Krav Maga Self Defense: Training with Resistance

STACK Expert Ryan Hoover tells you why you should do something most Krav Maga organizations disapprove of: train with resistance.

Warning: controversy ahead. Most Krav Maga—the combat-proven hand-to-hand fighting system of the Israeli Defense forces—is not what it says it is.

Krav Maga advertisements promise "no rules," "no rings," "no refs," and "no rituals." Yet all Krav Maga training centers have a litany of protocols, guidelines and safety equipment. Students are told how and when to attack, what is OK and not OK, and what gear to wear. The training is even compartmentalized by level—and in some cases by gender or age.

Some centers line up students and have them bow to other students or to instructors, or to a photo of the founder. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is antithetical to the marketing.

Most Krav Maga instructors use faux reality training, cleverly labeled "scenario training." Scenarios can range from gun defenses in lowlight areas on unstable terrain and in improbable positions, to confronting multiple attackers armed with knives, sticks and bottles. Though it might seem realistic, such training actually takes place in a controlled, scripted environment. Training to address a gun to the back of your head with someone on your back is simply a waste of time. Instead, training should emphasize steps needed to avoid such a situation. If you don't have the ability to avoid this type of situation, you probably don't have the ability to get out of it.

To prepare for the real thing, you need to include wrestling, boxing, and kickboxing in your Krav Maga training. (It's no coincidence that Imi Licthenfeld, the founder of Krav Maga, was an accomplished boxer and wrestler before immigrating to Israel.) You should do what virtually every Krav Maga organization on the planet rejects, demeans or discredits. You should train, every day, with resistance. The resistance should be progressive, but it should always be present. Students should learn to feel the push and pull, to create resistance and to succeed and fail, in real time.

Training with resistance offers instant feedback. If you are not occasionally failing, you are not training.

When I train my students at Fit to Fight, we start with basic wrestling moves like arm drags and pummeling. Then we progress to underhooks, duck-unders and Russian arms, as well as to basic clinch work from Muay Thai. Take a look at the video at the top of this article to see how a basic movement taught to beginners can later be incorporated into more advanced training.

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