True Krav Maga - Cape Town
First off, this is after attending a demonstration only, I will be joining their training sessions shortly and endeavor to update the review as I learn more. Also note my background is a couple of years training in Karate which was ages ago, aside from that I have seen local fighting gyms in action at national competition level (EFC Africa) for comparison purposes, but that is about it.
Aliveness is a tricky one as the higher ratings I can't really give with any conviction until I've actually been in a class, however I expect to see perhaps limited range, but hard contact on a regular basis. In the demo alone minimal safety gear was used, contact was hard enough to be audible from a fair distance, a T-shirt was torn unintentionally and the one knife defense was demonstrated using a real knife (provided by an audience member), at full speed. The basic premise certainly seems to be if you cannot do it at full speed with real weapons, you don't have an effective technique yet. FWIW they have a humorous "bruise of the month" photo collection of which the latest one is using the word very conservatively, it was more of a cheek-cut-caused-by-elbow-needing-stitches-in-the-ER kind of "bruise".
Equipment is what I'd expect for a decent self defense studio, no weights or traditional punch bags for different strikes, but a whole bunch of good condition heavy bags and various mock weapons for weapon defense drills. Showers coming soon and the whole studio essentially is a padded floor with one wall padded as well.
Gym size is a decent commercial space, soon to be expanded even further, classes seem to be growing, but they're adding more slots to the weekly roster to keep instructor / student ratio low, which incidentally rates an 8, don't see the dropdown for it at the time of posting though.
Attitude is exemplary, there are no ego's in there, the instructors / owners are all active private security operatives (i.e. air marshalls and high profile body guards, professional risk assessors etc), but they have humility, they also speak with nothing but respect of other styles / systems / sports, only pointing out differences to illustrate why they believe in certain situations their techniques are more effective. The head instructor did invite anyone from the crowd at various stages to join the demo so they could test their own technique against what is being demo'd. He did it in a friendly open fashion and with volunteers that did step up he simply went about his way to show the differences and let the crowd draw their own conclusions.
He was also very open and direct in pointing out they have no affiliation with commercial Krav Maga (i.e. IKMF etc) and their flavor of Krav Maga is straight from what is used by operatives today in Israel (lineage / certificates freely available to show the link with Israeli military where the one owner / founder served). Should there be a rating for pedigree added to the rating system btw? Seems it is often a point of contention in the BS investigations, may be a useful rating. Anyway, this bit of information is shared as a plus, and I believe it is after seeing demo's of some of the differences, but it was still done with humility.
There are designated skill levels to ensure equal sparring partners, but that is it, no belts or ceremonies or anything.
Striking and grappling is said to be at full speed, and it certainly sounds as if anything goes, but there is no competition element, the focus is solely on self defense. I wouldn't bet on any of the instructors in a cage fight, but I would rate them highly when it comes to surviving a real situation where there truly are no holds barred.
Weapons may be limited in range, mostly representative of what you can expect to face on the streets today, knives, guns, blunt objects, but no katanas for example. Again the contact is at full force, the weapons are fake though, perhaps more advanced levels train with real weapons on occasion given that the demo was also done with at least one real knife to show an unarmed defense against it can be effective (ok and also to show some traditional unarmed defenses against it are not)
They're a bit on the expensive side for the local market, but no contracts, month to month only and they'll go pro rata on your first month even, I have no reason whatsoever to doubt their business practices, very fair and flexible, there was also no pressure to sign people up there and then. They also do separate courses for those who want to enter the private security operative game which is not to say the normal classes are any less real, just that they would add risk assessment and getting out of a building with your assigned charge to those courses for example.
All in all it looks like the best option locally if you are after pure self defense, time will tell if I change my opinion once I join the classes.
For more google "True Krav Maga", my noobness prevents me from posting a link