Japan Today

Protect yourself with help of Israeli secret service

By Bharti Legros

While Japan’s crime rate is still relatively low, we are hearing and reading more stories of sexual assault on both women and men. And if you ever find yourself in a situation calling for practical self-defense, one of the most effective methods is one tried and tested by the Israeli security professionals: Krav Maga.

Krav Maga in Hebrew means “contact combat.” The system was originally developed for the Israeli Defense Forces, National Police and the Secret Service, but is now taught to law enforcement agencies in the United States, Europe, Scandinavia and Japan. Additionally, there are specialized training centers offering lessons to the general public.

Tokyo’s first training center was opened in Ichigaya in 2004 by the founder of Krav Maga Japan, Kokushi Matsumoto, who was an instructor in the United States for seven years before returning to Japan in 2002. After enrollment increased to around 1,000, an Ebisu center was added, and Matsumoto is currently planning a third Tokyo location to be opened soon.

So how is Krav Maga different from other martial arts? Well, it’s all a matter of tactics. “There are no rules like in other sports,” explains Atsuhiro Kumagai of Krav Maga Japan. “In karate and judo and other sports, for example, you can’t choke. In Krav Maga, anything is allowed for the sake of self-defense.”

Another important difference is that the techniques are reaction-based. “Most martial arts are about mental training. Krav Maga is more instinctive. That is one of the reasons it offers such a great workout, in addition to the practical training. You work the entire body.” Sessions are designed to increase stamina, flexibility and strength in both the upper and lower body.

Frederique, a student at the Ichigaya training center, explained that he had practiced other forms of martial arts, but felt they had no real-life application. By comparison, Krav Maga was much more practical. After training for 18 months, he feels he has more endurance and energy.

Another student, Yasuno Tatsuaki, has been training for three years. He says that training alongside his 20-year-old son helps open lines of communication. Tatsuaki feels confident in the skills he has learned if ever he was put in real danger. He also claims to be fitter than ever and says he’s lost 8 cm off his waist.

There are various ways to become a member of Krav Maga Japan. The initial fee is 10,500 yen, and monthly dues range from 10,500 yen (one session per week) to 19,800 yen (four times per week). A youth training program is currently being developed for later this year, which will not only teach personal safety but also build self-confidence and self-esteem.

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp)

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JKD and FMA ftw! It's all the same anyways. Too bad it wasn't more common here though...(sigh)

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Another over-charged & over-hyped style/school.

Plenty of good Instructors out there of most styles, but they don't advertise widely nor do they run flashy schools/names(which make up 80% of your fees anyway).

Just tired of hearing style X is sooo much better, will give you better results and fix all the flaws in all other systems. Like the we are NOT a sport and thus better, yadda, yadda.


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I've taken a few classes and I really like their concepts and emphasis on conditioning. After one intense session of non stop kicks and punches, I felt nauseated. Fighting and self defense is exhausting, and you need to train under realistic conditions. Unlike other forms of martial arts Krav Maga is no bull and fancy schmancy oriental philosophical ramblings. As Frederique alludes to above, traditional martial arts really have no concept of real life application. Sure, great for discipline, martial way, and all that other warm and fuzzy stuff but not for the street. Krav Maga trains you the right way, they have scenarios where they have you being attacked by someone, and you simply have to use what you can to defend yourself. In the heat of the moment, when you are being attacked with a knife and under great mental duress, you simply don't have time to analyze which of the 150 kata techniques to use, like the lotus blossom technique where you put your right foot forward (or was it left), reach with your left hand and grab opponents privates, do a half step back with your left, grab opponents nose with your left forefinger, let out a kiyai, step back with your right foot, do a back flip, then roundhouse kick to the solar plexus. Before the first move you're dead.

Krav Maga combats that to put you in the instinctive fight mode mindset.

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Self defense is all about aggression. You can learn until you are blue in the face, however, if you cannot deliver when somebody is gunning for you, you are one dead turkey.

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The title of the story is a bit misleading, isn`t it? I would love to have a contingent of the Israeli secret service for my protection. However, that is is not what the article turns out to about, isn´t it. It is yet another hyped-up martials school, promising that appearing for some class once a week and "training" with other meek-minded individuals will turn you into Bruce Lee. Well, I doubt that.

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Come to my masters Dojo and you will see the same thing. I have sparred BJJ, Krav-Maga, etc guys many times and in the end we all did the same thing and everybody had respect.

Yes, we are traditional(OMFG) but those guys don't have anything that we don't. In the end it is NOT about the style but about the Instructor.

Yes, the might use new vocabulary, etc but once you drill down it is the same that was taught for centuries/milenia.

I don't diss any style(only the school)as we all climb the same mountain(different path)but at the summit you can't see the difference.

Just my view.

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Forgot to add.

Will the stuff you learned still work when you are 50, 60, out of shape or got a physical limitation?

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I used to teach SD classes many years ago.

One female student(120kg) after 1 lesson put down an attacker with a broken lip and a punctured kidney.

That was a pure SD class not even MA related.

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Now I know wjat I need to find, a man to protect me, yes, proficient in Krav Maga...

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I doubt the 120kg female student needed much lesson to put down the average dude. Or actually, even have to worry about people attacking her.

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Japan's low crime rate could just be a lack of reporting.

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Where can I meet men specialists in Krav Maga?

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romulus knows krav maga. never had to use it and do not want to.

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ummm this is the style that Matt Damon trained in for the Bourne films. Seems to be latest "in style". Well, whatever works for you. Lessons seem expensive at 10000 yen for 1 lesson a week don't they? Myself, I've been boxing for many years and this works for me.

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I think 10,000 for 4 lessons is ok. But there are only two Krav Maga centers in Tokyo???

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what do you expect? everyone in Japan thinks that Japanese style bushido is the ultimate. krav maga wastes Japanese bushido real quick unless you run into a WW2 gun fighter. Forget ninjas. You need incredible discipline to learn that and no one has it now. people who study ninja training have exposed them self for a beating because they think they are becoming something of old but have little or no work ethic when compared with real ninjas. thus they have an attitude of a ninja but a tiny amount of predictable skill. krav maga wastes modern ninjas in seconds but not the ninjas of old...that would have been a colossal battle. if two opponents of equal skill meet, the younger man will win.

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*One female student(120kg) after 1 lesson put down an attacker

Well, that's nice too hear a 120 kg women can has as much sex-appeal and get an attacker.

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Thanks, Romulus. I would like to see krav maga techniques. Maybe there are some videos on youtube.

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Cos, plenty of guys like big woman. don't discriminate just coz you do not like them. its cruel. a fat chick with krav maga would smash you into the dust. be careful....but you know...often the guys who say "Yuk, ladyboy" are the ones who want them most.

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Like that "Don't Mess With the Zohan" guy?

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I began training in Krav Maga here in the Detroit area about three and a half months ago. I'm glad to see that it is in Tokyo so when I come back I can continue. It's a good system. Very direct and to the point--address the threat and give something back as soon as possible. Our instructors are all high level belts from other forms of MA such as TKD,BJJ,Muay Thai, and MCMAP. Strong on "martial" and not so much on "art." Since it's a military derived system, it has to by nature be usable by a wide spectrum of people of both genders. Since training is stress based we do quite a bit of PT drills to break us down to see how the training holds when we're wiped out. Personally, I enjoy it.

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My view on KRav Maga and other SDbased arts vs Martial Arts(traditional).

Those new arts work well but their short-comings are that you need to train them continously to maintain the edge. Also many if not most of the those styles are designed for modern military use in war-times. Very few Instructors will even touch the implications of using the techs in the civilian world and into how much problem you can get for using them. Doubt that most even studied up on it themselves. They like to sell the tough-guy image and we can kick anybodies butt, etc.

In short they will work best within the context for which they were created same as the traditonal arts.

And to be honest I haven't found anything in those "new" arts that is not covered or missing in the old ones. You need the right instructor to show and explain you all the possible applications of the moves contained in the art.

Any good MA Instructor will also use PT-drills, etc to get same fatique as modern styles do. There are only so many ways to train the body and mind, kind of arrogant to say we found a better method after the arts been developed for thousands of years.

As for cross-training any half-way decent Instructor will recommend it.

Also special forces Israeli, USA, whatever don't only use one style/system but continously study/research new and old ones and add/modify their stuff. Same way it was done for thousands of years again.

Just my view.

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For the people interested in Self-Defense, I recommend the following links.

Daren Laur: http://members.shaw.ca/tmanifold/laur.htm

Marc Animal" MacYoung: http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/

Those 2 are highly respected in the MA/SD scene, there are more of course but they re very good starting point.

Not affiliated with them in any way.

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Can Krav Maga protect you from pirates?

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Yes, Yes it can.

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Zen Builder:

" One female student(120kg) after 1 lesson put down an attacker with a broken lip and a punctured kidney. "

So what did she do... sit on him?

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Grabbed his arm, elbow-locked him and slammed him face-first into the wall of Metal PO-Boxes(she was retrieving her mail). He tried to attack her from behind.

After that she drove her fist into his kidney(Shot-putt champion), I recommend the knee but she is a big lady.

He dropped and she went outside and called the cops.

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And to be honest I haven't found anything in those "new" arts that is not covered or missing in the old ones.

I think the point, Zen, is that they cut out the fat of the other systems. No mystical catching of flies with chopsticks. No chanting of mantras. Just the down and dirty. So, the claim would be that it's better in that it can be learned with less fuss by a greater range of people.

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If you train the traditional arts in the proper method there is very little fat in there. Granted you won't be spoon-fed and held-held either.

Yes, there is a lot of mumbo-jumbo going on but you find mostly in the belt-factories, etc. Because in the end those sell a fantasy and not the real stuff.

Just my and many others experience, who train and spar with modern and traditional guys.

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