In the first of a series of upcoming Book Reviews for the readers of MartialArtsLab, I take a look at a comprehensive guide to self-defence from a world renowned Israeli self-defence system, written by an expert and Judo enthusiast:

Krav Maga: Real World Solutions to Real World Violence by Ben Keren from Tuttle Publishing

‘Krav Maga’ blends pragmatism with a clearly extensive combat knowledge and sound advice. It provides a great description of techniques, scenarios and importantly, how to ready one’s mind for such situations in real life. It fights to win a worthy 7/10 from MartialArtsLab.

This book is nearly 200 pages of detailed descriptions and broken down methods for learning a huge variety of very effective techniques. Ben Keren’s knowledge is evident from his descriptions and accompanied pictures by there is also a brief description of his background, including various black belts and decades of real-life experience. The breakdowns allow you to really understand how to perform the many techniques. But the detail that earns this book its belt is it’s pragmatism and emphasis beyond technique descriptions.

If one could seamlessly perform all the techniques in the book, in all their described scenarios, that individual should feel very safe in the urban world. However the book does not expect that. It doesn’t suppose you know all of these things or expect you to even pick them all up through the read, enticing though it is. No, beyond the descriptions Ben emphasizes the some very important practical mantras.

  • Avoid entering the violence if possible – you might cause har
    m your assailant never intended, regardless of their threats.
  • Steps to take to predict and avoid these situations all together – practical advice such as being aware of who is around you, noting other’s behavior such as lurking around an ATM, or not to open your car from across the car park
  • If you are do perform the techniques in the book do so “with everything that defines who you are…it is a matter of survival”

The book advises on every aspect of self-defense; the way to stand and use your heels to break, the reason for a 90 degree block, the effect of using the bony side of your wrist in a choke. The advantage of having prepared ‘scenario scripts’ in your head to help in the moment. The little things that make fighters much more effective at what they do and that become even more important when your life is at stake.

“Real life violence is forced upon you, not something you consent to” 

However, this book on Krav Maga as self-defence takes some hits in its emphasis on finishing a fight. It is clearly aimed at an urban environment, rather than a War Zone situation. However it eagerly describes the way a knife should be used to cut a throat in self-defense, and how your fingerprints should not be on the blade. Although perhaps true in a situation of life and death it is better to ‘destroy’ your assailant to ensure you escape, after all, they engaged you, however the advise on fingerprints shows an acknowledgement that such an act is wrong, i.e. you don’t want to get caught doing this, so don’t leave your prints on the blade. For this reason the book receives a Shido penalty (a Judo pun for Ben!) from me.

Krav Maga MartialArtsLab

Krav Maga a system is a brutal, simple and truly effective system of self-defense, one which Ben elegantly describes in this book as a Martial Art in right, rather than a collection of combat techniques. Ben Keren, describing himself foremost a Martial Artist, Krav Maga’s history and its constant evolution and regular use by Israeli special forces toady emphasizes these facts. The book is a great guide to Krav Maga, how to defend yourself and when you should do so. Very worth a read, because one day something in it could save you, or your loved ones lives.

If you’d like to buy the book click on any of the pictures. Any differing opinions on the book, or if you’ve read it, please comment or tweet us! @MartialArtsLab


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  1. Gershon Ben Keren

    Dear Colin,

    I am the author of the book, “Krav Maga – Real World Solutions To Real World Violence”. In regards to keeping your fingerprints of the knife. This obviously comes from the more covert operations where Krav Maga is used in Israel, where the person dealing with an assailant will want to go unknown – this is not how it is intended, or described in the book, for civilian application.

    As you will have read my basic decision tree is to, acquiesce to an assailant’s demand if they want things I own, and only fight if I believe they are going to use the knife against me e.g. they don’t leave after mugging/robbing me, or they want to move me to another location etc. I fight to survive, not because of ego. Because the assailant is intending to use a certain level of force, I must be prepared to use an equal level of force and violence; there is no nobility in a real-life confrontation – I chose to describe the solutions of using the knife against an attacker to illustrate the importance of this mindset. In my second book I show other options.

    The point of not leaving your fingerprints on the knife from a civilian perspective, is to make sure that it is clear who the assailant is. If you were to disarm and then end up using the knife (which happens in most situations where knife disarms occur), you put yourself in a tricky position arguing you did so in self-defense. If your fingerprints are never on the blade it is a much cleaner and clearer story for you to explain. The goal here is not to try and do this without the authorities never knowing what happened i.e. I am not training ninjas here, but to follow a path which identifies who the sole “aggressor” in the situation is. This is no way acknowledges that I believe it is “wrong” to do this – in a survival situation where somebody is going to use the knife against you, this is a legally and morally permisable option.

    Kind Regards


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