April 28, 2014
By Maranda Flynn
For 1st Lt. Miro Bogdan, his trip from Zagreb, Croatia, to Fort Huachuca has turned out to be more than the educational opportunity he initially expected to receive -- or give.
In November 2013, Bogdan left his loved ones and made his first trip to the United States to attend the Military Intelligence Captain's Career Course, or MICCC, here. When the class began, students created a personal profile to share with the group. Through this introduction, it became known that Bogdan was a Krav Maga Self Defense System instructor.
Krav Maga is a practical and tactical self defense system that teaches individuals how to prevent, deal with and overcome all kinds of violence and attacks. But the technique is fairly new in the United States.
Krav Maga is Hebrew for "contact combat." It was developed by Slovakian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld, in the 1930s. Following World War II, Lichtenfeld started refining his system and using it to train military forces in Israel. In the 1960s Krav Maga was introduced to the general Israeli public.
In 1999 after Lichtenfeld passed, his closest assistant, Eyal Yanilov of Krav Maga Global, pushed the technique internationally. Since then, Krav Maga has become popular with military organizations and law enforcement agencies worldwide.
"It is a simple system, very easy to learn, and because of its simplicity it is easy to teach," Bogdan said. "It is logical, I would say. It is developed from the natural motions of man. It teaches people how to not do what is instinctive, but how to face the danger in a more elective system."
Krav Maga contains special approaches, tactics, techniques, subjects, drills and training methods for different groups based on age, gender, employment, and whether they are law enforcement or military.
"If you are a Civilian, I will not teach you how to kill a man. I will teach you how to deflect, escape, and not put yourself in danger," said Bogdan. "However, if you are a military person in a combat situation, it's different because you have to fight for your life."
The essence of this particular technique is to avoid conflict whenever possible. Sometimes however, conflict is unavoidable. Bogdan explained that in these situations, students are taught to finish the fight and get away.
The first step of Krav Maga, Bogdan explained, is situational awareness. "You are taught the practical stuff like if you see a dark alley that leads you home faster, but there is a longer way in the public and light, which should you choose? You are going to choose the longer way," he said.
Bogdan teaches his students that if they do find themselves in a situation they can't avoid, the next step is to de-conflict. Push away, back up, and attempt to use an authoritative tone. When that doesn't work, there is no other choice and a reaction is required.
"Usually it is very quick and logical, simultaneous hits in vulnerable points, and then you digress because you don't know if there are more people coming or if they have other weapons," Bogdan said.
After trying other forms of martial arts, Bogdan first began learning Krav Maga six years ago. Almost two years ago he became a certified instructor. It's not just his Krav Maga training, but also his military experience, that makes him a subject matter expert.
In 2005, Bogdan joined the Croatian military as a police officer. Two years later, after earning his master's degree in air traffic control, he was accepted to Basic Officers School. In 2009, Bogdan was assigned to the Croatian Army Special Forces.
Back home, Bogdan teaches Krav Maga to his military unit. After work hours, he also trains Civilians twice a week, but training military personnel is what he prefers due to the even level of physical fitness. "It is a little different teaching Civilians because you get people who are not as in shape as military personnel, or they are younger or older. So you try to teach a certain standard for everyone even though it is within a group," he said.
Krav Maga Global, www.kravmagaglobal.com, connects instructors all over the world. Bogdan said the reason why Krav Maga is top of the line is because its chief instructors analyze the techniques annually and make changes as needed. As a result, instructors must recertify every two years to maintain their status and ensure what is being instructed is up-to-date.
Bogdan has taught Krav Maga Self Defense classes every Saturday at Barnes Field House to active duty Soldiers. The course is free, and is scheduled from 1 -- 3 p.m. Bogdan is scheduled to leave Fort Huachuca at the end of May, so it is recommended to call Barnes Field House and verify the dates for the remaining classes.
"I felt that if I am here, and I am doing the MICCC course which is provided by the U.S. military, the least I can do is provide them with this training over the weekend when I am free," he said. "I believe Krav Maga is the future. It will grow and in 10 years it could be the standard in the military and law enforcement."
Heading back to Croatia in May, Bogdan said, "I am grateful for the excellent MICCC course and the opportunity to share and teach Krav Maga with others. The support from the battalion commander and the instructors of the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion has been great. They made me feel like a part of the team."
For more information about the Krav Maga Self Defense System, visit www.kravmagaglobal.com.