I’ve updated this 2008 post by making small refinements and cleaning up some of the writing. You’ll likely be most interested in the video I added. I think does a great job of describing a level one Krav Maga class.
Learning Krav Maga can be a stressful situation to walk into. By learning the general organization of a class, you’ll be more prepared to kick some butt!
Here’s a video of someone trying out Krav Maga in my local gym. (Psst! I was in her first class and you can totally see me in the background!)
Cardio. Everyone spreads out for the beginning cardio workout. This can be virtually anything to get your heart rate up and your body loose, including (but not limited to) jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, burpees, jogging, walking squats, jumping squats, etc.
The intensity of the cardio differs between instructors. If you’re new or out of shape, this could be one of the hardest parts of the class, because it’s all out. 100%.
I’ve also noticed that some cardio is more difficult based on your own personal strengths and weaknesses. (For me, squats were invented specifically for torture purposes, but core strengthening exercises tend to be a little easier.)
Stretch. This is pretty straight-forward and it usually doesn’t involve anything unusual.
Bow in. The only ritual in Krav Maga is to stand in a line and bow into and out of every class. If there are multiple instructors in class, they’ll bow to each other first and then you’ll bow to your instructors.
Strikes. Your instructor will demonstrate a strike (punches, kicks, etc.), both slowly and in “real” time. He or she will describe what they’re doing, why they’re doing it that way, and possible application for that strike. Then you and a partner will take turns practicing on punching bags, kick shields, tombstones (punch shields), or focus mitts. Some classes, you may only learn two new strikes and some classes you may learn three or four.
Drill. Once both you and your partner have practiced the technique of the strike, the instructor will direct you to go all out against the pad. These drills are meant to exhaust you. Tip: From my experience, the harder you go during these drills, the less time you’ll spend doing them.
If you will be learning more strikes, the instructor will once again demonstrate the new strike and then you’ll run through another drill with it. Sometimes, instructors will skip individual drills until they’ve taught you all the strikes. Then they’ll run a drill that incorporates them all. No, these drills are not easier.
Self-defense. Now, you’ll learn a defense (chokes, headlocks, etc.) that employs the strikes you’ve just learned. Once again, your instructor will demonstrate the defense slowly and in real time. Depending on the defense, you may practice it “dry” (without a partner) in the mirror. Then you and your partner will slowly walk through the defense together, eventually working up to a faster and more intense speed.
Your instructor will probably emphasize how to safely, but effectively practice these defenses. You want to practice the defense as if you were actually being attacked, but you don’t want to hurt your partner in the process. Here are some tips on how to be a good Krav Maga partner.
Defense drills. In the last few minutes of class, you will practice the defense in a higher stress situation. This includes being attacked when you have your eyes closed, lights off, music blaring, etc.
Bow out. Once the drill is over, your instructor(s) will ask if anyone has any questions and then you will bow out of class. This is exactly like bowing into class.
Again, this is a basic outline of most of the classes I’ve been to. It may differ from the gym you go to, but if it’s a certified Krav Maga gym, it should look pretty similar! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section, so everyone can benefit from them! I’d be particularly interested to see if classes differ at your gym!
At this point in my Krav Maga training, I have been to two gyms: one on the west coast and one in the south. If you go to a certified Krav Maga gym, the class should be pretty similar to what I describe here. However, this description is based on my experiences and should be viewed as such.