BOOK REVIEW: Krav Maga: Real World Solutions to Real World Violence by Gershon Ben Keren

Krav Maga: Real World Solutions to Real World ViolenceKrav Maga: Real World Solutions to Real World Violence by Gershon Keren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amazon page


This is a comprehensive guide to the Krav Maga Yashir style of Krav Maga. The fact that there are multiple styles of Krav Maga was news to me. Yashir means “straight” or “direct” and this system was founded by the book’s author, Gershon Ben Keren, drawing heavily upon Imi Lichtenfeld’s original program, but modified to make it relevant for a modern, civilian practitioner. (To offer an example of said modification, Lichtenfeld’s system presumed that the fighter was an infantryman with a pack on his back, and so the original Krav Maga avoided movements that would be hazardous when so loaded down, but that are feasible for the average civilian on the street.) The author has a scholarly background in the psychology of violence, and emphasis on the realities of violence is a recurring theme.

The book follows a typical format for martial arts books. The early pages discuss the philosophy and approach of the system in detail. The book then proceeds to discuss basics such as stance and the fundamentals of punching and kicking. Finally, it delves into progressively more challenging self-defense scenarios (unarmed, armed, multiple attacker, and from various directions) and the counters that the system offers.

The book succeeds in its objectives. The photographs are well-done and provide the requisite clarity. One particularly nice feature is that the scenario photographs are taken in realistic settings so as to reinforce the importance of recognizing and using one’s environment. Key concepts are reiterated throughout so as to facilitate learning. The organization is systematic and builds logically through progressively more challenging situations.

The biggest criticism is of some of the book’s repetitiveness. Repetitiveness is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be an important tool for learning, particularly with ideas that need to be thoroughly ingrained—e.g. self-defense concepts. However, some of the repetition in this book is more wasteful than beneficial. The scenario sections feature a textual description of the attack / defense event, and then there’re captioned photos that visually portray how the scenario plays out. The captions repeat much of the text, and they do it so close to the original text that it’s hard to imagine it being much more than an annoyance.

I’d recommend this book for someone who is considering whether to take Krav Maga classes, or for martial artists looking for insight in to the nature of this system. It has some sound general advice on self-defense that those interested in that topic might find useful.

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