10 Hidden Truths: Is Krav Maga Ineffective?
Podcast by Mr. Johnson.
To Learn or Not to Learn Krav Maga. Question that is?
- 1 To Learn or Not to Learn Krav Maga. Question that is?
- 1.1 Reason 1: Krav Maga relies on a curriculum of set techniques
- 1.2 Reason 2: Krav Maga does not develop martial skills
- 1.3 From the Krav Maga Curriculum:
- 1.4 Reason 3: Krav Maga doesn’t offer a lot that other martial arts can’t offer
- 1.5 Reason 4: Krav Maga resistance training lacks realism
- 1.6 Reason 5: Krav Maga practitioners alienate other martial arts
- 1.7 Reason 6: Krav Maga is partner compliance
- 1.8 Reason 7: Krav Maga practitioners have a mob mentality
- 1.9 Reason 8: Krav Maga preaches escalation of a fight from a position of weakness
- 1.10 Reason 9: Correct Tactics, Wrong Fundamentals
- 1.11 Reason 10: Ineffective against trained individuals
We will be discussing Krav Maga and why it is not the “best” or “most realistic” self-defense fighting system in the world, as it is often portrayed and marketed. We will also be discussing other martial arts that in my opinion are more effective for fighting and the reasons why I would recommend them.
Welcome to another instructional and educational article on our Teach to Fight website. Today’s topic is going to be covered by certified instructor Holland of Krav Maga. So, let’s begin and get to it. Also, let’s get ready for the hate because we all know there’s going to be haters out there.
Hello students, how’s it going? I hope everyone is doing well.
Today we are going to cover a pretty controversial topic. I can already tell it’s controversial, it’s controversial today, and it’s going to be controversial in this article.
And that is Krav Maga. Effective, ineffective, or somewhere in between. Should you train Krav Maga especially if you are a beginner martial artist or should you take Krav Maga if you are a seasoned martial artist?
This is a question that I got asked so much, like a ridiculously large amount. Not only from students who were training martial arts, I think, but also students who I was teaching for executive protection. It was always “which martial arts were better?” or “should I train in MMA?” or “should I train in Krav Maga?” or “I heard Krav Maga is pretty crazy”.
Today we are going to shed some light on all these questions and get to the truth. So before I go any further, I’m going to have to nip some things in the bud right now. And that is that I do not hate Krav Maga. Don’t even start in the comments, although I’m sure plenty of you are going to. I don’t hate Krav Maga. I just think it is fundamentally and in a lot of ways seriously flawed. There are a lot of martial arts that are flawed and that’s okay. What we have to do as instructors and as students of martial arts is be perpetual learners and admit when our art has problems.
We need to see if other martial arts can kind of fill those gaps so that we can be an all-around, better prepared, and better-trained warrior.
Also, I’m probably going to hear in the comments, “what makes you think that you can talk about traditional martial arts or Krav Maga”. Well, what makes you think that you can defend it?
Oh, what you’ve trained? You’ve trained in traditional martial arts? You’ve been training for so many years in Krav Maga. You’re “this” instructor in Krav Maga. Well, so am I.
I hold two separate black belt certifications in traditional martial arts.
A first degree black belt in Tang Soo Do (Hangul: 당수도, Hanja: 唐手道 pronounced [taŋ.su.do]) and a third-degree black belt in Kenpo. Here are my certificates.
And I also hold full instructor certification in Krav Maga as well. Here is my certificate. Now you may have noticed in that picture of my certification that the expiration date has reached its limit. Well, I have a few things to say about that as well.
I don’t think that certifications are the be-all and all to knowledge. I like to use personal trainers as an example, right? So personal trainers have a lot of knowledge maybe, but a lot of the time how many times have you seen fat or out-of-shape personal trainers? But then, when you go into the gym and you see that huge, big, buff jack dude. You go over to him and you ask him for some advice, and he just destroys you with knowledge because he has accrued a large amount of experience and a large amount of knowledge in bodybuilding or lifting weights.
You ask him what kind of certification he has and he goes “well I don’t have any, I’ve just been doing this a long time”. That is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I don’t think that certifications are the thing that’s going to dictate whether or not a person is an expert. I think experience and real-life training is what actually makes that distinction.
I also like to use my very first MMA coach as an example of this. He was one of the toughest, best fighters I have ever seen in my life. He won a championship at the age of 40 when he was competing against a guy who was half his age. When I used to ask him, “hey coach, what kind of belts do you have?” and “you got a black belt in this or a black belt in that?”.
He said, yeah I have a belt, I have a leather belt. It keeps my pants up. All this coming from a dude who had dedicated his life to wrestling and martial arts. Who had accrued a large number of victories in the ring and he had no belts or certifications at all. Just a wealth of knowledge from all of his years of sacrifice and training.
Now obviously, that doesn’t mean that certifications are useless. They certainly show that you’ve put forth a certain amount of effort and time towards your craft, but at the same time, if somebody has a certification that doesn’t mean to automatically believe what they say.
It’s very important that you go through your own training and have your own life experiences, so that way you can dictate and make a distinction between what the person who has the certification told you versus what is actually what happens. I used to tell my students a lot of the time, “instructors teach self-defense because they were taught self-defense not because they’ve actually used what they were teaching”.
There’s a specific quote that comes to mind and I don’t remember exactly who it’s from, so forgive me, but the quote says “the best techniques are passed on by the survivors”. I love that quote because it essentially just says everything true about the reality of fighting and life in general.
You want to learn from the people that have done things or have used the things that they’re instructing you on. Whether that’s because they went out and they actually fought in the ring or competed on the mat, or they had a profession of some sort where they actively put hands-on people. Someone like a security guard, a police officer, a corrections officer, a bouncer for god’s sake. Just different stuff like that.
You don’t want to just listen to somebody. You want to know that the stuff that they’re showing you is applicable because they themselves have used it. That’s not to say that Krav Maga isn’t applicable. There are several things in Krav Maga that I do like, but largely I think that Krav is very flawed and I’m going to explain why. because the people that are brand new to martial arts who are looking to get into a self-defense system, it’s very similar to people who are first buying a car. They don’t know what they’re doing, what they’re shopping for, what they’re looking for, and a lot of martial artists know that instructors sometimes feed off that to make a lot of money.
And we can’t do that. The blood of people’s lives is on our hands if we teach them something ineffective and as an instructor myself, I refuse to do it. I am not going to be stuck in the conglomeration that is the mob mentality of martial arts.
So with that being said, I’m going to label off 10 reasons exactly why I think that Krav Maga is very flawed. And then towards the end, I’ll be recommending some other martial arts that, in my opinion, you should train in first if you’re thinking about starting a martial art for self-defense.
So once again, I don’t hate Krav Maga. I just think it’s flawed and I’m going to explain my reasons why. I went from being a Krav Maga instructor to a combat sports fighter, and I saw a big big change. I’m gonna explain why, okay.
So with that being said, let the class begin.
Reason 1: Krav Maga relies on a curriculum of set techniques
So my very first reason why Krav Maga is flawed as a martial art and self-defense system is that it relies on a gigantic list of set techniques in the curriculum. Now on the whole this is not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of martial arts utilize a curriculum to create a promotion system so that their students can go up the chain, up ranks, and stuff like that.
It is not only better to improve their skill sets but also give them something to work towards. It’s a good goal setter, but Krav Maga does this to the extreme, in my opinion. I mean I have the curriculum right here with me. As I look through it, they have three different techniques for arms free from the front bear hug and arms pinned from the back bear hug. There are three separate techniques for each of those things.
The problem is that when you have too many techniques, for one thing, you’re going to overload the student. They’re going to be sitting there trying to remember which technique to use. And in a life-threatening situation, you have milliseconds before the guy is going to do something to you.
The other problem that I have with this is that the techniques are very choreographed. First, you do this, then you do this, after which he will do this, in which case you do this, and then you follow up with this because he’s going to do this.
Fighting doesn’t happen in sequences. Yes, we can kind of have an idea of how an attacker is going to react, such as let’s say, a kick to the groin or a punch to the face. But there have been plenty of times where I’ve punched somebody in the face, they ate it like a snack, and then they kept coming.
If that happens, then the sequence of things that you’ve been conditioned to do over and over again gets interrupted and you end up finding yourself almost short-circuiting trying
To figure out what to do. This is a phenomenon that happened to me when I was training in traditional martial arts.
I had a few situations where I had used martial arts to protect myself and while I prevailed, one thing that scared me was that I would try something. It wouldn’t work as it worked in the gym and next thing you know I’d be trying to rack my brain in the heat of the moment, trying to figure out what to do and how to adapt.
That’s why in my opinion, there’s nothing better than live sparring, live grappling, and stuff like that because it forces you at the moment to adapt. The opponent is never going to react the way you expect them to. In my experience and my opinion, the best way to learn how to do these techniques is to learn them in the heat of the moment when you are going against someone who’s resisting 100% of the time. Or somebody in live grappling, live sparring, or live rounds who is trying to actively beat you.
That’s so much better than trying to rely on a series of set techniques that you have to remember. “A” goes to “B” goes to “C” goes to “D”, because fighting doesn’t happen that way.
Reason 2: Krav Maga does not develop martial skills
Another big issue that I had with Krav Maga when I was training in it and when I was teaching it to students, is that the stuff that we were teaching wasn’t martial skills per se. There was a big difference between learning a technique and developing a skill. Learning how to properly sprawl off of a shot from someone who’s trying to grab your legs and double leg you into the earth is a skill. being told to kick somebody in the groin who’s attacking you is not.
I’m pretty sure that’s advice that every father has told his 14-year-old daughter when she’s about to go on her first date. Well if something ever happens you just kick the guy as hard as you can on the groin.
Is that self-defense training? Is that actual proper combative training?
NO, it’s not! That does not necessarily mean that that’s bad. Yes, kicking someone in the groin can be an effective way of dropping an attacker but you aren’t developing any skills by just constantly teaching somebody to hit somebody in the groin.
I mean, take a look at the curriculum. I’m going to go over a little bit of it. You’ll see just how much groin kicking there is involved in Krav Maga.
From the Krav Maga Curriculum:
Besides going back into the first problem, which is you’re trying to develop a sequence here, and sequences never really work out the way you expect them to. There is a lot more that goes into developing skills than just telling someone constantly “just kick them in the groin”.
- Released from bear hug
- arms free from front
- wrap your leg around the attacker’s calf
- knee to the groin
- Arms pin from the front
- wrap your leg around the attacker’s calf
- knee to the groin
- When lifted from the front
- alternating knee strikes to the attacker’s groin
- When lifted from the back
- alternating heel kicks to attackers knees legs or groin
- Release from headlock from the front (or otherwise known as a guillotine)
- with both hands, pull attacker’s arm creating space around the throat
- deliver blows to the groin
- Release from hair grab
- he grabs you from the front
- defense number seven
- followed by a slap to the groin
- Defense against a roundhouse kick
- outside forearm block to the leg
- followed by a kick to the groin
Now, I know why this was done. This was done so that instructors could create a curriculum that is super easy to teach students. You don’t have to teach five million different techniques or moves. you just have to teach them one, so that way every single time something happens, that one thing is an instantaneous reaction. I get it and it makes sense, but once again that is not a skill.
Trust me there are plenty of skills I thought I learned in Krav Maga that when I went and started competing in mixed martial arts against people who knew how to wrestle, people who knew judo, people who knew proper jujitsu, and stuff like that, I pretty much found out right off the bat that the Krav Maga stuff that I was using would not work at all.
And before you start typing in the comments saying, “well that’s because it’s MMA, there are rules allowed and Krav Maga is all about no rules”, I can’t stand that argument. I really can’t. The reason is what makes you think a fighter as skilled as let’s say Khabib Nurmagomedov because of all of his MMA training that means that he’s incapable of kicking someone hard in the groin.
So do you think because Khabib didn’t take Krav Maga he’s incapable of kicking somebody in the groin in the heat of the moment in a real self-defense situation if he needs to? How about any fighter. It doesn’t matter who the fighter is. You take any sort of amateur fighter who knows basic boxing, basic jujitsu, basic Muay Thai, or someone as skilled as let’s say George st Pierre.
What makes you think that because they didn’t take Krav Maga, they’re unable to kick somebody in the groin? What makes you think that because they’re professional fighters and they’ve only trained in combat sports if they seriously need to in a gritty no-holds-barred self-defense fight for your life or you’re going to die in a situation, they’re unable to gouge eyes or they’re unable to bite somebody?
These aren’t skills. These are techniques you can do, but these aren’t skills that condition properly trained fighters. That’s almost like saying you take a NASCAR driver who’s toured all over the world and driven at high speeds for almost his entire professional career, and bring him to the bumper cars. And then say, “oh well dude, you don’t know how to drive bumper cars. I’m a professional bumper car driver. I’m pretty sure I can drive better than you.”
I’m willing to bet if they are gonna do all of those things to you, I’m willing to bet that a professional MMA fighter, or Muay Thai fighter, or a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is going to be able to do all of those things way better than somebody who is only trained in “self-defense martial arts”.
And that’s probably because they defended your attack perfectly because they’re used to getting attacked from sparring, and from live wrestling or live grappling all the time. They manage to take you down, get dominant positioning on you because they train to maintain and get dominant position on live opponents all the time.
And THEN, they’ll attack whatever the heck they want. That’s why I can’t stand that argument. It doesn’t hold any water and it doesn’t make any sense.
Reason 3: Krav Maga doesn’t offer a lot that other martial arts can’t offer
If you take away a lot of the advertising and a lot of the pumping up that happens when it comes to Krav Maga, I mean they always portray themselves as this amazing kick-butt self-defense system that’s only for the streets, right? But when you take that stuff away and you also take away the quote street aspects of it, there isn’t a whole lot in Krav Maga that other martial arts can’t offer you.
Let’s take, for example, level one requirements. These are all the techniques you’re going to learn in level one which is essentially a white belt in Krav Maga.
Krav Maga Level One Requirements
- straight left punch (which is a jab)
- right punch with a pivot (which is a cross)
- left roundhouse punch (otherwise known as a hook)
- left-right punch combination (otherwise known in boxing as a one-two)
- left-right punch moving forward and offense (so now you’re adding footwork)
- making a fist
- natural stance
- fighting stance
- basic movements
- forward, left, right, and back
Then they have a bunch of elbows. They show a bunch of knee strikes. They show a few different kicks like a front or a rear, which is just a roundhouse with your back leg, sidekicks, and then they take all that stuff and they just kind of direct it towards the groin.
All of those things you can either learn in both boxing and Muay Thai. Now in Krav Maga’s defense, there are a lot of things that you learn in Krav Maga that you won’t necessarily learn over at let’s say an MMA gym. Things like knife defenses, pistol defenses. things like if someone’s holding you up with some sort of weapon, and that’s because that’s not the focus of the MMA gym, right? The MMA gym is there to help train and condition fighters for competition but as a whole, the system, in general, has a lot of stuff in it that you will learn over at other martial arts systems, and honestly, you’ll learn it better.
I’m sure that there are Krav Maga instructors out there that train in those other things and practice their basics a hell of a lot more than some of the Kravis that I’ve experienced. but when I was an instructor in Krav Maga, when I was training “oh my gosh”, some of the basics that I would see were cringy from some instructors.
I would sit there and honestly blow my mind sometimes. I was thinking to myself “How in the world are you an instructor and you teach people how to punch like that?” It honestly made me slightly embarrassed to be associated with those instructors because their basics were just so under-skilled and under-practiced that they looked like they were beginner students themselves.
Yes, they could do all the techniques just fine, all the set techniques in the curriculum, but if you told them to, you know, hit focus mitts or hit a punching bag.. oh, ouch! It was not that good.
And that’s why I like combat sport martial arts because anyone who’s teaching combat sports more than likely has competed in it, and therefore their basics had to be up to par because they were going into the ring or they were going on the mat.
Reason 4: Krav Maga resistance training lacks realism
This one I’m probably gonna get a lot of hate on. Now hold your horses before you start, you know, crazily typing in the comments about how “no we have seriously realistic training in Krav Maga”. Just hold on, let me clarify. Yes, there is a certain amount of realistic training that goes into Krav Maga.
I know that when I was down in during the instructors’ courses, every time I had to re-certify, I had to go through adrenaline stress type training where they get your heart rate pumped up and they have a guy come at you with, you know, a baton, or a knife, or something like that.
But always what would happen always, always, always was that they would attack me in one way, right? They’d come and they’d stab straight. I’d do the technique, you know, block and punch, under hook the arm, and then during the technique, I was performing, they’d comply with it.
I have a video of me going through that type of training, and you will see when I show it right now, that after I had done the punching on the ground in the ground and pounding. I had gotten my heart rate up when somebody came over and attacked me, you’ll notice when I defend, they just kind of go with it. Here, let’s take a look at that right now.
Is Krav Maga Ineffective video 1
Now that looks pretty good, right? But in all honesty. No, no it’s not. Any combat sports athlete who has ever wrestled or has ever done jujitsu or anything like that, or has ever sparred live rounds will look at that and go “oh my gosh” that is easy.
It’s not just my round, right. You can even see in the background people who are just kind of falling over and just kind of going with it. Now I get it, that’s a training thing right? But trust me, wrestlers, and jujitsu artists, and Muay Thai guys, and boxers.. We spar and we roll all the time. After every single class, towards the last 15 minutes of class, I’d say. and we’re almost always able to do so safely.
For comparison, I took a video over at the current gym that I’m training at over here in Idaho and I want you to watch the difference here between that training and this. This is the standard no-GI jiu-jitsu class.
Is Krav Maga Ineffective video 2
This is the standard, just a regular MMA comp team sparring night. Did you notice in those clips how nothing was easily achieved? It was a constant battle between two separate individuals and if you made a mistake, you end up paying the consequences of either getting taken down or punched in the face or something like that.
Is Krav Maga Ineffective video 3
Whereas in the Krav Maga video, if you notice when that guy comes up behind me and kind of puts a choke on me. After I drop and I kind of throw him over, he just kind of lays there and I get dominant positioning and I’m able to hit him. the same thing with the dude that came out with the baton. The reason I was able to wrap his arm like that is that he attacked me the same way that we do the technique. He came over the top with a big wide angular slashing type of motion with the baton, and I did the technique that we’ve been training.
But that’s because I knew he was gonna throw that technique. After all, that’s all we ever practiced. We never did any sort of free-flowing thing where he would randomly attack me and I had to just react. And then I do that crappy Osoto-gari, which is a leg reap. it was not a good Osoto-gari looking back on that.
I cringe now after becoming a purple belt in judo.
And then what happens? When he goes to the ground, he doesn’t try to regain his position. He doesn’t try to get his weapon back. He just kind of held onto it a little bit, trying to cover up his face but it was relatively easy for me to gain a dominant position and fight back.
In the clips, you saw of the MMA training, the jujitsu training, and the kickboxing fighting that I showed, none of that happens. Everyone who has a partner has to work to get a better position or something like that is a constant struggle against somebody who’s constantly resisting, and if you make a wrong mistake you’re going to eat a punch. You’re going to eat a leg kick, you’re going to eat an uppercut or something like that.
And a lot of those people in the clips were relatively brand new people. They had just started their training, which is awesome because they’re learning at an early stage of their training. There are consequences. You are going to get punched in the face. You are going to get kicked. You are going to get elbowed. You’re going to get kneed. You’re going to get thrown to the floor and you’re going to pay the price if you end up doing something wrong.
There is no better way to toughen another human being than to show them those physical consequences. This is why combat sports in my opinion are superior in that aspect because pretty much at the end of every class, the coach goes “all right guys, get your gloves and your shin pads on. we’re going to spar ”. Or your jujitsu coach goes “hey guys, we’re going to roll life”. Or your wrestling coach goes “hey guys, live rounds, three minutes, let’s go, shark tank”.
It’s just constantly drilling live situations. You are constantly wrestling against an opponent who’s wrestling back. You are constantly boxing or kickboxing somebody who’s trying to punch you in the face or kick you in the legs. You are constantly trying to arm-bar or choke somebody out with jujitsu who’s also trying to do the same thing to you.
You’re going to say, “but when I was watching those clips I noticed that in the jujitsu class when they were grabbing onto each other, no one was throwing knees, no one was throwing hammer fists, or groin kicks”.
Again, what makes you think they’re incapable of doing that? They understand that this is jujitsu. They are working their jujitsu, okay? What makes you think that they are incapable of starting to throw strikes?
A lot of the fighters, actually two of the people in there, were already MMA fighters. They had already stepped into the ring and fought. They know how to throw knees. They know how to throw kicks. They know how to throw punches and elbows. They know how to do all these things but this is a jujitsu class.
The same thing with sparring, what makes you think that the people throwing those leg kicks or people throwing hooks are incapable of directing them to more sensitive areas?
You might say, “well that argument could be used for Krav Maga as well”. Yes, maybe, I’m sure if that Krav Maga instructor or that student also trains combat sports, but if you are a craft purist and you’ve only trained Krav Maga, I’m willing to bet you are not nearly as good of a wrestler as an actual wrestler.
I am willing to bet that you are not as good of a striker as a boxer or a kick-boxer. I’m willing to bet that you are not nearly as good on the ground as a Jujitsu guy, and I’m also willing to bet that you are not nearly as good of a well-rounded fighter as somebody who’s fought MMA.
Please understand, I’m not trying to be insulting if you are a Krav Maga instructor or student out there. I’m simply saying the things that are realistic and truthful and sometimes the truth can hurt and can come across as insensitive or offensive.
But please, in my opinion, go check out combat sports. It’ll open your mind.
Reason 5: Krav Maga practitioners alienate other martial arts
This next reason hits pretty close to home and is one of the primary reasons why I stopped training and teaching Krav Maga after I switched over to combat sports.
Now just to clarify this is more geared towards the craft purists. This entire article is geared pretty much to the Krav purists or any purists out there that think that their one martial art is the only martial art that can be studied because it’s perfect.
Whenever I refer to Krav Maga to my former students and the students that I was teaching at both martial arts studios and the academy, I referred to Krav Maga almost like the Cross-fit of martial arts. That’s because there has become sort of like this kind of cult-like, you know, mob mentality sort of ideology behind Krav Maga.
I mean, it’s kind of similar to how Cross-fit trainers tend to say things like “well if you’re not doing Cross-fit, then you’re not working out”.
Krav Maga artists end up saying “well if you’re not training Krav Maga, then you’re not training real fighting or real self-defense”. Then they tend to laugh and make fun of the traditional martial artists or the MMA people, and stuff like that, and it’s one of the most toxic environments I’ve ever been in.
On top of this, you have the instructors in Krav Maga who believe the Israelis are like the be-all and all of the combative knowledge because the Israelis are the ones that invented Krav Maga.
I’ll tell you a personal story real quick when I was down and I was doing the instructor’s course. One of the instructors down there was teaching rifle disarms. If somebody comes up and points a rifle in your face, how do you disarm it? And he was mentioning the different carrying styles of the military and how the military likes to carry their rifles. It was pretty ridiculous.
So like I said, we were doing firearm disarms, specifically rifle disarms. And one of the things that the instructor started to talk about was the differences in how the Israeli military carries their rifles as opposed to the US Military. Of course, I was in the US Military so my ears perked up and I was thinking to myself “well, what’s going on?” I couldn’t help but notice that there were other veterans in the crowd of students that were training who looked over in interest as well.
And one of the things he said was “well in the Israeli military when they’re walking around and they’re patrolling with their rifles, they carry the rifle like this, at the low ready and this is the way it’s supposed to be done so that way if they engage somebody they can point the weapon right up and they can shoot. it’s tactically responsible, right?
And then he moved on and he said “well in the US Military when they’re patrolling they’re taught to hold their rifles by the carrying handle (like a suitcase). Now obviously, I’m standing there and I’m going “what in the world are you talking about?”. I was told when I was in the military that the carrying handle on our m16s or our m4s was pretty much useless, in that we should never use it and if we got caught using it we’d probably get our asses beat.
But for some reason, this instructor who was never in the military by the way, just assumed that because the Israeli military carried around their weapons at the low ready and he saw at one point someone may be in an old Vietnam war video carrying around their m16 by the handle, that must mean the US Military carries their weapons improperly when going through a combat area.
I and the other veterans in the crowd looked at each other and we were just kind of like, appalled. We were like “what in the world are you talking about? This is so ridiculous”.
And this is just one example guys, there are plenty of other times that I could mention but for the sake of keeping this article relatively short, I’m not going to do it. all in all, when I was in the Krav Maga community, I by far experienced the most of my bias towards Krav Maga and the most amount of, I don’t want to say hatred, but disbelief in other martial arts or other things that either weren’t Israeli or weren’t Krav Maga.
In the end, it became pretty cringy, because when I went to the combat sports community, the combat sports community was not like that at all. They were some of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met and it was
Pretty disappointing when I looked back on my experience realizing that I had dedicated so much time to a system that was so, I don’t know, divisive towards everyone else in the martial arts community.
Now obviously, I’m sure that there are Krav Maga instructors out there that aren’t like that. I’m not gearing this towards you. I’m only speaking about my experience and what I have learned and what I went through as a Krav Maga student and instructor.
Reason 6: Krav Maga is partner compliance
This next point I kind of already hit on and point two and then point four, but I’m gonna gloss over it quickly one more time. And that’s when I was training in Krav Maga. When I was teaching Krav Maga. whenever I went to a Krav Maga demonstration. Whenever I went to the Krav Maga instructors course and I was doing techniques or I was having techniques done to me, one of the biggest things that I could not understand later on in my career was partner compliance.
Someone would come up to you. They grab your throat with a two-handed choke and you do the technique and the entire time they comply. One of the most awkward things that I couldn’t stand was when they’d like to react to the hits like they’d be getting kneed in the gut and they go ugh ugh like they were getting kneed. Which is, trust me, I’ve kneed a few people in the gut and I’ve been kneed a few times in the gut in MMA. That is not how people react at all. unless you get a really solid knee and I mean a solid knee up in somebody’s solar plexus, which completely takes the wind out of them.
They’re gonna fight back. They’re not gonna just be kind of a rag doll for you because you need them in the gut one time. It’s stuff like that that started to make me bitter about Krav Maga because when I went to the MMA gym, oh man, did I get my butt kicked. I’m gonna hit on that later on in other points but trust me, partner compliance does not train effective fighters.
Sure partner compliance is important at the very beginning stages of training. When you’re first learning a technique or you have no idea what you’re doing, you just need to get the fundamentals and the basics of the technique down. That’s when partner compliance is important because you’re just trying to learn.
But eventually, later on, you just step it up quite a bit and I never really saw that in Krav Maga. Again I’m sure there are other studios out there that do it, but from my experience and I trained in this for quite a long time, I didn’t see a whole lot of it. It was pretty disappointing.
This type of training is also dangerous because you instill in the student a sense of false security. They honestly believe that the knees that they’re throwing are capable of making somebody rag-doll like that continuously and that isn’t realistically the case. So then if somebody ever comes over and decides to attack them on the street god forbid, they throw a few knees and the guy who’s drunk, deranged, or on drugs eats it and then continues to attack them. Next thing you know they’re standing there going “well why aren’t my knees working?”.
It’s because they’re so used to that type of reaction in training, that when they go and they get attacked it’s not the same thing. Again, this is why I prefer combat sports. Because in combat sports there is consistent resistance and you are not going to get that choke out. You are not gonna get that submission. You are not gonna get that knockout without a hell of a fight on your hands and that is real fighting.
Reason 7: Krav Maga practitioners have a mob mentality
Again, I’ve already hit on this point but I’m gonna gloss over it one more time. I’ve met two different types of people in Krav Maga.
The first is the actual martial artist who takes Krav Maga as a supplement to the martial arts he already knows and takes Krav Maga for what it is but does not throw away everything else that he’s learned.
And then there is the Krav purist who sticks to Krav Maga because Krav Maga in his mind is the only martial art that’s effective because the Israelis invented it, or it’s the only one that focuses on groin kicking so much, it’s the only one that’s actually street effective. It’s those types of people, the mob mentality type of people, that will then come and defend Krav Maga even when people like myself or other martial artists point out the flaws in it.
And as a professional martial artist, you can’t do that. You need to be able to take constructive criticism and say “yeah, my martial art does have some flaws. What are some ways or some things that I can train in to help improve it?”
If you are a brand new student to martial arts and you go into a Krav Maga gym because you want to start to learn Krav Maga because you want real-world self-defense, listen to the instructor. If he ever says that other martial arts aren’t effective, he doesn’t show any other martial art but Krav Maga, he says all of the valuable catchphrases like “oh we do bad things to bad people” or “that you don’t need anything else except for Krav Maga, Krav Maga will save you no matter what. All the other martial arts they’re not like Krav Maga, they’re not as effective”.
You need to walk out of that gym and find yourself a new instructor.
Reason 8: Krav Maga preaches escalation of a fight from a position of weakness
This is a point that I’m hitting on not just for Krav Maga but for all the self-defense martial artists out there. And that escalating the fight from a position of weakness is a good way of getting you killed.
So, what is escalating the fight from a position of weakness? Well, I’ll give you an example. Let’s say someone has taken you down and they have side control on you, and they have very good side control and you’re unable to get out.
What you should do is gouge out their eyes, right? Go for their eyes. well great! Go for their eyes when they have a dominant position and superior angle on you. All you’re going to do is open yourself up for some very seriously good ground and pound.
It isn’t a smart idea to go and try something when you are not in a dominant position. And while there aren’t any techniques “that Krav Maga teaches you to do this”, that is sort of the mentality a lot of the instructors that I’ve encountered in Krav Maga have had.
Things like “oh well, you know Brazilian jujitsu, if they just take me down I’ll just gouge their eyes out”. That’s not gonna work. I’m telling you right now it is just not a good idea. A Brazilian jujitsu black belt, not even a black belt. Let’s take a Brazilian jujitsu blue belt. Someone skilled enough to get to a blue belt.
If you try and gouge their eyes out I’m willing to bet you’re going to get choked or you’re going to get your fingers or your shoulder or something broken. First things first, you have to focus on fundamentals, which is stopping the take-down in the first place. Don’t teach your students to go for these last-resort methods.
And let’s be honest, gouging someone’s eyes out is a last resort method. That is if your life is on the line, you have nothing left, you’re gassed out, the guy’s in dominant positioning, you’re unable to get them off, there’s nothing else you can do, this guy is just completely and dominating you, and you have one last thing to try before you’re put unconscious, go ahead. Go for the eyes.
Do different stuff like that, but the ultimate answer is to get better trained in grappling and that’s all there is to it. How do you do that? Brazilian jujitsu is a good start. wrestling is a good start. Don’t just settle for the last-ditch effort. And that’s what a lot of Krav Maga instructors have told me before, “oh well if someone goes for a shot, hammer fist them in the back of the head” or “if somebody comes over and takes you to the floor and you have them in guard, go right for their eyes”.
Okay well, I tried that one time and I got arm barred f****** fast.
Don’t believe it. Get good at grappling martial arts and then if the situation calls for it, you can always go back to that stuff.
Reason 9: Correct Tactics, Wrong Fundamentals
When I say correct tactics but wrong fundamentals, I’m quoting a buddy of mine. A fellow instructor that I was teaching combative with down at the academy. He used to say that Krav Maga had the correct tactics. Meaning it teaches you situational awareness, teaches you things like space control when someone’s coming up and has a problem with you. You don’t want them to get close to you, getting in your face because that means that they have the opportunity to strike you and your reaction time is limited. Things like that.
But they teach the wrong fundamentals of fighting. They don’t focus enough on the fundamentals. Things like how to throw a proper right hand. They teach that, but they don’t hit on it as much as their set-list of techniques.
The problem with this is that when you get into a no holds barred fight and I mean a full-blown fight, the fundamentals, and the basics are all you’re ever going to rely upon.
When you’re full of adrenaline, and you’re tired, and your heart is beating out of your chest, and you have tunnel vision like crazy, you’re not going to think of all these different types of movements. You’re going to be throwing two-three twos. You’re gonna be throwing one-two threes. You’ll be throwing elbows and knees, and that is it.
The set series of techniques like I talked about before, are not going to work because in that situation you’re not thinking about going through the series of techniques exactly the way that they’re supposed to be done. And it’s because of that that Krav Maga’s fundamentals are severely lacking.
I also mentioned that when I watched a lot of the instructors and a lot of the students throwing punches, it was… I don’t know what else to call it, but it’s pretty cringy. Pretty lackluster.
They couldn’t properly hit focus mitts. They couldn’t properly throw punching and kicking combinations the way a Muay Thai fighter, a boxer, or an MMA guy would.
But man, if you went at them with a rifle. If you point an ar-15 in their face, they know what to do. trust me, you don’t want to go point that ar15 in their face.
Reason 10: Ineffective against trained individuals
I’d like to start our very last reason off with a little bit of a personal story.
A personal story about how I quickly learned through a savage butt-kicking that the martial arts that I had been training in were not very effective.
So I wanted to fight MMA. I wanted to do combat sports. So I went over to a gym in Norwich, Connecticut called the team strike zone.
One of the most well-known gyms on the east coast and especially in the New England area. It was very highly appraised. The guy that I talked to who recommended it said it was one of the best fight camps and one of the best fight gyms out there.
So I went. I met the coach, and I went and did my first class. Now at the time, I was a first-degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and a third-degree black belt in Kenpo. So I was thinking to myself “oh well, I can hold my own”. I also had instructor certification in Krav Maga, so even better for me, right?
I met the instructor of the class. His name was Will Kerr, a very very famous fighter on the east coast. He was actually on the tryouts for the ultimate fighter house. Amazing fighter and a really good dude.
And he was teaching the jujitsu class. So we went through the class, and at the end of the class, I decided to roll with him.
Now at the time, I had learned basic level jujitsu from Krav Maga and other martial arts. I just dabbled in it a little bit and I went with Will to see how well I could do.
I’m six foot three and at the time I was heavier. I probably weighed around 220 pounds. Will on the other hand… I’m sorry if you read this, please don’t hurt me. But he’s much shorter than me and much lighter. I’m talking I don’t really remember what weight class he fought at, but much much much lighter.
Physically, I’m just bigger than this guy. I went to the ground with him and we rolled around and immediately his skill showed. He immediately got dominant positioning on me. I’m kicking, I’m screaming, I’m freaking doing everything I can to try and throw this guy off and nothing is working.
So obviously my pride is hurting a little bit, right. In the middle of the round, I couldn’t get this guy off me and I’m so much bigger, and I’m so much stronger, and I was so used to being the beast at all the other gyms I was training at. Everyone was like “oh well, instructor Holland’s a total badass, I would never want to fight him”. And in just a very short period, this dude who was very soft-spoken, very quiet, stuck to himself, and physically didn’t look like much has completely dominated me.
With my hurt ego, I started to do what most people with hurt egos do which is to make excuses and to try and justify why I’m losing.
I think to myself “well, if this were a real fight, I’d be gouging his eyes out right now like Krav Maga told me or I’d go and I’d grab his groin and squeeze hard, he’ll get off me then”.
It was at that point that I came to a little bit of a realization. He had dominant side control on me and I started to think about doing those things, and as I was thinking about it, I started to realize just how dominant his positioning was and just how much of his will he was imposing on me.
He could have rained elbows down into my head all day long, stoved my head in, and ended me. the only thing that was saving me was the fact that this was not a real fight and he’s a nice guy. And that thought, that one thought came into my head, the one thought that came into my head that kind of changed my perspective on martial arts forever was this; The thought was, if this guy wanted to kill me with his bare hands right now he could do it and there would be nothing I can do to stop him.
I had no idea that another human being could be this dominant over me. It was the most surreal thing I had ever experienced and at that moment I realized oh my god, I want to learn what this guy knows. I don’t want to be in that position.
That’s a scary feeling when you are in somebody’s position and they are dominating you, and you have no idea what to do, that’s a crappy place to be in. It’s scary and that’s the reason number 10 is one that in my opinion hits the hardest.
Krav Maga only works against people who don’t know what they’re doing. If you have a guy come up and grab on to you and you kick him in the groin and he folds over and you run away congratulations! Krav Maga worked for you. I’m so happy that it worked but god forbid you ever come across somebody that knows Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or knows kickboxing, or knows MMA, and they start laying their hands on you or they get you in a dominant position, and you try and use Krav Maga. like I was thinking about using Krav Maga. I dread what can happen to you.
Joe Rogan said it best himself as I mentioned in my other points. He wants to learn things that are effective against trained killers. Krav Maga yes. I can see it working. Aikido and other martial arts like that, yes I can see them working on people who come over and just happen to grab on to you. Happen to do different things and you manage to kick them in the groin or elbow them in the head, or hammer fists, or something like that and it works.
Because this person you’re fighting has never experienced violence and the next thing you know you just put violence on them. I can see it working for sure and I’m sure it has worked and that’s fine.
But if the person you’re going up against is some dude who has multiple years of training under his belt in combat sports. Let’s just take our high school wrestler who competes whenever there’s a competition, and he gets drunk and he decides to mess with you. And you have no take-down defense whatsoever except hammer fist to the back of the head.
You’re going to have a very very very hard time dealing with that guy. I’m telling you right now. Sometimes I think you need that bitter lesson to understand that these things aren’t effective and you need to change your game like I had to.
But in the end, I’m so happy I received that ass-kicking because it’s exactly the kick in the butt that I needed to change my methods and change my training. so, thanks, Will.
Conclusion: So all in all guys, what do I think about Krav Maga? I know it sounds like I’ve been doing nothing but s*** talking and smack-talking Krav Maga this entire time, but just wait. hear me out.
I don’t think Krav Maga is a bad self-defense system. I just think that it’s seriously lacking and seriously flawed. And all of those gigantic flaws can be filled in and made better by combat sports.
So if you are brand new to martial arts or you’ve been doing Krav Maga for a long time and never hit up combat sports, this is my advice to you.
For those of you that are brand new to martial arts and are looking to get into self-defense, first and foremost train combat sports. You need to learn basic boxing, basic wrestling, jujitsu, and Muay Thai.
When you go to learn those martial arts I highly recommend you go to a fight gym. a gym that is there to condition and train fighters to learn martial arts from them, because all the instructors and all the fellow students there more than likely have fought or are currently fighting.
Learn the techniques from them. learn fighting from them. learn the basics and the fundamentals from them. train the ever-living crap out of it and when you are proficient at that stuff, then I would recommend going over to Krav Maga so you can learn the different types of street fighting tactics. things like spatial awareness, keeping somebody at a fence distance, weapons retention, or weapon defense.
If you are a Krav Maga person and you have never done any sort of combat sport, it is my humble recommendation to you as a fellow martial artist and former Krav Maga instructor myself, to go to a fight gym and experience what it’s like to have a good wrestler shoot on you.
I’m willing to bet it’s going to be quite an eye-opening experience but an eye-opening experience that is going to make you nothing but a better fighter and a better self-defense enthusiast.
So all in all, combat sports in my opinion are the superior martial arts in that sense for learning the fundamentals of fighting and the ways to defend yourself, but if you’re going to learn weapon defenses and stuff like that and the tactics that are necessary to keep yourself safe in a potentially hostile environment, then yes go and take Krav Maga.
I guess you could combine them, right? One of the biggest issues I’ve always had was just the martial arts community in general. On the left side over here, you have the combat sports community and on the right side over here, you have the traditional martial arts slash-like self-defense community.
The traditional martial arts and self-defense community say things like “oh well, you know we can’t go and we can’t fight in the ring with our stuff. our stuff is too deadly. We can’t kick to the groin or poke in the eyes”. In reality, there have been plenty of traditional martial artists who have modified and adapted their fighting styles for the ring and then learned combat sports to supplement their style, becoming extremely successful in the mixed martial arts community, the UFC, and all other competitions.
George St. Pierre, Leota Machida, the names are endless. Also, I’d argue the people that are the best at fighting and defending themselves, are the people that are constantly training to do it against another human being in the ring.
And then on this site, you have the combat sports community going “oh well, what you’re doing isn’t realistic”. But at the same time, I’ve had wrestlers come in, and judo guys come in, and jujitsu guys come in who have only done sport jujitsu and then we pull out the training knives. we go “okay we’re going to have somebody try and stab you with a training knife”. And I’ve had the wrestler guy shoot at somebody or I have the Jiu-Jitsu guy try and pull guard only for them to get stabbed many many many many times.
And for me to sit back and look at them and go “well, right now you’d be a dead dude”.
The answer is obviously to blend the martial arts together, but which one should you start first? In my professional opinion, hit-up combat sports are first and foremost.
Train in that for a decently long amount of time. get good at the fundamentals. Get good at sparring. be able to take hits and get used to being punched in the face and everything. And then once you have that stuff down, go over and try some Krav Maga. Learn some of the stuff that the combat sports community is not going to teach you.
After all, guys, the early UFC pretty much cemented the fact that mixed martial arts and combat sports were the things that were effective for actual legitimate fighting. The only two rules that were present in the early UFC were no biting and no eye-gouging. Hair pulling was allowed and groin strikes were allowed, and even though groin strikes and hair-pulling were utilized to help and secure the victory, I never saw any fight that ended because of a groin kick or ended because of a hair pull or anything like that.
A lot of the time what you ended up seeing was guys like Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie utilizing wrestling and jiu-jitsu and things like that to take their opponent to the ground, and physically just dominate them because they’re training was better and their martial art was realistic.
I don’t know why we’re still having this debate in 2022 +. So that is the end of class, today ladies and gentlemen.
I hope you found it informative and I hope that I didn’t insult Krav Maga too much. If there are any Krav Maga instructors out there reading this, please understand I wasn’t trying to insult you or your art.
I am just being realistic when it comes to fighting and when it comes to self-defense and what sort of systems should be sold to people.
I would think that you as a fellow self-defense enthusiast would be open-minded and understand where I’m coming from as well.
If you guys like what you read and what you learned and you want to read more content, well you know what to do.
Class is dismissed and remember, stay safe out there. Stay ready and stay trained.
Teach to Fight would like to thank Instructor Holland for his excellent critique based off of his experience on the topic of whether or not Krav Mage is effective.
We would also like to add and concur that what he said in reference to the “handling” of an M16 and the M4 is complete BS. There is no such training for any military personal to carry their weapons in such a manner as inferred by some Krav Maga instructors.
How do we know? Because we are also military vets and we’ve served, that’s HOW. So this is just something made up for these people to look good.
But seriously, the idea in and of itself is completely ridiculous.
With that, we’re signing off and don’t forget to SHARE, LIKE, and COMMENT!