Krav Maga: Know more about this self-defence system from Israel

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We all desire to live a fulfilling life that includes mental and physical wellness. However, we usually forget the most essential form of self-care that can not only physically prepare you for unexpected encounters but also give you a substantial amount of mental strength to deal with such a situation – self-defence. One such is Krav Maga which finds its origin in Israel. 

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What is Krav Maga?

Prabhsharan Kaur, a professional Krav Maga trainer, based in New Delhi defined the art of Krav Maga by saying, “Krav Maga is a self-defence system from Israel. It is the only system that teaches you how to fight with multiple attackers and weapons. Krav Maga is not a sport. Every technique created in this system is suitable for any body type”. 

Krav Maga is a self-defence system developed for the Israeli defence force. (Credits: Prabhsharan Kaur)

I have been learning and teaching Krav Maga for the past ten years. We have improvised the techniques and drills as per the body and the situations, considering that every culture, country and region deals with situations differently, added Kaur.  

Need for self-defence?

According to the statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Uttar Pradesh reported the most sexual and physical harassment cases in India. There have been several unexpected encounters faced by individuals of all age groups, castes, religions and genders. But, the reported crimes against women have been on a 30 per cent rise, which is a cause of serious concern. With the rise in such cases, the need for learning self-defence techniques has become crucial, along with building a safe and secure environment for everyone, especially women. 

Origins

According to Krav Maga Worldwide, the roots of Krav Maga can be traced back to one man, Imi Lichtenfeld. In the late 1930s, Lichtenfeld used his experience in boxing, wrestling, and gymnastics to help defend Jewish neighbours from anti-Semitic riots.

He had to adapt his competition-based knowledge of fighting to a real-world self-defence system. By 1940, Lichtenfeld began to play a strong role within the Israeli military system and was asked to develop its self-defence system. He built a strong group of followers including professionals in the armed forces and developed the revolutionary self-defence system of Krav Maga.

Techniques for beginners

One of the most basic principles of Krav Maga is simultaneous defence and attack. “If someone attacks an individual, you need to know how to block the attack.  This is why we focus more on improving the beginners’ defence technique,” said Rajesh Dadhwal from the Special Protection Group.

While learning a defence technique, one needs to focus more on the sensitive tissues and vulnerable points to neutralise the threat immediately, added Dadhwal.

The increasing interest in Krav Maga training

Dadhwal elucidated that many parents enrol their children on Krav Maga classes from an early, especially young girls. “This is due to their concerns regarding the atmosphere around us and the tragedies that are struck on a daily basis. Usually, people from all age groups and gender come and attend Krav Maga classes, but it is mostly the young girls that follow the training for not just protection but also for fitness,” he said.

He added that Krav Maga is much more than just self-defence. “Due to the immense amount of footwork involved in it, it not just assists an individual with their cardio but also helps them improve their reflexes.”

On being asked if Krav Maga can provide appropriate aid and protection to individuals amidst the rise in harassment cases in India, Kaur said, “In India, our fight begins at home where the victims are blamed. Individuals who have not received proper sex education are not even aware of heinous crimes like rape. I have been working on grassroots levels by conducting self-defence workshops for rape and acid attack victims. It takes a considerable amount of time to make them comfortable before teaching this art form as it is a very sensitive issue. Krav Maga does not just physically prepare an individual but also psychologically, and we try to go beyond just kicks and punches by providing legal training at the Nirbhau Naari Suraksha Foundation.”

“Krav Maga trains you to strategise your defence and action. It not only prepares you to deal with the situation at hand but also assists in knowing what to do afterwards. It really opens up your thought process when it comes to self-defence because this system is not just about physical fighting but also teaches you to be mentally alert at all times, which can help in avoiding such encounters in the first place,” added Kaur.  

Krav Maga enables you to make empowered decisions without any fear. (Credits: Prabhsharan Kaur)

The cases of mental, physical and sexual harassment can leave an individual with an immeasurable amount of anxiety and distress.  According to Kamna Chhibber, a mental health specialist from the department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare, “A person can go through low moods, increased anxiety, apprehension about the future and disturbed sleep. These factors can compromise the ability of an individual to cope with stressors. “ 

“It is important to focus on building fitness and physical health parameters using any mode of exercise that works for them. From the context of safety and self-defence, it is a matter of personal choice, depending on an individual’s needs,” added Dr Chhibber.  

Parents, too, now want their kids to be physically and mentally strong to handle any adverse situation. Emphasising the same, Nivedita Mishra, proprietor, Pangolin Studios said, “Being physically and emotionally capable to handle an assault is a survival skill that I would want my children to have”.  

“Knowing that you have the capability of self-protection enables you to make decisions in an empowered manner without any fear,” she added.  

 (The writer is an intern at The Indian Express)

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