Saturday, June 12, 2010

Krav, Y'all

Some days ago (OK, 10 days ago :)) Helen Smith wrote a post asking how people cope with the stress induced by the news reports and commentary we all are inundated with. I found her principal response particularly interesting:
My positive activity has been to re-read a book entitled Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Armed Assault and to think about returning to the Kra Maga lessons I was taking ...

This book by Imi Sde-Or (aka: Imrich Lichtenfeld, founder of the Krav Maga system) has much to recommend it, especially as a means of insight into thinking that lead to Krav Maga, but it isn't all that clearly written without an additional source of explanation/instruction. With that in mind, I would like to recommend to the good Doctor she also read these two books as well:

KRAV MAGA The Contact Combat System Of The Israeli Defense Forces by David Kahn.

KRAV MAGA For Beginners by Darren Levine, John Whitman & Ryan Hoover.

Imi's book presents Krav Maga as the complete system he taught in an apparently holistic manner. The other two books present the material in a format based upon the latter-day belt ranking system Imi grafted onto Krav Maga to better correlate his school with other established martial systems. I find the subject matter to be more clearly presented in the hierarchical structure although it is helpful to be able to orient a given instruction in Imi's format upon occasion.

Full disclosure; I train here. East Texas Krav Maga is part of Darren Levine's Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense and fitness organisation and I'm pretty sure I trained with Darren Levine himself on at least a few occasions (as part of a large class in 1990/91 when I still lived in the Los Angeles area).

I'm hopeful that Dr. Helen will be willing to engage in a somewhat wide-ranging discussion of issues and questions that relate to Krav Maga directly as well as to its place in society at large, perhaps as a series of post-and-response on our respective blogs. With that in mind, one of the issues I think I see occurring is formation of a type of schism within the ranks of Krav Maga practitioners. My impression (largely from David Kahn's books as well as Krav Maga websites like this one) is that there is some dispute regarding the type as well as methodology of the instruction being variously offered at Krav Maga International (centered in Israel) schools and Krav Maga Worldwide or Alliance schools (centered in the US). I'm quite sure that at least some of this is an unintended consequence of marketing efforts within the various school organisations. I'm also certain that some of it is a fundamental dispute.

This KMW school is in Knoxville, but it is unclear to me which tradition Dr. Helen trained in; International, Worldwide or Alliance. What I'm especially hopeful she can offer informed insight into is the human psychology of combat training, both the effects upon the individual as well as upon the system itself (how much does the psychological trauma associated with combat and its after effects influence the form and content of the course of instruction for civilians/military and the in-between circumstance of police as example). Since Dr. Helen is also a shooter, I look forward to her observations and insights into that aspect of the Krav Maga experience as well. While I don't share her particular health concerns, I have my own and hope to share thoughts on the fitness benefits of Krav Maga as opposed (or perhaps better, as well as) to other techniques.

What I'm not interested in is some sort of comparative analysis or politicization of the various viewpoints within KM. It is useful to understand what those are and the history behind them (if only to better understand the issues that lead up to their development), but my interest is in better understanding the capabilities of KM and gaining a more complete understanding of the system.

I will be writing more on this topic in future, but for the moment await the doctor's response.

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