Krav Maga is a self-defense system developed by the Israeli Defense Forces that merges applicable martial arts techniques from aikido and judo with boxing and wrestling, and straight-up street fighting bad-assery. It focuses on dangerous real world confrontations, adopting the principle that situations need to be dealt with as swiftly and as brutally as possible to maintain the safety of the assailed. It also aims to train your situational awareness through the understanding your surroundings, your knowledge of the psychology of confrontations, and works to help you identify potential threats.
It's basically hardcore Jason Bourne kind of stuff.
What You Need
Like any martial art, the clothes you wear should be comfortable and suitable for extensive movement. Nothing with zippers, buttons, straps, or pins. Piercings and other jewelry should be removed as well. You don't want anything that's going to catch, rip, tear, or scratch -- you'll be getting really hands-on. T-shirts and gym shorts work, as do MMA shorts, Muay Thai shorts, or grappling tights.
One fact about street combat is the longer the fight lasts, the greater your chances of serious injury or even death. Common sense suggests that you must end the fight as quickly as possible. That’s where Krav Maga comes in. A very niche martial art in Shanghai, for our intro into the discipline we went to Joey Chen, founder of Body Spirit Training Studio. He is a 3rd degree Karate black belt and and is a certified Krav Maga trainer issued by the International Krav Maga Federation. Chen runs a customized course Krav Maga package deal for 180rmb to 200rmb per session. He cycled us through three techniques as a little intro into the discipline.
Technique 1 – Vulnerable Spots and the Palm Strike
We begin with a brief overview of the core principles of Krav Maga -- mainly that what I am learning here are skills for survival, not competition. Joey then shows me the most vulnerable spots to attack on the body such the face, throat, groin, and knee.
I am then taught the palm strike which is important to have in your arsenal as using a closed fist can easily end up in a broken hand; the palm is quite durable and devastating.
It’s important to mention that aside from striking I am also being trained to always keep my distance while minding my surroundings. One should watch out for other assailants, weapons to use, or an escape route.
Technique 2 – Escaping From Grips
Being held by someone much stronger than you can truly be terrifying. The next demonstration taught me an effective technique to break someone’s grasp.
Using the power of momentum, I’m taught how to break a double-handed hold on my arm. The instructor squeezed me so hard that the veins in my hands are popping out. However, with an inside spin and by positioning of my body correctly, I was able to break the hold whilst effectively moving myself to defend and scan my surroundings.
Technique 3 – Defending Against a Knife Attack
The instructor begins by breaking down the psychology and body language of this type of confrontation. For example, a person wielding a knife above their head pointing downwards is definitely going for the kill, whereas holding the knife normally and pointed forward indicates non-lethal but wants your belongings. If the latter occurs above all else simply keep your eye on the assailant, hand over your shiny new iPhone and walk away because to quote the instructor, “your life is more expensive than your belongings”.
If you find yourself in the former situation, that’s where Krav Maga "360 defense" comes into play. This technique is essentially the use of your entire body to simultaneously block, counter attack, and avoid injury to vital organs. This technique had me deflecting repeated full force knife thrusts with my forearm, whilst delivering counter attacks to the shoulders and face. The key of this technique is the arching of your body to avoid damage to your major organs.
We then finish the lesson using these techniques to neutralize surprise attacks while my eyes are closed prior to emulate the unpredictably of a real world confrontation.
How Much of Your Life Is This Going to Take Up?
Like any fighting system you can learn, it's really up to you how deep you want to get into it. Similar to martial arts, Krav Maga has a belt/patch system denoting your proficiency from white to black.
Should You Do It?
I’m no pro fighter, in fact the only martial arts experience I have is a yellow belt from elementary school. However, I am a person who’s into fitness and would like to learn ways to protect myself whilst not necessarily devoting myself to a martial art. Krav Maga definitely fits that bill. The techniques were easy to learn, and most importantly applicable to possible whiskey-fueled encounters. Will I be tapping guys out in the octagon any time soon? Not a chance. However, I truly do feel more confident should an altercation ever occur.
In terms of fitness, similar to BJJ or MMA, it's a great work out for strength and conditioning, and keeps your mind active at the same time. A lot of people use it to compliment their other fight training work -- from US marines and armed forced personnel to professional MMA fighters -- but it's also accessible to to anyone looking for self-defenses techniques and insight into confrontation -- the Jason Bourne kind.
To find out more about Joey Chen's package courses (aound 200rmb per session), contact Body Spirit Training Studio or add him on WeChat (ID: c788999).