Delivering a swift kick to the groin: why I love Krav Maga

As any fan of martial arts cinema knows, all you have to do to become the baddest mofo in town is acquire a “secret training manual”, perform a few comic interludes getting the moves wrong watched by your faithful sidekick, and by sunrise you’re storming the Shaolin Temple and kicking some serious monk ass.

I’ve been studying Krav Maga (not a martial art; it just looks like one) for a while now. (Badly). And have just had a few months out on injury time. So I thought that before I return to class next month, I could get an edge by acquiring their “secret training manual“!

There aren’t many good books on Krav, largely because it’s about doing not learning; a basic tenet is honing the body’s natural reflex movements by turning them into useful defences. Krav is practice not theory. But this out-of-print volume, translated from the original Hebrew of KM founder Imi “Sde-Or” and Eyal Yanilov, is a cracking read. Defence against knife attacks, defence against attackers holding a gun, use of everyday objects to counterattack, yada yada yada. There’s even a lesson on what to do if someone’s chucking grenades about, especially valuable on the streets of south London.

But ultimately the techniques of Krav are few and their delivery simple. And that’s what I like about it: its beautiful simplicity. No 99 basis stances or 48 positions, none of this crap about Sitting Dragons or Prancing Tigers or Monkeys Sitting On The Delicate Branch Of The Ancient Googah Tree. Krav has 3 stances, one of which could be accurately described as “standing normally.” Most of the defences against knife attacks seem to be variants on “deliver a swift kick to the groin” (after executing a forearm block of course.) It’s full of micro-cases written in complete deadpan:

“…The security officer then delivered a kick to the groin, stepped backwards, cocked his weapon, and shot him.”

Time to go and whack my punchbag for a while.

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