GET the 2nd Edition of American Krav Maga (and a Free Book) For Christmas!

THE 2nd edition of the USKMA’s curriculum manual is now out!

American Krav Maga has now been completely updated. The curriculum is up to date with all additions and changes and over 800 new photos have been added. This is THE instructor manual of the USKMA! The book includes curriculum, drills, lesson plans, philosophy and much more.

Newsmax, in their article “Israel self defense, 4 essential books on krav maga” says “American Krav Maga focuses not only on the teachings of Krav Maga, but also its overall philosophy. At a hefty 352 pages, it is packed full of useful information for those looking for a complete guide to mastering Krav Maga. It is a useful volume for both fine-tuning Krav Maga skills as well as teaching them to others.”

Go to USKMA.com’s “store” page and order by Dec. 18 and we’ll throw in our book ADULTS IN THE DOJO, WHERE’D THEY GO…and how to get them back! for free! While you are there stock up on our cool t-shirts (including our new USKMA Thin Blue Line T), dvd’s, other books and fight shorts.

Again, order the updated AMERICAN KRAV MAGA and we’ll throw in a book for free…a $22 value! This offer is valid through Dec. 18th.

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CONTROLLING FEAR

I just watched a cool youtube video from a documentary on the brain. It was shot at the Navy Seals Special Warfare Command. It talked about how those in Seal training are introduced to chaos from day one because historically mistakes on the battlefield are almost always associated with fear and panic. At this training they are trying to find mentally tough soldiers more so than athletic studs. Each class has 140 men and only an average of 36 pass. They have had Olympic athletes fail while they once had a one hundred and forty pound farm boy from Nebraska who had never seen the ocean until training pass. Needless to say, they take neuroscience seriously.

Researchers have found that a part of the brain no larger than a finger nail called the Amygdala controls emotions, especially fear. The Amygdala instinctively pushes the panic button because this part of the brain gets impulses two times faster than the frontal lobes, which is where our rational thoughts and synchronized activity comes from. When something such as a loud noise startles us the Amygdala has our pulse rising, gets sweat started and has us moving before the Frontal lobes figure out whether it is something that we should be afraid of or not. If we relied only on the frontal lobes we would freeze until we figured out what was going on. The Amygdala gets us ducking, moving and orienting ourselves towards the danger immediately.

The Seal training exposes the soldiers to many scary situations. This helps them to get used to the danger and gives them a been there, done that feeling. This training helps to minimize delay by generating fast and accurate reactions to situations that they will face in combat. For example they fail more candidates in the pool competency training than anywhere else. In the pool competency training the candidates have on their tanks and breathing apparatus. While underwater on air the instructors mess with the candidates for up to twenty minutes by taking their tubes out of their masks and tying them into knots, shutting off their tanks, throwing their masks off of them, etc. They are without air as much as they are on air and must control the fear of drowning as they do the proper procedures to get back on air. When this happens in battle it won’t be nearly so scary as they have been in this position before, many times.

The Seals have a four step mental toughness program that include 1) goal setting, 2) mental rehearsal (mind setting), 3) self talk (they have found that we talk to ourselves by using between 300 and 1,000 words per minute. Those with positive self talk, the “you can do this” succeeded at a much higher rate than those who told themselves “this is impossible”) and 4) arousal control. This is the use of deliberate and slow breathing, especially long exhales. Since they started teaching this the Pool competency training pass rate has gone from ¼ to 1/3.

Watching this documentary had me standing in awe of the IDF’s defensive tactics founders. They were figuring this stuff out back in the 40’s and 50’s! The drills we do in Krav Maga, the way we test and the general thoughts behind our training are in line with this science. We train with realistic attackers, mind set and put students through exhaustion and stress so that if they are ever attacked on the street they have that “been there, done that” feeling. I’ve said many times that if you aren’t putting everything you learn under stress, adrenaline and exhaustion you are learning self defense techniques, not self defense. There is a big difference. BE SAFE!

MILITARY TECHNIQUES…WOW!

It amazes me how “military hand to hand combat techniques” have such an aura about them. I get a lot of people asking if I teach “military krav maga”. People somehow assume that military techniques must be the most lethal and, therefore, the best to learn. Military hand to hand combat training is great…if you are in the military.

Military hand to hand combat is for the battlefield. Soldier’s goals are totally different than a citizen who is trying to survive random street violence. In the military they train with a lot of gear on. All that gear they carry makes a lot of Krav Maga’s techniques useless. They train generally assuming they have buddies around to help…they train as a team. They train to use their knives, long guns, etc. as adjuncts to the techniques. In other words, not a lot of empty hand but always grabbing a shovel, butt stroking with their long gun and using an improvised weapon they are carrying to smack people with. They train to kill and keep moving towards their objective. They don’t look to flee or worry about being sued or arrested for too much force. They are learning to attack offensively, preferably taking out people who never knew they were there. You do that as a civilian and I would think you’d spend a lot of time in prison.

There are a few Israeli military Krav Maga instructors that I have studied. They are tough dudes who are great instructors. We have taken some of what they teach and have incorporated it to the USKMA system but there is much more that we can’t use. The mindset is different. The end goals are different. The whole way of thinking about ‘self defense’ is different. If a person comes at the military instructor with a knife they are thinking only of stopping that knife and killing the attacker. The first thing a civilian should think is to run like they are on fire! Civilian Krav Maga is about learning to stay safe when suddenly attacked by one or more scum bags. Our main goal is to go off like a crazy person doing as much damage as possible in as short amount of time as possible while always looking to escape. Stay safe no matter what and then get the heck out of there before his buddies show up…with knives. We teach (in this order) to stay away from bad places, to run away, to de-escalate and, lastly, to fight when there is no other choice. This is about as opposite of what the military teaches as possible!

So when I am asked “do you teach the military krav maga” I always ask “why, are you in the military?”. Why learn something that is designed for the dangers that military personnel face on a battlefield when we should be learning defenses designed for the dangers that us regular folk will face on the street? It’s beyond me.

I see most who do actually teach “military hand to hand techniques” teach class in bdu’s. Makes them look more military I suppose. With all those pockets down the leg I’d sure as heck be carrying weapons in them and wouldn’t need much krav! BE SAFE!

So many experts!!

“When any person, idea, technique, school, piece of gear, team or tactic is put on a pedestal, we risk stopping progress.” Rob Pincus

Now that we’re posting a technique of the week on our Facebook page I’m hearing from a lot of “experts”. People truly seem to think I’m a horrible person because I don’t teach a technique the way they learned it. We’re actually disliked for not emphasizing a certain aspect, for leaving out or adding a step or for changing a defense. Trying to keep people safe by looking for the most effective, easiest to learn and easiest to recall techniques is a bad thing? Nobody has egos like experts!!

Quite often I get introduced as a Krav Maga expert. When I tested for black belt there were only a few dozen black belt holders in the U.S. Krav Maga has been my life for 16 years…but, I never call myself an expert. I hate that term. In my opinion, as soon as someone thinks they are an expert they also think they know it all. They won’t listen to anyone else’s viewpoint, won’t take seminars or training from anyone else and, therefore, won’t grow.

There are other Israeli self defense organizations who’s “experts” have told prospective affiliates that if the affiliate joins their organization they are not allowed to teach any other martial art or defense systems in their own gym! I know of one who said that if the affiliate made any changes to the curriculum the organization leaders would come to their town, get to the newspapers and ruin them (yes, that really was said). There was another that certified an instructor in Law Enforcement Instruction but told him he absolutely couldn’t teach civilians because that was another course (that they charged several grand for). They also told their affiliate (who had level one classes for a year but no level two and were losing a lot of students because of it) that they absolutely couldn’t teach level two until they had been certified by them (for…you guessed it, several thousand more dollars). Wow! I want my affiliates to feel like part of a family, not a dictatorship. I tell my affiliates that they are putting food on their family’s table, I am not their boss and they need to do what they need to do to run a successful gym.

The one that really cracks me up is a quote by a famous Krav Maga instructor who says if your Krav gym teaches any Cardio classes it isn’t a real Krav gym. What? He said this at a seminar that he was running in a gym that hosts basketball, volleyball, yoga, etc. Wouldn’t that be the same thought…you couldn’t possibly be teaching real Krav Maga at a seminar in a gym that has other things? They can’t be separate classes? We noticed that when we added CardioMMA and Crossfit to our gym our people looked better in tests…they were in better shape. Doesn’t that, in turn, keep them safer? This same guy tells us it isn’t real Krav and it is sissy if you let people use forearm pads or focus mitts to practice outside defenses. My thought on that is I am training housewives and doctors to be able to save themselves the one time in their lives when someone swings a knife at them, why would I want them afraid to come to class? He believes in belittling students, yelling at them, forcing them to do military style training. If he actually had a gym he would have very hardcore, tough, ready to eat nails students…all seven of them. If we believe Krav Maga makes people safe why teach it to a few who want to show how tough they are? Why not make it attractive to the masses? We had over 700 adults in our Krav gym and I don’t think a one of them would tell you that classes are easy or watered down…especially those who have been through our tests!

I encourage my staff to hit all the seminars and training that they can…not just ours. We are constantly looking at the internet, at other arts, systems and techniques. Anytime there is a seminar around, even when taught by someone we don’t necessarily respect, my staff will go to it…and I encourage them to do so. We love working with instructors from other systems to see if there is a technique we can use, to see how our techniques work against some weird stuff and to just learn. We aren’t experts…just awesome instructors with a passion for keeping people safe!!

BIG OL’ INSTRUCTORS

I am sent videos of other defense systems quite often by friends across the nation. They always want to know what I think of the system and of the system’s head honcho. More often than not the video is awesome. It shows an expert smashing people, flipping and throwing big guys around and whooping three knife wielding attackers at the same time as he is disarming another attacker of an M-16 or the like. Sometimes I get the feeling that the person who sent me the video is trying to tell me how much cooler they think that system is than Krav Maga. Cool ain’t all there is to it!

I’m nearly always blown away by the talented instructor. The problem is that the talented instructor is usually a physical marvel. He is six foot two, weighs a chiseled two twenty-five and is super athletic. Yes, his system looks awesome when he does it but…how does that translate to the five foot, one hundred pound female in his class? Too often the techniques I see being used are based on size and strength. The throwing, putting people down with one blow, beating up three dudes at once, etc. work for him because he’s a physical marvel. To expect the 99 pound weakling in class to do the same is expecting a miracle.

In Krav Maga any technique we teach has to pass the litmus test of being able to be done effectively by the smallest, weakest and most uncoordinated person in our gym. How can I teach a group of women techniques that work only if the attacker is smaller than them? That would be setting them up for failure and failure in self defense means they get hurt. In our classes we have people of all ages, sizes and both sexes. To teach techniques that only half of the class could defend themselves with is stroking the instructor’s ego and not keeping people safe.

As a matter of fact, if you know the history or Krav Maga you know that it was developed for the Israeli Defense Forces way back in the late 40’s and 50’s (although it wasn’t named “Krav Maga” until Imi Lichtenfeld named it that in 1971). At that time everyone in the country had to spend time in the IDF. Everyone ages 18-55, both sexes, couch potatoes as well as athletes. Techniques to save lives couldn’t be anything that relied on strength, size or athletic ability, because the majority of people they were teaching had none!!

Below is one of my favorite techniques for a smaller, weaker person to defend themselves with. Watch the small female knock the bouncer out…and it ain’t nothing fancy!

When people come to your gym to learn self defense they are literally putting their lives in your hands. To teach something flashy that you look awesome doing but won’t keep them safe is unforgiveable. BE SAFE.