An old colleague of mine, a much respected Krav Maga instructor, wrote an article about how students can find a genuine Krav Maga instructor under which to learn. It is a really good article with honest observations and opinions, but one part regarding instructors who have no affiliation with the main organization really made me wonder: “Ask the Instructor what his level is and if he is still training with Master Level Instructors (they are only a few). In general, once an Instructor severs all ties to Israel and a legitimate Krav Maga organization, his proficiency level will decrease due to a lack of supervision and further high level training. He will also start thinking that he can make Krav Maga “better”, thus changing the system until it is no longer Krav Maga.” There is some truth behind his words. I definitely needed to re-learn many essential Krav Maga techniques during my Military Krav Maga instructor course in Serbia. However, his line made me wonder whether or not adding new things into Krav Maga on your own is a good idea.
Here in UTKM, we are in an interesting situation. Our school is located in Vancouver, Canada. We are not officially affiliated with any main organization because of following reasons: 1. we are simply too far away from any main organization from Israel, 2. the majority of Vancouverites are not fond of really aggressive and realistic training, 3.Vancouver is relatively peaceful, and 4. our population here is too spread out for big Israeli Krav Maga organization want to come to here (you will have better luck gathering a class of baby seals than children for the kids class). Our school invests great resources sending our instructors to other countries such as Serbia and the US to obtain knowledge, but maintaining a constant connection with the major Israeli organization is extremely challenging. We feel like we are a paratrooper of the Krav Maga world because of the distance and isolation.
However, the plus side is that the situation put us into a self-sufficient mode and makes us think on our feet. I joined in the Canadian Army reserve (combat arms) in October 2002 and have continued with them until today. During the last 12 years, I have witnessed the Canadian Forces’ transition from cold war fighting, peace keeping, counter insurgency and now back to peace keeping. Things are constantly changing because of new conditions and our opponents who are devious, cunning and just as smart as us, if not more so. One of my favorite quotes is from my Warrant who is a seasoned combat veteran: “Don’t think our enemies are stupid, we kill all the dumb ones and only the smart ones are left.”
We can apply the same quote to criminals and thugs. Criminals and thugs are clever beasts and they will adapt and come up with new and efficient methods to rob, mug or even murder. Think about it, the best tacticians in the animal kingdom are always the predators, and in order to deal with those predators we have to constantly adapt and come up with better tactics than them.
If other systems have an effective way to deal with a threat which is unusual in Krav Maga, then why not adopt it? After all, Krav Maga is a system with no ego but has great practicality. Imi (the founder of Krav Maga) learned numerous systems; boxing, wrestling, judo, and possibly a British Army style hand-to-hand combat during his service with the Czech Legion of British Army in Egypt (possible theory). Imi constantly adapted, revamped and created different techniques with his peers and students during both his military service and civilian life. Imi and other forerunners of Krav Maga threw away the unnecessary techniques from other systems and left only the best techniques that will work in real life. After all, the idea of staying true to one single system is no match against a 6-inch blade. The circle of most Krav Maga Organizations has a circle around the main logo. If I remember correctly, the circle means to always incorporate new things into Krav Maga.
Some might ask at what level would you feel comfortable revamping Krav Maga? In a perfect world you need to be at least a one time Olympian, five expert levels from five different Krav Maga organizations, a doctorate degree in sports science and have combat experience with LE (law enforcement) or Military units. In an imperfect world the situation dictates. If you live close to a head instructor or Krav Maga experts then trust their experience and let them guide you with the research process. However, if you are in the desert of Krav Maga then maybe you have to do it yourself. Remember, the reason you want to incorporate new techniques or revamp training method is not for your own ego but for your students who might be facing impending threats, and the cavalry from Israel is pretty far away.
Coming from a traditional Chinese cultural and military background, I am eternal grateful to all my teachers who taught me. They taught me the foundations and the spirit of Krav Maga. Living and training in Israel taught me that we are not just running a school, but fighting a war against thugs, criminals and terrorists. Our students are our brothers and sisters- in-arms; they do Krav Maga to protect and save lives. Whether or not Krav Maga’s ideology is to save their lives or the techniques truly do save their lives does not really matter; what matters is that they are alive because of Krav Maga.
Written By: Borhan J
Edited By: Warren C