Posts Tagged ‘Principles’

The principles of Krav Maga make it an effective close-quarters combat (CQC) system (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

What is Krav Maga? How should you train it? What is “real” and what is not? This is a debate for the ages. It is a subject discussed quite a lot and is an area in which I feel so many people let their own world view, experience and, of course, ego get in the way (see my series on Ego). Certainly, at least from the Imi lineage, it should be principle-based, evolve over time as needed, and in general be employed so that one “may walk in peace.” Beyond that Krav Maga is open to much interpretation. Often it is associated with the military, but the Imi lineage actually started as a means for civilians to defend themselves against the Nazis, it wasn’t developed for military applications until later.

I decided to write this series after watching another video of a former IDF Special forces solider discussing what his Krav Maga experience was. The context of the conversation was a discussion of his experience, as well as that of the other participants, with what was referred to as “original” Krav Maga, that being Krav Maga prior to the watered down BS, “McDojo” style, American Krav Maga. (Which most serious people do not consider real Krav Maga, though I see even some legit schools or organizations becoming more “martial arts” than practical self-defence.)

I thought, “why not write an in depth series to clarify a few things about the differences in what military, police, and civilian Krav Maga should and should not look like?” Of course, if you ask me, a proper program should not separate everything, but rather use the pacing of the curriculum to build up from civilian to law enforcement, then later to military, as the application and situations become more severe. But, hey, since most people seem to want to make a distinction, for the purpose of this series I will discuss the three applications as such.

As this is something I have discussed loosely before, I shall skip an intro post and jump right into the Military application, approach, thoughts, etc…

Military Krav Maga

I am going to start with my own Krav Maga experience during my time in the military. Prior to joining up I started learning Krav Maga as a civilian and developed my skills to get a leg up on basic training. Unfortunately, upon arriving in the IDF I was sadly disappointed in my Krav Maga training. Granted, I was in the infantry and not Special Forces, but still it was hardly what I thought it would be; I had only about ten lessons total in the IDF and several of them were not even when I was in combat. Even further, and quite ironically, the lessons I had outside of the infantry were while studying in the IDF Hebrew school (a place that had more serious discipline and structure than my actual time in active duty.)

To be fair, it really depends who’s in charge at any given time. Some commanders are in favour of more Krav Maga and some less, some for more intense training, some less. But out of all the lessons I had in the IDF I only learned one new thing, and it was fairly minor. (At least during my time the standard Krav lesson was 90 minutes with 45 mins being more like physical fitness and the rest drill basic techniques.)

So why do we always think “hardcore military training” when we think of Krav Maga? That’s because many of the earlier ambassadors for Krav were all former Special Forces soldiers. Additionally, when KMG and other such organizations started going global in the ’90s, their focus was on the global military units; 1) because it’s the kind of people many of them were used to training and 2) because militaries have lots and lots of money…

So what does Special Forces Krav Maga training look like? Well it’s hard, and focuses on mental and physical toughness over actual technique. Depending on the unit, time, budget, and, of course, willingness to train regularly, units may do sessions from 1.5-4.5 hours or even all day sessions, sometimes for months-on-end or in condensed coursed lasting a few weeks. While this builds physical and mental toughness and a focus on aggression, it severely lacks technical development, which can actually hinder a soldiers overall ability in unarmed combat. An example of this was a person I know who was not just Special Forces, but Black Ops, who once visited UTKM. This was in the earlier days when our students were not as developed, but when it came to sparring he struggled, because though his physically and mental prowess are among the best I have ever seen, his technical development in fighting and unarmed combat was limited. Despite all his hard training.

The Why

Okay, so why is military style Krav Maga so focused on the physical, mental, and aggression? Well the answer is at it’s base a simple one: If a soldier, particularly an SF soldier, is in a position where they are forced to use unarmed combat it means things have gone absolutely, insanely wrong. They lost their primary (rifle), they lost their secondary (pistol), and lethal force with a knife may not be an option (at least in that moment.) This means that a soldier must rely on their will and ability to never stop to fight out of that bad situation. Because, for a soldier in such a situation, it is probably a life and death struggle, so they will need to fight with everything they have. It’s this severity of life and death that requires a serious focus on the mental strength, physical ability, and aggression. As much of their training is on other tools, like firearms, to defend themselves using hand-to-hand combat is seen as a far more blunt option.

Another factor is limited time (at least the claim of “limited time,” as many know the concept of “hurry up and wait” means there’s probably lots of time) in the development of soldiers. In the IDF, infantry members go through 6-12 months of training, while SF soldiers may have upwards of 2 years of training prior to deployment. In this time there are numerous skills, from firearms and field maneuvers, to specialty training, etc., that must occur. Which means time dedicated to Krav Maga training from a technical aspect would take away time from other skills that may be more important. The IDF, at least from what I saw, spends a large percentage of time training firearms skills (probably why they are so good) and already cuts out a lot of junk, like how to march in formation (most of the time). Because of this time constraint it can be difficult to really develop people properly from a technical stand point. Hence the simpler task of focusing on physical and mental development through adversity, and, of course, aggression training.

Another issue is the potential for injuries. It can cost $100,000 to $1,000,000 USD or more to train a soldier. Naturally, continuous and constant martial arts training or Krav Maga training, particularly of an aggressive nature, will eventually result in injury. One even minor injury could derail a soldier’s chance to progress, thus wasting the money and time of the organization. In the old days (’70s, etc.) you can find videos of bare-knuckled brawling as part of the training, where they freely beat the crap out of each other. While we can read about it and talk about “the glorious old days,” it really is a stupid way to train; mainly due to the physical injures and potential for CTE. Now, though training is tough, they often are fully geared up with protective equipment; gear that is bulky and hard to move in. While it protects the wearer it also limits their ability to learn proper technical movements and instead requires people to basically wail on their opponent. This means that without the gear an average unit like the infantry isn’t really allowed to train properly (at least according to the rules) and SF soldiers “can” because they have the gear. Naturally the gear changes the quality of the training but increases the safety of the soldiers.

The How

It should be noted that the aggressive nature of military training from the ’40s onward is actually what lead to Krav Maga being so successful. Because, at the end of the day, in the real world techniques fail and it is the the pure aggression and willingness to be violent that will lead to survival. As such this of course MUST be a part of any given military style. Another thing to consider is that when you are training military personnel it is usually assumed they are already the top 10% or so of the physically capable in any given society. This means that you can push them harder, faster, and at a quicker pace without it being an issue. This is why people who throw military boot camps for Krav Maga usually push people to their limits. Which for a civilian may be a “cool experience” but really does not develop much of anything other than a good story. Such training should be reserved for military units or more advanced students who have developed their physical and technical abilities prior. However, whether it be general advanced training or specific training, any military style training that leaves a participant in any state other than exhausted and annoyed probably isn’t very good military style krav maga.

Another thing that MUST be considered when training military Krav Maga is the increased acceptance of lethality. Which means there MUST be training with firearm’s, both in dryfire and live fire capacities, as a full Krav program cannot be one without this kind of skill training. Aside from this, training MUST include how to use firearms as a blunt force trauma weapon. They are, after all, just tools and are prone to break, jam, or otherwise malfunction, meaning you may now need to employ your firearm as a simple piece of metal. This means that any military training in Krav Maga must show soldiers or participants how to use the weapons in this fashion. This also means that proper training will at times include training with full gear on. After all that, is how you will be dressed when shit hits the fan; tired, with a minimum of 20lbs of gear on! Realism, it is what Krav Maga is all about, and any training without this is not very good.

For me, these are the main components that must be included in military training. The physical difficulty and mental training, as well as firearms training, are a must. After all, this is what people often think of when they think “Krav Maga.” As well as a need to periodically train in full gear, out side, and true-to-life scenarios.

However, given the time, say several months, there really should be more focus on technical development of overall combat skills as, while aggression is great, trained aggression with technique is even better.

Conclusion

Military style training is what Krav Maga is truly known for, however, it is only one aspect of Krav Maga. As so many individuals receive training in the IDF SF’s various Krav Maga programs, these people are often the ambassadors for the system as they are the ones people want to talk to and learn from. Remember, though Krav in military units has a very specific application, to build mental and physical fortitude and train the nervous system to be aggressive under duress, it is not however particularly good at developing overall skill and technique in various fighting methods. As such, many peoples’ experiences, while great, do not really translate well over into the civilian world where people may not be the most physically capable and require considerably more time to develop. While a soldier who is already physically gifted may be able to rely on their natural gifts and often authority to be lethal, civilians do not have this luxury. While a civilian certainly can attend military training (and should during their Krav path), if that is your only training it is possible that this will simply give you an over-inflated sense of confidence just because you completed a particularly difficult military Krav course. But the reality is you still lack the skills and development.

A person who was trained in SF Krav Maga or just standard military Krav Maga also does not always know how to build programs for the civilian and law enforcement world, as their application and needs are different and cannot always rely on pure physical skills and aggression.

Military Krav Maga training is a must for those who wish to train Krav Maga in the long run, but for most this style of training needs to be built up to over years of general development in order that they enter into it more well-rounded.

So always operate with skeptical hippo-eyes when someone says “I know Krav Maga, I was in the military, I can teach you!” Because they only know one part of good training and may simply enjoy the thrill of watching you suffer, but have done little to properly develop your ability to defend yourself.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

Learn to Walk in Peace

Posted: September 4, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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so one may walk in peace.jpg
Audio by Jonathan Fader

When asked what the purpose of Krav Maga was, and what he hoped for his students, Imi Lichtenfeld would say;

“So one may walk in peace.”

To us at UTKM, there is so much meaning in such a short sentence. As Einstein also famously said;

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Or, more precisely, if you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it. So for Imi to explain so much in so few words means he really must have understood what he was doing.

To us, walking in peace means you have balance and security in your life; allowing you to walk day-to-day knowing you have the knowledge and skill to deal with anything life might throw your way.

There is an obvious physical aspect to this. By attending Krav Maga classes you are literally learning the physical skills you need in order to know where you stand in a physical confrontation.

Less obvious is the mental aspect. Krav Maga can help train your mind and nervous system to become accustomed to stress, so that when you are really stressed with life you are not so easily overwhelmed.

For some people, taking classes is not enough. Perhaps you are coming to learn the physical skills to overcome a past traumatic experience. If the class is not making a deep enough impact, we, of course, always recommend you work with an appropriate mental health professional.  With your permission, your Krav Maga instructor and mental health advisors can work together to help you become stronger.

Walking in peace could also mean how you look and feel. While Krav Maga’s goal should never actually be fitness, it is certainly a secondary result of any regular physical training. The more you train Krav Maga, the fitter and healthier you will be. This will, in turn, make you feel better on the inside and be confident knowing you look better on the outside. No matter what your stance on such things, it is never wrong to be fitter and healthier.

Know that our main goal is to teach you to have not just outer peace, but also inner peace; albeit Krav Maga’s methodology is a little different than, say, meditating on a mountaintop for 10 years, but it is effective none the less.

So, ask your self, are you ready to walk in peace? If you are, come, train, be consistent, and you will be happier, healthier, and know that you have the ability to defend yourself, both mentally and physically.

*Topics under any principle category (Eg. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time.  So check-in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.

Create Space

Posted: August 28, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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Create Space push kick.gif
A Push Kick is one method of creating space
Creating Space for Krav Maga Self Defense: Audio by Jonathan Fader

Creating space may be the difference between successfully defending yourself or unsuccessfully defending yourself. This is due to the reality of Action vs Re-action, in that action is always faster.

Creating space gives you time, and time allows you the opportunity to assess and make a better, more appropriate response. After all, in our 3-dimensional world, that time is our 4th dimension and thus all movement, whether it be action or reaction, is constrained within those physics concepts. Who said you didn’t need to understand concepts like E=MC^2, but now, at least you can make a connection with the practical application.

In the stages of self-defence the order is important, as the earlier in the stages the more time and more space you have for better decision making. As you go down the scale there is usually less space and less time to react, thus making it more difficult.

For example, in Avoidance (A) running or walking the other way will give you space. In De-escalation (D) stepping back with your hands up will create space; though be aware of what’s behind you, as stepping back might not always be an option. Preemptive self-defence (PE) techniques will help create space, but this may also escalate the scenario. Techniques such as the push kick, educational block, throat jab, etc. will cause pain, off balance and disrupt enough to effectively create space in a quick manner. Of course, if creating space has escalated the scenario, and we are now in full Fight mode, then create space may no longer be an option. When we go on the offensive, we must maintain tight control to prevent the attacker from creating and using space against us.

Another way to discuss this is through grappling terms; if I am on the defensive, I need to create space to get to my feet (technical stand up) or create space using wedges and levers to re-guard. On the contrary, if I am on the offensive I need to close distance (take away space), while maintaining pressure, and control to achieve my desired results.

Remember, if you can create space, so can the attacker. In the end, whoever acts the quickest, with the best, most effective strategy will come out on top most of the time. But, at least if you have space you are more likely to make the correct decision.

*Topics under any principle category (Eg. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time.  So check-in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.

The Stages of Self-Defence

Posted: December 21, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Tags: , ,
Audio by Jonathan Fader

When people think of Krav Maga, or even self-defence in general, they often fail to understand the complex nature and progression of violent situations.  In the post on the use of force, a maze-like graph provides a visualization of how complex a situation can get from a second-to-second decision making perspective. Almost all violent attacks are because of a failure to be aware and avoid the situation. However, it is also possible that a situation, due to circumstances, was unavoidable, which means how we approach it will be fundamentally different.

There are two primary reasons that you were unable to foresee or avoid conflict.

  1. You were not paying attention and your awareness level was probably at white. (See post on Awareness Colour Code)
  2. The attacker had been planning it, and their tactics and approach were simply better.
Run away.jpg

While you may see variations of the model presented below, we offer a simplified version of the basic, four stages of progressing in a self-defence situation. Ideally, you should employ step one as often as possible, as you win 100% of fights you are not in.  Remember, however, that at any point you may find yourself in any one of the stages, which means you must respond appropriately and progress in order.

Avoidance (A)

If you do not put yourself in a situation where conflict is required then you will not have conflict in the first place. Avoidance can mean many things. It could mean you identify a threat and run away, or that you ensure, through wise choices, that you rarely encounter situations requiring conflict. Perhaps it means not walking in that dark alley, at night, alone. This seems like common sense, but many people routinely make poor decisions that naturally put them in situations more conducive to conflict. Perhaps avoidance means NOT going to a party hosted by a person who doesn’t like you, knowing conflict will result if you go. Maybe it is deciding to leave a coffee shop after noticing someone acting strangely, or simply making yourself aware of them so that you are prepared if they do something. In the avoidance stage, the threat may not even be aware of you as a target. Of course, we recognize that avoidance is not always possible and as such we move down the progression scale.

Expansion on this Stage:

De-escalation (D)

At this point in a conflict, the threat has actively identified you. This is the stage to which many first world countries like to advocate; the moment to “talk it out.” This is essentially the diplomacy stage. In Canada, 9 times out of 10 you can talk your way out of a potentially dangerous situation. (In some countries, however, if a threat has identified you, like it or not, you will have no choice but to run, or skip to step 3 and/or 4). If you can talk your way out of a conflict do so, at the very least, you should talk as a distraction while you find your exit and run; either way, you will remain on the defensive.  In this situation, you MUST be in semi-passive stance or something equivalent. Your hands MUST be up, non-aggressively, but ready to act should the threat decide talking is over and attack. If they attack first you will be jumping right to Reactive Self-defence. However, if in attempting de-escalation you assess, through observation of indicators, that they are becoming more and more aggressive, then we recommend you strike first, moving down the progression scale to a Preemptive Action strategy.

Expansion on this Stage:

Preemptive Self-defence (Preemptive Action (PE))

Sometimes the best defence is a good offence. This is a common saying that could not be truer in street self-defence scenarios. Because of the concept of action vs. reaction, it is always more beneficial to act first, as this means you will be one step ahead of the threat. We cannot tell you when or how to act first, as it is completely up to you to assess when it is required, but we can tell you that when you do strike you must strike hard, fast, and with retzef (relentless attacks meant to overwhelm).  You must attack with the goal to stop the threat. If at any point you feel the threat is neutralized, you must assess and either detain the individual or run to safety.

Expansion on this Stage:

Reactive Self-defence (Reactive Action (RE))

If you are reacting to defend yourself (rather than acting), it means something has gone wrong. It means you failed to use steps 1-3; either you have grossly misread the entire situation, or the tactics the threat is using are simply better than yours. Regardless of why, you are now reacting to defend yourself and stop the threat from doing you harm. This is where the explosive, aggressive aspects of Krav Maga come in. It is not good enough to simply block, you must block AND attack, using retzef to escape or stop the attacker from wishing to continue.

Expansion on this Stage:

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*Topics under any principle category (Eg. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time.  So check-in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.