FANCY SHMANCY!!

In the 1930’s when Imi was using his fists and brains against the Nazi youth who would try to terrorize his neighborhood in Czechoslovakia he was always out numbered. Imi discovered through fighting while outnumbered that his wrestling and martial arts weren’t worth a lot. He realized that you have to hit the first guy hard, pop the second, move on to the third, etc. Just smacking and moving. Imi became legendary by winning many, many fights while almost always being outnumbered.

Here is a good Youtube video that seems to make the point of this blog;

Do you see any fancy spin kicks, bjj, takedowns or flying knees? This guy is smacking people in the face and moving on to the next. I remember speaking to a Krav Maga black belt instructor about the time he was jumped at an ATM machine. He says he punched the guy in the face and the guy went down. He then went on about how disappointed he was that with all the cool Krav stuff he knew after years of training all that came out of him was a punch…that worked.

All of those fancy techniques will get dropped under stress. In Rory Miller’s great book Facing Violence he talks about how everyone always asks “but what if the guy knows how to use a knife?” The statement he made was that he had seen hundreds of knife attacks on dash cam and surveillance camera videos, even by those who were experts with a knife. Under the stress and fear of a deadly attack he had never seen a video where anyone did anything but slash with a knife like anyone who first picks a knife up out of anger would.

He went on to say that police officers seem to win physical confrontations in spite of their training, not because of it. All the fights he has seen on dash cams never look like any of the techniques they work on in training but end up being a free for all with flailing and trying to get on top of the bad guy after they have thrown them to the ground. Fancy martial arts techniques are fun to learn and take athletic ability but I do believe the science shows that our brain will jettison those techniques under the stress and fear of a real attack. Our body will do what it thinks will keep us safe. This can be seen in the stories of survivors who talk about how they don’t know what they did, can’t remember doing anything…that they were suddenly out of danger and don’t know how they got there. Our brain knows what to do if we have trained for real world violence and just does it, and doesn’t need us trying to do dumb things from dumb training.

Mindsetting, training for real world violence, keeping it simple and making sure we are in shape is the way to go to survive violence. This is why we spend so much time in Krav Maga on basic punches, elbows and kicks. We then put these techniques under stress and work more on toughness and an “I won’t stop, I will go forward” attitude than anything else. Work attitude, not fancy techniques…you’ll be safer in the long run! BE SAFE!

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WHO WOULD WIN BETWEEN…

It always makes me laugh when someone asks me who would win a fight between an (insert martial art here) vs. an (insert other martial art here) expert. I also get a chuckle when told that someone who studies (again, insert whatever here) would take a Krav Maga practitioner in a fight. I always tell them that the Krav Maga practitioner could well lose. It’s not about the art studied as much as it is about the individual fighter. Watch this Youtube video;

The guy who wins this fight is doing a very flashy martial art. I see 50 things what would make his art something I wouldn’t want to fight with. Holy cow, he can’t move very fast all spread out like that, his front leg is asking to be stomped and broken, that front leg would get kicked all day long, his blocks are a longer motion than the punches he is blocking, he is standing bladed and would have no power with his strikes, etc. But…he won. True, it helped that the other guy didn’t have a clue but still, with all those problems, he won. The point is that the art isn’t as important as the mind set. This is exactly what we are talking about when we tell people that there are no magic techniques. Krav has the best, most battle tested techniques anywhere but they won’t make anyone unbeatable. What wins a fight is an aggressive “I will not lose, I will keep fighting no matter what” mind set.

When I am told that someone doing (insert) hasn’t lost a fight, is a bad ass, etc. I always reply that he would be a tough guy and a good fighter no matter what he was using as a defense system. It’s way more about the fighter than the system. A tough guy with a “won’t lose” attitude is going to usually win no matter what he is doing. A high level Krav Maga instructor recently made the statement that the toughest guy he knows, the guy who has been in and won more fights than anyone he has ever met has no training whatsoever. He went on to say that he is studying this guy more than he is studying any techniques from any system right now…it will make him better.

This is the problem I have with that goofy show called The Ultimate Warrior (one of my 17 y.o. son’s favorite shows). They run a computer simulation to “fight” two different warrior groups from history. They will, for example, have the Mongols fight the Spartans. They figure in what tactics each group used, what weapons they had, etc. What they can’t measure is the fighting spirit of the groups. They fail to realize that the very best, toughest Mongol would beat 99.9 percent of the Spartan’s in a one on one fight. However, if this same man had been born in a different time in history and was a Spartan he would be able to beat 99.9 percent of the Mongols. It is truly the man, not the system!!

Why krav? We learn great techniques but also let our students know that techniques aren’t magic. We spend a lot of time developing the “can’t lose” mindset. Making people aggressive when they need to be, developing the “flinch” reaction of “go forward and go hard”, finding the switch to flip to go from overwhelmed, afraid and frozen to attack mode is what people need to be safe. The techniques they are using are secondary! BE SAFE!

GO NOW, GO FORWARD & GO HARD

“Danger. If you meet it head on and without flinching you will remove the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never.” W. Churchill

One of the keys of Krav Maga training that I blog about often is that there are no magic techniques. Aggression and developing a switch so that our “flinch” reaction enables us to go from overwhelmed and surprised to going forward and destroying the attacker is what keeps us safe. The one thing that we can develope to make us safer than any system, art or technique is aggression and the mindset to go forward and go hard no matter what. I wrote about this a few weeks ago in the “slow it down” blog. We go hard in classes and work aggression and a “fight no matter what” mindset and worry about perfecting technique later.

I found a beautiful illustration of this in Chuck Holton’s book BULLET PROOF. The following is a couple of paragraphs from the book; “Capt. Brian Chontosh, found himself leading a patrol through the small town of Ad Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. In what seemed like a single heartbeat, his unit was hit with a coordinated attack of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and machine-gun fire. Chontosh knew immediately that it was a near ambush…and that he and his men were in the kill zone. Retreat was not an option. Dying was.

But Captain Chontosh wasn’t about to let that happen to his Marines. The love he felt for each of them instantly transformed into rage at those who would try to kill his men. He ordered the driver of his Humvee to plow directly into the enemy trench, and with a violence of actian that came from hard training, he leaped from the vehicle and attacked the attackers until his rifle ran out of ammo. He then pulled out his pistol and continued killiing the enemy until that, too, ran dry. He picked up an enemy weapon and continued fighting. Then another. Then another. When it was over, more than twenty enemy fighters were out of commission and his men were saved.”

When in doubt go forward and go hard! BE SAFE!

WHAT IS SELF DEFENSE?

We are not discussing what self defense is legally here. We are discussing what self defense means to us in Krav Maga. I am a big quotes guy. Here are some of my favorites:
-“When self defense becomes complicated, it is no longer self defense”
-“Self defense is recovery from stupidity or bad luck” SGT R. Miller
-Self defense is a short list of techniques and tactics that might get you out alive when you are already screwed” SGT R. Miller
-“Krav Maga is our support system for when our sucker punch didn’t work” R. Hoover
and one from me…”self defense is I wasn’t paying attention so you got your hands on me and I have to react…self protection is that you were in my space so I whacked you”
Let’s start off with a little more on this self defense vs. self protection thought. Self defense is there are hands are my throat so I must react. Self protection is the bar looked seedy so I didn’t go into it. We are much better off (and we must teach this) to learn and live by self protection than we are self defense. We teach our students to be aware of their surroundings, to avoid trouble and to “mind set” (we covered this in a blog a few weeks ago). We are doing our students a disservice if these concepts aren’t taught and talked about in every class. If we are only teaching self defense techniques we are failing them.
The rules for Krav Maga are as much about self protection as they are self defense. The main rule in Krav Maga that all the others branch off of is STAY SAFE. We stay safe by first and foremost, don’t be there. Don’t go to stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things! The second rule is RUN. Really, run when in danger…run when in doubt. I don’t care if the local paper has a picture of me running from a knife with the headline “krav maga expert runs from danger”. I would be a still living Krav Maga expert running from danger! Our third rule is to pick up something to whack the bad guy with. Why go into a knife with just my hands when I can pick up a pipe or stick and have distance and impact on my side? The fourth rule is to DESTROY the attacker. We aren’t safe if we merely fend off the attacker but still have to go to an ER afterwards. We are safe if we are unscathed. If we go hard, go first and go until the threat is gone we have a much better chance of being unscathed. Notice how far down the list that the actual Krav Maga techniques are used. If you get to the techniques you weren’t paying attention or were in a stupid place to begin with!
We are not teaching a system of ethics, code, chivalry or list of rules to make us good people. We cannot have a “samurai” code of never striking first, fighting fair, never doing more damage than called for, etc. because the scum bags don’t have these rules. Not striking first, fighting fair, etc. puts us behind the eight ball and at a big disadvantage because the bad guys are trying to cheat and use every advantage that they can. We are reacting, not starting the fight, so we are already behind. We must cheat and fight as dirty as we can to stay safe. If you are in a fair fight your tactics suck! If the scumbags use violence as a weapon we must perfect violence and be meaner and more ruthless than the scum bag. Read about what home invaders have done to families just like yours. Hear stories like I have recently about a human piece of garbage who sliced open a baby with a piece of tin and raped the wound. How fair and chivalrous should we be to people like this? We must react with hatred and rage if we are ever attacked. Can we get in trouble if we cause too much damage? Probably…but they will eventually let you out of prison, you’re in a casket for good.
Krav Maga is a philosophy based system, not a technique based system…this is a must for real world self defense. If we have a technique based system we will learn a technique with steps A through F and be lost when on the street it derails at C. I could spend several years learning 1000 techniques only to go out on the street and need technique 1001. When I was in a traditional art I learned thirty techniques for a straight stab knife attack. There is something called Hicks Law that says if we have more than one option to consider that it takes time to decide which option we will use. Time isn’t something we have when a knife is being thrust at us. In Krav Maga the philosophy is to redirect the knife and attack the attacker. This works no matter what the angle is or even if it happens to be a stick instead of a knife. Nothing to think about except get out of the line that will do us harm and smack the bad guy.
We teach the best way of getting out of a choke, headlock, etc. but as long as what the student is doing keeps them safe we won’t say that it is wrong. We may tell them “here’s the way we show it” but we never tell them that what they just did missed a step so it isn’t going to keep them safe when we can plainly see that it will. They may mess a handgun disarm up but as long as they kept the barrel pointed off of them and beat on the bad guy until they won it kept them safe, so it can’t be wrong.
We also expect them to ask questions. The phenomenon in most gyms is that students will do things that make no sense to them, things that clearly won’t keep them safe merely to please the instructor. Since we are philosophy based we just yell “go, beat him” if they screw something up. It will be hard to do things perfectly on the street when surprised so instead of thinking “oops, screwed that up” think about taking out your mistake on the bad guy…he gets beat that much more!
Staying with the thought of being philosophy based the following are the principles of every technique we teach in Krav Maga. 1) Any technique that we teach must be effective for the smallest, weakest person in our gym. We cannot use anything that relies on brute strength or size. We figure that we will be attacked by someone bigger and stronger on the street so we cannot have techniques that rely on the opposite. 2) Get rid of the danger. We must look at each attack and figure out where the danger is and then figure out the quickest way of getting rid of the danger. This is why the “pluck defense” is what we teach first and foremost for chokes even though there are other defenses that are stronger. When we are choked our hands go to the danger (pain) before we even know that we are in danger. This is an instinctual body movement that we do not think about so it is quicker than anything else we could do. The advantage of instinctual movements is that natural body reactions are always will quicker than a learned motion. This makes Krav Maga easier to learn, easier to perform and easier to recall. A choke will crush our trachea fairly quickly so we must have a defense that gets rid of this danger as quickly as possible as we are already starting second. 3) Simultaneous counter attack. If we have time to raise one hand to block with we can, at the same time, raise the other hand to strike. In the same vein if we are plucking a choke our legs aren’t involved in the pluck and a kick can be sent to the attacker’s groin at the same time. This gets our first attack in quicker and takes the attacker’s mind off of continuing his attack as he has pain to deal with. 4) When we strike we hit as hard as possible, hit as many times as we can and never stop to evaluate (this is recovery time for the attacker). We go all in, go hard and go until we are safe. We are safe when the attacker is totally out of commission.
We have a system that teaches its students to go from a relaxed to aggressive state without hesitation. It is unnatural to be able to go from a terrified, surprised, uncomprehending state to attack mode without hesitation. We must develop a flinch reaction that has us going forward and going all out. We go hard in our classes and especially tests for a reason. In Special Forces training they grind the soldiers into the ground so that when their lives are on the line in battle it actually feels shorter and easier than the training was. The defense must work when we are at our worst, when we are exhausted and hurting or it isn’t a good defense. We certainly can’t choose to only be attacked when we are at our best, if we could know when and where we will be attacked we simply wouldn’t be there. We want to train so hard that if we are ever attacked we will have a “been there, done that” reaction. BE SAFE!

SLOW IT DOWN?

I recently had a student ask us to slow classes down! He was a black belt in a martial art who has trained for many years. His thought was that he needs to slow the techniques down to learn them better. We are going too fast in class for him to grasp and perfect the techniques. Sigh… The instructor told him “You don’t understand, aggression is our number one technique. Aggression and going totally off is the number one thing to work on to keep us safe in the real world.” He wasn’t buying it. He said he needs to slow it down to learn it better.

Again, there are NO magic techniques. Techniques will not save you in real world violent attacks!! I have read several studies that seem to indicate that between 70 and 85% of martial art black belts who get into a real world fight…lose! When I read this as a martial artist I was offended. Now that I can look back I see how this can be, I see the flaws in the way I was training. The martial art that I was in involved a lot of “technique training”. We would practice a kick on a target for many reps. We never worked on hitting a target that was moving and didn’t want hit. We never practiced on a target that was trying to hurt us. We never had a plan for what we would do if that kick didn’t devastate the target. We didn’t practice a philosophy of “go hard until the target is down”, we just practiced a technique.

When we train a technique in Krav classes it is for just a few reps. If we are doing straight punches we’ll throw a few against a target to look at form. We then get the mitt holder moving. We rapidly move this to two, four then six punches. We then go to six punches with an elbow. Finally we go to six punches, an elbow, a kick to the groin and clinch & knee to the face, zyphiod and groin! This is how we would train the “technique” of the straight punch. What we are doing is building a philosophy. If we trained one punch only and worked on the form and then moved on to the next thing on the lesson plan our members, if ever attacked, would revert back to their training. They would throw one punch and then stop. Under stress this isn’t what we want coming out of us. We want to go off and go hard until the threat is eliminated!

In my martial art we did a lot of katas. In Krav we have no such thing. I was told kata’s were to practice combinations and to simulate multi attackers. In Krav Maga we practice combinations by hitting something as hard as we can with combinations. We work speed and power, not just the technique flow. We practice for multi attackers by having multiple partners gear up and attack us! This makes a bit more sense for getting ready for the real world to us.

Finally, we train all out to be able to go all out! Most black belts from other systems that come to our classes can’t hang at first. Like most every other beginner they have to take breaks in our classes. This always disappoints me. If you can only go all out for thirty seconds, and are training that way, you are taking for granted that you will have devastated the attacker and won in less than thirty seconds. Bad assumption in my opinion. We must out last the attacker and be still kicking his butt when he can hardly raise his hands…not the other way around!

As I’ve blogged on before, there are no magic techniques. You can practice a knife defense technique one thousand times with your partner who attacks you by starting four feet away and then stands there like a statue but this does you no good in the real world when the attacker is grabbing your arm, pulling and pushing you off balance and “hockey punching” you with the knife over and under the arm he has grabbed. Ask any law enforcement officer whom they would rather face, a very proficient black belt or some crazy with no training but the desire to do great harm, to chew their face off. Ninety-nine percent will tell you they don’t want to face the crazy! We can learn from this. If we are ever attacked we have to become the aggressor. We have to be more brutal, cheat more, want to do harm even more than the scumbag. If the scumbag uses violence as a tool we must perfect violence and be better at it than they are. BE SAFE!