Posts Tagged ‘Imi Lichtenfeld’

In my previous review, posted my commentary on the Fight Quest episode about Krav Maga. Here is my review of the Human Weapons (2007) episode on Krav Maga.

Personally, I enjoy Human Weapons¬†more out of the two series, probably due to the¬†awesome 3D graphics they employed. I also liked¬†Fight Quest less because I really didn’t like¬†Jimmy Smith. Either¬†way, it is¬†a shame that both series have been¬†canceled after only one season each. Also, Human Weapon employs a slightly different format of experiencing the various martial arts.¬†The hosts stay together, train together, and learn identical techniques, and I think the fact they both get the same experience is better for the show.

Timestamped Commentary

00:17 You can see them walking with Prof. Itay Gil, a former Sheyetet-13 (Navy Seals equivalent) and¬†other units as well as a¬†well-known counter-terrorist and Krav Maga expert. They use the term “anti-terrorist unit,” but this means nothing to me and shows that they either didn’t want to say the name or couldn’t be bothered. In reality, Israel has many anti-terrorist units and people using the terms vaguely without actually specifying the unit is a pet peeve of mine. Itay was one of the early people spreading Krav Maga and CT tactics globally and out of Israel before it even became widely known. He is also known for training IKI’s Moshe Katz.

01:00 I know that stadium well. It¬†is an obvious landmark in Jerusalem, but I never actually went in it. I am not sure if he is still teaching to civilians there, but there is only one way to find out. Itay’s style is hyper-aggressive, to the point, and very military focused on the specific needs of what soldiers and police might need.

01:56 Enter the weapon. Even an amateur fighter could handle themselves easily against the average person in a fight, but bring in the weapons and all of a sudden they are usually not sure what to do. If you have never trained with realistic weapon attacks. all your martial arts may have been for naught.

04:14 The anti-terrorist training facility is not such a secret. I mean, if you know what its name is then you can easily find it because they have road signs for it in Israel, so they probably knew its name simply by watching the road signs on the way in. Also, when I spent my time there during sniper school, there were US Marines and units from all over the world periodically training there. So really, if you really wanted to find it you could just ask around. Not sure if that’s so secret….

04:56 It’s called bursting. This basically means putting all your energy forward into the target. To me, if your feet are in the same place they started you really didn’t burst. In Krav Maga, if you are not running away or creating space, you should be moving forward. Thus, you must start with a burst and keep moving. If your instructors always have you stationary when you drill, then either they don’t understand the concept or they are a bad instructor. Sorry, it’s another pet peeve of mine. Also, it should be noted that you should be hitting the face not the chest, but I am sure they did it they way they did so as to protect the actors.

06:31 As you can see, they are attempting to do a combo 360 defense with their burst. However, as is common with new practitioners, they are so mentally concerned about getting away from the knife that they screw up the technique. They are usually moving out and sideways before they have actually completed a full burst, which diminishes its effectiveness. I would like to also add this builds bad muscle memory when done like this as you cannot always run immediately, often bursting means moving forward to control the weapon arm and if your reflex is always to hit and run, you may be in trouble in the times you cannot run.

07:26 IKMF is originally founded in 1996 by Eyal Yanilov and others prior to Imi’s death, probably because they were pissed off by the succession by Haim Gideon. Anyway, it is now run by Avi Moyal who ousted Eyal in the late 2000’s. Eyal left and created KMG. You have to love the Israeli and Krav Maga politics… I also originally started with IKMF, but due to a difference in opinions let’s say, we left IKMF.

07:36¬†Hey, look! There is Eyal¬†before he left. That’s how old this show is. He is widely seen as the true protege for Imi. Also, you saw Avi Moyal a little earlier in the clip.

07:55¬†As you can see, they are doing a pressure drill. In Krav Maga, you avoid the ground and do not stay on the ground, so drills like this force people to be aggressive under pressure in order to get off the ground. Although, this circle looks kind of tame…

09:02 If I am not mistaken, that is Zeev Cohen with whom I have never trained, but I know several people who have. From what I have heard, he is widely considered one of the top instructors and practitioners in the Krav Maga world. As far as I know, he operates his own school under his own name/brand but is more affiliated with KMG these days as he followed Eyal after his ousting.

09:20 Crowd control work for VIP protection. It is situations like this that people usually hire giants for their body guards. Though outside of these situations, giants are not always the best, just saying.

09:50 As you can see, they are practicing the 360 block. Really, this needs to be combined with bursting. I like the drill they are showing, but only when explaining why it’s called 360 and if people are having trouble with the block section. I would much rather teach it in full with the burst so as to build proper reactive muscle memory. If you are static due to muscle memory caused by these drills during an aggressive knife attack, you will have a hard time dealing with it. I personally feel part of the reason some organizations claim that 360 is not a good technique is because they are not teaching it properly in the first place. It is a simple and effective technique when taught and trained properly, but I see people messing it up all over the internet. Pet Peeve. Did you notice I have a lot?

12:00¬†These choke attacks may not be common for everyone and thus a lot of places don’t like to teach them. However, they are very common in large person versus small person self-defense situations, such as domestic violence, and should not be ignored. Would I attack any one like that? Probably not. I know better, but I hate it when I hear people say that “Nobody attacks like that.”¬†They do, even if you have not seen it before.

12:20¬†Someone who is grabbing the trachea with force to crush it using only one hand probably has some idea about what they are doing. Most people are just targeting the neck in general, but if they are targeting the trachea specifically, you had better react fast if you don’t want to die.

13:00 This is actually one option in this scenario that I still teach. However, I teach two others as well because, due to body shapes and sizes as well as varying situations, sometimes having one option is not good enough. All options work just fine when they suit the person and situation, but sometimes one is better than the other even though the other is preferred. As much as possible, we try to limit the move to just one option, but again due to the variables in attacks, sometimes people need a couple options. For example, you can see that plucking relies heavily on speed to work.

14:14 You can tell this is old. The IDF largely uses the Micro Tavor now. When I was in the army, they were still trying to convince SF operators to use the regular Tar 21 which is what I used. I would take the Micro Tavor though over either, but the M4 over the Tar 21 Tavor any day.

14:28 He pronounced the name wrong, just so you know. Also, they are a bit dramatic by saying they are going to armageddon. It’s actually a really nice area full of farmlands and hills. I know since I lived in Kibbutz Ein-Ha-Shofet just around the corner for most of my time off base in Israel. Though, I should really have moved to the city because, well, Jonathan Fader and socialist communists don’t really mesh. Look up “Kibbuts” for more info, although a Kibbutz is a good example of why socialism fails because they rely on capitalism in order to survive. Go figure.

14:40 Ok, you can just skip over this section. If you didn’t know, Moni Aizik is a fraud and was never actually in any “Commando” units as a combat soldier. He was allegedly a paper pusher in one of the bases. Also, he was only ever a Judoka as far as I know. He has been widely discredited since this show and I am fairly sure he is wanted in several countries for fraud or other things though I couldn’t tell you what. Unfortunately, some people still pay money to train with this fool. Not to mention a lot of the techniques he teaches are quite laughable.

18:00 Ok, for the last f***ing time, Wingate is not the main base of the IDF. For the most part, it is a private sports institute that happens to have a military base on in and, yes, a lot of physical tests and the general program for Krav Maga is run out of it. And yes, back in the day it is where Imi and others taught out of but that was many many years ago. It is not this main amazing crazy place that so many people claim it is. There is a hill I mentioned in the Fight Quest post that I do hate. Personally, I went there to do fitness competitions. In addition, many of the SF pre-trial tests are done there. Also, as mentioned, the general Krav Maga training program is there where instructors take a 6 week or so program to teach IDF Krav Maga to soldiers. So, if this is the only training that IDF KM instructors have in KM, it means not all of them are very good unless they trained as a civilian previously. It is a fairly nice base though as IDF bases go as its right on the mediteranian. and NO every israeli citizen does not go to Wingate for Basic trainging, I sure as hell didnt. I was stuck in the Negev Desert…..

19:21 To be honest, I have no idea who Shahar Klafeld is so perhaps someone can enlighten me. He looks like a Miloeemik or reservist doing his annual duty. If thats the case they didnt take the show very seriously. Also head instructor is relative if they always change them.

20:00¬†Personally, I don’t teach the butt hit anymore as you are not controlling the muzzle. As far as I am aware neither do a lot of people. I simply use magazine and the barrel from different angles. I also don’t teach people to hit wildly again due to muzzle control, which if you are not aware is a key part of firearms safety.

23:15¬†By the way, that gear is the crappiest available. Again, they weren’t giving them anything frilly. At least they gave them new unifroms. Also, I like this drill but it could have been much better but again due to safety when firearms are involved you can’t go too crazy or else someone might end up with a barrel in their eye. By the way being hit in the face with a barrel is not fun, as I can attest.

25:01 What is saying is great. Let the trainig and reaction take over. Because under stress you can’t think you need to just do. This is why it’s so important to build the correct reactions to calm situations. It’s better to practice slowly and correctly than quickly and incorrectly because this trains your body how to move properly.

25:49 Massada is one of my favourite places in Israel. So much history and also known for the famous pre-sunrise hike. If you go to Israel and don’t go to Massada then you didn’t really visit Israel.

26:19 It should be noted that while Dennis Hanover is an AMAZING martial artist, self defense expert and overall combative expert, he isn’t technically doing Krav Maga even if he is teaching a lot of the same things. This is mainly due to the fact he has an immense martial arts back ground, but really doesn’t come from the traditional Krav Maga lineage. Either way though, I would not mess with him as he clearly trains to kill and is proficient in most hand-held weapons. I also love the way this guy moves, there’s just something about being a true master.

31:12 It’s true that the heat in the Jordanian Valley is quite annoying. If you want to experience different types of heat then simply travel all over Israel in the summer. Hot in the Jordanian Valley is a whole different kind of hot.

31:19 This is more Kyokushin style training, but I support it periodically. It allows people to condition their body and really push themselves physically. Of course, if you do it too much, it tends to lower your guard from protecting the head, which is a bad habit. You must always train sparring with head shots (of course, with protective head gear) and occasionally do this kind of sparring. It may also be a section in some of UTKMs belt tests.

33:03 As you can see, some people have their faces covered, this means they are SF and cannot be seen on camera. Again, they are on Israels Central CT base, though I still say it’s not so secret anymore. Also, people really need to stop using the term commando as a general term as it really means nothing other than SF, but doesn’t specify the unit. It is likely that these are members of CT707 the same unit that Nir Maman served it. However, as many SF units train out of this base you really cannot be certain.

34:30 For example, these guys who are sparring could be Matkal, Sheyetet-13, Shaldag or any other top tear unit, but you really cannot know. See how it mostly focuses on aggression and engagement?

36:44 I wonder if this is actually how they decided. I mean, its generally obvious who has the better skill. It’s usually Jason, but Bill does get in sometimes.

39:00¬†These circles are great. We use them is some of our testings. If your school has never put you in a similar circle, tell them it’s time to up the ante. Though, please do them safely. Although, Jason has a tendency to go to the ground too often. I think it’s his MMA training coming in, but with knives, you rarely want to go down to the ground since you’ll get cut for sure. Also, I really think they are going easy on him. Either way again, even after going through a week of training, you can tell he is reverting to what he knows. Also, he probably would have been dead from the second knife attack. Overall, these circles are great for training people for the unexpected when you are tired. You really never know who is going to attack and when.

Summary

For the most part, the guys in Human Weapons trained a little bit more with the military Krav Maga organizations and a little less with civilian ones probably because of Itay Gil. While both military and civilian Krav Maga organizations are very good, a truly great Krav Maga organization or program should provide both military and civilian aspects of training. Military Krav Maga is generally more focused on conditioning, aggression, and mental toughness, while civilian Krav Maga spends more time developing technical prowess and correct reflexes. Again, both are important with regards to being a good Krav Maga practitioner.

Also, like the Fight Quest episode, I would really like to emphasis how much BS is out there regarding both Krav Maga and the IDF. I know so many people who don’t have a clue what they are talking about when it comes to the IDF or Krav Maga. Always do your research and don’t be easily impressed just by titles alone.

Disclaimer: I do not consider myself a master, and I do not accept any such recognition. I am too young, have not been doing anything long enough, have not trained hard enough, and have not experienced enough to justify any such claims. Despite not being a master myself, I can recognize and believe what true mastery should be like. All aspects of the concept of mastery also applies to things outside of martial arts.

What is mastery? A simple search will define mastery as:

mastery

Sometimes, when you read a list of definitions, you can choose at least one of them to reflect what you’re trying to mean when you say something. However, when I see this definition, I think it needs much more than the two options. Can someone be a master with simply comprehensive knowledge and skill without control? Can someone be a master with control or superiority without having comprehensive knowledge or skill?

Obviously not.

Let’s debunk some myths about mastery.

Myth 1: A master is an old man who has spent his life training in solitude, peacefully dedicating his life to his art.

Thanks to the movie industry, we have this inaccurate and ethnocentric image of mastery. Real mastery is simply building comprehensive knowledge and skill through practice and experience, and developing it long enough to show expert control in the use of that knowledge and skill.

Oftentimes, if people who call themselves experts or masters are observed in detail, you may notice that many of them lack some important aspects. Knowledge, skill, and control are three basic characteristics of a master. Many black belts out there are made up of only one or two of these traits.

Myth 2: A master is unbeatable.

A master is not invincible. Someone who fights to win every time is not a master. A master must have the ability to use control in a fight, and not just try to obliterate their opponents. Another crucial ability all masters should have is to avoid fights. Anyone can be defeated at anytime, especially if they constantly stay at the white stage of the Awareness Colour Code.

Mastery-colourcode.jpg

Understanding the Awareness Colour Code is essential to mental control. Some people are great fighters, but they lose control mentally during or after the fight despite winning. If one does not know or understand how they react to certain situations, and what triggers them to reach bad conditions like a catastrophic mental shut down (code black), no longer thinking or applying strategy.

Myth 3: Masters are always calm, gentle, and peaceful.

In my experience through the military and martial arts training, it is most difficult to train people for extreme stress. People never know how they react until they are put to the test in a real situation. Even using simulations and aggression training does not fully prepare one for a real fight. Obviously, you should not go around looking for fights so that you can practice. That is dangerous and stupid. The important point is that you do not know what will happen in your body until the time comes. If your training has been effective, you will know when your body wants to explode, but you can control it to achieve your goal (which should be to safely protect yourself and your loved ones, and then get the heck out of your bad situation).

This may seem like a unrelated tangent, but it is so very important to mastery. It’s not about being calm, gentle, and peaceful all the time. It’s about being able to maintain control even when you’re not calm.

The crux of mastery

Once, I was told by a very well known Krav Maga instructor that he didn’t like a certain organization because their top fighters are not hardcore enough. One of his friends, who was a phenomenal athlete and fighter by all accounts, was working towards a high level promotion. The final test was sparring. In the test, he was performing like a champion fighter, dominating other black belts. Finally, they asked him to display control in his fights (meaning to not simply beat everyone up), and he simply could not do it. In the end, they declined his promotion.

On another note, the instructor who told me this story is also a great practitioner. Yet, after getting to know him more, it is obvious that he also has trouble grasping the importance of controlled aggression. People who have difficulty with mental control, usually have other underlying psychological/emotional issues. Often, they eventually create their own organizations, rather than recognizing their shortcomings and then working on those internal problems. The biggest challenge all practitioners face is mental control.

At the heart of Krav Maga

mastery-peace

The goal is to¬†“walk in peace” as stated by Imi Lichtenfeld.¬†Yes, aggression is a central attribute of Krav Maga, but the core of Krav Maga is walking in peace, which means both outer and inner peace.

Most of the Kravists or martial artists who I have met in my life have the same difficulty controlling themselves internally. When real violence occurs, their training and strategy goes out the window. Without mental control, even the most phenomenal athletes I know can easily lose to mediocre opponents with better strategy when it comes to a real fight.

Don’t get me wrong, all of the individuals I know who are like this are still phenomenal¬†at what they do. I would love to train with these people and learn from them. They have valuable knowledge or skills, or both.Yet, in a violent situation, they are either burning harder than they should at code red, or they have hit code black and they don’t even know it.

What does it take to be a master?

The 10,000 hour rule is a great base. 10,000 hours equates to about 5.5 years of full time training at 40 hours a week. This is why in most legitimate belt programs, it takes 10+ years to reach a black belt. And those at that level know that black belt is just the beginning of becoming a real master.

If 10,000 hours of physical practice means you have comprehensive skill, you still need to have comprehensive knowledge and control.

Knowledge comes from both training and real life experience, and then the ability to combine and connect the two. This may require a person to step outside of the cave or the dojo in order to gather the information and accumulate knowledge.

Control is twofold. Physical control could come from the hours of physical training. Mental control, on the other hand, can be difficult to develop. The right training environment and instructor is very important. Many training environments barely scratch the surface on knowledge about the art being learned outside of techniques and moves.

They say the hardest battle you ever face is yourself

I would like to add that the biggest lies we tell are to ourselves. You can tell yourself that you have no problems, but do you really? You can tell yourself that you know your problems and are working on them, but do you really? It is difficult to have the greatest insight, and it is difficult to accept what you see inside yourself. But mental control is one of the biggest parts of achieving mastery.

mastery-walkinpeace.jpg

True mastery is when you can walk in peace knowing that you can overcome the challenges ahead

Ultimately, it is a combination of everything coming together. It is more than showing up to class and training. It is more than just teaching. It is more than believing that you are a master. It is when you reach the point in which others recognize you as a master. (Self-promotion is not mastery, by the way…)

A true master can physically defend him or herself, and others. A true master knows the mental struggles, but knows that he or she is prepared to deal with them.

Many people just go through the motions and lie to themselves, never accepting their shortcomings and learning to face them. Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve mastery?

Imi Licthenfeld is widely known as the founder of Krav Maga. If you search “Krav Maga” on the internet, you will likely see Imi’s name pop up all over the place, cited as the “founder of Krav Maga.”

But is he? Is he really?

This is a topic that sometimes arises among Krav Maga enthusiasts. While majority of Krav Maga organizations say this is true, there are several who challenge this because they have other lineage in Israel, or outright deny this for whatever reason.

Why is there a dispute?

Usually, it comes from those¬†with a background in Krav Panim al Panim (KAPAP), which is Hebrew for “face-to-face combat,” or a religious background with a deep sense of history in the land of Israel. They trace their roots back to pre-1940 Israel, when various Jewish groups have already been practicing forms of hand-to-hand combat.¬†KAPAP traces its roots specifically to the Palmach, a wing of the Haganah. In 1948, when Israel was declared an independent nation by the United Nations, the Haganah became the Israeli Defence Force.

There wouldn’t be a dispute if…

…we simply change the statement to “Imi Lichtenfed is the founder of Modern Krav Maga.” The KAPAP¬†became the official hand-to-hand combat system in Palestinian organizations. Imi did not move to the mandate of Palestine until later. Essentially, it is a political conflict. Regardless, during the¬†country’s early years, Imi was named the head of the IDF physical fitness and hand-to-hand combat programs. It is likely that he took what he already knew and combined it with moves, ideas and/or techniques from early KAPAP.

Imi is the one who made modern Krav Maga big

Ultimately, Krav Maga is what it is today because of Imi’s efforts. During the 1960s-70s, he is the one who opened up the self-defense system to the Israeli public. In the 1980s, he further expanded Krav Maga into the international world. While he is certainly not the one who made up hand-to-hand combat, or the first to practice it in the land of Israel, he can certainly be credited with making modern Krav Maga and KAPAP into¬†what they are today.¬†Without him, it is likely that Krav Maga would be very different. To those who continue to dispute this fact, it’s time for you to let it go so that we can work together¬†to build the art of self-defense in the world.

Side note: There are various Krav Maga organizations all over the world, which each employ a slightly different technical style and mentality towards self-defense. To the untrained eye, watching videos of each different style would look the same for the most part.