Why Krav Maga is the best self-defense system in the world
The purpose of this article is to go through the factors that led Krav Maga to be the best self-defense system in the world. It is vital for us to know those factors in order to preserve it and pass it forward. In hindsight, four major elements stands behind this achievement:
First element: The evolutionary element
Every creature on earth, developed physical traits, which allowed him to survive in a constant dangerous changing environment. The ones that evolution gave them the right tools, Prevailed, and the ones that weren’t so lucky, (the mutation passed them) did not survive. Humans therefore, naturally carry the surviving genes, each of us born with a set of natural defensive, cognitive & reflexive traits, from the moment we emerge from our mothers' womb.
Examples for those genetic traits:
If someone walks in the street and hears tires screeching, he will turn to see the danger and will raise his hands forward in a push motion, even if it's a five tons truck forging toward him, and he has no chance of stopping it. We can see the same trait in a ball game, when the ball is in the air coming down towards us when we are not prepared to catch it, the natural reaction would be to cover our heads in a protective motion. Even if it makes no sense at all, it proves that those reflexes are deeply wired in our DNA.
Imi was the first man to recognize the existence of those patterns, that's why he loved watching kids, he saw them as a blank page written in the evolutionary language. He once told me, that this understanding flashed in his mind after one of his street fights against multiple attackers. He instinctively performed a defense he has never done before, studied or practiced on.
A baby will move its mouth toward any random touch on his face, will squeeze any finger which will touch the palm of his hand, that behavior is an expression for the need of assistance and its circumstances are clear.
A grown child will react differently to the same random touch, he will pull his hand away from the touch.
Obviously, the rapid changing threats our universe bring upon us, is much faster than evolution changes, but once the change occurs it stays within us for a long time.
I used to experiment with many opponents from all kinds of martial arts, watching their reactions on the mat, and trying to recognize their instinctive movements, the ones the human evolution has given them. A behavior which is sometimes, completely different to what they learned over the years. The results were always the same: the natural moves overcame the unnatural ones.
It made me see Imi's logic clearly, when he first recognized the power of instinctive natural defensive ability, and how one can enhance and use it better. Imi's ability to understand what many others failed to see, made him the great man he was, and this recognition established the fundamental ideas of Krav Maga as we know it today.
In order to recognize the evolutionary defensive element, the danger has to be receipted by one of our senses. Moreover, the danger must be immediate and unexpected. Analyzing the human reactions worldwide, show us that all cultures and countries, has exactly the same evolutionary priorities, to firstly protect organs which maintain the promise of next generations. Woman tend to protect their face because it’s the main organ they have to attract male company for coupling. Then there is the need of a pregnant woman to protect her stomach at all cost in order to preserve her unborn baby. Men will automatically protect their testicles in order to ensure their fertility. The second priority for both genders will be to protect the head. Humans will protect their head even in the cost of sacrificing other major organs.
An immediate danger will always take priority over a later one, which takes over a visible danger, which takes over a contact danger. As a young instructor, I used to put my students in threatening situations even before teaching the defense technique to observe what the evolution has equipped them with, and show them how they are wired to act by instinct against that threat, and how to use this instinct in sync with the right technique. IKMF Krav Maga has succeeded in preserving, as much as possible, the basic defensive instincts which are naturally wired in the human body, and to avoid reactions which are not natural and inconsistent with what will come naturally to us. Basically the Krav Maga logic is to sharpen and precise the human natural movements.
Second Element: The Experience element
Imi's life circumstances made him face complicated situations which enabled him to check the techniques in real life. Whether they were law enforcement techniques which he learned from his father, or, defensive and offensive techniques he brought from his wrestling competitions and later on in street fights against the Nazis. Later on, during his service in the "Hagana" and the IDF, he expand his technique arsenal adding stick and knife defenses that were created by the common attacks the Arabs used to carry out against the Jews, using mostly cold weapons.
The "trial & error" method generated genius techniques, and dismissed many techniques which were good in theory but failed in reality.
"This technique is excellent, this one is not so good" Imi used to say, and then settle down and contemplate, trying to understand the logic behind every chosen technique. Nowadays, I believe in one simple fact, that just like science hasn’t yet succeeded to explain everything, same goes with a technique that doesn’t always work, if it's not working it means that we haven’t managed to decipher something yet.
Over the years, IKMF Krav Maga found common elements in the most efficient techniques, which eventually became the principles of IKMF Krav Maga.
As I see it, Krav Maga is the meeting point of science and experience, but no doubt in my mind, that science has made the "longer way".
As IKMF Head instructor I make sure I maintain constant contact with leading military, police & security units in their sectors. By sharing experiences and knowledge with active units, we provide them with updates on techniques that are relevant to their field of expertise, and in return we receive the feedback and the confirmation for the knowledge we are spreading, a confirmation that our developments provided effective solutions to real time scenarios in the field. This feedback is processed and distributed among the global instructor's team and from them to our worldwide instructors. And so, it is highly important that every head of division within the IKMF will have real field experience and that he maintains and keeps fit and updated with this experience, that makes him the best, most relevant instructor.
Third Element: The "Israeli culture" element
Through thousands of years Jewish people would debate the "Talmud" and argue and discuss issues from the Bible to its smallest partials, sharpening the mind in attempt to understand the "Talmud" issues hour after hour, day by day, all year long.
The debate, the argumentation and the shared thinking are the touchstones of Judaism. Being knowledgeable and educated as one can be in a specific field, is the basic cultural element in Judaism. This mentality spread throughout the years into the non-religious areas of our being. As a state and as people. Now we use it to dissect and learn issues to their core in order to master them, just like our ancestors did with the bible.
As a young secretary of the Krav Maga "Aguda" (association), I remember debates, or more accurate loud arguments :) about Techniques. it came down to the position of the pinky in a certain technique, and endless discussions about which technique is more accurate. each member shared his personal experience and tried to convince the others and influence the doctrine.
Sometimes, those professional conflicts crossed personal boundaries, but there is no doubt in my mind about their contribution to the quality of the techniques and to IKMF Krav Maga as it is today.
Imi's role as the head instructor, was to decide, to be the one to say the last word without stepping on anyone's head, without being judgmental or to choose sides. He knew how to focus on the debate itself, kipping it in the right direction. It's not an easy task, but he excelled in doing just that. Imi never said to someone "It's Wrong"! He was always sensitive when dismissing instructors' suggestions. He would say something like: "It’s a Possibility, but that other technique may work better…" and immediately explained the way he believed in. As Israelis, we are not strangers to rude and condescending behavior on the mattress. Things like an instructor stepping on the Mat, and a snotty boy daring to tell him the technique is not good, or an instructor in training suggesting a better technique. All those years of arguments I had with my colleagues, expanded my knowledge and deep understanding of the logic behind every simple move, and made me observant and critic. I'm in a constant attempt to check and verify, and make sure that every movement will be the best to achieve the purpose.
The Fourth Element is the openness to outer influences from other martial arts and self-defense systems, and latest trends of the physical training. Imi Assembled techniques and gathered them into a huge collection, similar to the mixed martial arts (MMA) today, but he also managed to remove ineffective, irrelevant techniques which doesn’t integrated with our essence as a self-defense system, moreover, to modify existing techniques to improve them.
The Krav Maga Military systems absorbed civilian techniques and became an eclectic efficient mixture. Phrases such as "forget everything you learned so far regarding choke defense," or "we don’t do that anymore," were routinely heard by the trainees, and up till nowadays, some organizations veterans perform a deletion and implantation of a new technique, without a problem and in a natural manner, while the younger students lose their nerve when they are told about a change in a technique.
In the past, when there was a doubt about which technique is the best, the head instructor adds both versions, which makes the doctrine inflate and grow in such way, that one can't contain and control all, not even in a full lifetime.
Katta's were implemented in lower ranks and ejected immediately once we realized the trigger to perform them, is imaginary and not external & realistic. Training with Music became a common element in all parts of the class, and disappeared, leaving its trails only in warm-up and summaries drills, after the instructors collapsed due to inability to teach a number of classes in a row.
The BJJ fashion followed by the MMA turned the ground fighting popular, IKMF succeeded to implement many techniques but was also smart enough to eject techniques which left the defender on the ground, and kept techniques which helped him get up as soon as possible.
Outer influences entered the IKMF from day one until today, when instructors brought along materials and knowledge from their fields of expertise.
Imi was a boxer in his essence, and he gave high significance to hand use in the early doctrine and laid the foundations for a realistic system, Eli Avigzar brought the cavalier techniques originated in Aikido, he made the Krav Maga effective for street fights.
And what is my role? - I am the head instructor - The "Gate Keeper”. My job is to take the relevant and eject the unnecessary, and keep the tradition. One of the things I did as Head instructor is to separate the techniques to categories. After realizing that each and every fighting unit has a different goal in the end of a physical conflict, it was clear to me that we need to divide the techniques to fields of expertise:
• VIP Protection
• Law Enforcement
Note: LE Krav Maga goal is to stop the crime and arrest the criminal, while VIP Krav Maga goal is to protect and evacuates the third party.
This system helps us specialise instead of colliding.
The development of sub divisions is highly important to the growth and professionalism of IKMF. Sub divisions such as car/driving for example. We also encourage instructors to develop their own sub divisions, such as Women, kids, fighters, security, SWAT, etc.
Like other free professions in which you become a professional, and then you choose your expertise and complete your internship (doctors, lawyers, etc.) I did the same in IKMF Krav Maga, after you become a civil self defense instructor you can choose your expertise, and complete your internship, to receive a new title, such as:
Lead civilian instructor, lead tactical instructor.
As the head instructor, it is my duty to keep the system open to different influences and by that, improve our techniques and drills and to regulate these four elements:
• Understanding evolution and its influence on new techniques.
• Keeping close contact with Field units who use Krav Maga in their daily work.
• Encourage open debates, let others state their opinion, to listen and to know when to embrace and when deny new ideas.
• And most importantly, to allow the surroundings to influence us without changing us, so we will always know to return to our essence:
IKMF KRAV MAGA - THE BEST SELF-DEFENSE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD.
© The Gate Keeper, 2017, Avi Moyal
A few days ago we have completed the first part of one of the most exciting innovative projects we have ever made, and one that I am personally very proud of.
imagine a team where in it you will meet a doctor that finds out one day she suffers from Muscular Dystrophy and can no longer operate.
This article deals with one of the most common phenomena in the martial arts and self-defense field, a phenomena in which instructors abandoning their instructors to open a nearby club competing with the instructor who educated and teach them, and doing so in a unfriendly and unethical manner, causing sorrow to all parts involve, especially the students who suffers a tear in their family and sometimes get caught in the fight.
This article will explore these phenomena and eventually will offer solutions.
Golden cage is indeed golden, but it's still a cage…
This metaphor reflects the complex relationship between a club owner and an instructor working in his club under his supervision. The senior instructor raised the instructor sometimes since he was only a young practitioner and made him the instructor he is.
This relationship puts the junior instructor in a complicated situation, like the 'golden cage';
On one hand it's golden since he gets support, knowledge, and guidance throughout the years, but on the other hand, it’s a cage because at some point the instructor wants to spread his wings and fly solo, but the golden cage beholds him.
In many cases we witness a process in which a normal healthy relationship between instructor and student, that are base on admiration and respects, slips to a non-healthy connection based on forced power and control over the student. A young student must endure this control and can't break free because he needs his instructor's support to progress.
I know instructors, that still remember how proud they felt when they asked to step in and instruct when a senior instructor had to miss a class. Only after they grew up they realized how wrong they were thinking that it was not only their talent put them in that position, but rather pure misuse of their young naïve and enthusiastic towards Krav-Maga.
They realize they spent hours over hours of teaching for free, while the senior instructors where absent and making money over their free labor. I want to believe that such occurrences happens mostly based on true value and respect of the student, and as a way to expand their experience, but sometimes it's not, and the bitter taste of that realization is there to be remembered till they sometime do the same to their own students. Having said that, I feel fortunate to have known a lot of instructors that their ethics and values lead
them to treat their students with outmost respect and pay fairly for their services when required.
My personal experience as a child practitioner and climbing up the ranks to become an instructor and later the position I am today, left me with great awareness to the thin line between asking your student a favor, and to misuse him by asking for services he is not obligated to give. I try to educate and pass the ethics every opportunity I get.
My advice to the instructors on the paying side is this: always suggest payment; if your student decline, it is his choice and you are not to be blamed in exploiting him, and if he accepts, it means that he believe he should be paid and it’s a good thing to maintain a relationship in which no one feels used.
I think that paying a man for his labor, money that he fairly earned, is much easier than feeling obligated by knowing that you are in debt and can be asked for favors that can backfires later on, when a person you owe asking to collect in ways you are not comfortable with. Its much easier to just write a check.
I have a very good friend in India who is also my student for many years now, and he explained me one of the major issues in India, that is the beggars who are spread by the thousands all over the country. As he puts it, the relationship between a beggar and
passer-by is actually a business transaction: the beggar floods the passer-by with guilt for being luckier than him, and the passer-by "buys" his clear conscience with some coins and feels great again.
The thing is, that as innocent as this little story sounds, it created a major problem in India, that according to my friend the only way to fight it is by educate the public to avoid beggars, which India does massively by campaigning against baggers in every possible medium.
It's not easy to ask people to act against their feelings or against what feels right to them, but it is a necessary process if you want to deal with a greater problem then the individuals themselves.
Same applies when we dealing with the topic of the "golden cage" we need to approach the problem, understands its roots, and decides how to fix it by education and awareness. We need to remember that we are not acting in a vacuum or in the microcosms of our club; our actions have consequence as we set an example for all the others around us, which is acute when you are senior, and people tends to follow your lead.
To fix the world, one must start by fixing himself.
So why instructors leave their clubs?
The question should be why they stay; as in every other aspect of life the young generation pushes forward to move and change his position, and today even more than in the past. people swich jobs frequently, kids leave their home and parents in young age, and young instructors open their own clubs.
this is the human nature.
young student wants to follow his instructor footsteps, and establish a club like the one he grew up in.
So why this natural process becomes ugly, full of anger and hate?
the reason lays with the 'golden cage' effect.
The junior instructor is conflicted over leaving his club, just like every adolescence feels conflicted, and tends to rebel against their parents and blaming everything on them, to make the seperation from the 'nest' they grew up in, easier.
It is a way of justification that make the process easier on them.
This brings us to the final question – how can we avoid it?
Blocking our students ways from becoming instructors is not the way.
Sending them to C.I.C is the only way to grow unless you want to teach 24/7 which is hard and make a life not worth living and eventually will push the student to leave, which brings us to the same outcome.
Contracts are efficient in setting expectations, but never blocked anyone who felt trapped. And I'm sure you are all familiar with plenty of examples from the past. Contracts are not working even from a legal point of view, there are limitation on territory, periods and occupation and cannot hold forever.
The one and only solution is to turn the 'golden cage' into a 'golden home'.
Takes two for tango as the saying goes, so I will try to offer a solution to both sides:
The club owner must initiate a dialogue with the junior instructor to set the expectation straight and tell him that "the cage is open". to give offer him the freedom he craves and to set his mind that he can go any time once he finishes his yearly teaching.
In many cases that is all a young instructor needs to feel safe, and to eliminate any negative feeling towards it's instructor. Set him free and if he stays, he is yours forever
Senior instructors must let their junior instructors knows and feel safe and secure in their job, that they are welcome to stay, but if they like to become a partner of sorts, it is also an option that will be open for them in the future. open horizon for the future if you may.
Creating affiliate location, was, is and always will be the best option to expend our businesses.
For the junior instructors I would suggest: do not rush to count the number of students in your instructor's club, and conclude by this basic math that your club owner making lots of money. It is a common childish mistake, since you don’t really know his costs. PR expenses, taxes, salary, rent, insurance and many more are invisible to you, but sometimes the reality of the club's balance sheet is far from what you might believe.
Don’t think that starting a business is a 'walk in the park'. Creating a business plan, marketing plan are not as easy and cheap as you may think.
You need the experience and reputation to start your own business, and it is much safer and smart to do it from within our IKMF family and with your club owner support and love.
Together you can do much more.
IKMF is based upon the young spirit, as well the seniority and wisdom of the more experienced ones. therefore, I am writing this article, to remind you that the sum is greater then his parts, and solving those inner conflicts wisely will serve you all in the future.
For both sides I would suggest: Do not burn bridges you might need one day.
Learn from IKMF history and avoid mistakes of the past. And for starters I will offer you a story that you probably heard and can learn a lot from;
We had a senior instructor among us that stated that "IKMF is finished" and his new organization is the only future. Years went by, and this instructors and his organization crashed. The ones followed him are disappointed. with no future place to go.
Other left this year with false accusation just to lost their status and appreciation in the Krav maga world and became irrelevant.
All those instructors that left in an ugly manner, claimed that it wasn’t personal only business decision. But even if it's just business, it’s bad business, because smart businessmen know how to 'walk in the neighborhood' without disrespecting and stepping over others who lives there. Being rude and acting unloyalty reflects mainly on your character then on the one you are sending your poison arrows.
In our 'neighborhood', we are sweating and training together on the mat. when we grow together and trust our partner with our body, we do take things personal and we never to forget that it's not a passing client, but a person who are family of sorts. This fact should be always on your mind while making decisions – the choices you make will affect the family and eventually come back to haunt you.
On the other hand, we have some amazing instructors, supporting their students to become successful instructors as partners all over the world.
Instructors from both sides of the cage must not take nothing for granted. not the investment of the club owner in his instructor, and not the young instructor teaching for free.
Let me finish with one last request to any IKMF instructor, whether you on this side or the other side of the cage, you are always welcome to consult with me. I'm always here with open heart and a good advice to offer, to give you the help and support you need, and I promise you that your secret is safe with me.