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Krav Maga Aims To Be More Than A Sport, With An Ethos Of Self-Protection And Confidence

Joshua Chung

Brazilian jiu-jitsu, karate, taekwondo, and boxing are what usually comes to mind when it comes to MMA. However, the combat sport of Krav Maga is also quietly picking up in popularity in Lansing.


LANSING, Mich. - The fighting system known as Krav Maga may not be the first topic of a conversation if people are discussing martial arts. That is because it does not focus on attacking or striking, but specializing in self-defense in a technique developed for the Israel Defense Forces.

Justin Moore, the owner and head instructor at Spartan Krav Maga in Lansing, has traveled across the world to learn this fighting system not only for himself but to teach his students and at law enforcement academies.

“What makes it different than combat sports aside from jiu-jitsu, karate, and taekwondo besides natural instincts, is that there are no rules,” Moore said. “We kick people in the groin, eye gouge, and do things that most traditional martial arts are kind of taboo or against the rules.”

Moore focuses so much on Krav Maga in his work is because it is a simple fighting system, based on natural instincts and movements. Anyone should be able to do it, as it does not matter how young, old, small, strong or big a person is.

“In Israel, everyone serves in the military which means their soldiers are not built for the biggest and strongest men in the military,” Moore said. “It’s built for anyone whether it be male, woman, young, or old. It is their hand to hand combat go to fighting style, which is what makes it unique it that sense.”


Moore said Israel only has a short time to train its military because of how often it is in combat. Which is why Krav Maga is effective - easy it is to learn. It takes the natural instincts of a person and quickly builds upon it to be effective.

There are multiple levels at Spartan Krav Maga, from one to five, and then there are the instructor levels. Spartan Krav Maga in total has around 20 levels three students and about 55-60 level one students.

“At level one we usually teach you basic stuff such as defense against chokes, level two there is some   where they are choking you on the ground or have you pinned down,” Moore said. “Level three it starts to become more advanced and we deal with weapons such as people trying to hit you with a knife or a violent object.”

Level four deals with a lot of long rifle situations, such as active shooters, while level five deals with third-party protection. Eventually, depending on how long the student has been there, they will get into expert level stuff where they have the opportunity to become an instructor and use the skills they have learned to teach others.

Madeline Watts, a level three student practicing defense against weapons at Krav Maga for the past two years, believes that even those experienced in other combat sports may not always be safe in unexpected situations on the streets.

“People come here to learn some effective and life-saving skills,” Watts said. “It makes you more aware, more aware of the people around you and what to do if someone were to come through the door or threatening. You just feel safer.”

Spartan Krav Maga’s biggest source of attracting people is word of mouth. Local advertisements and media relations are sometimes used, but talking to the local community and spreading their company across social media is their biggest strength.

“Krav Maga has spread pretty slowly in the United States as it has only been here for around 35 to 40 years,” Moore said. “It has taken a long time to come to Michigan especially, but on the West Coast and East Coast it has grown quickly in the bigger cities.”

Moore said that the reason people are drawn to this is everybody wants that instinct of protecting themselves. Something happens to them, they want to be able to protect themselves, their family, their property, and everything they love.

“I think that is a natural draw for people, which is to have some sense of confidence to protect themselves,” Moore said. “Everybody has a right to defend themselves and their loved ones. I believe that is just an important aspect of just being able to survive in society and keep everything safe.”

Frank Downey, a level three student and a law enforcement officer, said that he came to Spartan Krav Maga because he believed it would good for his line of work.

“I realized my agency provides training, but it is also good to find some outside training,” Downey said. “Justin and some of the other instructors are also in law enforcement, which I realized we had that commonality and we could share the same techniques. To me, that was really important to improve on my self-defense.”


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