Krav Maga Goals

June 20, 2024, Israel

What kind of Krav Maga do you do?

Years ago I was in a gym, I was chatting with some nice people. The coach walked over and said, Did you come here to train or to chat? I surprised him with my answer. "Actually I can work out at home, I have all the equipment I need, but I live alone, I come here to socialize". While that might only be partially true there is a truth in it. 

Similarly, a rabbi caught a man chatting too much during the prayer service at the synagogue, and asked him, "Did you come here to pray, to talk with God, or to talk with your friend Shmiel?" The man answered quite honestly, "My good friend Shmiel is a true believer, and he comes to the synagogue to talk with God, I am a Free Thinker and I come to the synagogue to talk with Shmiel."  (Story, circa 1920's when many Jews became Free Thinkers, non-believers, when they arrived in the New World).

The point is, we don't all come to training for the same reasons. In fact, often therapists will recommend joining a gym, or an Athletic Club, or dojo, for that very purpose, to be part of a group, to socialize. There are those who reject home schooling because they feel their children will miss out on the socialization aspect of school, even though there is often little value to the education being offered in most schools. 

Thus, when I see some foreign Krav Maga schools, and I see that their approach is very different from mine, I don't say they are "bad", or "wrong", but they are certainly on a different path. And before determining if they are good or bad, right or wrong, we need to ask - What kind of Krav Maga do you do? What are your goals, why did you join?

Workout - I have noticed that many North American Krav Maga schools place a great deal of emphasis on the fitness component, on the "workout". I recall a T shirt that said something like, "I survived a Kickass, Badass, sweaty, blood dripping, sweat drenching etc etc. workout." Thus the idea that the workout itself is the point, you faced a serious challenge, you joined a very difficult class, you worked hard, and you are proud of that. And you know what? You should be!

You got off your butt, got out of the house, did a serious workout and survived, that indeed is something to be proud of. It may have nothing to do with self-defense, but who cares? That was not your goal. You achieved your goal, and you feel better about yourself. That is success. That is terrific. 

Fitness, Weight loss - Closely related to the previous category but slightly different is the goal of losing weight and getting fit. So in this case it is not so much the challenge, the workout itself, but the long-term goal of becoming healthier, losing weight, becomeing fit, all very important, but again, nothing to do with self-defense, or Krav Maga. And yet many such courses are advertised under the guise of Krav Maga, because that makes it a little different, a little more special sounding. 

Fitness Fads - Aerobic Kickboxing. Fitness fads come and go. The public always wants something new and different. A few years back there was a big fitness fad using Kickboxing. It was not real kickboxing of course but it did use kickboxing moves adapted to music and the fitness needs. It sold like hotcakes! The public went wild and the founder, Billy Blanks, became an overnight sensation. I tried a class in Los Angeles, fun but not real kickboxing. 

Self-Defense, Survival - Let us call it correctly, Self-Preservation. Our Krav Maga has one goal, and one goal only. And that is, get home in one piece, get home alive. Losing weight, meeting friends, being a cool Bad Ass, all those are nice side benefits, but they are not our goal, and therefore they are not our focus. 

I talk during class. I interrupt the "workout" to explain things. And I say, if you came looking for a fitness class, you can leave now. But if you came to learn how to survive, stay, but understand that talking is part of the learning process. "What if took half an hour to teach you a lesson that would help you survive, but you did not burn one calorie, would that still be worth your time? If the answer is yes, Stay. If it is no, you can leave now."

I have seen many Krav Maga classes abroad that have about 45 mintues of cardio, fitness, pushup work. Then bag work, hitting the heavy bag, boxing drills. None of this has anything whatsoever to do with Krav Maga, not even remotely. Most street encounters are over in 3 -7 seconds. Normal people are fit enough to handle that. After the hour or so of various fitness related routines, the group, now all dripping sweat, are taught perhaps one knife technique, one gun technique, and a Krav Maga defense vs a punch. Class over, sweaty group hug, Great workout everyone, buy your energy drinks and say you next week.

Nothing wrong with that, if that is what you signed up for. But that is not my Krav Maga. My Krav Maga is there is a world out there that hates me and wants me dead. They killed most of my family and wanted to kill us all. We all serve in the military, my brothers, my nephews, my friends, neighbors, and students. The streets of the world have criminals lurking around looking to rob you. I don't give a hoot about surviving a fitness workout, I just want to ready for the street attack. That is my style of Krav Maga. 


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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