7 July 2008

You don’t mess with the Krav Maga!

I have been aching all over for the last two days after one introductory session of Krav Maga. Never felt the muscles from those parts in that way for a long time…

What is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga is a self-defense and fighting system developed in Israel that emphasizes on quick and effective threat neutralization in a “real life” context. It is also easy to learn and retain.

Unlike martial arts, Krav Maga is not a sport. There are no hard and fast rules in getting oneself out of a life threatening situation. The main idea of this system is to exploit your body’s kinetics and even aggression to inflict maximum damage on the attacker’s weak points quickly to neutralize him for your escape.

The training session started out with the standard warm up and stretching for the participants.

Following the warm up was an exercise that focuses on improving situational awareness. Particpants play a free for all game of tag within the cage. Our instructor, Edwin announces a target body part and the participants will need to avoid getting tagged while they attempt to tag others. It simulated the threat of being surrounded by hostility. Everyone literally had to keep his guard up as he moved around the enclosed area.


Next, we moved on to attacks. But before that, Edwin shares about the body’s weak points available literally from head to toe, back to front, emphasizing the principle of neutralizing the attacker efficiently by striking vulnerable points on the body.

Edwin first introduces the palm strike. This is primarily aimed at the chin. To prove the effectiveness of this attack, he invited us to gently tap our own chin with our palms. The vibration of the light impact travels through to the back of the skull. Edwin also demonstrates the other advantages of the palm strike: the top of the palm lands on the nose while the index and fourth finger conveniently lands on the eyes.

Next, a quick lesson on body kinetics and how we would exploit it. A powerful and effective strike comes from the hips and the heel. Not only does it improves the reach of a strike, it also generates a huge additional amount of force to the strike.

After the palm strike practice, we were (re)introduced to punching. Executing a punch would be identical to a palm strike, with the exception of the clenched fists and some additional advice on how to clench the fists and the knuckles that the punch should land with.

The hammer-fists was next. The action is similar to that of pounding of the drums or door. This attack exploits the whiplash effect that can be generated from the arms and elbows. The result is a rapid successive pounding capable of pinning opponents down.

Elbow strikes exploit the strong, tough bone structures to inflict damage at close range. The hip and heel turning action is essential to executing an effective elbow strike.

The participants then move on to kicks. Being an introductory session, the instructor taught just two types of kicks. One is a normal front kick that is primarily aimed at the groin area. The other is a stomping kick which uses the body weight to push a would-be assailant away.

Having picked up the basics of attacking, the participants were told to put on gloves and a groin guards. We would be shadow sparring. Edwin had half of us play the target for the others to aim their attacks at. Somehow, it seemed like a game of “Chicken” where the attacker role tries to make the target flinch by landing strikes just centimetres away before pulling back. At the same time, it was a revision of the weak points of the body.

Next up, we were introduced to the punching bag. Edwin gave a quick demonstration how to correctly hold the apparatus before we proceeded to practise with the practice session. This is undoubtedly the best part of the whole training session. The sound and impact of the blows landing on the punching bag was absolutely gratifying. I could feel stress unwind with every blow I land. The fact that the apparatus was meant for abuse made me want to strike it harder and faster. It wasn’t long that my t-shirt was drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. But I must have been fueled by adrenaline to be pushing my limits as I continued pounding on the punching bag. It was almost morbid fun.


After this 90-minute introduction, I have to say that Krav Maga has been easy to learn. It is an effective self-defense system thanks its simplicity in principle and the exploitation of the body kinetics and weak points. To be proficient and effective in this self-defense system, it is still necessary to go through a process of training to achieve muscle memory, where an individual is hardwired to execute the necessary moves through repetition. The training session is undoubtedly a great work out that improves the body’s finesse, not to mention that it is also a great way to unwind and destress. Edwin, the instructor for the session, was very encouraging to the participants of varied levels of fitness and experience, allowing the individuals to train at their own pace.

Of course, this training session is but one small aspect of Krav Maga. There is much much more to learn.

My introductory Krav Maga session was at: Fight Works Asia Macpherson Road, Number 565. #04-00 Singapore (368234)

Training sessions: Weeknights at 8pm and 11.30am on Saturdays Duration: 1 - 1.5 hours depending on the drills conducted Class fees: $200 per month (unlimited training sessions) or $30 per session

Got burning questions about Krav Maga? Check out Fight Works Asia’s Frequently asked Questions About Martial arts & Krav Maga

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