I hate Krav Maga. Feel free to blast away in the comments. Like 90% of what I see Krav do will get someone killed, but it’s marketed as the ultimate self-defense. To be fair I feel the same way about a lot of what I learned in jujitsu and pretty much the whole of the judo modern self-defense kata. I did ninjitsu for about four months and I totally bought into it because it worked so well with my jujitsu. They had different names, but the techniques were pretty much identical. I’ve gone over that I think martial arts with the mindset of self-defense are bollocks, but I don’t feel like I explained why well enough.
Let me start by explaining why I hate Krav: I used to think that it was silly because there was stupid instructors teaching bad material. Then I found out the same bad material is being taught (albeit in a better fashion) by good instructors. When you see the YouTube video and read the comment “Krav is ghey. This guy is getting people killed.” It’s natural to want to defend Krav because it’s the one guy who’s getting people killed. When you read the comment “There’s so much missing here. That’s not how you do X…” You should realize, oh shit, even someone with 3 years of Krav is doing X. It doesn’t matter if this guy sucks, that’s an implicit problem. X should be replaced by the much simpler to execute but equally effective Y. X looks cool, but being the coolest dead guy is still no consolation to being the lamest guy alive at home.
When you practice for sport you learn to control your adrenaline burst. It happens and you learn to internalize it and still function. It’s not that you don’t get tunnel vision or feel like puking. It’s a matter of you’ve been there so many times that you can keep yourself from panicking mentally and then that first deep breath or two restores your vision and calms your stomach. If I had to fight tomorrow I probably wouldn’t stress. I can still tell you what that first fight felt like with my mouth full of bile though. Imagine that first fight being one for your life instead of one on the mat where even if you lose you get to go home at the end of the day.
In jujitsu we spent a lot of time reading about and discussing what works in self-defense scenarios. Brad pretty much had a PhD in the stuff so reading his articles was useful. Mark and his wife both work as professional self-defense instructors so they both had a lot of insight into basic self-defense techniques. The concept is solid
In choosing what defenses to teach the most common attacks and situations are examined. In choosing the defenses they have to meet several criteria. First, they have to work. Second, they have to be easy to learn, and third, they have to be easy to retain with a minimum of practice. Finally, they have to fit together well into a system of defense that is fluid and not static so that students are not locked into forms that might or might not fit into a given situation. In Waboku Jujitsu there is a continuous search for balance of form, efficiency of techniques and faithfulness to philosophy.
I think that’s some well-laid foundation, don’t you? It is… until you start doing techniques which require fine motor control or are entirely dependent on an angle that it takes years to feel out. If you’re on Fitocracy, check out the Krav topic in the Martial Arts forum. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Pages 5 and 6 should probably be considered trolling, but they bring up a good point: the pluck doesn’t work. You know what? I know three variations on the pluck. I’ve perfected the art of bullshitting people that the pluck works. I used to teach and show the pluck. The pluck works (if you have the grip strength and fine motor control to execute it). It’s easy to learn (if you’re good at learning details). It’s easy to retain (so long as you don’t need it to work the first time every time). And it fits well into a system.
We put way too much emphasis on fitting well into a system. When you do something like jujitsu what you’ll very quickly find is someone started at point A, found three different ways to get to get out, but chose the one that goes to point B because there’s a sweet fight-ending joint lock from there. That’s wrong. That was so wrong of us to do. It was wrong of us to teach like that. It’s a wrong way of thinking. Oh yeah, he punches at me, and I do this complicated parry, step, and grip switch, but check out this sweet-ass wrist-lock that will pancake his ass onto the pavement. The better solution is the quick parry to a solid double-leg to pancake his ass. It’s much simpler. It works. It’s easy to retain. Fuck your system.
When I did ninjitsu Shaun had me read four authors: Sgt. Rory Miller (Meditations on Violence), Lt. Col. David Grossman (On Combat, On Killing), Bruce Sidle (Sharpening the Warriors Edge), and Christensen (a lot of books). Do some reading. So what we find is that there are some common attacks. The fact is, if attacks are so predictable that we can systemize the defense for the most common ones, why does it matter if the defenses play well together? If I do an arm swing instead of a pluck to break a front-choke, I can follow up with wrestling (you’re pretty much given the Russian-Tie), judo (step-over arm-bar anyone?), or even the waki gatame we loved to much in jujitsu (the one that’s illegal in judo… yeah, that one). So why teach the pluck? That sweet wrist-lock. The wrist-lock works for knife defense, gun disarms, punches, chokes. It’s like you only have to learn one thing. Oh, but the angle changes in each case and it’s sometimes very hard to get if you’re not well-practiced. I’d rather know 10 things that are simple enough to learn in 10 hours than one thing that goes ten places but takes years to learn. 100% of the unarmed stuff we did in jujitsu was field tested while bouncing and worked there. I’m not saying there’s not a place it works. I’m saying it’s not appropriate to teach to the 98 lb. girl in TKD who’s looking for some self-defense techniques to show at her black belt exam in two weeks. It’s not even appropriate to teach to the TKD club when you go down there a couple times a month to work on their self-defense techniques with them. It was wrong of us. We should have focused our attention on actual self-defense.
Find the top 10 most common attack scenarios and find defenses for them. I think you’ll very quickly realize you don’t need something as complicated as jujitsu or judo. Martial arts are great fun, and after enough practice they will be applicable, but they’re not immediately applicable. I can’t teach someone a wrist-lock and expect them to use it two hours later when they’re walking on the Rape Shore Path to get back to their dorm. I could have taught them something they could have used two hours later though. To me, self-defense stops after the first six months of training. That’s not to say what we do in months 7 through 840 won’t work in a self-defense scenario, but they take months 7 to 840 to learn.
When someone comes to us and says they want to know jujitsu for self-defense. We should explain to them clearly – I can teach you self-defense and I can teach you jujitsu. They’re not mutually exclusive, but jujitsu is not self-defense. Every school that has self-defense as a goal should really do a rotating 3 or 6 month class which just practices self-defense techniques from that perspective. If you want to get fancy, do an advanced one with gun/knife disarms which requires passing the core one. Don’t sell it as a class that will make you bullet proof. Sell it for what it is. Here’s the best we know for the common attacks. Should you get attacked they will increase your chances of survival based on what we know. You won’t learn a lot, but you will repeat a few things many times so that they become instant reactions, almost instinctual. Then, if they still are interested in the martial arts they’re coming in to step-up their game, not because they feel emote gyaku is going to totally work as a knife defense and this will keep them from being raped.