I had sciatica before and had to have operation for it; I have since recovered and have been going to the gym regularly (e.g. running, chin up, back extension machine). I am now interested to learn Krav Maga since it teaches one with practical self-defence within a relatively short time frame.

But I was being rejected by one instructor, since apparently there are slamming, jumping, landing and twisting. I asked if I can skip the slamming moves, which are the only ones I think I am unable to do, but she replied that it would not be fair to my practise partner, which is fair enough.

My question is, is there anyway at all I can practise Krav Maga? If not, could anyone recommend another martial art that can achieve similar things as Krav Maga please?

Many thanks!

3 Answers 3


Most self defense and martial arts instructors do not have sufficient medical knowledge to analyze what is safe or unsafe for your condition - in this case, the instructor is erring on caution, which is completely reasonable.

That said, you'll want to talk to a physical therapist or sports medicine specialist who can look at your medical records and make a good assessment of what movements and training would be safe or unsafe for you.

That will provide you with necessary information for yourself, but also allow you to talk to instructors of whatever you decide to get into, and have them make informed decisions about how to best instruct you. (which may also include, "I will not alter my training regime, go elsewhere" or "I'm not skilled enough to adapt it accordingly." but at least it will be an informed statement at that point.)

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    My personal opinion is that civilian self defense ought to be scaled to meet many people's needs, including people with injuries and disabilities, and it is a basic level of competency to consider what training or suggestions one might make for people operating with lessened physical options. The odds are probably good that even if you can't safely learn ALL the breadth, you can probably learn SOME methods that would help you in self defense, otherwise your doctors wouldn't let you walk around w/o a body brace if you were that fragile. But go get that medical assessment & know for sure.
    – Bankuei
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 18:49
  • Thank you exactly my thought! Unless I am crippled - which I am not, I can go to the gym and by some standards, fitter than an average person - it is simply impossible for me to imagine I am barred from self defense for life. The medical point is good advise; but I guess even with that it takes luck to find an instructor to take me...? (Assuming the medical professional greenlighted me on practising Krav Maga barring a few specific moves) Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 16:41
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    A good assessment will include specific TYPES of movement you shouldn't do ("Don't twist to the left and down") which you will be able to tell your instructor. Armed with that information, a good instructor should be able to give you best options and strategies for self defense. It shouldn't be that hard to find someone who can help you with that. The other part is that a lot of instructors (rightfully) don't want to risk serious injury, so the info helps them work with you.
    – Bankuei
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 17:11

All there is to say about 'Krav Maga' as a modern 'art' (as an independent system instead of a label) in one post/thread. Also, there is no such thing as "practical self-defence within a relatively short time". From that post:

So, if a student can pick the bits of gold out of the pile of poo [that nowadays is taught under the name of Krav Maga], they will be well served. Or, they can go do judo and boxing, which provide almost universally effective skills, and take a few seminars on SD to underscore awareness, evasion, escape, deescalation, legalities mindset, etc, and not have to worry if they've learned anything useful.

Caveat: As practical self-defence training involves full-resistant full-contact if it wants to prepare for the things you have to face in case in any way, I render it impossible to achieve remotely reliable self-defence capabilities through martial arts for you - at least before doing a considerable amount of supplemental training, see my comment (referring to Judo on both receiving and executing side) below.

Yes, you may learn some strikes. You may learn some blocks. Kicks, depending on the nature of your injury, may already put too much stress on the back. You even may learn throws if the teacher and partners organise accordingly. But without having trained all this under a stressful, potentially (hopefully not actually) harmful situation against one or more opponents that go full out - these skillsets will probably fail you in the situation you need them.

There are many other possibilities of self-defence though, like seminars for awareness and the all-time winner - running. If you are aware of the situation and can outrun aggressors, you are safe.

In any other case, a bad back (or knives/guns on the aggressor's side) will put you in a bad situation anyways.

Disclaimer regarding the introduction: There are good Krav Maga teachers out there, but especially as someone without experience, it is hard to tell the difference. Even in Judo/Boxing there are really, really bad teachers. It's just that it is really easy to call yourself certified Krav Maga teacher in one of the quadrizillion organisations out there and it is a hype that is advertised and where people know it is money to make there.

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    I endorse the medical part of @Bankuei - anecdotal point though: Suffered a dislocation in my lower back & sciatica at the age of 28 (due to hypermobility syndrome), didn't want surgery, had syringes, physiotherapy, and supplemental core training. The doctor said never again any ball sports, martial arts, or things including running or jumping (so pretty much anything). Three months later I started with light training, more than a year later I still felt if I overdid it, three years later now I can go all out again without repercussions. But running on the risk of it happening again, of course Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 13:43
  • Yea I underwent almost exactly the same thing as well; syringes, physiotherapies and core muscle training. I am too ignorant to tell if Krav Maga is impractical or not (otherwise I wouldn't need to ask you guys here haha), but I simply refuse to believe that with all that hard work, and by now I am even fitter than an average person by some standard - I am barred from any form of martial art/self defence. Obviously that could simply be my stupid ego speaking though Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 16:50
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    @DanielMak: As I said, my doctor as well argued that in my own interest, I should not continue. I ignored it, endured throwbacks, but learned to listen to my body and stop when I felt it gets too much. Now, I am back in full training again. This could apply to you as well, and you probably should try. But it's always dancing on a razor's edge. That said, Judo plus some kind of Boxing/Muay Thai will take longer, but give your body more time to adapt to the stress. Krav Maga is all about pushing and drilling you from the spot, which obviously isn't what you are looking for. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 16:55

It is important to understand that for any given civilian to need to use a fighting method is extremely rare. 'Self defence' can be achieve by avoiding situations where there are likely to be hostile people, by talking to the potential attacker and by running away.

If you are a civilian defending yourself somewhere with no CCTV footage this could get you in a lot of trouble.

So if you are going to learn to fight in a self defence context you need to be able to scale your technique to be an appropriate level of force to the situation at hand. This is not a strong point of the techniques taught in krav maga.

Krav Maga is a system designed to be part of the training of soldiers. In particular it is designed to be taught to Israeli Conscripts. It is not geared towards those who want to defend themselves in civilian situations.

A soldier is always armed when on the battlefield. His opponents are also always armed. Most importantly a soldier is always trying to actually kill his opponent. This can be the case for a civilian altercation if you live in america for example but if so why use anything other than your gun?

In addition a soldier has to be physically fit anyway to get into the army (even as a conscript). Krav Maga assumes a certain level of fitness for this reason.

Krav Maga techniques are fit for purpose in that they teach soldiers to react in an aggressive manner when threatened. They teach to get into a position where you can kill the enemy (often) with a weapon. This is not the goal in a self defence situation. If you are a civilian you want to get away not kill the opponent.

For this reason Self Defence is not a particularly rational reason for wanting to learn a martial art. Further, if you are at all likely to injure yourself in your training or in competitions then claiming you train for self defence is completely irrational.

Lets suppose though that you do want to learn to fight in a way suitable for civilian self defence. You just want to improve your odds of survival in the event of a particularly unlikely thing happening. Why would you want to learn a method intended to make you both aggressive and lethal and which will risk injury because of throws?

The attitude of the instructor you spoke to says it all. She was not interested in helping you learn to defend yourself or anything else. She just wants her students to feel tough.

To summarise I recommend you find a style in which to train where you can learn basic escapes, dodges and blocks without fear of injury. You won't be doing yourself any favours if you get injured while training. That completely defeats the objective of 'self defence' for anyone regardless of physical fitness.

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    This answer would be good for the question "Is Krav Maga suitable for civilians?". But it does not the questions posed.
    – mattm
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 18:50
  • Good point @mattm but I am going to leave this in place regardless as I feel that for someone with injuries considering learning to fight it has useful information.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 18:58

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