January 27, 2023, Israel
Krav Maga is known worldwide as a "fierce Israeli hand-to-hand combat system". True enough. But words get lost in translation and meanings get confused across cultures.
An interesting comment was made by one of our students from Chile. When asked by a journalist about the difference between training with me and her former instructor she said, "Here you are allowed to smile. The training is deadly serious but you are allowed to smile. In my former school I was told - There is no smiling in Krav Maga."
That sums it up rather well. The Krav Maga aggressiveness is misinterpreted to mean that one must be totally aggressive in all aspects of the class. I have never found this to be the case when I was a student. In fact, I found the Japanese schools to be much stricter and "smile-less" than the Israeli schools. In our classes in Jerusalem there were always smiles and good times. However, when Israelis go teach abroad, they seem to find it necessary to adapt to the expectations of the audience.
A dear friend in an elite undercover counter-terror unit recently shared with me a story of how he managed to gain the confidence and cooperation of a former terrorist. He saved us all from a potentially disastrous situation. His approach was anything but aggressive. The real counter-terror heroes speak softly and do their work carefully. The showmen on YouTube are not the real deal. They cannot be. Be careful what you believe.
There is a place for aggressiveness, and I will explain shortly, but there is also a place for caution, wisdom, and discretion. I think this attitude is best exemplified by Mr. Miyagi in the 4th Karate Kid movie, where a rough and tough Bad-Ass coach tells him to leave the premises, and then, seeing that Miyagi has not obeyed him, the coach says, "You don't move very fast, perhaps it is that old rickety body of yours, does not move too fast", and Mr. Miyagi responds, "Move fast enough, when necessary".
and that is the key of Krav Maga aggressiveness in a nutshell; we are aggressive, very aggressive, when necessary. When it is time to put on the heat, we put it on, and there is no stopping us, but this does not mean we are aggressive towards our students, this does not mean we hurt people unnecessary and, this does not mean we run into dangerous situations recklessly. We are in the business of saving lives, not acting cool on youtube.
Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.
What is the cultural background of Krav Maga? What makes it unique? What makes the Israeli military so effective? Why are Israeli security systems used all over the world?
What are the Biblical origins of Krav Maga and who was the first Krav Maga instructor?
What weapons and military strategies did our Biblical ancestors use?
How has Krav Maga developed in Israel and what are its goals?
All that and more in this unique book.
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