What Martial Arts are in Krav Maga?

What is Krav Maga self defense?

Krav Maga (which translates as “close combat”) was developed by Imi Lichtenfeld in, what was, Czechoslovakia in the 1930s.  


This was a tough time for the Jewish community living in pre-World War II Europe who were often subject to anti-semitic attacks.  


Imi was highly proficient in boxing and wrestling and, being Jewish himself,  wanted to develop a fighting system that was simple, effective and easy to learn that could be used by his community to defend themselves.


Later, when the state of Israel was formed, Lichtenfeld emigrated and was asked by the Israeli military to train their soldiers.


From these early days, Krav Maga has evolved to what it is today: a highly effective fighting system.  


Which martial art is best for real life situations?

Krav Maga’s development has followed Bruce Lee’s famous mantra:


“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own”.


Krav Maga has taken the most brutally effective techniques from various martial arts and has incorporated them to create the most effective self defense system there is.


Moshe Katz, the CEO of Israeli Krav International, has outlined a number of the principles of striking within Krav Maga:


  • Any fancy, stylistic movements are completely removed.  These are quite common in many martial arts and whilst they might look impressive, they are of minimal practical use.  Consequently there are no jumping or spinning movements in Krav Maga; you remain solidly on the ground to prevent you from losing your balance.


  • Strikes are thrown from where your limbs happen to be.  There is simply no time to set up a punch or kick: you have to react and hit quickly.


  • Hand and foot strikes are linked together in combinations to overcome an opponent.


What martial arts are in Krav Maga?


With the above principles in mind, the following martial arts are in Krav Maga:


Punching Techniques – most of the techniques are taken from western boxing.  This is unsurprising as not only have these strikes been perfected over the centuries that boxing has been practised as a sport but also Lichtenfeld, himself, was a keen practitioner.


Elbow and Forearm Strikes – these are similar to those thrown in Muay Thai and are used to devastating effect.


Kicks – only the most powerful kicks are used in Krav Maga.  From Karate, the front and side kicks have been chosen.  The low kick and roundhouse kick has been taken from Muay Thai.


krav maga front kick


Throws – Krav Maga incorporate shoulder and hip throws that are so often used in judo, wrestling and Aikido.


Ground fighting – one of the principle aims in Krav Maga is to avoid fighting on the ground,  It’s here that you’re most vulnerable, particularly if being attacked by multiple people. If your grappling with one opponent, their associate can throw kicks at your body and head.  Nevertheless, Krav Maga does incorporate groundwork techniques from judo and wrestling, with the aim of getting you back to your feet as quickly as possible.

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