What is Krav Maga? A self-defense system originating in Israel, Krav Maga – meaning “contact combat” in Hebrew – combines realistic fight training with techniques taken from judo, wrestling, boxing, and aikido. Focusing on real-life situations, defensive and offensive maneuvers, and threat neutralization, Krav Maga is extremely aggressive and not for the faint-hearted.
Krav Maga History
The history of Krav Maga dates back to the 1930s when Imi Lichtenfeld used his boxing and wrestling experience to defend the Jewish quarter in Czechoslovakia. The Hungarian martial artist immigrated to Israel in the 1940s, where he began to teach his style of combat training to the Israeli military, eventually developing the system now known as Krav Maga. After retiring, Lichtenfeld opened a school teaching a civilian form of Krav Maga suitable for youth.
The non-profit Israeli Krav Maga Association (IKMA) was founded in 1978. When Lichtenfeld passed away in 1998, he left Haim Gidon as his successor, nominating him Grand Master and president of IKMA.
International Krav Maga
Since then, Krav Maga has spread beyond Israel’s borders to Europe, the United States, and South America with the establishment of organizations such as:
- International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF)
- Krav Maga Global (KMG)
- Krav Maga Worldwide
- European Federation of Krav Maga
- United States Krav Maga Association (USKMA)
- South American Federation of Krav Maga
- Krav Maga Alliance
- National Krav Maga Association (NKMA)
- Apolaki Krav Maga
- Krav Maga Street Defence
- Krav Maga Academy Slovenia (KMAS)
Krav Maga Training
In training, Krav Maga students develop situational awareness, learn the psychology of street confrontations, learn to identify potential threats before an attack occurs, and methods to avoid violence whenever possible.
Students also learn to defend against attacks and to fight back in the most efficient manner. While drills employ protective equipment and only a reasonable amount of force, in real-time Krav Maga counter attacks aim at the most vulnerable parts of the opponent’s body, possibly inflicting injury, permanent injury, or death.
Krav Maga principles include:
- Attacking preemptively or counter attacking as soon as possible
- Targeting the opponent’s most vulnerable parts, such as: the face, eyes, neck or throat, groin, ribs, solar plexus, knee, foot, fingers
- Efficiently and effectively neutralizing the opponent
- Looking for and being aware of further attackers, escape routes, and objects that may help defend or attack
Krav Maga Ranking System: Belt Colors and Patches
Most of Krav Maga organizations use a colored belt system similar to the Judo ranking system. The belt colors (in order of first to last) are: White, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Brown and Black. Black belt students can then move up the ranks from 1st to 9th Dan.
Alternatively, some organizations use a system of patches consisting of three main categories: Practitioner, Graduate and Expert. In turn, each category has 5 ranks, i.e. P1 through P5, G1 through G5, etc.
Krav Maga Instructors
Krav Maga instructors hold a G level grade but must also pass an instructor’s training course. To achieve Expert level, they must demonstrate proficiency in all the Practitioner and Graduate syllabi and have top-notch fighting skills. Finally, there is a rank of Master, reserved for a select few who have dedicated their life to Krav Maga and have made valuable contributions to teaching and promoting the self-defense system.