A couple of years ago somebody on an American forum criticised us based on his viewing of some of our You Tube clips: he said that our stuff was a mixture of Muay Thai and Judo. Now we didn’t really take that as a criticism: those are 2 well established and respected martial arts and to be honest, if somebody put together a martial art based on Muay Thai and Judo with some decent pre-emptive moves and half decent weapons defences, I’d do it. They say you should write the book you’d like to read yourself, and I guess with Urban Krav Maga we’ve tried to create the martial art that we’d like to do ourselves.
This short article will be about the Brazilian Ju Jitsu (BJJ) element in what we do: note that BJJ derives from Judo: Maeda, who founded the style with the Gracies, was a Judo-ka who never trained Ju Jitsu in his life: the term Ju Jitsu at the time just happened to be the term used at the time in Brazil for the Japanese fighting systems.
McGill was thinking on this after a discussion with one of our new affiliates in Scotland who had previously trained with another style. He had a class which was a mixture of small women and big guys: using a couple of our techniques based on leverage the women were dropping the guys on the floor with a loud crash; this was not something they would have been able to do in his previous system heavily based on punching, a very un-leveraged technique.
The development of our system really began a few years ago when Stewart began training with Leo Negao, former 4-time world BJJ champion. Leo would teach Stewart BJJ, and he'd show him some of our techniques. We begun to modify our stuff based on working with Leo and his input. He’s a big lad with a neck that is probably a welterweight in itself so close-in punching wasn’t such a good idea and Stewart had to work on some other means of getting control; establishing control is an important element of Leo’s BJJ so his input was vital in upgrading our techniques. Conversely Leo was able to integrate some of our stuff into his teaching and continues to do so.
Importantly, Leo was originally a Vale Tudo (no holds-barred style which allows punching, elbows, butts, knees etc) fighter who did BJJ to enhance his ground game, he has also trained extensively with Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort and Minotauro so his stand-up and groundfighting style was readily adaptable to a reality-based sytem like ours. This wouldn’t have been quite the case with more sport-oriented grappling styles.
Leo’s input became very important to our teaching and from November 2009 he has done the Instructor Courses with Stewart. The style we have produced is something more than a straight combination of Muay Thai and Judo/BJJ, though we fully acknowledge our huge debt to those and other systems such as Western boxing and Freestyle Wrestling. Urban Krav Maga is an integrated fighting system based on the principles of leverage learned from our martial arts backgrounds and fighting experiences. For example, punching people around the head with bare knuckles will hurt those knuckles; if the guy is a lot bigger than you, you will probably hurt your knuckles more than you hurt him so we recommend hitting with the heel of the hand, taking his eye out or taking him down aggressively. Our takedowns are based on solid BJJ/Wresting principles but as we’re doing this for the street, we show how to takedown without going to ground with the bad guy. On the ground we teach people how to get up quickly as a priority but we also teach various guards, locks, chokes, armbars etc.
People need this knowledge as this is what some of the bad guys will try to pull so we have to make sure our students know what to expect and how to counter: if you don’t know how an arm bar is set up, how do you expect to be able to defend it? They also need this knowledge for when Plan A – getting up straight away – goes wrong. We known that there are many Instructors out there who say that all you need on the floor is to be able to bite, gouge, strike etc to be able to fight grapplers; frankly they need to spend some time on the floor with grapplers like Leo to realise just how wrong this can be; you need a firm grasp of at least the principles of ground-fighting to defend yourself adequately on the floor. I must confess that I at one time subscribed to this fallacy, but a few sessions rolling with Leo disabused me of the notion quickly and painfully.
Check out our YouTube channel here for an indication of what we teach: