I was recently invited to participate in a Krav Maga session by expert Saar Markovitch at his gym X Fighting in Bondi. Krav Maga originated in the Israeli Defense Force, and it is a hybrid martial art building on simple movements and techniques. This style has proven itself to be extremely effective for self-defense, but the physical and mental benefits are also coming to light thanks to modern medicine and neuroscience.
Krav Maga is not limited to the very fit or youthful. It is intended to enhance the body’s natural reactions to a threat, no matter the age, size or shape of the body. The techniques are based on reflexes, instinct and awareness, meaning this style of defense is open to all who wish to learn.
This martial art can be traced back to a man from Slovakia, Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was a talented gymnast, wrestler and boxer. He fled Nazi occupation in 1940 and eventually landed in Palestine. He joined a paramilitary group in the Jewish community, and was asked to work for the Israeli military system. From there, Krav Maga as we know today was developed.1
What Can Krav Maga Do For Your Body And Brain?
The link between a healthy body and a healthy brain has been reiterated by science for many years. Practising a martial art such as Krav Maga, can help transform not just your physical appearance, but also your mental state of being.
Health benefits include:
- Weight loss: Improving muscle tone means a shift from fat to muscle, which can help improve your metabolism. Two 60-minute classes per week can help you meet your weight loss goals while increasing muscle mass.
- Cardiovascular health: Your heart is more than just a pump, it is an integral part of the nervous system. Our brain and heart are tied together, as emotions and stimuli affect both of these organs. Krav Maga can improve the heart’s condition by increasing heart rate and endurance.
- Reflexes and Mobility: As we age, a natural consequence seems to be reduced reflexes and mobility. When you practise Krav Maga, the repetition will help improve reaction times in many aspects of your life, not just in the gym. Krav Maga also requires a great deal of footwork which can help keep your body nimble even as you grow older.
- Cognitive Improvement: In one research study, older participants (average age of 70) trained in karate twice a week for a five-month period. Compared to the other groups (one group exercised twice a week using traditional fitness regimens and a third control group continued typical daily activities), the people who practised karate had improvements in attentiveness, mental resilience and reaction time. Scientists weren’t entirely sure why a martial art would produce effects not seen in the other groups, but it was hypothesised that the blend of balance, coordination and aerobics could benefit the brain.2
Krav Maga heightens perception and transforms fear into something more productive.
How Can Krav Maga Help You Handle Complexity?
The positive aspects of practising a martial art often extend beyond simply training the body. These methods help you train your brain, as well. Leaders are expected to deal with complex situations frequently, but is your brain prepared for this complexity?
Our brains are always busy. Some researchers estimate that we make around 35,000 choices per day! When you throw in business decisions that can sometimes mean make-or-break situations for a company, you can see how people’s brains are becoming overwhelmed with this complexity.3
Martial arts such as Krav Maga can help you manage this massive influx of information. We have to make constant decisions, but wouldn’t it be more relaxing to make these decisions with a nimble, agile brain?
Interested? Learn More About Krav Maga!
If you would like to learn more, contact Saar Markovitch, head instructor at X Fighting Krav Maga. You can train your brain and body to better handle the stresses we face each day using simple techniques which are extremely effective. I had no expectations before my first session, but I was enthusiastic to learn about the many health benefits Krav Maga has to offer.
Leaders who embrace their wellbeing will inevitably possess a healthier mind and body which in turn creates a brain-friendly culture! These kinds of leaders will make better decisions and spur innovation into the future. Check out my other wellbeing article on ‘How Dancing Changed my Mental & Physical State’.
1. Cascio R. The History of Krav Maga: Origins of Lichtenfeld’s Legacy, (accessed 13 December 2019).
2. Witte K, Kropf S, Darius S, et al. Comparing the effectiveness of karate and fitness training on cognitive functioning in older adults-A randomized controlled trial. J Sport Health Sci 2016; 5: 484–490.
3. Krockow EM. How Many Decisions Do We Make Each Day? Psychology Today, 2018, (2018, accessed 28 December 2019).