In Krav Maga class why in the world do we…

Why do we do things the way we do in USKMA classes? I get asked this from time to time. When I do instructor training for new affiliates I give them a specific template for running classes. All USKMA gyms across the nation are pretty much teaching classes the same way. I emphasize that there are two reasons for everything we do in our gyms. Reason 1 is that whatever we do must make people safe. Our job is to save people’s lives. We will teach the most battle tested, cutting edge, effective, easiest to learn and easiest to recall self defense techniques and tactics that we possibly can. Reason 2 is to get people in the door. We teach a fast paced class, emphasize the workout and weight loss aspect and truly compete against the big box gyms, not martial arts schools. Showing gym owners how to grow a business is important, profit isn’t a dirty word. Now, we will not compromise one of these for the other. We will not teach “fluff”, water things down, take it easy or make an aerobics class out of our classes. That may get more people in but we will not teach anything that is BS just to make money. Likewise, we could run classes like an IDF boot camp. I know gyms that do this. We can go overly hard, make beginners practice outside defenses without padding to “toughen them up”, injure people, scream and belittle the whole time, etc. If we did this we would have tough as nails, studly students…all ten of them. I cannot make people safe who are not in class. Why would I have ego to run classes like this to make ten people safe when, if I do it right, I can make hundreds and even thousands of people safe? When I owned gyms in Columbus, OH we had 750 members. If you took one of our classes you left pretty sure that we weren’t taking it easy, that it was real self defense and that you were just ran into the ground. We didn’t do fluff but we also weren’t sadists. Below are questions I’ve been asked with two part answers. One part is why it’s done to make people safe, the other part is why it’s done to get people into our gyms.

WHY ARE CLASSES SO BASIC/SO MUCH PUNCHING AND KNEEING?
1) Basics will be what saves our butts if we are ever attacked! I know of three of my black belts who have been attacked over the past few years. One ended the attack with a punch, one ended the attack with an elbow and one hit the attacker with a six pack of beer upside the head. They all verbalized to me that they were disappointed, they all had this vast bag of techniques in their brains and that’s all they did. I told them that that is the point. The basics, done well, is what it’s all about. It is funny that most well known MMA or BJJ fighters who put out dvd’s have “advanced techniques” on them but when you watch them fight they only do basics. This is why they are champions, they do the basics better than anyone else. If it’s complicated, it isn’t self defense!

2) As a workout in class a ten combination attack would be slow, have to be demonstrated many times, have to be slowly added to and slow class down. A ten combination attack that is six punches, clinch and throw four knees is more effective, won’t have hesitation as we try to remember and anyone can do it after being shown once.

CAN WE SLOW THINGS DOWN AND WORK ON TECHNIQUE?
1) Nope, techniques won’t save your ass, going forward with rage and swinging for the fences will. Techniques degrade under stress, a bunch. If I can guarantee that this technique is going to pretty much fall apart if you are attacked (and have that adrenaline dump, blood pooling to your core due to vasoconstriction, brain jumbled and not thinking or remembering, etc.) why would we want to emphasize the technique in class? What will save us is having a ‘flinch’ reaction that has us going forward with hatred and rage to do the maximum amount of damage in the minimum amount of time. This is why classes are all about aggression and heart and why everything we teach is put under exhaustion and stress.

2) That’s what they do in martial arts class. How many adults are lining up to get into those?

WHY DO YOU HAVE FITNESS CLASSES AT YOUR GYM?
1) If you study self defense and read books that interview survivors of vicious attacks (Strong On Defense by SGT Strong, Meditations on Violence and Facing Violence by SGT Rory Miller) you will see two truths. One is that the first person to go balls to the wall generally wins. Two is that the person who exhausts first usually loses. If you go off first and can fight harder for a longer period of time than the attacker you are virtually unbeatable.

2) If we have a martial arts dojo and add Krav Maga we look like a martial arts dojo with a Krav class. If we have Krav Maga, CardioMMA, Crossfit, etc. in our gym we look like a fitness and self defense Mecca! Give members three of four things to attend every single day. The box gyms don’t tell members “you can come twice a week for this one hour class”. Since we are competing against them, neither should we!

WHY DO YOU HAVE OTHER CLASSES SUCH AS MUAY THAI AND BOXING AT YOUR GYM?
1) Our gyms had a BJJ class, a Muay Thai class, a boxing class and an MMA class every week that our members could attend. Beginners certainly needed Krav Maga if they were there for self defense but they could hit these other classes as well. Their hands could only get better if they went to the boxing class, their ground got better with BJJ, kicks better with Muay Thai, etc. Our advanced students in Krav Maga were certainly encouraged to hit everything. If all things were equal who would be better able to defend themselves…a ten year Krav Maga student or a ten year krav maga student who also had several years in BJJ, boxing and Muay Thai? Yep, that’s how we saw it as well.

2) When it was time to sign the agreement to join the gym we got a lot of “You mean I can do all of this for this one price?” That’s called adding value to their membership.

WHY DO MOST DEFENSES END WITH CLINCHING AND KNEEING?
1) Because it works! If I am defending a choke or headlock against someone who is bigger, stronger and better than me I don’t want to get their hands off and then move around and spar with them. They’ll win! As soon as I break their grip I clinch and knee them in the groin, before they’re recovered from that I knee them in the face, before their recovered from that… I don’t need a small female, for example, thinking of anything besides holding on and destroying this idiot. Keep them in the loop by hitting them over and over never letting them recover, throw them to the ground, stomp their Achilles and beat feet to safety.

2) You ever clinch and knee a pad holder with all your might for two minutes straight? One heck of a workout!!

WHY DOES EVERY CLASS HAVE TO END WITH THOSE DAMNED DRILLS?
1) If we, God forbid, are ever attacked on the street we will be stressed, confused and exhausted. IF we had learned techniques but never had them put under stress, confusion and exhaustion we didn’t prepare for what a real attack is. We don’t know how our body is going to react. We are freezing because we don’t understand what is going on. We learned self defense techniques, not self defense. There is a big difference! These drills are the best thing we do for self defense in class. No time to think about technique, just hit the target! We can hardly breath, stand or lift our arms but we are still fighting…we are going on heart! If ever attacked on the street we will have a “been there, done that” feeling!

2) As people are crawling out the door completely spent they will shake your hand and tell you what a great class that was! That is a workout! We have had many, many members over the years lose 60, 70…even 100 pounds. We made them both safe and healthy!

BE SAFE!

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