If you want to get buff and tough at the same time, look no further than krav maga, a hand-to-hand combat style originally developed for the Israeli Defense Forces. In krav maga fitness training, you'll punch, kick, elbow, strike and head-butt your way into great shape. In order to execute the moves and be a ruthless opponent, you need to build strength and endurance, as well as mental toughness.
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You'll find krav maga classes offered at a range of locations, from dedicated krav maga gyms and martial arts studios to fitness centers. Classes typically last an hour and include a mix of conditioning and skills training. Not all classes will be alike. Depending on where you go, classes may be geared toward the general population with a fitness class vibe, or they may be geared toward individuals looking to learn self-defense.
No doubt about it: If you want to fend off an opponent in hand-to-hand combat, you need to be in seriously good shape. You need muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular stamina, core strength and explosive power. Whether or not you plan to actually get in a fight, these are all important attributes of a well-rounded fitness regimen.
Calisthenics is a big part of krav maga training, and you'll typically find classes open with a routine of bodyweight moves. Exercises such as jumping jacks, jump squats, burpees, box jumps, sit ups, mountain climbers and push-ups build strength, endurance and explosive power. Classes may also include exercises with kettlebells, dumbells, medicine balls and other equipment not specific to krav maga.
Read more: Krav Maga Basic Techniques
Now you get down to business. The meat of krav maga training is the moves you use to defeat your opponent. You'll work on proper stance — either neutral or fighting. Then you'll practice punches and strikes, including eye strike, hammer fist, elbow strike, hook punch, inside and outside chops and palm heel strikes. You'll also practice kicking — front kicks, high kicks and high round kicks — and knee strikes. You may also practice ground fighting techniques and how to fall if knocked to the ground.
You'll also learn tactics for defending yourself against strikes, punches and kicks. There are a variety of defense moves depending on the specific strike and where the attack is coming from, whether it's your back, sides or above you if you're on the ground. You may also learn defenses against headlocks, choking, wrist grabs and hair grabs, all of which will vary depending on the type and origin of the attack.
To train these skills, you'll learn technique via instructor demonstration. Next, you'll do drills either solo or with a partner. A heavy punching bag will often be employed, or you'll spar with a partner wearing punching pads. These drills are short but intense and mimic an interval-training session in which your heart rate rises with intense effort then comes back down during a period of recovery. Interval-style workouts are particularly effective for getting fit and changing body composition.
Krav maga fitness training isn't only about developing a strong body and physical stamina. To stay cool in a combat situation, you need mental strength and stamina, too. Depending on the type of class you go to, the instructor may guide you in overcoming fear and the fight or flight reaction you experience during stress. He may also coach you on effective decision-making under stress, trusting your instincts, emotional perseverance and confidence-building, skills which carry over well into real-life situations.
Read more: How to Teach Yourself Krav Maga