ADVANCED KRAV MAGA
The Israeli Krav Maga Advantage
The Israeli krav maga fighting system is designed to work against any attacker. The key is your mind-set. As my good friend N., lead counterterror instructor for the Israel Defense Forces, explains so well, you must be able to transition from a highly disadvantageous "negative five" position to an advantageous "positive five" position instinctively and instantaneously. You must turn the table on your opponent(s) immediately. Self-preservation is a powerful motivator, and so is protecting others. If you must defend yourself, you need to dominate your attacker and incapacitate him. Krav maga's core techniques provide cumulative building blocks for a formidable self-defense foundation. A few mastered techniques go a long way and are highly effective in most situations.
The essence of krav maga is to neutralize an opponent quickly. There are no rules in an unscripted fight. This lack of rules distinguishes self-defense from sport fighting. In a sport fight the following are generally prohibited: eye gouges; throat strikes; headbutts; biting; hair pulling; clawing, pinching, or twisting of the flesh; striking the spine and the back of the head; striking with the tip of the elbow; small-joint manipulation; kidney and liver strikes; clavicle strikes; kneeing or kicking the head of an opponent on the ground; and slamming an opponent to the ground on his head. These are precisely the core tactics we emphasize in krav maga. Keep in mind, however, that the level of force you use to defend yourself should be commensurate with the threat.
You need not master hundreds of techniques to become a kravist, or competent krav maga fighter. In krav maga, we prepare for any type and number of attacks. Nonviolent conflict resolution is always your best solution. While there are no set solutions for ending a fight, there are preferred methods using retzev (continuous combat motion) to prevail. Combined with simultaneous attack and defense, retzev is a seamless, decisive, and overwhelming counterattack forming the backbone of the Israeli fighting system. Retzev can be understood as using combined upper- and lower-body combatives, locks, chokes, throws, takedowns, and weapons interchangeably, without pause. An example might be initiating a left front kick followed immediately (prior to the left foot touching down) by a left punch, followed by a right punch, followed by a right knee, followed by a right horizontal elbow, followed by a left horizontal elbow, et cetera.
My close friend and senior IKMA instructor Rick Blitstein has some indispensable wisdom regarding conflict evolution and resolution. Rick told me of the countless times he has been confronted by larger and more physically imposing opponents and how his demeanor has helped him immeasurably. In a professional or personal capacity, your comportment says much about you, and your demeanor can end a fight before it begins.
Having the ability to walk away from confrontation is a test of discipline and moral fiber. However, you should walk away with a heightened sense of awareness while also being prepared to spring into action. Disengaging is intelligent and pragmatic for a myriad of reasons, including avoiding potential injury to you,your family, and your friends, not to mention potential criminal and civil liability.
Grandmaster Haim Gidon, head of the Israeli krav maga system, enforces this wisdom of de-escalation. He and his senior instructors have the same mind-set. They are the most skilled kravists in the world and will not suffer bullying or aggressive behavior, yet they are reticent to use their unparalleled fighting skills unless there is no other option. Krav maga creator Imi Lichtenfeld emphasized that you should fight only when necessary, but if fighting is necessary, end the fight quickly and decisively on your terms.
By using common sense, taking basic precautions, and presenting a confident manner, you can minimize your chances of being attacked. To prevent being caught completely off guard, you must accept the possibility of violence. Your life and wellbeing are not worth trading for any possessions. If someone is threatening you, especially with a weapon or if you are clearly outnumbered, comply with his demands if you can. If you cannot comply, reasoning has failed, and there is no escape, take the fight to your opponent to neutralize him. Maintaining an overall strategy to end your opponent's ability to fight is paramount.
Krav Maga Tactical Thinking
Fight positioning determines your tactical advantage. Optimally, a kravista skilled krav maga fighterwill move quickly to a superior and dominant position relative to his opponent, known in krav maga parlance as the dead side. The dead side often provides you with a decisive tactical advantage. This strategy should revolve around your capabilities and preferred tactics involving long-, medium-, and short-range combatives combined with evasive maneuvers. Positioning becomes even more important when facing multiple opponents. Once you have achieved a superior position, the opponent will have minimal ability to defendagainst or counter your retzev attack. Remember that retzev, which uses all parts of your body and incorporates all facets of a fight, provides an overwhelming counterattack.
Footwork and body positioning, whether standing or prone, allow you to simultaneously defend and attack, leading to the seamless combative transitions essential to retzev. The key to evasion is moving out of the "line of fire"the path of an opponent's offensive combatives. Clearly, positioning yourself where you can counterattack your opponent more easily than he can attack you is most advantageous.
Fights involve different phases that are best categorized by the distance or proximity opponents maintain as the fight progresses. At long or medium range, fighters have unhindered movement to batter one another, usually involving long kicks, medium punches, and other hand strikes. At short range, knees, elbows, head butts, and biting become options. This includes a variety of standing entanglements involving medium and short strikes, trapping, clinching, throws, takedowns, and standing joint locks combined for close retzev. The final ground phase occurs when both fighters lock up to unbalance each other to the ground involving medium- and short-range combatives combined with locks and chokes.
Movement on the ground is different from standing movement. The nature of ground fighting can allow one opponent superior control and positioning, since the other opponent cannot run or evade as he might while standing. Krav maga groundwork is best defined as "what we do up, we do down" with additional specific ground-fighting capabilities. We employ many of our standing combatives on the ground, including groin, eye, and throat strikes in combination with joint breaks and dislocations designed to maim your opponent.
Breaking Your Opponent's Body
Developed as a military fighting discipline, krav maga employs lethal force techniques. Imi was adamant that these techniques be taught only to the military and professional security organizations. Senior IKMA instructor Rick Blitstein remembers Imi saying, "Only two people could use these techniques: a commando or a criminal." Obviously, criminals have no place in krav maga. Therefore, while these techniques are integrated at the highest levels of the IKMA curriculum, they are omitted from this book.
Forging an awareness of your own personal weapons (hands, forearms, elbows, knees, shins, feet, and head) and an opponent's vulnerabilities is essential to fight strategy and tactics. The human body is amazingly resilient, even when subjected to tremendous physical abuse. Pain may stop some attackers, but other individuals have very high pain thresholds. Therefore, an opponent may be stopped only when his offensive capabilities are put out of commission by joint dislocations, bone breaks, or cutting off the oxygen/blood supply to the brain, resulting in unconsciousness.
In both standing and ground fights, it becomes difficult for an opponent to fight effectively if his hands are broken. Breaking an opponent's fingers is an efficient tactic and strategy, especially against an opponent favoring pugilistic hand attacks and submission holds. Breaking larger joints and bones escalates the damage. Rendering an opponent unconscious quickly ends a fight.
Your attacker faces serious consequences if you dislocate or break a joint. The larger the joint, the more serious the consequences are to your opponent. Think about the difference between a dislocated or broken finger and a dislocated or broken elbow. Damaging a knee is also a highly effective method of incapacitating your opponent. Accordingly, the larger the joint the more difficult it will be to control and break. All joint lock dislocations and breaks are based on the biomechanical principle thatbending a joint beyond its natural range of extension will damage the joint. For example, understanding the elbow or knee as a fulcrum allows many arm bar or knee bar modalities. The same is true of cervical or spine lock breaks. While the human body has around two hundred joints, we will focus on five major areas of the body for counterattack: the neck, shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle.
A joint is at its weakest when at full extension. For example, the straight arm bar is the most direct and pragmatic arm bar. It serves as great example to examine a joint lock, when a joint is forced beyond its natural range of motion or opposite to its natural range of motion. This arm bar can be applied from a variety of body positions and angles. Ideally, you will catch your opponent with his arm already fully extended. The action mechanism involved in an arm bar (and other joint lock breaks) is to force the arm beyond its normal range of motion, damaging the elbow's structural integrity, including the joint, ligaments, and muscles. Strong breaking pressure on the back of the elbow forces the humerus forward and the ulna backward, dislocating the elbow. The wrist area provides the leverage point for breaking pressure, following a basic tenet of physics that the longer the lever, the more superior the biomechanical advantage.
Every type of lock requires moving the joint against its natural articulation, utilizing breaking pressure. While we teach certain core arm dislocation positions, once you have an understanding of the biomechanics you can apply the principles to a myriad of situations. This is especially important for the fluidity of a fight. Optimally, you will use the entire force and weight of your body to apply pressure against an opponent's joint. This is the key principle to joint locks. Two IKMA female instructors, Katherina Guttman and Elizabeth Greenman, consistently lock out skeptical students and muscular weight lifters. These krav maga converts come away marveling at the effectiveness of Israeli ground fighting.
If necessary, krav maga also employs chokes and "blood"chokes to render an opponent unconscious or worse. With proper body positioning, you can pummel an adversary on the ground severely, with his having little defensive recourse. Movement on the ground is a skill that can be honed to a high level. Remember that whether you are standing, clinched, or on the ground, krav maga is designed for everyone, and a smaller opponent can defeat a larger, stronger, and perhaps more athletic one. A well-trained kravist will possess core training in all three combat phases. In this fighting chess game, the best way to defend against an offensive technique is to know the offensive technique. Having an array of techniques at your disposal solidifies your ability.
The Language of Krav Maga
Throughout Advanced Krav Maga, the following terms will appear frequently. Once you understand the language of krav maga, you can better understand the method.
Combative: Any manner of strike, takedown, throw, joint lock, choke, or other offensive fighting movement.
Retzev: A Hebrew word that refers to continuous motion in combat. Retzev, the backbone of modern Israeli krav maga, teaches you to move your body instinctively in combat motion without thinking about your next move. When in a dangerous situation, you'll automatically call upon your physical and mental training to launch a seamless, overwhelming counterattack using strikes, takedowns, throws, joint locks, chokes, or other offensive actions combined with evasive action. Retzev is quick and decisive movement merging all aspects of your krav maga training. Defensive movements transition automatically into offensive movements to neutralize the attack, affording your opponent little time to react.
Left outlet stance: Blades your body by turning your feet approximately 30 degrees to your right, with your left arm and left leg forward. (You can also turn 30 degrees to your left to come into a right outlet stance, with your right leg and arm forward.) You are resting on the ball of your rear foot in a comfortable and balanced position. Your feet should be parallel, with about 55 percent of your weight distributed over your front leg. Your arms are positioned in front of your face and bent slightly forward at approximately a 60-degree angle between your forearms and your upper arms. From this stance, you will move forward, laterally, and backward, moving your feet in concert.
Live side: When you are facing the front of your opponent and your opponent can see you and use both arms and both legs against you, you are facing his or her live side.
Dead side: Your opponent's dead side, in contrast to his live side, places you behind his near shoulder or facing his back. You are in an advantageous position to counterattack and control him because it is difficult for him to use his arm and leg farthest away from you to attack you. You should always move to the dead side when possible. This also places the opponent between you and any additional third-party threat.
Same side: Your same-side arm or leg faces your opponent when you are positioned opposite one another. For example, if youare directly facing your opponent and your right side is opposite your opponent's left side, your same-side arm is your right arm (opposite his left arm).
Near side: Your opponent's limb closest to your torso.
Outside defense: An outside defense counters an outside attack, that is, an attack directed at you from the outside of your body to the inside. A slap to the face and a hook punch are examples of outside attacks.
Inside defense: An inside defense defends against an inside or straight attack. This type of attack involves a thrusting motion such as jabbing your finger into someone's eye or punching someone in the nose.
Gunt: A deflection or absorption of an incoming strike by bending your elbow to touch your bicep to your forearm. The angle of deflection depends on the strike. For example, to defend against a hook punch or roundhouse kick to the head, you will position the elbow to cover your head, with the back of your arm parallel to the ground and the elbow tip facing slightly outward. The gunt may also be used to defend against knee attacks by jamming the opponent's knee with the tip of the elbow.
Glicha: A sliding movement on the balls of your feet to carry your entire body weight forward and through a combative strike to maximize its impact.
Secoul: A larger step than glicha, covering more distance, to carry your entire body weight forward and through a combative strike to maximize its impact.
Off angle: An attack angle that is not face-to-face.
Stepping off the line: Using footwork and body movement to take evasive action against a linear attack such as a straight punch or kick. Such movement is also referred to as breaking the angle of attack.
Tsai-bake: A 180-degree or semicircle step by rotating one leg back to create torque on a joint to complete a takedown or control hold.
Cavalier: A wrist takedown involving forcing an adversary's wrist to move against its natural range of motion, usually combined with tsai-bake for added power.
Trapping: Occurs when you pin or grab the opponent's arms with one arm, leaving you with a free arm to continue combatives.
Figure four: A control hold securing an opponent's arm, torso, or ankle to exert pressure. The control hold is enabled by using both of your arms on the joint of the wrist, shoulder, or tendon of an opponent. For example, you have secured your opponent's right wrist(his elbow is pointed toward the ground) with your right hand placed on the flat of his right hand, bending his wrist inward, with his elbow (tip toward the ground) pinned to your chest while you simultaneously slip your other arm over the top of his forearm to interlock with his arm and grab your own forearm. This positional arm control may also be used to attack the Achilles tendon with the blade of your forearm or control an opponent's torso from the rearmount. A figure four may also be applied to an opponent's torso by hooking one leg across the torso and securing it in the crook of the other leg's knee.
Mount: A formidable fighting and control position where you are straddling your opponent with his back to the ground and your heels are hooked underneath his rib cage.
Rear mount: The most advantageous control position on the ground, where you are behind and straddling your opponent (who may be faceup or facedown) with your legs wrapped (not crossed) around his midsection.
Side mount: A strong control position (example is to your opponent's right) with your right knee pressed to your opponent's hip and left knee in line with your opponent's head. The elbow closest to your opponent's head should be positioned on your opponent's ear. There are different options for hand placement, including through the opponent's legs for groin strikes and torso control.
Knee on stomach: Another strong control position, placing your full weight on your opponent's midsection and hooking your foot into your opponent's hip while resting on the ball of your foot to create a stable striking platform and wear down your opponent's body.
Side control: Your opponent is on his back and you are sitting up with your legs splayed wide and your arm controlling his head and possibly his arm closest to you.
High closed guard: Your back is to the ground with your opponent pincered between your legs, which are hooked at the ankles.
Kicking pad: A large foam shield designed to be held by a training partner for kicks and knee strikes. (See Resources for recommended products.)
Hand pad or muy thai pad: A maneuverable foam pad designed to be held by a training partner for punches, elbows, and other upper-body strikes. (See Resources for recommended products.)
Kravist: A term coined in Krav Maga: An Essential Guide to the Renowned Methodfor Fitness and Self-Defense to describe a smart and prepared krav maga fighter.
More About Grandmaster Haim Gidon
Grandmaster Haim Gidon was krav maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld's top student for twenty-eight years. In 1996, Imi publicly nominated Haim as his successor. Imi remained a fixture in Haim's 21 Ben Zion Gym until his final days, sharing what he loved best with Haiminstructing, watching, and encouraging the development of the Israeli krav maga system. Haim continues Imi's extraordinary legacy of developing and improving Israeli krav maga. With each visit to Haim's gym I marvel at the improvements and additions made to the systemtrue to Imi's goal of creating the most modern and comprehensive self-defense and hand-to-hand fighting system in the world. Under Grandmaster Gidon's supervision and authority, the IKMA's belt guidelines (white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, and black 1-5 dans) are constantly updated. Haim has taught and molded a whole new generation of instructors and students both in Israel and abroad. Haim's unparalleled skills and those of his top students, including his sons Ohad and Noam, Yoav Krayn, Yigal Arbiv, Steve Moishe, and others, are requested worldwide by elite military units, law enforcement agencies, and civilians. Grandmaster Gidon runs annual instructor certification and advanced training courses in Israel and at the Israeli Krav Maga United States Training Center. For more information, see www.israelikrav.com and www.kravmagaisraeli.com.
ADVANCED KRAV MAGA. Copyright © 2008 by David Kahn. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.