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How to Get Started with Krav Maga

by Yury Sigal

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When it comes to self-defense, not every martial arts training is created equal. Learn why Krav Maga is the right choice for you and get some tips on how to get started.  

Krav Maga, in the past decade or so, has gained significant popularity around the world as the leading form of self-defense and hand to hand combat. It has attracted civilians, military personnel, law enforcement agencies and even celebrities due to its easy to learn style and practical, no-nonsense approach to self-protection and the protection of others.  

What Makes Krav Maga Unique? How Is It Different from Other Martial Arts?

To answer this question, we need to understand that there are three types of martial arts.  

A. Competitive Martial Arts

referee arbitrating muay thai match

Referee arbitrating a Muay Thai match

The most common category of martial arts is competitive. This includes boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, taekwondo, and MMA (mixed martial arts), just to name a few. Although each of these styles is unique and effective in its own way, the underlying principle of each of these styles is focused on controlled violence, restricted by the rules of the sport and arbitrated by a referee.  

And although the athletes competing in each of the respected disciplines undergo extensive training to overcome their opponent, they usually do not devote any time to training defenses and scenarios that are outside the boundaries of their sport. Specifically self-defense scenarios such as surprise attacks, weapon attacks, multiple attackers, violence in public settings such as public transport, restaurants, and much more.

B. Traditional Martial Arts

Tai chi exhibition

Tai Chi exhibition in the U.S.

The other category of martial arts is traditional arts. These may include some forms of Kung Fu or Tai Chi that originally may have had applications in hand to hand combat, but with centuries of practice have been reduced to choreographed movements and katas. These styles provide spiritual and physical benefits to their practitioners but do little to deal with modern-day threats.

C. Self-Defense Martial Arts

Krav maga students training

Krav Maga students training against car-jacking scenarios

And lastly, the third type of martial art is a self-defense applicable style that addresses the modern day threats an individual may face if he were attacked unexpectedly on the street or a public setting. This is where Krav Maga excels. Krav Maga is a comprehensive system of self-defense and fighting that uses a variety of techniques and tactics to deal with “street” violence. 

Muggings, rape, assaults, multiple assailants, weapon threats and much more, are common scenarios that Krav Maga teaches to overcome. The goal in Krav Maga is to first avoid and de-escalate conflicts, and when physical conflict is unavoidable, strong decisive countermeasures are taken to quickly and effectively neutralize the opponent and escape with minimal sustained harm.  

krav maga students practicing defense against attacks

Krav Maga students practicing defense against an armed assailant on the ground

Krav Maga techniques are based on natural reflexes an individual has when facing violent encounters. The techniques are designed to be simple and effective, and with proper teaching methodologies and good training habits proficiency in the system is achieved quite quickly, making Krav Maga one of the easiest styles to learn when it comes to self-defense.

How to Get Started with Krav Maga

Now that we discussed what differs Krav Maga from other styles, the next question to address is where and how to look for good Krav Maga training resources? The first option is to find a good gym/school near you that specializes in Krav Maga training. When searching for this resource pay close attention to the instructors who will be teaching you. Here are the conditions every Krav Maga instructor should fulfill. 

Sticking to Krav Maga Principles

krav maga student countering a knife attack

Krav Maga student countering a knife attack

First, they need to understand and stick to the principles of Krav Maga. This means teaching material that is applicable to all, not just the biggest and strongest guy in the room. When attacked on the street, the assumption has to be that the attacker will be stronger and bigger than you, or there will be more than one attacker, or there will be weapons involved, therefore the techniques taught need to work equally well for all in class, regardless of strength or size. 

Furthermore, the flashier the technique, the less likely it is to work in a moment of intense stress, therefore it is important to notice that the instructor is teaching the basics and keeping the techniques simple and accessible for all.   

Focus on De-Escalation

Secondly, make sure the instructor spends some time on de-escalation and avoidance of violence. Remember, the goal of Krav Maga is self-defense and the defense of your loved ones. The best way to ensure yours and their safety is to not get into a physical altercation. Of course, violent encounters can happen unexpectedly, but learning how to avoid conflict should too be a priority when it comes to your training.

Focus on Safety

diverse class make up in krav maga school

Diverse class make-up is a good indicator of safety in the Krav Maga school

The next consideration is the safety and atmosphere of the school you join. Krav Maga is for everyone, regardless of size, age, and gender. Of course, some level of physical attributes is required to get started, but with proper training, each student should get stronger, faster and better equipped to deal with violence. But this cannot come at the expense of safety.

The number one rule in Krav Maga is “do not get hurt”. This applies to the street, as well as the training environment. Instructors should take care to ease the newer students into the training progressively without injuring the practitioner. Furthermore, instructors should create a safe and cooperative training environment where students are challenging each other to get better daily, but are doing so without excessive aggression and with their own safety and the safety of those around them in mind.  

Learn Krav Maga Online

Lastly, if you do not have access to a good school that specializes in Krav Maga, online training can be a good option to consider. There are two types of e-learning Krav Maga platforms.  

  1. The first type is designed as a study aid for those students already enrolled in Krav Maga classes at a physical location. These platforms separate the techniques according to ranks or belt curriculum and offer students a chance to brush up on the technical nuances of the techniques as a way to prepare for grading and belt promotions within their respective schools. Max Krav Maga is an example of such a platform that offers its affiliates access to the Krav Maga Global curriculum online, as a learning aid to complement their physical training.  
  2. The second type of online Krav Maga learning platform is the one designed specifically for people that do not have access to a physical training center. This type of platform is more than just a collection of techniques grouped by ranks. Here the lessons are progressive and build upon each other in a systemized fashion.

Technical nuances of each technique are clearly explained, but the instructor also takes care to address the rationale behind the techniques, the underlying principles behind the tactics and ensures that the student understands how the more advanced techniques stem from the previously learned material covered in the earlier lessons. 

One such example of an online Krav Maga training academy is Impact Krav Maga Online. The lessons are very systematic and are designed for all to learn, regardless of the previous or current level of experience in Krav Maga. So whether you are already a student of Krav Maga or looking to get started, online training can definitely boost your self-defense skills and teach you how to keep yourself and loved ones safe in the moment of need. 

Want to learn martial arts under the careful supervision of an instructor? There are plenty of dedicated martial arts camps for beginners just a few clicks away!

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