Punch and kick to fitness with Krav Maga! This week’s Grobby (that’s Greatist lingo for hobby), Krav Maga combines self-defense techniques and combative training for a heart-pumping, strength-building, and butt-kicking workout.

Duke It Out — The Need-To-Know

The official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces, Krav Maga was developed by Imi Lichtenfield in the 1940s to help train the fledgling nation’s military. Combining techniques drawn from street combat and other military training, Krav Maga has since been taught to tens of thousands of law enforcement agencies and eager civilians worldwide. This power workout emphasizes instinctive movements and techniques from judo, jujitsu, and boxing in realistic training scenarios. Karate kids beware— Krav Maga is no SING. Just like how every ying has its yang, Krav Maga teaches that every offense has a defense. From dodging and escaping holds to punches and kickboxing, Krav Maga classes are offered to both provide practical training and a killer workout. But before getting too intimidated, it’s good to know Krav Maga offers different variations of classes catering to a range of goals, be they defense or fitness-related. Classes emphasizing fitness combine combat moves and strength training in programs that often feature kettleballs, plyometrics, calisthenics, and even gymnastics. Since Krav Maga is based upon real-life, often-unpredictable combat scenarios, classes call for intense bursts followed by rest (then wash, rinse, and repeat). The cardiovascular demands mimic interval training, though replace the treadmill with punching pads.

Kick Some Butt — Your Action Plan

Want to get fit through fighting? To prevent injuries, find a Krav Maga intro class and make sure to get the moves down under the supervision of a knowledgeable instructor (an accidental punch to the face is less than desirable). Like any other fitness class, be sure to hydrate and perform a thorough warmup (included in many classes). There are numerous organizations worldwide that certify Krav Maga trainers (including Krav Maga Worldwide, Krav Maga Federation, and Krav Maga Global), and unfortunately there’s no clear-cut method to picking trainers with the “right” certification. But when searching for an instructor, it pays to be open about any specific goals, as some classes emphasize the fitness aspect of Krav Maga more than others. Of course, while those budding combat skills hopefully won’t be needed, it never hurts to be prepared.