Fight Like a Human
By Moshe Katz, Krav Maga Instructor, Israel

January 6, 2014

This lovely young girl saw the sign "Krav Maga" and came in to try it out. She and all young girls are welcome and invited to come train with us and our hundreds of instructors around the world. Our instructors in Taylor, South Carolina, USA are Chris Cromer and Kaleb Young. Two fine young men.

These sweet girls from Tennessee, daughters of IKI Instructors Tim and Mitsi Garrett, are also outstanding Krav Maga students. Proud of them.

There are many programs, many organizations that aim to reduce violence. We are all trying.

There are social action groups that wish to inflict greater punishment upon offenders. There are legal experts trying to define certain crimes as "hate crimes". There are support groups for victims of violence.  There are rape counselors, motivational speakers, and self-help books.

And these are all good. We wish to strengthen your hands and raise your spirits.

And then there are programs that aim to teach self-defense.


I have seen news clips on them. Some "expert" is invited as a guest to a TV show, they are interviewed, (promoting their program, great free publicity) and then they are asked to demonstrate a few moves.

They come with a partner, of course, and they show how to respond to a violent situation. Of course it always works perfectly as the partner is totally complying, even if they appear to be resisting. The totally untrained news broadcaster is of course thoroughly impressed and gives their unconditional support and endorsement in front of millions of viewers. The instructor comes across as slightly less than superman, or woman. I look at these techniques and begin to feel my hair going grey. Terrible stuff.

Now I ask, what right does an untrained newscaster have to endorse a self-defense program? Would it be OK for them to endorse a dentist? a brain surgeon? I sure hope not.

So these openly untrained TV hosts are all, "Wow, amazing! this stuff really works" and the self-defense program is given a "Stamp of approval". (Hey, it was on TV!)

I have seen some of these programs and I must honestly profess that on the whole I am totally unimpressed. I see major mistakes, fundamental mistakes, totally misunderstanding violent situations and how the body actually works. I see little women, or tall women, "disabling" an attacker where I know it is highly unlikely (or nearly impossible) to really work on a resisting opponent. 

I and my staff have carefully examined some of these programs, not in an attempt to discredit them, but to see what is being offered. We do not see any program as competition; if it can save lives, we are all for it. After all, we cannot reach everyone.

But sadly, I have seen techniques that are totally ineffective, and inappropriate for most people; women, smaller people, children, the elderly or anyone non athletic. I see wrist locks, flips, techniques that rely upon upper body strength. These are highly unlikely to work for most people.

I recall an old saying my dad used to use, If you can't impress them with brilliance, dazzle them with Bull S." Now that might work fine in some situations but for an actual physical confrontation....

Durban, South Africa, victims of violent assault learning Krav Maga self defense. 2013.

Their instructor is IKI Krav Maga instructor Tony Hardy.

Lida, IKI Krav Maga Moscow, training to defend against knife threats. 

Lida lives alone in a tough part of Moscow.


Quickie self-defense sessions are offered to the public, a few hours, a few days at best. The participants are pumped up with motivational talks and shouts of "You can do it!" sort of thing. (While someone in the background quietly says...well, not really).

People walk out of these sessions feeling very empowered. Great, or...not so great. You feel empowered but you really do not have the skill to back it up. You have self-confidence that was not really earned.

Feeling empowered without true skill is like having a large checkbook but insufficient funds in the bank. Your check will bounce if you ever try to use it.

With IKI Krav Maga we use...

  • Only simple techniques,
  • Only techniques that are easy to learn, apply and remember.
  • We do not teach women to punch, as it is highly unlikely for most women to actually cause damage to a strong male attacker with her tiny "fists of fury".
  • We do not teach high kicks, as most people cannot do these.
  • We do not teach techniques that rely upon upper body strength, as most women and many men lack this strength.
  • We do not empower people by having them beat up a helpless man in a padded suit while shouting obscenities at him. Trust me, if this man were fighting back, he would cause a world of pain.
  • Most women self-defense programs that I have seen are more about empowerment than actual self-defense. That is one good reason for keeping the men out of the class.
  • We teach techniques that all people are able and willing to use.
  • We teach techniques that can be employed under highly stressful situations. 

Reality, it sure has a way of destroying dreams.

Lessons from the Arab Predicament

Years ago I read an amazing eye opening book by a great and original Arab thinker, his name; Fouad Ajami. The book, "The Arab Predicament".

It was an anti-Israel book with the goal of destroying Israel. In this book, written after the great defeat of the Arab world in 1967 by the tiny Israeli forces, Azami argues that the Arab people need to change their way of thinking.

He argues that the Arabs are known for great rhetoric, flowery exaggeration, dare I say ... lies. He openly argues that this practice, which some today might call "Empowerment", has failed the Arab people. It had led them to believe that their armies were great and would easily defeat the Israelis, it created false confidence. But in the moment of truth, in the truth of battle, these feelings of empowerment led to great despair. How could the great Arab armies be so easily defeated by the weak and corrupt Jews? How was this possible?

It was possible because the Arabs were given false confidence, false information. (Empowerment). They had big checks but insufficient funds in the bank. They were not so powerful as their leaders had told them, and their enemies were not as weak as they were told.

Ajami argues that it is time to wake up and smell the strong bitter Arab coffee, open your eyes and see the truth. I argue the same; for our cause.

I argue that having confidence, empowerment, but ineffective techniques is a very dangerous combination. Martial arts, self-defense, is a highly unregulated field. Who certified these instructors I dare ask? What makes us trust them so much?

As I have often written, clever slogans and catchy phrases make great marketing, but that does not mean that the techniques are effective. It does not mean that they are offering viable solutions to real problems. 

I echo Ajami's words and say it is high time we stop believing our own heretic. We must face reality before it is too late. Commercially successful does not mean it is street wise. Some of the best martial artists I have ever met are commercial failures and most of the great commercial success are worthless on the street.

Fight like a human, a clever human. We teach you how to use the natural movements of your body to use concepts that can be applied in countless unimagined situations. We teach you to use only techniques that will work for you, for your body. We teach you to "Fight like a Human" (man, woman, boy or girl, young and old).

Yuriko from Chile testing to be certified as an IKI Krav Maga instructor. She operates her own Krav Maga club in Chile, part of the IKI family.

Tour and Train Israel Experience

Beate and Esther enjoying Bedouin tea prepared by our dear friend and neighbor Abed. Tour and Train June 2013.

We prepare for war, we work towards peace.

Develop real skill, the kind that will serve you well in real life violent encounters.
Immerse yourself in the techniques, culture and spirit of Krav Maga here in the Land of Israel, the homeland of Krav Maga.

More information - Tour and Train Israel Experience

Recommended Reading

  • Become Street Wise, A Woman's Guide to Personal Safety, By Arthur Cohen Published by Target Consultants International.
  • The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker
  • Israel: A Nation of Warriors, by Moshe Katz (Currently only in e book)

Recommended Viewing

Krav Maga Combatives

All the striking techniques of IKI Krav Maga; kicking, punching and blocking for street confrontations. Includes many training drills.

This does not include any high kicks, spin kicks or fancy footwork, only practical, simple techniques that work on the street.

Techniques designed for the reality of the street, not for tournaments or katas. Based on the reality of street situations.

Price (non IKI Members) $26 plus shipping and packaging.