ARE YOU AN EXPERT?

Quite often I get introduced as a Krav Maga expert. When I tested for black belt there were only a few dozen black belt holders in the U.S. Krav Maga has been my life for 12 years. Shoot, I have a student (who is also an instructor in one of my gyms) who I would say is one of the top five Krav Maga instructors in the nation. But, I never call myself an expert. I hate that term. In my opinion, as soon as someone thinks they are an expert they also think they know it all. They won’t listen to anyone else’s viewpoint, won’t take seminars or training from anyone else and, therefore, won’t grow.

There are other Israeli self defense organizations who’s “experts” have told prospective affiliates that if the affiliate joins their organization they are not allowed to teach any other martial art or defense systems in their own gym! I know of one who said that if the affiliate made any changes to the curriculum the organization leaders would come to their town, get in the newspapers and ruin them (yes, that really was said). There was another that certified an instructor in Law Enforcement Instruction but told him he absolutely couldn’t teach civilians because that was another course (that they charged several grand for). They also told their affiliate (who had level one classes for a year but no level two and were losing a lot of students because of it) that they absolutely couldn’t teach level two until they had been certified by them (for…you guessed it, several thousand more dollars). Wow! I want my affiliates to feel like part of a family, not a dictatorship. I tell my affiliates that they are putting food on their family’s table, I am not their boss and they need to do what they need to do to run a successful gym.

The one that really cracks me up is a quote by a famous Krav Maga instructor who says if your Krav gym teaches Cardio Krav then it isn’t a real Krav gym. What? He said this at a seminar that he was running in a gym that hosts basketball, volleyball, yoga, etc. Wouldn’t that be the same thought…you couldn’t possibly be teaching real Krav Maga at a seminar in a gym that has other things? They can’t be separate classes? We noticed that when we added CardioMMA and Crossfit to our gym our people looked better in tests…they were in better shape. Doesn’t that, in turn, keep them safer? This same guy tells us it isn’t real Krav and it is sissy if you let people use forearm pads or focus mitts to practice outside defenses. My thought on that is I am training housewives and doctors to be able to save themselves the one time in their lives when someone swings a knife at them, why would I want them afraid to come to class? He believes in belittling students, yelling at them, forcing them to do military style training. If he actually had a gym (instead of just an organization, supposedly training gym owners) he would have very hardcore, tough, ready to eat nails students…all ten of them. If we believe Krav Maga makes people safe why teach it to a few who want to show how tough they are? Why not make it attractive to the masses? We have over 500 adults in our Krav gym and I don’t think a one of them would tell you that classes are easy or watered down…especially those who have been through our tests!

Back to my student who is as good an instructor as you’ll find in the U.S. He is constantly looking at the internet, at other arts, systems and techniques. Anytime there is a seminar around, even when taught by someone we don’t necessarily respect, he’ll go to it…and I encourage him to do so. He loves working with guys from other systems in his own gym to see if there is a technique we can use, to see how our techniques work against some weird stuff and to just learn. He isn’t an expert…. he’s just an awesome instructor with a passion for teaching!!

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