Analysis of a Krav Maga 360 Defense Drill

When my instructors say “Let’s play a game,” in my Krav Maga classes, I get excited. I love games! But, sadly, Krav Maga games don’t exactly match a game designer’s definition of game; there’s no winner, loser, or really even any kind of quest other than tapping someone on the shoulder while they try to block, and if you tap them or they fall outside the small perimeter, the penalty is two burpees (five if you go too hard and cause actual harm to someone). It’s more of a drill, and lasts for 5-10 minutes.

Let’s break this down:

  • This is PvP. There are no teams no matter how many people there are.
  • Player goals: Tap an opponent on the shoulder. Block them from tapping you. Don’t fall outside the ring.
  • Penalty is two burpees for either failing to block someone from tapping you or falling outside the ring. If you take a penalty, you jump back in and continue the game after you complete the burpees.
  • Keep this up for 5-10 minutes (until the instructor calls it).

Having complete PvP and no loyalty makes the game fair in the sense that there is no one team that is better than the other, only individuals. All the big guys in class won’t team up, but they will all eventually come for you. And since Krav Maga is close combat self defense, this is an excellent setting for a class drill (*cough* tutorial *cough*).

The goals for this drill are simple right? I, a 5’4″ 125 pounder, need to tap the outside shoulder of at least one opponent every 10 seconds (so my instructor doesn’t yell at me). Some such opponents are 6’something” and could easily be well over 180lbs. They have this lumbering height advantage that I don’t know how to make up for. Even if I’m fast, they’ll block me before I can touch them. The best way I’ve gotten around this is to tap them from behind where none of their limbs are blocking me and they can’t see me… but this is difficult when everyone keeps their back against the perimeter.

For most, the penalty of two burpees is enough to give the player an urgency to succeed. For me, it’s not. In addition to having failed this drill so many times, I attempted a a 50-Burpees-A-Day-For-30-Days challenge a while ago. Even though I didn’t complete it, it makes two burpees seem like a dream. In fact, I would rather do a couple burpees every 30 seconds for 10 minutes that try to tap someone who’s half a foot taller than me on the shoulder. So, in my opinion this consequence is not dire enough for me to care about how often I get hit (but my instructor’s shouting at me definitely is) and I’m sure I’m not the only one. This also makes me not mind so much if I don’t accomplish the goals of the drill—I did 12 burpees and my core and arms are gonna be more solid than yours!

When thinking of more dire penalties for a drill like this, we need to consider what else the player’s afraid of doing more than once: A run around the building, blitzing punches for more than 45 seconds, wall-sits, pulsing squats… maybe even a combination of these? If I didn’t know what terrible thing I’d have to do when I got out, I think I might feel a bit more urgency. Most of us can handle something we’re only a bit afraid of multiple times if we know it’s coming, but the fear of the unknown exercise probably scares us all. There’s always going to be one fear you hope for over the other, which relieves you and makes it not so scary.

I’m taking my instructor exam in January. I’ll be able to test some new penalties and see how player’s respond.


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