Guest Author - Caroline Baker
Heralded as the "official self defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces", Krav Maga is finding more coverage in the growing world of Martial Arts.
The founder, Imi Lichtenfeld, was born in Hungary and spent part of his life working in law enforcement. His focus was on self-defense and techniques he could harness within the situations he faced. After WWII and the establishment of Israeli, he was asked to help develop their physical training and Krav Maga was born.
Krav Maga translates to "Contact Combat" from Hebrew. True to its name, the classes focus very much on understanding defense techniques and disarming your attacker. There is much "shadow boxing", practicing against an invisible opponent, as well as true application of the technique involved in the classes.
Unlike other more traditional Martial Arts, you will not see Krav Maga practioners performing in forms competitions or doing a lot of flashy techniques. There also isn’t necessarily a continual training progression as you might find in the more established, older styles of Martial Arts. After all, there is only so much you can “learn” about self-defense. The value in any self-defense is how well you can execute it and get out of a potentially dangerous situation. Thus as a student, one will start learning basic self-defense techniques and progress to more face-to-face situations and situations with multiple attackers. Beyond this point is a matter of retaining what you learned and practicing the techniques so they become second nature. This later part, in and of itself, takes many years to perfect and professional American boxers make their whole careers out of trying to attain this.
A typical Krav Maga class will be intensive in terms of cardiovascular workout. There is also an element of repetition that teaches the body how to defend itself and then actual sparring, or hand-to-hand combat, to practice the techniques. This is definitely not an art for someone who shy of contact or getting bruised.