On Kalah development and popularity
In 2003, Kalah was a noname system and Idan (after he found his God and God gave him Kalah as he explains often) was developing the system heavily.
It took some years and countless hours of investigation, real attacks studies and hard core testing for Kalah to reach it's principles.
I asked Idan once how he develops the system. First there is a (selfdefense) situation for which he tries to find a solution and he will come up with a move. That move is then tested in full-out session with three Kalah instructors - one small and fast, one medium sized and one huge and strong. The move is tested repeatedly with each of them. If the move works in at least three testruns out of five, it can be put in Kalah curriculum. Thats how Idan makes sure what he teaches works as much as possible.
For some years, Kalah was growing mainly in it's home country - South Africa, then the boom came. Around 2013 Europe started calling - first Italy, then UK, Czech Republic and others followed. Today Kalah has been taught in dozens countries all over the world and has it's chapters all over Europe, South America with some in Asia - namely India and Phillipines.
I was thinking lately what made Kalah so popular and I'm convinced it's mainly these things:
1. It works.
I could say "unlike commercial Krav Maga", which is obvious, but also "unlike SAMI, Maestro Defense, Systema and many other systems out there". Those systems are watered down and focus on keeping students in the class as long as possible. Nothing wrong in making money, unless you make money while hazarding with people's lives - and that's exactly what they are doing. Idan also tried to reduce the difficulty of Kalah for about two years - and he ended up with full classes, lots of money, nice new studio and very bad feeling about it all. Then he changed the way again to hard core trainings and many people left and their money with them. But it's OK, as long as those who stay will get the best from us. I think many Kalah students and instructors value this genuity above everything else. Lior Offenbach can repeat his famous sentence "I want to make my empire" or Itay Gil his "If you don't want to make money for me, you can't be part of my system"... as long as Kalah stays true in it's heart, many high quality people with stick with it.
2. It's tough.
Many people came to me after finishing instructor course saying "Kalah has changed my life forever. And not only in combat." Funily enough, Kalah is it's own kind of therapy. We have to push ourselves beyond our limits to expand them. Instructors undergo severe physical punishment in their class and that's how they like it. They know there is no other, easy way (I wish there was, some magical defense to solve all situations). A criminal is not interested in your training, he will be brutal and relentless to achieve his goals. To defend against it, we have to be even crazier than him.
3. It's complex.
I have been part of Krav Maga, travelling around the world to meet the best selfdefense instructors. Some I hold in high regard (Lee Morrison f.e.), some I consider good businessmen only. But Kalah only tries to find viable solutions to variety of fucked up situations. Who else trains for multiple armed attackers with quite some degree of success? Who else teaches VIP protection, advanced CQB, bush warfare, etc. on such a level? I have seen and trained with other tactical schools in CZ - and even though some of what they teach is relevant to reality, much of it is suicidal. Just open Youtube and watch so-called professionals open corners. It will take one determined attacker to wipe half the team out.
4. There is no ego.
We don't make difference between sex, nationality, color of skin, religion, size or any other attribute. Our ego stays behind the door (if there is any of it left, because it's hard to keep ego while losing life so many times on a mat or at a shooting range). Anyone can do Kalah - anyone with the right mentality. It's to Idans credit, as he has chosen his instructors also on moral level. And thanks to that nearly every Kalah instructor (and many of it's students) are people of high quality, humble, tough characters. Many of them you will call friends for rest of your life.