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’ve always thought. I do feel that the subject of tradition is worth looking at for our own safety. Please keep in mind 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, 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 ground for self defense but never mention or train for a second attacker or a blade?
-how can you teach self defense to women by telling them that you will show them how to beat up the attacker and win the fight, to stay there and keep hitting the bad guy? They need to always be fighting to escape.
-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!
-For self defense, how can you teach any kind of sparring that has rules, only certain places you can target, or stoppages when a point is scored? How can you not start all sparring sessions with telling the student to run or pick something up to hit the opponent with?
-Why would you teach anything in a horse stance? Unless, of course, you are teaching them 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 pad up and 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!


  1. Another great and sensible post! I really look forward to reading your latest every Saturday and pick up a lot of food for thought. This post emphasizes so much of what appeals to me about Krav Maga. You mention a few things for me to reflect on this week. These are the repetition and complication aspects.

    I’ve read elsewhere too that if it’s complicated it’s not self-defense. I like that and agree with it for he most part. “Complicated” is a very subjective term though. I’d argue that it is impossible to have an RBSD system that is completely straight forward and totally uncomplicated, devoid of repetition. Otherwise we could just master all the techniques in a weekend course and just focus on aerobic classes from there on in.

    In the school I attend at least, repetition and refinement of techniques is pretty commonplace, probably based on a premise that doing them as cleanly as possible will lead to them at least *usable* when your skills degrade terribly during the stress of a real life scenario. The repetition, I’d assume, makes the response time quicker and as “second nature” as possible so that you don’t need to think, you just react.

    Just my $0.02.

  2. Thanks for the comment, good stuff! I posted not long ago about a system that has one technique…and pretty much only one. They use it for everything. Now, that would be awesome for self defense…learn it in an hour and be safe from everything. Problem was, it was a good answer for two or three attacks…totally sucked for knife and gun defenses as it never controlled the weapon and let the weapon flop around.

    I think the beauty of krav is that it is philosophy based and nothing overly complicated to learn. As you point out, it still has taken me years to get really good…and i’m still practicing. The easiest and fastest doesn’t mean it’ll be perfected in a weekend. It’s just a better bet than most “arts”.

  3. Mark,

    Very well put! Your use of Bruce Siddle’s research is interesting though. Not that I disagree with the context in how you used it, but that Siddle is guilty of the very same thing that traditional martial artists are guilty of. The whole PPCT system was all about money and had nothing to do with keeping cops safe. Thanks as always for the great blogs! Nick

    • Thanks N. Ya know, i never put it together that Siddle is the PPCT guy. As we train a lot of Law Enforcement i must agree with your thoughts on that system. It is probably ok for someone who is offering only light resistance but to teach this to cops as an end all is reprehensible. Thanks for the info and good thoughts!

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