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Krav Maga Basic Techniques

author image Bonnie Singleton
Bonnie Singleton has been writing professionally since 1996. She has written for various newspapers and magazines including "The Washington Times" and "Woman's World." She also wrote for the BBC-TV news magazine "From Washington" and worked for Discovery Channel online for more than a decade. Singleton holds a master's degree in musicology from Florida State University and is a member of the American Independent Writers.
Krav Maga Basic Techniques
Two women sparing. Photo Credit Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images

Krav Maga was created by Imrich "Imi" Lichtenfeld to help Jews protect themselves against the Nazis and was later adopted by military and police forces. In 1972, the first civilian course was offered, and the discipline has since become popular with civilians around the world. Effective for both fitness and self-defense, Krav Maga doesn’t require any special gear or tools, and teaches you techniques you can use in almost any threatening situation.


Krav Maga emphasizes what are called "combatives," or basic techniques of street fighting involving punches, kicks, elbow strikes, knees and even biting and scratching. You’ll learn to work from the basic Krav Maga stance, a relaxed boxing posture with your legs placed shoulder width apart and staggered so that your stronger, or lead foot, is in front.

Six Pillars

Krav Maga is founded on six strategic “pillars,” beginning with learning how to simultaneously defend and attack. Other important strategies include focusing on vulnerable soft tissues, such as the eyes, nose, throat, knee and groin; using a fast, continuous combat motion designed to overwhelm your attacker before he has a chance to react; using decisive action and being prepared to do whatever is necessary to overcome the threat; and when possible, trying techniques that can subdue your opponent before violence escalates. The sixth pillar is the building-block process, where you learn one technique at a time and build on it to create a complete arsenal of methods to have at your disposal.

Four Steps to Action

When you are threatened or under attack, Krav Maga teaches you to quickly process a series of steps in order to instinctively choose the appropriate response as instantaneously as possible. First comes threat recognition, summing up the level of the danger you’re in; next is situational analysis, taking stock of your opponent, your surroundings and your own position; then you’ll choose whether it’s better to act or not take any action, and if you choose action, decide quickly upon a plan.

Personal Weapons

The basic underlying principle of Krav Maga is to use your body primarily as a weapon against your opponent, or any other objects at your disposal. You’ll learn to use hand punches, roundhouse punches, fist punches, elbow and finger strikes, kicks of various kinds from the front, side and rear, how to deal with falls, and a combination of techniques to get out of chokeholds and headlocks, both standing and on the ground.

Defenses Against Knives and Guns

Krav Maga teaches you to escape from a knife-wielding opponent by deflecting and kicking while leaning away from the knife and then moving even farther away to deliver more kicks. Krav Maga also has techniques for defending against a gunman, where you use your hands and body to redirect or get out of the line of fire, take control of the weapon and then launch a counterattack with punches and kicks. Although basic Krav Maga techniques can help in such potentially deadly situations, it’s recommended you complete more advanced training before you attempt such defenses.

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