Why Is Krav Maga So Effective?

Many people when they are thinking of taking up a martial art or self-defense system often consider Krav Maga, but may also consider other martial arts/combat sports such as MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), Muay Thai or BJJ (Brazilian Ju-Jitsu) etc. Often people think of Krav Maga as a kind of mixed martial art, without realizing that Krav Maga doesn’t take techniques from other systems but instead creates and develops them based on some fundamental concepts and principles. Below are seven short videos that introduces some of these concepts and explains why Krav Maga is such an effective self-defense system, and one that can be learnt, and applied, much faster than other martial arts. If you are interested in learning more about Krav Maga you can also read Gershon Ben Keren's Blog, by clicking here

The Use Of Reflexive & Instinctive Movement

Krav Maga's Use Of Instinctive Movement

Responding "Naturally" When Attacked

One of the big differences between Krav Maga and other martial arts us that there is never an assumption that you are prepared for an attack i.e., its techniques and solutions are based of instinctive movements that will be performed when a person is surprised. In combat sports such as MMA, Muay Thai and BJJ, competitors know who they are fighting, where the match will take place, and when the bout will begin (a referee will announce the start of the fight). This is not the case with real-life confrontations where many fights take the form of an ambush, and even when a person knows a verbal confrontation will turn physically violent that there is no “official” start to the fight e.g., someone will just start throwing punches. This means that in most cases you will be relying on your natural reactions to defend yourself. Krav Maga acknowledges this and utilizes them.

Reacting to Movement Versus Recognizing the Attack

Reacting To Movement Not Identifying The Attack

Responding To Knife Attacks In The Same Way As Punches

When something is coming towards you fast, and in an unknown situation, it is hard to tell if it’s a swinging punch or a slashing knife. In that moment the important thing is to block and intercept the attack, and then recognize whether you are dealing with an armed or unarmed assailant. Krav Maga’s blocking system is designed to be effective against movement(s) and doesn’t rely on first understanding what type of attack is being dealt with. Whilst Krav Maga does use other methods to deal with punches, such as covering, blocking is the primary method of dealing with attacks such as punches, as the same blocking can also be applied to knife attacks. This also means that it isn’t necessary to learn two different sets of blocking – one for armed attacks and another for knife attacks – keeping what needs to be learnt and recalled, to a minimum.

Krav Maga Assumes That You Won't Perform Optimally When Attacked

Krav Maga Techniques & Solutions Don't Require Perfect execution

Krav Maga Techniques Can Be Performed Sub-Optimally & Still Work

Krav Maga techniques can be performed sub-optimally and imperfectly and still be effective. This is important because in real-life violent confrontations, where there are no referees or rules, you will be operating in an unknown and unfamiliar world. The stress this puts on the mind and body is extreme, and so it would be unlikely that anyone would be performing at their best. Krav Maga recognizes this, along with the fatigue that sets in after the adrenaline is spent, and builds “support systems” into techniques and solutions so that they can be effective at dealing with threats and attacks, even when performed in a sub-par manner.

Effective Threat Recognition & Decision Making

Life Threatening & Non-Life Threatening Attacks

Responding To Life Threatening Attacks

One of the hardest things to do when dealing with an assailant(s) is to recognize the nature of the threat, and then decide on what to do. Krav Maga categorizes/classifies attacks and threats as either being “life-threatening” or “non-life-threatening”. A life-threatening attack/threat would be something like a strangulation or choke, which if not dealt with would lead to unconsciousness and eventual death (if the attacker continued to apply it). When dealing with a life-threatening threat, the danger/attack itself should be dealt with first, before then either disengaging and/or attacking the attacker.

Distinguishing Life Threatening Threats/Attacks From Non Life Threatening Threats/Attacks

How To Responsd To Non Life Threatening Attacks

Responding To Non Life Threatening Attacks

Non-life-threatening attacks/threats are those that aren’t initially harmful and/or injurious e.g., if somebody grabs your wrist or lapel, whilst uncomfortable and signaling a certain intent, neither attack itself is dangerous etc. The danger comes from what the attacker is intending to do next e.g., pull a weapon, make a headbutt, throw a punch etc. The way Krav Maga deals with non-life-threatening attacks, is for the person being attacked, to attack the attacker e.g., if somebody grabs a wrist, the person being grabbed should start punching/hitting them to shut any following attacks down. Obviously there are contexts where this is not-applicable, but this simple heuristic of attacking the attacker when it is a non-life-threatening attack is a good starting point.

Krav Maga Groups Techniques Into "Families"

Grouping Krav Maga Techniques Into Families

Common Movements To Different Attacks/Threats Form "Families"

One of the fundamental ideas of Krav Maga is to be able to use a few common movements to deal with the greatest number of attacks and threats. This means that practitioners don’t have to learn a vast array of solutions that sees their body having to move in very different ways e.g., the defense to a gun pointed to the head from the front, is almost identical to that when a knife is place on the side of the throat, from the front etc. As well as reducing the number of techniques that have to be learnt, it also means that when practicing the technique to deal with the gun threat, the practitioner is also practicing the knifed threat techniques. Rather than having two different solutions, which would each need 10 000 good repetitions to be mastered, if 5000 repetitions are practiced of both gun and knife techniques, a practitioner will gain mastery in half the time.

Engagement in Order to Disengage

Only Engage in Order to Disengage

"Surviving" Not "Winning" A Fight

To make a successful legal claim of self-defense, and to remain on the right side of the law, one of the things you will have to prove and demonstrate is that of “innocence” i.e., that you wanted to avoid a physical confrontation. This means that you had no choice but to use force because somebody else put you in imminent danger. Once you are no longer in imminent danger, you have an obligation to disengage; to continue fighting from a legal perspective would be looked on as unnecessary and excessive. Krav Maga is not about “winning” fights, it is about surviving them, and that means spending as little time in the fight as possible. As soon as there is an opportunity to disengage safely it should be taken, and your strategy for engagement should be to create such a moment/opportunity.