There are several things that I see in most self defense classes that I don’t agree with. Am I right and everyone else wrong? Nah, I don’t have the ego BUT here are some things to think about.

Warm ups. I don’t like wasting time! When I teach a class I feel that I have 50 minutes to make all in attendance as safe as possible. I have been to classes that warm up for half an hour. I always felt that I was there to learn Krav Maga, not do pushups. I can do those at home. We warm up for 7 minutes in classes I teach. In those warm ups we do “Krav” motions so that I can correct and work on form. Punching and throwing elbows will warm up shoulders. These are motions we want reps on because they make us safe. Arm circles, etc. warm up shoulders as well, but we aren’t repping anything we’ll actually use in self defense!

Learning techniques. My opinion is that there are no magic techniques. Techniques will not save us in real world violent attacks!! I tell students “Aggression is our number one technique. Aggression and going totally off like a crazy person is the number one thing to work on to keep us safe in the real world.” 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.

Class pace. This goes along with the above paragraph but to not run people into the ground in class is a mistake. Everything we teach we put under stress and exhaustion. If we are ever attacked on the street I can guarantee that there will be lots of stress and exhaustion. To rely on anything that hasn’t been practiced under the circumstances we’ll face in the real world is a mistake.

Drills. This is the most important thing we do in class for self defense. We go as hard as we can with multiple attackers for 1 to 2 minute rounds. This is gut check time. We may not be hitting as hard at the end of the drill as we were at the beginning but we are still hitting! We will outlast the scum bag. NO matter how tired, cramped, etc. that we are we will not quit until the threat is down. We will keep going no matter what! BTW, when running drills make it hitting things, not calisthenics. As my friend and 2nd degree Krav black belt Matt Kissel says “I’ve never had to do a burpee in the middle of a fight”. Train for what you’ll see.

Knife on Knife, stick on stick, etc. training. If someone has a knife I don’t want to fight them with a knife. Heck, if you are in a fair fight your tactics suck!! I want a ball bat against a knife. I’ll take a ball bat and an attitude over a black belt in any system! Even better, I’ll take a handgun and distance. We actually train handgun quite a bit in Krav Maga. I’ll argue that ten hours of handgun training makes us safer than 1,000 hours training with any other weapon. We need to teach people to run from weapons. Most of the weapon vs. weapon training that I see has a fatal flaw…they are one against one training. Every asshole has an asshole buddy close by!

Training tools. The training tool that is popular with Krav people that I don’t get are the shock knives. They don’t hold up that well, are expensive and…pretty friggin worthless in my opinion. What is the reason to use shock knives (or the old put lipstick on a rubber knife and wear a white t shirt)? Are you saying that if you get touched by the knife you didn’t do the defense right? I call bullshit on that. In a knife attack you are going to get cut. We don’t even call it “knife defenses” in our seminars, we call it “knife survival”. If you are doing defenses and not getting touched by the knife I can guarantee you that the attacks aren’t realistic. We expect to get cut, we are trying to avoid the 40 stab wounds to the chest that the average psycho is attempting to deliver. I’ve also been told that the “shock” mimics pain and teaches us to keep going when we feel it. I would suggest that people who believe that go study the adrenaline dump and stress. You ain’t feeling pain under the stress of someone trying to kill you…that comes later!

A much better training tool for knife defenses would be KY jelly. Any defense you are teaching should be able to be used with that stuff slathered all over your arms and hands. There is blood on the scene of almost every knife attack. Blood is one slippery substance. If the defense can’t be used effectively all slicked up like that it isn’t a good defense. Guess what, most every defense you know for a knife fails under that test. What works best? Punching or kicking the attacker as hard as you can as you attempt to block the blade…and creating distance to get the heck out of there or access a better weapon (such as a ball bat).

Don’t teach classes without thinking about everything that you are doing and how it actually applies to the real world. BE SAFE!


1 Comment

  1. very good points

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