Having just started my “Krav for Kids” program this month, I have been on this continuous loop of conversations with interested parents about why should they enroll their child in a Krav Maga program. If I have witnessed anything over the last couple of years, it is that there is no shortage of martial arts studios from which to
choose from in Fairfield County. Whether they be taekwondo, aikido, hapkido, judo (tuxedo….dosey doe and away we go!), the options are endless. What is it about Krav Maga that separates us from the rest? Why should a child, or an adult for that matter, opt to bow into a Krav Maga studio rather than any other martial arts dojo? The answer comes down to one simple question: “what are you, the student (or parent) trying to accomplish?”.
Let me start by saying I am a veteran of 13 years of Japanese karate. It was my foundational system and I have great respect for it as I do for every other martial arts system. All of these great styles incorporate strong instruction of balance, striking/kicking technique, defense and physical conditioning all the while being steeped in tradition and teaching respect, self control and self discipline. They provide an excellent framework from which to learn not just physical but life lessons. Indeed, some of the best martial artists I know in Fairfield County are exemplary instructors and role models. So there are certainly no downsides to learning their respective systems.
Krav Maga is also a martial art system that has its foundation in Israeli hand-to-hand combat. It is, what I like to say, heavy on the martial and lighter on the art. While we definitely stress the same values of respect, self control and self respect, we teach our strikes, kicks and defensive maneuvers from a framework that is very reality based. Many of our drills start with you, the student in a disadvantaged position (on the ground, in the grasp of an attacker, having a punch/kick coming at you with limited response time for defense, multiple attackers, etc.). Our first responses are sometimes not as pretty or elegant as other systems (eye gouging, biting, groin shots, hair pulls, head butts etc.), and our strategy once we successfully defeat our attacker is to immediately leave the situation and call the police. This is one of the main reasons you have yet to hear of a UFC fighter or MMA fighter that is a Krav Maga black belt. Krav Maga does not understand the notion of a cage or octagon with regards to its fighting tactics. There is no sport in fighting for us. We do not have opponents, we have attackers. There are no judges and no referees on the street, no standing 8 count, no disqualifications for a low blow, no rules. Period. In Krav Maga, we start every physical engagement with the belief that the battle can turn lethal. We do not want the fight to last more than a few seconds, and if we can beat back our attacker with a sucker punch, a small joint manipulation or a fish hook in the eye, so be it. Pretty too watch? Nope. Effective to use? Let’s just say that decades of training and use by the Israeli military has brought forth techniques that are truly “battle tested”.
So back to my earlier question…why study Krav Maga when there are all these other dojos around? If the adult or child wants to learn a system that will teach them techniques that focuses more on the artistry and flow of the battle, or are interested in a form of “kinetic chess”, where every move by one opponent can be foiled by the ensuing counter, then the more traditional styles apply. They are excellent sports and provide conditioning and frameworks that will last a life time. If the desire, however, is to learn how to handle the chaos of a street fight, bar fight, parking lot attack, car-jacking attempt, home invasion, child abduction, etc., then Krav Maga becomes highly relevant.
In other words, we are not always as cool to watch, since we don’t have flowing forms/katas or have cool uniforms, but when a fight starts and an ugly situation starts to play itself out, we are very well equipped to deal with it.