Since its creation in the 1930s, Krav Maga has become known worldwide as one of the preeminent self-defense and fighting disciplines. A hybrid of techniques from styles such as boxing, wrestling, judo, aikido and karate, Krav Maga takes what works from the world of combat sports and combines it with realistic training to school its followers in methods that work anytime, anywhere.
The origins of Krav Maga
In the 1930s, Jews in Europe faced widespread persecution. Emrich Lichtenfeld decided to stand against this aggression in his homeland of what was then called Czechoslovakia.
Known as ‘Imi,’ Lichtenfeld was living in the city of Bratislava when anti-Semitic riots threatened his neighbourhood. Trained as a boxer and wrestler, Imi fought back against these racist gangs but found that his training in sport offered little advantage in the street, where rules are not observed and anything goes.
So Imi took what he knew and made a new style of fighting that emphasised aggression, speed, simultaneous attack and defence and never wasting a movement. It proved highly effective, but Imi eventually had to flee his homeland in the 1940s and made his way to what is now known as Israel. He helped the people fighting to create the nation to learn his new style of self-defense and fighting, which became known as Krav Maga – ‘Hebrew for contact combat.’
Fighting the Krav Maga way
Like all martial arts, the spirit of Krav Maga is to avoid fighting. But in Krav Maga, if that’s not possible, the aim is to finish the fight as quickly as possible.
There is no one particular style – Krav Maga is always evolving. But its basic parts emphasise striking such as in karate and boxing, takedowns and throws from disciplines like wrestling and then ground work such as in judo. There is also training in defending against knives and other weapons such as bats.
Krav Maga teaches students to go for the jugular from the beginning, aiming attacks at the most vulnerable parts of their opponent’s body, such as the eyes, neck and groin. Physical aggression is key, with simple and repeatable strikes employed till the opponent is incapacitated.
This is why Krav Maga is so effective. It’s a fighting style designed for the street, not the gym. The goal is not to score points or learn a display, it is to defend effectively and win the fight quickly.
At the same time, Krav Maga also teaches situational awareness, emphasising that the practitioner should be fully aware of their surroundings while fighting, looking for ways to escape, threats from other opponents, and even objects like chairs that could be used to strike their attacker and take them down quickly.
Krav Maga in Australia
Krav Maga has been taught across Australia for many years by expert practitioners and is a popular self-defense discipline to learn. There are even Krav Maga groups established in Australia by instructors from the Israeli Defence Force, keen to pass on the skills they’ve honed over many years.
Krav Maga has been taught in the Australian military and in the police forces. With the rise in alcohol and drug-fuelled violence on Australian streets, interest in its self-defence techniques amongst civilians is rising, particularly amongst Australian women. Krav Maga is proving to be a popular choice for people who want to learn to protect themselves and their families, using techniques that are proven to work and are based on the chaos of real-life experience, not the rules of a dojo or gym.
There are schools for Krav Maga in every major city in Australia and many smaller towns are embracing this unique fighting style as well. With its emphasis on ending the fight quickly and defending yourself with realistic techniques, Krav Maga is emerging as the real deal for Australian self-defense.