krav maga combat principles
משה כ"ץ מדריך מוסמך


An Israeli soldier holds an Israeli flag at Birkenau (Auschwitz) concentration camp. A symbol of what we have gone through as a nation.

Israeli soldiers at Auschwitz-Birkenau

IKI Krav Maga is an Israeli art. 

While our source is Israel, our technique are influence by our international experience. IKI Krav Maga is currently taught in over 40 countries worldwide. 

We gain from our encounters with students from all over the world. The interchange of ideas increasing our knowledge beyond what one could gain from training in a single environment. Each country has its own culture of crime and violence, its own unique attacks and strategies. Each nation has its own history which influences the nature of its attacks. IKI takes the Israeli principles of Krav Maga and adapts them to create solutions for violent encounters all over the world. Many police units have adopted our methods.

We learn from every situation. We give to the world and the world gives to us.

But Krav Maga is Israeli. The basis, the foundation, is the experience of the Israeli/Jewish people. A Krav Maga association that is not based out of Israel cannot possibly offer the same way of thinking, the same "On my own body" על גופי  experience. Israel has something unique to offer. It is something we have gained from our youth, our childhood, our adolescence; It is something which is in our blood. It is something we understand and communicate without words. 

Anyone can learn Krav Maga but you must remain connected to the source. The source of Krav Maga is Israel.  

lessons from israeli combat

Below are a series of lessons I have complied, drawn from Israeli military history, living in Israel, and growing up with the never ending war and terrorism. I apply all of these concepts to our style of Krav Maga: IKI Krav Maga. 

1. We are in an ongoing state of war. This is a war for survival, not expansion. All our wars are defensive wars, and are part of one ongoing war. In this ongoing war there are several short term intensive wars. But there is never a state of peace.

2. The constant state of warfare gives us the advantage of regular analysis. We have the ability to evaluate real time all aspects of defense and adjust our strategy accordingly. 

3. We must be completely honest in our self evaluation and in our review of success/failure. There is no room for bravado or false self-praise. Mistakes must be acknowledged. Lessons must be learned.

4. We are operating from a weaker position; smaller territory, smaller population and resources to draw upon, less time to prepare for war, difficult international position; If we succeed, the world immediately pressures us for a ceasefire to prevent further successes on our part.

5. Wars must be kept short, we have little "air" to maintain a long battle. Taking too long means the loss of the state and our independence.

6. We are a small country and we lack strategic depth. In other words, we have little room for retreat or mobility, we cannot absorb many blows. The ability to retreat is limited at best. Thus our slogan is "Kadima" Forward.

7. In order to succeed we must have unity. Unity of the armed forces, unity of our civilian population, unity of our brothers worldwide.

8. We must build a strong deterrent force, our aim must be to prevent a war.

9. A battle, or war, ends when both sides realize they have more to lose than to gain at this point. We must convince the attacker that he has much to lose and little to gain by continuing his attack on us. We must create a situation where the enemy realizes that that the danger of ongoing war outweighs the risks. 

10. Fighting spirit leads to fights - If you fight back hard, even if you do not win today you will take away your opponent's fighting spirit. Sometimes an opponent will attack only to build up his own courage and fighting spirit. You must not allow him to develop his confidence. You must not allow him a gradual increase in confidence. The War of Attrition against Israel had the goal of restoring the fighting spirit of the defeated and routed Arab armies of 1967. It succeeded in this objective which lead directly to the attack on Israel in 1973. 

You must always be aware of your enemies fighting spirit and morale.

11.  We must know as much as possible about our enemies, their abilities and tools, strategies and objectives.

12. You must understand the enemies' Value System. We have to internalize the enemies' value system. We must not superimpose our own value system on the enemy as this will lead to incorrect expectations and incorrect preparation and reaction on our side. We must understand their way of thinking and not assume they use the same process as us.

In 1973 before the Yom Kippur War, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat announced that he was willing to sacrifice a million Egyptian soldiers in order to achieve his goal of restoring lost Egyptian territory. Israeli intelligence dismissed this as rhetoric. After all, it makes no sense, we would never do that! To us each life is a world, each life is a family, every life is sacred.

This was a mistake on the part of the Israelis. Experts later concluded that perhaps we should have given more weight to his words, perhaps we should have respected his value system and taken his words more seriously. We must look at the fight from the other's perspective. 

The Jews in Europe judged the Nazis rhetoric on their own value system and logic. "They will never kill us all, it makes no sense, they need us for the war effort. It is illogical to kill productive workers.

But the Jews did not understand the Nazi Value System, that genocide was more important than the logic of work productivity. Misunderstanding their value system lead to incorrect conclusions and actions. 

Decent hard working people might feel it is "illogical" for a criminal to kill for $10. It makes no sense; why risk jail for only $10? But we are imposing our value system upon their behavior and therefore putting ourselves at risk.

Decent hard working investors might not understand why a multimillionaire will scam them for their hard earned savings. It makes no sense. Not understanding their Value System, not understanding this heartless greed will lead these innocent people to misjudge and trust the wrong people.

We have to view the situation from the perspective of the enemy, not from our own Value System. Do not assume that the enemy is thinking the same way you are; they are not. 

13. Confidence is important. But confidence must be mitigated and controlled by humility. Confidence can lead to arrogance, arrogance leads to failure. Confidence must not lead to disrespecting your enemy.

Never Disrespect your enemy

14. If needed, preemptive strikes must be taken.  If a war must be fought we should be the ones to choose the timing. 

15. In Combat we must achieve an immediate psychological advantage over the enemy. In 1948 this was achieved by young Israel despite not having the army to back it up. Powerful surprise attacks, sometimes using devices that only caused noise, gave us the psychological upper-hand. 

16. There must be quick "Turn around time"; Fights must end quickly. Use overwhelming force and end it fast. Do not get involved in a war of attrition. Fights must end quickly. Use overwhelming force and end it fast.

17.  The defense and the attack must become one. The nature of an attack upon us means that we are initially in a defensive position. This must be turned into an immediate counter attack. Take the battle to the enemy. 

Destroy his Confidence 

18. Our strategy must be to weaken the enemies resolve to fight. We must weaken his ability to fight, we must break his balance, destroy his confidence.

Vital Points

19. We must focus on the enemy's vital points. We do not have time to attack every aspect of the enemy. We must identify the Vital Points and attack those. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War the airfields were not vital points while the rocket launchers were. The Israeli air force did not have the ability to attack all key points on two fronts (Egypt and Syria), it was essential to make a correct choice as to the enemy's most vital points. 

The same is true in hand to hand hand combat. You cannot attack every point on the body, you must identify the vital points and focus on those.

20. Identify real threats. If something or someone is not a real threat, do not devote scarce resources to it. In 1973 Israel attacked Egyptian air fields that were not a real threat . In the process they wasted vital time, missed other opportunities and lost two dear pilots and two valuable combat aircraft.

Future Minded

21. Yesterdays' success is history and is no indication of future success. We must always prepare for the next war while drawing lessons from the previous wars. 

22. Humility - Never underestimate the power or ability of the enemy. 

23. Never exaggerate your own abilities. Never assume that what you achieved in practice can be duplicated in actual combat. 

24. All weapons, techniques, training regimes, strategies, must be constantly evaluated. For example between 1967 and 1973 the Israeli air-force was completely revamped; new aircraft, new bases, new methods of selecting pilots and new methods of training. 

25. Our fighters must establish physical and psychological superiority.   

26. Our soldiers must be ideologues, they must believe in what they are fighting for, or go home. Our soldiers must be Zionists, passionate Jews (or friends who share our cause) who believe in the righteousness of our cause and our our path. 

27. We must accept that "the few against the many" is a give that will not change. 

28.  Our soldiers must know their tools, their weapons, intimately.


29. Our soldiers must be balanced man; social men, aware of their own self-worth, proud of their work and their abilities, brave, independent personalities, willing to take risks. Men of discipline, a team players, human -beings and friends.

Even if there is a contradiction between discipline and initiative taking, the commander must bridge the gap. 

30. Understand that in real combat nothing can be expected to go as planned, as such all of the above must come into play; a superior warrior, an adaptable flexible warrior who can initiate and think on his feet.

Open Mindedness

31. Be open to new information that does not match or suit your current understandings or expectations. Be open to new information that challenges your preconceptions.

In 1970 both Israel and the United States could not conceive that the USSR would participate in the Egyptian - Israeli conflict. Clear intelligence was gathered proving that this was the case. Both nations ignored this information for five months as it did not fit their expectations. Not until Russians planes were flying over Israel did the "Penny drop".  

 All things change. He who does not change is quickly left behind, in combat and in life. 

Aggression without expertise = Suicide

32. "Aggression without expertise is the same as suicide" (General Yaakov "Yak" Nevo). Yes, this contradicts what you will see in many commercial styles of Krav Maga where aggression is touted as the be all and end all of Krav Maga, and is used as their key selling point. One must first learn technique, slowly...Remember, Aggression without technique is the same as suicide.  

33.  Survival is not a given. The danger of being terminated is real and constant. If your survival is important to you, you must never lose sight of this fact.

These are the principles by which we live.

IKI Krav Maga is based on these principles. 

All of the above principles can be applied to Krav Maga. While a war is between nations, and Krav Maga is between individuals, the principles are the same. Our mindset and approach are a direct result of applying these principles. 

I had a friend who had been very fat. She kept a "fat photo" of herself on the refrigerator, she needed a reminder of the reality of the situation she never wished to return to.

We, the Jewish people, have such a photo. I grew up seeing adults' with numbers tattooed on their arms, long before tattoos became popular. I knew what they meant. I grew up hearing stories.

I saw ancient Crusader fortresses and heard stories about how the Crusaders massacred and decimated the Jewish population. I heard and I read.  When we fight, we know what we are fighting for. We never want to go back t the way things used to be. That is not an option.  

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Israel: A Nation of Warriors
By Moshe Katz

Understand the developed of the Krav Maga way of thinking and acting


What makes Krav Maga unique?
What makes Israeli security unique?

Airport security, the best record in the world.
History of Biblical warfare

The mindset of a nation of Warriors

Everyday heroes,

and much more.

(cover by Arie Katz)

$9.99 on Kindle

Israel, A Nation of Warriors on Kindle