Krav Maga Ground Defense
By Moshe Katz
CEO
Israeli Krav International


October 15, 2018, Israel


Moshe teaching IKI ground defense to instructors in Rome, Italy.


The following blog is sparked by a recent attack in Israel. Its point, like all my blogs, is to share my thoughts and perhaps enlighten others. It is not meant to disparage any other systems in any way or to offend practitioners of any particular styles. 

My goal is to save lives, if by doing so I ruffle a few feathers now and then... Well you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. My intention is not to offend but to enlighten. Take it from there. 

I offer my perspective on what works and what is unlikely to work and I invite readers to respond and comment.


This is a difficult topic. Ground Defense. There are many styles devoted nearly exclusively to ground defense, or ground fighting. Naturally people will feel that such styles are the Gold Standard of ground defense and perhaps they should supplement their self defense training with some training in these ground oriented styles. 

I disagree, to an extent. 

While these styles do teach some important concepts, and they do teach you how to move on the ground, they also orient you to a "sports" or "winning" mentality. They teach you to fight, to win, rather than to defend. There is a huge difference.

They will of course deny this and insist that it is real self defense. I fail to see this in their techniques. 

I find that people who have a background in these styles, if they have an open mind, can take our IKI techniques and do them quite easily. Again, this is predicated on the assumption that they have an open mind. 

The IKI ground defense use the exact same principles at the IKI defenses in a car, in a bar, standing, on a plane, in the rain.

These are:

We are not fighting, we are trying to survive.

The techniques must be very simple, easy to learn, easy to apply in many diverse situations, easy to remember.

The techniques must use gross motor moves. 

The defense must be instinctive.

Now let's take it to the ground. 

I see many techniques on the ground that are labeled as self defense. They never fail to disappoint me. They still involve using skill, balance, precision. These highly trained instructors, working with disciplined long term students who are committed to their training, fail to understand that not only are these methods inappropriate for the average person and the general public, but even for their gifted athletic students these techniques will likely get you killed.

Yes, that is what I am saying, they are likely to get you killed.

Someone very near and dear to me was in such a situation just recently and he was nearly....We are thankful he is alive.

Judging from the cuts on the face and body, and understanding the course of the brief fight, barely three seconds duration, it is clear to me that any attempt at grabbing the person, holding his elbow this way while guiding his hand that way etc...will get you cut very quickly and very badly. Most people will not survive such an attack. 

The human body moves very unpredictably in these intense violent situations.  When the attacker has a knife and you are attempting to grab him, move him, use your legs to control him or anything at all along these lines, you are being cut all the while! There is simply no time for anything along the lines of what is being paraded as "self defense". 

I hope you understand what I am saying, I have seen videos of ground "self defense" where they are just renaming sports techniques but I fail to see the difference. I see moves that require skill and fitness, precision and power. We have no use for such methods. 

I have taught many experienced jujitsu players and all have agreed that what we teach is far easier to implement and far safer. 

In addition to keeping everything simple, using only gross motor movements and using instinctive individualized movements, we keep the following in mind:

  • The person may very well have a weapon.
  • The person may be high on drugs.
  • The person may have friends with him. A ground fight will mean that you will be kicked and stomped by several large men. 

Looking to grab his elbow, hook his arm or whatever...please, I have no words. I have seen the faces of those who were in such fights, I have seen the cuts. I have no time to play this game. It is time to get real. 

I want to add. We all want to make a living, and for many of us martial arts is not only a passion but also our livelihood. This does not justify compromising people's safety for the sake of commercial success. 

My forte is self defense. This is all I do. I will not attempt to teach Olympic sports, or sporting martial arts. I will not branch out to "Krav Maga Driving", Fitness, or anything else. A "former" student of mine called me long distance last night. He trained with me for many years as a child. Today he is a grown man with several college degrees and other certifications. He called to tell me that in all his years I am the only teacher who really taught him. He characterized my approach as teaching honestly, commitment, integrity and focus. This was many years ago when I taught children, long before IKI was born, long before international travels. 

It makes no difference to me, the kids in the neighborhood, international experts in law enforcement. I treat everyone the same and stick to the same values. 

I stick to what I know. I am not a champion athlete, I am not a fitness expert, I am not a boxing champion, I am not a war hero. But I do know a thing or two about real world self defense. 

I think of a young man lying in the hospital, with deep cuts on his face, and I think about ground defense, we must keep in real. 


The Israeli military approach is not what you think it is, and it is certainly not what is paraded around the world as "IDF Krav Maga". Please do not be fooled by commercial hacks. Buyer beware.

I have had the privilege of the input of several high ranking IDF experts over the past few days. I have heard how they train and analyze situations. With knife attacks the key is to create distance, no one is ever taught knife disarms. Team work, use of weapons, gross motor moves; these are the key. 

You will not see anyone teaching complex moves, you will not see anyone teaching anything that takes time to remember, these are not practical and of little value in real life situations. We deal with terrorism on a daily basis, we know. 

At IKI we take these lessons, this is what you will be getting from us, this is what you deserve, nothing less. 


Related Blogs


The Danger of Sports Martial Arts Training

One Stop Shop

Krav Maga and Jujitsu Again

Krav Maga Ground Fighting


Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.