I have trained with many of the top Krav Maga practitioners in the world, those who have trained under the masters, and under many of the major Krav Maga organizations.One way or another, I have come into contact with high-level Kravists and it’s clear that there is a wide array of philosophies when it comes to Krav Maga. Some organizations, in my opinion, have stayed away from the basic fundamentals of Krav Maga. Some are overly aggressive, some underwhelmingly lack aggression. And of course, the politics are all over the place.
There is one thing I have heard repeatedly from my students, training with other instructors, or simply observing others practice:
“Nobody attacks like that.”
I find this attitude rather confusing…
Humans can attack however they want. Anybody who has the capacity to attack anybody can attack in any way that is possible. People say that nobody attacks like X or Y, or that all attack start off with no aggression, or that they start with all out aggression, and so on. That’s not realistic at all. The reality is that you simply do not know what will happen and how it will happen when it comes to any situation involving physical conflict and/or self-defense.
Many people have this idea that training for violent conflict on the street must always be violent in the gym. However, the vast majority of people do not pick up the details of a movement under chaotic circumstances. Some elite individuals may learn quickly, but we’re trying to train the general population. For example, if I am teaching a wrist grab, it is only logical to start with the simplest movements and practice casually. As students get the hang of the fundamentals, then you ramp up the intensity and complexity of the scenario and do it again.
Always training hardcore is not helpful for the vast majority of people who are trying to learn to defend themselves. There is a military saying about combat in urban environments that goes…
“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”
If you practice a move fast, it will most likely be sloppy and incorrect when you use it under pressure in real life. It’s better to practice slowly but correctly, which builds good muscle memory of the proper movement.
In addition, preferred attacks vary between cultures as well as the specific attacks that are trending. Just because a particular style is not popular in one country does not mean that it should not be taught. A proper Krav Maga or self-defense program should give a person the ability to defend themselves in whatever situation they end up, whether it’s facing a different style of attack or an attack in a different country.
Just because you don’t attack like that doesn’t mean other people don’t. Yes, it is true that there are attacks and moves in our curriculum that certain people won’t do to others. For example, I find it hard to believe a man would do a basic wrist grab to another man. However, it is common in other cases, such as a man attacking a woman. Gyms that are too macho tend to forget that size matters, and it changes attack styles. Men are typically bigger than women and would attack in certain patterns that they would not use against someone their own size. The same goes with women vs women scenarios.
One of the reasons I dislike teaching women only classes is because the biggest threat to most women is men, with some exceptions. When a class consists only of women who don’t attack like men, they don’t get to experience reality. Thus, it creates a false sense of understanding about self-defense, and a misconception regarding how aggressive attacks take place.
Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to produce an aggressive, professional female fighter through women only classes. However, unless you have a Ronda Rousey, a Holly Holm, or an Amanda Nunes as your training partner, it’s unlikely you will be preparing or prepared for the kind of attacks you might face.
“Nobody attacks like that!” Back to this blanket statement. It’s false. When you learn or teach Krav Maga, you need to start from the basics. All students build up from the simple movements to more complicated and aggressive scenarios. Imagine you’re an instructor and you refuse to teach something based on the idea that “nobody attacks like that” only to have your students face it in real life and not know what to do. That’s bad instruction and a disservice to your students.
Again, people must realize that they cannot possibly know all the possible outcomes in a conflict. To say “nobody attacks like that” is limiting in nature. In the end, you cannot prepare for everything, and thus you should train to anticipate anything. Krav Maga teaches you to expect the unexpected, keep it simple, be aggressive, and think critically in the moment. Students must enough to be able to fill in the blanks. That is what makes the difference between life and death.