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Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Training seriously in self defence is not only about the few hours you spend in class every week. If you want to take your training to the next level, there are some simple principles that will help you to train smart. Make them work for you.

FIND A TRAINING PARTNER YOU CAN WORK WITH. This will ideally be someone from your own self defence school where you mutually can benefit from the training and working using the same methodology and principles. Arrange a convenient time and place to meet, maybe alternating between your preferred locations or each other’s homes to balance out the commitment. Try to at least meet weekly - and work on the material you covered in the class that week as well as the basics of Krav Maga.

GET SOME GOOD QUALITY GEAR. You can only punch the couch cushion for so long. Invest in some striking pads, both for hand strikes and kicks. If you want to expand your paraphernalia, have the space and can afford it, some gloves and a punch bag is a good investment. Now you have the auxiliary gear to help you progress.

KEEP CHANGING YOUR TRAINING LOCATION. If you always train in the exact same location, with the same lighting, on the same surface, with the same surroundings – are you going to be as prepared for the real world? Try going outside and doing your practice session. Find a gravel driveway and train. How does gravel change your footwork and movement, due to the loss of traction? How do you react in low light, when it is dark? Do you think more attacks happen in low light than daytime? What about if it is colder or hotter? Life is variable and unpredictable. Your Krav Maga must imitate it.

BUILD YOUR FITNESS AND TEST YOUR SKILLS SIMULTANEOUSLY. In real life, violence and threats can trigger your heart rate to 200 beats per minute in less than a second. Adrenaline pumps through your body and the amygdala limits your neocortex’s cognitive capabilities in order to focus only on survival. You can never fully simulate this situation in training but being fatigued, disoriented and dizzy is getting closer to real life violence trauma. From time to time, test this simulation so your mind is used to it by doing ‘stress drills’ with your partner.

MAKE SURE YOU ATTEND THE REAL CLASS. Then repeat it in your own training two, three or more times a week. The real class is where you progress, where knowledge is provided, where repeated action with corrective guidance is progressing you. If you improve by attending one or two classes, imagine doubling your rate of progress by repeating the training again. This is the secret to Krav Maga success. There are no short cuts. It’s just like life. Hard work pays off.

KEEP A TRAINING JOURNAL OR NOTES. Use a note book. Write down the key checkpoints or components of what you train on. Make the notes just for you, but clear enough that you can revisit them in the future when needed. What was the sequence of that combination or defence? The notes should be able to answer that for you, long after the class itself. This is also now your at-home training journal until the next class.

EAT CLEAN AND STAY HEALTHY. Although Krav Maga is for everyone, there’s no escaping simple physical laws. Stronger, fitter and faster will have an advantage when it comes to movement and speed. You can’t outrun a bad diet, so even if you don’t get paranoid or obsessed about nutrition, it’s worth sticking to good eating habits and educating yourself on how to live and eat in a way that promotes your physical well-being, health and personal safety.

LEARN TO RELAX YOUR BODY AND MIND. Counter-intuitive to facing a violent situation, being able to feel at ease and relaxed is something that will help you when your worst fears come to call. Cool, calm and collected enables your brain to function at its highest level and your muscles will move with greater speed and flexibility. This element should be how you think during training, to remain relaxed and comfortable, with a real focus on it, to enable reenactment, as much as possible, when shock and stress is pushing your body and mind the other way. In the same way as top athletes practice to be ‘in the zone’, you have a Krav Maga ‘zone’ to be in. This is it. Practice it. Then repeat it. Over and over. Then apply it anywhere in life.

USE BIG KRAV MAGA EVENTS AS YOUR MOTIVATIONAL GOALS. As Krav Maga doesn’t have competitions, these should be your personal goals. Do you have a grading coming up? Start preparing 8-12 weeks beforehand with conditioning and training with your partner. Don’t miss classes. Maybe an upcoming event in your home location or abroad is your motivation? Again, by having goals, you not only improve your own skills but enhance your physical well-being, too. You know, that on the big day, you will feel the buzz. How much better when you know you truly earned it by some serious preparation?

STAY IN TOUCH WITH THE EXPERTS. Consult your Krav Maga instructor(s) when you have a quick question, want to clarify something or to get prepped for a grading. Having a community around you will make you stronger. It also helps your instructor(s) to design and develop your training as your feedback can shape teaching as much as it creates the right focus for you.

Source material edited and amended courtesy of

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