I guess this happens because my website comes up first in google searches for "shanghai" + "Krav Maga" because I have mentioned it before on my blog, and on the list of instructors at the JX fight club is a guy who runs a class in self-defense, Krav Maga, and Filipino martial arts.
That being said, I'm extremely cynical about most people claiming Krav Maga training (including the dude who teaches classes at my gym) I'm equally cynical about anyone claiming any sort of "reality based self-defense system", and here's why:
Until recently, I had never met a practitioner of Kav Maga or "reality based" self-defense (RBSD) who could actually hold their own in a real fight. In fact, most of the folks I met claiming to be Krav Maga instructors and students were absolutely worthless at hand to hand combat- even worse than the average person with no training whatsoever. What I observed was people who had spent an inordinate amount of time conceptualizing details of possible attacks, but little or no time spent in live drilling or sparring.
So needless to say, I wasn't impressed.
In preparation to write this blog, I did a quick google search on Krav Maga and noticed three things:
1. A preponderance of women posing in spandex yoga pants and full make-up while practicing what appears to be some form of interpretive dance at the local health club.
2. An equal number of pictures of men in camouflage pants practicing similar interpretive dances, usually while holding weapons and grimacing as if struggling to pass a difficult bowel movement.
3. Lots and lots of pictures of women kneeing men in the groin. (Read my previous blog on self defense HERE to see why I take issue with this)
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Don't get me wrong, I adore Martha Graham. I actually have a degree in modern dance and even performed professionally as a ballet dancer. But I'll be the first one to recognize there's an importance difference between choreographed sequences and real fighting.
On a side note, there's nothing wrong with wearing spandex to the gym. It's the most fantastic functional fitness fabric there is. I prefer vale tudo shorts or grappling tights to board shorts or a gi any day.
The posing goes beyond the pictures- it's at the core of the RBSD movement. Yes, what I am saying that most of these RBSD guys are posers.
It's also interesting to note the difference in how Krav Maga and RBSD are marketed differently to women and men. While men are given a grittier, more violent image with weapons to appeal to their sense of masculine solidarity, women are given a much softer, prettier, more social image of female comradery and empowerment via waif-fu.
Both a great disservice to anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in a real self-defense situation. Self defense is not about feeding your macho ego and it's not about looking good while kicking butt. Self defense is about one thing only: survival.
If you've been following my blog, you've probably noticed me speaking out against civilian self-defense instructors who wear camouflage pants or other military-themed outfits. In my experience, this has always been a big red warning flag that what's being taught is probably garbage.
As I said before: If a self-defense instructor wears camouflage pants but is not actually an acting member of a military branch that requires him to wear such a uniform, there is a high possibility you are being peddled a steaming pile of crap. I have yet to see a camo-clad civilian self-defense instructor who isn't a crap-tacular monger of nonsense movement.
If you have access to youtube, and a couple of minutes to kill watching a funny parody of a Krav Maga instructor, check out Greg & Lou's three part comedy series on Krav Maga. I particularly like part 2 because I've met a number of real life instructors who weren't much different from this:
(if they were wearing camo pants, it would be spot on)
However, recently, two guys from Israel joined my MMA class. Their only hand to hand combat training was in the military in Krav Maga. So naturally, I was surprised that unlike their American counterparts, these Israeli guys could actually hold their own in a fight. So I told them about the sharp contrast between what they called Krav Maga, and the watered down garbage version you see so often elsewhere marketed as "the ultimate self-defense system" (but in reality it's just 101 ways to pretend to knee people in the groin)
My friends from Israel both looked confused when I said "self-defense", and then they said something that blew mind: "Krav Maga isn't self defense, it's about aggression."
That made a lot of sense to me. Soldiers don't go to war to defend themselves. They go to war to kill the enemy. Those are polar opposites.
"Good" is completely subjective to your personal tastes in the selection of a gym to join, or a martial arts class to take. If you're just looking for something fun and easy, almost any place with a nice friendly group of people training there will do regardless of what label they attach to their school or style.
But what I've learned recently, is that "good" Krav Maga exists, however it is not taught in gyms, or dojos, or health-clubs, it is learned through experience on the battlefield. And that is it.
Anyone promising you badassery (or even adequacy in fight) in 3 easy steps is lying to you. Like any skill set, becoming a good fighter takes a heavy investment of time, energy, commitment, pain, struggle, adversity, and above all, experience.