Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Krav Maga (Why I do NOT recomend it)

I know I’m opening a can of worms here but well, I’m not politically correct and don’t plan on changing any time soon

Anonymous said...

Your posts are really great, worth their weight in gold. It is is really invaluable to get some perspective on living in a post crash society.

I am surprised however to see your criticism of Krav Maga. I've been taking classes for the last month or so, and while I'm only a beginner, I believe Krav Maga is the ultimate self defense martial art to study for those concerned about living in a society facing increased crime. After all, there are no competitions in Krav Maga, you aren't training for a civilized sporting competition, where your family comes on a saturday to cheer you on. Krav Maga is for the streets where there are no rules, no restrictions to the techniques. It is all based on street scenarios where there are no rules for either you or your attacker to follow. In a recent class our instructor taught us how to bite down on an attackers neck as a means of escaping a choke. Most defenses involve kicking or crushing your opponents balls. I don't think these types of vicious street wise survival techniques are taught in Judo or BJJ.

There’s a few points I’d like people to know about KM.
1)First thing fishy about Krav Maga: It’s the only “Trademarked” martial art/system or whatever the KM marketing guys feel its more profitable to call it these days.
By definition, I try to stay away from “trademarked” fighting systems.

To me they sound like ways of making money teaching BS.

Cheap MK marketing strategy: Take you trademarked name and include it into something that has existed already for 100 years or more. THe KM Butstroke... is just a good old buttstroke. Hey, I'll call it the "FerFAL buttstroke" and sell it like a copyrighted system!

Box, oriental martial arts, wrestling, tai and kick boxing, judo, those aren’t trademarked.
So the first thing VERY suspicious about KM, is that first and foremost, it’s a business. It’s people trying to make money out of it. That’s why its important for them to market it well, promoting the idea of “ultimate street fighting killing machine, no we don’t compete because we are too deadly…”

2) KM was first created as a system for IDF Israeli soldiers. Someone that knows little about fighting may be impressed by this, but in truth its not that impressive.
By definition, systems used to teach a diverse force like the Israeli military aren’t the best thing. The people serving come from all walks of life, in various sizes and genders with different backgrounds.
There may be a few 6 feet tall martial art experts recruiting, but most will be average people, computer geeks that never threw a punch in their lives, and 5 feet tall petite women. That's the people de IDF has to train. The guys with warrior mentality are a very reduced minority.
So what do they do?
Teach very basic H2H (hand to hand) self defense. (not a priority for the IDF or any other military force)
They create a feeling of self confidence ( this IS valuable for the military)
And then they teach them how to shoot a rifle.

So the soldier has the will to fight, knows very basic h2h that will almost never be put to use, and he’s emotionally inclined to shoot the target.

3) What happened then? They marketed it and sold it to the world.
The best real world h2h technique…
They came up with a very distorted very of how the system was invented, its created, glorified it, reassured it’s the best thing since sliced bread and people basically buy it…
And this is what you end up with:

This is beautiful... reminds me of this

But this is dangerous, because the "Kiai master" ended up believing his own BS, adn fought a MMA fighter... look waht happened:

Real KM, they don’t spar. Supposedly because its not a sport and its too deadly to put into practice.
Problem is, every time a KM fighter fights a mixed martial artist or competes in vale todo “everything goes” street fights, they always end up loosing. Why? precisely because they don’t compete.
“Oh but FerFAL, they don’t compete because its this deadly Israeli thing…”
They don’t compete because they lose. And if it were that super secret deadly, why would the Israeli military sell their secret in every city around the world?
Compare it to shooting. According to KM, shooting schools all over the world and military rifle training, it would all be useless because you’re not shooting real people and you are not getting shot back for real.
You fight as you train guys.
If you do mock choreography, you’ll get your butt kicked in the street. If you do boxing and compete in wrestling or BJJ you’ll easily win against the KM that never got punched or kicked, with or without gloves.
You can't practice killing each other because its stupid and you get hurt or killed.
But the best alternative isn’t doing nothing remotely reassembling reality, the best thing is to fight using protection gear and some basic rules to keep you from needlessly hurting yourself or others.
Fine, there ARE no rules in H2H combat, but you don’t need to practice breaking fingers or poking eyes. Stay fit and spar often and you’ll do fine, breaking fingers and poking eyes will be a piece of cake for you if that's what needs to be done.
Most KM schools sell the illusion of being the best thing, the best most efficient when most of its propaganda simply includes choreography, sometihng certain oriental schools are also guilty of.
Guys, you do not defeat three guys armed with guns and bats because you know KM, ok?
Its called “choreography” and thinking this BS is for real will get you killed.

Since not sparring makes it so obvious KM is BS, some KM schools of late have started sparring some. It was the obvious best thing to do because it made it so clear the “too deadly to practice” thing didn’t fly.

The lady in one of the videos feels she can hurt someone if needed thanks to the KM lessons she took…
The lady is wrong and unless a very stupid, cowardly teen trying to rob her runs away form her when she slaps him ( that’s called luck guys, not KM) she’s going to have an unpleasant wakeup call if she ever encounters a real social predator.

KM is so centered in selling feel good ideas, it would take me all day to go through all of them.
The idea that weight and gender doesn’t matter?
Jesus , how irresponsible is that?
I mean, guys have you ever spared with women? What kind of idiot would ignore such a fundamental difference?
The fighting several opponents thing? Please.

KM BS: If the guys were sparring for real, the bold guy would be dead. Same in a real fight.

For these reasons, I don’t recommend KM. It’s better than sitting home watching TV but there’s much better H2H training you can do by combinig a couple REAL fighting arts.
Box, tai box, the various forms of wrestling, BJJ, judo, these are all skills people that really fight with no rules have taken time to train in.

Join a mix martial arts school, or better yet find a “vale todo” instructor that teaches you what works when really fighting with no rules.

The real “no rules” fighting is called “Vale Todo” guys, or “Vale Tudo” as its known in Brazil, “Everything goes” in USA.
If due to physical limitations you can’t spar in these activities, then join a shooting school and check their H2H and knife programs, hopefully they have less BS.

If high demanding fighting isnt your thing:
Find a responsable self defense instructor that isn't a KM repesentative, preferably one with the mentioned background.

That’s my opinion and what I would do.
If KM does it for you then well, do what you feel is best.
Maybe you at least found some KM spin-off that is responsible enough about your real physical integrity and has included sparring into the KM marketing.

Some very serious KM... special forces guys.. KM expert Emir Perets

Of course, since KM choreography looks kind of nice, the guy is also an actor..go KM!


My god, I just found this vid. Other than good workout the amount of things done wrong in terms of real h2h combat makes me puke.
Hammering with your fist closed teh way shown repeatedly in the vid, is a good way to brake your small hand and finger bone's on a guy's head. With little damage at all done to the guy.
Now try fighting with a broken hand...
Of course any idiot can hammer down on a cushion like that and..oh..its reality based street fight.... No, this video simply shows BS.



Blackeagle said...

"Hammering with your fist closed teh way shown repeatedly in the vid, is a good way to brake your small hand and finger bone's on a guy's head."

I had a guy break his pinky finger on my skull by doing this once. It wasn't a fight or anything, just a foul in a basketball game in gym class. I shook my head for a second and went on with the game; he had is hand in a cast for a couple of weeks.

FerFAL said...

My brother broke the small palm bone that way, hitting another kid in the face during a fight.
The doctor told him something like "kid, use your knuckles next time"


Anonymous said...

Been reading you for several years now, love your stuff. I agree that RBSD without sparring is silly. I've seen guys that have never been punched take a little hit and just fold, and frankly, I have always tried to be armed with something if I'm going to fight. But what do you think of the wartime styles like Defendo and such? I have driven off a attacker with kicks to the knee, I've also gotten my head kicked in by a third party while trying to finish one guy on the ground. You Argentines have excellent reputations for self-defense ability, and your level headed responses to things on your blog are great. Some of the things that people freak out about amaze me; is it really that big a deal to not have electricity for a couple days? But I am really interested in working on my hand to hand skills more, as I think your right, they are far and away the most common skill you'll draw on in high crime areas. I live near the Arctic circle in a community of about a 100,000 people, and training opportunities are limited, so I am really looking for the most bang for my buck, and a couple of cops and hospital workers have both recomennded Defendo or similar forms. I'd love to hear more about Hand to hand stuff. Also, heres a link to a new energizer headlamp that is 1 watt; my wife and I use them to look for moose at night on the way to our outhouse.

Thanks for the blog!


Shambhala said...

This is one I disagree with you.

The majority of martial arts, including Vale Tudo are taught by "certified' instructors. They are certified by certain authorities, hence they have a 'trademark'.

Shotokan karate, as an example, has many organizations that 'certify' black belts. Few recognize each others certificates.

Also, I understand your previous experiences with a hammer fist, but I can break several boards using that strike. Easily.

I know nothing about Krav Maga nor Vale Tudo. I do know that the only reason I would even try to grapple is to get my knife out.

Anonymous said...

When Tae Kwon Do came to the United States in the 1970's is was an organized entry into this country. On the eastern seaboard the vast bulk of 'karate' outfits were Korean owned even when they pretended to be Japanese. Although independantly owned, just about every Karate place in North America was Korean owned - they operated like Chinese take out joints.

Tiger Schulmann's is another chain of dojos that operates quite a few franchises in New York. Their slogan was 'Not just any karate - Tiger Schulman's karate' - now because they want to jump on the Mixed Martial arts bandwagon - its all now 'Tiger Schulman's Mixed Martial arts'.

I have had nothing but poor experience with martial arts instruction in the USA. The schools which have a decent pedigree and manage to keep their doors open over 2 years and who actually market to adults are all fantastically expensive. A year long commitment to a City based school with 4 classes per week max. costs more than 2 Glocks, Kydex holsters, extra magazines and 4 or 5 days supervised shooting.

Its such a marketing croque of steaming turds. While the MMA tournaments may be refining really deadly grappling skills, the fact that the average Joe sees a bunch of tatooed freaks going at it
on the MMA - no one but tatooed freaks will get interested in the US in these arts -

What do you do?

Anonymous said...

Hammer strike is what the Japanese call it (tetsui uke, IIRC). It's useful when directed against vulnerable areas (e.g., behind the ear) and can transmit a significant amount of force since it uses strong muscle groups. The US Marines teach it as well, but it is certainly not to be used as noted above against the skull, as it risks a break--that powerful force can easily break your carpals, as you noted.

It's a risky strike, but IIRC it's designed to be used as a follow-through, such as when the target is doubled over from a groin strike or when a limb has been trapped. It looked like that's how they were teaching it in teh videos. So it's not useless; it's just not useful without other techniques.


Anonymous said...


I really liked your reply on KM and the concept that IDF teaches minimum basic H2H.

I am in Singapore. Singapore has modelled itself after Israel. We have conscription here and small sized asian men 5'5" to 5'9" say on average (well some taller!) are drafted into what we call 'National Service'. The concept is strength in numbers for an army. You don't need to be elite special forces for National Service (reservists). You just need basic military training (fitness, basic H2H, etc) and then be able to point a gun and shoot. That's the whole concept. So your message about Israeli's and KM used as basic training rings true.

The National Service started with Israeli coming to Singapore to drill the civilian recruits. This has stopped now but that was how it begun.

Natog said...

There is no doubt in my mind that Kosho Shorei Ryu is the best martial art in the world. The ultimate goal of this art is to not get into a conflict at all. How about that?

Really, look into it if you can find it. It doesn't have the flash of a hardline art, but it's not too soft like Akido, either. I'll probably post about it today on my blog.

I had awesome teachers, so YMMV. I'm not sure it's left the US in any quantity though. The fatal flaw of Kosho is it's the worst at marketing itself.

PKS said...

I think the videos you show aren't really a good example of KM.

I took KM for six months about a year ago, and your post and description of KM isn't anything like the KM classes I took.

Now, OK, maybe I just happened to be lucky, and I found a really good KM class, and maybe the guys I was taking it from were exceptional. But I'm not new to martial arts, I have my green belt in Judo, and I've done karate and tae-kwon do for brief periods.

In the KM class I had, we sparred, we grappled. 2 of 3 instructors were actually amateur competitors in mixed-martial arts. While I haven't taken BJJ or competed in MMA before, I know people who have, and the KM class I took was a lot like what people who take BJJ have described to me.

So, again, who knows. Maybe it depends on where you go, maybe it's only because my instructors have MMA experience that my KM experience was so good, and the majority of KM is crap.

Oh, and, the comment about breaking your hand? Um, it's pretty common to break some bones in your hand anytime you use a fist punch to the head. Unless you're an awfully big guy, the bones in my head are bigger and stronger than the bones in your hand. Even Mike Tyson broke both his hands when he got into a streetfight.

theotherryan said...

I think there is a definite economic angle to every "school" out there. Krav is as guilty of that as BJJ or any other system.

I think the sparing thing is BS also. Other then that I am not sure about Krav.

thomas said...

KM is a joke. At least, most of what is out there is. Almost all of it is taught by what I call "Paper Back Warriors". Basically they read a book, learn what the book says, and call themselves instructors.

Also, all other styles are jokes. Why? Because, its a means to an end. You can point to any style and say that another is better. Why? Because, while the style trains a person to fight, its not the style. Its not the belt in the style. Its not how long someone has been in it. Its the person. Ive seen some MMA fighters with "black belts" and 5 years experience get their asses kicked in a heart beat. Ive also seen some novices kick the shit out of them.

All in all, with any combative art, you need to look at the history and pedigree of the school. I am lucky enough to have found legit instructors for KM, Ninjutsu, and Wushu kung Fu. Still cant find any for Systema, BJJ, or Muay tai.

Look for authenticity, thats my advice.

And on the hammer fist, you NEVER use it on the skull. Thats just asking for a cast. The Hammer fist is designed to attack the torso.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fighter at all, but I recently joined KM because I was a 5 ft asian who didn't know a choke from a throw.

I figured that if the IDF could teach every shape, age and size, I could benefit from the system of KM, something no other system promises.:)

I think your criticism might be valid for fighters of equal strength, but as a woman, I think I'm learning quickly how to fight back in a violent world from KM.

That being said, if there was something less showy, unTMed and gentler, I'd have preferred it.

The eastern martial arts have had the corner on the self-defense market for so many years, maybe it's time for someone else to make the moola. (Damn, KM's expensive!)

Anonymous said...

This post should be titled: "Take everything you learn from ANY martial art with a huge grain of salt."
Simple is better. "I don't fear a man who can do 10,000 punches as much as I fear a man that has done one punch 10,000 times." Bruce Lee I think idk.
Katas are great because they allow you to practice all by your self, but when form becomes THE point, the MA becomes point-Less! For most self defense situations I think that scenario drills are best, backed up by THOUSANDS of repetitions of simple brutal techniques on the bag and focus pad. And sparring is great for knowing the situations you need to implement those skills. The conditioning gained from sparring and the pseudo-aggression is also beneficial.
Oh and don't forget to do your cardio and lift those weights ;)

Dan said...

I really appreciate your posts FerFal. I am planning on taking self defense training from Mark MacYoug since I live in Denver, he has a solid reco, and his price is affordable
I have also looked at Tim Larkin, former SEAL,
and if I was in NYC I would look into Guided Chaos.

I am not an affiliate of any of these people I do believe all of them teach real self defense not dojo BS. Thanks for sharing your tips

Dan said...

I also wanted to post a link to the NatGeo videos on where to strike I think they are very good and simple. Its Nat Geo Fighting Back Parts 1-4, with the end of 1 being some goofey splice in someone did :)

midcenturyman said...

Hola Ferfal,

I love your blog, and recently read the comments on Krav Maga. I am sure there are different approaches to Krav Maga, but I am currently taking classes, and do not see the negative. I have taken martial arts in the past, and find KM to be much more effective. Each night we conduct a “pressure test” where each person is attacked by others in a real world way and have to defend ourselves. It has improved my endurance, reflexes, punching power, flexibility and confidence. I am truly confident that I could seriously injure the majority of people who would try to attack me with their hands, body, etc.

Most martial arts are done in a competitive manner, teaching techniques that are condusive to the “art” and most of the time are taught with “pulling punches” mentality. Statistics show that most martial artists, boxers, etc. get their asses kicked on the street. It has a lot to do with mental prep also. If someone does not have the eye of the tiger, and is willing to flip the switch and fight “all out” with the intent of seriously hurting or killing an attacker, no training will help. There can be no hesitation. If I thought a person was about to hurt me or my wife, I would fight with the intent of killing this person or at least causing serious injury.

The comments on your blog seem to come from a bad experience with KM. My personal experience is different. I am confident that most criminals would be in for a surprise if they were to try to rob me.


John H. said...

If you don't get hit in class, you're not learning striking. If you've never gotten dropped on your head in class, you're not learning how to grapple.

That's the first rule of finding a class that isn't bullshit. If you ain't competing, you ain't learning shit.

Another good one is this - if you don't walk out after the first real class feeling like you're about to vomit, find another school.

Anonymous said...

All the videos you have here prove that your main point (Krav is bad because it is trademarked) is wrong.

The biggest problem with krav maga is that it has not been properly trademarked, so you can just open up your gym and teach fake krav maga and upload silly videos to youtube about your trainings. Good/real/trademarked krav maga contains sparring, actually it is originated from sparring as its inventor, Imi Lichtenfeld was a boxer/wrestler himself.

Sure there are scams, but not every km school is a scam.

elixon lopez said...

I agree with your comments on km. I also think jeet kune do has the same problems. Bruce Lee never fought against professional fighters. Jkd guys don't even compete. Sometimes sparring isn't enough. You also have to compete to get the feel for stress. Coach Elixon from Defendu Tudo.

elixon lopez said...

I'm Lichtenfeld was taught by his Dad , who was a carnival catch can wrestler and a boxer. Can Krav maga, wing Chun, and jeet kune do improve? Yes, by adding ground fighting and training it all under stress in competition. Coach Elixon from Defendu Tudo.