The Craze of Military Style Training: Good or Bad?

The popularity of military-style training has been on the rise over the past few years. From Krav Maga, to Go Ruck, to Crossfit, often the trainers have no military experience themselves.

What most current or former combat soldiers can agree on is that the military is NOT good for your health! There probably isn’t a single person that served with me in the IDF, including myself, that does not have some type of chronic problem or injury as a result of their service. Not to mention the many soldiers that fell out of training or had to be medically discharged as a result.

Now, I am not saying that these are not great forms of exercise; they have great physical and mental benefits to them. However, the way that this training is presented to students and practitioners is many times in the wrong intensity and amount. The training for civilians needs to have similar mental challenges as soldiers but much simpler, easier, and safer.

Nothing fun or health about stretcher carry...Final march before joining the combat platoon.

Nothing fun or health about stretcher carry...Final march before joining the combat platoon.

Take for example rucking; although you will improve your endurance both physically and mentally, you will also cause yourself shoulder, back, hip, knee and ankle problems. During my service, the training started from a one kilometer march in a vest with my rifle and went to 30 to 40 kilometer long night navigations with 50-60% body weight in gear. We developed outstanding physical and mental capabilities but also caused ourselves lifelong injury. For civilians, long distance running is a great way to build up these abilities without causing harm.

Some of the Krav Maga training I have seen also falls into that category; full-day tests for rank, mismatched partners in classes, sparring that results in KOs, and constant injury. This is not the approach for civilians! People come to learn how to defend themselves, not to become special forces soldiers or MMA fighters. In fact most of the Krav Maga training in the IDF has little to do with self defense techniques (choke, grab, stick ,etc defense) and much more with building discipline and the mental ability to go through anything. Civilian training needs to be structured to teach first and foremost self defense and secondly mental and physical toughness.

For the most part, class was dedicated to striking and extreme aggression drills; usually involving fighting and wrestling drills where one person had to fight the whole class.

For the most part, class was dedicated to striking and extreme aggression drills; usually involving fighting and wrestling drills where one person had to fight the whole class.

There are many creative ways to challenge students without injuring them and in some cases causing them to leave. This is especially true when training women. My friend and colleague Jennie Trower has written extensively about this (Click here to read her blog). There is no need for a civilian to train in this manner or exert him or herself to the point of injury. Training should be primarily for health benefits and day to day self defense matters. If you want to train for war join the military!

Instructors across different spectrums must understand that they are working with civilians, people that have lives other than their training. They must understand that their students do not need to train for war but rather for day-to-day life.  

The first concept that was presented at my civilian Krav Maga instructor course at the Wingate Institute was "First do not harm." So as instructors let’s consider the long term effects of the training and not just our goal for the class.

Thank you for reading,

Ron Grobman

Owner | Instructor

Tactical Fitness Austin