Krav Maga is known worldwide as an effective fighting and self-defense methodology. Global Martial Arts University is proud to offer comprehensive Krav Maga student and instructor certification programs. In this blog post, we celebrate two of our newest black belts: Kurt Plotner and Steve Dearmond, and provide an overview of this fighting system. Continue reading and you will not only get the “low down” on GMAU Krav Maga but see LOTS of pictures and videos (including testing exit interviews) of Kurt and Steve during their two-day black belt test a couple of months ago.
What is Krav Maga?
Krav Maga (pronounced “krahv mahGAH” – Hebrew translation: Contact Combat) is a modern combatives and fighting system developed and in Israel during the 1940s and 50s by Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was a successful boxing, wrestling and gymnastics champion who used his athleticism to develop a practical self-defense system to fight back against anti-Semitic violence. Krav Maga was adopted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as the official training program for military personnel. Lichtenfeld was Chief Instructor for Physical Fitness and Krav Maga at the IDF School of Combat Fitness for approximately 20 years. Today, Krav Maga is also taught around the world as a proven, no-nonsense self-defense system for civilians.
“Krav” Nuts & Bolts…
Where (or under whom) you train certainly shapes the specifics of what you learn. Regardless, there are a number of universal features of Krav Maga that are hallmarks of the system:
Simplicity. Krav Maga, being derived from a variety of martial arts, is not only well-rounded but also based on “high percentage” and easy to execute techniques. Unlike other martial arts that require years to master, one can become proficient in Krav Maga in a relatively short period of time.
Focus on Real Life Situations. Krav Maga was designed specifically for self-defense and has been tested on the modern day battle field.
Avoid or Neutralize the Threat. In Krav Maga you will see practitioners maintaining a distance out of reach of an attacker (for safety) OR engaged in up close fighting. Little time spent in the “in between” kicking and punching ranges. In addition, weapons defenses focus on controlling the threat first and foremost. The acronym RCAT (Redirect, Control, Attack, Take away) is often used in training.
Defend + Attack At The Same Time. It takes time to block then counter an attack. If someone gets the slip on you and you find yourself in a defensive posture, Krav Maga training will also encourage simultaneous counter-attacking. This approach is time efficient and allows you to quickly “turn the tables” to your advantage.
Continuous Motion. The word retzev, in Hebrew, means “continuous motion”. Once engaged in a fight, the Krav Maga practitioner never stops moving until they are safe or the fight is over.
Intent. In Krav Maga training, there is an emphasis of always driving forward with aggression. No techniques are done halfheartedly. The context in which the system was developed was literally, “life or death”.
Weapons Defense. There are lots of really BAD weapons defenses taught in martial arts. Krav Maga is based on real-life violence and is battle tested. If you want to know how to defend against weapons, look no further!
Use “Found” Weapons. In addition to taking away weapons from an attacker, Krav Maga encourages students to use objects found in their environment for protection. This could be a rolled up magazine used as a blunt weapon or simply using the physical environment to separate you from an attacker – for example, situating yourself so that there is a physical barrier (e.g., car, wall) between you and a threat.
Focus on the Attacker’s “Weak Spots”. Krav Maga gets straight to the point. The best targets are the most vulnerable ones: eyes, nose, throat, groin… Get the picture?
Speed and Technique Over Brute Force. An effective self-defense or fighting system is one that can be used by a smaller (or weaker) person against a larger (or stronger) person. The focus on simple, easy-to-learn, and proven techniques and strategies is central to Krav Maga and allows weaker, smaller and/or less athletic people to learn effective ways of protecting themselves.
Stay On Your Feet. Although the GMAU Krav Maga system has good fundamental grappling (defense and offense) embedded within the curriculum, being on your feet is ALWAYS most advantageous. Even highly trained grapplers are in a “bad place” in the context of a street fight with potentially multiple attackers.
Practice Under Pressure. One of the hallmarks of effective martial arts instruction involves live training or pressure training. Krav Maga training will push you to your limits then ask you to continue. This type of training isn’t “pretty” like movie fight scenes… it is chaotic, and messy. If you only train with compliant partners in a controlled setting you will develop a false sense of security. Pressure testing not only builds confidence, it helps to de-sensitize you to being out of breath, and you will know what it feels like to be kicked, punched, or pushed when the time comes for you to actually defend yourself.
Evolution. Lastly, Krav Maga was developed as a hybrid system from various martial arts. Imi Lichtenfeld was always adapting and modifying his system and encouraged his students to do the same. Future Krav Maga students must embrace and incorporate any “new” techniques, methods, etc. that become available (and proven) over time.
” Our Krav Maga black belt test is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It is harder than any other black belt test out there. It is challenging on multiple levels and you must have a survival mindset. We want to push you to the breaking point, mentally and physically. “
− Dustin Koppel, GMAU Head Krav Maga Instructor and Owner of National Martial Arts in Oak Ridge, TN
” I found the GMAU Krav Maga course over a year ago. I have trained martial arts for over 20 years and hold a black belt in BJJ. I wanted a real world system of self protection to add to my toolbox and Krav Maga is that. I had the good fortune of linking up with Mr. Koppel and that began my journey. GMAU has unparalleled coaching, in depth videos and unending support for students. Not to mention programs and content are being added frequently. I have really enjoyed my Krav Maga training with GMAU. “ − Trent Praytor, Carolina Combatives Head Coach & Owner
Mr. Koppel’s Black Belt Testing
Black belt testing occurs over two days. On Day 1, the schedule is as following:
Day 1 MORNING: – Physical testing for 1 hour: 3 mile run under 30 min – Calisthenics (jump jacks squats etc.) – 50 push ups – 100 sit ups
FOLLOWED BY: – 2 hours of kickboxing combos: 30 min sparring – including 1 on 1 sparring – and 2 on 1 sparring
AFTERNOON: – Krav Maga skill demonstrations and pressure testing of: – Combatives – Self-defense – Weapons – Mastery drills mixed in to all 3 categories
Day 2 (includes a 24-hour fast) focuses on survival skills and the use of firearms:
Day 2 MORNING: – A thorough morning workout to make you fatigued – Shelter building using 10 ft tarp 10 ft rope – Fire building with industrial fire starter – Navigation with compass – Basic first aid – Firearms (pistol) standards: 50 rounds with tactical reloads
The GMAU Total Krav Maga Program
GMAU Total Krav Maga has been around since 2015. There are seven belt levels: white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, black. Students learn combatives (striking and kicking), self defense against against common grabs and threats, punching and fighting techniques, defensive and offensive ground situational training, defenses against various weapons (blunt objects, knife, hand gun, long gun), controlling methods (standing and on the ground), and “mastery drills” of random attacks from a training partner.
GMAU also offers a Krav Maga Instructor Certification program. Those enrolled in this offering not only have to complete all the requirements of Krav Maga students, they also have to demonstrate their ability to teach the techniques and methods of Total Krav Maga.
” Four years ago, there was a time in my life and career that I just could not get to the dojo to train. When searching for new ways to learn I came across GMAU! Not only was it possibly now to train, I was able to learn new material and continue to grow at my own pace…. I actually was able to have my own dojo right in my own home!! As rank after rank and test after test…. GMAU gave me opportunity to become more …. and now I’m a certified instructor!!! To me it is more than just a curriculum it’s a lifestyle!! it’s being a part of something more…and that’s the GMAU family! The support and encouragement that I have received through their training is honesty…priceless!!!! “
− Quentin Dunford, GMAU Certified Krav Maga Instructor
Tips From GMAU Krav Maga Instructor Dustin Koppel
I interviewed Dustin Koppel for this blog post to understand the black belt testing process and to glean his advice to current GMAU Krav Maga students. His first piece of advice: take training (and instructor feedback) very seriously. His feedback is specifically designed to highlight your strengths and help you overcome any weaknesses. He sincerely wants to prepare you for the “next level” – whatever rank that means for you. When you get to the point of testing for black belt, he wants to see that you are able to put all of the required skills together.