Thursday, December 18, 2014

4.5 Ninja Stars for Krav Maga: Real World Solutions to Real World Violence

In the interests of full disclosure, I was given a copy of this book by Tuttle Publishing for review purposes

Title: Krav Maga: Real World Solutions to Real World Violence
Author: Gershon Ben Keren
Publisher: Tuttle
Pages: 192
Cover Price: $17.95

  I have zero experience with Krav Maga, so I didn't quite know what to expect from this book.  I had some preconceived notions of what Krav Maga consists of, and to some extent, they proved true.  In others ways, I was pleasantly surprised at what it told me.

Content

  The title is a pretty descriptive one.  The book goes through how to apply principles of Krav Maga Yashir to a variety of situations.  The book is broken down into 4 parts.  The introduction is just a little background about what Krav Maga is, where it came from, and about the author.  There will be an interview with him in a future podcast, so stay tuned. Part 1 describes and gives pictures of the basics of Krav Maga as a martial art including stances, hand positioning, the basic strikes, and blocks.  In their descriptions it also goes into the why of these basics.  Part 2 then takes these basics, and show them in application settings using the previously outlined principles of Krav Maga.  It shows them being employed against both empty hand and weapons.  Part 3 is called Unarmed Assaults and Dynamic Components of Violence.  It takes the same principles, and applies them in more middle of a fight scenarios, including headlocks, clinches, and other such grabbing situation.

Pros 

    Let me start with the physical book.  When I got the book in the mail, I first noticed the paper.  There is a much higher quality to the paper.  It has a slight sheen to it, and a definite thickness that is noticeable.  I assume this is due to the pictures.  Now the pictures are a special feature all to themselves.  I loved the pictures.  The pictures are clear, in color, and action shots.  What I mean by action shots is that all the pictures were taken in the progress of doing the technique, not staged.  Which means they probably had to to the techniques a couple hundred times.  This does, however, give them a more realistic feel.  They were also taken in actual locations, not on the dojo mat.  They show situations at the ATM...in a bar,,, being attacked while getting into your car.  As the subtitle says in real world situations.  In that way it reminds me of Shioda's book Dynamic Aikido.  They also show different people performing the techniques, different builds, different heights, and different sexes.  The color pictures are definitely a highlight of the book.  Can you think of the last martial arts book you read with color pictures?
  The techniques presented in the book are principle based, effective, and adaptable.  What I liked best about the techniques presented was that, even though it wasn't explicitly stated, they could be incorporated into your own martial arts training very easily.  Effective self-defense is free from style.  I found myself saying thinking that all the techniques looked familiar enough to my own jujutsu training, that I could very easily perform them with my slight variation.

Cons

  The only bad thing I can say about the book is that there isn't enough.  It covers a lot of material, and goes through the explanation of the material, but if feel more like an introduction.  At the end of the book, I wanted to keep reading.  Which I guess really isn't a bad thing.  Maybe that means there is a sequel coming, or that the editors/publishers wanted them to pare down the material.
  One thing that could be interpreted as a con, is the principle based techniques seem to repeat themselves.  I think that this would be an amateur mistake.  Being principle based, means that you can apply the same principle to multiple situations.

Conclusion

  I really liked this book.  It explained how to apply the principles of Krav Maga in a variety of ways, and in a variety of circumstances.   It can be used by new students of martial arts, or by an experineced martial artist to incorporate into their own training.  If you are interested in self defense I would highly recommend this book.  In fact, as a self defense book, I give it 4.5 (out of 5) ninja stars.  I really did enjoy this book.  The descriptions are very good, and you can follow along with the action very easily.  The "action" pictures alone make it worth the price of the book.  The material it covers is good, solid self defense. And again, you can easily find a way to incorporate this information into your own training.  If you call your martial art, self-defense based, then you should be able to recognize all the good information presented in this book.

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