Unarmed combat techniques used by Israeli secret services are being taught to MPs to protect them from 'lone wolf' attacks following the murder of MP Jo Cox.

Called Krav Maga – Hebrew for 'contact combat' – the martial art uses grappling, punching, kicking and wrestling techniques to tackle opponents carrying guns and knives.

MPs are being offered free training in the martial art following the murder of Cox, who was shot dead before a constituency surgery in Batley, West Yorkshire, in June.

The training will focus on how to defend MPs from swinging punches to the head, as well as attempted knife attacks. It comes following attacks in Europe by Islamist and far right 'lone wolf' terrorists.

Two MPs and 18 assistants attended the first class in Whitehall on Thursday, according to Parli-Training, which runs the course. "We are teaching them techniques where if someone comes at them with a knife or a gun, they can disarm the weapons and then run. They are not being taught how to fight," said company founder Mendora Ogbogbo.

"Another technique we are teaching them is called the 'rhino', where they know how to cover the vulnerable parts of their heads when someone is punching them. This will give them a vital three or four minutes before someone intervenes. We also teach a method where if someone is lying on top of them in a fight, they can wriggle from under them and run."

Krav Maga was developed by Jewish martial arts expert Imi Lichtenfeld to be used by Jews in Bratislava, then in Czechoslovakia, to defend themselves from anti-Semitic attacks. Lichtenfeld later emigrated to Israel, where he provided Krav Maga training to the Israeli Defence Force. The martial art is also used by Israel's Mossad secret service.

There is increasing concern about violent threats made against MPs following the murder of Cox. After receiving death threats Labour MP Luciana Berger said that violent intimidation is a threat to democracy, while bricks were thrown through the window of MP Angela Eagle when she announced her bid for the Labour leadership.