Offering a client the opportunity to become a human walking weapon simply through proper training might open up new doors for personal trainers seeking to expand their repertoire. Krav Maga is the avenue to follow.


Krav Maga, translated from Hebrew as “contact-combat”, is a military self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli security forces such as Mossad. It combines techniques from boxing, wrestling, aikido, judo and karate along with realistic fight training. Currently, Krav Maga is the preferred system of combat training employed by U.S. military and law enforcement personnel.

What Is The Secret?

Known for its focus on real-world situations and its extreme efficiency, Krav Maga constitutes one of the best workouts in existence. This method of training is as much an offense system as it is a defense system and can prove to be lifesaving as well.

Krav Maga encourages students to avoid confrontation. If this is impossible or unsafe, the philosophy promotes finishing a fight as quickly and aggressively as possible. Attacks are aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the opponent’s body.

According to XKM Krav Maga Blackbelt head instructor and Xtreme Krav Maga St. Louis owner Steve Sulze, “Krav Maga gives students the tools they need to win in a potentially deadly encounter and gives them the confidence to act appropriately when necessary.” Thus, it has been said that a well-trained practitioner of Krav Maga is basically a walking human weapon.

Movement And Awareness

Retzev, the Hebrew word for “continuous motion”, relates to the principles of simultaneous defense and attack. When employed within Krav Maga, retzev becomes an instinctual method of movement. This enables the well-trained student to react to any type of threat without hesitation.

Self-Defense and Self-Confidence?

Like most exercise, Krav Maga builds self-confidence and a sense of self-worth. A question often posed is exactly how does training that simulates being continuously attacked boost one’s self-confidence? According to Patrick Lockton, Director of KMI (Krav Maga Institute NYC), “The training changes people’s psychological patterns and opinions of themselves, others, and life in general…Strange things happen when you realize you are capable of a lot more than you thought.”

The discipline of Krav Maga has been likened to a doorway leading to a new aspect of self-discovery; one that offers the realization that we can accomplish anything in life. “The KMI mindset helps people start believing in themselves, and this can make a huge difference in someone’s life,” Lockton continues. “Students can easily translate their success in training to success in their lives.”

Non-Violent Real World Applications

I often train clients in a manner I call “functional exercise”, strengthening the muscles required to perform activities of daily life more comfortably and easily. As Lockton stated above, success in the gym often leads to positive attitudes and accomplishments outside of the fitness arena. Whether this is accomplished through bodybuilding, aquatic classes or extreme self-defense moves, the common goal is what a personal trainer strives for with each and every client.

Krav Maga’s fitness programs rely upon cardio classes, heavy bag work, and sports conditioning techniques in order to burn fat and tone muscle. Every class begins with a warm-up, followed by power drills, and exercises that combine cardio and strength training at intense intervals.

If this sounds familiar to you, it is most likely because while the moves themselves may be unique and different, the premise of the session is fairly typical. As the participant is learning life-saving techniques, he is simultaneously conditioning the body to execute these techniques more effectively.

Krav Maga and Personal Training

Incorporating aspects of Krav Maga into personal training sessions is not as difficult as one may think. Just like any new class or exercise, there will be a learning curve as one embarks on this sort of practice. Proper form is key, so introduce these moves slowly. We all have witnessed the benefits of interval training; Krav Maga moves are no exception. Bouts of powerful punching, blocking and kicking are followed by periods of rest. To prepare for such workouts, encourage participants to hydrate well and take in the proper nutritional fuel well in advance of training sessions.

Since Krav Maga is basically a functional workout, taxing the entire body in new ways, it is a good idea to remind clients and participants that they can expect a significant amount of muscle soreness following the first few workouts. Reassure them that this is completely normal, and encourage them to take a few days to recover before the next Krav Maga session.

Some of the moves to incorporate rely solely upon body weight. Challenge a client to learn a 1-arm burpee, a scorpion push-up, and side mountain-climbers. Once his confidence in executing these moves is sufficient, create a protocol whereby the client sees how many of each move he can perform in a 45-second time period. Follow this with a brief rest interval; then move on to 45 seconds of another exercise.

Krav Maga Certification – Yes or No?

Is it necessary to obtain a special certification in order to teach Krav Maga to clients and students? There are several organizations that offer formal certification training, but these tend to be for individuals seeking more of a military-based approach, or those who wish to become professional Krav Maga military instructors. For our purposes as personal trainers, simply creating a workout based upon the principles set forth in Krav Maga most likely will not require any further professional credentials than what most certified trainers already hold.

Clearly, Krav Maga is not going to suit all of your clients. However, for those who demonstrate a strong desire to amp up their current routines in a novel manner, offer them the chance to become the most powerful warrior possible!

Check out this article on innovative training techniques: Transform Your Workout with Landmine Exercises

[info type=”facebook”]Have you trained clients in strength combined with self-defense? If you’re an NFPT trainer, join the Facebook Community Group to chat with other trainers. If you’re not, come talk with NFPT here, we would like to meet you![/info]
























Cathleen Kronemer

Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at She welcomes your feedback and your comments!