Krav Maga

I like Krav Maga. I do. Still, when the topic comes up, I often find myself on the counter-Krav side. It’s mainly due to my refusal to endorse KM as the perfect answer to every question. “How dare you?!” Now wait, If a friend announced that he/she started training in Krav Maga, I’d be giving high fives. Krav techniques are simple, easily executed and retained. Training is approached within a self-defense framework and students are required to execute under stress. For self-defense, I applaud all of that! Plus, it’s exercise. So what’s the problem?

First, let’s accept that serious self-defense has to emphasize avoidance, evasion and escape ahead of violent counterattack. Any training that overlooks the opportunity to escape in favor of crushing the enemy is more suitable to military or security forces. That’s their mission. The mission of the self-defense student is survival. I’m not saying KM instructors don’t know that. But if we agree that avoidance and escape come first, and use of force is what we use when all else fails in order to live, that brings me to my main point.

If your approach to survival of a deadly encounter is not weapon-based, you’re not being serious. If Krav Maga can teach my 100 pound cousin to respond to an attack with the ferocity of a wild animal, I dig it. That’s valuable. But if I think there is a real threat and a high level of risk, I would sooner buy her a .380 and train her to use it effectively. In which scenario will she have higher chances of survival against a vicious attack with all other factors being equal? What about when that option is not legal or appropriate? In that case, I’d advocate for a folding knife that can be rapidly deployed and training to use it with deadly effect. If a knife is not possible, I will advocate for a pen or any other improvised weapon and the training to use it. The example was a diminutive woman for emphasis, but it is irrelevant because the enemy will always strike when he considers the situation advantageous. That means superior size, strength, skill or numbers. Maybe all. We’re better off avoiding that trap, but if we have to fight, we have to make maximum effort to tilt the odds in our favor. Clint Smith put it well, “An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.”

In short, unarmed techniques are good for self-defense, but not as good as having a weapon (and knowing how to use it!). And none of that is as important as the soft skills that teach us to accurately assess risk and mitigate it. I recommend being always armed in some way and when you are not, knowing how to turn everything around you into a weapon. (I am subtly endorsing Filipino Martial Arts.) Krav Maga approaches unarmed self-defense in an effective and efficient manner. That is a particularly important point when training time is limited. Compare that to other martial arts that present themselves as self-defense, but require years of practice to become semi-effective. See, I’m pro-Krav Maga.

3 thoughts on “Krav Maga

  1. I hope that child doesn’t have to try it out. Confidence is nice, but false confidence could get someone seriously hurt. And then you have the crowd that believes “if you can visualize (or imagine) something, then you can make it happen.” I’ve visualized myself beating Michael Phelps in the butterfly, being an NFL quarterback, and captaining a shrimp boat, but none of these things have happened. For me, thoughts, alone, don’t create reality.

  2. Igor, you’re right and I suspect most instructors would agree to the logic, but in practice, training very often fails to reflect that understanding. I recently watched a news story with an instructor teaching a child striking techniques to use against an adult. It just wouldn’t work. But the child seemed very confident.

  3. Well said. While i know where someone is hit, grabbed, or kicked matters, all the KM training in the world will not change the laws of physics. No martial arts I’m aware of can do so. As you pointed out, someone who weighs 100 pounds should not normally try to go up against someone, hand-to-hand, who say weighs 250 pounds. If size and weight didn’t matter there would be no need for weight classes in various sporting events.

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