The Krav Maga Shingle
By Moshe Katz
Krav Maga Instructor, Israel

August 12, 2010

rare photo.... Moshe participating in Karate College, many years ago. Note the camera and the paper, always taking notes, photos, always the student...

Hanging the Krav Maga Shingle

Hey readers, I recently came across a martial arts discussion where the topic of Krav Maga came up. Harsh words were written, and honestly, I think they were quite true. Thankfully our group was spared.

The leader of this discussion group is actually someone I know. He writes about IKI, "Yeah, I know this group"; I guess he heard of us. What he does not know is that I actually trained with him at Karate College.  

He seemed upset with the "fascination with all things Israeli"; that today when it comes to self-defense and security issues Israel is seen as a leader and innovator. I understand his frustration (latent antisemite) but actually I believe that in this area Israel's reputation for excellence is well deserved. Sadly, the West has once again fallen asleep at the wheel, just as they did before World War Two. (Note: editing this blog in 2020 I see that in fact the West is already paying dearly for this lack of foresight; violence, crime, hatred, have grown to unprecedented levels. Nations are at risk of losing their national character and governments have clear enemies within. The US congress is filled with anti-American subversive elements). 

How did my name come up? The discussion centered around the huge expense of joining a Krav Maga organization, usually between $3,000 to $5,000 per year, some as much as $1,200 per month, not including many hidden costs. Seminars cost additional thousands. Failure to pay results in swift legal action.

An additional complaint was that most of the big commercial Krav organizations offer very little in the way of real value and that people are paying just for the "Israel connection."

Sadly, I believe this complaint has validity. People pay a lot of money for a big name or for the right to put up a "Krav Maga shingle" and really, they are making a business deal, very little actual learning goes on.

Many people want to be vicariously associated with the prowess of the Israeli army. Some throw around names of various Israeli combat units in connection with their martial arts background. Here is a military secret; no wars have been won by empty hand combat in a very long time. Israeli military Hi Tech is truly amazing. And yes, our soldiers do have great fighting spirit.

About the way I, Moshe Katz, teach

One guy writes in that he attended one of my seminars, all was good, skill level was impressive, but that it was "a bit boring as it was aimed at beginners". Now I have no idea who this gentleman is, or if he will read this blog, but I feel he touched upon an important point, and I should address it.

First, about my seminars, I have never actually heard anyone refer to them as "boring" or as "aimed at beginners" but I think I know where the confusion lies.

My goal at a seminar, or any class for that matter, is not to impress you with my abilities. How arrogant that would be! My goal is to impress you with what you can do in a short period of time. The seminar is about you, not me.

Everything I do with Krav Maga fits in perfectly with everything Bruce Lee taught. As he said, " I would rather have ten techniques that work for me than 100 techniques that work against me."

Lee always stressed simplicity. So, over the years I have "Chipped away at the stone" and distilled the techniques down to simplicity. You know why? Because it is easier for all of us to remember and apply the techniques this way.

Is it aimed at beginners? Yes, and No. We are all beginners, everyday is a new beginning. My techniques are designed to be simple, there is no pretense, no attempt at being fancy, no desire for you to walk out and say, "Wow, what that guy can do!"

One guy in Edmonton remarked, "This stuff is simple, orange belt level, if you want to see real impressive stuff come to my jujitsu class."

Hmm, so you are telling me that my stuff is so simple even an orange belt can use it to defend himself. Well, that is actually the best compliment I could hope for. As Bruce Lee said, do you want techniques that work for you or against you?

I love it when I teach a technique and a "beginner" gets in right away, how amazing! But you know what? Sometimes the beginner is better able to learn the technique than the "advanced practitioner."

Advanced practitioners are often so full of their own knowledge that they cannot absorb what I am teaching; it is just too simple for them to grasp. They add so many fancy steps in trying to perfect the technique that they just miss all the simplicity of it. Beginners are easier to teach.

So we are all beginners. That is if we come to the class with an open mind.

Under whom?

In the forum it mentions Moshe Katz is under… etc. I want to make clear that I am "under" no one but God. I have had the privilege of training with some of the world's best, in Israel, the USA and elsewhere. Each teacher has impacted and enriched me. IKI is an independent Krav Maga organization based in Israel. My interpretation of Krav Maga is my own and I alone take responsibility for what is taught.

The keen martial artist will notice influences from such styles as Wing Chun Kung Fu, Praying Mantis, Chen style Tai Chi Chuan, ISC Control Points, Kyokushin Oyama Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, Ninjitsu, Kenpo Jitsu, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jujitsu, Chuy Li Fut Kung Fu, Submission wrestling, and so forth.

It is Krav Maga in its very essence and the overriding element is Israeli. What makes it unique is the Krav/Israeli thread that runs through everything we do, and the Israeli application of aggression and direct simplicity. What makes it different from other Krav styles is the rich martial arts background and the idea of constant evolution.

Every technique is subject to change. Every technique is tested again and again against partners who are being a bad ass.

Many instructors like to advertise; "IDF certified" i.e., they did the three-week military certification course. I have devoted a lifetime to this study. As a result, I can relate to students who come from other martial disciplines and utilize their previous training to make them better Krav practitioners. I understand their training and I do not ask them to trash it and relearn everything. This would be impossible in many cases. In addition, I am always learning from my students, their training, their challenges and their questions.

I do not have all the answers. I am still learning, experimenting, growing. We still face great challenges; may we be worthy of this task.

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