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On Defense

by Jim McFarlin | Men's Book Chicago magazine | July 10, 2012

There are tough guys, and then there’s Ran Nakash. Nakash, 34, is not only a top 10-ranked professional cruiserweight boxer, he’s also the chief commander and head instructor of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Krav Maga instructional division. That means he’s the guy who trains the Mossad, Israel’s elite intelligence force, to help defend their nation! With Krav Maga classes increasingly popular around Chicago, we checked in with Nakash for the low-down on the deadly fighting system.

You began training at the age of 10. What inspired you to start so young? I wanted to be strong, and I loved the idea of fighting. I didn’t know what to learn so I went to see some judo and karate matches, but that seemed to me very clean and soft. Then I found boxing, I saw people hitting each other with full power, and I realized this was what I wanted to do. I didn’t start Krav Maga until the age of 15.

What makes Krav Maga different from other martial arts? Krav Maga is not a martial art. It’s a system. Krav Maga is the Israeli system of self-defense. There is only one rule: Stay alive. In martial arts there are rules of fighting; in Krav Maga you can do everything, use everything. When I teach Krav Maga to soldiers or police they learn how to end a problem. If the problem is a terrorist, they need to kill the terrorist. A soldier, police officer or security guard cannot run away. They have to end the problem.

So when you’re training the Mossad, do you find— I am sorry. I cannot answer those questions. I can only tell you that I work with the best of the best units in the IDF. Krav Maga is a very big thing for those units. Sometimes we work for weeks on special operations that involve Krav Maga techniques, like bringing somebody back alive.

Does your Krav Maga experience aid you in the boxing ring? It helps me with the mental side of boxing: To go all the way, never stop.

Would you ever consider doing mixed martial arts? I did do MMA fights before boxing. MMA is nice, but I don’t like all the ground fighting, all the grappling. I love to hit and get hit.

To share the pure Krav Maga experience Nakash established the Krav Maga Boot Camp in 2007: kravmagabootcamp.com