Krav Maga Possibilities and Probabilities
By Moshe Katz
Israel Krav International

January 15, 2015, Maaleh Adumim, Israel

Funny how so much of what I learned in college has actually become relevant, 30 years later, and in Krav Maga terms.

I spent eight years studying finance, economics and banking, the stock market, marketing and business. I worked for a few years in those fields and gradually ended up as a Krav Maga instructor. Long story.

Suddenly it seemed like it was all a waste of time. A rabbi told me, "Now that you have a fancy diploma you are no longer 'unemployed', you are simply 'in between jobs.'"

(and much like my first dan black belt in Kenpo Jitsu, my name was written is just a piece of paper. On it's own it has no real value.)

My diploma can be found someplace in one of my drawers.

For years I would joke that my college education, Finance and Economics did not help me at all with my current career in Krav Maga. Turns out that was not entirely correct.

As time went on I never had any use for all the financial calculations and mathematics but I eventually found myself gleaning a great deal of wisdom from my university experience.

Between all the number crunching there was actually some life wisdom. Perhaps this was unintentional, perhaps it as accidental, but life is what happens when you are not paying attention, sometimes the sideshow becomes the main show. We need to open our eyes.


We studied the laws of probability; I remember this well. I recall the chart and the tiny percentages on the side.

Years later I connected this with something Richard Ryan said about self-defense techniques; "Many things are possible, but few things are probable".

What does this mean? It means that in any given situation, many things can happen, but very few of them are probable. For example, you can be fooling around in the park, acting out scenes from your favorite movie. A film producer walks by, notices your great talent for acting and immediately offers you a deal to star in his next movie. Is this a possibility? Certainly, and it has happened many times, but is it probable? No, it is very unlikely. And therefore, we do not count on such possibilities, we go by what is more probable. 

With Krav Maga we focus not on what defenses have a possibility of working but on those that have in the high probability of working. We do not have the luxury of counting on what might possibly happen, we need to consider what has the highest probability of happening, and that is where the study of statistics and probability comes in. 

You might point out a real-life case where someone used a certain technique successfully and draw conclusions from that incident. You might show me a YouTube video. But I will say...many things are possible...but few things are probable. 

A single case proves nothing.

Imagine a business selling quality high end mens' suits. The boss tells a salesman to focus on certain types of clients and certain neighborhoods. You are more likely to sell suits to guys working on Wall street than to guys working at Taco Bell. But the salesman points out that he knows of a sale in a poor neighborhood where someone sold a $500 suit.

Yes, that is possible. It is possible that some poor person did indeed buy a $500 suit but that is no indication that now there is a high probability for future sales.

Anything is possible but a wise business focuses its efforts on what is probable. Do not waste your resources trying to sell $500 suits to people earning minimum wage working at a fast-food place, although yes, there is always the possibility that someone will buy a suit.

With IKI Krav Maga we focus only on the high probability techniques. Yes, it is possible that someone will pull off a high kick and kick the gun out of a robber's hand, it is possible that a fancy judo throw will work on the street or anything along those lines, and you will find such cases, but those still fall in the low category of probability.

Probability Density Function

Just look at the probability chart. There are the extreme ends; 0.1%, and 2.1%. That indicates there is a chance that those fancy techniques will work, it does happen. However, the probability is very very low. We at IKI Krav Maga rather stick with the "fat" sections in the middle. We like the two middle sections that together add up to 68.2%

We go with the high probability techniques. And this is not business, this is our lives.

Thus, when a seminar participant tells me of their Uncle Fredi who did a back spinning jump kick as a gun defense, I do not argue. I just say, "Yes, that may be true, and that is possible, but for us, for most of us, that is on the very low end of the probability scale."  As such we do not include such moves in our curriculum.

Krav Maga lesson: Stay in the "fat" zone of the probability chart. Go with he high percentage numbers. Ignore those rare cases that make the news. Stick with what works for most folks most of the time.


While studying the stock market at university we learned many complex equations for analyzing the market. While working on Wall Street as an adviser for brokers, I was assigned to analyze the risk factor of a certain portfolio. While working on one of the stocks I realized I had forgotten part of a complex equation for calculating risk.

Naturally I turned to my supervisor, Mr. Bob Krakow.

I explained my dilemma and he gave me that "look".

I first saw that look on the 9th day of the month of Av, "Tisha B'Av", the date on the Hebrew calendar that marks the destruction of our temples in Jerusalem. I wrote a 5-page explanation about the historic significance of the day and why, therefore, I would be late for work.

Bob walked up to me, his head shaking, handed me my paper and said, "Moshe, in the future, just leave me a note saying you will be late to work for personal reasons. I don't need a term paper." (I thought as a fellow member of the tribe he would have appreciated my historical analysis).

Got it.

So he looked at my equation and said, "Moshe, we simply write down; High risk, middle risk, low risk."

Krav Maga lesson - Keep it simple. No one outside of full-time university students can remember those complex equations. Give them information they can easily access and use. Anything that is complex, will be forgotten. 

There is nothing quite like the teacher student relationship.

To be a true teacher is a gift, to find such a teacher is a blessing.

The Bottom Line

I remember the day. There was a "buzz" in the school, the great professor, Milton Friedman, was coming from the university of Chicago, the one who wrote the book on Microeconomics. You can imagine the excitement.

Naturally we all wanted to be at the lecture. Most of us understood nothing, we got nothing out of it.

The professor was brilliant, well, he must be, after all he wrote our textbook, but he was dead boring, confusing and overly.... professor-like. Perhaps it is unfair of me to say he was boring, he was brilliant but beyond our ability to understand. 

The next day our TA, Teachers' Assistant, came in and saved us. He was a doctoral student and understood the material. He explained it to us in a language we could understand and on our level. (We were not the most stupid group on earth, we were on the graduate MBA program and you had to have very high grades just to be accepted into this course. To be in this particular course you had to have successfully completed several other high level courses.)

A great truth dawned on me, but it had nothing to do with Micro or Marco Economics. And it turned out to be very relevant to teaching Krav Maga. 

It does not matter a whit how much you know. It only matters how much you are able to give over to others or to make use of. Being brilliant does not mean you are a brilliant teacher; it simply means you are a teacher who happens to be brilliant.

Perhaps you can paint great works of art but cannot each that to others. You are an artist but not a teacher. Perhaps you are a champion boxer but have no way of passing on that knowledge and training to others. You may be a big name, but you will never be a great teacher.

The bottom line is what matters as a teacher is what you are able to pass on to others. Your own skills and ability die with you. What you give to others outlives you.

What matters with Krav Maga is that the students can understand the material and use the techniques, otherwise, it is all theoretical and useful only for academics. 

To be a teacher!