KRAV MAGA TOURNAMENTS!

I get asked every now and then if there are tournaments or competitions for Krav Maga. This always makes me chuckle as this is a dead giveaway that the questioner doesn’t really know what Krav Maga is. Krav Maga is real World self defense for when someone is truly trying to harm you or your family. When this happens, anything goes. Krav is about kicking someone in the groin as hard as possible, sticking a finger as far into an eye socket as you can, finding a pipe or chair leg and beating the bad guy with it. If these things were done in a competition I doubt too many would be interested in competing! Krav Maga is a philosophy based self defense system. The philosophy is “do whatever you have to do to be safe”. Cheating is fair game, hitting someone and running away is fair game, beating someone with a fire extinguisher is fair game (after you’ve sprayed them in the eyes, of course). The point is, if your life is on the line, do what you can to get out of the situation.

Our combatives translate well to MMA. Krav Maga has stolen whatever is effective from other systems. Our standup is Muay Thai, just like MMA. We have elements of BJJ and wrestling, just like MMA. Would a Krav practitioner be effective in MMA? Yes, if he had talent, trained hard, had a rock chin and out of this World cardio….just like all other MMA competitors. We don’t have secret techniques. Our guy would train the same way that the other competitors do. Could he do Krav Maga in the ring? Nope, he would be thrown out of the first round of his first fight. Krav would be doing absolutely everything that is illegal in MMA. Hitting to the groin, grabbing and crushing testicles, eye gouging and head butting! Real Krav would be hitting the opponent with the stool before the bell! There is a reason that these techniques are against the rules….they are devastating and the competitors would get injured. MMA competitions want fair play where things that end fights quickly, cause damage and end fighters careers wouldn’t sell. Rules are for a sport. In real life if you are in a fair fight your tactics suck! BE SAFE!

WE KICK PEOPLE IN THE JIMMIES!

I laughed hard when I overheard one of my students telling a friend who had asked what Krav Maga is “Well, basically we kick people in the jimmies”! If I had one sentence to describe Krav Maga I would probably say “it’s an Israeli self defense system designed for real world violence that is easy to learn, easy to remember and effective.” If I got a blank look after this “We kick people in the jimmies” would probably be my next sentence! In Krav Maga we do target the groin often. I can’t think of many arts or defense systems that have as many techniques that target the groin as Krav Maga. Most arts are sport based and groin kicks are absolutely against the rules. Take Muay Thai for example. Groin kicks are forbidden in Muay Thai. They take such a wide stance in Muay Thai fighting because it enables the fighters to swing their shins out to block round house kicks. That wide stance would get them kicked in the groin if such kicks were legal.

All sports make groin kicks illegal and it is apparent why. Have you ever seen an MMA match where someone takes a groin shot? The fighter usually drops right to the ground and they have to stop the fight! During the replay the whole audience groans! They give the fighter who was kicked five minutes for the pain to wear off before they restart the fight. This sounds like a great thing to do in a self defense situation!

Groin kicks are an awesome target in self defense situations! No matter how big the muscle head is he can’t build up his groin. This is just a fact of life! I get asked a lot if groin kicks are just as effective if the attacker is female. This question only comes from males as females know what getting smacked in the pubic bone can do. There can be some major soft tissue damage but the main damage to a female with a groin kick is the pubic bone, which is actually cartilage. The pelvic bones actually meet in a joint, attached by this cartilage. A solid groin kick can damage or even separate that joint, making walking extremely painful, if not impossible.

I was once told by a high school kid that if he kicked to the groin in a fight at school he would be branded a dirty fighter. I was taken aback. I told him that Krav Maga wasn’t invented for school yard fights but for the Israeli defense forces to save lives in real world violent attacks. If my safety is on the line I’ll be as dirty as I can possibly be…I’m punting! Be safe.

HEY YOU, MUSCLE HEAD!

Are muscle heads (power lifters & body builders) scary? Are they the last people in the World you’d want to have to defend yourselves against? Well, what can they do with all that muscle? I’m not putting those guys down, heck, as ‘Mater from Disney’s CARS said “I’d give my two left lug nuts to look like that”…..but here are some things to think about!

At our gyms we have trained several competitive body builders, power lifters and even an NFL lineman, several weighing 300 pounds or more. As a group, when they started with us, as far as self defense went, they were terrible! They had strength but not a one of them could get through a class. They couldn’t go hard for more than 30 seconds at a time. To a man their cardio was horrible. We had a whole group of body guards quit after a couple of weeks because they looked impressive standing but couldn’t take the work in a basic level 1 class!

The other thing we noticed is that these guys all couldn’t turn their hips to save their lives and just punched with their arms. Now, their arm only punches were mighty hard but it always impressed them when my long time students who weighed 150 pounds less could punch harder! I would always tell them that they can punch hard now but when they learn to turn their hips and use their bodies they will knock peoples heads clean off.

We have had three of these big ol muscle heads stay with us and become long time students. They are very good at Krav now but all three have lost a lot of weight…one of them has lost over 80 pounds. It’s funny that the general public thinks that the bigger and more muscle a man has makes them tougher when all three of these guys discovered that they are better fighters and better at self defense when they lost some of that muscle. When I see muscle heads strutting around I want to ask them “what do you do if a gun is put in your face?” All the muscle in the world won’t save them but I have 95 pound female students who would take that gun from the Scum Bag and beat his butt with it!!

Take Mariusz Pudzianowski, the World’s strongest man. He wanted to be an MMA fighter but lost his first few big fights. Their opponents knew that if they could avoid a big shot that his cardio would be gone by the second round and that’s exactly how they beat him. He got tired and they got him! If he wants to continue in MMA he needs to lose a lot of that muscle! Read more about him here

If I am ever attacked by someone who has a lot of muscle (and I can’t run) I plan on doing the same. Don’t fight his fight, dance and drag it out. He’ll be huffing and puffing soon enough and then it’s my time. If you do find yourself in this situation remember not to look at how big or scary your attacker is, look at targets. All you should see are knees, throats, zyphoids and groins! No matter how big he is he can’t build up those places! BE SAFE!

GO IN!

One of Imi Lichtenfied’s students tells a story about the time that there was a TV on with a Bruce Lee movie playing. The student asked Imi “what do you think of Bruce Lee”? Imi said “Well, the boy is very good, however, if he has time to duck he has time to go in and finish….but that would make for a short movie I suppose.” Krav Maga training has a technique that is very unique called “bursting.” We push off of a foot like a sprinter leaving the starting blocks to put our whole weight behind an attack or block and to get inside. We want to be inside because we never think that one punch, elbow, etc. will knock out the attacker (it indeed may but we can’t take that for granted) so we want to be close to clinch and attack and attack again until the bad guy is done.

A person in a sparring match can move, strike, move some more, circle, strike again, etc. This works because in a sparring match there are two evenly matched opponents competing with a set of rules. In the real world fighting like this only works if we are better, stronger, aren’t worried about a second attacker, have time, etc. In Krav Maga we realize we don’t have those luxuries so we want to burst in, hit the bad guy many times, finish him as quickly as we can and never give him the chance to strike at us more than once. In a choke, for instance, getting the bad guy’s hands off or our throat and then backing off, squaring up to fight and then throwing punches would only work if we are the better fighter. Instead we remove the attacker’s hands, simultaneously kick his groin, land forward, clinch the attacker and throw non stop knees & front kicks until he is done.

We show this concept from the very first intro lesson at our gym. We show a front kick, let the new student do a few, and then stop the student to teach Krav philosophy. We tell them that their kick was fine (it’s an easy technique) but not to kick and put their foot back where they started. If they kick and put their foot back they have to kick again to get back close to the attacker. We show them to kick and put their foot down forward because then the attacker is right there for a knee with the other leg or they can just clinch the attacker and deliver multiple combatives.

When there is a weapon involved this becomes even more important. If we can’t run or pick up something to smack the attacker with we want to go in. If it’s a handgun we direct it off of us and go in and beat him unconscious. In the case of a knife or stick the attacker expects us to back up. Backing up puts us in greater danger as we are going to the most dangerous part of the stick (the end) or into the arc of the blade. In the case of the stick going in keeps us from being hit by the part going the fastest but instead takes us into the hand or forearm of the person swinging the stick. There isn’t much damage the bad guy is going to do to us there. We aren’t just moving in to escape the danger but when we do get in we deliver a strike. This strike has a lot of power as our whole body was behind it. While inside, after this first strike, we clinch and throw knees, elbows, head butts, etc. until we are safe.

The point is that you can dance and prance if you are in a fair fight. If you are fighting for your life go forward, get in deep and beat on the bad guy until he’s done! BE SAFE!

TRADITION CAN GET YOU HURT!

I certainly don’t intend for this blog to become me railing against martial arts. Putting down others is a sure sign that you have issues, I believe. I am railing, however, about anyone who teaches self defense and puts their ego or making money ahead of their students safety. With this in mind I do feel that the subject of tradition is worth looking at for our own safety. Please remember that I was a 4th degree black belt in a very traditional system. Notice that I say was…I still have the certificate but it’s my opinion that if you haven’t kept up on something or practiced it in years you no longer can claim the rank!

You have heard us say that Krav Maga is an open system. We don’t have a Grand Poobah to bow to, don’t have a tradition to keep up to further our cause. Israel was only worried about staying a country and knew that they had to stay cutting edge and never waste any training on tradition or fluff. It’s still this way today in the United States Krav Maga Association because we have citizens to keep safe, and they are who we answer to…not to tradition, a system or a “master”.

The following is from Bruce Siddle’s SHARPENING THE WARRIOR’S EDGE which is an exhaustive study on training methods for military and law enforcement applications;

“Instructors who teach survival skills (i.e. defensive tactics, close-quarter combat, tactical firearms, or survival strategies) are still faced with teaching students a physical skill. The author proposes the level of student proficiency is directly proportionate to the instructor’s training psychology and system design. Subsequently, instructors have a moral and legal obligation to constantly research methods to enhance training and, ultimately, to assure the survival of their students.”

“Unlike other motor skill training, survival skills will be performed in the stress of combat. As such, motor skill training inherits a fair degree of learning and performance limitations. Although the learning roadblocks are multiple, there are three constant variables which directly affect survival and combat training. First, is the development of a system of skills which are appropriate for the arena of performance. For example, skills need to be designed to control specific threat stimuli. Second, the instructional delivery system must ensure that the students can learn and develop confidence in the skill quickly. The final variable recognizes that the influence of motivational principles has a direct effect on the student’s training intensity and subsequent skill development.”

After reading this excerpt, why would you teach something that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years? The thugs have changed their tactics in that time! If you are teaching people stress relief, exercise, coordination, etc. feel guilt free to teach what you want. However, if someone is coming to you to learn self defense they are literally putting their lives in your hands. Do you understand the seriousness of this? They are relying on you to teach them to stay alive during the worst moments of their entire lives.

Knowing this;
-how can you teach a kick to the knife as a knife defense?
-how can you teach a forward roll into the person with a handgun who wants to kill you?
-how can you teach small women techniques that obviously only work for bigger, stronger students?
-how can you teach techniques that take hundreds of disciplined hours to perfect to the point they would actually work? I have heard many martial arts masters tell their students that it takes 1,000 reps to become proficient at a technique. This is ok if they are learning an art. If it is self defense training this is ridiculous! If it’s complicated, it’s not self defense!
-Why would you teach a punch defense that is a longer motion than the punch?
-Why would you teach anything in a horse stance? Unless, of course, you are teaching people to defend themselves for when they are on a horse.
-how can you teach katas for self defense? I have been told that this is practicing fighting off multi attackers. Why keep turning your back on the last person that you whacked (as most kata’s I’ve seen are in an x pattern)? Do you know how we practice fighting off multi attackers? We have multi attackers come at us…and we fight them off.
-how can you never put students under stress or talk about the effects of stress, the adrenaline dump or the fact that they will be fighting injured?
-how can you not include cardio training in your students lessons knowing that if they are ever in a self defense situation that goes past 30 seconds their techniques will severely degrade with exhaustion?
-how can you teach 65 pound kids that they can devastate an adult with a punch or kick when they obviously don’t have the strength or power?

I am not railing on martial arts at all. I just feel very passionate about pointing out the flaws in any training that claims to be “the ultimate in self defense”, that claims to make it’s practitioners safe against real world violence. It infuriates me to see instructors make these claims when it’s all about their ego or making money…not caring that they will get people hurt. Again, your students are putting their safety, their families safety and their very lives in your hands. I say to heck with tradition!! BE SAFE!