In November of 2014 I traveled to Argentina to teach a Krav Maga Global (KMG) Instructor Course. What I found there was very spectacular and it has changed my views forever.
First, I want to tell you about the USA and how KMG seems to fit in. In the States, we tend to be more “independent” and want our own schools and the glory. It’s not a bad thing! I too want my school, Krav Maga XD, to grow and prosper so we can reach as many people as possible! It’s the American dream of course! So when KMG came to the States they had a difficult time spreading their message, because the schools think that KMG does not offer enough support to help “our” schools grow. So we as independent school owners tend to run things the way we want to run them, and just say we are a part of KMG as a side note. I have been behind the scenes when my instructor used to be the Director of KMG USA. Everyone was out for themselves, trying to find ways that they can benefit from KMG and each other without giving anything in return. It’s the American way! KMG was constantly fighting in battle with the director and school owners to conform and run things a certain way, but no one wants to budge. And again, that is fine because we are American and we do things our own way. We invented our way of doing business and we don’t need people in another country coming in and telling us what is best. I confess that I myself fall into this category.
The week prior to going to Argentina to teach the Instructor Course, Eyal Yanilov (president of KMG) had a small select group of us meet in Las Vegas to train us how to teach these courses. The training was a lot lectures and understanding how to teach instructors to teach students. It was a great twist to just teaching students! But during the lectures we got a great opportunity to hear the story of Eyal and Imi creating the system. I learned that Eyal was a major key player in creating the Krav Maga that we know today. In fact, all of the KM schools out there basically copied and spun off of what Eyal created. Imi, of course being the initial genius behind KM was greatly helped by Eyal. Before Eyal there was just techniques. There was no system in place. No levels. No prevention. No continuation of attacks. No disengaging. No scanning. Eyal was the master behind reforming Imi’s version of Krav Maga to a fighting system that we all know today. Eyal created the majority of techniques, especially weapon defenses! In the 80’s Eyal was the one who taught the Instructor course and certified the original Krav Maga World Wide Instructors. They still have the certificates with Eyal’s signature on their walls! During the training he also showed us a few updates to techniques. Innovated changes to simple techniques that made them even better! Who else is doing this? In conclusion, I realized that Eyal is Krav Maga. He is the source of knowledge and innovation that keep KM growing and constantly improving. Yes, there are always going to be controversies and disagreements on things but there’s way more good than bad.
Why was I chosen to go to Argentina? I still have no clue to be honest. Maybe they were in a pinch and needed someone. Maybe it was to test me out to see how I’d do. Maybe he wanted me to see how KMG is done in other parts of the world so I can bring back my experience. Only Eyal knows this and he has yet to share it with me. But I will say that I was very excited and nervous at the same time to go to a foreign country and teach with a foreign director that I didn’t know well. And on top of that, teaching a course where a small minority even spoke my language was going to be a challenge.
When I arrived I was taken care of by the Director on South America, Alberto Diomedi. Alberto was an extremely humble and genuine guy. He told me about the students and the different countries they were all coming from. First I accepted it, but then it hit me, “they are all from different countries?” Yes! The course was a melting pot of different counties in South America all coming together in one place to train Krav Maga Global. Yes, I said “Krav Maga Global”, not “Krav Maga”. Why? Because in South America that’s what they call Krav. They say “let’s go train KMG today!” KMG is not just an organization it’s a style. I was blown away by this concept but it truly makes sense. KMG is the most legitimate Krav Maga system out there and all of these other McKrav schools that pop up are diminishing the reputation of Krav Maga. Calling it Krav Maga Global, or KMG, is a way to help differentiate ourselves from the bad. When all of the students arrived they were all best friends. The morning of Day 1, I stumbled down to the lobby of our tiny hotel with major jet lag (it was 3AM my time). I walked into the lobby and saw 8-10 people eating at the table with KMG shirts. I knew they were obviously all going to the course. I assumed they must have been from the same schools because they were all hanging out laughing and wearing KMG matching shirts. Later I found they didn’t even really know each other. They just all train KMG. They didn’t have different school logos or shirts with different brands on them. They were all KMG, unified by one system, not differentiated by different schools. In the USA we wear our school shirts to REPRESENT. I remember the school I used to go to. We all wore our school shirts to represent and be the best. We were alienating ourselves, not allowing them into our group, not learning together. In fact, there was a school in Bolivia called Krav Maga Global Bolivia. They just decided they were KMG so they are KMG! No independent name or logo. They were all a family. They had events all over the place. Alberto was very good at doing this. They make tests and events all over the continents and people came. They came to be a part of something bigger. They came to unify as one large group of KMG.
When I talked about the way of the States and how we don’t really do events together they were blown away. They just asked “so you only have events with your own school?” “Your students do know students at the other schools?” and on and on. I was kind of actually getting embarrassed! In other countries KMG is a family, not just an organization people say they belong to. They are a source of support and connection to the rest of the world. When I taught, I felt like I taught them many valuable lessons in Krav Maga, but they taught me even more valuable lessons about community.
Now I see why KMG is having such a hard time establishing a stronger foothold in the USA. We are just too independent. We want to teach our own students and courses. We want our own business to grow. Our egos want the recognition of success and we don’t want to give it up to KMG because we are afraid of being replaceable. But the fact is, we are holding ourselves back immensely. We cannot have sustainable growth and save more peoples’ lives if it’s only “ME” doing everything. Maybe having other instructors to teach courses for our students and having more of a support culture is the path to successfully growing our Krav Maga schools. Maybe we need to let go of our independent nature and let KMG in to help us create the family of KMG that we need. We will work out the kinks together but in the meantime we need to figure out what we really want. Do we want to be a one man show and have our own schools with our logos plastered everywhere and stay legends in our own little city, or do we want to be a part of something much bigger and grow with the organization as a whole? All of our opinions are going to vary and that’s all this is, an opinion. I have learned something by leaving our way of culture and it has changed my outlook on the way I want to grow my business and save as many peoples’ lives as I can. As we can. Because really, that’s what we are doing. Saving peoples’ lives. That’s a tall order but one that we all wake up every morning to do. We are heroes. We just need to unify and come together to be even bigger then we are. Like the Avengers (sorry I had to).