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First a bit of background: I am a runner and I do a fair amount of weight training, I am thus in good shape but very stiff.My aim is to reach a basic level. I am a serious and methodical practitioner of anything that I get involved in.

I am interested in Krav Maga because it is a MA system that seems easy to grasp for a westerner and also quick to learn. Note that I am only secondarily interested in self defence aspects. I have the opportunity to join a local dojo where they are offering the option of one or two classes per week (1 hour each).

My question is: Is it possible to reach a decent level with an hour a week training with an instructor and doing the rest alone?

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    Take more classes. Training on your own is vital but is no substitute for instruction. Remember, practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. – The Wudang Kid Apr 21 '15 at 12:49
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There are pros and cons to only going once a week vs. twice a week. Because of this I am going to set up a list.


Going Once a Week

           Pros 
  • You won't learn the system very fast, so it gives you more to do in the long run.
  • You will find every week a challenge!

          Cons
    
  • You won't learn the system very fast or effectively.

  • You will find every week challenging because your conditioning won't really improve.

  • You will fall behind your classmates and partners.

  • You won't be able to develop a good relationship with the teacher so your progress will be slowed because they won't be as able to assist you in the ways you need.

Going Twice (preferably more) Per Week

           Pros 
  • You will learn quickly and be able to get a solid base for your style.
  • Your conditioning will improve, as will your strength, quite quickly.
  • You will advance more quickly due to picking up the system faster.
  • You'll develop a good raport with the instructors so they will be able to help you in a more personal way.

          Cons
    
  • You will have to take one more hour(plus travel) out of your week.

  • Ummmm.... Nope. That's it.


I hope this list was informative and helpful. Honestly, you should definitely go twice or more a week plus practicing on your own is a good idea. Going once a week and practicing on your own isn't actually that good of an idea because you might inadvertently be practicing with bad form and ingraining that into muscle memory which is much worse for you in the long run.
Also, if you are only secondarily interested in self-defense then Krav Maga is probably not for you. It is a self defense system, not a martial art per se. It has no sport applications and the methodology of it is different from most traditional martial arts. True, you can get the basics down quickly and it is easy to grasp, but if your focus isn't self-defense you may find yourself disappointed with it.

tl;dr

No matter what art or system you learn, go to more than one class a week. You will improve faster and better than if you only go once. Krav Maga isn't a sport and should not be treated as such, though it is a great augment to any human experience.

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One class a week is basically nothing. On that schedule, nearly everybody progresses at a snail's pace and takes years to achieve even basic proficiency in the material. You'll forget more from week to week than you'll remember.

Two classes a week is the minimum to make progress. Three or more is recommended for actually picking up the movements.

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    Short and to the point! I was about to say the same thing. – Steve Weigand Apr 21 '15 at 21:00
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    @SteveWeigand Please do so; multiple answers are doubleplusgood. – Dave Liepmann Apr 21 '15 at 21:05
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In a broad way, you can divide martial arts training into contact-focused or non-contact focused.

Krav Maga, being primarily designed for defense, is contact-focused, and you're going to learn the most from working with partners. Unless you plan on training with friends outside of class, learning is going to be slow.

People try to come up with substitutes to allow solo training (heavy bag, wrestling dummies) etc. but these are always stand-ins and never as good as having lvie partners to work with - particularly since distance, timing, and feeling an opponent's muscle tension/movement, aren't reflected with objects.

Since you mentioned self defense is not a primary goal, you can also look at more traditional weapon arts or form based arts where you can get something to practice solo without a partner, and still "get" something from going once a week.

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I reckon, to set the foundation for anything (Martial Arts or anything really) you need about 100 hours of dedicated training (As suggested by the other answers above).

Divide that over any number of weeks and sessions you want, it doesn't all have to be with an instructor, but the 100 hours should be relatively focussed on the art itself, and not the supporting conditioning that goes with it.

For example, doing push ups and squats may be useful in building strength to kick and punch, but in the end if you do lots of push ups, you get better at doing push ups.

Also, learning Martial Arts on your own is a bit like learning to play basket ball on your own, you can get great at getting the ball in the hoop, but add another person in to play with you and suddenly your abilities aren't as good as you think they are.

Probably worth thinking of the 100 hours in context, for example, 100 hours of learning the art will still mean that you need another 100 hours of controlled fighting/sparring, but this still equals zero 'real' fighting, so always best to remember that too. You can replicate reality to a point, but it's never real. I was lucky that I was in my teens and went through that arrogant stage early and didn't get myself into too much trouble. I knew others that did though, and many blackbelts which got completely flattened by people who had never had a days training, but had clocked up many real fights so knew what reality was like.

Note; The idea of '100 hours' is a personal observation based on Malcolm Gladwell's notion of the fact that it takes '10,000 hours to become an expert' that he made famous. From other personal observations I wondered if the pattern was similar for non-expert. It appears to be e.g. a Shotokan Green belt (a foundation grade) would be around 12 months twice per week (100 hours). The effort (in hours) always seems to be more relevant than the duration. Same for other disciplines including sports, playing instruments, even how well people performed at work in certain tasks.

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    Hi Sardathrion, It's a personal observation based on Malcolm Gladwell's notion of '10,000 hours to become an expert' that he made famous. From other personal observations I wondered if the pattern was similar for non-expert. It appears to be e.g. a Shotokan Green belt (a foundation grade) would be around 12 months twice per week (100 hours). The effort (in hours) always seems to be more relevant than the duration. Same for other disciplines including sports, playing instruments, even how well people performed at work in certain tasks. Does that make sense? – Matt May 1 '15 at 8:55
  • This is great! Could you add your comment into the answer? – Sardathrion - against SE abuse May 1 '15 at 8:57

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