Top discussion on Self-Defense, Krav-Maga, and competitions

Updated: Mar 10

In this article we will go over: Why warfare and competitions in the DNA of mankind? What is the importance of Self-Defense awareness? What is Self-Defense in Israeli Krav-Maga? Why are Self-Defense competitions important? How to test a suitable Self-Defense club? How important is personal protective equipment when practicing Krav-Maga?


Why warfare and competitions in the DNA of mankind?

Thai boxing competition hitting with a leg while jumping
Thai boxing competition hitting with a leg while jumping

Fighting is rooted in the DNA of all human beings. All the known history of mankind, of all peoples, is accompanied by stories of heroism and war, victories and failures. When humans have fought, are fighting now and will fight to eat and survive, to reach a good position at the expense of others. As time progressed and humans evolved, peoples around the world develop fighting styles that suited them such as Karate in Japan; Thai boxing in Thailand, Kung fu in China or wrestling in Greece, etc ... They are meant for a single purpose - to be a perfect tool of attack. Although these arts were primarily used in warfare, in times of peace the instinct in DNA motivated peoples to create competitions in various martial arts. And the main goal was to find out what the best fighting style is, and who is an invincible champion in that style.

What is the importance of Self-Defense awareness?

Before starting learning any technique, one should understand why he needs it? One has to imagine vividly what goals he wants to reach and then search for different ways of realization. If one wants to achieve sports results and become a champion, it supposes one way. If one wants to strengthen his health – he will choose another way. If one wants to get joy – this is the third way. If one wants to master the self-defense methods, he has to choose the fourth way and so on. In this article, we will discuss case four - when our goal is to learn self-defense. One should know that performance under pressure is always tricky. In fact, a lot of martial arts practitioners worry about whether they’d actually be able to execute their skills in super-stressful situations. Competing at a tournament or performing at belt tests can be stressful. But the scariest high-pressure situation of all is a self-defense scenario where you and your family are being threatened. We frequently ask the question, why we should teach self-defense at our gym. To answer this question one must delve into the true differences between competition and self-defense.

What is Self-Defense in Israeli Krav-Maga?

Self-defense in Israeli Krav-Maga is an instinctive response to a specific scenario. That is, you are taught what to do if you are attacked without a weapon, and with a cold or hot weapon. The main target of self-defense is to be easy to learn and effective in real-life scenarios. That is, those that have happened in the past and may have happened in the future. The fact is, that good to be able to defend yourself, but the obvious problem with this is what techniques are taught in those groups? I mean is there any evidence that they worked in reality? For that matter, Israeli soldiers and security forces of the State of Israel have more than once proved the applicability and usefulness of the method of Krav-Maga. When in the Israeli army and police there are competitions in this combat method ... the main goal is to improve the system. Admittedly, there are schools around the world in Israeli Krav-Maga whose instructors have never served in the Israeli army or police. Also, they have never competed in competitions in any existing method as karate, combat sambo, etc ... As a result, techniques that teach are controversial, will they really work in reality? No matter how hard you practice the knife protection technique, you cannot effectively simulate if someone approaches you with the intent to harm. You practice these techniques in a safe and controlled space where you have no fear or adrenaline. As well as the lowest chance in your life that someone will come at you with a knife. You may be wonderfully skilled in the protections against knife attacks in the gym, but what if it actually happens?

Why are Self-Defense competitions important?

Competition by rules is not the same as a real battle! Competition has rules and regulations to keep competitors safe, which does not exist in a real battle. As a result, it leads to the creation of certain techniques that will not be usable in combat mode. When, a great example is Kyokushin karate, strong people with amazing punches and kicks. But according to the rules, there are no punches in the head, as a result, the protection of their hands is weak relative to the punch. And boxers do not know how to kick and both together do not know wrestling. And in each of these martial arts, there are laws, which stop the fight on one condition or another, which does not exist in real fighting! That is, in self-defense take into account risks that are not required in conventional competitions. Admittedly, competition is the highest form of combat training. Train to fight a trained opponent according to specific rules. This is the only way to seriously check the pressure and put yourself in real fighting situations. Competition training gives you the versatility to be effective both inside and outside the ring. As a result, it is very important to hold competitions in the fields of self-defense, such as Israeli Krav-Maga; Combat sambo, etc...

How to test a suitable Self-Defense club?

Sparring between two boxers
Sparring between two boxers

The easiest way to start going in for martial arts is to find a Self-Defense club. Before making choice, one should analyze and weigh everything thoroughly. Would better visit several clubs in order one could make a comparative analysis of their methods. How and what do they learn? How are they trained? Do the coaches verify the methods learned by their disciples? How do they do that? Do they tell you always the truth concerning your results? One can learn lots of good methods but in fact, they will not work for you in real fights though they will look beautiful and striking. All these methods must be tested in real fights against a skillful opponent so you will reveal their advantages and drawbacks at once.

One should never test this or that method in a fight against an inexperienced enemy as any technique will look good in this case. Never trust anyone even though people who surround you speak how wonderfully it is. One should verify it in person. Training with a sparring partner it is not the verification of the technique one learns. It is nothing but the skill acquired and is far from the real fight. The technique must work in any situation that is why one should test it in full contact with different opponents. It is better to use protective equipment and work at full speed. While there is great importance in full contact battles during training, it is imperative to keep in mind safety in training! A club that does not take care of safety in training most likely has a history of injuries during training. It is mandatory to check the issue before registering for the club! The issue of safety in training and of full-contact battles, constitute two weights in the scales. When in a good club know how to balance them perfectly.

How important is personal protective equipment when practicing Krav-Maga?

Good schools understand the importance of protective equipment when teaching martial arts in general and in combat in particular. Demonstrations and battles are not allowed without appropriate protective equipment! These are usually inexpensive shields compared to the physical damage they prevent. Also, there is no insurance without protective equipment! When striking a punching bag, be it a jab, cross, hook, or uppercut, boxing gloves should be used. It is recommended for full contact to use a body protector that maintains the integrity of the ribs. Also, shields for the head, teeth, groin, and legs are recommended. Below is a list of recommended personal protective equipment when training Krav Maga:

  • Hand bandages.

  • Leg protection.

  • Kappa.

  • Body shield.

  • Head shield.

  • Lightweight gloves.

  • Boxing gloves.

  • Shield for hands and forearms.

  • Groin shield.

Summary: Top discussion on Self-Defense, Krav-Maga, and competitions

In this article it became clear to us: why warfare and competitions in the DNA of mankind; What is the importance of self-defense awareness; We saw, what self-defense is in Israeli Krav-Maga and why self-defense competitions are so important; Also, how should you check a self-defense club and how important is personal protective equipment when practicing Israeli Krav-Maga.


Written by Gil Peleg.

Professional consultant in Krav-Maga Mark Fesler.

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