Guys, I know little about Krav Maga. I have read a few of your links and the Wikipedia page, but I still have very little understanding. Do they have an official belt system? I read on one site that instead of "belts" they have levels (1 through 5). One site stated that it takes 1 year to get to black belt. Is all of this typical? I come from the TKD world where everything is measured in belts and it takes a while to get to black belt.
ok I'll put my two cents in. a lot of people seem to be under the impression that Krav Maga is just a bunch of dudes kicking each other in the balls and sticking their fingers in each other's eyes. this does exist in Krav, but there is much, much more. the stamp of legitimacy in Krav Maga in America is Krav Maga Worldwide, founded by Darren Levine, who trained directly under Imi Lichtenfeld, the creator of Krav Maga. Krav Maga gyms in America that are not certified by Krav Maga Worldwide may or may not be legit I'm not sure. My first question is this, if Krav Maga is so simplistic, how come each belt test takes 3.5-4 hours, sometimes more than that? I took Brazilian Jiujitsu for over two years, and I came to Krav Maga early one day and watched one of the more advanced classes, and saw them practicing several submissions that I recognized from Brazilian Jiujitsu. it also incorporates Judo and Wrestling. so that is my response to people saying Krav has no ground game. in my first month of taking Krav I learned like 8 different ways to escape from various types of choke holds, I learned 7 different types of elbow attacks, I learned how to defend against multiple attackers, I learned Boxing footwork, palm strikes, punches, roundhouse kicks with both the shin and the foot, all types of different drills, and more. and i'm still a white belt! yes, i learned several ways to attack the groin, I learned the most efficient way to eye gouge, and so on and so forth. Krav Maga is and has been continuously evolving. started off just Wrestling and Boxing basically, now it incorporates like a dozen martial arts. Krav Maga may not always win in a fair fight, but it is not designed to fight fair! i would say it is a way to become a professional at fighting dirty, but that is just one aspect.
I respond to this respectfully, as many people respond to threads just to counter and disregard what commenters say. This isn't intended for that, but to rather share Krav philosophies with people who are not familiar with them. I don't know how to quote individual sentences, so I am just going to copy and paste. This is not intended so much for sinthetik's sake, but more to inform readers who are not familiar with Krav. I am certainly not an expert on all things Krav but I am in my sixth year of Krav after transitioning from traditional martial arts, and have pretty much jumped into Krav with both feet. I have mostly trained with KMWW and IKMF, and have some experience with IKMA.
i'll respond to this in depth later i have class
"the stamp of legitimacy in Krav Maga in America is Krav Maga Worldwide".
KMWW is great and much of my training comes from them. There are a few other Krav associations that are just as legitimate. Many Krav associations tout how different they are from each other, but from my experience the techniques are very similar. KMWW, KMG, IKMA, IKMF, and KMA come to mind for being legitimate. They are all very good. Generally speaking there is the commonality between them that they don't want the term "Krav Maga" to turn into a generic term like "Karate". They want the techniques and lineage to all go back to Imi.
"if Krav Maga is so simplistic, how come each belt test takes 3.5-4 hours?"
Krav Maga techniques should be simple. The purpose of it is to protect oneself and go home to their family. Krav Maga is not a martial art and doesn't claim to be one. It is a system of self defense. A person should only have to remember as few techniques as possible so they are more effective in a high-stress situation. An outsider may look at Krav and say "All of the techniques look the same." It should be that way, as practitioners shouldn't be weighed down with a multitude of techniques to have to remember. The core of Krav is 360 blocking, a few punches, a few kicks, plucking, and escaping. For the most part, the techniques are based on that. Not all Krav tests are long, but mostly it is to put students into stress-test scenarios. To be fair, most higher level martial arts testing is in the 3-4 hours range and longer.
"...that is my response to people saying Krav has no ground game."
There is an inaccurate perception to Krav not having a ground game. I always saw Krav's groundfighting philosophy as this: If I am on the ground trying to out-wrestle someone, then I have failed as a Kravist. Krav's overall philosophy is to survive and go home. If I am engaging in a grappling match then something failed on my end, which ultimately led to me being taken to the ground. I'm generalizing, of course, as I could have been sucker-punched or completely surprised, but my main focus, as a Kravist, is to get back up and run away. Most of Krav's ground techniques have the focal point of getting back up to run. There is focus on groins strikes, eye rakes, etc, anything to create an opening to allow an escape. IKMA has implemented quite a bit more grappling techniques in their curriculum. As a bjj practitioner myself, I look at Krav's grappling like this: A Kravist could not out-grapple a bjj practitioner if they are just grappling tournament style, but a Kravist is very hard to take down and very hard to keep down because they are not trained to "wrestle back" (which would give the bjj practitioner the advantage.) Kravists are taught to keep moving and keep fighting (retsev).
"in my first month of taking Krav I learned like 8 different ways to escape from various types of choke holds"
I say this respectfully, and more for clarification for non-kravists, but if it's KMWW curriculum you probably learned one way to escape 8 different chokes. You probably learned single and double plucking from the front, side, and rear. If it's on the ground you probably learned shrimp-to-pluck. Headlocks and guillotines would fall into different category, so you were probably including those as well in your count of eight.
"Krav Maga is and has been continuously evolving"
Yes it is, within parameters, and I think this is where some people take liberties and just create random stuff and call it Krav Maga. Sometimes I am guilty of Krav-Fu, which is essentially blending Krav Maga with other martial arts. Krav Maga is evolving within most of the main Krav Maga organizations, but the new techniques all fall within the Krav parameters. It's not a random martial artist blending what he/she learned at a Krav Camp with his/her existing martial art...at least it shouldn't be.
"Krav Maga may not always win in a fair fight, but it is not designed to fight fair!"
I had this exact conversation with a Kenpo-guy the other day when he asked who would win in a fight between a Kravist and a Kenpo-guy. My explanation was that the fight would never happen in the first place. Krav Maga, by definition, is a system of self defense. Their entire philosophy is to defend, survive, and go home. If a Kravist gets into an altercation it's because he/she was attacked and not because he or she decided to put fists up and engage in a fight. An agreed-upon contest (a fight) wouldn't happen for a true kravist. A lot of Krav's self defense philosophy is based on element of surprise or breaking the OODA loop (something Kravists are aware of.) If a kravist is attacked, then they go into Krav-mode, but a true kravist would never put up their fists and agree to a fight.
I hope sinthetik doesn't mind me elaborating on some of his points. Many people don't understand Krav philosophies so the intention of my response was more for their benefits. I was talking to a Hapkido-guy once and we began to talk about Krav. He said, "Those Krav guys are crazy." I think that's the perception (that we are crazy), and if it keeps us out of altercations, I'll take it. I think Krav fills in the self defense gaps that some traditional martial arts have. After 30 years of traditional martial arts, Krav was a really cool change of style for me.
This weekend I was at a gun and knife threat defense seminar put on by a former police officer and someone who was contracted by KMWW back in the day to help with weapons defenses. He said this about weapons defense: "It's not about the disarm, it's about the beating." His point was to constantly attack and fight to create the opening for escape (whatever that escape will be.)
I've been to many Krav school where the instructor makes fun of traditional martial arts, and I also have talked to many traditional martial artists that don't understand Krav. As both a kravist and a traditional martial artist I can say that Krav is it's own animal. There are things, however, that traditional martial arts teaches that Krav can't teach because Krav is not a martial art.
Sorry about this response being so long. Thanks sinthetik for being up some great points.
There are things, however, that traditional martial arts teaches that Krav can't teach because Krav is not a martial art.
There are Krav black belts out there. I found that interesting.
i would say that Krav is not a "traditional" martial art because it has no forms to memorize and it does not have any competitions or sporting aspect to it. I think of it as more of a modern martial art. I think most martial arts were invented as a form of self defense, which is exactly what Krav is. i might be repeating myself a little here, but I think this is an important point.
well in any case I think Krav Maga is indeed a martial art. it isn't a traditional martial art, it isn't a competition martial art, and it isn't a sport martial art. but it is a martial artTraditional MA weren’t created as a form as self defense per se, they were created with the intention to engage in combat.