It seems that these two TV shows, Human Weapon and Fight Quest, introduced a lot of people to Krav Maga, either for the first time, or, in a way they never saw it before; the raw Israeli way. What I am glad about is it gave many people a glimpse into our lives here in Israel, the harsh reality we are forced to live with. This is a point I try to bring out during my international seminars; Krav Maga is a reflection of Israeli society. If you don't understand our lives here – you can't understand Krav Maga. (and you probably will not be doing it correctly).
Life here is unpredictable, and as such, Krav Maga must be trained in a way that deals with the unpredictability of a real attack. As one fighter wrote in a forum: "Yet another showing on how Americans are the babies of the world. Throughout the whole episode we heard constant, "I'm not used to. . . ." WHO CARES?? What the heck is the point of being a "professional fighter" if you feel like things should be kept more to a script? Here's the point of Krav Maga, there are no rules, someone comes to take you on, you take them down first. Simple. You never know what/who is coming up next. Stop trying to compare."
Point well taken.
The point of these shows is to explore various fighting styles. What we hear a lot of is "how this is different than the coddled styles of fighting people are taught in America.", as one fighter wrote in.
As "The Human Weapon" states;, 'Israel is a war torn country', and has been since before its inception. With its aim of surviving real life encounters it draws from all martial arts and modifies the techniques to make them simple and effective. (and yet many current styles of Krav Maga have in fact themselves become guilty of over complicating the techniques).
Krav Maga is not defined by one type of technique.
Another aspect of Krav Maga that these shows highlighted was getting trained not only in techniques but in being prepared for real life attacks, by "getting pounded without getting killed, so they'd freak out less when they really do get mauled and stabbed by a crowd of angry street people"
"The training itself was very different from what we've seen so far, as most of it consisted of Jimmy and Doug (the two visiting American fighters) facing multiple attackers under less than optimal conditions. You could see this for instance with Jimmy's time learning with the IDF, as he was constantly being yelled at and constantly having to deal with more than one opponent. His first day going up against that one huge crowd of IDF soldiers reminded me very much of the news reports of Middle East riots you see on CNN."
Another viewer wrote in, "The one thing that I love about both MCMAP and Krav Maga is that they are built around natural reactions to situations rather then calculated counters. Hence the difference between sport fighting and hand to hand combat."
It appears to me that these are educated viewers/fighters, who understand what they are witnessing.
Both shows illustrated that unlike other martial styles "where the art served as a means of controlling aggression and learning to face conflict with a bit more of a calmer attitude" and, "fighting was held within the confines of a controlled setting"; with Krav Maga the fighters channeled their aggression in a constructive way, rather than 'controlling' their aggression. The Krav Maga training they went through showed how "one had to be chaotic in order to face chaos." In fact, Krav Maga teaches aggression in order to survive very aggressive situations. Aggressiveness training is part of Krav Maga.
I also found people's attitude about Krav Maga women interesting. Many people wrote in to forums about the female instructor, Avivit Cohen, saying things like "That female instructor was one tuff cookie, lol" or, "Avivit was scary as hell" or, "I think we can all come to a common consensus and say that this woman is insane! Loved it how she constantly told Doug 'You are dead now Doug, you are dead!'"
"She had her funny moments, calling Doug a "tough American" for wearing socks in the Dead Sea, but at the same time, I think she gave off the vibe that, even in a calm state, the craziness was just waiting to bubble up to the surface. " or, another common reaction, " Ah, I think I'm in love".
Well said, but the truth is that describes many women in Israel, not only in martial arts but also in marital arts and business. The question should be: is the Krav Maga effective, not...are you in love with the instructor or the Bad Girl image.
Other Krav Maga newcomers wrote about how they finally found an art that deals with real issues, like overcoming fear. "I wanted more of an emphasis on practical self-defense, and I got it and more. The psychological part of it is truly amazing. You work on losing fear of getting hit and being attacked by many people at once. It's truly an amazing experience!"
I can echo those feelings; I often found that when I was in a fight; getting hit was the trick to losing all fear. Once I was hit once, I no longer feared anything, it became like, 'Is that all you can do?'
One of the key aspects of Krav Maga training is will power; the desire to survive. Viewers wrote in that the training seemed very "different in that their test was strictly physical, to demonstrate the "power of will". Viewers also picked up on the "mental conditioning".
Application of Techniques
The idea is to increase the students understanding of the application of a technique, not just memorize specific techniques for specific situations. In a real fight you might face a situation you have never practiced before, but, you can still apply techniques and concepts you have mastered. We stress concepts over technique memorization. (very limited)
From the first day of training we try to instill in our students the sense of intensity; of course we don't intentionally hurt anyone but we do understand that it is contact training and a certain degree of pain or discomfort is to be expected. However it is like the pain of a needle that cures your illness; it is a very small price to pay for your health.
One of the viewers wrote in about Avivit Cohen, "Her methods of instruction were equally intense. Seeing Doug's beat down by all of those students reminded me of those clips of schoolyard and street fights; savagely brutal . Furthermore, the whole segment was a huge lesson in the freedom of combat of Krav Maga. I myself didn't think to use sand or the sticks as weapons until Avivit showed me. "
I think both Fight Quest and Human Weapon did a fine job of promoting an understanding of Israel and some of the uniqueness of Krav Maga. but remember, you need to learn in person, not from a TV show. TV shows are designed to make money, not to keep you safe.
I happened to come across a piece on the internet that quoted me, and I turn would like to quote them, as I feel important points are made.
Fight Quest was a program on Discovery Channel (currently no longer on air). The series followed seasoned mixed martial arts fighter Jimmy Smith and 25-year-old rookie Doug Anderson as they travelled the globe, adding fight styles from Kali to kickboxing to their repertoire.
In each episode, Jimmy and Doug explored a new location identified with a style of fighting, such as kung fu in Dengfeng, China, Krav Maga in Israel. Each train with an instructor and are drilled to exhaustion. At the end they will face off against a grand master to show what they’ve learned!
The fighting is real. The injuries are real. In the end, only the best will win. (Originally aired on february 22, 2008).
Note: This episode gives you an indication of what Krav Maga is like when you’re trained for actual life and death situations. Jimmy and Doug train with military instructors in Israel, a place where knowing this stuff means staying alive. Therefore, a lot of the brutal moves you see in this video is not indicative of what Krav Maga training for civilians is like.
One of the Israeli Krav International instructors wrote a fascinating post with a short analysis of Fight Quest and the Human Weapon. Here is an excerpt, but I urge you to read the entire article.
“It seems that these two TV shows, Human Weapon and Fight Quest, introduced a lot of people to Krav Maga, either for the first time, or, in a way they never saw it before; the raw Israeli way. What I am glad about is it gave many people a glimpse into our lives here in Israel, the harsh reality we are forced to live with. This is a point I try to bring out during my American seminars; Krav Maga is a reflection of Israeli society. If you don’t understand our lives here – you can’t understand Krav Maga.
Life here is unpredictable, and as such, Krav Maga must be trained in a way that deals with the unpredictability of a real fight. “
– Israeli Krav International Blog.
Read what else they had to say on the subject of this episode.
I have very mixed feelings about Human Weapon and especially Fight Quest. On the one hand, I found Human Weapon entertaining for what it was, though often a bit sensational (a Muay Thai kick packs as much punch as a 44-ton wrecking ball wrapped in C4 explosive!!). I am indebted to the show because, like many others, it’s where I first heard about Krav Maga a few years ago and peaked my interest, eventually leading me into classes last month.
On the other hand, both shows are guilty of trying to get the viewer to believe that something worthwhile can be accomplished in any style of martial arts in a day or two — to the point where the hosts can take on one master (or sometimes an army of experts) single-handedly in combat, often emerging victorious.
Fight Quest, in particular, is worse in that regard. I saw their episode on Krav Maga and was stunned at the complete lack of training and demonstrations in the show. One guy was literally beat senseless — savagely — by a group of sadistic students for several sessions without any prior instruction or explanation of Krav Maga technique. He was simply thrown to the fighters and beaten and kicked into a bloody pulp. The best they could do was tell you how brutal the style was and demonstrate the point by abusing this poor sap in the dojo, in the park, and at the beach. Once they were bored with humiliating him for the audience (after two days, I think) they put him in a ring and he went toe to toe with a real practitioner. I don’t recall how he did but I think he won, or at least did pretty well. Total bullpuckey. I think Krave Maga and other styles deserve more respect and shouldn’t be reality TV fodder for the masses. But, then again, like I said, the couch potato in me thinks it was kind of entertaining for what it was.
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