Are there belts/gradings in Krav Maga?
The answer to this will depend on the organisation and the school - some don't have any grading system, but most do. Let's first look at a bit of the history of Krav Maga for some context.
History of belts/gradings in Krav Maga
Krav Maga was originally a military hand-to-hand combat system, taught to soldiers in Israel, there were certainly no grading systems then.
When it first began being taught to civilians in the 1960s the founder of the system took inspiration from Judo in terms of how to present Krav Maga to the civilian public, and adopted the Judo Gi for training, as well as the same coloured belt ranking system that Judo uses.
After some years, the Judo Gi was replaced with the more familiar black trousers and t-shirt training clothes, and the coloured belts were eventually replaced with levels and patches.
Although some branches and organisations either continued with the belt system, or returned to it at a later time, KMG (the organisation we are part of) uses the patch/level system to this day.
How Does The KMG Grading System Work?
In KMG the levels are divided into 4:
Practitioner, Graduate, Expert, and Master.
Progression from one level to the next is awarded after a thorough test, which is partly designed to test the practitioner's knowledge and understanding of the techniques and principles of the system, but also to test their mental resolve, attitude and determination, fighting skills, and see how they perform under pressure, when they are stressed, exhausted, and ready to quit.
KMG level tests are tough - and grades are earned not given. You don't just get the grade for turning up, and many people fail tests if they have not prepared well.
But, if you put in the work, keep focused, and never quit (especially if you fail the first time) there's no reason why, with hard work and dedication, you can't progress as far in the system as you set your mind to.
The practitioner levels are where people start out. There are 5 practitioner levels - P1-P5. The curriculum in these levels contains the core elements of the system, and practitioners are expected to be able to solve specific problems with the correct solutions, as well as developing some solid, fundamental fighting skills.
Progression from one practitioner level to the next requires consistent, regular training for a minimum of 5 months between tests. Here at DDKM we have a minimum number of training hours required to ensure students are prepared.
After the practitioner levels come the Graduate levels. Again there are 5 of these - G1-G5. The curriculum in these levels takes the foundations of the system to the next level and introduces many more complex techniques and principles. Practitioners are expected to be able to solve unknown and changing problems, and become proficient fighters.
Progression between G levels requires at least 8 months of regular training between tests.
Next come the Expert levels, again 5 of them, E1-E5. Expert levels are reserved for people who have a complete understanding of the system and all its principles, as well as a very high level of skill. The E level curriculum contains many advanced techniques and concepts.
For E levels there is a requirement of between 2 and 5 years between level tests.
At the very top of the tree are the Master levels, reserved for those who have dedicated their entire lives to Krav Maga. Within KMG there are just 2 Master Level practitioners, including the founder of KMG, Eyal Yanilov, who is Master Level 3.
What's the point of grading?
Many people train Krav Maga in order to learn how to protect themselves, and don't really care about grades or levels, and that's great (in fact it's the best attitude to have).
That being said, when investing time into developing a physical skill it's important that you can measure your progress in some way - otherwise you don't know if you're improving, and will likely get bored before very long and stop training altogether.
In Krav Maga we don't compete (it's not a sport) so we can't measure progress through competition victories and medals.
So having a grading system, where you're tested on your skill level, is an excellent way to see real, tangible improvement in your skill level, which will keep you motivated to continue training and improving even more.
That's why, at DDKM, we always encourage our students to grade when they are ready to do so. Generally the students who take part in grading stay training the longest, and therefore make the most progress.
But, not everyone is interested in grading, and that's just fine by us.
Click below to find out how to get started training with us