The Krav Maga Philosophy

By Matan Gavish


The Krav Maga philosophy is what separates it from any other traditional or competitive martial art. It can be summarized by the sentence: “Do whatever is needed to cause as much damage as possible to your attacker and get away safely”. That is it. It is as simple and ruthless as it is efficient. Unlike traditional martial arts Krav Maga makes no attempt to transform you into a spiritually enlightened warrior. You will not get bonus points for being graceful in your movement or for remembering a choreographed form perfectly. Krav Maga is ugly, not graceful. Practicing Krav Maga will not make you a champion, a gold medalist or a winner in any sanctioned event. In fact deploying Krav Maga techniques in any legal competitive setting will get you disqualified and possibly arrested.

Krav Maga was designed for one thing only- Self Preservation under real street violence. It ignores any legal definition of “self-defense”, which vary from one locale to another. The concept of self-preservation in Krav Maga is primal, aggressive and animalistic. Its simple mantra states that in order to survive a violent attack you should cause nothing short of severe injury or death to your attacker. The moves of Krav Maga are easy and based on the practitioner’s already existing instincts.

“What are the rules of Krav Maga?” – I have posed that question to thousands of first-time students over the years and received hundreds of answers. Can you think of any rules? You might have guessed – it is a trick question! Indeed in its core Krav Maga has no rules. In boxing – it is forbidden to kick; in Muay Thai – it is forbidden to grapple; in Jiu-Jitsu – it is forbidden to bite your opponent’s face – but in Krav Maga there is no “forbidden”, there are no restrictions and no limitations to your violent response. If it can cause real damage to your attacker – it is acceptable, encouraged and practiced.

Every technique in Krav Maga must satisfy 2 conditions – It must be both simple and effective. The Israeli military demanded a system that can be taught quickly to soldiers and that when put to the test will work under any threat and in any condition to ensure the combatant’s safety.

Techniques that in other fight forms are considered “dirty”, “unspotrtsmanlike conduct” and “cheating” are the basis to most of Krav Maga attacks. As a Krav Maga practitioner you should not strive for a “fair” fight or an honorable performance. Your only objective is maiming your attacker and getting home safely.