When I started training in Krav Maga I was a black belt in TKD and ran two morning and two evening classes a week at the local dojang. When I mentioned the Krav Maga training to other instructors at the dojang they would tell me they have a lot of respect for Krav Maga, but it is just not their thing. The master who operated the business even said to me that I am wasting my time with Krav Maga and should fully focus on Taekwondo. When I told him that the system deals with many threats not covered by our Taekwondo and Hapkido training the master simply told me that martial arts are not truly about self defence; he went on to say if someone wanted me dead they would just shoot me.
Myself I found training three days in TKD and three days in Krav a good balance and the Krav Maga gave my hamstrings a chance to recover from the heavy TKD kicking drills. Often when teaching self defence I would demonstrate the skills that I learned in Krav Maga and all my students would love it. It dawned on me that if the word got out that I was teaching Krav Maga in a Taekwondo class Darren Levin, the organizational president himself, would probably fly up from LA to kick my ass. During that period we also had some Systema people use our facilities for their classes and I got an opportunity to see some of their material and compare it to Krav Maga.
Since becoming a certified KM instructor I have had martial artists from many styles come to train with me. Some absolutely would suck it up; others would say that they find Krav Maga approach too different. I guess the ones who critique would like to see the crisp martial arts stances and blocks and partner compliance making the technique look perfect. Many martial artists have the frame of mind that if it does not look nice than it is no good. Some find the scrappiness of Krav Maga unpalatable with its quick and dirty methods.
Studying martial arts for art and aesthetic value is a laudable pursuit and there is nothing wrong with it. I am not trying to repudiate any style and I certainly mean no offense to any martial artist reading this blog. My mission is to educate not exacerbate. In reality there is no warm-up, no bowing, touch of gloves or any indication of an imminent attack. Often the fight is in your face, sudden and dirty and the defence has to be commensurate. Cars change every year, computers every other minute, modern policing and warfare are constantly under review however many martial arts are still in the samurai period.
There was a time when armies would face each other in the open, when honour was a virtue, when samurai would duel. The musket and the horse were fine instruments of war of our forefathers, but times change. To snub Krav Maga for not looking “nice” is a little bit like the Europeans renouncing Galileo’s beliefs that planets orbited the sun because they did not fit the real “truth”. My suggestion is to pressure test everything. Only use compliance when first learning a technique, learn to use different ranges, kicking, punching, grappling and floor fighting. Learn to use pre-emptive strikes and low kicks to disrupt balance and mobility, to setup combinations and takedowns. Reality based training is a good way to learn something about yourself and supplement a martial art regimen.