How Krav Maga Differs From Other Combat Sports

By Sara Ng

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Krav Maga is an Israeli form of self-defense that originated in the mid-to-late 1930s, and was originally developed as an unarmed combat system for the Israeli Defense Forces. When translated from Hebrew, Krav Maga roughly means “Contact Combat”. Krav (as it is affectionately known amongst its practitioners), is a system made up of three components: self-defense, fighting skills and tactics, and third-party protection.

Krav is very unique style of combat, which is evident even to beginners. Here are a few things to note about Krav, and how it differs from other combat sports:


  1. It is extremely practical

    The foremost thing to note about Krav is that it is a self-defense technique and not a martial art. The techniques of Krav are developed through the improvisation of our instinctive responses to different types of threats. These instinctive responses are then refined and turned into effective defensive techniques and counterattacks to neutralise threats in the shortest possible time.

    In addition, you will also learn how to deal with threats when you are in a position of disadvantage - such as when an attacker armed approaches you when you are in a sitting or even lying position. This is an extremely important skill of because we simply do not move around in combat-ready fighting stance at all times, which many other martial arts or combat sports assume.

    Krav also teaches its practitioners defensive techniques against armed attacks from knives, sticks, guns and other commonly found objects around us. In fact, my most memorable training session was when we practiced a defensive technique against a baseball bat attack (partly also because I had very bruised forearms from being whacked by the bat numerous times).

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  1. There are no rules

    In Krav, the oft-heard refrain of “no hitting below the belt” is completely disregarded. In fact, it is encouraged. Krav is known for its brutally effective counterattacks, most of which involve strikes to the groin, which is one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. The paramount goal is to achieve maximum damage in minimum time. And as we always say - there are no rules in Krav, except for the laws of the country.

  2. You learn to deal with real-life scenarios, for real

    How many self-defense systems actually have you training in a pub, carpark or a inside bus to teach you how to deal with pesky situations when in these difficult, but realistic places? Krav Maga Singapore often goes to great lengths to hold seminars for practitioners in these venues to create the most realistic training experiences. Even during normal classes, it is not uncommon for the lights to be completely turned off, and to have flashing lights and loud music to simulate the atmosphere of a club, all in a bid to recreate the most realistic environment to teach effective responses in chaotic situations.

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  3. Your first response to any threat should be to run, rather than to engage

    You will learn in your very first lesson of Krav that if you see an imminent threat in the form of an attacker, whether armed or unarmed, your first instinct should be to run. You only engage if the threat is too close and there is no other choice. Even then, students are taught the most effective and efficient techniques to disarm or render the threat helpless, so that they can leave the scene safely in the shortest possible time. No action movie-style heroics allowed.

  4. Third party protection is an important component of Krav

    Third party or VIP protection is something that is rarely, if ever, taught in other combat sport or self-defence techniques. In Krav, it is vital that you learn to protect your friends, loved ones or even strangers from an attack. This is simply another hallmark of practicality, and might come in extremely useful when travelling in unsafe placesKrav is gaining popularity in Singapore as an alternative self-defense technique to other traditional martial arts. And the physical conditioning that comes along with the training makes it another good way to keep your body in top physical condition.
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