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Krav Maga (Hebrew קרב מגע: "close combat") is a self-defense and military hand-to-hand combat system developed in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 1930s by Imi Lichtenfeld. He first taught his fighting system in Bratislava in order to help protect the Jewish community from Nazi militias. It came to prominence following its adoption by various Israeli Security Forces and is now used by military and law enforcement personnel, as well as civilians, around the world.
The Krav Maga taught in civilian self defence classes is more often a simplified version that emphasizes personal self-defense and excludes numerous 'more lethal' techniques taught to the military and holds and come-alongs taught to police forces. This is due to legal proscriptions in some countries which govern and constrain the teaching of hazardous or life-threatening techniques to civilians.
In Krav Maga, there are no hard-and-fast rules. It is not a sport, and there are no 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 to inflict the most pain possible on the opponent in the least amount of time. Groin strikes, headbutts, and other efficient and potentially brutal attacks are emphasized.
Although Krav Maga shares many techniques with other martial arts, such as boxing, savate and muay thai (for the punches, kicks, elbows, and knees) or jujutsu, judo and wrestling (for the grappling and disarming techniques), 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).
A typical Krav Maga session in a civilian school is about an hour long and mixes conditioning with self-defense teaching. As levels increase, the instructors focus a little more on complicated and less common types of attacks, such as knife attacks, hostage situations and defense under extreme duress.
Training in Krav Maga is a mixed aerobic and anaerobic workout, and relies heavily on pads. Students take turns holding pads and doing combatives against the pads. 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'd feel when they get hit. Some schools incorporate "Strike and Fight," which consists of full-contact sparring intended to familiarize the student with the stresses of a violent situation.
Training may employ a speaker system blasting loud music, stroboscope and/or fog machine, meant to train the student to ignore peripheral distractions and focus on causing as much damage as possible. Training might also contain ways to deal with situations which could end in fights. Physical and verbal methods to avoid violence whenever possible are taught.
Krav Maga is taught to all ages and abilities, at community centers, schools, and clubs throughout the world.
Krav Maga is the official system of hand-to-hand combat and self-defense employed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Security Forces, the Israeli Police and Military Police and its Special Operations and Anti-Terrorist Units. The IDF including their Special Forces Units, Israeli Police, and Internal Security Branches currently uses this style on a day-to-day basis.
Krav Maga is taught to Sky Marshals, commercial airline crews. It is also taught in Australia, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, Ireland, Croatia, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Poland, Japan, Thailand, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Denmark, New Zealand and India.
In the United States, personnel from various Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies and military units around the world have received training in Krav Maga, including the FBI, AFOSI Anti-terrorism Specialty Team, United States Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration Arrest and Control Unit, U.S. Treasury Department, Immigration and Naturalization Service, State Department, CIA, several divisions of the United States Coast Guard, and police and sheriff's offices in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Texas, Alabama, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland. In addition to the Special Operations Forces of Israel (e.g. Sayeret Matkal, YAMAM, etc.), several special units from other countries have adopted this system for their hand-to-hand combat. These units include GIGN, FBI HRT, and SWAT, among others.
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