How to find a good Krav Maga School

How to find a good Krav Maga School

Guidance from the British Krav Maga Association

The BKMA receive daily enquiries from students who want to learn Krav Maga but dont know where to start. As a result we have condensed all of our usual information on to a single webpage. We should disclose that we run Krav Maga Instructor Courses, however the advice on this page relates to any Krav Maga Instructor, school or organisation.


Understand the Martial Arts IndustryCheck out the Instructor
The Martial Arts industry is unregulated.  There are few consistent standards and fewer legal requirements.  Any one can claim any rank or title in any martial art. Vetting of skills of potential instructors by the generic martial arts organisations is usually lax or non existent.  
After you have identified the nearest Krav Mag School check them out on the net. Where did they train ? How long is the Instructor course. Look for reviews and any feedback written by ‘customers’. Check out popular sites like free index or simply Google the school/instructor name and add the word review.

 Standards are markedly better amongst style specific organisations. These organisations have the expertise, assessments and grading criteria relevant to the instructors system of choice. Style specific Martial arts organisations offer externally awarded coaching qualifications and have a nationally structured curricula.Whilst you decide if you like the training, the Instructor decides if they want you in their class. Good Instructors are in demand and can afford to turn away students. Your instructor should be friendly, approachable and should look as if they are competent themselves. 
‘Always train with a credible, Krav Maga specific Organisation’ TIP: Ask the Instructor about their Instructor training. Where did the Krav Maga come from ?
They have the appropriate skill set to assess their instructors against the curricula.  Some of the style specific organisations have evolved to become National Governing bodies. These organisations are externally assessed, have had to achieve a wide range of requirements and should deliver training to a national level.   Whilst the majority of Instructors are caring, committed, individuals teaching a system that they love. These are common questions, it’s never a problem to answer. This shows the instructor that you are genuinely interested and have done your homework.  All credible instructors will happily tell you about Krav Maga Instructor training, for most it was a very significant life event.  Remember: You are paying for professional tuition,  expect professional standards.
 The Martial Arts Industry has a minority of disreputable individuals claiming skills and experience they don’t  have. The Industry is unregulated  so these people can and will claim anything they please. Krav Maga is not immune from this.Look up the Organisation that certified the instructor. How long was the course. Where did the Krav Maga come from.  Short ‘Instructor’ courses are high on profit and low on quality – avoid Instructors trained on them. Credible Krav Maga Instructor courses last 15-23 days.
There are several simple things to look for when searching for a professionally run school. In order of importance these are:.TIP: Being asked questions is a good sign
 Always train with a large, credible Krav Maga Organization.   In this day and age it’s just as easy to be an international, global XXX organisation on the web as it is to be a local club. Ranks and titles are often used to impress the naive. 

You should be asked about your health, injuries or any previous training. A good Instructor will also want to know why you want to train.  Answer honestly, the instructor is doing their job well and ensuring you can train safely. The class should be structured and well run, expect lots of movement, exercise and striking drills.  
Credible Instructor courses typically take 15 – 23 days, are highly intense and involve a lot of training and assessment. Avoid instructors who are vague about who trained them or how they are certified.  Expect physical contact, grabbing holding, attempted stabbings (with training weapons), being held at gun point (training weapons) and an ingenious array of pressure drills designed to put you under pressure.
Don’t be impressed by claims of special forces/military organizations trained by civilian instructors – it does not happen – unless its a free session offered by the instructor for publicity. If you stick to the credible organization list there should not be a problem here.Session should feel demanding and tough, but that does not mean excessive contact or uncontrolled levels of training. You’ll probably get some bumps and bruises.  However you should not get injured. 
On the whole, Krav Maga organizations have higher standards and expectations of their instructors than is the norm in the Martial Arts Industry.
TIP: Avoid any Instructor who ‘throws you in the deep end’.  It’s lazy, unprofessional and indicative of poor coaching and standards.
 As an Association we have stopped asking for a Blackbelt from potential Instructors. The standards are so variable as to make the rank meaningless. Look at the more advanced students. They are often a reflection of the school and Instructor.  Sloppy techniques or large ego’s – then find another school.
To maintain their status as registered Instructors with a credible Krav Maga organization, most instructors are required to attend regular updates, maintain a reasonable level of fitness and competence and pay a licence fee for the privilege.  The group should be friendly and approachable, no egos or cliques. Do the more advanced students look good ?  There should be no favorites, beginners should never  be left to their own devices.  Although don’t expect an Instructor to be with you all the time.
As a quality mark, the large credible Krav Maga organisations cannot be beaten.   Credible organizations with branches in the UK are (in alphabetical order): Avoid instructors’ with large egos, lots of claims, war stories, or those that don’t seem interested in you. Avoid any instructor you are not comfortable with.
  • British Krav Maga Association
  • Federation of European Krav Maga
  • Haim Zut
  • International Krav Maga Federation
  • Israeli Krav Maga Association
  • Krav Maga Global
Choosing an instructor is about finding someone you value as a coach and want to spend time learning from.  The right Instructor is always a highly personal choice, it’s ok to look elsewhere if you are not sure.    
Avoid Krav Maga at multi style commercial martial arts centresAvoid Hybrid systems or anything prefaced XXXX Krav Maga.
Always go for an instructor who specialises in just one system. 
 If you want Krav Maga, do real Krav Maga.
Whether it’s Krav Maga or any other system. Go for an Instructor who teaches only Krav Maga. Again and again we see individuals claiming to teach Krav Maga off the back of a short course amongst the MMA, Grappling, Boxing and assorted other classes. The standards of the Krav Maga are usually poor and this is compounded by the requirement to sign a 12 month contract for what is often very mediocre training.   Anything prefaced XXX Krav Maga is almost certainly NOT Krav Maga. We have seen Krav Maga Instructor courses taught by people who have never done Krav Maga and others taught by individuals who have never passed Instructor certification them selves.  Others still teach Krav Maga Instructors off the back of a quickie 5 day ‘Krav Maga Instructor’ course. Again, stick with the credible
 Remember the reason for a 12 month contract is to lock students in so they cant leave. Hardly a sign of confidence by the gym owner… The problem with hybrid systems…
There are exceptions where a professional Krav Maga Instructor is bought in to deliver the Krav Maga component. However good Krav Maga Instructors are an expensive commodity and gym owners are usually more interested in cheap instructors, not good instructors.    The one thing that is consistent about hybrid Krav Maga systems is the poor standard of Krav Maga they include. We have seen MMA Krav/Keysi Krav /Kickboxing Krav and various mixed systems.  The Krav Maga is usually unrecognisable to Kravists. I cant judge the other components but if the standard of the Krav Maga is anything to go by …..
Generally the standards of these classes is very poor with the Krav Maga being indistinguishable from the MMA/Kickboxing mix taught there.  This is a major problem as these organisations are simply recycling generic martial arts under the name ‘krav maga’ to sell more memberships  A consistent statement emerging form experienced Krav Maga students is that they feel more confident but this is balanced by an appreciation of just how dangerous street violence can be.


Why real Krav Maga

Finally, why look for real krav maga as opposed to the Commando/Concepts/urban/cross/MMA/Hybrid version. Simply put, evolution and history. Krav Maga is the worlds most battle tested martial art. The system is still taught and used for front line troops nearly 70 years after it was pioneered. There is no other system of hand to hand combat in modern history with a similar pedigree.  Krav Maga is taught to more military and law enforcement personnel than any other system in the world. That fact gives an insight into the value placed on authentic krav maga.


This history and evolutions tells a potential student 2 things.

1. Krav Maga works.

2. Krav Maga works for a lot of people taught in a short space of time.  

This article was written by the British Krav Maga Association Training Director, Paul Grey.  Paul runs regular training sessions at Krav Maga Bristol in Clifton, Bristol.