Saturday, August 12, 2017

Krav Maga Global Training for Jiu-Jitsu Practitioners

I've been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since the very end of January 2017. I listen to several BJJ podcasts, and I sometimes hear participants critique Krav Maga. Some of the popular comments include the following:

  1. Krav Maga is mainly groin kicks, eye gouges, and palm strikes. 
  2. You don't need a long time to learn Krav Maga. In fact, you could learn the system in a week.
  3. If you practice authentic, self-defense Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, you don't need to learn a so-called "reality-based self-defense system" like Krav Maga. 
  4. Krav Maga students say their techniques are too deadly to train against live, resisting opponents. Yet, "aliveness" is the key to training. Therefore, Krav Maga is of little use in real confrontations.
I've been training in the Krav Maga Global system since January 2016. I'm a "practitioner 3" who has completed the first five days of our 24 day General Instructor Course. I'm no expert but I'd like to offer my reaction to these critiques.

First, if you've seen something called "Krav Maga," it's possible it indeed was nothing more than groin kicks, eye gouges, and palm strikes! "Krav Maga" means "contact combat" in Hebrew, so anyone can brand their "fighting system" as "Krav Maga." In fact, Krav Maga as a term has become a popular marketing mechanism. Plenty of teachers offer one- or two-day "certifications" to become "Krav Maga instructors."

My experience is solely with Krav Maga Global (KMG), the system codified by Eyal Yanilov. KMG is primarily a striking system. We do not try to overcome opponents using joint manipulation or chokes as we do in BJJ. KMG's curriculum includes hundreds of techniques to address a variety of armed and unarmed confrontations. The techniques are based on a handful of natural reaction principles, similar to core tenets of BJJ like leverage, pressure, and so on.

Second, Krav Maga is often advertised as a "simple system." This is based on the natural reaction principles and the relentless desire for efficient and effective solutions. As with BJJ, "knowing" a technique does not mean you can apply it when challenged. 

For example, in my 2016 Martial Arts Year in Review post, I documented that I trained Krav Maga for over 200 hours last year. Only this month (August 2017), did I start to believe I am moving in the right direction with my striking, footwork, and overall movement! It takes hundreds of hours to even begin feeling like you are making real progress.

Third, KMG is without a doubt focused on self-defense. There is no internal debate as we find in the BJJ world between the competition people and the defense people. One of the reasons I feel comfortable training at Master Pedro Sauer's school is that his school and system are very self-defense focused. He cultivates incredible competitive talents like David Porter, but the school's focus is self-defense. Nevertheless, I feel that there is room for collaboration among my KMG and BJJ communities. Some KMG solutions to problems seem more effective to me, and some BJJ solutions to other problems seem more effective to me.

Fourth, although we KMG students are concerned with safety, we do not rely on "deadly" techniques. We pressure test our techniques in a variety of formats, trying to simulate the stress and conditions of real confrontations. We also spar at different intensities and in many forms. Sometimes we only spar with hands, or only feet, or everything but the ground, or everything including the ground, or nothing but the ground! 

Our ground games are nothing like BJJ, however, because we do not train submissions -- our goal is generally to disengage and get back to our feet when possible. This is an area where I think KMG could learn from BJJ. BJJ, in turn, could learn by sparring with a striking-focused KMG student. Still, I agree that there's nothing like that resistance you get from a rolling partner in BJJ -- which is one of the reasons I love jiu-jitsu!

Do you train both systems, or are you in a similar situation? Let me know here or respond to me on Twitter!

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