KRAV MAGA AND KIDS

When I was a kid if you knew Karate everyone was afraid of you. If you were a black belt (and there were very few around) you were a total bad ass! The martial arts were for adult males who had made themselves into weapons. The rumor was that they had to “register their hands with the FBI”! Then, came the Karate Kid, the Ninja Turtles, the Power Rangers, etc. Entrepreneurial martial arts school owners found out how to make big bucks off of the kids market. In so doing it can be argued that they totally ruined martial arts! There’s a school on every corner of most cities and each has dozens of 6 to 9 year old black belts. Martial arts went from being about kicking ass to manners, being courteous, doing your homework and listening to mom and dad. Now, these are great things to teach kids but not what the martial arts used to be about. As a teenager I wanted to do martial arts. I would have given anything to have been able to afford (and find) a gym close to where I lived. Now, teenagers tell me that they would be looked at as nerds if they were in “Karate”. How did this happen?! Well, if I have anything to do with it this won’t happen to Krav Maga!

A straight Krav program would be a hard sell for most parents, especially the moms. The Israelis aren’t worried about manners or clean bedrooms or doing homework but about staying alive. When I first attended a Krav Maga gym for training there were a few kids around. I remember hearing my Israeli instructor tell a kid “Hey, I heard you were in a fight at school”. Being from a martial arts background I assumed the kid was about to hear that they better not have started it, how to handle the situation without violence, etc. Nope, the instructor asked him “Did you kick his ass?” We are teaching things a young child needn’t see or hear until they get older.

My main concern with teaching Krav Maga to kids is we don’t BS people in Krav and tell them techniques will keep them safe if they won’t. Kids just don’t have the size or strength for most combatives, plucks, etc. to be effective. Think about it, have you ever seen a 9 year old who’s punch or round house kick to the body would hurt you enough for you to let go? To show them choke defense, headlock defense, carotid choke defense, buck and roll, etc. when they weigh 60 pounds and tell them that it would work would be blowing smoke up their you know whats! That’s something we won’t do!! The same would go for most of our knife, stick and handgun defenses. A four footer that weighs 70 pounds couldn’t use these defenses effectively. A lot of systems would have kids practice these and tell them that they would work. I don’t know how they could live with themselves when one of those kids get hurt in real life. We pride ourselves in the fact that Krav Maga is one system that tells it like it is. As you’ve heard me say in the past always put common sense and self experience before the majority opinion or a self appointed expert when it comes to your personal safety….or that of your kids.

It’s certainly not that I disagree with teaching kids self defense. It’s just that the “Krav Maga for Kids” classes that I see aren’t really Krav Maga. Anything that isn’t teaching to cheat, hit first, grab something to use as a weapon, go off like a bomb until the attacker is unconscious…anything that doesn’t teach to go forward with hatred and rage to do the maximum amount of damage, isn’t Krav Maga. It would not be right to teach kids these things. For kids the stranger danger courses are great. In my martial arts days I had parents get upset with me when I taught their kids that there are bad people out there who may try to harm them. What are they doing in the martial arts if not to learn some self defense? Ignoring things won’t make them go away. If one of my students would have ever had someone attempt to abduct them I would think the parents would had been mighty glad that we practiced for just that scenario. Teach kids to not put themselves in a bad situation of course, but teach them that bad things can still happen. Head butts to the soft part of the attacker’s face, kicks to the groin and punches to the groin would be effective in having the bad guy’s grip release for at least an instance, even at their size. These must be taught as a way of escaping, not having them believe that these strikes would devastate the bad guy. I teach my son to just flail and be a hard target, kicking and punching to the groin, head butting the face, biting, scratching, screaming, etc. until the bad guy’s grip lets loose….then run like crazy! The movies where the little karate kids are beating up adults and knocking them over with kicks make me wanna puke!! Use common sense, think for yourself and BE SAFE!

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