Posts Tagged ‘Urban Tactics Krav Maga’

*Note: What specifically is taught in class, how it is taught, and examples used are subject to the instructor, their level and experience. These posts are not an excuse to miss class as they are only a snap view of what skills are covered.



*Note: What specifically is taught in class, how it is taught, and examples used are subject to the instructor, their level and experience. These posts are not an excuse to miss class as they are only a snap view of what skills are covered.

Back in 2008, the TV series Fight Quest (2007-2008) featured an episode on Krav Maga. I have been meaning to write a commentary on both this and the Krav Maga episode in Human Weapon (2007) for quite some time. These shows were great for publicity and getting people aware of and interested in Krav Maga.

However, some things can be misleading or confusing without more background information. Only so much can be fit into 40 minutes. Thus, I want to give some perspective and feedback based on my experience with the people and training in Israel. I hope you take the time to watch it the episode in addition to reading this article – I’ve linked to YouTube below, and hopefully it doesn’t get taken down.

Quick Summary

As usual, this episode shows co-hosts Doug and Jimmy split up and sent to train with different instructors. Jimmy goes to train with Ran Nakash, an Israeli cruiserweight boxer and, at the time of filming, head of the IDF Krav Maga training program at Wingate institute, as well as one of the founding members of KMI. Doug goes to train with Avavit Cohen, one of the top female instructors in the world who trains under Haim Zut of KMF (Haim along with Imi was one of the original Krav Maga/KAPAP masters) as well as KMI. I am not entirely sure if the KMF seen in the show is the same as the KMF with Rhon Mizrachi, but I think they are separate. See how things can get confusing in the Krav Maga world?

Timestamped Commentary

01:32 “All combos start with groin kicks.” This is not necessarily the case. While the groin kick is the number one kick in Krav Maga, it is an advised starting option when possible, but is not always possible. Just because it is preferred does not mean all combos start with it. There are many situations in which kicks are not possible, such as if we are in the wrong range from the start.

02:10 At the time of filming, Ran Nakash was the head of IDF training at Wingate, but this can be a misleading note. There are many “heads” of IDF Krav Maga training and the true head often rotates around. In addition, the IDF base in Wingate is not the only place people in the IDF train. Most Special Forces learn far more comprehensive and advanced Krav Maga from the counterterrorism school at “Camp Adom.” (This is also where I spent 2 months of my IDF training in sniper school.) Although both are part of the IDF, there is a clear rift between the two schools due to differing mentalities and approaches. Instructors at Wingate only have to do a 6-week course and often had previous martial arts experience. Instructors at Camp Adom often have an extensive martial arts background and were first-hand -counterterrorism soldiers. They are far superior to the more advanced forms of training. Nir Maman of CT707 ran this program for a time and he is a better source contact for more specific info.

02:40 Jimmy dons the IDF work uniform or Uniform B. This is the standard army uniform when on base in training. Nothing fancy for the IDF, just olive drab. The thick material makes them durable, but from time to time they tear or rip. Have fun trying to get new ones when in training.

03:08 Ran is speaking English. Normally, such courses would be taught in Hebrew as commanders and instructors are only suppose to speak Hebrew. However, Israeli people learn English for most of their education, so it can be easily understood by many but not all in the IDF. I often spoke English to my commanders and they spoke Hebrew to me since it was far easier under stress to communicate in such a manner.

04:00 “Krav Maga is also a mentality, and the key word is aggression.” This is especially true for military-style Krav Maga.

04:20 It is common to spar wearing full body armour and boxing gloves in military Krav Maga. A big reason for this is so they can fight full force and push aggression. But notice how they usually avoid head shots. First off, training soldiers is expensive and in the counterterrorism school, an injury during training can mean the end of the line for soldier in the Special Forces. It would be too easy for concussions to happen if head shots were allowed in sparring with all-out aggression, thus it’s only reserved for specific training. Personally, I dislike boxing gloves in KM training because it builds a false style for the street. Unless, of course, you walk around with boxing gloves on your hands. I also suspect boxing gloves are used over MMA gloves because they are cheaper and, well, the IDF is cheap.

04:45 One against everyone is a type of training used to help individuals overcome panic under overwhelming situations. Military training is designed to push people to their mental and physical breaking points, while still continuing to fight. However, training like this all the time is done at the expense of technique, so it should be done sparingly.

05:48 Avivit Cohen is 100% badass and most definitely one of the top females in the world. However, it is hard to say if she is the highest rank female considering every organization does its own thing and disagrees with each other regarding who is best. Every organization says they are the best with the highest ranking person. I’d say there is rather a pool of top 3-5 people/organizations to even this out. Avivit Cohen is certainly one of the top 3 females globally.

06:10 “The fact that her gym is in a bomb shelter…” His reaction is more of a culture shock than a reflection of Avivit’s badassery. Bomb shelters and fortified buildings are everywhere in Israel and often used for a variety of things, usually a communal space in the event of an external missile threat. Training in a shelter means you can keep training even if air raid sirens go off.

06:54 Everyone who watches this episode always remembers the elbow. I think this kind of attitude is required for smaller instructors or female instructors as there are any places or cultures that only respect those who can gain respect through physical force or aggression and skill. For instance, this is totally required in places like Israel or Western Europe. However, doing such a thing with a new student from softer countries such as Canada may not be the best idea as you usually have to build people up to be able to handle this kind of thing.

07:37 Shark tank style training is excellent for testing. We often do this in our training and it’s a required portion of our Orange Belt and Yellow Belt tests.

09:00 A good example of why kicks above the waist are not desirable and not the most practical. They are prone to error and slow you down, especially in a situation like this. You also sacrifice balance and risk going to the ground.

09:21 “I was trying to get a foot lock, it’s hard with the gloves.” Again, I am not a fan of the boxing gloves as they are limiting and are not what you would have on the street… Usually…

09:45 I remember those shitty bunk beds. That is what I called “bed” for many, many nights. Except for when we were out training, in which case what I called “bed” was the ground. And on one occasion, I slept on some real shit. It was either camel shit or human shit, it was dark and I didn’t know until the morning…

10:00 IDF is very strict about gun safety. Chambering a round without permission, or even cocking the gun with no ammo indoors or outdoors can result in disciplinary action. Only when going on duty in “hot areas” or going on a specific task where resistance is expected would we have chamber rounds.

11:00 Jimmy calls the M-16 a machine gun, which I find very offensive as a pro-gun person. While the original M-16s were equipped with the fully automatic function, it should be noted that the IDF does not train for full auto. In fact, the new “Micro Tavors” only come with semi-auto from the factory. Only a designated machine gunner directly given the task of cover fire uses an actual machine gun, such as the Israeli “Negev” light machine gun or the Belgium “Mag” heavy machine gun both used by the IDF. If a firearm is not meant to be used as a machine gun, then it is not a machine gun.

11:33 Training with your eyes closed is a great way to develop proprioceptive reaction. Sight can be misleading or too slow under stress, while using your feel and instinct is often faster and more reliable.

12:20 Outdoor training is a must at some point in Krav Maga because most self-defence scenarios will occur in a place that isn’t flat and nicely padded. At UTKM, we regularly train outdoors when the weather is good and almost every day in the summer.

12:50 In this training scene, they are not attacking full force with full commitment against neither Avivit or Doug. In Avivit’s case, it is likely that her students are afraid or her. However, full force training is also not advisable in a “naturalistic” scenario without protective gear. You cannot train full force without proper protection in Krav Maga since it will definitely result in injury. Of course, this can sometimes create a false sense of reality because it’s hard to teach people what real aggressive force on force looks like without expensive and reliable protection.

14:00 An important advice from Avivit: never intentionally go to the ground. This is a basic principle of Krav Maga because going to the ground is just a terrible idea and a bad tactical decision. This is especially true in an environment that is sandy, dusty, or unstable such as their training ground.

15:50 “You always take the hard way here.” This is not a true statement. Actually, in Krav Maga, you always take the easiest way – strikes to the most vulnerable points of the body like groin, eyes, throat, knees. The “hard way” he is facing in training is simply a method to properly prepare people for potential real situations in which you could be overwhelmed physically and mentally. Training the “easy way” in the gym or dojo doesn’t prepare you for the intensity of a real conflict and that is why so many people struggle on the street.

16:31 This scene demonstrates how high kicks can be problematic by limiting mobility and slowing counter attacks. Against multiple opponents, you need your balance and footwork more than ever. High kicks are simply low speed and high risk.

17:20 Again, real training that wants to teach you reality takes you into the real world at some point. Some people think that Krav Maga is hardcore. Life is hardcore.

18:30 That hill, I hate that hill. While I never trained at Wingate for Krav Maga, there were several “sports days” or physical competitions that took place there. They inevitably mean climbing up that stupid sand hill after completing a long course. That hill is often used during pre-testing for IDF Special Forces.

19:12 “Not good enough, you’re right… Next time, I want you to be excellent.” It wouldn’t have mattered if Jimmy had done well or not, they would have told him he sucked anyway. That’s part of the military mentality. You will regularly be told you are not good enough because they want to mentally break you and attempt to make you quit. The military is not for quitters. Keep going and finish and, in many cases, you will pass. The same goes for our tests at UTKM – give up and you fail, finish and you will most likely pass… (but not always).

19:47 Personally, I have puked during training. I have had my legs give out during forced marches. I have seen people pass out mid-training just to get up and keep going. I have also seen people functioning even when their eyes have rolled back. Sometimes, you don’t know what you are capable of doing until you are pushed past your breaking points.

20:00 The Dead Sea is a great place to visit. It is also dying because everyone is extracting the salt and minerals for dead sea products and other uses. It is considered, in many ways, a wonder of the world. If you are for environmental protection, you should not be buying Dead Sea products even in support of Israel because at the rate salt extraction is going, in another few years there might not even be a Dead Sea.

23:00 Only one week of training, Jimmy? No sympathy…

23:05 This is why I am warier of knives or sharp objects than guns. Anyone can have sharp objects anywhere made of anything. They are harder to deal with in many ways (ex. this way and this way and this way). I suspect if the knife attack from behind against Jimmy had been real, he would have been fatally injured.

25:00 Jimmy commented on needing to get used to reacting with a gun in his hands. A firearm, when used as a blunt force trauma weapon, should be used as an extension of your body. If you treat it as something else, it will be difficult as Jimmy learned.

25:33 We do this kind of attack scenario in our Orange Belt and Green Belt tests. This drill teaches and tests ability to react under stress, mental will, and usage of techniques under pressure.

29:00 Jimmy takes three hits to the legs and can barely fight anymore. “Right away they attack my injured thigh again, these guys are out of control.” In real life, attackers don’t care if you have an injury or not. This is why IDF training is heavily focused on aggression and mental toughness. However, I have found that with some of the more intense Israeli instructors, injury rate is fairly high, which is not an indication of the best training. People should train hard and train realistically, but while minimising injury. You can’t train hardcore all the time. Eventually, people’s bodies give out. I remember a video from Special Forces Krav Maga in which a candidate had been in the middle for 2 hours and the attackers were still trying to break him. Apparently, the attackers who were this guy’s friends were told that if they don’t really attack, they’ll be in the middle instead. Again, this training is more for aggression and mental toughness.

35:11 Welcome to Krav Maga. Giving up is not an option on the street and thus it’s not an option in testing.

At this point, you should note again that the military fighters avoid head shots which, if this is all they ever do, is very problematic as it is not entirely realistic. Yet, much of Krav Maga in the IDF operates in such a matter.

36:00 Notice that Doug trained with civilian Krav Maga instructors. You can see Haim Zut in the background. Also, notice that they are doing open handed strikes to the head and training with weapons. It’s my personal belief that the best instructors are the ones who have trained both in and out of the military. The military can rely heavily on their firearms, but for civilians, this is not always possible, and thus civilians must be far superior when it comes to overall technical skill.

IDF training doesn’t mean superior training

Please do not get scammed by someone who says they have trained in the IDF. Many people use the IDF name to promote their Krav Maga. It can sometimes be a meaningful designation, but it does not automatically mean they have experience in Krav Maga or maybe even in combat. Also, they may not be a certified IDF instructor. (If you were never in the IDF, you will probably not be familiar with it as an entity, even if you have heard of it. It is not similar to any other military in the world in many ways.)

For example, I learned more Krav Maga the year before I joined the IDF than during my time in the IDF. I probably had a total of 10 one-hour classes which, most of the time, involved doing conditioning and practicing rifle drills.

Thus, please do your research and make sure that not only is the organization credible and good, but the instructors are of high quality as well.

Warriors Den Podcast

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Geoffrey Chiu of GC Performance Training is an up-and-coming local trainer, although he prefers the title “coach,” specializing in the strength and conditioning for any and all sports. Follow him on Facebook, he does weekly Q&A every Monday. Joining him and Jonathan is UTKM’s own marketing director, Miss Zerlinda Chau.

We talk about Geoff’s background, high school PE classes, Geoff’s blog post about MMA strength and conditioning, politics and more!

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

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


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

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




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

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


*Note: What specifically is taught in class, how it is taught, and examples used are subject to the instructor, their level and experience. These posts are not an excuse to miss class as they are only a snap view of what skills are covered this week.

BJJ Curriculum for this week is Students’ Choice.

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There is a famous line in George Bernard Shaw’s play, Man and Superman (1903) that says “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” This was also made popular by the film Annie Hall (1977), in which one of the characters says, “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

Although hilarious in a drama or movie, these one-liners form the negative stereotypes about certain groups of people. Imagine if someone said, those who can do Krav Maga, do Krav Maga, and those who can’t do Krav Maga, teach Krav Maga.

Say what?

If those who can’t do teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym… Then, who will teach Krav Maga?!

It’s not about what you can do, but what you can teach your students to do.

In this modern world of fast pace marketing and short attention spans, this concept can be difficult to swallow for many people. I have often discussed why someone should be an instructor in Krav Maga (or any martial art for that matter), but today I want to share some more profound thoughts on what I believe a great instructor should look like.

The quality of my teaching is not dependent on my personal skill, how tough I am, or how well I do Krav Maga. How well I teach is reflected in how well my students are understanding and retaining information, and how well they practice Krav Maga. I started thinking this way after watching a video clip by Tony Blauer about teaching self-defense. Although I have never had the opportunity to meet or train with him, his ideas have truly resonated with me, and I’m thankful. What and how I teach is more important because, at the end of the day, people learn Krav Maga so that they can be better prepared to defend themselves if needed. This means that how well I defend myself is meaningless if my students cannot defend themselves. For some, this may also be a hard thing to wrap their head around.

Many people expect that instructors should be phenomenal athletes, powerful, explosive, and fast. For many top level instructors around the world who I’ve met and trained with, this is the main point of their businesses: selling the image of top fighters.

Yes, it is important to stay in shape and be skilled as an instructor in order to set an example.

But fitness and skill alone does not a great instructor make.

Those who can teach, teach. What does it mean to be able to teach?

An instructor who dedicates him or herself to be amazing at Krav Maga, but doesn’t take the time and effort to ensure all their students receive proper guidance and also become amazing, are basically not doing their job properly. At this point of UTKM’s development, we have had numerous students with various backgrounds. Many have trained at other Krav Maga organizations or schools, or have practiced other martial arts, and we have been told that some instructors at their previous gyms do not pay much attention to them. Sometimes, students who come to learn martial arts or self-defense do not look tough, hardcore, strong, or move athletically, but I can see that they have great potential. It is sad for me to hear many students making statements that they were glossed over in the past, because that means their previous instructors have failed to maximize the potential of ALL of their students.

Don’t get me wrong, great instructors should be proficient at what they teach and should be constantly improving their skills. However, the fact is that not everyone wins the genetic lottery (myself included) that gives them freak athletic capabilities, like the kind you would only see in special forces. People need to stop creating and perpetuating this false image that great instructors have godlike physiques and abilities. It’s a terrible lie. When it comes to self-defense in the real world, it doesn’t matter how physically gifted you are because anything that can happen will happen, as Murphy would say.

An instructor’s quality of teaching is measured in his or her ability to pass knowledge and skill onto others. The goal should be to provide students with the physical and mental abilities to be able to properly defend themselves, and to adapt (within reason) to your students’ needs and wants.


Ultimately, a truly great instructor should want and hope that all their students surpass them in both skill and knowledge. This is an absolute because as an instructor, you cannot escape death, no matter how hard you try. Thus, if a legacy is what you really want, use your students to demonstrate it. If you can replicate yourself in your students, only 1000 times better, then you just might be a great instructor.

If you are a student, which instructor would you rather choose? (1) An instructor who is a world champion, but has never produced a single champion themselves, or (2) an instructor who is mediocre in practice with no grand titles, but has produced many champions?

The answer should be easy…

If you are an instructor, do you want to show off what you can do, or do you want to make others great?

Only you know.

Now, get out there, better yourself every day, and more importantly better your students.

*Note: What specifically is taught in class, how it is taught, and examples used are subject to the instructor, their level and experience. These posts are not an excuse to miss class as they are only a snap view of what skills are covered this week.


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

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


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

Obviously not.

Let’s debunk some myths about mastery.

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

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

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

Myth 2: A master is unbeatable.

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


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

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

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

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

The crux of mastery

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

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

At the heart of Krav Maga


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

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

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

What does it take to be a master?

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

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

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

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

They say the hardest battle you ever face is yourself

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


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

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

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

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

*Note: What specifically is taught in class, how it is taught, and examples used are subject to the instructor, their level and experience. These posts are not an excuse to miss class as they are only a snap view of what skills are covered this week.