4 Krav Maga Techniques for a Home-Based Self-Defense Workout


Get Fit and Stay Safe With an Empowering Krav Maga Workout

Jarrett Arthur

Self-defense and safety expert Jarrett Arthur, one of the highest-ranking female black belt instructors in Krav Maga, shares her essential moves to live life safer while working up a sweat.

Your personal safety, and the safety of your family, is incredibly important. While you probably agree with this sentiment, chances are you haven't sought out self-defense training. Americans spend a lot of time each year participating in basic safety practices, from wearing seat belts to locking doors, but few actually take the time to learn how to physically defend themselves.

Lack of time, and even the fear of addressing scary circumstances, are reasons for this oversight, but being proactive about learning effective self-defense skills doesn't mean making a 10-year commitment to pursue a Black Belt. Practical training can be acquired easily and in a relatively short amount of time.

If you're unfamiliar with Krav Maga, it's the official self-defense system of the Israeli Army (IDF). The system has roots in the late 19th century and took its current form in the 1940s. The moves were designed specifically to be easy to learn, easy to execute, and easy to retain. It's considered a tactical system as well as a martial art, and it's widely recognized as one of the most effective systems of self-defense in the world.

Krav Maga techniques are meant to work regardless of the defender’s size, strength, gender, athletic ability, or fitness level. The moves, based on natural instincts and responses, are enhanced with repetition, ultimately ingrained into muscle memory. These moves have been proven effective in some of the most high-stress environments, such as combat, and one fantastic side effect from the training is that it’s a one-of-a-kind total body workout!

As with most self-defense training, it's best to practice Krav Maga techniques in a group class under the tutelage of a certified instructor, but you can get started on the basics trying this beginner-level Krav Maga workout at home. The moves are designed to give you a few basic tools to escape an attacker, while also raising your heart rate to make you break a sweat. Get comfortable with each move before practicing them as a workout. Once you feel solid on each technique, perform them all in order for two to three minutes. When you finish the first round, rest for about a minute, then repeat the entire sequence as a circuit workout another two to four times, depending on your fatigue level.


Exercise 1: Fighting Stance and Movement

Jarrett Arthur

This “home-base” stance provides balance and a solid platform on which to deliver powerful strikes.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. If you're right-handed, take a natural step forward with your left leg (opposite if you’re left-handed). Your feet should be nice and wide from front to back, and left to right. Keep your toes pointing forward. Bend your knees and lift your back heel off of the ground slightly. Raise your hands in front of your face with your elbows in. Tuck your chin and shrug your shoulders slightly in a “turtled” posture. This is your fighting stance.

When you move in this position, always make sure your feet don’t cross and don’t come together. They should remain nice and wide from left to right and front to back no matter where you are or how quickly you move.

To move forward, push off with your back foot and step with your front foot first, followed by a small step with the back foot to return to the fighting stance. Repeat to move backwards stepping with the back foot first. Move left now, stepping with the left foot first. Finish by stepping right, moving the right foot first, but always returning to a nice balanced stance.


Knee Strike

Jarrett Arthur

This close-range strike is delivered by making contact with the front of the knee to the groin of an assailant.

Start in your fighting stance and deliver the knee strike with your rear leg (right leg if you’re right-handed). Drive off the ground with your back foot, bending your leg completely and tucking your heel towards your butt as you drive your knee strike up and forward in a straight line. The power comes from driving your hips forward after the knee strike is initiated. Immediately recoil your leg and foot, returning to the fighting stance.


Palm Heel Strike

Jarrett Arthur

This medium-range strike is delivered by making contact with the heel of your palm (the bottom part closest to your wrist) to the nose of an assailant.

From your fighting stance with your hands up, send your “jab” (use your left hand if you’re right-handed) forward in one straight line away from your face. Keep your non-punching hand close to your face and in front of it for protection. Rotate the same-side shoulder and hip to generate power. As soon as you push your hand out, quickly snap it back to your face (this is called a recoil). Repeat with your “cross” (use your right hand if you’re right-handed), rotating your shoulder and hip forward again to generate power, and recoiling immediately. These strikes should be explosive to generate power.

Be careful not to allow your arm to straighten completely when delivering a strike. At full extension you should still have a very small bend at your elbow.


Front Kick

Jarrett Arthur

This long-range strike is delivered by making contact with your shin bone to the assailant’s groin.

Starting in your fighting stance, you’ll deliver this kick with your rear leg (the right leg if you’re right-handed). First, drive your knee up and forward just as you did during the knee strike. Once your knee has reached its peak height, let your lower leg unfold in a whipping motion, keeping your toes pointed. Immediately recoil the leg and foot back behind you and land in your fighting stance.

Be careful not to kick with too much power unless you’re striking a target or pad as it’s easy to hyperextend and injure your knee.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mor G. The Case for the Recognition of Krav-Maga as Part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Israel. Open Journal of Social Sciences. 2019;7:294-303. doi:10.4236/jss.2019.74023 

  2. Goff JE. The Physics of Krav Maga. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press; 2019.

  3. Demorest RA, Koutures C, Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Youth participation and injury risk in martial arts. Pediatrics. 2016;138(6):e20163022. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-3022

Additional Reading

By Laura Williams, MSEd, ASCM-CEP
Laura Williams is a fitness expert and advocate with certifications from the American Council on Exercise and the American College of Sports Medicine.