When An Instinctive, Aggressive Reaction Is Required

When in danger, your brain and body respond reflexively. Therefore, your self-defense reaction must be both instantaneously reflexive and instinctive. If you are in a fight and an attacker makes an unanticipated or unrecognized action, the brain cannot find a practiced response resulting in decision paralysis. By training to respond, you will call upon your instincts and reflexes when attacked. With proper training, you will learn to conquer your fear and to control the energy and power from your body’s fight-or-flight response. Realistic training is designed to eliminate the third human reaction, a freeze response. You will learn not to freeze under pressure. While it is unusual to be in a situation where you must fight for your life, it does happen. You must be prepared. 

Krav Maga harnesses your natural abilities for you to (re)act optimally with little cognitive interference. With practice, you will be able to explode into action. Your attacker will literally not know what hit him—repeatedly. Only serious, hard, and appropriate training can trigger this fighting response. If push comes to shove, literally and figuratively, Krav Maga is designed to handle any type or number of assaults. For a kravist, there are no set solutions for ending a fight. A kravist may have different physical strengths and capabilities. He may have a strong kick or hand strike capabilities; or strong infighting; or throwing skills; or takedowns, etc. This book will provide you some of the simplest and effective defensive and counterattack measures.

There are no rules in street defense. This essential tenet distinguishes self-defense from sport fighting. In a scripted sport fight the following nonexclusive tactics are generally banned: eye gouge; throat strikes; headbutting; biting; hair-pulling; clawing, pinching, or twisting of the flesh; striking the spine and the back of the head; striking with the tip of the elbow; small joint manipulation; kidney and liver strikes, clavicle strikes; kneeing or kicking the head of an attacker on the ground; and slamming an attacker to the ground on the attacker’s head. These are exactly the combined core tactics Krav Maga emphasizes. 

If you must fight, identify the opportune moment to attack the attacker with a continuous overwhelming counterattack using retzev or “continuous combat motion.” Combined with simultaneous defense and attack or near simultaneous defense and attack, retzev is aseamless, decisive, and overpowering counterattack forming the backbone of the Israeli fighting system. Retzev may be understood using combined upper- and lower-body combatives, locks, chokes, throws, takedowns, and weapons interchangeably and without pause. 

Exert maximum speed and aggression. Your goal is not to definitively win a fight, but, rather, to escape. Never forget that the level of force you use to defend yourself should be commensurate with the threat. Once the threat is no more, you must cease counteroffensive actions. The krav maga system is designed to conform to you. You do not need to conform to the system or adopt any rigid, set solutions. To be sure, there are preferred counterattack methods using retzev to prevail, but you must react instinctively to the best of your ability. 

Emphasis on a Few Core Tactics

Krav Maga emphasizes learning a few elementary core tactics that can be performed instinctively and adapted to myriad situations. If necessary, you will know how to maim an attacker by striking vital points and organs or applying choking or breaking pressure to an attacker’s joints. The goal is to embed your subconscious with the proverbial “(I have) been there, done that (through a training scenario).” Therefore, your autonomic response is, indeed, “I’ve been there, done that.”

Optimally, the potential confrontation is over before it can begin. You have neutralized the threat at its inception. Most importantly, you should have confidence in your Krav Maga training because all techniques are battle-tested and field-proven. Do not, however, mistake your training for a real attack. In an actual attack you’ll experience an adrenaline surge, a likely decrease in your fine motor skills, your heart rate will skyrocket, your hearing will diminish (“auditory exclusion”), and your vision will narrow (often known as “tunnel vision”). Notably, most people who have survived violent confrontations had a mental commitment to prevail. They do not often attribute their survival to a specific technique. 

Kinesic Indicators of Possible Violence

Successfully reading hostile body language can allow you to recognize a violent decision before the aggressor physically initiates it. Gross motor movements often red flag someone who is adrenalized and about to explode. 

These movements may include a combination of the following nonexclusive twelve common tells or collective kinesic markers for you to anticipate an attacker’s first salvo:

  1. Fidgeting, shaking of one’s limbs, muscle tremors, or clenching one’s hands and teeth
  2. Sweating, increased respiration or blinking excessively
  3. A forward lean 
  4. Moving onto the balls of the feet in preparation to attack
  5. Coiling a shoulder or blading the body
  6. Stiffening the neck
  7. Puckering the lips or sneering
  8. A change in breathing (fast-paced or measured)
  9. Puffing up (as the chest expands to intake as much oxygen as possible), becoming loud to intimidate, and turning red in the face and neck (vasodilations as blood fills the capillaries)
  10. Becoming pale (vasoconstriction occurs as blood rushes from the skin surface to the internal organs) indicating an advanced stage of fear or girding oneself against an attack and is one of the surest indicators someone is preparing for violence
  11. Pupillary constriction toward something considered a threat or challenge along with momentary pupillary dilation indicating the very moment a person is ready to act
  12. Disrobing to free the arms (and legs)


With proper intense training, you will learn effective physical tactics while mentally adjusting to a harsh, violent reality. When training, practice the select Krav Maga methods in the upcoming chapters under extreme simulated pressure. Train in the most realistic setting possible to develop the mental preparedness you need to react in life-threatening situations. As you repeat techniques and situations at real speed (with safety in mind), you’ll develop your fighting prowess. To reemphasize, your krav maga techniques will become your automatic reflex whenever you find yourself in danger.

To adopt and streamline the Krav Maga method, personalize the techniques and make them your own. Choose the ballistic strikes and other combatives with which you feel most comfortable with and that give you the greatest confidence. Put just as much emphasis on mental training as you do the physical through visualization and scenario planning. You can also use your mind to train your body to automatically and instinctively react to danger. Visualization and scenario planning can boost your confidence, reduce fear, improve your fighting technique, and help you cope with unanticipated hostile situations because you will have envisioned them beforehand. 

By visualizing a new experience, you deposit a new conditioned response into your memory bank. We perform routine tasks such as covering your mouth when you sneeze because these tasks are just that, routine. They become routine by repetition. By visualizing possible situations and your reactions to them over and over again, your brain immediately recalls your reaction whenever you physically find yourself in such a situation, and you react accordingly. 

Your brain does not distinguish between the actual tasks you physically perform and the ones you imagine or visualize. If you’re unsure about this, think about watching an unsuspecting violent real-life encounter on the Internet and how you may cringe or blink in disbelief. Similarly, have you ever felt your heart beating or palms sweating while watching a realistic suspense thriller? Notably, athletes are thoroughly versed with the powers of visualization and have used it with great success.