Krav Maga claims to be the world’s largest reality based martial arts organization. For most people with no previous knowledge most martial arts look the same. The key to understanding if a martial art is truly functional is often hard to discern. I want to give you a few critical thinking tools to determine whether or not a martial art is truly based in “Reality”.
The 1st place to look when watching a martial arts demonstration is not the person doing the technique but the person being demonstrated on. In the photo for example look at the posture of the knife holder. He is leaning away from the kick and holding the knife in a way you only see in bad horror movies. Another red flag is if the person being demonstrated on stops and allows a series of moves to be done to them. In reality both people will be in motion during a fight. Most traditional and non sports based martial arts that you can find videos are guilty of this. The idea that a person would stand there and allow you to perform multiple strikes on you while not defending themself is absurd and not based in reality.
The second thing to look at is, does the technique seem like something that anyone can do? Could you do it? Could someone you care about do it? If a technique requires an amount of flexibility, speed or strength not commonly found in the general populace then the technique will be generally useless to most people. In the photo above the idea that the average person off the street is going to block a knife attack with a high kick to the arm is not an Idea that I think is based in reality.
The third thing you should look at when determining if a martial art is based in reality is, does it have a sport component? Boxing, wrestling, judo, sambo, Thai boxing and jiu jitsu all have a sports component. This means that the delivery system of the martial arts can be performed and refined over time. Often so-called “reality based” martial arts will say that the techniques are too deadly to even practice. Another red flag. If you cannot test something, how do you actually know it works? If a technique is so deadly, is it appropriate for all situations? If you cannot do a technique under resistance safely like you can in sport based martial arts, how will you ever develop the timing to do the technique if you actually need it? If a martial art is not testable, measurable, and repeatable it probably is not activity based in reality.
After years of training in sport based martial arts I have watched “reality based” martial artists with years of experience get humbled by people who have only been training in sports based martial arts for a few months. I cannot and would not recommend to someone I care about a martial art that does not have a strong sports base.