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There is a popular belief that learning Krav Maga is fast and easy, that it only requires a couple months of training, and that you can quickly be ready to defend yourself for life. Yet, many instructors mention the decades of Krav Maga training they have done to become masters. Krav Maga techniques are built upon natural human reflexes, which means it has a very short learning curve for the average person. However, it’s not a quick fix.

Then, why do people advertise this?

Historical Reason. In the Israeli Defense Force, average combat soldiers might get 10-60 hours of Krav Maga training during their service. For Krav Maga instructors, their course could only take about 6 weeks long.

Business Reason. It is an easier business practice to go around the world, teaching short and intense courses. Israeli Krav Maga instructors tend to choose this method instead of taking the time to develop students from scratch.

Cultural Reason. At the core, people are different from country to country and region to region. The Krav Maga mentality that people in Israel or Serbia have is that they train knowing that they will likely need to use it. In addition, the Israeli military is a conscription army, which allows them to choose the best of the best citizens of the entire country to make their army strong. Which means that the level of Krav Maga they display is definitely not reflective of the general population. In peaceful countries, like Taiwan or Canada, people don’t have the same kind of mental and physical toughness, at least in the urban areas. There are certainly rough neighbourhoods or bad weather, but there is a lack of day-to-day dangers. Their priorities are not the same. Thus, it takes a much longer time to educate and train students into the Krav Maga mentality.

UTKM lead instructor, Jonathan Fader served in the IDF in Givati. This video is published by the Israeli Defense Force and depicts baseline combat soldiers, but they are not the elite, which is what most people visualize. These infantry soldiers probably have about 10-60 hours of Krav Maga, but just physical training.

The Krav Maga Mentality

Muscle memory: If you don’t use it, you lose it.

One thing that Israeli instructors fail to understand is that the fight or flight instinct takes a long time learn how to control, and then it takes longer to learn how to maintain control. The same goes with instinctual reactions and fighting spirit. Sure, six months of proper fight training can enhance one’s ability to protect him or herself, but what about after six months? Students here will lose what they learned because they live in a much more peaceful society than Israel. Thus, in order to maintain their abilities and control, they should train a certain amount per week.

Krav Maga is unlike traditional martial arts. It’s not because it’s easy to learn. It’s not because it doesn’t take time to practice. It is because time is not wasted on forms or preparing for competition, which are useless in the real world. Despite what most major Krav Maga instructors advertise, you need to train hard to keep some of the most fundamental moves, such as 360 defense. Krav Maga techniques are built upon human instinct, but it does require years of practice to ingrain it into your muscle memory. The more you practice the more confident you are with them.

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It’s all about the mind

For people in war-torn countries, the warrior spirit comes naturally to them because of their experience. For people in peaceful countries, the warrior spirit takes longer time and more consistent training to develop. Training should be a lifestyle – a warrior lifestyle – not a short cut or quick fix.

*This is not a sponsored review. This is a simple recount of Borhan Jiang’s experience at this BJJ school in Taiwan.

52852_160175370687660_2773181_oIn 2009, I was a member of a team of fighters that competed in the Bangkok BJJ International Open. We were made up of members from Taiwan BJJ Academy (台灣巴西柔術學院), Evolution MMA, and Tough MMA. The team did an excellent job, training with and coaching each other throughout the tournament, and I personally won bronze in my division. I had some great memories with this institution. This is one of the most well known and established BJJ schools in Taiwan, and it can be said that this academy has truly contributed to the development of BJJ in Taiwan.

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When I trained at the school, it was located near Taipei city hall. The gym had only the essentials – mats. It was small, and since it was on the upper level, it was potentially dangerous to train in if too many members were there at once.

Now they have a new space, which is located in a huge basement. It has plenty of space, lockers, a shower room, changing rooms, and a small shop. It also has full-time staff at the front counter, so you can talk to them instead of interrupting instructors who are teaching class.

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1426135_1809666515926976_7135114262649744218_nMokto sensei takes his BJJ craft very seriously. He is not a native Chinese, but can communicate fluently and teaches BJJ in Chinese. The students at Taiwan BJJ are precise with their movements, and seem more cautious than North American fighters. Some of them also have excellent stand-up game, which is not very common in BJJ.

Generally speaking, different BJJ schools apply their BJJ differently. Some cater to competition, some cater more to self-defense training. I’d say Taiwan BJJ’s grappling style caters more toward sports BJJ and competitions. Overall, I would recommend anyone who is visiting Taiwan to train at Taiwan BJJ Academy. It is professional and friendly, and in some ways, this school still has a pioneer spirit as the first serious BJJ school in Taiwan. Come here to find other people who like to roll and train.

 

I have been serving with the army for about 14 years now and recently experienced something interesting that I want to share. While participating in one of the biggest NATO exercises with a very serious group of military professionals, I was able to observe examples of leadership in the group. There were both fine leaders as well as some pretty questionable leaders.

One lesson I learned in particular through this experience was the consequence of forming cliques within a large organization. I witnessed people creating their own sub-groups, taking all the resources from other teams, becoming overly protective of their own teammates or subordinates, and unwilling to participate in or contribute to group work or the success of the team as a whole.

As Krav Maga instructors, we can learn from this…

For example, at UTKM, we have different instructors teaching each day. Greg teaches on Monday, Dave on Tuesdays, Josh on another day, and so on. Some students only attend certain instructor’s classes due to their personal schedule and/or preference.

Four points come to my mind as guidelines for Krav Maga instructors (and other instructors as well) to maintain unity and solidarity as a school. Keep these four things in mind to help you and your team ensure that you are a cohesive unit!

SCHOOL CULTURE, NOT PERSONAL CULT

Oftentimes, we have to be aware of creating a cult under individual instructors or classes. We must take steps to avoid doing our own thing in class and straying from the curriculum. To do this, we must acknowledge above all things that our students are people who choose to train under our school. Maybe they enjoy your personality or style as well, but ultimately they are students of the school.

As the school grows, we run the risk of allowing personal preferences to change the curriculum in a way that does not reflect the school anymore. It could create a different culture, or subculture within various instructor-led classes. Some students who are sensitive to a cult of personality could consider themselves more elite than other students or classes.

GO BY THE BOOK, THEN ADD YOUR STYLE

When implementing techniques, everyone has their own personal flair, but there is always the textbook reference. In classes, always follow the textbook first, then show your personal preference later. Students need to have a common foundation to understand the moves, and they also need to be able to attend different instructor’s classes and receive the same training.

Every instructor has different strengths and weaknesses, style and preferences. While training new instructors for UTKM, I have seen that some of them are great at being aggressive, some are very technical, some are very patient, some are very lively. I am constantly amazed by how different instructors bring something unique to class, and each provide something similar but original to students. For example, Jon is someone who pays incredible attention to detail, and the depth of knowledge he teaches to students is not something I can do myself.

Think of the textbook reference as your bone structure, and personal style as muscle. We all have the same bone structure, but our muscles are different. The point is that it is good for us to have variation in teaching styles and methodology, but it is more important for the curriculum and materials to be the same.

COMMITMENT

Know your reason for being here, know your mission, and do what you promise. This is what I learned during my NATO experience. On the contrary, at UTKM, we always give instructors the right to say no to things due to schedule conflicts, or other reasons. However, there is a difference between prioritizing personal affairs, and neglecting responsibility.

We all have to commit to doing what we say because it has an impact on everyone else in the group. The success of one person’s job is important for the success of one team’s mission, which is vital to the success of the other teams, which is crucial for the success of the organization as a whole. The key to ensuring the individual and the team does their jobs well, is to let them know how important their tasks are and how their piece of the puzzle informs the bigger picture.

vimy_ridge_-_canadian_machine_gun_crewsFor example, one of Canada’s great triumphs was Vimy Ridge in WWI. At Vimy Ridge, Canadians inflicted a significant defeat on the Germans, causing the German commander-in-chief, General Erich Ludendorff, to admit that their campaign was “the black day of the German army.” The key to the Canadian military success was that every soldier, from Private to General knew exactly what their job was and, even in the absence of leadership (happens a lot in war and business), everyone could still finish their task. Therefore, the overall mission was successfully completed. It was a daring attack that marked a turning point in the war, and as Sir General Arthur Currie said, it was “the grandest day the Canadian Corps ever had.”

Believe it or not, we are fighting a war

In this world. Right now. Every one of our students has the potential to use what we teach them in a life or death situation (many have done so already). If we fail as instructors, our students suffer, get hurt, or die. The leadership we need to take in class is not just about how good you are or how nice your personal style is.

Think team and think big – bigger than just your class, bigger than just our school. Think of our society as a whole, and think of the world.

“Think street, train sport”

This is a famous quotation from UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor. Like many fighters, McGreor was bullied as a kid and started training martial arts to fend off his bullies. Since we opened our BJJ program last October, we have been asking students to participate in sports fights like Conor McGregor. In addition, last month we launched UTKM Fight Camp, a prep course for anyone competing in kickboxing, MMA, BJJ, and other tournaments under our school.

Surprisingly, some of our most loyal and dedicated Krav Maga students were resistant to competition. Since full contact sparring is familiar to most students, and those at higher levels even practice throws and takedowns regularly, and many others cross train in other disciplines like kickboxing or MMA, we thought that sports fighting would be a compelling opportunity for them.

After asking the students why they hesitate, I found their reasons to be flawed and unsound. Thus, I am here to debunk some myths about Krav Maga and sports fighting. Here are three reasons why it is beneficial as a Krav Maga student to compete in tournaments.

1. Sport training can enhance your foundation skills

Sports fighting is different from Krav Maga because there are rules. Students often think that training in sports fighting would dilute their Krav Maga skills by limiting the moves they are allowed to use. However, it can actually help with mastering the fundamentals of Krav Maga. Since, sports martial arts focus on specific attacks, such as kicks in taekwondo or punches in boxing, you are forced to practice the basics over and over again. For hours, you would work solely on footwork, or a punch combo, or another single move.

Mastering simple movements is the foundation of a good fighter.

Like Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” If you have a solid grasp on how to apply the basics, you will enhance your overall Krav Maga skills.

2. Training for sports fights can make you better at real fights

Students often think that since Krav Maga is meant to prepare them for real fights, there is no reason to participate in sports fights. In the military, we often conduct field training exercises (FTX). These activities range from live fire courses to expensive army laser tag “games.” We put a lot of effort into making these simulations as realistic as possible. It is the only way to train soldiers to react and to handle stress calmly before sending them to a real battlefield.

Fighting in sports tournaments is akin to a military FTX.

You will have the chance to go all out and fight full force with an opponent who you have never met (like in real life). You will experience pain and may even get slightly injured. You will be able to go through the emotions of joy, anger, fear, sadness, stress that may arise before, during, and after the fight. You will feel real pressure. You may possibly experience a post-fight adrenaline dump.

The most important and best part of these experiences is that you are safe. The referee will stop the fight when needed, and first aid attendants are always ready to assist if needed.

3. Taking time to train for a competition can improve your Krav Maga

The benefit of sports martial arts is that they focus on an aspect of fighting — for example, Brazilian jiu-jitsu on grappling, boxing on punching, and judo on throwing. Students think that it would take time away from Krav Maga training. However, when you train for a tournament, it gives you the opportunity to take a break from Krav Maga and pay particular attention to specific aspects of fighting.

If you are weak in some areas, sports fight training will reveal it and improve it.

Ultimately, Krav Maga is not a martial art, but a tactical self-defense system made up of the best from every fighting style, and a little Israeli flair. So why not take the time to work on a specific building block (boxing, grappling, kicking, throwing), and test your ability to fight under real pressure? In the end, it only enhances your overall performance!

“Someone with only a year of training in boxing and wrestling could easily defeat a martial artist of twenty years experience.”

Ah, more wise words from Bruce Lee. Let’s leave you with some wise words from UTKM:

Someone with only one year of training in Krav Maga and experience in a single sports fight could overcome any attacker in a real self-defense situation.

This is part of a series on our instructor training program. To understand this series and how our Assistant Instructor Course and Full Instructor Course works, please start with Part 1.

Introducing Pedro Chong

Pedro Chong is the first student to graduate from our Assistant Krav Maga Instructor Course at Urban Tactics Krav Maga. I met Pedro at the Taiwanese Police University in 2014 through a friend. He is an army officer with the Taiwanese Army (Republic of China) as well as an avid Muay Thai fighter and coach. He also studied International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan. Since we have a mutual passion for martial arts, tactical training and shooting, I invited him to come train in Krav Maga at UTKM. Pedro jumped at this opportunity and flew to Vancouver in March 2015.

At the time of Pedro’s arrival, we were still in the process of developing the curriculum and thus his training was different from our current program. Due to his extensive background in military and martial arts, we put Pedro through a condensed program over 10 days, with him practicing in the gym for 12-13 hours a day.

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Pedro showing Vertical Sweep at his Muay Thai Gym in Taiwan

 

Krav Maga starts when you are completely burnt out, done, tired. That’s when it starts.

… said one of my Krav Maga instructors in the IDF. For Pedro, it seems that his fighting spirit was really tested during his time with us. After the course, he told me that this was more intense and difficult than his Special Forces training in Taiwan. After all, we start each day at 6am or 7am and didn’t stop until 11 pm. Each day consisted of in-class lectures and physical training. Within two weeks, Pedro also went through two 4-hour belt exams – yellow and orange belt. On the weekends, we took him on a series of rifle and shotgun courses in the BC mountains. It was winter and Pedro almost got hypothermia from the unprecedented Canadian coldness. Another new experience for Pedro was sparring with opponents who are much bigger and stronger than him. In Taiwan or Israel, people’s body sizes are quite similar, but in Vancouver where people come from all over the world there is a big size disparity.

Over 10 days, Pedro learned about Krav Maga’s history, psychology, law, combat mindset, firearms training, tactics, kinesiology, and more. He said that he has never encountered a hand-to-hand combat curriculum that is so meticulous about background knowledge, principles behind moves, instructional techniques, tactics, as well as indoctrinating our students with a warrior spirit.

To explain our philosophy, here’s an example from different perspective: iPhone users generally find Apple products pleasant to use for its simplicity, but the engineer knows and understands all the complex technology behind the devices. We strongly believe that at the instructor level, Kravists should know much more than the moves and tactics, they should also understand all the details regarding Krav Maga.

Krav Maga + Muay Thai + Kali + BJJ = Pedro Chong
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Pedro was an avid Muay Thai competitor

As a seasonal Muay Thai and Kali fighter, Pedro has powerful hand movements and solid footwork. Despite sparring against students twice his size, Pedro can maintain his position against anyone at UTKM. He is quite amazing at adapting to Krav Maga techniques.

Pedro’s instructional skills are also undoubtedly well developed. He has been a hand-to-hand combat instructor for the Taiwanese (ROC) army and a Muay Thai coach, and now a certified Krav Maga instructor under UTKM. Once, Pedro taught us some Muay Thai in the gym, most of our instructors joined in, and everyone was impressed by the amount of detail he goes into for each move.

His weakness was a lack of grappling experience. For example, during his Orange Belt test, he was choked out by one of the attackers. We recommended that he train in BJJ when he returns to Taiwan. Often, grapplers are comfortable with chokes, locks, and grabs, but less confident with striking; similarly, strikers can punch and kick easily, but are weak when it comes to relative positions, submitting, and escaping. As such, Krav Maga and BJJ work well together to strengthen one’s overall self-defense ability. Ultimately, it is important for anyone doing Krav Maga to have good awareness of their opponent and their own bodies. Cross training in varying types of martial arts can benefit that.

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Tough and rigiourous Krav Maga is apperciated in Taiwan

Pedro is now back in Taiwan, with the Taiwanese (Republic of China) military. Although he is unable to hold regular Krav Maga classes, he has shared his knowledge with the army, police, as well as forces in Ecuador. He also continues Krav Maga training in other countries, through military and security agencies.

Our experience with Pedro taught us many things about training instructors and has helped us to revamp the curriculum many times since his graduation. Teaching a condensed version of the program is much too exhausting for both students and instructors, and it will most likely not be repeated in the future. As mentioned in part 1 of this series, our current program is a dedicated mentorship in which we train only a few students over the span of an entire year.

At the time of this being published, becoming a UTKM instructor is by invite only. In addition, the FIC is still under development in order to offer the best possible education for our instructors. We will be opening it up in the future to a few applicants per year. If you are thinking about doing this in the future, please inquire by  emailing Josh Hensman at info@urbantacticscanada.com.

Locked ‘n’ loaded in Tel Aviv

Posted: September 27, 2016 by borhanjiang in Uncategorized
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I have traveled around the world, encountered and observed many places, and from my experience, there is no country like Israel. Once, I was sitting in a cafe in Tel Aviv’s central bus station on a Sunday morning, and looking out I can see uniform-clad young men and women carrying weapons returning to their bases. Tourists watch in awe at the sheer amount of weapons being carried on the streets. Residents pass by without even seeing it.

It is a normal part of their lives.

Taking a closer look, I see that not every weapon is the same, nor are their owners. Each weapon is different. Some have carrying handles, some have flashlights, some are old, some are new, some are made out of plastic and some are made out of metal. Each soldier is also different. Their colorful unit shoulder tags, strings and berets tell people which unit they belong to and what kind of specialty they possess. Some soldiers wear their uniform like pajamas and others iron their shirt straight and tight.

A soldier’s personality is shown through his or her rifle

Throughout history, soldiers everywhere have put effort into decorating their swords, bows, knives and other weapons. It is not just for the sake of art, but to make a statement and show one’s character. However, none of these warriors of the past could have imagined that in today’s Israel, weapons would be part of the youth culture. In Israel, weapons take the place of the backpacks and sneakers worn in North America.

Soldiers with an antique model belong to either an armor or artillery unit, but in battle they use tanks or cannons, not their rifles. They are saying, “I only carry this rifle around because I have to, I do not think I will have to use this old piece of junk.” Soldiers with newer models are saying, “I am a first-line combat soldier and this is my pride and joy. I am cool because my rifle is the newest.” Additional gadgets, such as sights or an extra tactical foregrip, become a statement telling everyone, “Look! I am different from rest of you guys.”

It’s just like taking your phone with you

These young troops don’t just carry their weapons to and from the bases. They also have it on them while performing their ordinary daily routines: shopping, walking on the street, sitting down for lunch, or even kissing loved ones. I once saw a young soldier at a cafe using a laptop – she held her rifle between her legs to protect it, while drinking coffee and surfing the internet. Another intriguing sight was a young male soldier wearing a sleeveless tee, sandals, a backpack, and his rifle. The whole picture was an oxymoron. Is he relaxing? Or is he getting ready to fight? His outfit tells me he could be merely taking a stroll, heading to the beach, or waiting for a train, but his loaded weapon tells me otherwise.

In a country like Israel, carrying a weapon is a statement of youth. Rifles are often a statement of toughness and machismo, but in a place where being dauntless and courageous is everything, the warrior ethos is unisexual. Even before the creation of this nation, both men and women fought side-by-side here, protecting their homeland.

Once, I asked a young Israeli woman who had her rifle slung across one shoulder and her purse on the other, what was inside her purse. She said, “You know, the usual girl stuff: make-up, lipstick, tissues, and my extra M16 magazine.” In that moment, I realized that the Israeli saying was true, “If you are going to break a girl’s heart, make sure to do it when she is not carrying her rifle.”

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Gun culture is a normal part of growing up in Israel

Seeing these young soldiers with their duffle bags, rucksacks and weapons, I was violently awakened from the peaceful illusion of Tel Aviv. This country is at war. After a few days of comfort in their homes, these youth – barely old enough to buy a beer in Canada – are going back to their posts, checkpoints, tank turrets, jeeps, or the streets of Gaza. In contrast, most Canadian youth know nothing about self-sacrifice and giving some of their best years to serving their nation.

I know for sure that these young Israeli soldiers would prefer not to spend those three years of service in khaki uniforms, receiving less than $40 a month, and dealing with dangerous terrorists or boring paper work. They would rather use that time to do whatever they want, like travelling, working, or studying as young Canadians do. However, despite the hardship and dangers, every Israeli I have encountered tells me that he or she would do it again for their country.

This is part 1 of a series on our instructor training program.

UTKM  Instructor Course

Urban_Tactics_logo smallOur aim at Urban Tactics Krav Maga has always been to design a structured Krav Maga school allied with international Krav Maga organizations to provide traditional Israeli style training. Vancouver is a city with relatively low crime rate and a low population density. It is a very small market compared to European countries with a high population density, high GDP, and high movement between borders. In an environment which faces more chaos and turmoil, lots of enthusiastic people are willing to learn self-defense skills, whereas Vancouver is not known for its warrior culture.

Despite the geographical differences, we have managed to build a solid student body who believe in our practical Krav Maga training. As student numbers grow, we have started to nurture additional teaching staff for the school.

The Instructor Course is designed by both chief instructors at UTKM, Borhan Jiang and Jonathan Fader. We have both acquired various Krav Maga instructor certifications from IKI, IKMF, CT707, KMG, and CKMI. We are also trained in other martial arts including BJJ, Muay Thai, MMA, and Western style knife fighting. In addition, we draw real life experience from serving in both the Israeli and Canadian military, as well as private security. By combining everything we learned, we have created a dynamic training program for our assistant instructors.

The course consists of two portions: Assistant Instructor course (AIC) and Full Instructor Course (FIC). The AIC has a focus on instructional techniques and delivering our Krav Maga curriculum. The FIC focuses on leadership and management.

Once certified as an Assistant Instructor, you may teach at our school or privately under the UTKM credentials. In order to operate your own school under UTKM, you must also complete the FIC.

For a list of currently certified instructors and their ranks, please visit our UTKM team page here.

Our training program is a mentorship

The UTKM Assistance Instructor Course is the first stage of becoming a Full Instructor under the UTKM brand. It is a post-secondary style apprenticeship program rather than just a short course like other organizations. Oftentimes, other schools host week-long courses to produce lots of “instructors” over time and also procure maximum profits. They also often end the courses with a couple handshakes, and then you are out in the teaching world alone with little support other than possible email exchanges. Some places even offer weekend instructor courses or online certification. It is an insult to serious Krav Maga practitioners around the world. Our instructor course can take between 3 months to a year to complete depending on the commitment level of each candidate.

Our instructor program is a long-term mentorship which allows us to invest in a few students per year, really cultivate their teaching skills, and provide immediate support whenever necessary (like Jedi training). It is similar to MMA or boxing, in which you get a professional coaching team with a striking coach, grappling coach, conditioning coach, head coach, and more…..to support just one fighter. We implement similar support to our assistant instructors.

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How do I become an instructor candidate?

Candidate Requirements:

  • Minimum yellow belt ranking under UTKM (completed 70 hours of training)
  • A strong, competent warrior able to succefully demonstrate the ability to spar with contact
  • Mature and calm individuas, able to maintain control among chaos
  • Effective communication and public speaking skills
  • Can represent UTKM as an instructor
  • Able to acquire Canadian Federal Firearm License (PAL) or local equivalent (Alternative options available)
  • Achieve orange belt by end of AIC

Currently, we hand pick the candidates within our school. We get to know our students in and outside of classes (for at least 70 hours of training) before even offering them candidacy. The AIC program is a long-term commitment and we’ll be working together for many years to come, thus we are very careful who we accept.

What does the program involve?

AIC Curriculum:

  1. 50 hours of in-class instruction (history of Krav Maga, instructional techniques, etc.)
  2. 25 hours of instructor-focused physical training
  3. 25 hours of supervised teaching
  4. Must achieve Orange Belt (additional 70 hours of training) by the end of training

FIC Curriculum:

  1. Additional 50 hours of in-class instruction (leadership, management, etc.)
  2. Additional 15 hours supervised teaching
  3. Conduct a yellow belt and orange belt test under supervision
  4. Must achieve Green Belt (additional 140 hours of training after orange belt) by the end of training

At the time of this being published, becoming a UTKM instructor is by invite only. In addition, the FIC is still under development in order to offer the best possible education for our instructors. We will be opening it up in the future to a few applicants per year. If you are thinking about doing this in the future, please inquire by  emailing Josh Hensman at info@urbantacticscanada.com.

 

This February, I had the pleasure to host Lior Offenbach’s combat Krav Maga instructor course and his Law Enforcement and civilian seminar here at Urban Tactics Krav Maga, Vancouver. The instructor course is 7 days long and each seminar is 1 day long. Lior and I shared the same teacher, Mr. Zeev Cohen. At Zeev’s school, I saw how a normal Israeli Krav Maga class should be conducted; tough, aggressive, no time wasted……etc. Enormous gratitude to Lior who is willing to come to Vancouver where most other big Krav Maga organization would not want to come because of population density. Overall this was my 7th Krav Maga instructor course in my Krav Maga career and it’s interesting to compare Lior’s course and teaching method with other instructors and courses I received in the past.

 

My Krav Maga Instructor Training History so far:

 

  1. IKMF civilian instructor course part 01- Netanya – Avi Moyal, Gabi Noah
  2. IKMF civilian instructor course part 02 – Montreal – Avi Moyal, Thierry
  3. IKMF civilian instructor course part 02 and G2 Grading Test – Hong Kong – Avi Moyal
  4. IKMF civilian instructor course part 01 – Taiwan – Avi Moyal
  5. KMG Military Krav Maga instructor – Serbia – Eyal Yaniolv, Moran Laskov
  6. CT 707 Krav Maga instructor – Buffalo City – Nir Maman
  7. Combat Krav Maga – Vancouver – Lior Offenbach

 

The Course

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This is not a fighting course. I do not recall sparring even once during this course which is similar to most of my previous Krav Maga Instructor courses where sparing was kept to the minimum. The reason for minimal sparring is this is an instructor course; not an operating course. As an instructor and operator in combat fighting, you should already have enough operating experience in Krav Maga or other combative sports or systems before taking this course and you should be sparring and/or fighting on a weekly basis anyway. In Lior’s course, we spent about 60 percent of our time on technique and 40 percent on teaching each other the new techniques we learned as a class. During that 40% teaching component of the course, participants use each other as students and practice teaching classes over and over again. Of course, Lior is staring at the student acting as instructor like a hawk; looking for every little mistake.

Learning the technique is a tiring process but for most it is more tiring trying to learn how to run a class in a fast pasted, no nonsense Israeli Krav Maga manner. The hardest part is you are literately re-teaching what you just learned a couple hours prior to your fellow classmates. During the teaching phase Lior will push your buttons, stress you out and ask random questions to simulate what you will face as an instructor in a real class.

 

Lior covered every detail of every phase of the class; from the “wow factor to anchor the audience (students) to how to cut techniques into manageable training steps so both the instructors and the students can remember.” If you are fortunate enough to take Lior’s Krav Maga classes you will be amazed at how smooth things are run and that is because Lior is like the “Steve Jobs” of the Krav Maga world. He does all the hard work in the background so things operate smoothly for the public. After all, Lior taught a couple hundred people per class every night while he was operating a Krav Maga school in Tel Aviv.

 

Techniques:

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Overall there was about an 80% overlap of technique that I already knew and 20% was either something new or a modification; but there was a lot of key elements and vital information on Krav Maga techniques and tactics only a seasoned and street experienced police officer and Krav Maga expert would know. I have to say I have never met any Krav Maga instructor with so much experience in actually using “Krav Maga” in real life other than Nir Maman.

 

I mean no disrespect to any instructors I have learned from in the past but I can categorize instructors into a few categories:

 

  1. Technician
  2. Teacher
  3. Warrior

 

All Krav Maga or other system instructors have these three roles in them. The only difference is the percentage of each element they embody. Lior scored superb in both the technician and teacher elements but he scored extremely high in the warrior section. Coming from a sports combative system and army background, I often get into debates as to whether or not Krav Maga is a “ Self-defense “ system or a “ Fighting “ system as its name translates to, “Contact Combat”. Personally, I think the big Krav Maga organizations are leaning more toward the “ self-defense “ and “ technique “ approach rather than the hardcore warrior training as in the old school Krav Maga. Lior’s presence in this community is a welcome fresh breeze to those who still believe that Krav Maga can be combative as well as defensive in practice.

 

 

Overall Philosophy:

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Lior is a big fan of the generalization of attacks versus creating hundreds of thousands of defense techniques against hundreds of thousands of attacks – why not use what works? For example, almost all of the techniques against empty hands attack can be converted into attacks from knives.

 

Most good instructors point out that too many choices confuse people – Hick’s law. Of course there are specific threats that need specific techniques. Lior challenged us, especially those who are instructors already, to question what techniques we could take out of our syllabus to make Krav Maga even easier to learn for students.

 

According to Wikipedia:

Hick’s law, or the Hick–Hyman Law, named after British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has: increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically. The Hick–Hyman law assesses cognitive information capacity in choice reaction experiments. The amount of time taken to process a certain amount of bits in the Hick–Hyman law is known as the rate of gain of information.

 Strong Base as beginning to everything:

One thing that most Krav Maga or martial arts instructors overlook is the importance of a strong base. For Lior, without a strong base you might as well roll over and accept your fate because all upper body defenses require a strong base in order for these defenses to function. The first step for all of our moves during the class is a strong fighting stance and base. Some traditional Chinese martial artists comment that the way Combat Krav Maga focuses so much on the base almost reminds them of the old school Chinese Kung Fu from 1890 – 1944 when people were using Kung Fu literately to fight for their lives on daily basis. It is a high praise consider at this period of time Chinese Army were using giant sword facing the Japanese Imperial Army and god fathers of modern combative such as Mr. Fairbarin and Sykes were horning their street fighting skill on the street of Shanghai.

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Kick it Old School

 

Adding pushing and pulling movement to all attacks:

As mentioned before, I learned most of the techniques covered in Lior’s course in previous other Krav Maga instructor courses; but adding pushing and pulling movements from/to the attackers changed the dynamic of those techniques. Honestly speaking, it is unrealistic to think most attacks will not come in force. Unfortunately, few Krav Maga instructors consider [that] when they teach their students and I have to admit, I am “guilty as charged” as well at times.

 

Conclusions:

Lior Offenbach with Jonathan Fader and Borhan Jiang

Overall this is not a super physically demanding course but a superb mentally demanding course. The seminar on the other hand is both tough and physically demanding. Lior is very detail orientated when it comes to teaching every technique. A move is not just a move and a technique is not just a technique. In Combat Krav Maga there is a lot of detail, physics, psychology, etc., behind each and every one of those moves. After all, the devil hides in the detail and after learning those details and being able to perform without thinking, we shall fight like devils – just like Lior.

 

 

Red men challenge force protection personnel

If I had a dollar for every time a Law Enforcement officer told me that he or she was too busy to train, I believe I could buy myself a fancy steak dinner………..with deserts. Joking aside, few LE ( Law Enforcement ) officers want to train on their own time. After talking to many LE officers the from Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Border Service Agency, Vancouver Police Department, Translink police, New West Police, Buffalo City Police, Federal Corrections gave me some insight as to why they do not want to train  and add skills outside of the job.

Some of the reasons include:

  1. They are too tired to train after their shift is over
  2. They feel they are not obligated to spend their own money and time when the agency (command) should provide the necessary tools and trainings for their work
  3. They are afraid to train in systems that might or will contradict with what they are taught in the academy. They do not want to get themselves in trouble during the arrest process.
  4. They simply have no interests to train themselves
  5. Budget

 

Let’s take a look at these.

Reason 1 : I am too tired to train after my shift is over

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Policing is a tough job and, unless a person has done it before, you cannot relate to the challenges of the job both mentally and physically. First, they carry 25lb to 35 lb of police gear constantly. That alone is physically draining. Second, the night shift is just plain tough on anyone. Third, most agencies are undermanned and they often pull double shifts. Some agencies are more difficult than others because of the nature of its work. For example, in municipal forces most LE officers are trained as first responder on the scene. They are able to pass the follow-up tasks such as detective work with other departments of the same agency. That is not the case with federal agencies such as the RCMP. RCMP officers are responsible for the entire investigation of the crime and everything that is related to the crime. That puts an extra burden on their work day. These are not just jobs but ongoing, often disturbing cases.

Reason 2: They feel they are not obligated to spend their own money or time because the agency (command) should provide the necessary tools and training for their work

In the academy or depot, some argue that the police training is good for 90 % of the police work; from writing a report to a gun fight. If there is anything else more that needs to be done, the agency should provide it because that’s their job. The higher ups should come up with the training program and allow officers to train during their shift.

Reason 3: They are afraid to train in systems that will contradict with what they are taught in the academy and get themselves in trouble during the arrest process.

This logic is probably the most legit reason for officers not to want to train in systems like Krav Maga which is a highly aggressive and striking based system. Sadly, recording technology means that everything our officers do is put under the public microscope. The general public has an “untrained“ eye and judges any aggressive move such as striking as an inappropriate use of force. The public will judge a situation based on their perceptions and not from the mindset established by training. It is a sad reality that modern LE officers have to face in today’s world.

Reason 4: They simply have no interest to train themselves

I have met many good LE officers who take no interests in firearms and martial art training. One of our former students said, “ You do not want to go and spend several hours on your day off to shoot guns when you carry one 24/7. “ Many LE officers just do not have the dedication and interests to train in martial arts on their leisure time.

Reason 5: Budget

Believe or not, LE officers are well paid in Canada compared to their US counterparts. Like everyone else, they have their economical burdens such as mortgage, child support and so on. Some people just cannot justify paying a gym membership to train themselves when most of the time they are not going to use the training. Many of us live well and we can probably make a distinction between things that are wants rather than needs.

Those are legit reasons and most issues come from the agency (commands) not individual officers. However, living in this imperfect world we can only rely on ourselves to address some of the issues. After all, isn’t that what being a LE officer is all about — being the solution, not the problem?

Solutions:

  1. In the sports medicine world, LEO’s, firefighters and military personnel are known, as “ industrial athletes.” Meaning, no matter how tired they are from their shift they still have to maintain a certain fitness standard for their job. They can always choose sports like boxing and grappling that are also great cardio and muscle workouts on top of training good hand-to-hand fighting skills. Kill two birds with one stone.

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  1. I recommend that people spend their own money on extra training. Just like everything in government, most agencies only do the bare minimum. After all, just like everyone else, the department has a limited budget. For command, buying new pistols might be viewed as more important than hand-to-hand or combative training. If LEO’s are worried about their personal budgets, find out if there is a discount. Most martial art gyms and ranges offers LE/ MIL discounts ( UTKM offers 30 % off ). Some people might have skills useful for a seminar and could barter an exchange.

 

  1. If people are worried about using excessive force learned in training outside of command, the concern is legit. Consider the school and their experience working with LEO’s. They know that the more training their students have, the more likely they are able to respond effectively under stressful conditions. Better-trained first responders are more comfortable getting physical, responding faster, and staying calmer. Well-trained people become more effective during extreme stress compared to people who have less training. A reporter asked UFC champion Jon Jones once “Are you afraid of walking into ring? “ Jon Jones said “ It is my job. You don’t ask a mail man if he is afraid of walking into a post office.”

 

It is your job and you chose this route. The more prepared people are for the job, the less mistakes you are going to make.

4& 5. Marry your job with your interests and pick a hobby that is related to your work. Life is fair: everyone only has 24 hours but it is how we use that 24 hours hat makes a difference. Some cops once said that “Policing is not a job but a life-style.” We all have different hobbies: fishing, movies, running and so on. If we can choose hobbies that can enhance our ability to do our jobs, then why not ? After all, we can all go fishing when we retire.

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“ If you only have a hammer in your tool belt then every problem looks like a nail “ When LEO’s do not have the right tools to handle the dynamics of police work, it usually leads to “ excessive force “ or even “ deadly force.”

Honestly, this reasoning reflects on the agency and command; however, in this imperfect world it is usually the individual who takes on the duty to make the necessary change. Don’t fall victim to your department or command’s lack of foresight and politically inspired budget cuts. Ask a person who requires your protection and service to show-up ready to do your job. You think your training is not up to speed I pledge to “ take the steps to find the solution to those issues because otherwise, you are a liability to the public safety not an asset. “

Most importantly, work with your family and community for ways they can support you in helping you find the resources of time and money to train. We all want our LEO’s, first responders, military, and firefighters to return home safely.

 

Recently there were several videos of South Korean Special Forces training with knives. Those are some impressive videos, but after all those “Ya! Woo! Ahh!”, we should discuss the reality of knife fighting and it’s military usage. For those who do not know me, I am a Krav Maga instructor certified under numerous organizations, a non-lethal weapon instructor with TASER International, a member of the Canadian Forces for 12 years and a student under the great Sword Master Braun McAsh (famed choreographer of the Highlander TV series).

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Borhan Training with Braun McAsh

receiving my ass whipping in knife combat with Mr. McAsh

Military Use of Knife:

 

  1. It is unlikely in any situation that a soldier, special ops or not, would draw his knife and do face to face dueling with enemy combatants who also have knives. Here I do not mean bayonet charge, sentry removal, or stabb an enemy when tangled up in close quarters combat.
  2. If you have to draw your knife on your enemy it means you have screwed up big time. All soldiers follow rules of engagement as all law enforcement follow the use of force circle. Generally speaking: a soldier can use non-deadly force (hand to hand) then deadly force (rifle). Like it or not, utilising a knife is deadly force. You cannot subdue an enemy combatant with a knife. It is meant to kill, so why are you using a knife face to face when you could just use your firearm. There are still occasions like sentry removal or a bayonet charge where cold steel weapons serve the modern military effectively, but going forward to have a face to face duel? That barely existed in ancient battles when most deaths are caused by arrows, spears and being trampled to death rather than “manly” individual blade vs blade battle.
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most likely usage of knives in modern military setting

Techniques :

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The techniques in this footage are reasonable and proficient in dueling situation :

Overall, the techniques used in the video are pretty decent and universal in most dagger and knife fighting systems. All the cuts and stabs are within the “box“ and all the attacks are conducted within range effortlessly. That’s the key to using cold steel weapons: let the blade to do its work. The blade with a bit pressure will simply sink into the enemy’s flesh. I think it is a hard concept for non-blade martial artists to grasp, because we generally rely on impact. Even with a one inch punch the power needs to be generated from the hip, but with knife fighting a simple wrist movement will do the trick.

The disarm at 1:40 is not sufficient– simply push the attacker away then deal with the 2nd guy coming from the right. It is too much for show. The wise way would be strike, control the first attacker and use him as a shield against the 2nd attacker.

The counter attack ( 1:48 ) is done right. In a dueling situation, the enemy is not simply going to let you attack their vital parts at center of mass (main torso). It is wise to attack the limbs to cause loss of blood or cut the tender muscles so the enemy won’t be able to hold his or her weapon due to pain or loss of muscle control. The finish is not sufficient. The attack should continue after the first stab. You never know if you have stabbed or cut the right place and the human body can be really tough sometimes.

In conclusion: I wonder what’s the reason the Korean UDT/ SEAL conducts this type of training maybe it is an element of overall hand to hand combat training like hitting the sandbag in Boxing. This type of training might enhance the awareness of knife usage and attack then indirectly help defense against knives in close quarter ?  I would argue this type of training by itself ” alone ” has no practical value in modern military.