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Krav Maga Training Methodology

While many of Krav Maga’s techniques and tactics are certainly singular in their effectiveness, it is the exclusive delivery system that Krav Maga Worldwide utilizes to train its operators that quite possibly sets it apart from other self-defense training systems. Techniques, in a vacuum, are useless. Without developing aggressiveness or fighting spirit in students, the techniques will not matter, because under duress the defender will be unable to react in a timely or effective manner. The student/defender must train in a way that will promote and enhance decisive action under extreme stress and/or fatigue. Therefore, Krav Maga Worlwide places a great premium on “training methodology” as one of the most important ways to enhance survivability in a violent encounter. An up-to-date, certified Krav Maga Worldwide instructor is not only tasked with teaching techniques in a manner that can be assimilated quickly, but devising and implementing training methods and drills that allow students to gain confidence and pressure-test abilities (in a relatively safe environment).

In Krav Maga training sessions, the emphasis is on “replicating reality.” By studying real-life violent encounters, we discover where victims fall prey to aggressors. What is it that occurs during a fight for one’s life where people fail in their effort to react correctly to specific and non-specific dangers directed at them? The use of creative training methods to build the desired physiological and emotional response to danger is as vital as the physical techniques that exist in a defensive tactics system. What happens when an assailant really wants to hurt, torture, rape and/or kill you? Has your training included operating under the stress of real-life conditions?

Students should be trained in a way that pushes limits, overwhelming them physically and emotionally. One must be forced to fight when attention is seriously challenged and divided, when vision is impaired and when fatigue of the body tries to persuade the mind and spirit to quit. Pushing students to these limits conditions them to control breathing, auditory and visual impairment and the like while in a combative situation – to keep fighting even if shot, stabbed or broken.

This section is not meant to be a tutorial on how to structure a Krav Maga class, nor will it address all of the training methods incorporated into Krav Maga Worldwide classes. The purpose of this section is to introduce and detail elements of training that should be a part of any good self-defense system.

Position of Disadvantage
As addressed in previous books, Krav Maga self-defense techniques are almost always trained from a neutral position or from a position of disadvantage. While it’s certainly possible that a defender recognizes a threat early, training from a position of disadvantage (in the dark, with emergence of an unknown threat or threats, while physically exhausted, with divided attention, having to make multiple tactical decisions in a correct sequence, functioning while injured or from a restricted position, etc.) is designed to inoculate in one a warrior spirit and skill sets that help one to overcome physical, emotional and spiritual obstacles. In other words, since students are put into worst-case situations in their training sessions, performing in a true-life encounter to succeed because the training methods employed help them to react and perform effectively under the conditions they will face in real combat. The succeed because “you perform as you train” (or maybe even less) and the training drills have specifically prepared them to succeed under such dire circumstances.

Unfamiliar Surroundings
In addition to training from a position of disadvantage (in reference to the student’s body), it’s also important to train in unfamiliar and less-controlled surroundings. Always train on matted floors, with mirrors and familiar points of reference, is not conducive to the most realistic training. Therefore, students should be exposed to training in parks, offices, parking garages/lots, vehicles, etc. The unfamiliar surroundings, in addition to varying terrains and obstacles, will broaden a student’s understanding of the need for different solutions under different conditions. It’s also fun!

Scenario Replication
Scenario replication is a vital part of Krav Maga Worldwide Training. Simply changing environment or body posture, without situational scenarios, is not enough. In order for students to learn to critically analyze danger in an environment and gain situational awareness, they must apply Krav Maga principles appropriately. They should be put to the test by using creative and relevant facts to enhance the training session. Situational drills will often determine appropriate pre-contact behavior, defensive techniques, tactics, use of force, etc. For example, a 35-year-old man “placed” in an elevator with one seemingly inebriated and slightly agitated 60-year-old man would likely undergo completely different adrenal, technical and tactical responses than the same man carrying his 10-month-old baby on an elevator with three belligerent and argumentative 20-year-olds. Without creative scenarios based on accurate accounts of real street crime, it’s difficult for students to imagine circumstances that would force different physiological and tactical responses. Moreover, it’s extremely difficult to react decisively under varying circumstances if training only consists of compliant or relatively compliant partners, in which the context is always the same or is never addressed.

Training Partners
It’s massively important to train with others and to train with as many different types of people as you can: short, tall, young, old, big, small, athletic, fast, strong, etc. A resisting “opponent” is invaluable to realistic self-defense training, and everyone has a different “feel”, a different energy and a different approach. Being exposed to these differences is important to practical training.

Training Drills
Finally, training drills bring all of the other components together. Drills in Krav Maga classes account for anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of the allotted time, but training drills comprise as much as 50 percent of the total system. This is important to note since some other systems have great techniques and poor training drills, while others have poor techniques but great training drills. The Krav Maga Worldwide approach is to give equal or nearly equal relevance and attention to both.

How do professional football players prepare for game day? You may be surprised to learn that very little of practice time is devoted to actually playing inter-squad games. Training consists of the use of thoughtful, creative and carefully devised training drills that, in a concentrated format, improve skills sets and mentally prepares player for the stress of high-level, violent competition. Therefore, the effective use of drills must replicate the conditions present in a professional football game. In reality, the training session should bring the athlete to a point where performing in the game is easier than the high-level drills they must perform in preparation for a contest. Players must be pushed to their limits physically, emotionally, spiritually in practice sessions, without being injured, so that they’re available at game time. These practice sessions should produce the same chemical, physiological and psychological responses that exist during an official and highly contested war-like game.

In dealing with deadly force scenarios, it’s obvious that we cannot train under 100 percent realistic conditions. If we did, we would severely, even fatally, injure participants during the training sessions. So, how can we prepare our students to survive violence, not only the physical attack but also the assault that is inflicted on all their senses and emotions? Trainers must build the mind-body component that ultimately controls whether or not one can respond with an effective physical technique to defeat an aggressor. You may be able to kick and punch in a controlled environment, but how do you respond when you’re in tremendous fear, when you’re fatigued, when your attention is divided, when you’re injured but you must keep fighting? What good is it to learn effective techniques inside a controlled training room? It means nothing if you’re not able to manage your body and mind and perform the defensive principles and techniques you’ve learned over hours, weeks, months and years of training.

Every training drill must have at least a singular purpose to prepare the student for that which he/she will need in a street war. Every training drill must challenge the defender to perform under the most uncomfortable conditions, in which each one of their senses and emotions is tapped, tested and severely challenged. Stress inoculation is a way to train people in preparation for battle. Students can be trained to avoid freezing during a violent encounter. Students can be trained to see when tunnel vision is occuring. Students can learn to “manage” physiological and emotional responses in order to operate at maximum capacity, while maintaining situational awareness. Students can be trained to control breathing in order to reduce fatigue. Students can be taught to overcome fear and turn fear into a positive force for survival.

While there are many benefits to training drills, some of the most important are:

  • Improved reaction time
  • Improved vision and awareness of the environment
  • Controlling fatigue by breathing while under stress
  • Ability to make correct tactical decisions while functioning under stress
  • Enhanced critical thinking and physical performance
  • Overcoming fear and confusion when being hit or disturbed
  • Increased student confidence
  • Better understanding of techniques, principles and goals
  • Improved class morale
  • Improved fitness level using combat-functional process
  • Increased class energy

There are many genres of drills that can be employed to achieve these goals. For the purposes of this book, we’ll highlight four:

Aggressiveness Drills: Designed to develop or enhance fighting spirit in students, such drills often require students to get through some sort of barrier or obstacle before, after or while performing combatives or self-defense.

Fatigue Drills: Designed to push students to and just beyond a feeling of exhaustion and motivate them to do even more; fatigue drills typically involve a lot of aerobic and/or anaerobic movements devised to exhaust specific body parts or the entire body.

Awareness Drills: Designed to increase students’ abilities to recognize and/or track current threats or impending threats; these drills often require students to identify a target or threat and respond with the appropriate combative or tactical reaction, often while performing other tasks.

Stress Drills: Designed to develop or enhance the ability to perform under varying levels or types of stress; such drills typically require students to perform more than one task at a time, switch from one activity to another quickly, respond under extreme duress and/or uncomfortable circumstances, and may combine elements of other drill types.

Krav Maga Worldwide instructors have been exposed to hundreds of drills. The training methodologies employed by Krav Maga Worldwide are intended to get students to a level of proficiency quickly, while providing a realistic yet safe and enjoyable training experience.

Krav Maga Training Methodology courtesy of the book Black Belt Krav Maga.