We in the USKMA look hard into what other arts, systems, instructors and guru’s are teaching as far as self defense goes. We attend seminars, host instructors from other systems at our gyms, buy books and videos and generally study everything that’s out there. This makes our system better. We don’t have the ego to think that we are doing everything the very best way possible 100% of the time. Being closed minded wouldn’t make the USKMA’s practitioners as safe as possible.
We make changes to our system often. We are looking for the most effective, easiest to recall and easiest to perform techniques possible. When we see something that we think may be easier , more effective, etc. we rep that technique until we are proficient at it. It’s easy to try something once and like what you’re doing already because, heck, you’re good at the technique you’ve practiced for years. After we can explain exactly why what we are thinking of switching to is better we have one more step. We then have one of our small female instructors learn and perform the technique. If it isn’t going to work for them, it doesn’t get changed. We can’t change things if they don’t work for everyone no matter their size, strength or athletic ability.
We change to keep people safe. We get griped at from time to time by USKMA instructors when we do make changes. It would be easy for us to just keep things the same. We might look smarter if we acted like we’ve had the answers all along. We’re willing to catch flack from some of our instructors when changes are made because we take what we do seriously. For example, after teaching our long gun defenses for years we changed them to a much simpler, much better defense. I had LE instructors griping that they wish we’d have taught them the new way years ago. I agreed…I wish I would have too! We taught something to many people that is now in the trash can. We found better and passed it along!
In the last six weeks alone we have changed one of our full nelson defenses (so that we don’t fall with the attacker) and our slashing knife defense (we now wrap the attacking arm with our arms instead of grabbing a wrist). Over the years we have made a lot of changes to the curriculum that I was taught. In 1998 I was in one of the very first Krav Maga instructor trainings ever hosted in the U.S. I was taught by some very, very good instructors. I have spent time training with Grandmaster Yaron Lichtehnstein, one of only ten people the founder of Krav Maga, Imi Lichtenfeild, taught from beginner to black belt. I learned some great stuff. I would say that over the years we in the USKMA have changed 60 to 70% of what I was taught.
We have pretty much completely revamped what we taught for handgun, knife and long gun disarms. We simply found better, more reliable, easier and more effective techniques. Our “go to” handgun disarm is the cupping technique to get both hands on the weapon and deliver a groin kick. The one we replaced had the weapon controlled by one hand as the other hand punched the attacker. I always worried about a small female police officer trying to disarm a huge thug. I had no faith in that technique in that situation.
Our old handgun disarm;
Our new handgun disarm;
We have changes all of the knife defenses from grabbing the wrist with our hand to wrapping the attacking arm with our arm. When a person attacks realistically (like a sewing machine needle) the grabbing the wrist defenses always worried me. Add a slick wrist (blood, etc.) and they became mighty hard to pull off. Our long gun had good techniques, just three totally different techniques. The front to the dead side, front to the live side and from behind were just as different from each other as could be…and they had a lot of steps. We basically now have one technique whether it’s from the front of behind. Much easier to remember and a much stronger technique.
Some things I see being taught in other systems that make me wonder “why are they teaching that?” include;
-Techniques that only work if you perform them the second you are touched. I have seem a headlock defense, for example, taught that would only work if the person being attacked is standing straight up and reacts immediately. In reality, I didn’t see the attacker coming. I am bent forward and knocked off balance and swung forward before I can possibly react. Better have a defense that works from there!
-Handgun defenses that go up. This always makes me want to tear my hair out! That gun is going off as you
redirect it, the idiot’s finger is on the trigger. Why would you purposely take the barrel of that gun across your brain bucket? I know of a police officer who turned a corner and immediately had a gun fired at his head. He reached out and redirected it offline the way he was taught and the bullet blew his front teeth out…and nothing else. If the defense that came out of him was to push the gun up he wouldn’t have been around to tell the story.
-Knife defenses that require grabbing and manipulating the wrist. A realistic attack would prove this is virtually impossible. Attempt the defense with a realistic attack and your arms slathered with ky jelly (representing blood) and it becomes beyond virtually impossible. Here’s what a realistic knife attack would look like;
-Techniques with several steps that must be followed. When I see these choreographed moves I think that the person performing them had better hope an attacker steps the same way, does the same things and reacts the same way that the practice partner does. If it’s steps a through f and in the real world it derails at step c because the attacker did something different, the practitioner is in trouble.
-Techniques that have the practitioner somehow knowing when the attacker will quit. I see instructors turning their back on an attacker after delivering a technique. Whether it was a punch to the throat, a kick to the groin, a “knock out blow” or a bone break they are teaching that it will end the attack. We have seen videos of people taking pipes across the head, several bullets mid torso, dozens of knife wounds…and they keep coming. Thinking you know what will stop an attacker is bad training. Go until they are done…and then still beat feet away from them!
-“Non lethal” techniques. In other words, techniques for when you can’t really kick someone in the groin, punch them in the face or the like. WTF? I have zero use for control techniques unless you are a bouncer, cop or in a job where you must control and not damage. To teach these to a female as self defense is reprehensible. If attacked in the real world there are no rules except to stay alive. The only way to do this is to swing for the fences with all the hatred and rage you can muster, attempting to deliver as much damage in as little time as humanly possible until you can get to safety.
Instructors, when people are coming to you for self defense training they are literally putting their lives in your hands. You had better be teaching the best stuff you can possibly find and not crap from a system just because it’s your system! BE SAFE!