The Complete System

Posted: March 3, 2013 in Sparring, Technique

puzzle_incomplete-1I’ve noticed that many martial art styles like to think of themselves as complete systems. For most practical purposes they probably are for the purposes they were designed for. Meaning no disrespect or trying to minimize any of the following arts I’d say that, at their core, BJJ is a complete style for sport ground fighting, WTF style Taekwondo is well constructed for point fighting, and Krav Maga is a complete system for self-defense. Or are they? Is it even possible for any style to be 100% complete?

I’ve heard and read so many times that Krav Maga lacks a good ground game and if you get taken to the ground where “all fights end up” (more on that some other time!) then you are toast. I don’t completely buy into that. My school, and many others I’m sure, focuses a good percentage of time talking about ground defense — how to get up off the ground, out of some chokes and headlocks, and how to prevent getting taken down in the first place. My school also incorporates many CT-707 ground (and other) techniques into the curriculum which helps too. But I don’t delude myself for one minute into thinking that Krav Maga teaches 100% of what I’d need if I were to be tackled by, say, a BJJ Black Belt who’s determined to jump me in a dark alley and throw me on the ground and into a triangle choke. Krav Maga is simply not a “ground fighting” or grappling style at its core just like it’s not known for its nunchaku prowess or its numerous throws and joint locks. This is not to say Krav Maga is incapable of addressing this situation at all but simply that BJJ addresses triangle chokes and ground fighting more thoroughly because of its design and goals. Styles can’t be 100% of what students need for every opponent, for every situation, against every conceivable attack. How could they? It’s impossible.

So how do you stack the odds slightly in your favor even more than Krav Maga already does? In my opinion, it isn’t about just learning your particular style and being superior at it but to also incorporate other styles as well. Not only for the techniques that it give you — more tools in the tool box — but also to provide you with a broader range, different perspectives, different instructors’ knowledge, and other scenarios to consider. So, it’s a mental and physical expansion of your skills that gives you the edge.

My school has what I believe are some of the best instructors in the country, is affiliated with Krav Maga Worldwide, and routinely has the instructors re-certified and the curriculum updated to the latest techniques and situations. The school is affiliated with Sityodtong Muay Thai and also incorporates quite a bit of Muay Thai into the base curriculum as well as some BJJ, most of the time within the same hour of class. Close-minded Krav Maga purists might balk at this concept and think that it somehow weakens the school’s approach to teaching Krav Maga. I feel the exact opposite is true. Like I said before, exposing students to other perspectives broadens their options and provides additional tools for the toolbox. As a result, I’ve heard from several instructors (both within and outside the school) that because of the Muay Thai training the students have, in general, better sparring technique, much strong punches and kicks, and sometimes faster reaction times than students who practice purely in Krav Maga.

No, my school isn’t better than your school and my style isn’t better than your style. I’m not playing that game or making these statements. This is a testament more to the idea that exposing yourself to more variety broadens your skills and effectiveness. So, if you can, my advise to you if you are a Krav Maga student — or any other style, for that matter — is to embrace the style to its fullest, strive to be the best you can be, live it daily, but to also keep yourself open to learning new things to compliment it and give you more paints on your palette, more tools in your toolbox, and an enhanced spectrum of scenarios to consider in the real world.

  1. Found this blog by accident.

    Am currently thinking about going back to Krav Maga after doing it for 4 years & having a break.

    Since did a bit of boxing, mma, bjj, other self defence systems.

    After a few real life self defence incidents I have questioned the effectiveness of Krav Maga, but also have my doubts about the other systems I have trained in.

    MMA had the ability to give you a very complete skill set but lacked training for the tactics you are likely to face on the street (as far as I have experienced from my 6 incidents).

    Don’t believe the whole every fight goes to the ground thing either for me that wasn’t the case & even if I could of taken it there I wouldn’t of except in maybe one of them.

    Your training will be more fruitful than mine was I reckon as you have a better outlook towards training than I did, I shunned a lot of other systems & training blindly as it wasn’t Krav.

    As you said no training is the be all & end all they will all have strengths & weaknesses. As long as you can make an unbiased judgement of these you can find what works best if not completely.

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