Training with Grandmaster Haim Gidon - November 2018
This past November, 2018, we were fortunate to have Grandmaster Haim Gidon make his annual visit from some truly unique training. Rarely, can one discuss training with the best person in a given subject matter or discipline. We had that amazing opportunity. Krav Maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld gave Haim Gidon his 8th dan and bluntly stated that 9th and 10th dans were to come -- we certainly understand why.
Why Grandmaster Gidon is Just That – The Grandmaster
Anytime I have ever worked with Haim, I have understood why Imi awarded him his highest ranks, but, perhaps, none moreso than the time I spent privately working with Haim prior to the start of our general course. Haim worked one-on-one with me making me a better fighter. He made me more capable of soundly defeating a larger, stronger, professionally trained opponent. Haim fixed a few subtle things as only he can recognize and improve.
This ability to defeat a professionally trained street fighter is one aspect that separates Gidon Krav Maga. Most krav maga focuses solely on self-defense tactics (and often not against a determined attacker countering one's defenses). Haim's krav maga tethers the system to its military roots and also that which Imi first created to protect the Jewish Community in Bratislava. The ability to attack and fight sets Haim's krav maga as the standard for those who understand. All of the old krav maga guard -- better than anyone -- understands and respects Haim's fighting abilities and insights.
I always marvel how Haim sees every movement -- and more often than not before it happens. He presents no openings but will pounce on any openings an opponent shows. But that is what Grandmasters do. As I noted, there is not one session that I have spent with Haim (after more than twenty years of training) that I have not learned improvements. I repeat again, this is what a Grandmaster does for his students. Haim echoed this sentiment when discussing his relationship with Imi. Haim to me that when Imi would visit his gym, Haim would ask Imi to improve and fix him.
Haim understands how a professional will attack. If you can defend against a professional attack, you can defend against an amateur attack. The converse is not true. Few people in the world understand this. Haim is certainly one of them and it shows in his top students.
Travels with Haim
We visited several of the police departments we train as the chiefs had requested to meet Grandmaster Gidon. We had the chance to travel to Florida together to help one of our original and most capable students, Jason Bleistein – Israeli Krav Maga South Tampa - Gidon System. Special Guests also included Sensei Juan Rios and Knuckle Duster Justice Mitchell. On the flight to Tampa, sitting next to one another, Haim and I worked on some specialized air marshal tactics albeit discreetly so not to raise alarm or get arrested on arrival! As I said I never let a minute pass with Haim without enhancing tactics I believe he feels the same way. Haim and I had a great time working with Jason's terrific students. After I left, Jason also had some extraordinary private training time with Haim.
The State of Krav Maga in the World
One of the takeaways from my discussions on the flight down with Haim and throughout a couple of weeks of training was the state of krav maga throughout the world. Haim summed it up by shaking his head and remarking that krav maga now, unfortunately, mostly equates to business. The public has no easy way to determine legitimacy. The majority of people hawking krav maga and representing themselves as high-ranking experts don't understand the basics, let alone advanced training.
This is not a question of criticizing all others. Haim and I have profound respect for the top instructors in other fighting disciplines, especially, BJJ and professional MMA fighters. Krav Maga's old guard certainly command respect notwithstanding that what we teach is different. It's just that in krav maga circles, there are too many splinter organizations to easily count. A student recently acquired a new krav maga and gave it to me for my opinion. I, in turn, showed it to Haim for his opinion.
I thought it was indicative to see the current Grandmaster, one of Imi's original and oldest practicing students with the highest rank awarded by Imi, shake his head about the tactical presentations in this book. While the book's strategic advice is good, the actual "krav maga" techniques ranging from poor kicks to over-hooks in an attempt to control the knife arm, to firearm disarms could easily get the defender killed. There is a simply a lack of understanding of the basics. Haim emphasizes in every seminar he teaches, without the basics, there is no foundation.
So, we and few like-minded others will continue to teach the best we can. We will try to strive within professional training circles to uphold Krav Maga's reputation has a formidable fighting system, especially with respect to the Gidon System. We'll attempt to advance Israeli Krav Maga using the Grandmaster Gidon's teaching methodology to disseminate what I believe is the most formidable and advanced krav maga in the world.
I am grateful to Haim and honored he has invested his time in me these many years as his student. Simply put, he makes me better. The aphorism certainly stands true: there is always more to learn and improve. And for this and so much more, Grandmaster Gidon has my resounding thanks and respect. We also deeply appreciate everyone's support and interest.