Combative workouts: krav maga

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Israeli military martial art krav maga is a no-holds-barred, combative workout – ideal for the mean streets of London

  • Combative workouts: krav maga

    No holds barred: foiling attackers

  • You’d think the phrase ‘tough Israeli military self-defence technique’ would be unequivocal enough to prepare you for a krav maga class. In my case, you’d be wrong. The class starts gently enough, with jogging around the room – though dropping to the floor to do random press-ups is strangely like being in an Oliver Stone movie.

    Next, we have to pair up and, well, grapple with each other. The first bit is fun, jumping up and down on the spot, trying to touch the other person’s back, while defending oneself against being touched. However this develops into getting one another into a headlock, aiming to twist the other person round so you’ve got them from behind (the most common position from which to attack). It’s not pleasant. We swap partners a few times – it must be difficult for the poor chaps who have to pretend that taking me on is any challenge. There are only two other women in a class of around 20.

    Next, we are put into teams of three to perform an exhausting ‘workstation’ series of press-ups, sit-ups and an extraordinary kind of one-handed press-up dance. I cry off, pleading back problems, at which point instructor Mike Alcroft tells me that he always starts the class with a 45-minute warm-up. Physical fitness, he insists, is as much a key to being able to defend oneself as knowing the techniques. This is the warm-up? Good God.

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    Fighting for fitness

    Alcroft has been teaching krav maga for seven years and set up the Krav Maga Centre eight months ago. ‘I’d learnt Thai boxing at university, and while it’s great for fitness and as a competitive martial art, I didn’t feel it was relevant to self-defence,’ he says. He found that krav maga was gaining a reputation in the US, mainly among certain police units, the FBI and Swat teams.

    Krav maga was originally developed in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 1930s by Imi Lichtenfeld, a successful boxer and wrestler. He taught his special hand-to-hand combat method to Bratislavan Jews to protect themselves against the Nazis; then, on arriving in Palestine before the establishment of Israel, to Haganah, the Jewish underground army. It went on to become the official combat system of the Israeli defence forces.

    Back at the class, after some stretches, it’s time for the actual self-defence. ‘The point of krav maga is not to turn you into a fighter,’ says Alcroft. ‘It’s to enable you to defend yourself to the point where you’re able to run away.’ Thus kicks to the knee and groin are encouraged, as well as punches to the face and throat. We are taught how to escape if somebody has their hands round your throat (drop your hands between their arms and pull outwards, while simultaneously kneeing them in the groin), how to perform drop kicks when you’re on the ground and – crucially – how to defend yourself against knife attacks. T'ai chi it ain’t.

    It’s all intensely – scarily – practical (‘make it a reflex always to look around as there’s likely to be more than one attacker’ is one piece of advice) and very hard work. But fun, up until the last ten minutes. Then, the majority of the class puts on knee, groin and arm shields and
    gets engaged in the real deal: proper, vicious, hand-to-hand fighting.

    I am initially paired with Liz, a new recruit who has joined the class because, she says, ‘the area I live in isn’t very safe’ (put that in your pipe and smoke it, Diane Abbott). However, after a few minutes, Alcroft insists we fight some of the men as ‘in real life, 99.99 per cent of the time, you’ll be attacked by a man who is much stronger than you.’ This is really, really disturbing and quickly I want it to stop – which I guess is the point.

    Krav maga is not for the faint-hearted but if you are dedicated it is an extremely useful skill to have. I leave the class aching, sweaty and somehow emboldened – though acutely aware of how much work is needed to improve my own fragility.

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19 comments
John
John

For those taht are looking for an excellent Authentic Krav Maga scholls in East Kent look up Kent Krav Maga and Krav Maga GB. They are sister schools with excellent instructors.

steve
steve

HI can anyone help me i am looking for a morning class in kravmaga in london am time i am wanting to get back in training but haveing trouble finding a class thats starts early i live in west london but i can travel thanks for your help..

Kaz
Kaz

Hi, I live in winchester and don't mind commuting to london so I was wondering where is the best intensive course or bootcamp in london for krav maga. As I am still at school I want to learn as quick as possible. Please let me know if anyone has done something like this or if they know about it, thanks.

Ari -Ricard Luntz
Ari -Ricard Luntz

Good article-I have studied KM in Poland,Greeece, Portugal and USA-all classes were similar and effective tactics taught.What is excellent is the mind set you are taught- basically to attack,overpower, win and for civilians -get out....hope to continue both teaching andl learning KM-Ari in Clarksville Tn. USA

Steven Jakob
Steven Jakob

Anyone know the difference between Urban Krav and Krav. I tried Urban in london but it was basically an MMA class with weapons. Its not what I thought Krav was and wondered if all krav is the same. J.

Setal Ahmed
Setal Ahmed

Has anyone tried the British Krav Maga Association school in Kent ? There is a school near me in Kent (Folkstone) and I wondered if anyone has tried it. I trained briefly with a Paul in Bristol who was great but I fancy taking it up again. Also looking into BJJ but the Krav seemed much more street based than the BJJ classes cheers Setal

Simon Parks
Simon Parks

If you are looking for a school in the UK try the Krav Maga Journal. They have a listings page with all the local schools. Its free online - just google Krav Maga Journal and you'll find it

Andrew
Andrew

You could try the British Krav Maga Association. I trained with them in Bristol before I came back from Uni - they have branches all over the place - saw some in London and somewhere up North. Google them and they have a schools page.

John
John

Hi Dan.. The club is 2 mins walk ( heaing north on Regent St ) from Oxford circus tube station at the University of Westminster, 309 Regent St.. Classes Monday - Friday ( evening ) see www.krav-maga.org.uk

Dan matthews
Dan matthews

Where is this Krav Mag club in london? Location?? Thanks

tony
tony

i heard its a great club and i have no problem traveling down there....so where do i sent the bill for fuel or train tickets...i take it that was an invite and you would sub my expenses....lol

John Aldcroft
John Aldcroft

According to the Times, Oxford Circus has the best UK club Tony ..Why not travel down and train LOL !

tony
tony

Thanks Paul, already spoke to them, they think there may be a club opening in a cpl of months...thanks for your post

Paul Grey
Paul Grey

Hi Tony. If you want to find a local club try IKMF UK and speak with Nick Maison there are about 50 odd uk locations.

John Aldcroft
John Aldcroft

Good article .. Just wish they had the right name for the instructor ! Its John Aldcroft not Mike Alcroft.. Classes are now run Monday - Sunday, the only UK club that does this ..

tony
tony

Hi, can someone please open a class in or around newcastle upon tyne, the closest to newcastle is leeds/ hull. there is a hugh demand for Krav Maga up here and anyone setting up classes would rake in the cash. let me know if there are any plans to open in newcastle, cheers

paul
paul

Great article- If you are interested in Krav Maga in the Bristol area visit www.realitybasedtraining.co.uk . Beginners are most welcome to come and try us out for FREE.

John
John

Classes are run at University of Westminster, 309 Regent St, Oxford Circus ( 2 mins walk from Oxford Circus tube station ) Monday - Friday evenings. If you want more information or to take a FREE trial visit www.krav-maga.org.uk for details