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What Is Krav Maga?

In Krav Maga, there are no hard-and-fast rules, and no distinction in training for men and women. It is not a sport, and there are no specific uniforms, attire or competitions. All the techniques focus on maximum efficiency in real-life conditions.
Krav Maga generally assumes a no quarter situation; the attacks and defenses are intended for potentially lethal threat situations, and aim to neutralize these and escape via maximum pain or damage to opponents, as rapidly and safely as possible.
Crippling attacks to vulnerable body parts, including groin and eye strikes, headbutts, and other efficient and potentially brutal attacks, improvised use of any objects available, and maximizing personal safety in a fight, are emphasized.

The guiding principles for those performing Krav Maga techniques are:

Neutralize the threat
Avoid injury
Go from defending to attacking as quickly as possible
Use the body's natural reflexes
Strike at any vulnerable point
Use any tool or object nearby

According to a description written for the self-publication media site Associated Content, the basic premises of Krav Maga are:

You're not going to care how much damage you're going to cause.
Cause as much damage as possible and run.
Do not try and prolong a fight. Do what needs to be done and escape.

The basic idea is to first deal with the immediate threat (being choked, for example), prevent the attacker from re-attacking, and then neutralize the attacker, proceeding through all steps in a methodical manner, despite the rush of adrenaline that occurs in such an attack. The emphasis is put on taking the initiative from the attacker as soon as possible.

Although Krav Maga shares many techniques with other martial arts, such as karate, boxing, savate, muay thai, jujutsu, judo, kobudo and wrestling, the training is often quite different. It stresses fighting under worst-case conditions or from disadvantaged positions (for example, against several opponents, when protecting someone else, with one arm unusable, when dizzy, or against armed opponents).

Unlike Karate there are no predefined sequences of moves or choreographed styles; instead Krav Maga emphasizes rapid learning and the retzev ("continuous combat motion"), with the sole imperative being effectiveness, for either attack or defensive situations.

Krav maga instructors emphasize two training rules:

(1) there are no rules in a fight
(2) one must not injure oneself or one's partner when training.

Training is an intense mixed aerobic and anaerobic workout, relying heavily on protective pads in order to experience both delivery and defense of strikes at full force. This is important because it allows the student to practice the technique at full strength, and the student holding the pad learns a little of the impact they would feel when they get hit. It can be almost as taxing to hold a pad as to practice against one.

Some schools incorporate "Strike and Fight," which consists of full-contact sparring intended to familiarize the student with the stresses of a violent situation.