I recently had a student ask us to slow classes down! He was a black belt in a martial art who has trained for many years. His thought was that he needs to slow the techniques down to learn them better. We are going too fast in class for him to grasp and perfect the techniques. Sigh… The instructor told him “You don’t understand, aggression is our number one technique. Aggression and going totally off is the number one thing to work on to keep us safe in the real world.” He wasn’t buying it. He said he needs to slow it down to learn it better.

Again, there are NO magic techniques. Techniques will not save you in real world violent attacks!! I have read several studies that seem to indicate that between 70 and 85% of martial art black belts who get into a real world fight…lose! When I read this as a martial artist I was offended. Now that I can look back I see how this can be, I see the flaws in the way I was training. The martial art that I was in involved a lot of “technique training”. We would practice a kick on a target for many reps. We never worked on hitting a target that was moving and didn’t want hit. We never practiced on a target that was trying to hurt us. We never had a plan for what we would do if that kick didn’t devastate the target. We didn’t practice a philosophy of “go hard until the target is down”, we just practiced a technique.

When we train a technique in Krav classes it is for just a few reps. If we are doing straight punches we’ll throw a few against a target to look at form. We then get the mitt holder moving. We rapidly move this to two, four then six punches. We then go to six punches with an elbow. Finally we go to six punches, an elbow, a kick to the groin and clinch & knee to the face, zyphiod and groin! This is how we would train the “technique” of the straight punch. What we are doing is building a philosophy. If we trained one punch only and worked on the form and then moved on to the next thing on the lesson plan our members, if ever attacked, would revert back to their training. They would throw one punch and then stop. Under stress this isn’t what we want coming out of us. We want to go off and go hard until the threat is eliminated!

In my martial art we did a lot of katas. In Krav we have no such thing. I was told kata’s were to practice combinations and to simulate multi attackers. In Krav Maga we practice combinations by hitting something as hard as we can with combinations. We work speed and power, not just the technique flow. We practice for multi attackers by having multiple partners gear up and attack us! This makes a bit more sense for getting ready for the real world to us.

Finally, we train all out to be able to go all out! Most black belts from other systems that come to our classes can’t hang at first. Like most every other beginner they have to take breaks in our classes. This always disappoints me. If you can only go all out for thirty seconds, and are training that way, you are taking for granted that you will have devastated the attacker and won in less than thirty seconds. Bad assumption in my opinion. We must out last the attacker and be still kicking his butt when he can hardly raise his hands…not the other way around!

As I’ve blogged on before, there are no magic techniques. You can practice a knife defense technique one thousand times with your partner who attacks you by starting four feet away and then stands there like a statue but this does you no good in the real world when the attacker is grabbing your arm, pulling and pushing you off balance and “hockey punching” you with the knife over and under the arm he has grabbed. Ask any law enforcement officer whom they would rather face, a very proficient black belt or some crazy with no training but the desire to do great harm, to chew their face off. Ninety-nine percent will tell you they don’t want to face the crazy! We can learn from this. If we are ever attacked we have to become the aggressor. We have to be more brutal, cheat more, want to do harm even more than the scumbag. If the scumbag uses violence as a tool we must perfect violence and be better at it than they are. BE SAFE!



  1. Fantastic and enlightening post as usual. With all due respect, can’t we have both? I train in Krav Maga in a school that very much follows your philosophy of making our training very “real world” and physical. We do try to hit moving targets, are worked for very long stretches to build endurance, are battered from behind, are frequently surprised, and get hit hard ourselves in an effort to help desensitize ourselves to getting attacked (i.e.,reduce the likelihood of a freeze when attacked for real). The reality-based environment gets us ready should we ever engage in a real-world confrontation and I find it extremely helpful (and often painful).

    As for slowing it down, especially at first, I’ve always been of the view that I’d like to understand the technique and be able to perform it well (being somewhat of a klutz) slowly before going gung ho with it. So, I best absorb new moves by first getting the technique down, then focusing on power, and eventually speed. All of this going on, as I said, in a reality-based training environment.

    So, although I strongly agree with the majority of your objections — frowning on frequent breaks, not wanting to obsess with katas, and training in an artificial environment that is devoid of reality — I personally am not sure that speed should be introduced in moves on day one. At least, it isn’t all that effective with me.

    • Thanks for the post! We just want from day one to let our students know that there are no magic techniques that will save them. A “go all out, go hard and go until the threat is done” mindset is what will save them. They get the techniques down, it’s not like we dont’ show them or work on them slow at all, but after just a few reps we will not go anything but all out. We aren’t (as you have seen in your krav classes) doing anthing complicated. If it’s complicated it’s not self defense. I just heard a very well respected Krav Maga instructor talk about a guy he knows who has been in more fights and won more fights than anyone he has ever met. This guy has no training in anything. He just goes hard and goes all out. If we could bottle that we wouldn’t need krav or anything else!! Thanks again!

      • That makes complete sense to me. Thanks for the reply!

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