Eyal Yanilov is a renowned krav maga authority and the highest-ranked krav maga practitioner today with the level of “expert.” He began training at age 15 under krav maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld. Yanilov worked directly with Lichtenfeld to develop and formalize the art’s curriculum, teaching civilian and military versions of krav maga. Currently, Yanilov heads Krav Maga Global and has written several of books on the martial art. He was Black Belt’s 2018 Self-Defense Instructor of the Year.
Personal note: Eyal Yanilov was one of my teachers. He certified me as a krav maga instructor. I recently asked him how he sees the relevance of krav maga in today’s world. This is what he said.
“What most will think is relevant or what I think is relevant? You know, how many people wanted cars before there were cars? Everybody wanted horses, right? Imagine a world today where we would have so many horses instead — a lot of mess in the streets. I think one of the most important things for people interested in martial arts and fighting styles and all this is to understand what the goal is.
“When you look at this era in human life and history, it’s probably the quietest and least-violent one. There are no wars — almost no wars. However, there’s street violence, which is dangerous. There is a certain level of terrorism at very close range, like knives and shootings. There are robberies, obviously, and if the economy [has] more problems, that would mean more robberies, especially violent ones. And then there is the need to protect other people from violence.
“The most important and relevant part of krav maga is obviously knowledge and experience and awareness. Be aware of what’s happening. Don’t get in trouble. Don’t get close to trouble. Sure, if you have no alternative, you’ll deal with it. But you’ve got the alternative: Stay away from it. Run away from it. Do pre-emptive attacks and then escape.
“In krav maga, we always search for the next problem. So the situation is exactly the opposite of the ring, where you have one opponent, you know who the opponent is and you have the judge. In the ring, you are focusing on that one opponent, and that’s it.
“In krav maga, we can’t focus on one thing for too long. There’s a big chance that the aggressor has friends that are coming from any direction. You had better be ready and plan and move in a way that you can scan the area, what we call in krav maga ‘active scanning’ and ‘passive scanning.’ Scan the area to find the next problem as soon as possible.
“Of course, you also need to think about running away. You need to be asking yourself questions: Where is the exit? Where are my tools? Where is my friend?
“So there’s more to this finishing mode, but it’s very important that the earliest thing you do when you are not in immediate danger is look where the danger can be.
“Another place for krav maga is in mental preparation, the mental aspect. You need to prepare the person to deal with stress, to deal with violence. It’s very simple. The body is the car, and the mind is the driver. Who are we training? The driver.
“Obviously, we need to keep the car fit, and we want to have a lot of horsepower, good wheels, good steering and good brakes. But I’m training the driver the entire time. I’m training the mind to be courageous. The practitioner needs to be able to apply controlled aggression to make decisions under stress, and so in training, the stress needs to be persistent and he needs to have a high level of efficacy.
“In the mental training in krav maga, we have three directions:
• Combat mindset, controlled aggression and domination.
• Focus and concentration. Being able to channel all your resources to do the job and also divide resources. Divide your attention to get as much information from the surroundings the moment you can so you don’t miss an attack or attacker.
• Relaxation and diffusion of destructive emotions such as fear and anxiety and anger.
“Everything is interconnected to these three sections. They are all integrated. So in krav maga training, we have the curriculum-specific drills for mental training in these three directions — in addition to fighting and physical training.
“That’s why you need to be humble as an instructor. One of the most important things is to understand that we are dealing with people. We have to direct them because they don’t know the way themselves. We are teaching them techniques, but eventually they need to discover their own strengths.”