In terms of being the least complicated, most direct and greatest method of self-defense going, I would not argue against Krav Maga. Simplicity was the very basis for its genesis, and, with a few weeks of intensive training, Krav’s first Israeli Army students, more than 50 years ago, found themselves acquiring life-saving skills very quickly and most efficiently, thus proving its original concepts and philosophy.
I am well into my second decade of studying and instructing this unique martial art, now having attained Israeli certified 3rd degree black belt status; thusly, I am quite skilled, but my very nature tells me there is always more, so much more!
I am a Taekwondo Master (4th degree black belt), and have multiple high-ranking black belts in several other Asian arts (including sword), as well as kick-boxing, Muay Thai, combat JiuJitsu and extensive knife-training. TKD 5th degree for me would have been the following: attend occasional classes, and teach a little, plus a new form…that’s it; in other words, just “time in the trenches”, improving upon my existing skills, which should, of course, always be a priority. I opted out. Do not get me wrong, because I loved training in that art, and improved my kicking techniques like no other; however, “real street-survival skills”? Hardly. In fact, I know a guy that was under serious Taekwondo Olympic consideration, yet was hurt pretty badly in New York City, when he lipped off to the wrong person. No skilled street fighter is going to let you launch a spinning back-kick, or jump-spinning hook kick…that’s strictly for the movies.
In Hebrew, “Retzev” means continuous attack…in other words, fighting until you are safe. “Safe” is a relative concept; on one hand it can mean stun and then run; on another, disable your attacker, because flight is not an option; and, in many military operations it can mean kill.
It’s a common expression in many martial arts that injuries come from white belts, or, “white belt mentality”. Whether Brazilian JiuJitsu (left side ribs were separated from the cartilage), Taekwondo (left hand was compound fractured), kick boxing (rib fractures, both sides), Krav Maga (broken nose from a knee), it’s inevitable that some sort of injury likely will happen, even if it’s just pulled muscles, “rolled toes”, etc.
I recently asked a student of mine (big, strong guy), referring to his recent verbal assault (from an even bigger guy), “What would you need to defeat that idiot if he attacked you?” This had happened at an eight-year-old basketball game, of all places, and the bully I am referring to was one of the coaches, for Christ’s sake, which goes to show that anything can happen anywhere (see previous blog “Reality preparation versus Sport Training”).
As with most martial arts that become very popular, greed inevitably raises its ugly head and the pursuit of money and status, accompanied by cowardly social media degrading and accusations, especially via YouTube, Facebook, etc., start to take over. I’ve seen this many times and to be quite honest am disgusted by it all.
The father of a teenage boy, both adept Brazilian JiuJitsu practioners, not that long ago answered my question of “why don’t you take a few Krav classes, just in case you two ever get attacked” with this reply, “I do not frequent ‘those’ kinds of places.” Really? I looked at him and just shook my head, as sometimes there are simply no words for such ignorance. Smart guy, too, but not here.
Whenever I am giving a Krav Maga seminar, or talking with a prospective new Academy student or private client, I stress that Krav education and practice will focus greatly on the importance of the realization that one has to re-train certain God-given reflexive responses to threats, as they are the very reactions that many times fail under an assault. Yes, it’s always eye-opening and somewhat confusing, as our intuitive “replies” to being attacked have been naturally imbedded, seemingly forever! However, when you learn a new technique, and see how obvious and successful this “re-training” becomes, it’s not a hard sell.
If one learns that a fast and effective strike to the throat of any person, no matter his (or her) size, can collapse a larynx, and even kill, then one also realizes that this works both ways. Krav Maga teaches us to end a fight as quickly and efficiently as possible, mainly to minimize the time spent in conflict, as ultimately both parties will usually get hurt, to some degree, in any serious fight.