Krav Maga Curriculum Requirements

May 22, 2013

Krav Maga Curriculum Requirements for instructors and students

Often I get asked, "What do I need to know for the next instructor level?" Or what do I need to know for the next belt level?"

For the belt rankings there is a listing on the website, although this is not a hard and fast rule. For the instructor levels there is certainly a curriculum but there is not specific list of requirements for each instructor level (Apprentice, Assistant, Associate, Full Instructor)

Now I understand that this is confusing for those who come from a traditional martial arts background. Lets' analyze the differences.

When I was training at the Oyama Kyokushin dojo in New York City the differences between the ranks was very clear and obvious. The beginners had very few simple kata's (Prearranged karate drills) and the advanced students had more katas which were longer and more complex. We sat in rows according to rank, we trained in rows according to rank and we always wore our belts. There was a strict hierarchy about how lower ranks addressed higher ranks.

However the traditional idea of "holding back information" is something I no longer practice. This will relate to our curriculum requirements.

Studies show that there is a very high turnover rate in all martial arts schools. No matter how much you work on student retention this will still happen; students will leave. Some students simply lose interest, others get married or start a new job and no longer are willing to devote the time, others can no longer afford the tuition, others relocate. Even the best instructors will see turnover.

So the fact is many of our students are only with us for a short while. As teachers we can choose one of two approaches; we can stay – the students lack dedication, if they quit it is simply their problem. If they get attacked and cannot defend themselves it is their own lack of dedication and commitment that is to blame.

Or we can say, "I might only have this student for six months, perhaps a year, what can I teach him in this time period that will enable him to defend himself?"

I have chosen to teach all my students everything as soon as possible. On your first day you might learn a gun defense, a knife defense and some hand to hand combat. It is all part of our program.

Not all Krav Maga schools or associations are like this. Often a visiting student to Israel will join us for a class. We might be working on a gun disarm and I will ask them, "Please show me the gun disarms that you are taught in your organization." To my shock the answer is almost always something like, "I have only been training for nine months we have not learned this techniques yet."

Recently I was in Florida and met with a young woman (in college) who was a certified instructor (with a different association). She invited me to teach a seminar. She seemed to like our gun disarms very much so I asked her to show me her gun disarms. She did not have any! She said these were only taught to higher level instructors. My disbelief was beyond words, yet this is what is being presented to the public as Krav Maga.Now the question is often asked; if a blue belt and an orange belt know the same techniques then what makes one blue and the other only orange? Why are they different ranks?

The answer is simple. The difference in rank is determined by the ability of the practitioner. The more advanced practitioner is able to execute the technique more smoothly, faster, and under more stressful and fatigued situations. The more advanced Krav Maga student has faster reaction time, more explosive movements and can apply and adapt the technique more rapidly to different situations.

As the student advances he learns to apply the concept of the technique to more situations so that if he encounters a situation he has not "learned in the dojo" he will still be able to handle it. My friend and teacher of many years, Itay, has had this happen to him many times. He encountered situations he had not learned about but he was able to adapt his Krav to handle the situation. Many of my students have done the same. This is a high level of Krav.

This is in fact true of all martial arts; a Yellow belt in Judo can do O Soto Garei and he can pass his yellow belt test but clearly he cannot due this "basic" technique as well as a third dan black belt. What is the difference? The difference is in the ability to use the technique effectively against many types of opponents.

Real life situations can be very challenging; you are alone, it is night, you are tired and unprepared, it might be dark, the street might be slippery; the difference between the "basic level" and the "advanced level" is your ability to handle that situation. With our ranking system it is not a difference of material but a difference of depth. It is the difference between what you know and how well you know it.

When I grade or rank students it is on how confident they are with the technique, how smoothly they can perform it, how they can adapt to different situations. I can see it and feel it very clearly.

For those asking what I am looking for for the first instructor level, it would be as follows.

At least:

Basic strikes and blocking techniques.

Some basic take downs and ground techniques.

Defense vs the most common knife attacks and knife threats. (As covered on the "Defense Vs. Armed Attackers DVD and the "Defense Vs. Every Possible Knife Threat DVD)Defense vs basic gun threats; gun to the head (front, back and side), gun to the back, gun to the ribs, gun to the stomach.

Release from common hand grabs and bear-hugs.

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