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ARTICLE | WHY BLENDED SELF DEFENCE TRAINING CLASSES WORK | by Orjan Pettersen

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

The self defence class is in full progress. John is a near-retiree, carrying a bit more weight than he desires, and attending his first Krav Maga session. Phil is a karate practitioner in his late teens, strong, fast and agile, and have practiced Krav Maga for over a year. Susan is a housewife, middle-aged, slightly built, but an experienced Krav Maga student for several years.

They are all working together, interchangeably providing attacks and defences to build up their skills against two asocial aggressors looking to get close and swing a ‘cheap shot’ to the defenders’ face.

Age, training experience and physical ability are all natural influencers not only on our learning proficiency, but also on our capacity to execute physical action and speed of movement.

Many Krav Maga schools apply these natural differences to how they train their students. They may split their classes by tenure; beginner, intermediate, and advanced students practicing at different times, or by proficiency; based on progressive grading results, or by gender; separating women into classes where they only train with each other.


At Spartans Academy of Krav Maga, we believe that in the world we live in, violent threats and attacks are not artificially segregated in these terms. (The only qualification to this may be for children and younger adolescents where is isn’t suitable for them to train with adults).


Inexperienced violent attackers do not solely attack inexperienced self defence practitioners. Skilled aggressors do not solely target skilled self defence students. Male aggressors do not solely target a male-only victim profile. You get the picture.

If the world of violence is mixed and unpredictable, so must our teaching and class composition be. It’s merely a reflection of reality.


When a student in our school attends their first class, they will be introduced to an environment where age is indifferent, gender is irrelevant and tenure is immaterial. This approach is deliberate and has multiple benefits to both students and instructors.


Firstly, the first-time or early-tenure student will meet a group of people where experienced practitioners are able, conscious and skilled to welcome new students. They exhibit an example of what to aspire to, and provide trained role model behaviour on how to train and act in a professional Krav Maga school setting. They may also be helpful in extending tips and hints from their own experience.


This is a strong motivation for many of our students. Positive behaviour begets positive behaviour.

Secondly, both the inexperienced student or the more seasoned practitioner will be asked to enact violent attacks or threats as part of the teaching process. A common drawback in segregated Krav Maga schools is that once trained in striking or attacking movements, or in groups where no such skills exist, the process of attacking will be limited to either one or the other.

The skilled practitioner will ever only train against skilled, predictable attackers. The unskilled student will only ever train against unskilled, unpredictable attackers. The process of learning becomes narrow and finite. It certainly doesn’t reflect the unpredictability of the real world, nor the reality that most attackers will not be highly trained fighters.


This isn’t the social environment we live in. Some attackers will be proficient in physical violence. Most attackers will not be skilled. Some will be men, others will be women. Some will be physically very able, others will be much more deficient in their movement and speed. This must be reflected in the mix of the class. Some students will provide highly skilled partners, others will bring the unpredictability and chaos of the less skilled fighter. This composition teaches the student to meet all scenarios of real-world violence. Most importantly, unpredictability in attacks, by design or by accident, prepares the mind of the student to chaos and constant reset that actual violence must overcome.


Krav Maga is not by design a gender-specific, weight-controlled, proficiency-regulated, age-defined and rule-based competition event in martial arts. It’s survival against any and all. This is how it must be trained - and its classes should be constructed the same way so not to limit the potential for learning for the student.

Thirdly, the potential for slower progression in a segregated school where the student will only encounter certain types of violent attack scenarios as they progress - because they haven’t yet reached the artificial ‘grading-level‘ where these are taught, is arguably placing a certain level of danger on a student that requires to learn common responses to violence as quickly as possible.


Remember, the vast majority of criminals, whether resource or predatory, are not trained or skilled in any specific fighting style. They will act accordingly. This is the ‘picture’ of attacks that all skilled Krav Maga practitioners must also build up preparations for.


This not only removes the experience the student needs across a wider range of violence, but also remove the benefits listed in the first two reasons given above. A further benefit is to focus the student on the primary purpose of Krav Maga; personal and third party protection. It is not a self-interest measure of progression and status through a grading system of egocentricity.


A patch or a belt of a certain rank counts for nothing on the street. Your experience in handling violence and shock - from any person, any age, any skill, any gender, any physical appearance and any background - is what counts.

This is our world. This is how we train. What about you?

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