The History of Krav Maga in Indonesia
Krav Maga or translated as "Contact Combat" from Hebrew has built itself a reputation as one of the world's popular fighting system and although its popularity has spread to all corners of the world since Imi Lichtenfeld began to teach it publicly after retiring from IDF in the mid 1960's, there is no sign of Krav Maga waning amidst the MMA craze that has also gripped much of the world and also to an extent challenged some myths with regards to martial arts.
In Indonesia, Krav Maga is said to have been first introduced to the elite Indonesian Army Special Forces or Kopassus back in the mid 80's and early 90's when it is said that Indonesian Kopassus and Intelligence members had trained overseas and were introduced to Krav Maga during specialized weapons & tactics training. Rumor has it that only a few of the members were taught in Krav Maga and it is also unclear to what the extent of Krav Maga training did the Commandos go through as anyone who has served or worked in either a Specialized Police or Military Unit knows that the generally the Units dedicates a small percentage of training for Hand-to-Hand Combat Training amidst the many other skills, drills and training an elite operator has to undergo to have a complete skill set that separates elite units and regular forces. It is said that although those operators were exposed to Krav Maga, the system was never trickled down to the next generation of Commandos as soon after in the mid 90's there was an escalation in Aceh, East Timor and Papua which kept the Indonesian Army busy in that time frame. As a result, Krav Maga became something only a very few member of Kopassus had heard of and soon disappeared as new generation of Kopassus were brought in.
Those were the rumors, now here are the facts. Krav Maga was officially introduced to Indonesia by an Australian named Stephen Chan in 2006 who had moved to Bandung to setup his business in Indonesia. I had first heard of Krav Maga in Blackbelt Magazine in early 2002, thanks to the "Bombastic" marketing of Moni Aizik's "Commando Krav Maga" which turned out to be Judo in Military Fatigues and partly due to what had just happened in America: 9-11. Soon after that an explosion of "Krav Maga" fever and or Israeli Combat Systems was highly sought out by the American Public as these systems were often sold as "The Most Deadly", "The Most Effective", etc. Bottom line it was perhaps the best time to be a certified Krav Maga instructor at that time due to the high demand and general publicity Krav Maga was making.
In early 2006, the first Krav Maga public seminar was opened by Stephen Chan who invited Tactical Krav Maga International or TKM led by Carl Halley who had previously been affiliated with IKMF but then broke away, aligned with Protect Krav Maga's Itay Gil to create TKM and stream lined the techniques and approached a more "Hard style" Krav Maga focusing on full contact pressure drills which in practice put students in full protective gear to defend various attacks which were launched at full speed and were as real as it gets when it came to dealing with violence. TKM's approach wasn't for everyone but it developed a system and method of training which almost guaranteed an average person to have both the confidence, and the capability to deal with a multitude of attacks once they've trained in TKM for at least one year.
It was in this seminar that I first jumped in and got my taste of Hard style Krav Maga and never looked back. I trained privately with Stephen for a year where he personally prepped me for the TKM Instructors Course and although I barely passed due to a shoulder injury during the course, Stephen continued to mentor me on how to be a TKM instructor while at the same time training to become a better "Kravist" as they say in the Krav Maga circles.
Within a few months of finishing the Instructors Course I was invited by the local Gegana (Indonesia Special Police/ SWAT Detachment) in Petamburan Grogol, Jakarta to teach at the Gegana Detachment and by mid 2007 the new Gegana Commanding Officer Police Commissioner Donijo initiated a program to create a Gegana Fighting System similar to US Army Combatives, and USMC MCMAP. I was offered to be embedded with the Detachment to work on the program as a registered Auxiliary Police and Specialist and soon found myself being trained in the fundamental Gegana skills with the intent of understanding better how and what Gegana members do and modify TKM so that it would be parallel to what the field conditions were. Several technical modifications were done, a fundamental change was training with "cold weapon" first before moving to empty hand. This made logic as operators worked with primary and secondary weapons, and empty hand techniques were used for suspect control or weapon retention. Around the base TKM was known simply as Krav Maga however sometime in 2010 the system was introduced to Gegana 1st Regiment based in Kelapa Dua, Depok West Java thanks to then 1st Police Lieutenant K.L. and the name was changed to Bela Diri Taktis Gegana and although most of the fundamental principles and techniques was still TKM, by that time the system had become a unique fighting system of its own as it had been modified and updated based on inputs from operators who had returned from Aceh, Poso and Papua mission areas and had encountered close quarters hand-to-hand fighting to control or subdue suspects. As of 2018 a small number of Gegana martial arts enthusiast officers continue the Bela Diri Taktis Gegana program and continue to upgrade the system by cross training in other martial arts such as Eskrima, Muay Thai, and MMA.
Snippet of Tactical Krav Maga training at Gegana Polda Metro Jaya Detachment circa 2009
Snippet of Tactical Krav Maga training during a Combatives course at Gegana Detachment. In frame: An officer practicing cold weapon defense against a knife attack.
Meanwhile while this was happening in the Indonesian Special Police Community, Krav Maga had also made its way back to the Indonesian Army Special Forces Counter Terrorist Group via David Hermawan who was certified under Avi Nardia's Kapap and also established a small number of SF personnel who were trained in Kapap Krav Maga and continued their own program to this day. During these times as far as I know excluding Stephen Chan, only David (under Kapap International) and I (under TKM International) were the only Certified and Internationally Accredited Instructors.
The Krav Maga Boom in Indonesia
Krav Maga really started to boom sometime in 2013 and its expansion hasn't stopped since, many Krav Maga instructors have come up since David and I first opened our schools in 2007. Some of the new instructors had opened classes completely relying on DVD and YouTube videos, some were either ex members of Kapap or TKM who were ambitious in their pursuits and broke away too early to be fully certified but understood the "jist" of Krav Maga enough to open their own Krav Maga schools. Others had invested both time and money to be certified legit by big Krav Maga organization such as Krav Maga Global of which one of the very first female to be be certified to teach by Krav Maga Global was Jen Mulianto. Prior to Jen, BJJ Competitor and Former Champion Faustine Gunawan had done TKM Instructor Course and was also the first TKM female Instructor in Indonesia, and soon enough other new instructors had popped up in different corners in Jakarta.
Despite not having any credentials to teach, quite a few Krav Maga classes all over Indonesia were fully packed and the general public not knowing anything about Krav Maga and taking the instructors credentials at face value, simply went along with whatever was being taught that day without realizing they were learning something that looked like Krav Maga but was nothing like Krav Maga. An example of this was a system called Hypno Krav Maga which for a while was an instant catch as it had "Krav Maga" in the wording.
A hipno (as in hypnosis) Krav Maga session featured on Indonesian TV, the program, class and instructor has ceased to exist as it was revealed the instructor was never certified in any Krav Maga organization and was also found to have embezzled money from investors looking to work with the instructor to build gyms across Indonesia.
As of 2019 most of the certified Krav Maga instructors in Indonesia trace their certification lienage to: Tactical Krav Maga, Kapap Indonesia, Unicombat Academy based in Surabaya and Spartan House Gym based in Senayan Jakarta. Krav Maga is expected to continue growing in Indonesia and as the world's fifth most populous country, there is of course a lot of potential for the system to expand in Indonesia.
Why Krav Maga is Overrated
Let's be clear... I love Krav Maga. Krav Maga and the particular style and system I train: Tactical Krav Maga has given me so much opportunities which I'm everyday grateful. Though Krav Maga in general, the system like any other system that is elevated in a "boom" or trend, tends to become a victim of its own success.
Similar to the boom in the United States, Australia and all over the world, Krav Maga organizations have made good business out of Krav Maga courses, classes, certifications etc. and as a result; there's been cases where Krav Maga teaching certification have been passed out without a solid understanding and technical application competency of Krav Maga techniques. I have seen this trend in the 80's with the Ninja fad, the 90's with Jeet Kune Do, mid 90's with Gracie Jiujitsu and BJJ, and early 2000 (post 9-11) with Krav Maga and Reality Based Self Defense Systems.
Thus my point that Krav Maga is overrated. The success of the Krav Maga marketing has produced so many instructors who are not qualified to teach it the system in the first place. Youtube videos of so called instructors demonstrating questionable techniques and against non-resisting partners didn't do justice to Krav Maga as well. A key aspect of good Krav Maga training is the instructor, I can name a few top Krav Maga instructors in the world that would make any top UFC fighter reconsider "fighting" with these Krav Maga instructors, as their Krav Maga skills have been put to test in police/military high risk operations but also the fact that to these Krav Maga masters the definition of "fighting" is beyond the octagon, its rules and techniques. It is using whatever arsenal is at disposal to finish off the threat as quickly as possible. If this means using the M4, Glock, knife or any improvised weapon and any dirty tactic to win that fight so be it... which by the way is a Krav Maga mentality. Like anything else a good instructor is important and in the context of Krav Maga, as a Krav Maga instructor, life long student, and Krav Maga fan I can't stress enough how important this aspect is. Don't fall into the hype of Krav Maga being the ultimate self defense system, it's the individual that defines the style and not the other way around. And a good Krav Maga instructor can tell you with honesty the reason why a Krav Maga technique is trained a certain way but importantly explain to a student the limitations of Krav Maga. Keep in mind that no fighting system is perfect, there will never be one and Krav Maga is no exception. So bottom line, be aware of the Krav Maga hype and learn from a qualified instructor who has the experience and better yet professional competency to not only talk the talk but walk the walk.
Train hard & stay safe!
Coach J. Ueno