Tough Krav Maga or Smart Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

October, 10, 2013, Krav Maga tour, United Airlines, flight from Chicago to Greenville, North Carolina. Coffee is served...

I am sitting on the plane now, trying to get comfortable, it is not easy. You see I have this sharp pain in my back. I know the exact spot; lower back, left side, just a touch to the right. And I know the exact moment it came about...

It was several years ago. I was still training on a semi-regular basis at the Jerusalem gym, more as a show of support than out of a desire to improve my MMA skills. In this particular MMA class I pared off with a young fellow, about my height but a few kilo heavier.

Now when it comes to a fight - I will do everything to defend myself, I will not allow anyone to hurt me. But with training drills we do not protect ourselves, we allow our partner, (not our opponent) to practice techniques on us. We do not protect ourselves; we trust our partner to protect us.

But my partner that day was young and dumb. He was a "tough guy" and caution and restraint is for the weak, the soft. So we were doing a drill, a take-down, that involved hugging the opponents' waist and an interlocking hand grip, a leg trip and a take-down. Only my partner, instead of knocking me down; he fell on me with his full force. He knuckles against my lower back and our combined weight of over 170 kilo forcing his knuckles deep into my back. I am sure young and dumb does not remember this incident, but I do. I have never recovered.

These days the Krav Maga market is being glutted with many new faces. It seems that every month there is a new Krav Maga "Organization" (a guy with a Facebook page and a video camera).

These guys, in the words of the Talmud, "have not served the master long enough", they are not properly certified, they have not "paid their dues"

In their videos they demonstrate Tough Guy Krav Maga, they show off their muscles and how hard they can hit and be hit. They are "Dressed to Impress".

They like to hit hard, to brag about "real Krav Maga", and "we go all out". Young and Dumb. But these guys are under-qualified, immature tough guys who are playing with your health, your body. It is ultimately you who will pay the price as years from now you will feel the results. as you try to get out of your chair you will let out a sigh of pain and mutter a curse under your breath.."That damn Krav Maga instructor, ruined my...(fill in the blank)."  Wisdom comes with the years, but often it is too late, the damage has been done.

Years ago at Karate College I saw Joe Hess, former Kickboxing Champion, strong man and simply a kind and wonderful man. He was "walking" down the stairs, actually more like wobbling. His aches and pains clearly got the better of him and every step was a struggle.

I was standing there with my friend and Mentor Professor Arthur Cohen and watching. Prof Cohen advised me to stop the heavy fighting while I still had use of my body and was still relatively pain-free.

Today my friend Arthur is suffering from his old injuries, his "tough years"; hospital visits, hip surgery, aches and pains. This is the lot of the aging fighter, but there is a way to avoid this. This is our responsibility as instructors.

We need to teach Smart Krav Maga rather than Tough Krav Maga. Trust me, your training will be no less effective for dealing with real life situations. This has been proven over and over again.

Trust me, your training will be no less effective for dealing with real life situations.

Yesterday I had the honor of teaching with IKI Instructor Amy Jo Giles. We were teaching the children's class and I hesitantly introduced a training game we use in Israel. I was hesitant because the game deals with terrorism and brings out aggression in kids (as it should) and I was concerned the kids might get a little out of control.

Sensei Mike, Amy and myself monitored the 20+ children.

I was amazed and delighted at what I saw. The children performed the techniques well and totally subdued the "terrorist" but they did so with such care and control that no one got hurt.

Amy clearly teaches them Smart Krav Maga rather then Tough Krav Maga. She is a fine instructor and an asset to IKI and I am very proud of her and the work she is doing. It was one of those moments when you say, "There is hope for the future".

From the recitation and acting out of the student creed at the start of the class to the respect bowing at the end, I was impressed and inspired.

With Amy Jo, Sensei Mike and the wonderful children in Springfield, Illinois