Value of Former Ranks
by Moshe Katz Krav Maga instructor, Israel

April 2010

Value of Former Ranks

Krav Maga is built upon other styles. We add our uniquely Israeli approach and applications, but we never deny our debt to these other styles. These other styles are the building blocks.

In Jerusalem archeologists will be excavating an ancient building and find that the builders in the year 700 were using bricks that were part of a structure destroyed centuries earlier. That is what we do. We did not invent the knee kick or the elbow smash; we just find a more effective way to use it. We are using the tools that others have left for us.

Our sometimes small adjustments make a big difference on the street and the result is a very different approach but still, the debt is always acknowledged.

Many new styles choose a different approach. I recall purchasing a video where the presenter began by saying something like, "I earned black belts in Judo, Karate, and Jujitsu but I no longer claim any rank in those styles, I have thrown away my belts and burnt my diplomas." i.e. he is trying to tell us that all those styles are worthless garbage, and he is about to sell us the truth.

I want to analyze his statement.

He begins by saying that he earned ranks. Why tell us this? If those ranks truly mean nothing to him then why mention them at all? Does he tell us that he used to play football or tennis? No, Why? Because it is not relevant. If his previous martial arts training has no value, why mention it at all?

I understand that he is trying, on the surface, to say, that his new style is better than judo and karate, but he does not need to mention ranks to do so. What he is really trying to say is as follows: My current system has value because I have taken the time to study several other martial arts. I have a rich and diverse background in the fighting arts and so I know what I am talking about. I am using my previous training as a starting point for my new system.

So in fact he is using his previous training to bolster his argument although he is acting like he is ditching that very same training upon which he is leaning upon. He is using his claims of previous rank to establish himself as an authority.

He is in fact claiming rank by stating that he is not claiming rank. And by saying he burnt his diplomas he is freeing himself from the need to back up his claim. So he is making a claim which he does not need to prove. Pretty clever actually.

Watching the videos I noticed that in order to do his techniques effectively you really need to have a basic understanding of Karate, Judo, and Jujitsu. Thus, a background in the arts he is dismissing is actually an essential requirement for following his program successfully. Truthfully it appeared that he only had a basic understanding of these arts himself.

What I am concerned about here is the false advertising in the self defense industry. Too many people with cocky attitudes are out there telling the public that they are the real deal while having nothing to back it up with. If all you have to offer are your personal observations and life experience, say so! Do not go on and on about ranks you "do not claim", when in fact you are using those ranks to establish your credentials.

Your former ranks do have value, you learned from them, you gained from that training. That experience has brought you to where you are today.