This post was inspired by two separate conversations I had recently about Krav Maga. Techniques and testing. One conversation was with a Krav Maga expert, the other with a much-loved student of ours. The first was with my friend, Tamir, at a grading recently. We were discussing the importance of recognizing that all Krav Maga techniques and tactics hold equal levels of importance, regardless of where they appear in the syllabus. The second was a conversation was with a long-standing student of ours who once asked us why we test our students? The first question leads directly onto the next.
“All Krav Maga NYC techniques and tactics hold equal levels of importance”
Unfortunately, some people who learn Krav Maga tend to measure the importance of a technique or tactic, and whether they should practice it or not, based upon where it appears in the syllabus. For example, “I am an experienced student, why should I practice my P1 techniques as they are in the early grades of the system and I know them already!”
We worry about this whenever we hear someone say this kind of thing because it breeds complacency.
For instance, a professional boxer lives and breathes certain punching combinations. They repeat those combinations and techniques when they are moving forwards, moving backwards, when tired and when being hit, over and over again. They are continuously trying to improve, striving towards perfection, so those combinations do not let them down when it really matters during a fight, as basic as they might be. The basics in Krav Maga NYC are similar. The basics are building blocks and without them, the more advanced techniques, the bigger picture doesn’t make sense. The basics are your bread and butter, your everyday nuts and bolts that hold everything together and without them, the system begins to fall apart.
The basic Krav Maga NYC techniques should be trained and tested from all angles, in all directions, in varying environments and with differing limiting factors such as darkness, confined spaces, with multiple assailants, on the ground, sitting down, using the ‘non dominant hand/leg’ and when having to protect another (this list is by no means exhaustive!). It is only logical that even an advanced practitioner should train with the same mindset as a beginner or a pro-boxer because failing to do so is breeds complacency which gives a student a false sense of security. Just because you are a P5, it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to remain safe on the streets and can forget your P1 level material.
Consider training every technique on its own merit, with its own benefits and treat each one as an individual tool, with the same level of importance as the next. If we allow some of those tools to become rusty, and we do not keep them sharp and well oiled they will never work as well as they used to, and may let us down when we really need them!
“So then why do we test? I know all the basics already.”
1. Testing successfully is a product of regular training. Failing a test is a result of lack of training. In short, testing is a reality check.
2. We are testing your ability to survive an attack on the streets. If a student fails a test, a student is unlikely to be able to defend themselves in an attack effectively and survive. We do not want to give people a false sense of security if they are not training and do not ‘get it’, they need to know.
3. Testing is still training, just at a higher and more challenging level. You train for the streets but we can’t just send you on your way after class. Testing requires you to lose the fear and defend yourself under extreme stress. You practice making decisions in the heat of the moment so you can survive when it really counts.
4. Testing heightens the stress and reality factor in a way that is not always possible in a regular class and gets the best out of students. Students have to always up their game.
5. Attending classes and testing prepares you for the streets physically and psychologically. During a test, you are tested from P1 (basics) up, no matter what rank you are, you are always tested on everything. You are tested on the building blocks, the nuts and bolts because it keeps you humble, honest. It builds your confidence without breeding complacency. Testing us reminds us that nobody is ‘too good.’ Complacency will not help you stay safe when it really counts.
6. Testing trains you for the moment when you need the skills to be there for you, that skill could be a basic punch, a release from a dangerous hold, a defensive technique against a weapon. We can never predict which technique we might need.
7. Testing allows us to focus our teaching so that nobody gets left behind. Everyone learns differently, at different speeds and we all have different assets. Testing allows us to break up classes into smaller chunks and provide more focused training.
Be proud of your grade and work hard to achieve your next grade, it is a measure of your progress and tests your ability to retain skills. Testing will make you better, just avoid complacency!
Good luck to everyone testing. Next test will be on October 6th at 11 am.