Bad Ass Krav Maga Evolution

February 19, 2024, Morelia, México 



Receiving recognition from the police force of Morelia

I have been called a Bad Ass many times during my Krav Maga career, I have been called many things. Back in my Kyokushin Karate days people would often say, "You are an animal, Moshe!"

These were compliments and a testament to my hard work. I was determined to be a good fighter, a good martial artist. I was not afraid of discomfort, being outside my comfort zone or pain. I paid my dues and visited the hospital many times. St Vincents' hospital and Roosevelt's hospital in Manhattan and later on various clinics in Israel. Pain would not stop me from training. In fact, by the time I was a green belt I was told in no uncertain times to stop training. I was told that my career in martial was over, O-V-E-R. Even earlier, back in New York, a specialist looked at my hands and told me to stop punching. He informed me at the ripe old age of 26 that I had suffered permanent damage to my hands and that I already had an early onset of arthritis.

Later on, a car accident left me with a 10% permanent disability in my neck and back. And yet, I am still training and teaching worldwide. In this sense being called a Bad Ass is a compliment. I am not giving up; I am not letting pain or discomfort stop me. Yesterday I had a tooth pulled, I was told to take it easy but within 2 hours I was teaching the police force. So yes, I AM a Bad Ass, the positive sense, and I will explain soon. 

There is another sense in which being a Bad Ass is a positive attribute. When in combat, “I pursued my enemies and crushed them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed." (Samuel Book 2, Chapter 22, verse 38) Our troops in Gaza are indeed true Bad Ass warriors, but, they are also gentle spiritual people. 

Here is my point: When the advent of social media many Krav Maga instructors have taken on the Bad Ass image for marketing purposes. The problem is that this attitude hurts their progress. Yesterday I was teaching police forces plus some of the students of our Krav Maga instructor Sarah, and students of her husband Sensei Pedro, a high-ranking master in the Japanese Bujinkan system under Masaaki Hatsumi. I saw that some of the police officers were having difficulties with basic techniques; they were simply trying too hard and making it difficult for themselves. I tried to explain to them that they must relax and let the energy flow. Why Force something when it can happen naturally? Allow the screwdriver to complete its cycle before yanking out the screw. Do the job properly, do not Force it. 

The students of Sensei Pedro understood this concept and learned the techniques quickly while the muscular police officers were slower in that they tried too hard. I offered them a lesson: When I was getting ready to test for my black belt, my instructor felt that I too was too rigid, I was trying too hard to make techniques work, and so, he had a solution for me: for several months I had to train with one of our female students, Ildiko, who was a champion Olympian Judo athlete in her native Hungary. Not only was she a woman but a master of Judo, as such I would have to learn to FLOW, to move naturally and not to depend upon strength I had to learn the art of Wu Wei, Effortless Effort. This was my challenge, to learn to flow and not force the techniques.  

My journey did not end with my black belt in Krav Maga/Free Style Kickboxing under Itay Gil, it only began. I spent many years reading books on Zen and the art of natural flow. I trained with masters from many styles including Chinese masters. I trained in Wing Chun Kung Fu, Choy Li Fut Tai Chi and Wu Wei. My flow improved but it took time. Now I am sometimes described as "gentle" but that is a fluidity that took years to develop. This gentleness is not weakness, it is experience!

I look at some instructors today who pride themselves on being Bad Ass. For them this means developing big muscles and looking "tough", getting a few mean-looking tattoos and using as much foul language as they can. It means insulting or abusing others and talking trash. Instead on focusing on developing better training, they focus on the image. Instead of becoming better martial artists, they become a facade, a fake, a cartoon character. In Arabic and in Israeli slang this is called Daaween, your " thing", your fake image. A popular song by one of my favorite artists asks, Ma Ha Daaween shelcha? What is your facade?

We have no facade, we are real, and we are here to help you protect yourself. No image, just real training. Get Real!


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

Understand the Israeli Fighting Mentality - Israel a Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz


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