Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Describing Krav Maga as a Self Defense System....

Krav Maga is often referred to as a self defense system or a reality based system.  Sometimes, people will insist it is not a martial art.  The latter comment is not something I will address because the term martial art simply includes too many systems and I strive to avoid generalizations.

What I will do, however, is describe some fundamental characteristics of Krav Maga, particularly how we teach it in Greater Toronto Area as part of the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF).  Along the way, I will reference other systems.  I won't make any claims that Krav Maga is the best system as I find such claims unnecessarily antagonistic. I have met and trained with students and instructors of other self defense systems, enjoy working with them, and have the utmost respect for what they offer.

Here are some points to help you understand what Krav Maga offers.

A Focus on Realistic Contexts: As much as possible, Krav Maga training considers various environments where assaults might occur(otherwise known as everywhere!).  In competitive fighting, you are facing an opponent, often someone of your own level or weight class, in a controlled environment (boxing ring, cage...).  In a realistic situation, you will likely face an attacker you have never met before.  You won't be in designated area but rather on the sidewalk, on a subway, a parking lot, an elevator....the possibilities are endless.  Krav Maga factors these scenarios into its training.
Training outside with street clothes

Focusing on Realistic Situations:  There might be more than one assailant.  You might be walking with family or friends.  You might be: standing/sitting down, carrying a briefcase, gym bag, umbrella, a coffee...  The attacker(s) might approach from the front, side, or back.  Krav Maga training strives to mimic these situations.
Defending from a sitting position (e.g. subway, pub)

No Competition and No Rules:  Krav Maga does not observe any particular set of rules.  Groin strikes, biting, pinching, eye gouges, etc... are all acceptable.  Why?  Because you might be in mortal danger and you have to do whatever it takes to survive. Participants in competitive sparring and fight competitions (Mixed Martial Arts, Judo, Wrestling, Boxing), need to abide by certain rules.  In real life the attacker is not confined to a rule book and neither are you!

Rules? What rules? Attacking the eyes of a larger attacker

Using Appropriate Force/Avoid or Escape if Possible:  Krav Maga tends to have a brutal reputation.  Perhaps this is due to its military heritage or the no rules component. (no.2).   What some people are surprised to learn is that we offer various "soft techniques" appropriate to situations where striking is not necessary.  Some wrist release techniques, for example, do not involve striking.  In fact, we advocate avoidance and escape as the best self defense.

Techniques Grow From Natural Reflexes:  Techniques, as much as possible, are based on our natural reactions.  For a more extensive description of this go to:

These are some general characteristics of Krav Maga that I find compelling and address my criteria for a practical self defense system.  If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to offer them.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

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