How To Set Up A Krav Maga Rotating Curriculum

We’ve all heard this story …

” He was a weak, sickly child but through his training in martial arts he became one of the most admired martial arts masters. ”

I am sure this [common] story was true for some and an embellishment for others. Regardless, what we can learn from such stories is an important lesson: work hard, persevere, and do your best; sooner or later you WILL get better at anything you undertake.

I have personally accumulated over a decade of martial arts training. I know for sure that I am far better at martial arts than I was when I first started. Having studied several different systems, I can also say with certainty that there was a clear, temporal increase in my ability, in each system I studied, as time passed.

Just this year I began teaching regularly and I see many similarities in my knowledge and skill development curves for leading classes. In this blog, I will share some ideas about curriculum planning and execution from my experience teaching Krav Maga after completing the Instructor Certification with Global Martial Arts University. And yes, there was indeed a learning curve and trial and error involved!

Mr. Trent Praytor, Owner and Head Coach at Carolina Combatives & Fitness (my “home” gym in Anderson, SC), and I after a hard workout. #OSS

The Rotating Syllabus

Although many schools use a linear, belt-based curriculum organization and delivery approach, we use a rotating syllabus. Now, obviously there are specific KSAs (knowledge, skills, abilities) our system requires for each belt level … but we don’t limit our class scheduling to a linear curriculum teaching pedagogy. But that was not always the case! When Coach Trent and I first started teaching Krav Maga at our school, most of our students had little to no martial arts background. With that in mind, it made sense to simply teach through the curriculum technique list by belt level to our cohort of students. However, in short order, we realized that this was not a sustainable approach.

Why, you ask? The answer is simple. We had new students joining our classes over time. This meant that although our general student population was new to martial arts, the ones who began with us early on were already building their technique toolbox. Now we had students at different knowledge levels in the same class.

With only two Krav Maga instructors, who could not always be in class at the same time, Coach Trent and I did not have the depth of staff to break our classes into smaller groups during each session. This is when we decided to use a rotating curriculum.

” It made sense to simply teach through the curriculum technique list by belt level to our cohort of students …
[however] we realized that this was not a sustainable approach. “


Syllabus Overview

Below you will find a list of Krav Maga techniques, listed by belt level, as taught at our school. You can access a copy of the Excel file seen below, here. Not only are the techniques listed by belt level, they are also labeled as combatives, self-defense techniques, punches & fighting, ground defenses, and weapon/gun/knife defenses per the Krav Maga syllabus that you can download from GMAU if you are a student or instructor.

Rotation Example #1

In the rotation below you will see the same syllabus, with some extra columns of information. Specifically you will notice Week, Class, and Class Topics columns. We teach Krav Maga two nights each week: Monday and Wednesday. The rotation below uses a simple combining formula in Excel to automatically extract and combine techniques for us. You can access a copy of the Excel file here or a PDF version here. Several conditions have to be met to produce what you see in the Class Topics column of this Example 1 spreadsheet:

  1. Only two techniques per class.NOTE: We initially tried to teach three techniques per class but found that to be too much for one hour classes.
  2. Incorporate one “fundamental/basic” skill with one “advanced/specific skill” each class.
  3. The rotation would focus on the same technique set for only one class at a time (i.e., the technique set changes each class).

This is a very dynamic curriculum with constant change. If a student is absent for a single class, s/he will miss instruction and practice for two specific techniques until the next time those techniques rotate through the schedule.

This rotation presented here for Example 1, based on two classes per week with two distinct technique “sets” per week, allows the entire curriculum (white to black belt) to be taught in 30 weeks. The rotation always includes one fundamental combative technique plus one self-defense or weapons defense technique.

Rotation Example #2

In the rotation below you will again notice the Week, Class, and Class Topics columns. The rotation below uses the simple combining formula in Excel to automatically extract and combine techniques for us. You can access a copy of the Excel file here or a PDF version here. Several conditions have to be met to produce what you see in the Class Topics column of this Example 2 spreadsheet:

  1. Only two techniques per class. [same as above]
  2. Incorporate one “fundamental/basic” skill with one “advanced/specific skill” each class. [same as above]
  3. The rotation would focus on the same technique set for one week at a time (i.e., the same techniques are taught and practiced on Monday and Wednesday in the same week).
As in Example 1, the rotation presented here in Example 2 always includes one fundamental combative technique plus one self-defense or weapons defense technique. This rotation, based on two classes per week with one technique “set” practiced for two classes in a row (or stated differently: one technique set per week), will span 54 weeks of instruction.

Final Thoughts

I truly hope these examples will give you some ideas about how to implement the Krav Maga curriculum at your school. Having said that, there are several things I’d like to point out to you:

The examples listed above are based on our school, which teaches Krav Maga two nights per week for 60 minute classes. If you teach more classes per week OR if you teach longer class sessions, you could cover more material per week or per class.

Our conditions for the mix of techniques is modeled after the way GMAU Lead Krav Maga Instructor, Mr. Dustin Koppel, organizes his classes in Oak Ridge, TN. The rationale for his approach is that fundamental technique types (e.g., combatives, punching & fighting) should be emphasized and practiced along with specialized technique types (e.g., self-defense techniques, weapons defenses).

If you so chose, you could organize your schedule in a different way. Perhaps you would like to group techniques into sets by type (or theme), e.g., a ground technique series, followed by a combatives series.

Having said that, you should easily see that there are many iterations and variations on the rotating curriculum theme… Example #1 above could be broken up into smaller segments, e.g., three 10 week mini rotation, two 15 week mini rotations. The same is true for Example #2 which could be broken up into quarterly mini rotations.

There is also a “mix and match” option… Perhaps you want to run a mini rotation using a combination of fundamental + specialized techniques then your next mini rotation could be themed. The possibilities (although not mathematically endless) are only limited by your imagination!

Lastly, you must decide what is best for you and your students to figure out the right approach for your school. I sincerely hope you find the information presented here – contextualized in a real life example – helpful and I wish you all the best in running your classes.

Martial arts training is not just about learning to defend yourself or to improve your fitness – more importantly, it is about connecting with others and building relationships.
Written by Joel Williams
Husband. Father. University Professor. GMAU Certified Krav Maga Instructor.