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!

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1 Comment

  1. Well said, in fact I don’t think anyone could argue with any of that! Bravo.


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