Discern, Discovery and Disclosure: Ask Yourself What Does Your Krav Maga School Actually Teach You?
Some truths and words always stay with us, imprinted on our memories and inscribed in who we are or what we do.
This is one of them. It was delivered calmly to me, directly into my eyes, stated through experience and hard-earned authority.
“Krav Maga is not like other sports or competitive martial arts. What we teach can be the difference between somebody living or somebody dying. This is why our standards of teaching are so high”.
The messenger followed it up by explaining that how we instructed our students; technically, tactically, psychologically – would enable a person to execute the correct action that could save their life and limbs. Conversely, it could also teach them a technique, a tactic, a mindset that endangered them, that made their opportunity to enact a self defence diminished or devoid of chance to succeed.
Why did I listen with such intent and the words remembered ever since? Because my mentor in question was Haim Sasson, a direct student of Imi and enriched with decades of martial arts and Krav Maga experience.
Since then I have started teaching myself. I teach with that sentiment emblazoned in my mind. The sentiment is repeated and underlined in the guidance our instructors and students receive every week by our Chief Instructor. It permeates our classes, seminars, events. Sometimes firmly. At times softly. Intermittently in testing us to our limit. Always with care and purpose. Our standards when we train are high. We are serious. We expect ourselves to try our best. We expect and encourage our fellow students to be the best that they can be.
We are not like another sport or martial art. We do not teach boxercise or body combat at the local gym. We do not train in CrossFit. (They all serve an admirable purpose; to get you very fit. The purpose is however not to protect yourself and your family or friends). We need to get our teaching as right as possible and always improve further. If not, we endanger lives and limbs. That’s is what authentic Krav Maga is about.
This mindset is important to us. It is important to you. It should guide you and I in how we present our Krav Maga. Not only in classes and seminars, but in our marketing and advertising of what we do. Our Krav Maga has come direct from source; from Eyal, Haim and Amnon. That’s is our lineage. It is now being further developed by Itay based on decades of learning of close quarter combat operations in the Israeli Special Forces Unit for Counter-Terror Warfare. This is why we call our Krav Maga authentic. It has authority. It has real-life application.
I remember Haim’s words. “This is why our standards of teaching are so high”. I feel the concern for his words. I think most of us would do.
I think this message should permeate what a Krav Maga school stands for. Authentic, authoritative, real-life application of Krav Maga teaching that can save life and limb.
At times I come across UK Krav Maga schools where this fundamental truth appear to be lost. It appears to be demoted to secondary importance compared to the primary goal, commercial success and bragging rights about scale or size. The student is demoted to secondary importance compared to the rewards of the commercial model. I understand all our schools are For-Profit organisations. Rightfully so, Krav Maga schools deserve to lead to employment and sustainability of business. These is nothing wrong with this. Quite the opposite, we would not be where we are today if this was not so. The challenge always remains; remembering Haim’s words, what is most important to our students?
Every Krav Maga student should be discerning, go discovering. Is your school advocating and teaching Krav Maga that is authentic, with authority, tested in real life-application by its Chief Instructors or (in some cases) so-called Masters? Look behind the surface. Ask questions. Check out how other schools compare.
I find that sometimes the disclosure in Krav Maga schools marketing is not what it appears to be. Here are some examples found online;
A school that advertises that they are agnostic to politics and school-to-school comparison, but elsewhere states that unless you belong to an affiliated school you have no credibility or development and should be avoided. This is not consistent, not true and contradictory to what they say they stand for.
A school that advertises that their Krav Maga training is ‘nationally recognised’, but this only refers to BTEC training methods associated with teaching methodology. There is no national recognition of Krav Maga in the UK. The teaching methods should be based on the real-life application of battle and street tested Krav Maga, ideally from source in Israel – no BTEC qualification will save your life on the street.
A school that runs self defence instructor courses for complete beginners based on online learning and 2 days practical training only. No online learning and 2 day training in self defence can equip any novice to self defence to teach adequate and proper skills to other new students.
A school advertising military Krav Maga training where instructors have not undergone a proper military Krav Maga course but the concept is only connected by a background in the armed forces and civilian Krav Maga. This is not military Krav Maga as recognised and taught by credible global Krav Maga federations.
As a beginner to Krav Maga and even beyond, it may be difficult to discern which Krav Maga school is right for you. If you follow the 5 key tips below, you will more often that not get the insight you need to make the right choice:
1. Do you train in techniques and tactics for self defence skills from source, even in the conditioning part? (So not wasting your time on other fitness-only based exercises).
2. Is the person leading the school credible with a pedigree from source in Israel? (And can demonstrate this pedigree in their previous and current connections).
3. Is the school connected to other schools or, even better, to source in Israel and always looking to develop their Krav Maga to become better? (Krav Maga is not an absolute skill, it adapts and develops to new and better thinking all the time).
4. Do the members take their training seriously and appear to have progressed according to their time in the school? (If they don’t, chances are they won’t help you to, either).
5. Is the training taking you to an edge where you can handle the physical and psychological demands on you, but you can leave feeling that you are moving your skills forward? (Krav Maga should push you to prepare you for the shock and impact of a potential violent situation, but it’s not there to make your weekly classes unsafe, unhealthy and likely to cause serious injury).
Be discerning about your school. Ask for a non-obligation trial. Speak to other students. Check out its social media comments. Discover what it truly teaches. Do the claims of the school stand up to scrutiny of truth, consistency and a straight forward, unpolished story of itself?
Make sure the authority and authenticity of your Krav Maga is based on Krav Maga related qualifications, pedigree and training methodology.
After all, your life could depend on it.
Proud to study, teach, be a Spartan and a friend to our community of Spartans