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KRAV MAGA: Up close and personal

June 27, 2017

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We’ve trained in using situational awareness to avoid bad guys.  For many of us, we also have training in using a firearm safely and effectively to save our lives.  However, what happens when a bad guy gets within your reactionary gap?  Krav Maga – “contact combat” in Hebrew – provides a whole host of tools for the self-defense toolbox for those times when danger is close.

Developed during WWII by Imi Lichtenfeld, Krav’s skill sets helped Jews defend themselves from anti-Semitic attacks in Hungary. Upon its founding in 1948, Israel put Lichtenfeld in charge of physical fitness and Krav Maga training for their fledgling military.  From there, Krav has grown dramatically as a potent self-defense fighting system.

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Krav stresses avoiding conflict through situational awareness and de-escalation. At the same time, when avoidance fails, Krav has a reputation for pre-emptive strikes and vicous counter-attacks.  Its simple, intuitive techniques are easily retained in memory and implemented under extreme stress. Even better, many of its techniques are largely interchangeable against fist-, knife- and stick-attacks.   The firearm disarms and weapon retention techniques can save your life as well.

For those with disabilities or limitations, Krav can be readily adapted for impressive results.  With practice, even people in wheelchairs can employ powerful and effective techniques against attackers, and the very young and very old can all become harder targets with some basic “contact combat” skill sets.

In short, Krav skills fill in for those times when you have to deal with a bad guy up close and personal.  At bad breath distances, drawing can oftentimes prove foolish.

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How do you handle an aggressor in those times when you don’t have your gun because it’s against the law – or you foolishly left it at home or in the car? Ladies, do you know how to defeat a choke or a grab?  Krav can help with all of these scenarios.

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These photos came from my instructor Bill Martin’s belt testing event held in Bloomington, IL.  A life-long fitness and training enthusiast, Mr. Martin holds a second degree black belt in Krav.  He earned his instructor certification from the Wingate Institute in Israel.

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Instructor Bill Martin, left, kicking.

Krav emphasizes mindset, tactics and technique, in that order.  The mindset remains the most important as a person can never surrender or give up in a fight to the death.  In the belt testing, Martin works his students hard, nearly to the point of throwing up, to test their mindset to keep going.

“It’s a grind,” he admits.

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Of course, he and his assistants constantly evaluate participants on their tactics and technique, despite near physical exhaustion.  The belt test runs four-plus hours in length for the yellow and orange belts.  Non-testing practioners come in to hold pads to keep the rigorous pace dialed up to 10.

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For more of what it looks like, watch this video.


If you want to add some hand-to-hand skills to your personal defense toolbox, Krav Maga will not disappoint.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue training and will test for the green belt at the end of the year.

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