Friday, March 18, 2011

The Other Martial Arts.... Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do, MMA

One of my commentors suggested I cover the topic of Krav Maga.  I actually think that is a great idea.  Krav Maga along with a few others are relatively 'new' martial arts all created within the last century.  These new systems tend to utilize the components of many other more traditional systems and styles.  These new systems borrow what is supposed to be the 'best of all martial arts' to provide you, the student with the most powerful tools and skills.  Sounds good right?  Sure, because it is a marketing ploy.

Krav Maga coincidentally is one of the only “Trademarked” martial art/systems.  By definition, it is a business.  Gracie BJJ is another “Trademarked” system, but have you noticed how many schools of other disciplines have slapped the Gracie BJJ sticker on their window?  My point is Gracie BJJ as a brand and business is about making MONEY, not building quality schools or truly benefiting it's students; Krav Maga is no different.

Sure you could say the local Dojo down the street is also a business, but the difference is huge.  The Dojo/School system exists to support both the school (physical building) and the main instructor, maybe some Jr. Staff as part time employees - and that is it.  I don't see too many Sensei walking around with Rolex watches.

In the US, Krav Maga is marketed more as a fitness program, like Cardio/Kick Boxing, then as a Self Defense system.  It is a good work out, I've tried a few classes myself.  But I got the feeling that it is made to be a one size fits all solution for large groups of students that are training at one time - like the Israeli Military.   But most students are not in the Military or Law enforcement and do not have the added benefit of carrying a fire arm, baton, taser, pepperspray, etc.  It might be good to cross train in Krav Maga if you felt like you might encounter issues with Law Enforcement or Military - you possibly will know what to expect and look for if you end up on the wrong side of a scrimmish.  In the real world most people are casual students at best training for a few hours each week.  In my opinion, if you were training 3 to 4 days a week for a year in Krav Maga your basic ability to fight would be based on your fitness level more then your skill level. 

I would bet money on the person who studied at the local Dojo for the same amount of time any day of the week.  Why?  Because you get better training.  You are not in a room of 40 to 50 soccor mom's getting their kick boxing exercise in.  You are far more likely to interact directly with your  Sifu / Sensei who has spent years if not decades training is 1 focused art.  You can ask questions, refine technique and even spare.

In my own training it was sparing with the senior students (some who had been training for 10+ years) and my Sifu that gave me the best insight to technique and application.  This was available for every student in a class of at most 15 to 25 at a time.

When I look at Krav Maga as compared to other relatively new systems like Jeet Kune Do or even MMA, I feel like Krav Maga falls short.  In contrast both Jeet Kune Do and MMA emphasize untilizing the tools that are best for the job - and no two students are created equal.  What works best for me 6'1 and 200 lbs many not work as well for someone who is 5'9 and 160.  To quote Bruce Lee

"Be like water my friend"

What this means is find the path of least resistance, use your own size, strength and ability to be the most effective FOR YOU.  Every person will have their own 'path of least resistance' Stand Up, Ground Game, Punch, Kick, Choke....  whatever.  MMA is no different, some fighters are better at striking some are better at submissions.  The added benefit in MMA is constant testing via sparing and organized fights and the reinforcement that you are there to win by knocking out your opponent or submitting them.

To summarize what I am saying, I think Krav Maga as a business is great; as a practical martial art?  I think there are better options out there for the real world students.  My suggestion to anyone interested in training in Martial Arts is go to the school or the Arts you are considering.  
  • Ask to watch or even sit through begging, intermediate and advanced classes.  
  • Consider the class size, the teaching style, if there is contact with the head instructor available to ever student.  
  • Talk to the students, particularly students you can relate to, those that are of the same size and build as you.  
  • Ask students how long they have trained, ask if they have ever use their skills in a real world situation.
  • Ask about testing and grading?  Is the school a belt factory - a school that charges a fee to test and move to the next belt level, but will easily pass any student who pays the fees.
  • Ask if you will spar with other students and instructors
  • Come up with your own reasons for wanting to train and ask questions specific to you and your life.

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