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Interview with Senior RKC Amnon Darsa, Creator of Krav Maga Core

AmnonDarsaKMC KravMaga
Dragon Door: You've been involved with Krav Maga for a very long time, how did you begin?

Amnon Darsa: It's a funny story. When I was about 13, the neighborhood where I lived was not in a good part of town. All the kids my age were in a sort of gang—not anything really heavy, just us against the kids in other neighborhoods around us. I think there are kids like this all over the world. But we were the gang of my neighborhood, and every now and then it would explode with another neighborhood. One day, one of the guys said that he started doing something really good called Krav Maga. He said that it was the best thing because we could fight in training and we wouldn’t get in trouble. Of course all of us went to see what it was all about, and five of us signed up to train twice a week. I am the only one who is still training after all these years—I was really hooked. And that’s how I started with Krav Maga at age 13. Of course it helped us fight the other kids because we were better at punching and kicking—it gave us benefits!

Dragon Door: When did you start as a Krav Maga instructor?

Amnon Darsa: I started teaching as a Krav Maga instructor at 21 after I got out of the army. All the high levels of Krav Maga were looking for instructors, I started teaching at the clubs and helping other instructors here and there. Then I progressed towards security Krav Maga which is different from the civilian version—teaching kids is very nice, but not my cup of tea, so I branched out to security training and protection. I studied this aspect of Krav Maga and started to work with security companies around Israel, where there’s a lot of security.

In Israel, the security guards in all the shopping centers should have firearms training and Krav Maga training. My after-army career began with my role as the designated Krav Maga instructor with a security company. On the bio I recently sent to John Du Cane, I wrote that I had been instructing for a decade, but I just did the calculation and it’s quite a bit more—twenty one years!

Dragon Door: How were you introduced to kettlebells, and what convinced you that they would be useful to your training?

Amnon Darsa: That's another cool story. Tommy Blom, a good friend of mine, and I were both teaching Krav Maga. After a course we both attended, he said, "I started training with something really cool, you have to see it!" Of course no kettlebells available back then, especially not where we were training. But, we hit the gym, and Tommy took a dumbbell and started to show me the 1 hand swing, the clean and press, and the Turkish get-up. I had never seen someone do something like this with a weight before. He tried to explain what a kettlebell looked like—a cannonball with a handle—and I got more curious about how to use it. At the time we had to train with 20kg dumbbells but I was still impressed, thought it was cool and really liked it. We trained more that week, but when I came back home and tried to work with my dumbbells, I realized how dangerous it was to train without an actual kettlebell.

I didn't know better, and thought that since I did this in Poland with Tommy, I could do it here with a 20kg dumbbell. But, as you know a 20kg dumbbell has two 10kg plates and it's quite big when it passes between your legs. After I hit my knees a few times, I understood that I should get a kettlebell. But, I was hooked! Soon I went to Hungary and trained with Peter Lakatos who was with Dragon Door back then and I got some kettlebells from him. I started training more and more with kettlebells and then they invited me to the RKC I in Hungary. I said, "Yes, I am in!" I worked hard to prepare for the workshop, but I was certified and the rest is history.

Dragon Door: What benefits do you think kettlebells provide for Krav Maga practitioners, martial artists, or security personnel?

Amnon Darsa: First of all it carries over to everything, and I like the fact that it uses the whole body. The way I train with kettlebells doesn't add excess muscle mass—I don't like extra muscle mass. Also I can train quite easily with one kettlebell and can get all the training I need in a short period of time.

I can incorporate kettlebells into my Krav Maga training. During my combined training, I work on Krav Maga, some heavy bag, some rounds of sparring, and kettlebells for the fitness rounds. Normally, I would need a lot of equipment, because bodyweight exercises are not always the best for this, but the kettlebell is a really good solution. I can just keep the kettlebell to the side because it doesn’t take a lot of space, and when we get to the round of fitness, everyone in the gym knows that I go to the kettlebell. I will have a small clear area around the kettlebell where I practice snatches, cleans, Turkish get-ups, eccentric swings, etc. while the others do sit ups, burpees and whatever. I get a really good workout which helps in the training.

Dragon Door: As the creator and co-owner of KMC (Krav Maga Core), how will you bring kettlebells to your instructors?

AmnonDarsaStandingAmnon Darsa: Ever since I started training with kettlebells I’ve wanted to bring them to Krav Maga. When I saw how the kettlebell system worked the whole body in the same way that Krav Maga works the whole body. To me, the two systems complete each other—the self defense part and the physical fitness part. You have to be very physically fit to withstand a stressful encounter/situation. The more fit you are, the more the body is ready to deal with stress. A trained person will lose less of their motor skills under stress if they are used to it. While the stress from physical fitness training is different from emotional stress, at the end of the day it is still stress. If your body is ready, then it is no problem.

I have had the idea in my head for a long time, and my former boss, Eyal Yanilov, wasn’t convinced, so I dropped it at the time. But those of us who understand are kettlebell instructors and Krav Maga instructors. We look at kettlebells as a complementary subject or system. But, it was never endorsed by that Krav Maga organization. Later on I continued with IKMF with another boss, but he also did not want to do any training beyond Krav Maga. But now I have the perfect opportunity because I have created my own Krav Maga organization. Now I can do whatever I want—and because I know kettlebells are really great for health and for the Krav Maga training, I can make it happen. Now it’s my decision and no one will tell me not to do it!

I am looking forward to seeing how it will work. Over the years which I’ve been training kettlebells and Krav Maga, people have asked me about them and then started using them as well. There are so many people in Krav Maga who have started using kettlebells because of me. I can think of many off the top of my head, including Matt Beecroft in Australia. He started with kettlebells because during a seminar he saw me training with them and was very curious. I told him he should do it and he did. Now I can actually tell people, this is Krav Maga, and kettlebells are a complementary system. This will help instructors bring in students for kettlebells and Krav Maga—they will have the whole package with self defense and physical fitness. And it will be endorsed by our organization.

Dragon Door: Earlier you mentioned snatches, swings, get-ups, and clean and press, what are the best kettlebell exercises for Krav Maga?

Amnon Darsa: I passed through an extended stage when I was experimenting with all kinds of new exercises. I started with very basic exercises—swings, cleans, presses, snatches, get-ups—then branched out to all kinds of variations and crazy exercises. But now I am back to the basics—swings, snatches and get-ups are my bread and butter. They really do the job, and while the training is "boring", boring is good! Boring brings results and I like that—I don't have to think too much. I do my sets or my workout, and it carries over so well that I don't need anything else. If I need more, I do faster swings, faster snatches, or a different protocol. The basic kettlebell exercises give me results, I don't need more.

But, here is a simple variation on a basic exercise. One time I was playing with light one hand swings but with a small snatch movement at the top of the chest-level swing. Basically the kettlebell turns over at the top and lands on the back of your hand like a snatch, but at 90 degrees not overhead. I would then stay there for a couple of seconds before continuing with the next swing. I’ve just now worked up to doing these with a 16kg kettlebell. This variation is good for the power of the punch, and because I am also involved with firearms instruction, I know it is very good for shooting. Every shooting instructor who has seen this technique with the kettlebell, understood that it would help with holding a gun. They understood even if they had a hard time doing it before learning kettlebell technique. But it is a great exercise and a very interesting surprise for anyone who is not ready for it! Start with a very light kettlebell, because holding it out in front is very challenging. Even a 16kg is very challenging for me, and trying it with a 24kg did not go well.

Dragon Door: What goals are you working towards right now?

Amnon Darsa: For now my first goal is to make my organization bigger and stronger, and to see how I will use kettlebells with it. I want to make kettlebell training mandatory, but we will see. I don't know about RKC yet, I will definitely insist on my instructors becoming HKC certified, because that is a great start.
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Personally, a small goal is to complete the snatch test with a 32kg kettlebell with 100 snatches in a row (not putting the kettlebell down) like I did with the 24kg snatch test. I’m getting there and have managed to do 40 snatches on the left and 30 on the right with the 32kg kettlebell. The other goal I have is to either press or snatch the 44kg kettlebell 44 times on my 44th birthday. That goal is a little more long term (three years), but I am already working on it so we will see.

And of course an overall goal is to train hard and have fun in my training.

Dragon Door: What will you bring to your leadership position as Senior RKC with Dragon Door?

Amnon Darsa: Of course my teaching experience will be helpful, but because there are so many great people there, I will need to find my niche. I am looking forward to working with everyone there and will bring whatever I can.

Dragon Door: What else does the Dragon Door community need to know about you?

Amnon Darsa: I love my training and think that training is only beneficial when you are serious about it and push yourself. I also try to practice what I preach so I train hard. I love to help others, and while I am a serious person, I also have a sense of humor. I try to have as much fun as possible in my training, and try to help as much as possible too. Someone once told me that I was born a teacher—I am not sure if that is true, but I enjoy my work as a teacher and instructor. And whoever needs help, I will help them. Just as a side note, the moment Dragon Door announced me as a Senior RKC, I got an email from an RKC instructor in America asking if I could recommend a place to train Krav Maga. Of course I gave him the address and the other information he needed. I enjoy helping people and the idea of helping make them better. In general I am hoping for a great collaboration with the RKC and Dragon Door.

Senior RKC Amnon Darsa Krav MagaAmnon Darsa, Senior RKC and creator of Krav Maga Core can be reached through the Krav Maga Core website: or via email at