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What is Krav Maga? Designed in Israel after the end of World War II, Krav Maga is a no holding back, all out self-defense fight style designed with one goal in mind: get home safe. Unlike many of the traditional sport-derived fighting styles, Krav Maga has no rules and no sportsmanship. The ultimate goal is survival.

1. Knees

Let’s face it — a simple knee strike to the groin is the most basic of Krav moves and one that distinguishes it from many other fight styles. Krav Maga isn’t a sport and we don’t hold back. There’s no dishonor in hitting below the belt if it means getting home safe. If a knee to the groin will save your life, then by all means let it fly!

2. Wrist Release

Wrist releases are almost more Jedi mind tricks than flashy technique. Meant to de-escalate a tense situation without direct confrontation, wrist releases keep you in control without starting a fight. Remember, the point of Krav Maga isn’t to beat up on an opponent, but to avoid a fight when possible and then resolve a conflict quickly and victoriously when the time comes.

3. Headlock from the Side Defense

This one puts all of the schoolyard bullies to shame. When an attacker grabs you in a headlock from the side, this defense turns the tables and flips your attacker on to his back. It’s one of the best ways to go from the hunted to the hunter in less than a second.

4. Sprawl

The sprawl is a move borrowed from wrestling and one of the best ways to thwart an oncoming takedown. Sprawls are most effective when they’re done quickly, before your attacker has a chance to react. When done right, sprawls give you a vantage point above your partner by which you can gauge and control their movements.

5. Choke Defense, or “Pluck”


The basic Krav Maga pluck is a great move for beginners that could save a life one day. Designed to give a smaller person a slightly equal footing over a larger one, the pluck defends against a choke either standing or on the ground. Instead of pitting size against size, the pluck, like most elements of Krav Maga, exploits natural anatomic weaknesses. There are numerous variations to the move depending on the direction and intensity of the threat, but the basic move is always the same.

6. Gun Defense

The military roots of Krav Maga are clear in present in this move. Similar to the “Headlock from the Side Defense” in which the defender regains the upper hand, the Gun Defense uses your opponent’s body and weapons against him. Krav always recommends running away or giving up your wallet if it’s the easiest path to saving your life, but in a high pressure combat scenario, sometimes the only option is to take matters into your own hands.

7. 360 Defenses

360 Defenses are almost a fun way to test your speed and peripheral vision. Designed to block oncoming attacks from any angle with minimal warning, 360s give a defender a nearly full range of motion to block punches, slaps and even weapon attacks from a close distance.

8. Mounted Choke Defense

Like most elements of Krav Maga, this move builds on a combination of others. This defense uses a combination of plucking, and using your opponent’s body weight to roll from the mounted position to gain the upper hand on your opponent.

9. Bearhug Defense

Despite the cuddly sounding name, the bearhug defense is anything but. Reserve this move for situations where an attacker grabs you from behind, particularly with arms trapped and locked to the sides. The Bearhug defense is an explosive, all-out defense technique to loosen an enemy’s grip. It starts with the groin, like many Krav moves do, and then transitions to flying elbows and rogue heels.

10. Punch Choke

Krav Maga excels in attacking and defending simultaneously. Nowhere is this seen better than in the “Punch-Turned-Choke-Defense.” A simple redirect allows you to turn your attacker’s momentum against them, flinging them to the ground, and out of the fight.

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