The notion that “It’s only for the military or police and not for me,” simply isn’t true. Originally, Imi taught Krav Maga to civilians, primarily Jews, for the purpose of enabling them to protect themselves from the Nazis pre-WW2. When Israel was formed in 1948, it was taught to the military, during which time it was considered a closely guarded secret. Given that it was intended “so one may walk in peace,” when tensions eventually eased in the ’80s teaching of the system was opened for all civilians. While, yes, at a good school you can go from being a civilian to a civilian trained in a manner similar to military or police, it is not meant to turn you into these things; but rather to give you an understanding that self-defence is NOT limited to unarmed combat (even if the laws in your country say otherwise). Anyone can learn Krav Maga, and should learn it (or at the very least a legit style with self-defence components), so that everyone may walk in peace.
So let’s talk about it.
This myth really comes out of the fact that the tactics for Krav Maga were fairly closely guarded within the military for the early days of Israel and the IDF. It wasn’t until the ’70s-’80s that it began to open up to the public, in one way or another. Furthermore, when it started to go global in the ’90s and early 2000s, Krav Maga was primarily targeted to military and police organizations. This is one factor that contributed to the use of the “patch” ranking system by the IKMF when it was formed in 1996, and later KMG in 2010. Patches being a common means of identification for groups and ranks within the police and military units; something that makes little sense for civilians, therefore furthering the myth that it is only for “the professionals.”
With regard to curriculum, one thing to know is that there are many different Krav Maga organizations, each with a different curriculum and strategy, but they are considered Krav Maga so long as they are following the fundamental principles and are employing appropriate training methodologies. Some organizations completely separate their police, military, and civilian programs, while others incorporate the techniques and strategies of all applications into one curriculum, placing the more complex material at higher learning ranks.
Those schools that do separate their curriculums by application will do so by having separate programs instructors; one set for police, one set for military, another for civilians. Which, in some countries, may be done for legal reasons, whereas in others it is simply more practical for training (and marketing).
Some people do believe that civilians should not learn Military and Police tactics for a variety of reasons, but this is something we at UTKM do not agree with. So long as you are a law-abiding, reasonable, human being, there is no reason you shouldn’t learn such things. While extreme violence scenarios are unlikely in day-to-day, civilian life, in our current world, the reality is that Krav Maga should prepare you for any and all possible self-defence situations. The more extreme ones would, in fact, require military and police tactics because, well, they are for the more extreme situations after all.
While we cannot speak for other organizations we have tackled this issue in a simple way: Breaking the knowledge into layers within our ranking system. White belt to Orange belt is “basic civilian self-defence,” but it is also where you learn the fundamentals. Which means if you only want to learn enough to defend yourself in most situations, then all you would need to do is keep training in the Beginner and Novice levels. Eventually you may even be able to hold off a decent MMA fighter long enough to find your exit. But should you wish to continue then you too can learn the tactics required for more complicated situations involving firearms (guns), arresting or detaining, or storming a live shooter with a partner.
Our motto after all is “turning lambs into lions” or another way you could say it is “turning everyday citizens into everyday warriors.” Because even if you are not the elite physical specimen of a “hooman being,” you can, over time, develop the same skills for the same situations.
On a side note, there is a belief by many that ONLY a person who was in the military or police should teach these tactics. This, by the way, is both true and untrue. It is true that an EXPERIENCED police or military vet, with loads of training, field experience, and good communication skills will likely be the most appropriate instructor for these tactics. However, the truth is that NOT all military and police have this kind of experience. Many people who served, on various roles, saw far less “action” than you think. Which means that, unless you have the former of the two types, a civilian who has spent a lifetime training in military and police tactics for self-defence would be no different in capability than a police or military person who was trained but spent their entire career behind a desk. So, really it’s about the person, their experience, and their ability to teach.
So, is Krav Maga only for police and military? Quite obviously, no. As the basics are all about civilians. Any organization worth its weight in toilet paper will usually teach the military and police stuff to more competent or experienced students, but know that, while this is still part of Krav Maga, this isn’t the only part.
So start learning and maybe, one day, you will not only be able to defend yourself on the street, but also will be prepared for a full tactical assault on that zombie hoard should our dream apocalypse ever happen.
Written by: Jonathan Fader