Empowerment or Self Defense

July 5, 2023, Israel


Sometimes the Small must face the Big, and survive. 

I was having an honest discussion with a former student who is now certified with another system. He posted a series of videos on social media showing a large group of children being trained in some form of Krav Maga, which in Israel is just a generic term for martial arts. It should be known that it is a completely unregulated field and that anyone with any sort of degree in any martial art can legally call him/her self a "Krav Maga" instructor. Thus, a judo instructor, or a jujitsu instructor, need only learn a few basic gun and knife techniques, or adapt their own system to include something along these lines, and voila, they are Krav Maga masters and can issue ranks all over the world. 

Add to that that nearly all Israelis served in the military and did a few basic Krav Maga classes, and now you are an "Israeli Rambo Krav Maga Security Expert", ready to make your own Facebook page and travel the world. Very nice. 

There was one technique in particular that was featured, the standard old-fashioned defense from a choke. It is a technique I know well. I learend it, passed black belt tests on it, taught it, tested it and subsequently rejected it. Simply put, with a bit of resistance from a strong person, it will not work. In fact by the time the victim raises his/her hands to grab or pluck the wrists of the attacker, it will be far too late. They will have been choked out. 

You see the Assailant's hands are already on your neck, your hands are on your side, probably near your pockets. He is at the finish line and you are about to finished off. By the time you react, raise your hands and try to grab his wrist, which by the way is a fine motor movement, it will be too late, game over. 

This is just a brief explanation, but I teach this, I demonstrate the weakness of this technique around the world, and I have yet to have any non-believers once I am done. Some I began a discussion with him, why? Why on earth are you teaching this? You know better! I taught you a better technique. 

His answers were astounding. 

1. the group he is working with managed to procure a contract with the local school system (who are clearly martial arts experts). And now the program has official recognition and all that goes along with that. (Obviously someone had connections, pulled some strings and landed a good deal).

2. He knows the technique is not so good, but don't worry, that is not the point of the program. Don't you realize we are not really about teaching Krav Maga, we are about empowering kids, and we have thousands of kids in the program. We also include non physical aspects of defense and escape.

I see, so it is OK to offer "Empowerment" as long as it has official approval and your program is recognized by the authorities, and you becoming famous etc, even though you really know you are teaching Fuddy Duddy nonsense. Lovely. 

I have always given this analogy, Empowerment without REAL skills is the same as giving someone a credit card, or a checkbook for an account with a balance of zero. You have a credit card in your pocket from the First National Bank of Kungfoolery, but if you ever try to pay with this card you will find out quickly that it is worthless. Such is empowerment with martial arts that don't stand the test of real violence. 

With us at IKI no technique is sacred, no technique is beyond question. Every technique will be tested again and again. Every technique will be backed up by countless tests, but Big and Strong, but Small and Weak, by Small vs. Strong etc. 

Empowerment? We drop that term. Confidence will come when you test yourself. Keep it 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


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?

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How has Krav Maga developed in Israel and what are its goals?

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