A Beginners Guide to Krav Maga: Intermediate Strikes

In the last article, we discussed the history of Krav Maga, combative fundamentals, and some basic elbow strikes for fighting in close quarters combat.

Fighting in the intermediate range is the most common distance most will find themselves in during a fight. There are many different principles to apply while fighting at this range, like eliminating any excessive movements. Every wasted movement is an opportunity to kill you.

When you find yourself in combat, seconds count and every movement must have a purpose.  One miscalculation in an altercation can make the difference between life and death, understanding your body’s reach, or how much distance you can cover with your strikes, will ensure your strikes land quickly and with maximum impact. Today, we will go over some basic striking techniques in the intermediate range.

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Combative Fundamentals

Before we go over basic Krav Maga strikes in the intermediate range, a practitioner must have a general understanding of the basic combative fundamental’s. First, let’s discuss the two basic stances of Krav Maga.

Krav Maga’s passive stance is when you are relaxed in a regular, everyday situation, like walking to your car after work or talking to a friend at the mall.

This is the stance you will find yourself in when most attackers will spring their ambush, and there is no time to go into a fighting stance.

In comparison, a Krav Maga combative stance is where you are prepared to neutralize an attacker.

In Krav Maga, practitioners learn how to defend themselves in a combative, fighting stance or a relaxed, passive stance.

Standing in a combative stance can almost feel counter intuitive because you must maintain your posture yet be able to flow and react to your attacker’s movements.

The proper combative stance is hands up, elbows tucked in. Blade your body to your opponent to protect your centerline and groin.

One of the best ways to remain mobile while maintaining your combative stance is staying on the balls of your feet, utilizing good head movement, and keeping your hands up and elbows tucked into your sides.

By maintaining a proper combative stance, you defend your head, neck, and other vital organs, like the solar plexus and liver.

Retzev

Retzev, Hebrew for “continuous motion” is a combative concept where a Krav Maga practitioner utilizes their bodies natural, reflexive movements for both offensive and defensive techniques. Retzev isn’t a set of predetermined methods.

You take whatever you can get, if the groin is exposed, a knee or front kick, if the throat is exposed, punches, chops, choke holds, etc.

Use logical movements, ones that complement the other into an explosive counter-attack on your terms.

Retzev is unchoreographed, based on your body’s reflexive movements. There are no katas or drills for Retzev.

The beauty of this concept is you can dynamically react to many scenarios seamlessly, in various ranges, against weapons, multiple attackers, and so on.

This is an excellent informational video on the retzev concept by Krav Maga Nation:

Krav Maga Punches/ Strikes

Striking in Krav Maga is simple. Most strikes are based on strikes which are utilized in various martial arts (Boxing, Karate, Muay Thai, etc.)

There are many ways to “make a fist” out there. The most basic method is simply by scrunching your fingers into your palms, tightening your fist around them, then folding your thumbs over your index and middle fingers. Never, ever, ever wrap your fingers over your thumb!!!

In the microsecond before a strike lands, clench your fist and flex your forearm to protect your hands and disperse a greater amount of kinetic energy in your strike. Next, make sure the bones of your forearm, wrist, and the knuckles of your index finger and middle finger are all aligned. This will prevent you from breaking your hands and wrists if worst comes to worst.

One of the best ways to ensure you’re making your fists properly is by holding your hands above your head, fold your fingers like I mentioned and get down into a push-up position, holding yourself up with your fists instead of your palms.

If done correctly, you should feel most of your weight on your first two knuckles. Now, let’s learn about Krav Magas basic strikes.

Jab

The jab is one of the fastest yet least powerful strikes. The jab doesn’t travel as far as the cross, so it is perfect for keeping an opponent on the defensive and off balance. Jabs are performed with the lead hand of the practitioner in quick, snappy strikes.

If you want to learn how to throw a quick, snappy jab, check out the video above.

Cross

The cross in Krav Maga is the same as the 2 in boxing. The cross is performed by striking with your rear, dominant hand. The cross is an incredibly powerful attack because of the pivoting of your hips and feet with proper weight distribution.

A well-delivered cross will provide more than enough power to knock an attacker unconscious. The cross is always the rear hand.

Many people will tell you the jab must be thrown preemptively before a cross, but if you practice enough, the cross is usually a very powerful initial strike that will take the wind out of the sails of your attacker.

Check out this instructional video for throwing the perfect cross.

Hooks

The hook is one of my favorite strikes to utilize in retzev because there are so many angles of attack while using hooks, such as upper and lower hooks.

This powerful strike is perfect for getting around your opponent’s defenses. The hook is also excellent because of all the vital areas located on the side of the body, such as the temple, neck, mandibular angle of the jaw, liver, kidneys, etc.

The hook is so powerful because your fist doesn’t have to travel far and you’re generating all your power from your hips and feet. Once you’re proficient with hooks, you will have a lot of speed and power in these short, compact strikes.

Check out this excellent instructional video for developing extremely powerful hooks.

Uppercut Strike

The uppercut is another great attack, which is used to break an aggressor’s defenses while counter attacking. The uppercut is delivered from the hips.

All the power of the uppercut is generated by moving your body weight vertically, pivoting your hips upwards, and delivering a strike into the body or the chin of an opponent.

Think of the movement as the hands of the clock, with an uppercut; the movement is from six o’clock to 12 o’clock.

A correctly timed uppercut can shock and stun your opponent, which allows you to continue counterattacking with retzev.

Here’s an instructional video on throwing the perfect uppercut!

Hammer Fist Strike

The hammer fist is an excellent alternative for striking if you’re not comfortable with hitting with your knuckles.

Hammer fists are good for striking in extremely close quarters, or if you can’t withdraw your fist after a strike. The hammer fist is also ideal for striking an opponent while you’re grappling.

Striking soft tissue targets, such as the nose, throat, base of the skull, etc.

Another variant of the hammer fist is the mouth of hand strike. The conventional hammer fist’s striking surface is the meaty side of your hand (closest to the pinky,) with the mouth of hand; you’re striking with the thumb and forefinger side.

The mouth of hand isn’t as powerful as the conventional hammer fist, but with vital point striking, it’s more than enough to cause some serious damage to your opponent.

Check out the links above for a demonstration of the hammer fist and its variants.

Palm Heel Strike­

The palm heel strike is another alternative to the conventional strikes for practitioners who are concerned about damaging their hands while hitting their opponent.

The hip movement, footwork, and stance are the same as throwing any other punch, but instead of making a fist, you use the meaty area on the palm of your hand.

Palm heel strikes are just as effective as a jab or cross if you use proper stance and footwork. Granted, you lose a few inches of distance but as long as you’re moving forward and applying retzev, a palm heel strike is extremely efficient both offensively and defensively.

By altering the angle of your palm inward, your strike will be much more powerful. This is the same concept as lining the bones of the hand, wrist, and forearm.

Here are some great sources to learn about palm heel striking!

Final Thoughts

I hope you learned a lot about Krav Maga strike in this addition of A Beginners Guide to Krav Maga. As you can see, there are so many techniques and striking variations to learn and practice. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you’re wondering which ones to use.

I run through techniques I’m taught in class and pick the strikes I feel most comfortable with, or strikes that benefit other attacks I prefer to do.

Run through the techniques above and see which ones feel right to you and have some fun adding them to your arsenal!!