent situation,” he says. “We practice in all manners of situations; from standing, to sitting, in the dark, or with loud music, in order to demonstrate the effects that the environment have on our performance and what we are capable of doing when it really matters.” If that sounds a bit painful, fear not: MH has learnt the best moves from the UK’s leading experts and is on hand for a crash course in kicking-ass.

(Related: 5 SAS-approved tactics to use at home)

Use your environment

In some situations, such as a busy commuter train, there may not be much time to react or room to manoeuvre. However, Krav Maga teaches you to use everyday items to your advantage. “If someone tries to attack you, use your briefcase or rucksack as a shield,” says Nick Maison, UK director of the International Krav Maga Federation (krav-maga-uk.com). “Keep it up at eye level – this will both protect you better and obscure their vision. Because your hands are being occupied, counter attack with a straight kick to the lower body underneath. While they’re down, scan the area for other threats and plan your escape.”

(Related: how would you stack up against the 10 best combat fighters ever?)

Law enforcement

If you are unfortunate enough to face an armed assailant, the first option is always to avoid risk, comply with any demands and try to de-escalate the situation. “Don’t look at the knife or into the attacker’s eyes. Watching the chest area will increase your peripheral vision,” says Maison. If the situation becomes violent, it’s important to act quickly. “With a fast motion, slap the back of the hand that holds the knife, sending it up and away from the centre line of your body,” advises Bullock. “It’s important to change the mindset of the attacker to prevent them from continuing – immediately move your upper body in the opposite direction and deliver a strong kick to the groin, whilst keeping your hands up to protect your throat.” Now run like hell.

(Related: Could you pass the new US Army combat fitness test?)

Stop a bag snatcher

If a thief is trying to snatch your bag, whether it contains top secret documents or your lunch, don’t pull away. Krav Maga shows the effectiveness of surprise. “Don’t resist – go with the direction of the pull,” recommends Maison. “Using their momentum, burst into the attacker with a swift knee to the groin and pull the bag away.”

Long live gaming

For the chance to dish out some Krav Maga justice without the potentially tricky legal issues post-brawl, try Splinter Cell: Conviction (£39.99, hmv.com). As if you needed any other excuse to break out the Xbox, researchers at East Carolina University found that two hours of casual gaming a week will cut your blood pressure by 16%, lowering your risk of a stroke. What’s more, scientists at McGill University found that playing video games can reduce your stress-inducing cortisol levels by 17%. They obviously weren’t playing on Veteran difficulty.

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If you want to get buff and tough at the same time, look no further than krav maga, a hand-to-hand combat style originally developed for the Israeli Defense Forces. In krav maga fitness training, you’ll punch, kick, elbow, strike and head-butt your way into great shape. In order to execute the moves and be a ruthless opponent, you need to build strength and endurance, as well as mental toughness.

The Basics

You’ll find krav maga classes offered at a range of locations, from dedicated krav maga gyms and martial arts studios to fitness centers. Classes typically last an hour and include a mix of conditioning and skills training. Not all classes will be alike. Depending on where you go, classes may be geared toward the general population with a fitness class vibe, or they may be geared toward individuals looking to learn self-defense.

Combat Conditioning

No doubt about it: If you want to fend off an opponent in hand-to-hand combat, you need to be in seriously good shape. You need muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular stamina, core strength and explosive power. Whether or not you plan to actually get in a fight, these are all important attributes of a well-rounded fitness regimen.

Calisthenics is a big part of krav maga training, and you’ll typically find classes open with a routine of bodyweight moves. Exercises such as jumping jacks, jump squats, burpees, box jumps, sit ups, mountain climbers and push-ups build strength, endurance and explosive power. Classes may also include exercises with kettlebells, dumbells, medicine balls and other equipment not specific to krav maga.

Get in great shape while learning how to defend yourself.

Fighting Fit

Now you get down to business. The meat of krav maga training is the moves you use to defeat your opponent. You’ll work on proper stance — either neutral or fighting. Then you’ll practice punches and strikes, including eye strike, hammer fist, elbow strike, hook punch, inside and outside chops and palm heel strikes. You’ll also practice kicking — front kicks, high kicks and high round kicks — and knee strikes. You may also practice ground fighting techniques and how to fall if knocked to the ground.

You’ll also learn tactics for defending yourself against strikes, punches and kicks. There are a variety of defense moves depending on the specific strike and where the attack is coming from, whether it’s your back, sides or above you if you’re on the ground. You may also learn defenses against headlocks, choking, wrist grabs and hair grabs, all of which will vary depending on the type and origin of the attack.

To train these skills, you’ll learn technique via instructor demonstration. Next, you’ll do drills either solo or with a partner. A heavy punching bag will often be employed, or you’ll spar with a partner wearing punching pads. These drills are short but intense and mimic an interval-training session in which your heart rate rises with intense effort then comes back down during a period of recovery. Interval-style workouts are particularly effective for getting fit and changing body composition.

Mental Mettle

Krav maga fitness training isn’t only about developing a strong body and physical stamina. To stay cool in a combat situation, you need mental strength and stamina, too. Depending on the type of class you go to, the instructor may guide you in overcoming fear and the fight or flight reaction you experience during stress. He may also coach you on effective decision-making under stress, trusting your instincts, emotional perseverance and confidence-building, skills which carry over well into real-life situations.

We Tried It: Krav Maga For Cardio, Strength-Training, and Self-Defense

Courtesy of FOX News Magazine/Jaimie La Bella

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Krav Maga: It’s the official hand-to-hand combat style of the Israeli Defense Forces, but it’s also gaining momentum Stateside as a great workout combining cardio, strength-training, and easy-to-understand self-defense techniques.

I first heard about the class through a friend, who entertained me with the story of how Jessica Alba used the IDF platform to get in shape for her upcoming role in “Mechanic: Resurrection.” I was sold on the concept, but also for a much more serious reason: “Could you defend yourself if that man attacked you?” she asked, pointing at the large, 230-pound man walking adjacent to us.

My immediate reaction was to politely call her crazy. So I told her. I could not defend myself against a man that size. Could anyone?

But then, in that moment, I realized that if there were a way for someone like me to defend myself from someone like him, I needed to learn how. I wanted to feel like I could protect myself if I had to.

I walked into the Krav Maga Academy in NYC nervous but determined to understand the practice behind IDF. Our instructor, Matan Gavish, a former Krav Maga officer and instructor for a special-ops unit in the Israeli Defense Forces, was already on the mat preparing for our session.

I took a look around and began to stretch, first observing there were more women than men in the class. In fact, there was only one male in the class, who I happened to bring with me as a very supportive companion on my combat journey. (Gavish later told us that at most of his classes looked like ours.)

The class is unique in that you role-play real-life scenarios and effective ways to remove yourself from danger: You learn how to remove a knife fron an attacker’s hand, or even a gun, and how to free yourself from sexual assault and abuse.

“You don’t need to aspire to become the greatest warrior of all time, but you do want to have a few tools in your back pocket, a little ace in your sleeve just in case you have to use it,” Gavish says. “And the only rule of Krav Maga is there are no rules.”

We began our class with an intense warm-up including jumping jacks, push-ups, leaps, and sprints followed by a tutorial of jabs, punches, kicks and combinations. Then we moved on to the hard part: practicing on a partner. “Remember, we do whatever we have to do to cause as much damage to our attacker and get out of the situation as soon as possible,” Gavish told us. “If that means I have to bite, gouge, use my nails kick soft spots, then that is what I am going to do.”

After an hour of sweating, my knuckles were sore, my heart was pounding and I was confident I’d be back to attend another class. Here’s why:

Anyone can practice Krav Maga.

“The moves are simple — they are based on already existing instincts,” Gavish told Fox News Magazine. “In Krav Maga, we are not interested in causing pain to our attacker. Pain is subjective; damage, on the other hand, is objective. I don’t care if the person feels the pain associated with a shattered kneecap, but if he can’t stand on his leg, then he can’t chase me.”

You learn survival techniques to real life situations.

Krav Maga teaches techniques to fend off an attacker who might have an advantage in size, speed or weaponry, to name a few. “This is not about having a fair fight,” Gavish said. “I’m going to use everything in my power to cause as much damage as possible to get out of the situation I am in.” Krav Maga classes can also help pre-plan the steps for an effective escape or counter attack — something that’s a bit harder to do when danger is imminent and adrenaline is pumping.

It’s a great workout.

On top of everything, Krav Maga is a great workout. This unique style of combat combines conditioning, strength-training, and easy-to-understand survival practices. You’re breaking a serious sweat and burning a ton of calories, all while learning to how-to’s of avoiding dangerous situations and defending yourself.

You feel empowered.

Although this was only my first class, I walked home with a sense of empowerment — a liberating feeling that I had accomplished something. I was proud of my Krav Maga class and all of the people who are determined to learn a little something to keep themselves safe.
This article originally appeared on Fox News Magazine

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