The wise adapt themselves to circumstances as water moulds itself to the pitcher. Chinese Proverb
With such diversity, a self-defense system must have the capacity to adapt to people’s unique qualities.
Every self-defense situation is unique: the attacker, the attack itself, the physical setting, etc. This is why Krav Maga is based on principles rather than rigid techniques based on predictable attacks. Moreover, all self-defense practitioners are unique, possessing various physical abilities, mindsets, and experience.
Here are 7 examples of how Krav Maga can adapt to you.
1. Size: Height and weight can help or hinder but there are ways to adapt techniques to your body type. A tall person, for example, might use a knee strike against an assailant whereas a shorter defender in a similar situation might use a kick.
2. Strength: Some students are incredibly strong but inevitably we all meet someone stronger. Some of us might not be very strong at all. Techniques are designed so that you are using strong muscle groups against their weak points. With many choke and wrist releases, for example, we attack the thumb with our shoulder, back, and hips.
3. Agility: One of the reasons Krav Maga endorses simple techniques is to rely less on agility and athleticism. If a technique cannot be performed by someone of average or below-average agility then it is inadequate and we have to change or adapt it.
4. Experience: “I am a beginner with no martial arts experience”. This is a frequently cited concern. Beginners, however, blend in quite easily and many join us every month. Techniques are simple and easy to perform so students tend to see early progress and develop confidence. Also, some people have little or no experience with physical violence. It is our job to explain what assaults look like and to include exercises that mimic the stress of real situations.
5. Disability: One of our most dedicated students is blind. He wants to learn to protect himself so we work with him to modify techniques to more effective. His progress is astounding. Expert T3 instructor Stephane Chatton is developing a program to modify techniques to give practitioners with physical disabilities the best chance to protect themselves.
6. Fitness: One of the more frequently expressed reservations students express is that their fitness level will not allow them to participate. We tell students to go at there own pace and offer modified exercises (e.g. pushups against a wall rather than on the ground). Time and time again we see fitness levels improve.
7. Age: Next to fitness and experience, age is most frequently mentioned as a concern. I turned 51 this year and can’t deny that my 31-year-old self was a little stronger and faster. However, Krav Maga has taught me the economy of motion, awareness, effective striking, fighting tactics that compensate for any effects of aging – for the most part.
All of us are unique with strengths and weaknesses. The key is to adapt techniques to our unique qualities with sustained and attentive training.