Posts Tagged ‘special forces’

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

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

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

Timestamped Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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