A nice article Liz, thanks for writing. Everyone’s an armchair expert, but if I may I’d like to throw in my ten cents as someone who’s been involved in unarmed & armed combatives for over 45 years. First thing is that KM training must involve plenty of pain and bruising, because otherwise in a real situation you’ll freeze after you’ve been hit (and you will get hit in real life, no question about it) and all your training will go out the window as your brain tries to grapple with the unfamiliar trauma. And in non-combat situation the ability to deal with pain can be very helpful because it teaches you to keep your head, so you can be clear under quite different circumstances and take rapid purposive action — for example, helping a victim of an auto accident.
Second thing is learning that no matter how long and how hard you train there will always be uncontrollable variables that can mean you end up being pummeled and defeated. Again, this is true in real life — we rarely get to control all aspects of our situation and we have to learn to accept defeat and learn to pick ourselves up and keep going even when we’ve been slammed metaphorically to the ground.
Last thing is that because KM is so trendy these days everyone & their dog is now a self-appointed KM instructor. The thing to look for is affiliation with Krav Maga Global. This organization is the gold standard, having grown out of the original KM group of practitioners. They don’t have silly colored belts or anything else, but they do have a rigorous grading & certification system. If your instructor can’t tell you that they’re a G5 or E1, E2, or E3 but instead give some other supposed qualification it may very well be worth looking further afield for real instruction. I’ve seen far too many bogus self-defense courses in my lifetime and they all set their students up for catastrophic failure in real life. KMG on the other hand is the real deal.
And no, I’m not affiliated in any way with KMG but I am very pleased my son trains under their instructors.