From Serbia with Love – Borhan’s Military Krav Maga Instructor Course in Belgrade, Serbia

Posted: September 17, 2013 by urbantacticskravmaga in Urban Tactics Krav Maga
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Borhan’s Military Krav Maga Instructor Course

My time in Serbia must have been one of the most interesting and intense Krav Maga trainings I have ever experienced. I have always had strong interest in the military aspect of Krav Maga since I started my Krav Maga training in 2007 in Israel. Then, I was under the guidance of Master Zeev Cohen, one of the best Krav Maga instructors in Israel. The aggression and toughness in Zeev’s class left a strong impression on me. As I continued my Krav Maga training in North America and Asia, Krav Maga seemed to be less combative and aggressive. Almost all Krav Maga schools that I know now focus more on the self defense aspect, with very little focus on Krav Maga’s original purpose “ Contact Combat.” I decided to find the missing link between Imi’s original Krav Maga and today’s civilian Krav Maga. I enrolled myself in a military Krav Maga instructor course run by Krav Maga Global in Serbia. With a bit of nervousness, I arrived in Belgrade, Serbia. The last time I heard about this country, NATO ( including Canada ) was giving this city a new real-estate upgrade. The ruins of the bombings can still be seen in some parts of the city. Belgrade and its sub city Zeumn is a bit rundown. Though not the prettiest streets in Europe, the streets are always clean, and although the occupants are not the richest, they always carry themselves with pride.

I showed up three days prior to the actual course start. The course is 15 days for any military personnel with no prior Krav Maga experience and 10 days for Krav Maga instructors who already passed Krav Maga Global’s instructor course ( GIC ). I did my instructor course in 2008 and I desperately needed a refresher. The training took place in a police training base in the suburb called Zemun. My course consisted of 5 foreigners, 4 Serbian Emergency Response Team Police Officers and 6 local Serbian KMG instructors. Out of the 5 foreigners, we had a formal British Army Artillery Staff Sergeant, a Formal East German Paratrooper, one German and one UK KMG civilian instructors. Our Serbian KMG instructors groups consisted of three active Serbian Army soldiers, one fire marshal and one police officer. Knowing that I came from Canada and had done my service there, some of these Serbians jokingly said “Oh ! Canada, your country exported some special gifts along with America back in the day” Their tone seemed to be friendly…..at least for now.

The first five days of the course were conducted by KMG instructor Moran Laskow, who was a Krav Maga instructor during his service in the IDF and later served as a shooting instructor for Israel’s Military Industry. Moran is the perfect example of what a Krav Maga instructor ought to be; fit, keen, good looking, knowledgeable and personable. In fact, I believe there is a secret fan club for Moran within the Krav Maga community. In class, we each got issued an AK-47 ( Yugo Version ), a pistol, duty belt with holster, a helmet and a vest.

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Everyday from 8 am – 6 pm, we would be in the gym or range learning how to be proficient with our AK-47 S, with or without bullets. We practiced using our rifle as a cold weapon doing attacks such as Magazine thrust, Rifle Butt strike, and downward cut, etc, and to be able to do these attacks in different combinations. There is also a series of defenses against people trying to grab your weapon from the rear, front or side, or people swinging a stick at you from above, from the side or from underneath. We would practice theses techniques slowly in the air in the beginning and then later attack with all our might against a bag or each other. I can tell you that wielding a heavy AK-47 S for hours is a hard work out. If they were not prohibited in Canada I would create a work out called AK-47 Fit.

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During one of the mock attacks, I accidentally hit my partner Neja’s face with the foresight of my pistol. Blood poured out of his face and he needed several stitches to get the deep cut fixed up. I kind of felt bad after the instance especially since Neja is one of the toughest Serbian ERT members. After that the thought occurred to me that I am far too pretty to end up in a Serbian prison.

On top of using a rifle as a cold weapon, we also spent many hours learning basic shooting, reloading, tactical reloads, combat reloads and instinctive shooting with our rifles and pistols. My poor marksmanship earned me the nickname “Beneli.” I am pretty sure I did not earn it because of the damage I had done to the target but more to do with the grouping on my target. At the range, Moran pointed out that “We are Krav Maga instructors, not shooting instructors, and any Krav Maga training that might involve in shooting, it is best to have shooting instructor on the side for technical support and guidance.”  In military Krav Maga, we have many Krav Maga drills that combines the use of Krav Maga, shooting and tactical movements. Israelis believe that in modern CQB stoppage or reload leaves soldiers or police officers vulnerable, and trying to clear stoppage or reload within close range of an attacker is very unwise. The American Law Enforcement also concluded the same theory which is called the 21 Feet rule. Maron would put us through a lot of mock attacks in which we would have to decide to clear our weapon or strike our attackers with our weapons.

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I can tell you that even in an open gym with excellent lighting, having someone charging at you with full force will make reloading or clearing stoppage difficult to achieve. Later we would have multiple attackers with stick and knives and also receive surprise attacks with our eyes closed. Like Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan before they get punched in the face.” In every drill, we relied solely on our training and instincts to survive. In one of the drills we called Zombie drill, four attackers with sticks, knives, pads and fists will attack you in slow speed. I tended to get paired up with those Serbian ERT members and the idea of slow speed usually does not register with them. I recall the stress was so overwhelming and tiring all I can do is simply raise my rifle to defend my head and run for my life.

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Other than rifle, we also received training on how to use a pistol as a striking method. Although a pistol is more within the realm of Law Enforcement, it is still not a bad idea to learn how to use a pistol in close range. When pistols were first introduced, they were designed for one hand usage only; however, in modern doctrine, most military and LE focus most pistol training with two hands in order to increase accuracy. Because of the possibility to deal with surprise attacks, in Krav Maga we tried to use one hand to operate the pistol in close range. This way, we could use the other hand to strike and block attacks from the enemies. Other than our free hand, we could also use the pistol to strike from above, right, downward, left ( turn the pistol 180 horizontally ), and front thrust. It is very important to know how to strike with a pistol. Swing it the wrong way, and you might disarm yourself. One of the course mates ERT member Constable A shared with us his personal experience about striking with a pistol.

Two armed robbers went into a shop and committed robbery.

Off duty officer Constable A was shopping with his girlfriend at the same store. After sending his girlfriend to safety, officer A announced to the robbers that he is a police officer, presented his duty pistol and demanded them to drop their weapons. The robbers refused and approach officer A with pistols. Officer A was afraid to shoot at the robbers worrying about collateral damage. After one of robbers was in close range with officer A he struck one of the robbers with the bottom of his pistol ( magazine ). When officer A strucks the robber, he accidentally discharge his firearm near the robber’s head. The robber ran off to the exit.

The 2nd robber approached officer A, officer A was worried to discharge his weapon again so he struck the robber with his left fist and the muzzle of his pistol. During the process, officer A’s index finger naturally grab the trigger of his pistol ( his natural reaction is to make a fist when he strike with his hand ) and he worried the firearm would go off at any moment.

One of the most tiring exercises we did throughout the course was a mixed obstacle course combined with Krav Maga. Doing military obstacle courses is hard enough on its own. Now we were combining it with people attacking after each stage. This brought it to the whole new level. However, just like real life, your enemies are not going to pick the time when you are fresh and energetic to attack you. Think about it! When would you choose to attack your opponents?

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The second part of the course was conducted by Eyal. It is a true privilege to meet Eyal, not to mention to train under him. After all, Eyal was responsible for creating IKMF ( International Krav Maga Federation ) and building the foundation of the modern day Krav Maga syllabus. Some would say that he is the main person who spread Krav Maga around the world. The man is a living library of Krav Maga. Physically, the course by now became less intensive compared to the first six days but mentally we were being challenged every single second. We were learning the proper procedure and methods on how to teach a military unit and how to conduct CQB Drills and live Shooting Drills with Krav Maga.

Most countries have their own CQB techniques ( Close Quarter Battle ) on how to clear a room, cut corners or enter a room. It is not our job as Krav Maga instructors to suggest to them how to conduct room clearing but we can add many scenarios that can enhance their ability in a close range situation. I have to say this was probably the most fun we had throughout the entire course,  because we are put everything we learnt together into practice it was a chance for us to create all kinds of mayhem to our fellow course mates.

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The students were separated into two groups. One group of people were the soldiers and the other group of people were the “enemy”. One by one we had to go inside the CQB Training house and complete a mission, and this was usually done after grueling and harsh physical Krav Maga exercises wearing full gear. After the physical exercise, I was tired and my adrenaline was as high as a kite. I burst into the door and those bastards even put traps above the door. After I got into the door, all kinds of situations came up. These situations ranged from preventing a suicide attack to full out knife attacks with numerous attackers. I literally had to put all my Krav Maga skills into use. Of course, payback is a bitch, and the other team did not like me at all when I played as a stick whaling maniac hidden inside a dust cover for their turn.

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Another exciting Krav Maga drill is combining tactical shooting with Krav Maga. Anyone can stand in a range and take a nice shot but let’s see how well one can control his or her breathing and still operate a rifle accordingly after a full-on Krav Maga fight. Again on the range, I proved that the nickname “Beneli” suits me very well. This drill showed the reality of shooting under stress. Anyone can get a good grouping sitting on the bench and taking his or her sweet time to pull the trigger but to shoot under pressure is a whole new different story. In order to run this drill safely and precisely, many details need to be taking care of. It is very likely to have disaster if one is not being safe or knowledgeable in both Krav Maga and shooting. You need at least one Krav Maga instructor and a shooting instructor to accompany each student during the whole course.

One of the shooting exercises we had was conducted by world renowned IPSC shooter, Major Ljubisa Momcilovic, who came in 8th in the IPSC European Championship ( Factory Division ). He is also a team member of CZ IPSC team. Other than his IPSC experience, Major Momcilovic also served many years in an elite close protection unit in Serbia Police and is an official shooting instructor for Serbian Police forces. Having worked in the firearm industry and attended numerous shooting courses in the military and civilian side, Mr. Momcilovic’s shooting and movements are probably one of the best, if not the best, I ever seen. Even with all these experiences, Major Momcilovic was very friendly and approachable. His lecture was straight to the point. Here are a few important points I took away from Major Momcilovic’s class.

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World Top shooter Major Momcilovic

  • A shooter who performs with 80% -90% accuracy on the range means he or she probably can only have 60% accuracy in real life under a real threat.
  • In real life shooting it is usually “ reaction of you“ after “ action of enemies. “
  • Find the Balance between Speed & Accuracy. Speed without accuracy is nothing, but accuracy without speed means you are dead.
  • There are all different theories on stance; waver, isolate, modified waver, no matter what stance you choose, your shooting stance should be a position in which you can stand on your feet for a long period of time and be comfortable.
  • There is no need to change your shooting position for accuracy shooting and combat shooting.
  •  Maximum Speed = how fast you can put your sight on target.

Prior to Major Momcilovic’s lecture, I had a very negative view on IPSC. I thought it was unrealistic in real life. Major Momcilovic points out that IPSC is an excellent shooting training. Shooting and tactics combined together produce a good soldier or police officer. In essence, shooting supports tactics.

The last couple of techniques we learned at the course were dealing with a terrorist holding a grenade. We had to quickly disarm the terrorist from all angles. For me, this was probably the hardest technique I had to master. Because with my tiny girly hands it was difficult for me to cover the terrorist’s hand with mine. Luckily, in a security team it is usually the big guy who does the disarming. The threat of a terrorist holding a grenade is very real. The recent terror attacks involving grenades are:

  •  Liege attack, Belgian: 13 December 13, 2011.
  •  Ram Janmabhoomi Attack, India: 05 July, 2005.
  •  Rome & Vienna Airport attack, Italy: 27 December, 1985.

Although dangerous, dealing with a hand grenade is not a death sentence. Unlike hand grenades with big explosions in movies, in real life hand grenades use fragments to kill, not explosions. There is a good chance for people around the hand grenade to survive if you can find a way to cover it in time. The latest British Victoria Cross Winner saved his mates this way by laying over a grenade with the small of his back.
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The second part of the course consisted of a lot of classroom lectures. We had more classes on Krav Maga theories and military organization structure. In general, Krav Maga is separated into Offensive Combat and Self Defense. The two portions have a very different approach when comes to dealing against threats. Offensive Combat means Maximum damage to the enemy in minimum time with minimum damage to yourself, yet Self Defense means not to get into a fight. Soldiers seek enemies ( danger ), civilians avoid enemies ( danger ).

In most civilian Krav Maga School they only focus on the Self Defense portion of Krav Maga because of legality issues. In combat, a soldier has to turn on his kill switch and fight like a lion within seconds. There is no personal hatred or anger involved when comes to killing your enemy: “A lion does not hate a lamb, a lion is just hungry”, and vice versa “ A soldier is just doing his job.” It is like the famous line in Full Metal Jacket when Joker graduated from boot camp: “Marine Corp does not need a robot, it needs a killer.“ Unlike most attacks in the civilian world, most attacks in battle are nothing personal. We try not to educate the civilians to act the same because that might get them in jail. After all, War is simple, civilian society is complex; a soldier doing the one thing in war can make him a hero, doing the exact same thing in peace time will get him in jail.

The Self Defense portion of Krav Maga came about when IDF paratroopers would punch MPs who tried to give them tickets for dress deficiency. A method of self defense is needed so those poor MPs do not get crushed like hamburger in front of those paratroopers. The Self Defense portion of Krav Maga really came to age during the Intifida (Palestinians uprising) – Israelis are facing more and more attacks ranging from stone, sticks, knives to guns from the Palestinian terrorists.

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Since the maturing of modern firearms, most military’s doctrine is about killing your enemy as far away as possible; the further the better. However, as warfare becomes more complex, soldiers have to operate in urban settings acting not just a warrior but sometimes police officers and diplomats. They have to be able to conduct peace keeping or humanitarian operation yet maintain their abilities to fight wars. If a soldier only has a hammer he can only solve problems by hitting really hard, but with Krav Maga he can solve problems with all kinds of tools. As many instances tell us, the need for a good hand-to-hand combat program is more dire every day.

It was a privilege for me to be able to enroll in Krav Maga Global’s Military Krav Maga instructor course in Serbia. Other than the instructors from Israeli HQ being one of the reasons, the course was so enjoyable because of our Serbian hosts. Serbians have the right Krav Maga mentality. They train hard but also technically. Very much like Middle East, the Balkan is a troubled region. I believe in some way many Serbians are training Krav Maga because they know they might have to use it one day to defend their loved one and home. After the course, I am a firm believer that Military Krav Maga is the missing link in today’s Krav Maga world. Anyone who wants to get the full picture of Krav Maga and become a complete Krav Maga fighter should attend this course.

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Written By: Borki Yoni

Edited By: Warren C & Jonathan F

Krav Maga Global: http://krav-maga.com/

Krav Maga Global Serbia: http://krav-maga.rs/

Major Momcilovic Tactical Training Agency: http://www.loadmakeready.com/

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