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Time to Take Up: Krav Maga

How to become a Maga-star.

By / July 12, 2018

What is Krav Maga?

Krav Maga, which translates as ‘close combat’ in Hebrew, is an old school defence technique taught to the Israeli army in the 1950s. It actually has pretty revolutionary roots: Slovakian Imi Lichtenfeld developed Krav Maga as a means of defending himself from anti-Semitic gangs (yeah, Nazis) in the 1930s. Krav Maga encourages its students to try and restrain combatants by mastering certain grabs and holds. If that doesn’t work, a swift chop to the throat will suffice.

Why now?

It might all sound a little intense, but Krav Maga’s faster-paced gym iteration is much more about fitness. Yes, you learn how to release yourself from holds and how to effectively strike attackers with your elbow, but this is taught more like a dance routine than a Bruce Lee action sequence, meaning you’ll break a sweat while drastically improving your flexibility and coordination. With celebrity fans including Daniel Craig, Angelia Jolie and Brad Pitt, Krav Maga “could literally save your life”, according to Time Magazine. It was also recently taught to MPs in the wake of the murder of Jo Cox. Basically, if it’s good enough for 007 then it’s probably worth a go.

What equipment do I need?

If you really want to come prepared you should invest in some sparring gloves, comfy gym shoes and protective gear such as shin guards.

Who are the experts?

It’s definitely worth watching this video of Roy Elghanayan, the only person to twice be named Israeli Krav Maga National Champion. The way he takes down a dude pointing a pistol at him is pretty lit.

How do I learn?

London Krav Maga claims to be the UK’s first school dedicated to the discipline, and with classes tailored for women, children and men, this North London gym will make you a Krav Maga expert quicker than you can say Guillotine Choke. You can also get a free trial session at the capital’s Institute of Krav Maga for just £19.99 and see if it takes your fancy. Many gyms now also offer Krav Maga-inspired classes.

Who will I meet?

Krav Maga is inclusive, being easy to pick up regardless of your age, shape or size. So expect to meet a cross-section of people, from serious gym-goers looking to gain an edge to those simply interested in learning a new form of self defence.

How do I become teacher’s pet?

Make sure you listen carefully and be prepared to be put down on the mat; trust us, the soreness will be worth it once you learn how to turn the tables.


Thomas Hobbs is a freelance journalist who writes about pop culture for places such as the Guardian, VICE, Pitchfork, The i, Time Out London, Dazed and Little White Lies. His favourite London hobbies include chilling in the rose garden at Greenwich Park, paying too much for gourmet fried chicken and digging in the crates at Soho’s many record shops.

More articles by Thomas Hobbs

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