KMG Ground Fighting Course (GFC)
This weekend I had the opportunity to go back to the motherland for some seriously fun krav training in Oslo. It was a course that I’ve been eagerly looking forward to: the new KMG Ground Fighting Course developed by Rune Lind, KMG Expert level 5, Global team instructor, and MMA coach.
The GFC is a response to changes in the types of attacks that we commonly see on the street. Ground fighting has always been a part of Krav Maga, but it hasn’t been an area we focus a lot on, at least for the lower levels. We generally don’t want to go to the ground in a self defence situation, if we can avoid it. Our goal is to break away as soon as possible, which means avoiding going to the ground, or getting up from the ground as soon as we can. The techniques have been focused on the most common attacks, which has been untrained attackers.
But as different types of ground fighting keeps growing in popularity, we see more grappling, wrestling, BJJ, and MMA moves in fights on the street, e.g.: takedowns, chokes, headlocks and different kinds of submissions, and we more often see attackers who know how to move on the ground. It’s not even just people who are professionally trained: MMA has become hugely popular as a spectator sport, and people use the moves that that they have seen on TV when they end up in fights on the street. For self-defence students, this means that we need to be prepared to defend against these types of attacks at an earlier level.
This course was hard work, as we were warned from the start. We spent three days moving the weight of a resisting opponent, and throwing or being thrown to the floor and getting back up again. It’s good exercise. But I found that the course was well paced, as long as you pace yourself, and also tons of fun.
We got a better understanding of the types of attacks and movements to expect from MMA and ground fighters, and built a good foundation of skills ourselves. The goal of the course is not to make Krav Maga students into grapplers or wrestlers, but to prepare us for defending ourselves against attackers who are.
We started the first day on the ground, building an understanding of different positions and how to move from one to the other. If you’re not used to moving on the ground, it takes time to get your bearings and get a feel for how you can move in this three dimensional space. Suddenly two arms and two legs can feel like a lot to keep track of. I certainly noticed the difference with some techniques that I had tried to learn two years ago, which were a lot easier after a couple of years of practicing BJJ. Throughout the course, Rune focused on giving us an understanding of the structure of the different positions, so that we could then learn how to break that structure when we moved on to defences and reversals.
Basic krav solution and scissor sweep from guard. Video by Pillar Eng
Let the bodies hit the floor
On day two, we worked on takedowns, and how to prevent takedowns. I enjoyed getting a better understanding of why some techniques are different in Krav Maga than in competitive fighting. One example is double leg takedowns, where the KMG version is easier to defend against than the wrestling takedown, but we use it because it is better suited to a fight on the street. It is a very different environment, and for self defence, the takedown is one small tool of many.
After having slammed our partners to the ground all morning with great enthusiasm and gradually increasing skill, we thankfully went back to the ground for the afternoon, adding submissions to our repertoire: armbars, chokes, headlocks, arm locks, and leg locks—and defences against most of them.
MMA meets Krav Maga
As we learned new techniques, we also did drills to improve our timing, and be able to use those techniques against a resisting opponent. This is important to prepare us for using the techniques under pressure. Once we had reasonable skills in changing positions, takedowns, and submissions, our other tools were added back into the mix: first striking and kicking, and eventually all the dirty tricks that Krav Maga is known for: attacking the groin, poking fingers into eyes, pinching, shouting, biting, etc.
I appreciated understanding headlocks and armlocks better, both learning more about what’s required for the techniques to work, and their drawbacks in real life fights. The last part of the course showed how much harder it is to do many of these techniques in a self-defence situation as opposed to a competition, where your opponent has no rules keeping them from tearing a piece out of your bicep when you think you've got the perfect headlock on—I've got the bite marks to show for it, thanks Iltaf! This is good news for us, because our aim as Krav Maga practitioners isn’t mainly to get good at things like submissions and takedowns, but at defending against them.
Do your ground work
I highly recommend this course to both instructors and students (minimum P2 level). The GFC is a great way to improve your own skill with takedowns and ground fighting, and to be prepared for what you might face. For those who already practice some kind of wrestling or grappling system, it's a chance to see how your sport skills work (or don't work) in situations where there are no rules, and to practice your submission or wrestling favorites combined with the dirty tricks from krav. For instructors, our job is to pass the knowledge on to our students. So RKM students, be prepared for more fun ground sessions to come!
I look forward to GFC part 2. And if I get impatient waiting for that I might just do this one again, because this was a lot it fun!
Among all the useful skills we learned, I discovered that I have potential for a future career as a backpack. It's good to have options.