Posts Tagged ‘UTKM’

*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.

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*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.

The fourth dimension is a complicated concept for many people and you can get a general idea of what it means here and here.

What is the fourth dimension?

Time. In the art of self-defense, the element of time is often a forgotten factor: taking our past experiences into the present while learning new skills in the now. Self defense is to prepare for the worst of the future, while hoping you never have to use what you know now.

The 4th dimension is the often a forgotten aspect of good self-defense

How many styles of martial arts out there have got you practising forms and katas? How many of them teach a set of moves that are solutions to various offensive and defensive strategies? The answer is many, if not most, traditional styles. Now, how many of them are still teaching strategy or the art of war?

Not, many.

In today’s progressive societies which are driven by image and consumerism, even those who claim to be against capitalism often reject violence as a part of the human reality. An individual in a wealthy neighbourhood on the West Coast who has never been exposed to physical violence can easily renounce violence as bad. Unfortunately, the majority of people on this planet cannot do or say the same. Thus, when policy makers who have had privileged lives, no matter their ethnic background, try to dictate to everyone to be peaceful without understanding the nature of violence or use of force, we often end up with pointless documents that don’t always do anything to protect people.

As you may know, I am a big believer in teaching individuals not to rely on law enforcement or others for their own self-defence. If you don’t know, this is because in the moment, a split second is all it takes to change from a survivor to a body bag. In most violent situations, individuals do not have the luxury to wait on the phone and hope someone shows up in time.

So what does any of this have to do with the fourth dimension?

Well, time is relative. Depending on the situation, it could mean many things. Learning proper self-defence is so much more than just learning what to do in a specific physical confrontation. Self-defense is also about learning the strategy to avoid conflict in the future by learning from our past. This is where time and experience comes in.

There is a saying I like, it goes something like this:

“A fool does not learn from his mistakes. A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

This saying has been used in one form or another over the years and it echos truth no matter how it is said. Time is an important factor of self-defense because learning not only from your past, but also the past of others gives you context for violence and how to avoid it. It also teaches that sometimes violence and not peace is, in fact, the best solution to stopping more violence. This is where good strategy comes in, which based in reality in the past, present and future.

Knowing an opponent’s past will prepare you for a future confrontation and will better allow you to apply the appropriate strategy for a higher survival outcome.

A more simplified example could be thinking twice about heading to particular area of a city that is historically known for its crime or violence. (Situtaional awareness!)

A great self-defense program, no matter the style, will consider time in all its forms to teach proper strategy. Because without a proper strategy based on experience and knowledge as dictated by time, a person could easily be overwhelmed by a violent situation because it’s not at all what they were expecting.

Another easy aspect of time with self-defense is of course practice. There is often a flawed idea with regards to self-defense which is “oh, that’s easy to learn” and thinking you can be proficient at it in a very short amount of time. I know we have written about this previously, but it cannot be overstated that this is a flawed belief.

The only way to really be ready for conflict is to continue to practice, even if it is easy to learn, so that you become proficient enough to apply what you know even in overwhelming odds. Thinking you know how to defend yourself just because you took a few classes and broke a sweat is presuming far too much. Sure, we see stories all the time about people, usually woman or girls who took a little bit of self-defense and managed to fend off their attackers. Of course, these are great stories, but the truth is that these individuals got lucky. How many situations did we not hear about where the person wasn’t quite so fortunate. Just like time is forgotten, physics is also forgotten when it comes to self-defense. If you took some self-defense classes, but are not proficient under stress because you didn’t put in the time required and your attacker is someone skilled and considerably larger, then you have failed to account for such an overwhelming strategy and the outcome may not be so desirable.

Signs a self-defense school is not serious
  • If they only ever show set moves and answers for specific attack patterns
  • If they don’t encourage you to come and practice, even only once a week or month

If you’re at a place like this, maybe you are not in the right place for serious self-defense. In my opinion, a good self-defense school should take the time to go over strategy, explain current events regarding violence, and regularly put people of different sizes and skills together to challenge individuals so that they understand sometimes there are situations in which you may not be so lucky.

The fourth dimension in self-defense

Time means experience. Time means practice. Time means perspective. Time means strategy relative to the situation. When it comes to self defense, knowing the element of time can prepare you to deal with reality. Did you think of time as part of your self-defense system? Are you prepared to deal with all possible realities of self-defense?

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!

*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.

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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.

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*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.

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

But is he? Is he really?

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

Why is there a dispute?

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

There wouldn’t be a dispute if…

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

Imi is the one who made modern Krav Maga big

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

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