Posts Tagged ‘reality-based’

Audio by Jonathan Fader

This style of Krav Maga may actually be the most common nowadays. With numerous LARGE organizations, like IKMF and KMG, running massive programs all over the world, with schools in 200+ countries. What a civilian program looks like will vary WILDY from organization to organization and country to country. It is a topic of much contention as many, many Krav Maga schools, for the sake of money, have become more akin to “belt factories” or “McDojos,” which in some cases have given Krav Maga a black eye and in others have increased it’s popularity.

Civilian Krav Maga

A major difference between civilian and other styles of Krav Maga is that often you are often starting with people with no experience; people of all ages and physical capabilities. Some students are attracted to the system because they heard Krav is the best, or they want to prepare themselves for police or military careers, others start on account of an unfortunate encounter, like bullying or assault, and they want the power to better defend themselves in the future.

Another difference is the use of ranking is commonplace, as compared to styles or organizations that focus more on police and military. I think ranking is a MUST in a civilian program, this is because humans need goals, and a sense of progress. Especially in a world full of distractions. While many military and police Krav Maga experts turn their noses up at belts, I think it is a mistake. In particular as an organization grows, people need structure and ranking. It’s just a reality, just like aggression is needed for Krav Maga to be Krav Maga; it is just a reality. The reality of people is what it is, so if you like reality then ranking is a must in a civilian program. There must be measurable progress and you must be able to build people from nothing to something, or, as I like to say, from everyday citizens to everyday warriors.

The Why

If Krav Maga is so anyone can learn to defend themselves and learn to walk in peace, any program must be developed with the widest possible audience in mind. You will get people who are less physically skilled, people of all ages and sizes, so the program must be designed to build people up. This does not mean you cant do balls-to-the-walls periodically, as without this experience it is not Krav Maga. Unfortunately, the reality is that in many countries people can’t or won’t train like the military will. Thus you must build people up physically, mentally, and technically, so they can better handle the more traditional Krav Maga training as they progress.

As mentioned ranking is a must, because people need a sense of achievement. If you, as an instructor, want to develop a larger group of people you will need to give this sense of place and progress to your students. The problem arises if you water it down and make it too easy. I have ranking, but my tests are so hard most people quit after earning their first belt. While this is bad for business, I take pride in knowing I am probably doing something right.

Once you have built people up in the various aspects you can then work on pushing them mentally and physically. Often in modern times people do not face as much adversity as they think they do, particularly in the Western world. Driving people to feel what it means to be pushed to their limits is super important to better prepare people, but they must be convinced to do so. Unlike military or police where it is assumed they will do it, the average civilian needs to be gently massaged through smaller periods of intensity until you can safely put them through an hour long class that is non-stop.

In my opinion this is an area many instructors struggle with, they do not know how to balance their class based on it’s composition. How you teach a full class of all new people is very different from how you teach a mixed class of skills or a class full of more experienced individuals.

One big advantage of civilians is the amount of time on average you have to work with them to develop all of their skills, including technical accuracy. While, yes, most people won’t stay more than 3 months, the core of people you will probably have for years even if they only train one day a week. This means that a general skill development becomes more viable and more important, as for most people the use of lethal force, while sometimes needed, is generally not on the table (though cannot be neglected.) This is why those who train in civilian schools (assuming it’s a proper school) often are better overall practitioners than those who were in military units. Though the military individual will often have the advantage in the physical and mental, a civilian may be able to quickly pick apart the technical holes of the military-only practitioner.

For civilians it really needs to be a lifestyle, just like a military one, albeit a different one; the goals are different initially, but in the long run someone trained as a civilian will eventually learn all aspects of police/security and military application. That is, of course, dependent on the organization and the instructors available to them.

The How

This is simple. While in a military setting I can simply run an aggressive combat focused boot camp, and police I can set up scenario and job-specific training, a good civilian program needs a simple, well-structured, easy to follow, ON PAPER, curriculum that develops people from nothing to Something.

How this is done and what techniques are included can vary wildly. In the UTKM curriculum, white belt (beginner) is the intro and basic techniques. Yellow and Orange (novice) continues development of more combative skills, such as wrestling, and further improves the basic skill. Finally, Green-Black belt (advanced) focuses on police and military application.

Many organizations will hold basic techniques, like a roundhouse kick, at a much higher level, but the reality is if the kick cannot be quickly learned, early on, as a foundational skill, then it’s probably not a very practical technique for most people.

Another consideration in any civilian program is that it MUST be principle-based, as originally intended, and not technique-based. Too many organizations focus too heavily on techniques at the expense of the other important things like aggression and strategy. Others simply teach as they were taught and don’t actually understand beyond “this is how you do the technique.” A deep understanding of the how and why is super important for any instructor in the civilian world, and this includes the other aspects or styles of Krav Maga.

For the civilian program an emphasis on consistency is important. While in the military it is not a choice, you receive the training your receive, and with police some training is mandatory, but for civilians there are many distractions and a student may wane from the path that they had originally set out on. An emphasis on development takes time, it becomes a constant message, in particular for the average person who isn’t naturally talented.

Lastly, a civilian program must be balanced and go hard or soft, fast or slow, depending on who’s in the class and what the average stage of development is. Because people may train for years you cannot always go balls-to-the-walls, military style aggression, or you will destroy yourself. But you also cannot always go “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” drill work, which is common in traditional martial arts styles. There must be a balance, bringing up all aspects of development from mental, physical, technical, and, of course, building aggression. Many programs fail to do this and only focus on one area over the others, based on the skillset and knowledge of the instructor.

Conclusion

Most of you reading this probably fall into the civilian category. Even if you do not, you may have limited experience with Krav Maga, whether it was taught to you in the military or elsewhere. A good program MUST develop aggression and be hard sometimes, MUST develop technical proficiency, and MUST, at some point, teach all aspects of Krav Maga application, from military to police/security, as well as day-to-day general self-defence.

As a civilian looking to train Krav Maga, I advise that you don’t just go to the first school you Googled. Look into the instructor, their background and training, and the philosophy driving their curriculum. Is it wide and diverse or is it only from one source? Do they know other styles of martial arts? How long have they been around? Did they have other experiences, such as police and military backgrounds (though not required)? Do they have a structured program and how is it laid out?

Something to watch out for is a structred program that is actually based off of another style. If they don’t have a patch system or a belt ranking system, it is likely they are integrating other styles into their teachings, which may violate the principles of Krav Maga.

Another thing to be wary of is if they are selling it as “military Krav Maga.” They may have an awesome pedigree, but there is a good chance they will fail to develop you technically and will only ever run a boot camp style class; which for long term growth really isn’t appropriate. Unless you are training for professional application (and even then) you don’t always need to go hard, though if it’s not in the program at all then you have a different problem.

There are a lot, and I mean a lot of garbage schools out there, and even more garbage instructors. Remember, just because someone can do doesn’t mean they can teach. And just because someone isn’t the best themselves doesn’t mean they cannot help develop you.

The goal of Krav Maga is to learn to walk in peace, so make sure you research and find what you are looking for. Krav Maga for the civilian however, cannot be casual. Though it is easy to learn to be good enough to defend yourself most of the time, true proficiency will require constant training over years. Though it can be argued that slow, consistent training will produce better results overall than hard condensed training, since if you don’t use it, you lose it.

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

Control and technique under duress is especially important for law enforcement. (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Police oriented Krav Maga may be one of the most underdeveloped areas of Krav Maga in general. While it overlaps heavily with security and VIP approaches, as there are many similarities, there are also many differences. While some organizations will excel at teaching Police oriented Krav Maga, like IKF and CT707, others may not, as there is not always a high demand. While military protocols and acceptable use of force are fairly standard globally for military, this is not the case for police and security. What is acceptable in one country may not be acceptable in another, thus making it difficult to have a general program as well as win specialized contracts. Many organizations do offer VIP security training, which is similar though things like “3rd party protection” will be more of a focus for security than police. So, depending where you are you may have to learn a military approach and combine it with a security approach, then mix it with other things to put together a good base for policing applications.

Police and Security Krav Maga

The main difference for police, and more so for security, when compared to military application is the fact that it is considerably less appropriate to use lethal force. Police certainly have the legal ability to use lethal force in extreme circumstances, but in general it is frowned upon by the public. This creates serious issues when it comes to making decisions. For security application it really depends; if you are doing security for the Cartels, then you are basically applying military Krav, but if you are doing security at a mall, unarmed, then it is safe to say that your best tool is your pen and paper, and maybe a camera, as your authority to use force is often limited (and lethal is definitely off the table.)

So what is a big difference between this and other styles of Krav Maga? Other than acceptable levels of use of force it is also assumed that punching and kicking people is generally off the table for police and security, which means that this kind of training needs to focus significantly more on grappling skills and arrest and detainment protocols. Arrest and detain are a large portion of your job, you show up to de-escalate or arrest and control. This is largely why police specific Krav Maga is lacking, as up until recently grappling was a weak skill in the Krav world, and even if you were in the military your arrest experience may be limited. Thus it is often assumed other aspects of Krav can be applied to this aspect just as well.

The problem is that when it comes to grappling you cannot just be aggressive, you actually need skill, which takes time to develop. It also means that if a police force has the choice between teaching wrestling/Judo/BJJ over Krav, they will often choose the former set of styles, as the image of Krav tends to be more aggressive. This means it creates hesitation over the adoption of a program that includes this mentality. The issue with this is finding an instructor that can adapt grappling for police and security situations, which may include a struggle over weapons, which often leads to problematic technique choices and strategies. Experience in the field of application is something to seriously consider when hiring a martial arts instructor for police and security.

The Why

So why does it need to be different other than the lethality? If it wasn’t clear already, it is because of legal restrictions and what public considers acceptable. If a police officer or security person simply punches a person to gain control as may be required according the how our nervous systems work, it may be perceived as excessive force. This means that punching and kicking are often not options as the public, politicians, and lawyers often remove it.

Enter the grappling. A police or security officer’s best bet is grappling, which ultimately will give control, with minimal damage to the opponent, and is already on the path to an arrest. The key is keeping it simple, using basic techniques that have a high percentage success rate for most people, and will function with weapons or multiple assailants. Another reason why the grappling aspect is more acceptable for this application (which goes against our general “do not go to the ground” rule) is because there is often more than one officer/agent/guard and it is, in many cases, not assumed to be a life or death situation. This means you have more freedom to go to the ground while one or more of your partners stands guard and can do crowd control. Having available support is something that is not always possible in the civilian world or practical in the military world (though sometimes needed). So the why is fairly straightforward, thought the training needs to be tough physically and mentally, as it is a tough job, it needs to focus less on the aggression and more on the control; which ultimately leads to a higher level of skill requirement than the military might.

The How

So how would I run police training? One thing I always ask for, but rarely get, is to start unencumbered and work up to officers training with their duty gear on (unloaded pistol, of course), as it is very different training with gear on than without. Usually a fear of injury or damage to mats is often why this does not happen but should.

I would also work on training that mixes up the heart rate, from high to low to high to low, etc., in order to simulate how a real life policing situation impacts the nervous system. The intensity of this would depend on the physical capabilities of the officers or security being trained. Often this is much lower than it should be, but if someone drops dead during training it’s not very good for business.

Given the time I would show every variation of police specific takedown that I teach, whether they be drawn from Krav, wrestling, or BJJ. While judo is great in many places, it too may be considered excessive force and it’s high skill requirements make it difficult to teach in a short time. I would also focus on drilling actual arrest techniques against resistance, as this is an area many officers struggle with, particularly right out of the academy.

I would limit myself to only teach specific striking techniques, ones that are considered less aggressive and modified general application strikes. While regular techniques should be taught given the time, as to develop overall skill, if time is limited there is no sense in teaching someone a technique that would only get them into trouble. It has actually taken me quite some time to create police/security friendly techniques from what was traditionally taught in Krav Maga, which shows the difficulty in crafting police/security specific training, as so many of the normal Krav options (eye strikes, groin kicks, etc.) are no longer on the table.

Conclusion

If it wasn’t clear in this post, it certainly should be clear in my series on policing (1,2,3,4,5) that police and security, where they are allowed, actually need the highest level of hand-to-hand combat and unarmed training. Unfortunately, as we know they often receive surprisingly inferior training. Unlike the military, lethal use of force is not on the table as much, which means using other tools, like a taser, when possible; but in practical reality it’s almost always going to get physical. A quick search on YouTube can find video after video of interactions gone wrong for the police or security, because they were easily overwhelmed by the assailant. Police need more training, at more frequent and regular intervals, to develop and maintain the level of skill required to be proficient for their own safety and the safety of those they are trying to detain or protect. While it would be great to work on the physical and mental toughness, again due to time constraints and operational practicality, more time needs to focus on the technical aspects, in particular controlling another person safely and effectively and learning to arrest those who do not want to be arrested, without hurting then.

Perhaps when more Krav Maga instructors become more proficient at grappling, and integrate it into their programs in a way that doesn’t just look like MMA, then we may see Krav Maga be adopted as a style more and more by police forces outside of countries that allow police to employ extreme force.

Of course, a proper program will integrate this into the training because at some point even a civilian may need to safely detain someone. Even if it just means detaining an out of control person at a party until the police show up (something I have had to do before).

So, should police train Krav Maga? Absolutely, however, make sure you know your force’s policy, the laws of your country, and what you can and cannot do. In the case that you need to adapt the system, know what your restrictions are and how to modify the techniques and training to your needs. However, keep n mind that even police and security may face life and death situations, so don’t forget to train the mental and physical aspects, as well as the aggression, as much as you can.

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

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

Dissatisfied with the styles he trained, Bruce Lee developed his own, Jeet Kun Do (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

This is a question as old as time; who is the best, the fastest, the smartest the most creative? Long ago it was simply a question of who was the best at survival and who was the the most successful in passing on the genes of the species. Eventually humans began to organize and grow, and we needed to develop more methodical ways to navigate and understand our world. This of course, included determining the best way to fight.

In the past, the best style was the one that kept you in power. It usually involved lethal force, applied on a regular basis, to ensure that everyone knew you were the best. Fighting styles were developed and employed for all manner of reasons, and often involved weapons, to protect your land, fight a war, or just win the latest bar fight. For most of human history specific, usually more precise, complicated, and methodical, fighting styles were limited to those in a “Warrior class” or the nobility. This, of course, would look different from society to society, but as groups clashed either because of strategy, fighting style, or technology, one would always come out on top as the victor, implying that theirs was the best way.

Enter the modern times, where power is more centralized and (at least in theory) the people determine what is what in many places. In general, simply using violence to take what you want is less and less acceptable, and the once normal lethal nature of combat has become far less palatable.

Without death, how do we establish what style is the best and why? That’s a good question. In more recent times, due to the UFC and other organizations, we have learned that yes, IN FACT some styles ARE better than others.

A basic analysis of UFC champions in recent years shows dominance by certain styles when it comes to one on one fighting. Of UFC champs past and present, 28 started in Wrestling, 17 in BJJ, 12 in boxing, 6 in Kickboxing, 4 in Muay Thai, 2 in Taekwondo, and 1 in Karate. This indicates a correlation in which grappling is dominant in one on one combat, followed by basic striking. (To be honest, it’s probably missing a few more Karate and Judo people, but it paints a general picture)

Of course, the reality is most UFC competitors MUST learn a variety of disciplines, from striking to grappling, if they expect to do well. Georges “Rush” St-Pierre (aka GSP), for example, was a Karateka originally, but ended up being one of the best wrestlers in the cage during his career, go figure. So really, the best style actually is a mix of the most effective styles out there, and, of course, whatever works best for you.

However, outside of the best-of-the-best fighting each other in the cage, any one person, of any one style (or non-style), can beat any other person; because, while there may be styles that are measurably better than others, the reality is there are many other factors that can come into play in a fight.

Skill

This is the obvious one for anyone who trains. The more you train, the better you will be and the bigger gap in skill between you and your opponent. For example, while wrestling is one of the better overall styles, as it allows you to dictate the position of the fight, a person who just started wrestling may not do very well against someone who has been boxing for 10 years and has developed amazing foot work. When skill levels are relatively similar, and the wrestler can take a punch, then the boxer may be in serious trouble. But imagine if the boxer’s foot work is so good that they are constantly moving and striking, making it difficult for the wrestler to close the distance.

So this means that if you overestimate or underestimate your skill in any one style, and you run up against someone of a different style, then you may be in big trouble. If you want to increase your skill you will have to practice with some level of consistency. If you do not, or you are unable to overcome the mental strain of periodical skill plateaus, then your lack of training will hinder your skill development.

Size

As I have mentioned numerous times, and will continue to do so, SIZE MATTERS! You may have heard, with regards to BJJ in particular, that it allows you to beat much bigger opponents. This is true when your skill level is high enough and theirs low enough; the skill gap will allow you to compensate for the size gap most of the time. There is of course a point of diminishing  return where their size is simply to big to overcome. I am sorry to say that no matter how hard you try, if they are to big they may simply need to grab hold and squeeze. How you get around this in the street is by “cheating” physics with biology, by going bat-shit-crazy and targeting points that normally are illegal in sports. Of course, sometimes it still doesn’t matter, but when the size difference is too big it’s often the person willing to use the more extreme violence that wins.

To emphasize separation between skill and size, let’s talk about two UFC champions. Daniel Cormier who earned the championship title in both the light heavyweight (204lbs) and heavyweight (205-265lbs) weight classes, and is a world class wrestler with good striking skills, versus Khabib Nurmagomedov, also a wrestler, who is the most dominant UFC Lightweight (155lbs) champion ever. Cormier, when discussing Khabib’s skill, said he “actually has to try.” What he means is that Khabib’s wrestling skills are so highly developed that the larger opponent, who is used to just playing with smaller fighters in training, has to actually “hit the gas pedal.” But, as Cormier himself is also a wrestler at a high skill level, his size comes into play. It is clear that where these two to fight, while Khabib would certainly give Cormier a hard time, it is likely most of the time Cormier would come out on top due to the relatively similar skills but massive size and strength difference on Cormier’s part. So if you want to beat bigger opponents, you need higher skill and crazier mentality.

Athleticism

Unfortunately, this is probably one of the most annoying aspects of combat and comparing styles, and is when our egos often get in the way of reality and truly underestimating ourselves. I have no shame in admitting that I am no athlete and unless I train like a professional 4-6 hours a day, 4-7 days a week (which I usually don’t have the time or will for), I will struggle against a naturally gifted athlete. In BJJ for example, I have trained for at least 8 years and I still run into white belts who either wrestled or engaged in other sports all their lives, and if I am having an off day or they turn on the Athlete dial, I will struggle. It’s just a reality.

A 1000 years ago I probably would not have lived this long had I been me, as I wore glasses and was not very fit. (Granted I didn’t have the healthiest childhood, but that wouldn’t have fixed the glasses thing). In the past if you were not athletic and healthy, you could never have been a Spartan. Many could have been a for-hire-peasant frontline soldier, who was really just there to die in order to tire out the enemy force. Again, this is just a reality. If you are not physically gifted, it is going to be much, much, much harder. If you expect to get good at fighting, you will need to train, train, and train some more, while living healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people want to hide or lie about that fact there are natural physical differences between people. Our individual genetics and upbringing are so wildly varied that some people will have an advantage over others when it comes to athleticism and physicality. So get over your ego, and work harder if that’s what you want. Otherwise, I am sorry, but it’s time to accept reality.

Training Style

Okay, this is another super important factor as to why some styles are “better” than others: the training style. The reason grappling is currently dominant is because grapplers can put in the training time and technique repetitions, in a fairly realistic fashion, without risking sever head trauma. You can also go close to 100% most of the time fairly early on (at least with people who aren’t spastic), on a fairly regular basis. Getting the reps in, under duress, and in realistic scenarios, allows you to develop your skills rapidly for real world combat. This is similar to Krav Maga, where we are not just training the technique but the nervous system’s ability to act and react in real life at a faster rate. This is how you develop high skill, and practical application.

Compare this to boxing or kickboxing. In training “sparring” you cannot go 100% all the time or most people would get so messed up they cannot continue to train, let alone fight in the ring. This is because those styles focus on head strikes and, while in life or death combat head strikes are usually needed, it is not conducive to training that simulates a real fight. In boxing, this is why the focus on hand speed, power, accuracy, footwork, and CARDIO. They drill these so much that the ability to fire rapidly, for a long time, can compensate for the lack of practical sparring. If your training means you will always be injured, you are not in fact training very effectively. Take the other side of training, the methods of the traditional martial arts where they employ katas instead of regular resistance training. While this trains the movement, it does not train the nervous system to fight properly. It is why, while largely unless, someone from these styles may possess amazing physical ability, attitude, etc, (like GSP or Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson). Though most people practicing these styles may struggle in a real fight, especially when the aforementioned size factor kicks in.

Conclusion

Sorry to your ego, but some styles ARE better than others. It could be because of how they train or the fact that they simply give you more options against a variety of opponents, or perhaps they are just more effective as a matter of fact. But know that any one person, in any one style, can beat another if things are either equal or you have a certain advantage over the other person. For example, a 15 year old who has been doing martial arts for 10 years and holds a “black belt” (or two), is unlikely to beat a 250lb NFL linebacker who has a significant size, strength, and athletic advantage. It is just reality.

If you are training professionally and you lose, you have to put your ego aside and ask, is this really for you? If it is, then you need to train harder, train smarter, and diversify your skill set.

If you are training casually or for self-defence, then understanding different styles is the best way to maximize your ability to defend yourself. But mastering one or more effective styles may be more time efficient. Of course you could just learn Krav Maga, where we learn a little bit of everything (Not Biased at all…). But, no matter your style, you must remember on the street there are many unseen factors. Size, skill, athleticism, training methodology, the environment, the element of surprise, a willingness to do violence, your mental state, etc.. Meaning more things can go wrong even if you think you have the advantage.

So whether on the street or in the ring, just know some styles are better, but there are many factors to consider beyond that for your own needs. So long as you keep your ego in check and make smart decisions, barring running into a Jon Jones or Khabib in a fight, you will usually come out on top, even if that means you had to run away. Just be honest about your own skill, style, size, and athletic ability, for overestimating yourself and underestimating your opponents will only ever lead to a less desirable outcome.

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

Unfortunately, defending yourself from an attacker requires more than one punch. (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

If you believed the previous myth then you may also believe this one, as they are fairly connected. It too is simply bullshit. Yes, Krav maga is brutal, but the reality is if you understand HOW to train your nervous system, and you understand Krav Maga concepts and strategies from a “principles first” point of view, then all you really need to know is that you CAN flip that switch and apply it in a lethal form if needed.

Obviously, if it was so harsh that you could train consistently or for a long time, then the training isn’t very good at all. The “hardcore” mentality is an “old School” mentality and is misguided if you expect longevity in your training path. Additionally, not everyone is capable of going hard all the time, not to mention that we want to avoid injuries in order to stay training and live a good life. If we actually trained at 100% all the time, the bodies would hit the floor and we would be violating a (rather sensible) Krav Maga principle; avoid injuries.

It’s not about training hard for lethality, it’s about training smart to get the results we need. If you came to class to “kill” there’s a good chance you won’t last; either someone will put you in your place or you will be kicked out.

So, let’s discuss.

Whenever I hear about this myth one of my favorite Israeli sayings comes to mind:

אַתָה חָי בְּסֶרֶט

Which says, “Ata Chai be Ceret” or “Are you living in a movie?” (in the masculine) While this phrase actually translates quite well into English it still doesn’t have the same impact as it does in Hebrew. In English you could say “You are crazy,” “You are delusional,” “You are living in a fantasy,” etc…

The logical fallacy of this myth is easy to point out: If everyone who ever trained Krav Maga did so in a lethal fashion, everyone would be dead and no one would actually be training it!

Or, if the process of training it was too lethal then the Israeli Army, the IDF, would not have been around to defend anyone. A great general (or even a good one) would be wiser than to kill off his best warriors in training.

This logic is fairly simple, yet some people still live in a fantasy land or spend too much time perusing the depths of the Internet (like random Reddit sub forums, a place I never really understood).

Yes, Krav Maga is a style deeply rooted in life-or-death situations and it trains for potential deadly encounters. This however, is true for any martial art that started with self-defence or practical combat in mind. (At least, it should be, otherwise what is the point?) Thus it is a relatively safe assumption that all styles started as violence-vs-danger. Krav Maga, being more modern, has yet to fall prey to the current trend to water down a system for sporting and marketing purposes.

The need to defend oneself physically has been around since we, as humans, realized there were threats all around us. Once we became self-aware we needed more than simple nervous system responses to protect us, in particular from other humans. This is why self-defence systems, martial arts styles, and combat tactics were developed globally. They were all rooted in the need to better defend oneself in order to survive. Which means all styles started with some degree of lethality in mind, then peaceful times and sport aspirations asserted their influence.

There are many styles that are comparable to Krav Maga, where it’s simply of matter of taking out the flashy elements and ensuring that the fundamentals are (reasonably) easy to learn and apply on a consistent basis, for most people, most of the time, in most situations, with more variables allowed for than the average style.

Additionally, Krav Maga’s “lethality” comes from the training methodology, developed under duress, to allow people to train safely and be able to function under duress. We don’t train to “fight,” we train to defend ourselves, but we still need to be able to spar, and survive sparring, in order to understand how fights move, flow, and how to stay calm and react. Perhaps the notion of “lethality” here could be replaced by “efficacy.”

A system or style that, for most people, only works in the dojo or competition isn’t very practical on the street or in combat. Krav Maga remained effective for practical applications as “practical applications” came up a lot for Jews before, during, and after WWII.

However, don’t think for a second that any martial art style cannot be lethal, as it is not the system that is lethal but the person and their intentions. In the ring an MMA fighter is most likely going to beat the average Kravist, as the two train for different purposes. Plus MMA fighters certainly have the skills to be lethal on the street if they need to. Humans, after all, are just bags of water, flesh, and bone, and lots of things can kill us.

The only real difference is Krav Maga’s simplicity and ability to deal with a wide variety of situations quickly, including modern weapons and tactics. Which is bolstered by the training style, focusing on training the nervous system for the inevitable stress of a mugger, assault situation, or other life-or-death altercation. Just ask anyone who has fought in combat and fought in the ring: There is a difference.

That being said, if you find yourself training Krav Maga at a school where it feels like actual life-or-death training, and you are fearful of getting your head kicked in regularly, then your instructor is either an idiot or an asshole and knows nothing about proper Krav Maga.

So, is Krav Maga too deadly to train properly? Ata Chai be Ceret!

Written by: Jonathan Fader

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

If you are training Krav Maga properly, some classes are going to suck!
Audio by Jonathan Fader

One of the concepts thought to be a core tenant of Krav Maga is that it is “easy” – easy to learn and easy to apply – therefore people of all ages, shapes, and sizes can learn it. This is often a message promoted by what have become the “big box,” franchised, Krav Maga organizations; a message often openly stated in their marketing material.

This is both true and untrue.

While the techniques and approach of Krav Maga should be easy to learn they, like anything, take time and effort to see results. If your Krav Maga training is always easy, and you enjoy every class, all the time, and you never once thought you HATE your instructor, then, I am sorry, it’s probably not Krav Maga.

While Krav Maga is easy compared to other styles, from a technical standpoint, its training and process should not, and cannot, be easy or comfortable at all times. This means that, though Krav Maga is one of the best self-defence styles in the world, if not the best, it may not be for every one. Sorry, not everything is.

Let’s expand on this.

We’ll start with the rough origin of Krav Maga. It started in Israel, before it was officially declared Israel by way of the modern U.N. Resolution 181 in 1948. At the time it was the “British Mandate of Palestine,” a name given to the region after the conquering of the Ottoman Empire in WWI. Prior to 1948, Jews and Arabs alike were referred to as Palestinian (learn your history!) Without going into too much detail, the important thing to understand is that it was a rough time; Jews had paramilitary groups like the Palmach, and were getting ready for the aforementioned, and much anticipated, UN Resolution 181. As a result, they were, out of necessity, a rough and tough people. Back then part of combat training was to have someone jump on barbed wired to allow their companions to run across them. Is this something you could see yourself doing? I don’t.

In 1948 there was a massive war in the region, it was Israel vs, well, everyone else around them! Watch this video if you want more info on that conflict:

Needless to say, with Israel being a newly formed nation, containing many survivors of The Holocaust, now facing a so-called unwinnable war, it continued to be a rough time. The mental fortitude of the Israelis endured through the next… well…WAY TOO MANY WARS…and, for the most part, victory after victory.

Tough people meant tough training. If you go back and watch archival footage from the ’70s/’80s, when Krav Maga started being less of a secret, it was brutal. Like many styles at that time the reality-based training looked like Rock’em Sock’em Robots, with students trying to (metaphorically we hope) kill each other.

This tough training, along with a practical thinking pattern, meant an easy to learn, but not so easy to train, style.

A consequence of its necessity-for-survival origins was that Krav maga’s training style had a side-effect forging mental toughness in students and teaching that “If it is life or death, the more aggressive (or CrAzY) you are the more likely you are to survive!” This style and mentality lead to Krav Maga having the reputation it does.

Without these harsh experiences forcing the people of Israel to adapt and develop mental toughness, there would be no Krav Maga and maybe no Jews, because, when it comes to survival, this is the way.

However, as time progressed humans realized that, hey, maybe it’s actually not so great to metaphorically kill each other… cuz you know, head trauma. As it turns out, as long as you train the nervous system, you can actually get similar if not identical results without destroying our bodies and minds in the process. (Which, in fact, goes against one of the main principles of Krav Maga; avoid injury.) Research in the fields of psychology, sport physiology, bio-chemistry, biology, etc., has shown that loading the nervous system, via exhaustion and stimuli, will allow you to train yourself to react as if you are in real danger, without actually experiencing it.

Unfortunately, instructors simply “toning down” their classes, along with garbage instructor programs popping up everywhere, led to the degradation of the system as a whole. This meant that “easy to learn,” in the sense of “the techniques should be simple, but the training still hard,” turned into “it’s for everyone, because it’s easy to learn!”

It is for everyone if everyone is willing, on a semi-regular basis, to push themselves to their limits and hate the training. Rather than “hey, I got a good sweat on! Now I know Krav Maga! That WAS easy!” The latter is not only delusional, it fails to accurately train the nervous system to react in the appropriate manner when you are actually in survival mode… that can get your students killed.

So what SHOULD “easy to learn” mean?

Let’s compare it to another style, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). For most people learning BJJ the first 6 months will make them feel like a fish out of water, because it’s complicated, technical, and requires a good knowledge of your own body. While after 6 months of Krav Maga you should have an good, to great, grasp on the fundamentals, feel confident that you could deal with some situations, and be ready to learn more advanced concepts.

The idea is that “easy to learn” is intended to mean that the techniques and concepts are simple and should take only a class or two for you to get the basics. From there it’s just a matter of drilling. Though this is not to say that you will never find it difficult as you learn more complex techniques, or that everyone who walks in can do it that quickly (or at all if they cannot dig deep for aggression.)

To be honest, some, if not most, people who quit Krav Maga, will quit because the training is too hard (even if it is safe… unlike the old days), and that, frankly, is the way it should be.

While building people’s confidence and capabilities is important, we also cannot sell a lie, as this would be detrimental to the safety of those we teach. People MUST know their limits, skills, and capabilities. If you cannot put in the work to prepare to defend yourself (or someone else), then your best strategy must be avoidance at all times.

Occasionally people come into our class, and it’s hard, and they quit. Sometimes people come into our class, and it’s hard, and they stay.

Which of these two people are better prepared to defend themselves in a bad situation?

The answer should be simple.

So, is Krav Maga for everyone? No. It is not. Period.

Just like any martial art it takes commitment, a willingness to push yourself and endure some hardship, otherwise everyone would be doing it. But for those who want an “easy to learn” style, one that will get them were they need to be faster than many other styles, and they are willing to do the work, then Krav Maga is for you.

Easy to learn? Yes. Easy to train? Not likely. Easy to master? Well… only time will tell.

Written by Jonathan Fader

Krav Maga has the paradoxical reputation of being “easy to train” and also “so deadly you can’t train realistically”… which is it?
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Like all things in life that involve humans, Krav Maga is surrounded with myths, rumours, legends, and misconceptions. While we Kravists (those who train Krav maga) like to tell ourselves that ours is a globally recognized style, this simply is not true (YET). Most people still haven’t heard of Krav Maga and it has yet to pernitrate the collective psyche in the way Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, and more recently, BJJ have.

Of course, in certain circles like Law Enforcement and the military, it is more well known, as these are the groups it was originally for, though it has since opened up for all to learn. Despite this expansion and the length of time it has been around (at least 80+ years) there are still so many myths about the style out there. This is partially due to the fact Krav Maga isn’t as wide spread as we would like (YET) and partially due to an abundance of underqualified individuals teaching it (No, a piece of paper does not mean you know how to run a school properly or teach KM in a consistent, structured manner while maintaining the essence of the system.)

So, as we do every once and a while, we thought we would break down a few of these myths in a series. Here are some of the myths or commonly held ideas we wish to break down, in detail, over the coming weeks. If you find you are annoyed by one of these sections, just hold on for the full post, in which we will deconstruct that myth more thoroughly. (Then you can get mad.)

“It’s always easy”

One of the concepts thought to be a core tenant of Krav Maga is that it is “easy,” and therefore people of all ages, shapes, and sizes can learn it. This is often a message promoted by the, now “big box,” franchised, Krav Maga organizations; often openly stated in their marketing material.

This is both true and untrue.

While the techniques and approach of Krav Maga should be easy to learn they, like anything, take time and effort to see results. If your Krav Maga school is always easy, and you enjoy every class, all the time, and you never once thought you Hate your instructor, then, I am sorry, it’s probably not Krav Maga.

While Krav Maga is easy compared to other styles, from a technical standpoint, its training and process should not, and cannot, be easy or comfortable at all times. This means that, though Krav Maga is one of the best self-defence styles in the world, if not the best, it may not be for every one. Sorry, not everything is.

“It should be taught as it was by its creators”

Many organizations and individuals still take a “traditional martial arts” approach to Krav Maga. They say, “this is how I was taught by the Master so-and-so, thus I should I teach it to my students this way as well.” This is patently wrong and actually goes against some basic principles of Krav Maga. That is, if it doesn’t work, don’t use it! Inherently, by the fact that the times change (and so do people), attacks will change, tools will change, and knowledge will change, so too must the techniques and strategies change.

I have met individuals from various organizations and countries whom are training Krav Maga as it was taught 30 years ago, and they told me “only this is Krav Maga.” I suspect many of these instructors have lost their connection to those at the forefront of Krav Maga. Or they have simply been tricked by their own ego.

Just like with the principle of “Situational Awareness,” instructors must look at their system and their methods, then assess, assess, and assess. Further to that point, as a student you must know that, periodically, techniques may (and should) change. This might come in the form of additions or subtractions in the curriculum, modification to the way techniques are executed, or new approaches to how techniques and principles are taught.

“It’s always about Aggression and Fighting”

I regularly encounter the belief that “If I learn Krav Maga I will be really aggressive, because it’s just about going crazy and fighting.” While aggression and an understanding of how fights work are components of learning Krav Maga, these in themselves are NOT Krav Maga. Remember, Imi Licthendfeld, the founder of “modern” Krav Maga, when asked what its purpose was, said “so one may walk in peace.” Does this sound like the words of someone who wanted people running around being aggressive and messing people up? I think not.

While you certainly cannot learn Krav Maga with out learning to attack with purpose and aggresion, if you think you are always going to walk into a Krav Maga class and go 100% trying to kill each other, you are completely wrong and probably need to spend less time on the internet (or get better sources).

More accurately, Krav Maga teaches you to understand, and respect, the reality of violence, with the additional understanding that times change and so do people. Especially in a modern world in which laws matter and cameras matter, making self-defence more complicated, you need to have a more holistic approach to your Krav Maga.

“It’s too lethal to train properly or spar”

If you believed the previous myth then you may also believe this one, as they are fairly connected. It is simply bullshit. The reality is, if you understand HOW to train your nervous system, and you understand Krav Maga ideas and strategies from a “principles first” point of view, then all you really need to know is that you CAN flip that switch and apply it in a lethal form.

Obviously, if it is so harsh that you cannot train consistently and for a long time, then the training isn’t very good at all. The hardcore mentality is an “Old School” mentality and is misguided if you expect longevity in your training path. Additionally, not everyone is capable of going hard all the time, not to mention we want to avoid injuries in order to stay training. So if we actually trained at 100% all the time, the bodies would hit the floor and we would be violating another Krav Maga basic; avoid injuries. It’s not about training hard or for lethality, it’s about training smart to get the results we need. If you came to class to “kill” there’s a good chance you won’t last, because either someone will put you in your place or you will be kicked out.

“It’s all about Combat Tactics and only for the Military and Police”

The notion that “It’s only for the military or police and not for me,” simply isn’t true. Originally, Imi taught it to civilians, primarily Jews to protect themselves from the Nazis pre-WW2. When Israel was formed in 1948, it was taught to the military, and during that time it was considered a closely guarded secret. Given that it was intended “so one may walk in peace,” when tensions eventually eased in the ’80s teaching of the system was opened for civilians. While, yes, at a good school you can go from being a civilian to a civilian trained in a manner similar to military or police, it is not meant to turn you into these things; but rather to give you an understanding that self-defence is NOT limited to unarmed combat (even if the laws in your country say otherwise). Anyone can learn Krav Maga, and should learn it (or at the very least a legit style with self-defence components) so that everyone may walk in peace.

“It’s only one style”

People often talk about styles and say, “Krav Maga is just Krav Maga and has its limits.” This is not strictly true, as, originally, it was based on boxing, wrestling, and being generally fit. Right there, in it’s foundation, the potential for multiple styles is evident. Not to mention that, if your school is being honest, it will ensure that it has instructors whom are capable of teaching multiple styles. You should be learning aspects of boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, submissions grappling, and judo, as well as police, military, and security application. A good Krav Maga school is actually making you a jack-of-all-trades, ranging from okay to good in any and all of these styles so that you are better prepared to deal with any and all attacks. Of course, all these styles also need to be taught in a way that maintains a common conceptual thread and incorporates basic Krav Maga principles. Which means how solid your Krav Maga is really depends on the design of your curriculum and the character of your instructors.

Conclusion

These myths and misconceptions will be broken down to be explored in greater detail, from a variety of angles, over the coming weeks. It is our hope that these myths will be dispelled and that we get the misconceptions out of your head, replacing them with the understanding that, even if Krav Maga is “simple and easy to learn,” it’s mastery is a more ambitious goal.

So, empty your cup and be prepared to fill it again.

Written by Jonathan Fader

Providing realistic attacks in Training, continuing from “Are You A Good Training Partner?”

Realistic attacks prevent your partner from developing a false sense of their abilities.
Are you a good training partner? Providing realistic attack in training written by Evan J Audio by Jonathan Fader

As I mentioned few times in this series, and in my original “Are You a Good Training Partner” post, providing a realistic attack is very important for martial arts training. Being able to provide that for your partner is an important component in learning proper techniques and of being a good partner in general. This post will focus on how to go about providing such attacks.

Safety, as always, is extremely important, as is communication, so coming out of the gates swinging and throwing your first attack of the drill like a raging bull, is probably a bad idea. However, once you have those first couple of attacks out of the way and each person is comfortable with the movements involved in the defence, it’s time to up the intensity and speed (ie. realism) of your attacks. Always let your partner know you are going to be notching it up, and understand how to do so in a safe manner, which can mean different things for different attacks.

Let’s start with striking:

Upping the intensity doesn’t mean trying to knock your partner out, but should definitely involve increasing the speed of your attacks. It’s important to learn these adjustments while still keeping the power low; you can punch or kick quickly without throwing your whole power into the strike. Some people refer to this as “pulling your punches,” I prefer to think of it as pretending to hit a brick wall; you know you don’t want to hit it with all your might (as you will likely break your hand), but you can still hit it quickly and solidly.

Keeping on target is also important. I learned early on in my Krav career that if you do nothing, or fail at the defence, you should get hit. So the strikes need to be directed at their intended targets (chin, nose, knee, groin, etc) or the movements needed to defend against the strike will be different from how they would be in reality, and this isn’t effective training. People sometimes get into the habit of knowing how the defence is supposed to work, and as a result start throwing punches to where they end up after they have been deflected rather than where they should be landing. If I’m supposed to be parrying a punch to the head, but you punch to the side of my head, how do I know if my parry will really work?

Grabs and holds:

With grabs and holds I have found that once you have put the defender in the hold with enough force that they must struggle, I simply lock my arms or legs into place and resist movement rather than applying more pressure. This allows you to really make the person fight to get out, without risking hurting them, or choking them out in the case of headlocks and chokes. Of course, the nuance of this depends on the sizes of the two partners or size difference between them.

Speed can also be important here, as in Krav we practice both avoiding getting put into the hold, as well as how to get out if we fail at the first task. So, when attempting to put someone into a hold, like with striking, do it quickly, in order to imitate a real life situation. The jarring force this can produce is also important, as it’s a stimulus that can disrupt and off-balance someone, which is an important factor both in the training your defence technique and preparing you for the stress of real life attacks (an important aspect of effective training).

Lastly, once you have quickly, and with enough force, put your partner into the desired hold or lock, try to keep it on. Really make your partner struggle and work the problem. If you just remove all force once they start to escape you aren’t really helping them build technique and prepare for a real life encounters.

Finaly get verbal:

This is something that I find is very lacking in a lot of partners. Just think back to the last time you were in class and things were either calm and quiet or people were laughing and having fun… did you really feel like you were defending yourself? Hey, I get it, it is great to have fun at training and everyone should feel safe and comfortable there, but just as we like to imitate a real life scenario with the attacks and force used, physical attacks almost always come with a verbal component. People don’t often walk up to you silently and throw a punch at you.

This also offers you a chance to practice your stage 2 self-defence, de-escalation. Again, this can be a very uncomfortable stimulus, so it is essential that you be aware of how it feels. I have startled training partners simply by yelling HEY or ARGHHH at them; this verbal action was enough to disrupt there defence. Similarly, imitating the behavior of drunk, high, or deranged people can also be a beneficial training component.

Again, making people feel safe and comfortable is very important, so communication is very much key here, but it is a part of training that should not be ignored. I have found that people I have trained with for a while, and am very comfortable with, understand the importance and we were able to get quite aggressive with each other, really simulating some distressing street situations.

Putting all this together can make for some really great training, but, most importantly, you need to communicate with your partner so that everyone feels safe, comfortable, and knows the benefit of the added realism.

Written by: Evan J

UTKM: Yellow Belt

A few weeks ago, I was teaching a Krav Maga class for some of my more advanced students. I was getting them to practice engaging with a target who is resisting enough to be difficult. To make it harder, I told them to start with their eyes closed. The goal was to react to the attack, engage, control, take down the attacker, and then maintain control while the attacker is on the ground either through control positioning or pain compliance.

One of my students said to me after seeing this video:

“I don’t look good.”

To which I responded:

“Nonsense.”

I was extremely happy with the kind of progression I was seeing.

Because the point is not to look good

The point is to react well. From the beginning, the students had their eyes closed so they couldn’t anticipate the attack. The attacker would say “OPEN!” and immediately start their attack. This helps to simulate the kind of startled reaction people would have in a real situation which they failed to be aware and anticipate an attack. Though, I asked my students to keep their hands up since it would be unrealistic to expect them to react quickly enough with their hands down.

What this example shows is that under stress and pressure, defending against even a mildly non-compliant attacker, your movements will never look perfect.

It’s not about how good you look doing Krav Maga, it’s about how well you apply the strategy.

Real life is unpredictable.

So many factors come into play in a real conflict that people cannot be expected to move perfectly under pressure. Perfect reactions are not real. That’s choreography.

As a Krav Maga instructor, I don’t expect students to be perfect under pressure. I expect them to be aggressive and react with retzev (continuous movement) and keep moving forward no matter the threat. Hesitation results in injury or death. Therefore, even if your move wasn’t executed to textbook accuracy, that’s not important if you reacted properly, survived, and walked away.

Some people watch cat videos, some people watch squirrel videos, I watch martial arts videos

People are often blown away by amazing practitioners showing off their styles on the internet. Without realizing it, what they are seeing may be as realistic as watching John Wick (2014). A lot of the time, demonstration videos are choreographed by the instructor (the person leading and explaining the demo) with the other people in the video playing specific roles. They probably practiced behind the scenes with someone attacking a specific way and the instructor doing the defense or counter move a specific way. For teaching purposes, this is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately for realism purposes, this can create unrealistic expectations for the average person about how to do the defense or counter move effectively while under pressure in a real, stressful, and chaotic situation.

In addition, the real situation has so many variables. For example, imagine that you have learned a combo from the internet and the situation from the video happens to you in real life. You use the combo you learned. As you’re doing it, the attacker pulls out a knife from their pocket. How does this now change the situation? On top of that, suddenly another person comes running out from the side and helps the attacker. How would the same combo which was perfectly demonstrated in the video work?

The unlimited amount of variables of a real situation is something that Krav Maga or any other self-defense system should take into account. Moves or sequences should be universal. At UTKM, we always tell our students to assume there is are weapons and/or friends. Weapons and friends change the situation drastically and make the average style, sequence, move or strategy fall apart because they don’t work anymore.

To this effect, some of our students have suggested that we provide more curriculum videos and show demonstrations of techniques on non-compliant attackers in more realistic scenarios.

So far, online video learning for our entire white belt curriculum is available for FREE here. Hopefully, by late-2017 we will be able to produce videos for our yellow and orange belt curriculums and include the reality-based demonstrations. This way, you can learn both the textbook version of the move as well as the real version of the move performed under pressure.

This is something Kravists need to understand. It’s not about how good you look doing Krav Maga, it’s about how well you apply the strategy. When training, the bottom line is would you survive the scenario if it is real? If you survive, you’re good.