Some, if not most of the Krav Maga corporations and organizations in Israel and other parts in the world are using Imi Lichtenfeld’s primordial color belt grading system to determine the level of their students which is based similarly on Judo’s ranked system.
It started off with white belt first, followed by yellow, then orange, green, blue, brown and finally black. As for black belt achievers, the students are able to move up their ranks ranging from 1st Dan all the way to the 9th, and of course the time and space required for advancement to higher ranks differ between several corporations and organizations in the world.
Eyal Yanilov, the co-founder and Chief Instructor of the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF), developed a patch system as a grading system for students back in the 1980s. This grading system is currently used in Krav Maga Institutes outside of Israel and other parts of the world as well instead of using the colored belt system. In Israel, the colored belt is still used, but the qualified instructors wear them only on special occasions. The Krav Maga Grading System is divided into three main categories- Practitioner, Graduate and Expert levels.
As for the three main categories, they are structured into five levels at each of the category, and every level has a specific training curriculum requirements and expectations for the Krav Maga students.
Practitioner Level (P1 to P5)
Consisted of the majority of students in the Krav Maga community around the world, it starts off with Practitioner grading level for students learning the Krav Maga martial art. It starts off with grade P1 all the way to grade P5 and it is the core of the Krav Maga system.
Practitioner’s grading patch is printed with gold with slim, black bar that represents their level. For example, if a student is of grade P2, he or she will have 2 bars below a letter “P”, which means that he or she is of Practitioner Level 2 (P2).
Students of Practitioner Level wear uniforms that have white trim and logos printed on a black attire. In this level, students have the basic competencies of defending against the most recurrent and common attacks, as well as having built their individual basic fighting skills and knowing how to steer clear from undesirable situation or how to react after a violent confrontation.
Students of this level are also expected to have higher level of strength, fitness, flexibility and mental determination as compared to those who just started out in Krav Maga.
Graduate Level (G1 to G5)
After the level Practitioner 5 (P5) will be the next level which is the Graduate. To advance from the Practitioner level to the Graduate, it is expected for a student to take about half a year to a year period of continuous training. Students that earned their way into this category are expected to display proficiency in all the Practitioner level techniques and continue to uphold those skills on a high level whilst transiting through the Graduate level.
The majority of Krav Maga Instructors world-wide are of Graduate level and they are certified to teach Krav Maga for civilians. However, it is still a requirement for them to partake in the Instructor Training Course with a mandatory Pass before they can be certified as a qualified instructor. That being said, holding a Graduate level rank does not automatically place you into an Instructor role.
In the Graduate level syllabus, the students will be focusing more on developing their individual fighting skills with an advanced level as compared to a Practitioner Level and also, they will move on to learn how to deal with more complex threatening situations.
As for those students who opted to go for the Instructors path, they will be wearing red trim and logos printed on black attires. As for those who chose not to become an instructor, they will not be wearing those attires at all. As for the Graduate Level grading patch, it is printed with cobalt blue with slim, black bar below a letter “G”. For example, if a student has two slim, black bars below the letter “G” printed on the patch, it means that he or she is of Graduate Level 2 (G2).
Expert Level (E1 to E5)
After a student achieves Graduate Level 5 (G5), he or she can embark onto the next higher level which is the Expert. It normally takes between one to four years to advance from G5 to Expert One (E1), and from one Expert level to the another.
As for the Expert Level grading patch, it is printed with gold with slim, red bars below a letter “E”. For example, if a person has two slim, red bars below the letter “E” printed on the patch, it means that he or she is of Expert Level 2 (E2).
In order for a student to progress to Expert Level, he or she has to demonstrate all the technical, physical and fighting competencies in all the Practitioner and Graduate Level syllabus at all times and she or she must prove to possess outstanding fighting skills in Krav Maga.
Instructors who earned their way into Expert Level are of high level- additionally to their civilian qualifications, they specialize in assisting and coaching the Special Forces in the military, the SWAT, VIP bodyguards, as well as the Counter-Terrorism Special Police Units of the countries they are in.
Master Level (1 to 3)
In addition, beyond Expert Level 5 (E5), there are three Master Level grading system but this rank is only held by a handful group of martial art individuals who dedicated their lifetime to the martial art and contributed immensely to the teachings and promoting of Krav Maga world-wide. It is sort of similar to a person who achieves a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for Krav Maga.
There is no competency selection test for Master Level grade, and all Master Level ranks can only be awarded by Eyal Yanilov, who is of Master Level 3 awarded by Imi Lichtenfeld himself.
Another one of the most famous Martial Artist who is holding the Master Level rank is Haim Gidon. Hailed as the Grand Master of Krav Maga after the passing of Imi Lichtenfeld, he is the successor of the latter in the Israeli Krav Maga Association (IKMA). He currently holds the highest ranking record in Krav Maga with a 10th degree black belt in the Martial Art.
Training Programs for Government Sectors
Some Krav Maga organization out there designed training programs to assist in providing Krav Maga fighting techniques and training for the military personnel from the Government Sectors. Krav Maga Global (KMG) is one of the organization who are having this right now. Upon completion of the Krav Maga training programs, the military or armed personnel from the Government Sectors will receive separate sets of level grading.
In KMG, they award three levels of Fighter diploma and also, three levels of Warrior diploma to the military personnel upon the successful completion of their Fighter and Warrior Krav Maga courses.
Skills Are More Important Than Rank
By understanding the different advancements of the Krav Maga grading system, it is good for students’ training experience and also, it gives a student an indication of what is their current level of abilities and capabilities to defend themselves at their respective period.
By setting goals to advance within the grading system, it will be a good way to keep the students motivated when they go for Krav Maga training.
However, like my instructor told me just recently, holding a rank may look good on paper, but it is not your rank that is going to help save your life if you are being cornered in a street fight or facing an impending violent confrontation right in front of your eyes.
It is all about skills that will supplement your basic instincts for survival when being forced into those unforeseen circumstances.
If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.
Founder of kravmagarock.com