When one thinks of martial arts movies, the immediate image that comes to mind is probably Bruce Lee performing a flying kick and yelling, “Keeyah!” into the camera. Badass? Yes. Practical? Not so much. That’s why the more realistic action movies use krav maga in its storytelling and fight choreography. If you’re not familiar with krav maga, then surely you’re familiar with James Bond, Nikita, and Brangelina. If you’ve watched them on screen, then you’ve been exposed to krav maga, the Israeli self-defense system that’s based on real-life situations and aggressive counter-attack techniques. Given that krav maga is widely used in law enforcement, the military, and government agencies, it makes sense that it’s just as commonly used in film, if art is truly to imitate life. Krav Maga NYC in the movies is much more common than you might first think.
According to Details magazine, Daniel Craig learned krav maga for his third James Bond film, Skyfall, which sees him engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a villain on top of a train, in true 007 fashion. His trainer, Darren Levine, told the magazine that Craig was “very impressive” and “all business” during their lessons.
It’s hard to believe that sweet-faced mom of three Jennifer Garner was once the world’s most lethal double agent. Expertly skilled in krav maga, Garner’s character on Alias, Sydney Bristow, is a force to be reckoned with. Sydney is also somehow fluent in 30 languages, which is almost as intimidating as her ability to kill a man with her bare hands.
Krav maga wasn’t just used behind the scenes for this 2002 thriller starring Jennifer Lopez. Lopez’s character, Slim, is an abused wife who spends her life running away from her violent husband until she decides to fight back by learning — what else? — krav maga. “[Krav Maga] levels out the playing field between men and women,” Lopez told MTV about her training, “Where it doesn’t matter how big or tall or strong you are. You can actually maneuver around that. It’s about getting out of the way, counter attacking and using whatever you can to get the upper hand.” Sounds like JLo would pass her practitioner’s test with flying colors.
By now you should be noticing a theme that spies favor krav maga when carrying out their missions. Jack Bauer on 24 was no exception. As the most skilled agent within the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) in Los Angeles, Bauer is proficient in both combat hapkido and krav maga, but we’re willing to bet he relied more on krav when things got really tough.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
I realize that “Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie” is not the title of a movie, but they clearly deserve their own header. Hollywood’s most beautiful couple, who starred as husband-and-wife assassins in 2005’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith, have started taking krav maga lessons together in preparation for upcoming action flick By the Sea, in which they will play another ass-kicking couple and smolder us all to death once again with their hotness.
This isn’t Jolie’s first time on the mat, however, since she learned krav for her role as Lara Croft in 2001’s Tomb Raider and then again as the title character in 2010’s Salt. For the latter, her training involved both muay Thai and krav maga, but Jolie said that though muay Thai is “very long and beautiful, it wasn’t as practical a fight if you have face-to-face combat, and it didn’t look as aggressive.” Enter krav maga. Problem solved.
Like Alias, Nikita is also about a deadly female assassin on a mission to avenge her slain lover and take down the shadowy government organization that trained her. And like Sydney, Nikita counts krav maga among her skills. “When I do action, I do action,” Maggie Q, who plays the title character, told the Wall Street Journal. “I’m dedicated to that for my audience. I don’t want to see some winged person running around on set. That’s the difference [with this show]. People will feel the authenticity.”
Edge of Tomorrow
Starring Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise, who is already well familiar with krav maga from his Mission Impossible franchise and Jack Reacher, sci-fi film Edge of Tomorrow proves that krav maga will be just as practical and effective in the future against aliens as it is now against muggers. Cruise’s character is initially inexperienced in combat but learns a thing or two and teams up with Special Forces soldier Rita Vrataski, played by Blunt. The British actress told the Telegraph about her training, “I learnt this really lethal martial art called krav maga — it’s the Israeli martial art. You use your elbows, knees and teeth.” Yup, sounds like krav.