Unlike traditional martial arts like karate or kung-fu, which have set techniques and forms, Krav Maga is a self-defense-based system that uses aggressive combinations of strikes, locks, and throws with deadly efficiency.
With the proliferation of online courses and academies shifting to online classes, you could learn the basics of Krav Maga on your own. Still, considering the lethality of many of their techniques, Krav Maga is far safer learned under the tutelage of qualified instructors in controlled environments.
This type of training requires a partner to train with and an understanding of combat strategy and the development of an aggressive combat mindset, so if you need to react and defend yourself, you have the ability – and this makes learning this system on your own more challenging, so let’s explore why this is.
What Is Krav Maga?
This combat system was developed in Israel and is used by their military forces and civilian law enforcement. It is a highly effective and ruthlessly efficient unarmed and armed combat system.
Krav focuses on applying multiple strikes and combinations that will render an attacker severely incapacitated or dead.
With Krav, like other martial arts, this is primarily a defensive system and is used when faced with an armed or unarmed attacker or attackers.
Krav places heavy emphasis on simulated combat training in their classes – i.e., working with an ‘attacker’ at a full pace so that you become proficient with the technique and application.
This combat system doesn’t have the traditional fixed stances and forms as other martial arts have the concept closely resembling Bruce Lee’s core beliefs around Jeet Kune Do.
Still, his system was based on the Wing Chun Kung Fu style he studied under Master Yip Man and then modified to make it more dynamic and fluid.
For many years Krav Maga was solely practiced in Israel. Still, over the last 20 years, it has spread globally and found favor with many people looking for an effective system of unarmed combat that doesn’t require ten years of training or more to become proficient.
The appeal of Krav Maga is not surprising as it is a no-nonsense practical approach to personal combat and is supremely flexible in terms of technique and adaptability, making it an ideal unarmed combat system for law enforcement, military, and special forces as well as civilians.
Krav Maga’s Effectiveness Requires A Training Partner
Krav’s emphasis on effective combat creates the challenge and difficulty of learning a system like this on your own.
With traditional martial arts, you can learn the basic techniques and stances online in virtual classes as these are ’empty-air’ techniques and don’t require a partner.
When applying those techniques like punches or kicks, you can use a bag to do so, but Krav is a combat style, and if you have watched videos on this system, you will see that in almost every scenario, there is an attacker and a defender.
This means that while you could learn the basic techniques on your own, there would be limits on your ability to apply those to a partner without causing injury to them or yourself.
Without supervision and instruction, there is also no way to ensure your technique is executed properly.
Remember that you are learning this system to defend yourself effectively in a life-and-death scenario; this is not to be taken lightly.
Coming away with a false sense of ability or competency could cost you your life, so before you learn this alone or online, you need to give the reality of self-defense some serious thought.
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Self-Defense Is Not Like The Movies
If you have watched any videos on Krav Maga and the techniques they show, you will realize pretty quickly that they take this very seriously. This is because Israel has had to defend itself from countless instances of military aggression against the state and its people.
Because of this, Krav instructors are strict regarding being able to perform and execute techniques effectively.
Under controlled conditions, they can coach students in the proper and efficient execution of counter-attacks and ensure they have a good chance of surviving your encounter.
They do this because they understand that this is life or death; either you win and walk away or die. Period. This is the mindset that Krav instructors will look to impart to their students: either you fight with everything you have or lose.
One of the big issues when learning any martial art or combat system on your own is that you don’t have that personal interaction with experienced combat instructors that can shake you out of your comfort zone and put you under duress and stress to get you used to operate in those conditions.
You will be under stress in a street fight scenario or home invasion; that is where the training kicks in because there is more the surviving an encounter than just kicks and punches.
When in class or under supervision, you learn not to panic and stay focused on your own; this is a very difficult state to achieve or understand successfully.
When your life depends on it, you need to KNOW you can perform under that kind of stress, and learning this on your own will not deliver the level of focus and ability you need to overcome the fear and anxiety that will set in if you are faced with a life-and-death scenario.
This is why it is not advisable to learn Krav Maga on your own, and aside from this aspect, there are other considerations as well, like whether you are doing the technique properly and whether it would be effective in real life.
Even though many online courses propose you can learn this system on your own and postulate their success rates, a school-trained Krav Maga practitioner will always be superior, efficient, and more effective than one that has learned this on their own.
Krav Maga – Weapons And Tactics Are Difficult To Learn On Your Own
Aside from the unarmed techniques, Krav Maga also uses weapons such as knives, sticks, and guns. To this end, working with such weapons should never be undertaken alone and without proper safety and supervision.
Even though they use training knives and guns made of rubber, the realism that instructors introduce to their students makes every scene much more life-like, which is one of this style’s great benefits.
There is no BS here, this is real life, and they demonstrate the consequences of not approaching armed encounters properly. With any weapon in the mix, the level of danger increases exponentially.
This can only be experienced and appreciated in a proper training environment that online classes do not give you.
There are elements and concepts around an armed defense that provide a proven strategy, and this can only truly be mastered where there is a solid level of realistic training involved.
If online training were truly that effective, then Navy Seals and Special Forces would do it – but it’s not. When it comes to life and death, there are no shortcuts.
While you can learn some fundamentals on your own, to think that after a few hours of solo training, you would be proficient and effective in a real-life combat situation would be Hollywood thinking, and you may well get yourself or someone else killed or seriously injured.
Learning Krav Maga On Your Own – Technical Challenges
Learning basics and forms can be done online with traditional martial arts styles, but Krav is a different beast altogether and doesn’t have papers and static techniques.
Krav’s core concepts rely on applying multiple and varied counter-attacks to disable an attacker.
Still, no fighting system should only be learned online as this way of learning does not give you a good opportunity to apply techniques to live opponents to test your technique’s effectiveness with someone who will resist.
Now, while you could learn techniques and do them in ‘free air, as it were, to become proficient and effective in Krav Maga, you will need a partner to practice with, and this is only one of the challenges with a system like this one.
While you may think you are doing them right, you may be in for a bit of a reality check if you are headed to a class after six months of online training.
For a system like Krav Maga, you cannot cultivate the aggressive response mindset you need to be effective when you train independently.
Even if you have a partner to train with, that person will not provide you with a natural resistance against your technique, so while it may work in your garage training room, it may not be as effective against an actual attacker and be ineffective could result in injury, serious harm or death.
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Learning Krav Maga On Your Own Has Proficiency Limits
With any system, there are always subtle nuances in the execution of techniques that allow you to adapt or alter the application as needed in split seconds.
These are difficult to learn on your own, which is why many online Krav Maga classes offer the basics, but not much more.
You should be very cautious about any system that advises you can achieve high proficiency levels through learning online and on your own.
It would be gravely irresponsible for any combat school to profess this as the consequences could be severe, resulting in injury to yourself or others and instilling a dangerously false sense of security and ability.
All Krav Maga instructors have years of good experience, and the techniques they teach are combat proven; this is what makes them so effective, and you need this depth of experience to become competent and confident.
It will be virtually impossible to achieve ‘black belt’ level or the equivalent in any style, let alone Krav Maga, when training on your own, as you will get to a point where you can go no further and would have to find actual classes – but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a few things on your own.
You Can Learn The Basic Krav Maga Techniques On Your Own
Remember that this is your life or the life of loved ones we are talking about here, and that is never to be taken lightly, so what aspects of Krav Maga can you learn on your own?
Starting with the basic techniques like stances, punches, kicks, and some locking, throwing, grappling, or basic self-defense techniques can be learned on your own, and it will give you a good fundamental introduction to this combat system.
Still, until you have done this in a proper environment, you should not consider yourself proficient unless your instructor has had eyes on it and can advise that you are doing the technique correctly- and even then, your efficiency in execution will only be tested against proper partners.
Secondly, you can certainly do the conditioning and fitness exercises, making you stronger and more flexible.
Finding a reputable Krav Maga instructor or school online may take some research and due diligence, but considering this is your life we’re talking about, it will be worth the time spent.
Many good schools will have online training, videos, and fitness programs that can be done with commitment and dedication. This is another challenge when learning Krav Maga on your own- commitment.
When you are enrolled in classes and need to attend them, the likelihood of skipping out or not feeling like it is far less than when you have sole liability to make the time to do your training, you can always make excuses not to train when you’re alone, but less so when you have actual classes and accountability.
To paraphrase Mr. Miyagi, “Either you do Krav Maga ‘yes,’ or you do Krav Maga ‘no.’ Do Krav Maga’ guess so’, get squished like grape.”
This is fundamentally true for any martial art or combat system. Still, it is even more so for Krav Maga as this system only has a single focus: effective, efficient defense against aggressors.
This is best learned under qualified instructors in real training environments.
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Certain elements of Krav Maga can be learned on your own, but only to be used and acknowledged as a starting point where you are unable to attend live classes. But to achieve true proficiency in Krav Maga, this is best done with proper instruction.
Some martial arts or self-defense methods are easier to learn alone than others, but Krav Maga is not one of those.
This is a very serious and viciously effective combat system designed to cause maximum injury with minimum force and is not recommended to study on your own.
The writer of this post is a former instructor in a traditional Korean style and has competed successfully at both the National and International levels.