Krav Maga Training and Self Defence Classes in South London

What we do


Urban Fit & Fearless™offers self-defence (urban krav maga) classes and training in South London.

Thanks to our unique blend of conditioning and combatives, we're one of the top self-defence programmes in the capital.

With us, you'll get action-packed Krav Maga sessions where short, intense workouts alternate with simple self-defence drills.


Self-defence against knife attacks: a full review

We'll all agree that in order to adopt realistic methods of defence against knife attacks, we first need to understand how an attacker is most likely to use the weapon.

But how do we get that understanding?

The truth is, we mostly rely on other people (the 'experts') to give us the answers.

The problem is that the Martial Arts / Self-Defence industry is plagued by misconceptions and fallacies.


Knife Attacks and Self-Defence


That's why I decided to do a research. I wanted to understand the dynamics of real knife attacks and I wanted it to be based on evidence.

Luckily, in recent years CCTV and phone footages have provided us with abundance of real-life examples we can learn from.

Data were readily available for anyone who was willing to carry out the (tedious) analysis.

And today I'm going to share with you the results of my investigation where some interesting findings were uncovered.

This article is structured in three parts:
  • Part 1 presents the keys points of the analysis of 150+ knife attacks (video material)
  • Part 2 addresses commonly-debated issues such as awareness, avoidance ("running away"), compliance, the use of weapons (incl. improvised weapons) in the context of knife attacks
  • Part 3 covers empty-hand techniques in view of what's discussed in the first two sections
This a substantial article which took months of painstaking and meticulous work, so I hope you'll enjoy reading it .

1 in 3 Expert Martial artists are out-of-touch with the reality of interpersonal violence


Some times ago, I conducted an informal survey on a number of Martial Arts online forums and pages; I asked a simple question: "If you had only one self-defence technique to teach, which one would it be?"


 If you had only one self-defence technique to teach which one would would it be?

What is Krav Maga

Krav Maga is a self-defence system developed by the Israeli army. In Hebrew, it literally means "contact combat".

Although it integrates elements from a number of combat sports and martial arts such as boxing, judo, wrestling, jujitsu, Krav Maga is not a sport but a simple and effective fighting system designed for self-protection.

Krav Maga was developed in an environment that showed no mercy so it emphasises taking the aggressor down as quickly as possible and escaping safely.

There are no rules and no limitations.

It relies on instinctive movements, practical techniques, and realistic training scenarios which makes it one of the best self-defence system in the world.

All military and police offices in Israel are trained in Krav Maga. Its simplicity and functionality led a number of military and law enforcement units around the world to use Krav Maga (or a variation) as their main close-quarter hand combat method.

In the USA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Marine Corps (USMC), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), among others have all integrated Krav Maga as part of their training. Krav Maga is now practiced in over 30 countries around the world.

The Krav Maga symbol consists of the Hebrew letters K and M surrounded by an open circle because the system is open to improvement by adding techniques, exercises, and training methods.


THE PRINCIPLES OF KRAV MAGA


With its focus on real-world situations, Krav Maga philosophy rests on the pragmatic approach of “this is the problem – what is the solution?".

It emphasises brutal counter-attacks based on simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers with continuous motion ("Retzev") in order to stop the assault and neutralize the threat as quickly as possible.

The premise of Krav Maga is that:
  1. you can only rely on yourself if attacked
  2. there will be multiple aggressors
  3. they will be bigger and stronger than you
  4. there are no rules in a street fight (aggressors are not following some sportsman’s code of chivalry, they're trying to hurt, maim, or possibly kill you).

This leads to a number of principles:

1- Avoid confrontation or finish the fight as quickly as possible


The safest option is always to avoid violence but if not possible, you need to neutralise the threat as quickly as possible.

This overarching goal governs all the other principles of Krav Maga.

The longer a fight goes on, the more likely you're going to get hurt so it's important to counter-attack as soon as possible (or even attack pre-emptively) in order to turn the tables quickly, disengage and get back home unharmed.


2- Understand your surroundings and the psychology of a street confrontation


Situational awareness along with a good understanding of the dynamics of a street confrontation can go a long way in keeping you safe because it allows you to identify potential threats before an attack occurs.

Good awareness of your surroundings while dealing with the threat will help you to localise escape routes, to spot further attackers, or weapons of opportunity.


3- Techniques should be kept as simple as possible and rely on the body's natural reflexes


Your fine motor skills degrade when you're experiencing an excessive level of stress. This can lead to the "freeze" reaction which is part of the "fight, flight or freeze" response.

To avoid technical block, motor skills deficiency and "freeze" responses, defences should rely on the body’s natural reflexes. Similarly, to ensure maximum effectiveness and efficiency, techniques should make sense from a bio-mechanical point of view.

Krav Maga was designed so that it could be put to use as soon as possible and regardless of size, gender, body type and physical condition. It was developed in an environment where the Israeli military could not devote many hours to hand-to-hand combat training for their personnel.


4- Use the body’s natural weapons as well as ordinary objects


Your body comes with a number of weapons you should know how to use: the fists, obviously, but also the elbows, the knees, and the feet. Any improvised weapon such as a belt or a bottle can also tip the scales in your favour.


5- Exploit the human body’s most vulnerable spots


You should never try to match an aggressor strength ("they will be bigger and stronger than you"). Instead target their weaknesses and focus on the body's most vulnerable points, particularly soft tissues, such as the eyes, the throat, the face, the groin, etc. Many counterattacks involve eye gouging, groin attacks, and strikes to the throat.


6- A good defensive action doesn't go without an offensive motion


That's the principle of simultaneous defense and attack which goes hand in hand with the principle of continuous motion ("Retzev").

Your goal is to disrupt the attack and simultaneously counterattack to surprise your aggressor. "Retzev" is a continuous series of aggressive defensive and offensive movements with sustained forward pressure which aims at overwhelming the attacker.


THE HISTORY OF KRAV MAGA


The origins of Krav Maga can be traced to pre-World War II Eastern Europe. The system’s creator, Imi Lichtenfeld, was born in 1910 and raised in Bratislava (Slovakia). He was a renowned boxer, wrestlers and gymnast, winning several national and international championships in the late 1920ies.


The origins of Krav Maga


In the mid-1930s, fascist and anti-semitic groups began to harass and assault the Jews of Bratislava. Lichtenfeld organized a group of boxers and wrestlers who took to the streets to defend their community against the growing numbers of nazi thugs.

Imi quickly learned, however, that the aggressive and brutal nature of street fighting was quite different from competitive combat sports. It required a different mindset and different techniques.

This re-evaluation of his ideas about violence led him to put more emphasis on quick threat neutralisation. It also led him to develop the skills and techniques that would become the foundations of Krav Maga.


World War 2


Like many Jews fleeing the Nazi persecution across Europe, Lichtenfeld decided to leave in 1940. The ship he boarded was supposed to take him to Palestine which he had visited in 1935, but the derelict vessel sank in the southeastern Aegean Sea.

Imi was eventually picked up by a British ship on its way to Egypt where he joined the Czech legion which was under British command. He was engaged in military operations primarily in Libya.

Lichtenfel eventually reached Palestine in 1942 where he was recruited by the head of the Haganah; a paramilitary organization that had been set up to defend the Jewish settlements. This organization later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).


The Israel Defense Forces (IDF)


In 1944, Imi began training Haganah soldiers, including elite units, in various fields such as physical fitness, swimming, wrestling and hand-to-hand combat.

This training was called Kapap (an acronym for Krav Panim L’panim "face-to-face combat"). Ultimately, the fighting style would be renamed Krav Maga.

When the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were formed following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, Imi became chief instructor at the IDF School of Combat Fitness. There, for 15 years, he developed and refined his hand-to-hand combat system.

After he finished his active duty in 1963, Imi began adapting and modifying Krav Maga to police forces and civilian needs.


The Israeli Krav Maga Association (IKMA or KAMI)


The first Krav Maga course for civilian took place at the Wingate Institute in Netanya, Israel, in 1971, under the direct supervision of Imi Lichtenfeld.

Among some of the first students to receive a black belt in the civilian curriculum were: Haim Gidon, Eli Avikzar, Eyal Yanilov, Richard Douieb (France), Raphy Elgrissy, Haim Zut, Kobi Lichtenstein, Yaron Lichtenstein, Miki Assulin (GB).

In 1978 the "Federation for Krav Maga and Self Defense" was created with the assistance of Imi's top students: Barak Yehoshua (Head of the Professional Committee), Tsvi Morik (Secretary), Haim Zut, Eli Avikzar, Rafi Algrisi, Haim Gidon, and Oskar Klein.

Eli Avikzar was elected to the head of rank committee and Colonel David Ben Asher was elected to the Executive Director.

The name of the organization was changed to "Israeli Krav Maga Association" (IKMA or KAMI) in 1980.

Under Imi, components from several traditional martial arts were incorporated into Krav Maga training: Judo in 1965, and later in the 1970s, Aikido under the influence of Eli Avikzar, and groundwork by Haim Gidon.

Avikzar received his Aikido brown belt in France in the early 1970s and a black belt from the European Federation in 1977.

In 1976, Eli Avikzar joined the IDF as head of the Krav Maga section. He continued to develop Krav Maga within the IDF until his retirement in 1987. Boaz Aviram, who succeeded him, became the third person to hold the position. He was the last IDF head instructor to have studied directly with Imi Lichtenfeld.

Imi and his senior instructors worked together to improve Krav Maga by incorporating techniques from other martial arts and combat sports, counter-defences and modified weapons defences (particularly knife defence techniques).


Beyond the borders of Israel


In 1981, a group of senior instructors traveled to the USA to demonstrate their system. The first Krav Maga training seminar outside Israel was directed by Eyal Yanilov.

With the emergence of the second generation of instructors came internal conflicts over the management of the organization and differences in opinion over the efficacy of techniques. This led to the creation of a number of splinter organizations all claiming to teach the true Krav Maga!

In 1994 Haim Gidon was elected as IKMA president.

With the development of Krav Maga on the international scene, arose the need for an international organization. In 1995 the International Krav Maga Federation was founded by a number of Imi's students such as Avi Moyal (the actual IKMF chairman), Eyal Yanilov and Gabi Noah.

Imi Lichtenfeld died in Netanya, Israel, on January 9, 1998 at the age of 87.


KRAV MAGA ORGANIZATIONS


Until the 1980ies, the organisation of Krav Maga was quite simple. The IKMA, presided by Imi Lichtenfeld, was the governing body.

When the system started to spread outside Israel and dissensions within IKMA grew bigger, numerous organisations, affiliated or not to the IKMA, appeared.

Many of Imi's students started their Krav Maga schools and in many cases created their own organizations.

Like any other form of martial arts, the original system has now been subject to change, modernisation and in some cases bastardisation.

Here are the main Krav Maga organisations: