“Military Style Training”: Is it Relevant?

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“Military Style Training”: Is it Relevant?

Many Krav Maga schools boast that Krav Maga is a military system of self-defense. Many also say it is the system used by “Israeli Special Forces Units”. This seems to be a big selling point for many instructors and schools, they likely see it as a way of differentiating themselves in a market space more and more occupied by very competent fighters from other disciplines. The only REAL question is where this is relevant to you.


The short answer is “no”. A couple of reasons why:


  • You are not being trained the way a military unit is trained. And you shouldn’t be. Their time frame for completing their training is very different from yours. Typically, in the Israeli (or any military) the combatives training is carried out first in boot camp and/or infantry school. Then again within the soldier’s unit. Typically, in the American context there is a short segment on combatives in the unit’s pre-deployment work up. The objectives are to quickly build a combatives base for the soldier’s and not develop broad skill sets honed over time. In most American Special Operations and Special Forces units the soldiers are encouraged to seek out their own martial arts training then return to the unit and help spread that knowledge within the unit. This is ENTIRELY different from how civilians are, and should be, trained.
  • You don’t need the same training as a soldier. Soldiers are encountering threats under a set of Rules of Engagement (ROE’s) where use of force guidelines are much more relaxed than in a domestic setting for civilians (or law enforcement). Additionally, soldiers are carrying assault rifles, pistols, light machine guns, explosives, body armor, and helmets. Their training will reflect this reality and the advantages and disadvantages that exist. Their training in combatives is typically focused on getting back to using these tools and/or communicating for assistance from team members. To train a civilian in this fashion would be both unethical and unhelpful.
  • You can do better, you have more time. In my experience with military Krav Maga training, the primary focus is developing physical fitness, aggression, and mental toughness. Krav Maga training is more than self defense training, it is a part of the operant conditioning Israeli soldiers undergo to condition them for the psychological rigors of combat. There is little to no martial arts training involved, instead it involves sprinting up sand hills, smashing bags with the butt of one’s rifle, and doing force on force aggression training. In a civilian context the student is better benefitted by developing real skills and technical proficiency with an eye to longer term development and proficiency.
  • It is bullshit. Most of the instructors that tout their training as “military” or “special forces” have neither served nor taught in that context. Anyone who HAS, knows that civilians need an entirely different training protocol, and although these experienced instructors may offer military training they have a separate training package for civilians. Anyone claiming to be a “special forces” veteran and openly offering this training to civilians should be thoroughly vetted as this is a red flag for ‘bullshido’.
  • It’s fantasy camp. Instructors who promote this “militarized” combatives training are typically preying on weekend warriors, wannabes, and fantasy players who want to play soldier for a while. If you are quickly running around carrying mock weapons and doing burpees in the sand, then you may be in a “fantasy camp”. If this is what you want there are great organizations run by former Special Forces operators who provide just that. These are seasoned career Special Forces soldiers who will give you this experience, and it is advertised honestly as such. People who DO NOT have this background but offer this via Krav Maga or martial arts training are just playing to people’s fantasies.


Remember if you are NOT a soldier, you should NOT be training like one. Your needs are different. You aren’t 19 (maybe you are!) you don’t need that training. You need a serious combatives program that will build your skills over time to make you stronger, more confident, and safer if you are ever in a violent encounter. Don’t succumb to fantasy training, make sure you are training for the threats you face!

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