What makes Krav Maga different from other systems of martial arts is the basic principles upon which the system is based. Knowledge of these basic principles will help you better understand why Krav Maga is different from other martial art systems like Karate, MMA, Kickboxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. These principles form the foundation upon which Krav Maga is based and are the core of every Krav Maga technique. Understanding these principles is essential to understanding what Krav Maga is and is not.
1. The Ultimate Goal is Survival
Krav Maga is not a sport! The objective of Krav Maga is not to win trophies or become a world champion, but to effectively deal with a violent encounter and make it home alive. Let's face it, in the street there are no rules, no referees, no weight classes, no fouls; just the cold brutal reality of unrestrained human violence at its worst. For this reason Krav Maga trains a person to do whatever is necessary in order to survive. Many of the techniques taught in Krav Maga such as eye gouges, groin strikes, and knee breaks are considered illegal in sports like Boxing or MMA. The use of such techniques makes perfect sense when you take into consideration that an attacker in the street is not trying to win but to seriously hurt, rape or maybe even kill you. Remember, Krav Maga training is a matter of life and death; therefore everything in Krav Maga is 100 percent focused on survival.
Because the Israeli military is vastly outnumbered by its enemies, it is important that every soldier be in good shape and able to perform his or her duties. The Israeli military cannot afford to have soldiers in the infirmary due to training accidents. By design Krav Maga training was developed to be safe and prevent training injuries. Let's face it, learning how to defend yourself does you no good if you lose valuable time from work because you were injured during practice. For this reason Krav Maga has become very popular with law enforcement agencies that wish to lower the cost and risk of training accidents. Simply stated Krav Maga is the safest form of martial arts training.
3. Simplicity is Key
Unlike combat sports which are governed by rules and weight classes, in the street there are no rules, the odds are that your attacker will be larger and maybe even armed with a knife or gun, and you may even find yourself facing multiple attackers. In such situations you cannot afford to get involved in a lengthy drawn out fight, since the longer the confrontation lasts the less your odds are of survival. You must react precisely and as quickly as you can to eliminate the immediate threat. For this reason Krav Maga techniques are not designed to be fancy or impressive, rather, by necessity they must be simple and direct. Also when you are faced with a violent attack, your body will experience a heightened state of stress resulting in a release of adrenaline causing a number of physical side effects: faster heart rate, tunnel vision, loss of fine motor skills, impaired judgment, etc… This is why Krav Maga is based upon a small number of techniques that solve a wide range of self defense situations. Think about it, if you are attacked you do not have time to think, "Is he punching me with his right hand or left hand? Do I step to the left or do I step to the right?" What you need is just one technique that works the same regardless if your attacker is punching you, choking you, or trying to take you to the ground. By only teaching few techniques that can be applied to a variety of situations you will be able to react faster and thereby increase your odds of survival.
4. Fighting from a Position of Disadvantage
If you are attacked you can bet your money that you will be fighting from a position of disadvantage. You need to expect and accept the fact that your attacker or attackers will be larger, stronger, and possibly armed. This is why Krav Maga always trains a person to fight from a position of disadvantage assuming from the beginning that your attacker is bigger and stronger than you. The effectiveness of Krav Maga techniques does not rely on strength, size or athletic ability; instead Krav Maga relies on economy of movement, the element of surprise, and the effective targeting of the weak points of the human anatomy. This is why Krav Maga is able to teach a smaller person how to prevail over a larger person.
5. Based Upon the Body's Natural Reactions
Krav Maga is different from other martial arts since most other systems attempt to reprogram your natural reactions so that you can perform the techniques under the stress of an attack. This is why it takes so long to become combat proficient in traditional forms of martial arts, since you have to relearn everything - walking, blocking, striking, etc… In Krav Maga we begin with the body's natural reactions to stress then build techniques and combinations from those reactions. The result is Krav Maga feels more natural and students are able to learn the movements faster.
6. Universal Effectiveness
In Israel every person must serve in the military. For this reason when Krav Maga was created the techniques had to be effective for everyone regardless of body size, shape or gender. Techniques that worked for the 250 pound athlete had to also work for the 135 pound female. There wasn't time in training to go around and modify the techniques for each person's personal needs; instead the techniques had to be universally effective for everyone. Even today as Krav Maga evolves as a system this principle governs the direction of the system. Unlike other martial arts Krav Maga is an effective system of self defense that is truly for everyone.
7. Simultaneously Defend and Counterattack
When attacked, timing is essential. In order to insure your survival you must gain the advantage as soon as possible. The fastest way to do this is by defending and counterattacking simultaneously. As a result Krav Maga techniques are faster and more explosive than other systems that teach you to block first and then punch second. By eliminating the time between defensive movements and counterattacks, Krav Maga is able to overwhelm the assailant and take back the initiative.
8. Reality Based Scenario Training
Krav Maga is a relatively modern system of self defense. Therefore, it deals with contemporary weapons and violent scenarios. The goal of Krav Maga is to focus on finding solutions to the types of violent attacks students are most likely to encounter in their day-to-day lives. So instead of training how to defend against a person attacking you with a samurai sword, Krav Maga focuses on training you how to defend against guns, knives, and sticks. In addition, Krav Maga recognizes that in the modern age a person needs to also be aware of the legal ramifications of self defense. Krav Maga trains practitioners to use only the acceptable amount of force required to defend themselves, thus protecting them from criminal charges and lawsuits. In order for any system of self defense to be effective in today's society, it must take into consideration both the application of force and the legal use of force.
9. Efficiency in Training and Conditioning
The primary objective of Krav Maga is to get practitioners to a high level of self defense proficiency in a relatively short period of time. In order to do this, training time is utilized to its optimal efficiency; every movement, every exercise, and every drill has been thoughtfully selected in order to accomplish the primary goal. There is really nothing quite like Krav Maga in the world of self defense or fitness. Krav Maga training is designed to push you to your limits and beyond, while focusing everything you do on developing your ability to successfully deal with a violent encounter. In short, Krav Maga training is challenging, it's intense, and it's effective.