Complete Krav Maga might only be missing the power of live instruction according to Michael:
To be upfront, I am not a practitioner of Krav Maga. I have done other martial arts so I am familiar with some of the techniques described. Also, I did see Enough with Jennifer Lopez, so …
Let’s get to it. Krav Maga is not Klingon for cherry blossom. It means “contact combat” in Hebrew and is an aggressive “keep it simple stupid” form of self-defense. It was developed by Imi Lichtenfeld in the 1940’s and later incorporated into the Israeli Defense Force. His style drew on his street fighting days and emphasizes simple, practical application for the average person.
The book is divided into belt levels – yellow through brown. Basic techniques, punches, kicks, and defensive strategies are introduced in the first chapter. These form the foundation for the advanced techniques later in the book. Each technique is introduced with a brief description then worked through step-by-step with photos matching the text. The photos are black and white, but clear enough to illustrate the point. The text is easy to follow.
From what I know, the techniques seem accurate. However, there are some that I have questions about. Not to say they are wrong, but I just want to know the reasoning behind them and how they fit into a Krav Maga context. For instance, some of the low blocks seem to chase the opponent’s strike, leaving you open to continued attack.
Perhaps I am too fixated on the technique. Levine writes in the introduction “not to mistake the technique for the principle.” For instance, with regard to the low block – the principle would be to neutralize an uppercut to avoid getting hit and to hopefully to set up a counterattack. This can be done several different ways; some of which may be better in different situations than in others. The techniques can change but the principle remains the same.
Also, I feel that someone without previous martial arts experience would miss some of the finer points of each technique. To test this, I decided to find someone totally inept in the fighting arts – my wife. I asked her to pick any technique from the book and have at me. She opened the book at random, and up came the arm bar. This one is tricky without some basic knowledge about positioning and leverage, but she forged ahead. Even after following the instructions, she could not get the guard or the transition quite right nor could she execute the arm bar to its painful conclusion. Granted, this was a tough one and a green belt level technique to boot. I decided that maybe it was a good idea to start at the beginning. These ones went a bit smoother as she was able to follow the instructions for the punches, the palm heel strike, and the regular front kick without too much trouble. Is she going to be entering the octagon any time soon? No. But she was able to execute the technique from the book, albeit clumsily.
Which leads me to an important point. If you really want to learn this stuff, enroll in a class. Any martial arts class, if there is no Krav Maga school around. That is the only way to learn these techniques properly. While the descriptions are clear, and as far as I can tell, accurate, there are still details and corrections that cannot be communicated effectively in a book. I have experience, and I have some questions about a few of the techniques.
No doubt this is a great self-defense resource, not only for students of Krav Maga but for other martial artists as well. I came away with a number of things I did not know before. But just remember, this book does not replace training with a qualified instructor.
* 4 stars *