Now that I’ve caught your attention with a provocative headline, let me explain in more detail what I really mean:
Krav Maga is such total bullshit.
Krav Maga may look cool, but it’s no different than any other choreographed traditional martial art. It looks flashy and has sweet weapon disarms but the system is fundamentally flawed. It may give suburban soccer moms a little confidence and situational awareness, but that’s about it. Do not take up Krav Maga if your goal is to learn self-defense.
The biggest problem with Krav Maga is that it doesn’t actually train with full speed against fully resisting opponents, nor does the art include any form of competition. You can practice those testicle grabs until you (and your opponent) are blue in the face, but if it’s only against cooperative opponents, it will never translate to real-world effectiveness.
You can practice those gun disarms, knife counters and knee kicks until the sun goes down, but that doesn’t mean much when your practice takes place against willing classmates. I’ll be generous and give you that you may build a little muscle memory practicing like this, but that’s about it. There are much better systems for real world self-defense.
Krav Maga demonstrations are crisp and clean. The opponents rush in with preplanned attack routes, they fall gracefully to punches, they give themselves up to throws and they always touch the gun right to your forehead. Fighting in the real world is dirty, sloppy, fast and unpredictable. Krav Maga does not teach you how to deal with dirty, sloppy, real-world fighting.
The funny thing is that Krav Maga people claim that dirty, real-world fighting is exactly where Krav Maga excels! They tell you that Krav Maga was designed by elite Israeli military commandos, that it is designed for maximum destruction and quick death! Eye pokes, testicle grabs and knee kicks galore!
The Dirty Secret of Dirty Fighting
Krav Maga instructors insist that their system emphasizes maximum efficiency through the use of deadly techniques such as groin shots and eye gouges. Well, I have some bad news for you. The dirty secret of dirty fighting is that dirty fighting doesn’t actually work as well as you might think.
If you find yourself up against a serious, determined opponent, your kicks to the groin will not instantly end the fight. First, you’ll probably miss. It’s not as easy to land a clean groin in a real, fast-moving fight. And even if you do land a groin shot, that is no guarantee that it will stop anyone. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug.
Worst of all, that’s just the best case scenario. If you find yourself fighting off someone trained in a real martial art, your dirty tactics are going to be quickly overcome by his boxing, muay thai or grappling. The worst thing you can do against a skilled grappler is piss him off and try to poke his eyes out. He’s going to blink, curse and then kimura your shoulder to hell before he chokes you to death.
Eye-gouging case in point:
The same thing also goes for trying to gouge the eyes of a muay thai fighter or boxer. Do you really think you can get close enough or move fast enough to hit the eyes of a proficient striker? These guys spar and compete full speed all the time. It’s hard enough to hit a boxer anywhere in the head with a closed fist, let alone right in the eyes with your finger.
The same thing also goes for attacking the groin, kicking the knees, punching the throat and cuffing the ears. These are PROVEN to be low percentage techniques. Those are all difficult targets to hit just right to cause the desired reaction – especially in a slippery, sloppy self-defense situation.
If you want to use dirty techniques, learn a real martial art first. Learn how to dominate your opponents, control their bodies and to knock them unconscious. Then, you can take all the time you need to sink your 3rd knuckle into the eye socket.
1. Krav Maga is Too Deadly for Competition
“Secret Deadly Dragon Fu is too deadly for competition; it is for use on the streets to cripple or maim your attackers in life and death situations ONLY.”
-Every delusional martial artist ever.
It really doesn’t matter what your excuse is. Competition forces you to refine your techniques for use against fully resisting opponents. If you can’t compete, you cannot test your techniques against real people. You cannot improve your techniques. You get no experience using those techniques against fast-moving opponents who are also trying to hurt you.
Competition may not be a perfect replication of fighting in the streets, but it’s the best thing we’ve got. Padded gloves and a few basic rules do take away some of the realism, sure. That’s to be expected. But you really can’t train if you get crippled by 3 crackheads with baseball bats. You have to balance realism with actually surviving your competition.
Still convinced your trachea-grab is too deadly for competition? Well, how do you know? Because you practiced it against your instructor in a controlled simulation? Guess what: that doesn’t translate to the real world. If you can’t train it at full speed, you can’t test it and you can’t improve it. It’s useless.
Too much of Krav Maga training is done on paper and pencil. It may look deadly in theory, but you have no way of testing it if you can’t use it in competition. Practicing it in slow motion against your ex-Navy Seal instructor doesn’t cut it.
2. Krav Maga Was Designed by Elite Military Commandos
This is just another aspect of Krav Maga that sounds cool but has little substance. Elite military commandos train how to use firearms, how to work as a team to achieve some objective and whatever the hell else it is elite military commandos do. What I know for sure they don’t do is train in hand to hand combat all day, every day.
If you’re in the military and you find yourself without a weapon, face to face against an enemy, you done goofed a long time ago, son. Of course, things happen so the military does teach a little basic hand to hand combat. But they only have so much time to train you. It takes a long time (years) and a lot of training to actually become proficient in unarmed combat.
3. But We Do Spar in Krav Maga
If you actually spar in your Krav Maga fight, that’s a good sign you’re not in a complete McDojo situation. Do you spar with gloves, gear and limited rules? Do you allow grappling and takedowns? If so, that’s better than nothing.
If you spar with multiple people, you already know how hard it is to actually gain an advantage. If they are teaching you how to get the hell out when attacked by more than 1 person, that’s good news. You might be in one of the few legit KM schools in the world.
4. Krav Maga Trains You to Deal with Weapons Like in a Real Fight
If someone pulls a weapon on you in a real street fight, you are in serious trouble no matter what discipline you study. The best bet you have is to either escape or talk the attacker down. There is no training system in the world that will prepare you for someone with a knife, gun or baseball bat.
Weapon disarms look good in demonstrations and in movies, but they are rarely effective in real life. A knife in the hands of a determined foe is deadly. Even if you manage to get both hands on the attacker’s wrist, you are still vulnerable to other attacks from that opponent. Just when you manage to gain that wrist control, your attack soccer-kicks you right in the head or hands the knife off to his other hand.
5. Krav Maga Teaches You to Fight Multiple Opponents
This is complete bullshit. I’ve been in classes that teach you to fight multiple opponents and the only thing worthwhile is doing what you can to keep the opponents lined up (as opposed to letting them encircle you). Once you get tied up with one opponent, that all goes out the window.
There is no martial art in the world that will make you fight like a one-man army. It may look plausible in the movies, but it doesn’t work like that in real life. Two opponents are bad enough. Three or more opponents are deadly. You will not survive if you do not escape.
What I can respect is a Krav Maga school that teaches you to stay aware and get away from multiple opponents. But if your KM school teaches you to stand against multiple opponents, it’s most likely bullshit.
Now I will admit there may be scenarios in which you have no choice but to fight off multiple attackers. If you’re stuck with your girlfriend or you get trapped in a room, you may have no option but to fight. Unfortunately, that’s just a bad place to be. Neither Krav Maga nor nothing else will guarantee or even increase your odds of surviving such a situation.
6. Krav Maga teaches you situational awareness
Ok, I’ll give you guys this one. If a martial art teaches you to recognize, diffuse and/or avoid aggressive people, that’s great. Krav Maga students would be better off if that was the ONLY thing taught in Krav Maga. At least then they wouldn’t be instilled with the delusional self-confidence that is all too common in the martial arts world.
I also like that Krav Maga addresses situations in which other people depend on you. For example, dealing with an attacker while you’re out with the wife and kid. You can’t run in that situation, so you have to stand and face the threat.
If you can take Krav Maga as an auxiliary to your other martial arts training, you might get something out of it. Most other martial arts leave out all the situational awareness training. They don’t talk about avoidance and legal issues. In that case, Krav Maga may be worth your time.
When Krav Maga Isn’t All Bad
Supposedly, there are some legit Krav Maga schools out there. If you can find such a school, then it might be worth your while. But if your school is full of soccer moms and promises of turning you into a deadly killing machine, you’re probably in a McDojo.
The problem is that most Krav Maga schools are McDojos. They operate as businesses and will say whatever it takes to get you to believe in the system. You need to be very aware of this before you consider joining.
I’m not going to generalize ALL Krav schools as bullshit. There may be some good ones out there. If you are considering joining a KM school, go in with a healthy dose of skepticism. Remember that there are no legitimate fighting systems that are easy. If you want to become a skilled fighter, you have to put in hard work and hard training. You also need to spar against resisting opponents.
Do not join a Krav Maga school if you want to actually improve your fighting skills. Krav Maga will show you a few throws, a few strikes and a few grappling moves, but it will leave you weak in all areas. It’s sort of the “practitioner of all, but master of none” things.
What Krav Maga is good for is situational awareness, legal discussions and all the other stuff besides the actual combat. Join a KM school for that stuff (a legit school taught by someone with verifiable credentials). Do not join a gym to learn how to fight real people. If your goal is to win fights, join a boxing, judo, muay thai or Brazilian jiu jitsu school.
If I have upset you, feel free to leave a comment. I publish all non-spam comments. Feel free to defend Krav Maga here.