Evolution of Krav Maga Techniques
By Moshe Katz

One of the most important features of Krav Maga is that techniques are always evolving. This does not mean that there is a conscious attempt to change techniques or that 'it is good for business' to have constantly updated techniques, but rather that techniques change only where there is a need. Some techniques remain unchanged for years.

Techniques must work for people of all sizes. Ronin Martial Arts, Grand Rapids, Mich. USA


Real Life Experience

If a technique is used in a real-life self-defense situation it is imperative that we study exactly what happened. Did it work? How well? If it did not work we must analyze what went wrong and adjust the technique. In Krav Maga we are always reviewing surveillance cameras and eye witness reports from around the world to learn what actually happened.

Sometimes technique must be modified, sometimes it must be dropped and replaced, and sometimes a whole category of techniques must be dropped.

Changing Life Circumstances

Sometimes self defense reality changes. Yes, that does happen. For example, many styles teach knife defense techniques that involve intercepting the attacking arm. However today many gang members are aware of this and spread Vaseline on their arms, causing the defenders block to slide off, in effect negating many traditional knife defenses. This is the kind of change we must be aware of it and take into consideration.

Some people train in odd looking steps whose origins come from regions of Japan where people lived and trained in mountain terrain. These techniques were designed at the time to prevent people from losing their balance. One must evaluate if these moves are relevant to one's current situation.

Other changes may involve where assailants carry their concealed weapons. Many traditional takedowns expose the defender to a knife that might be hidden in a boot.

If you are training in Judo know that it was designed by a schoolteacher who wanted to incorporate martial elements into his school's gym curriculum. It was never intended for hard core street survival.

It is important to follow current events, paying close attention to the details of each new case.

Teaching Experience

Sometimes a technique may appear to be very effective, in the gym or dojo. But you have to ask yourself, 'Can I duplicate my performance in a street situation? Can I do this in street clothing when I am tired?'

Sometimes you may see your teacher do the technique and feel, "Yeah, that looks great!" However that might only be in the hands of an experienced martial artist who has spent years training, or in the hands of a very talented practitioner. Self defense must be good for the average person who needs to defend him or herself.

If the technique does not work for the average person, it must be modified.

If a technique is not being picked up and learned quickly by a new practitioner, then what is the point of the technique? I have heard people say, "It is a great technique, it is just difficult to learn." Then you know what? It is not a great technique. This defeats the purpose.

Ability to Remember

Again the usefulness of the technique is in the practitioner's ability to use it in a real life situation. If it is too complicated or difficult to remember, then this is something that should be modified. It must be easy to learn, easy to apply, and easy to remember.

Why do some styles not change techniques?

Tradition – Instructors should be clear, and honest. Some styles are opposed to change, they are built on tradition. They pride themselves on maintaining the 'original style' as practiced by the Chinese monks or Okinawan farmers.

The Instructor does not want to have to learn new techniques

Yup, sorry to tell you this. Some instructors earned their black belt a quarter of a century ago and have not bothered to learn anything new since. They do not attend seminars, they do not continue their training with their teacher, they do not seek new information, and, they do not grow or change. And if you train with them; neither will you.

Business Considerations

Some schools or organizations spent a great deal of money publishing a book of techniques, or put out thousands of dollars on video's, DVD's and training manuals. Changing techniques would cause a great financial loss as they would have to ditch the old stuff and produce new stuff.


There is a cost to martial arts/self defense evolution. Often it is bad for business. It always involves greater efforts on the part of the instructors, greater expense and travel. But on the positive side, it can save your life and the lives of your students. Here in Israel, we feel it is worth the effort.

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