I get asked all the time- “What is krav maga and what makes it different from other martial arts?” My answer is always simple- krav maga isn’t a martial art, it is self-defense. We train hard, we train realistically, and we acknowledge that we will might get hurt if we need to use it on the street.
We all know “that” student. The one that has 10 or 12 years in hapkido, aikido, tae kwon do, or jujitsu and comes to krav with a false sense of security. The one that says, in (fill in the blank) martial arts, we do it this way. He demonstrates his defense and it works against a static attacker. I like to say,” OK, Let’s see how that works out for you in a more realistic setting”. One where the bad guy is not going to hit or stab you with a straight arm (no recoil) and has to stand at a certain position and attack in a certain way. I like to move the defender to a sitting position or put him on the ground and see what happens. Take the defense out of a sanitary environment and put it in a more dynamic and realistic setting and 97% of them fall apart. Put the defender under stress or introduce multiple attackers and the failure rate climbs.
The beauty of krav maga is that it teaches students the principals of self-defense. We not only talk about prevention and avoidance, but we (should) practice it. We understand the role that physiology (our body’s autonomic response to danger) plays in a critical incident, and we train our way through it. We teach techniques that cover a broad range of variables and base them on extremely basic building blocks. As an expert level krav maga instructor, I continue to see how the basic building blocks become part of more complicated techniques and scenarios. I can see how letting a P1 student “slide” on a technique or not stressing one portion of a technique will come back to haunt that student later in terms of testing, but it’s not a P, G, or even E level test that I’m concerned about- my main concern is not letting a student out the door with a false sense of security. We are teaching life saving techniques, folks. We should be more concerned about our students surviving a potentially life threatening incident than how many students have passed their P, G, and E level tests. That’s what makes us different. That’s what makes krav maga self-defense and not a martial art. The motto at our school is “train like your life depends on it”. Make it yours, make it real.