Impact Krav Maga is a unique school that solely focuses on Krav Maga and self-defense training. These days, this unique focus is very hard to come by. Because of Mixed Martial Arts gyms that offer a variety of different martial arts under one roof, many Krav Maga programs have begun to offer the same services. Although at first this may seem like an advantage to some students, the reality is that this usually does more harm than good.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a unique sport where athletes incorporate elements of different fighting styles to compete against one another under very specific set of rules and regulations. The most prominent styles they implement include boxing, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and wrestling, all of which are usually offered independently at the MMA gym to strengthen the athletes in each respective discipline. Then students get to mix these styles effectively against one another in MMA specific classes. And although some refinements have to be made between pure wrestling classes or pure Muay Thai classes and that of the MMA classes where certain elements of each individual discipline may not work as well in an MMA setting, for the most part the focus of the training is still the same: competitive fighting, between two equally matched opponents under the strict rules and guidelines of the sport.
Self-defense training is very different however. Although Krav Maga incorporates elements of all the different fighting styles mentioned above, its ultimate goal is not to compete in MMA, but rather to deal with unpredictable violent street altercations from attacker(s) that are not bound by the rules of any particular fighting style. This includes surprise attacks, multiple attackers, armed assailants, positions of disadvantage and much more that we cover in depth at Impact Krav Maga, but none of which concern MMA competitors as these are outside the rules and regulations of their sport.
Of course one may say that by offering Krav Maga students wrestling, jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai classes you are better preparing them to effectively mix these styles into their Krav Maga training. The reality is that you are doing the opposite. The fact is, by having sports fighting specific classes taught to students, you are building a sports fighting mindset and competitive focus in their training. You are exposing them to controlled violence where strict rules and regulations of each style directly conflict with the self-defense mindset and principles of fighting without any restrictions, and dealing with attackers that don’t abide by any rules or code of conduct.
Think of it this way, if a student comes four times a week to class, and each day takes a different class, with one day being wrestling, the other Muay Thai, the other Krav Maga and the last jiu-jitsu, then Krav Maga is only 25% of the student’s training. The other 75% of their time is spent learning sports fighting styles with respective rules and training mindset. So if this student were to be attacked on the street, would he instinctively revert to the majority of his training and take the fight to the ground as was taught in wrestling or jiu-jitsu (a big no-no in self-defense situations), and leave himself more exposed to weapons and multiple assailants? Or would he trade blows with the assailant like he was taught in Muay Thai, forgetting about a possibility of being blindsided by another attacker? The bottom line is that for the student who is learning opposing fighting philosophies, it will take much longer to build self-defense reflexes, mindset and training habits, than it would if the student’s sole exposure was to self-defense oriented training.
So does that mean that we should never practice striking or train ground fighting or practice sparring? Of course it doesn’t! At Impact Krav Maga we understand that solid striking mechanics are essential to the development of any fighter, whether it’s on the street or in the ring. Similarly sparring drills are just as essential for sports fighting training, as they are to us. Therefore we routinely train striking, but do so without restrictions of a set discipline like boxing or kickboxing. And we place equal emphasis on what sports fighting would consider conventional strikes as well as illegal (by sports fighting rules) or unconventional combinations, attacking conventional and unconventional targets from conventional and unconventional positions. Similarly, our sparring classes do not have a boxing or a kick boxing only focus. We use sparring as a means to improve upon our self-defense capabilities with an attacker that is offering us a level of resistance and fights back. This improves our reflexes, decision making, counterstriking abilities, footwork, timing, distance management, and mental and physical toughness. In addition to training sparring from conventional sports fighting positions, we also train to fight from positions of disadvantage, overcoming surprise attacks, multiple attackers, both unarmed and armed.
And finally when it comes to ground fighting, our focus is the same. We do not claim to train people for competitions. Our emphasis is self-defense, and therefore every class, every drill and every exercise we do has that ultimate purpose behind it, to strengthen the students’ skills at dealing with violent, unpredictable street altercations. Therefore our ground fighting training is specific to this philosophy. Although our goal is not to go to the ground, we understand that ground fighting is often unavoidable. So we spend lots of classes addressing ground specific scenarios and situations, understanding vulnerabilities and strengths of each ground position, transitions between these positions, attackers’ behavior, and ultimately defensive tactics that allow us to get to our feet as quickly and efficiently as possible so that we can escape or continue fighting other aggressors. And in addition to training against unarmed opponents on the ground, we also routinely train to fight on the ground against attackers armed with a knife or another weapon.
Being able to learn a variety of fighting styles can be beneficial to MMA training, where the philosophies and mindset of the individual styles directly align with the bigger picture of the mixed martial arts training. Therefore offering a variety of fighting styles under one roof works well for MMA gyms. In Krav Maga however, where self-defense is the main philosophy of the school, exposing students to too many different sport fighting styles can conflict with the ultimate focus of the gym and confuse the students when it comes to learning how to effectively defend themselves on the street versus how they are taught to perform in competitive fighting. So when looking for self-defense specific training, more is not necessarily better, but rather focused, specific and smart training may be the better way to go. So when choosing your gym, choose wisely.