The exhaustion drills that we run at the end of every class make people uncomfortable. Actually, the whole reason for these drills are to put people under stress and make them feel uncomfortable. I am sure that i have had people there for intros not join our gym after these drills. I occasionally get comments about how disliked they are because they made that student “uncomfortable”. I ususally tell them “Good, that’s what they are designed to do!” This is what seperates Krav Maga classes from most martial art classes.

When I was in the martial arts I liked the classes. They were fun, i got to catch up with my friends, i got to practice my board break kick, I got to practice my forms. There were very few times i was uncomfortable. There was no exhaustion, very little contact, no discomfort and nothing that resembled actual violence. Being out of breath and feeling like I couldn’t go on never really happened. What we thought we were preparing for is beyond me.

If real world violence would ever find one of our students I would want them to have a “been there, done that” feeling. Real world violence is more terrifying, stressful, exhausting, faster, closer and more “uncomfortable” than we could ever prepare for…but we should sure try. We want our students to have felt exhaustion to the point that they don’t think they can go on. We want them to be blitzed by stimuli so that they are confused and can’t tell what is actually going on. We want them to feel contact. We want them to hit something as hard as they can until they can’t lift thier arms. Yes, we want to make them uncomfortable!

In our drills we sprint, hit pads as hard as we can, have a second attacker push us, have to hit both attackers (their pads, anyhow), sprint some more, worry about a third attacker, etc., etc. These drills are killer. A minute feels like an hour and our lungs are burning the whole time. We aren’t hitting nearly as hard at the end as we were at the beginning but…we’re still hitting! Two stories from students come to mind. The first one was a guy who hit a kid that darted out in front of him with his car (the kid was fine). It wasn’t a good neighborhood and there were several men who came running…not to help but to beat on my student. He ended up out sprinting them, turned on them when there were only two left and then clinching and kneeing the both of them until they walked away. He said “it was like a drill”. The second was a cop who took Krav Maga from me. He was on bike patrol during a fourth of July festival and had to sprint on that bike for almost a mile to get to an officer who was being attacked. He got there, got off the bike and tackled the bad guy. Bent him into a pretzel and cuffed him. He also told me “it was like a drill”.

The special forces have a saying. “The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in battle.” If we don’t train with any realism, exhaustion and while uncomfortable how are we going to react when violence, which brings all of those things to bear, finds us? If you are learning self defense techniques and not putting them under stress and exhaustion you are only learning self defense techniques, not self defense. There is a big difference. BE SAFE!



  1. I love this! Its true that in class its important to push students hard. Make them ride that line of exhaustion and see how far they can go. It will help in a real life situation (if needed).

  2. I hope all of my students read this, especially the new students. I posted it on Facebook and Twitter. I also noticed it has been tweeted and retweeted by about five or six others. Great blog!

  3. In the military, we always say ” learn to love the suck ” šŸ™‚
    That makes the difference between a trained and untrained people

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