RUN!!

When I teach knife defenses I always start with the statement “I only have one guaranteed, for sure, you won’t get cut knife defense. Outrun the dude with the knife.” The first thing we do in our knife defense seminar is to have every student sprint away from their training partner when they make a move to their pocket. The second thing we do is punch and sprint away from the training partner when they make a move to their pocket. Does this sound macho? Nope, macho will get ya hurt!

When I teach Krav Maga instructor training I make sure that the potential instructors realize that using Krav Maga means that we are recovering from stupidity or bad luck. If we are using our Krav Maga we ignored warning signs, were in a bad place to start with or were just unlucky that day. We tell these future instructors that they must teach their students (in this order) to 1) not be there. Don’t go to stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things. 2) Run. Really. I don’t care if our local news has video of me running away from a knife wielding thug and laughing about how “a Krav Maga expert runs from knife!”. I would be a still living, non injured Krav Maga expert! 3) Pick up something to use as a weapon. You are much smarter to defend a knife (for example) with a crow bar than with any of those cool, expert Krav Maga empty hand knife defenses! 4) Krav Maga. See how far down the list our actual Krav Maga techniques are? If you are there you probably did something wrong!

Does this mean a good Krav Maga class would include sprint work? Yep. How about others in the training playing the parts of the wife and kids and you have to get away quickly while herding them along with you? I think that’s fantastic training.

We have one goal and one focus in Krav Maga. That is to make people as safe as possible as quickly as possible. Does it look sissy having a big, tough Krav Maga black belt instructor telling the class that he/she would run from danger? I don’t care if it does!! When we as self defense instructors have to look tough and feed our own egos we are going to get people killed. When a student comes to us for self defense training they are literally putting their lives in our hands. If they ever need what we taught it will be for the worst few minutes of their entire lives. We as instructors had better have showed them the best, most battle tested, scientific and safest self defense possible. That starts with telling them to RUN when they can. BE SAFE!

WHO WOULD WIN…

It always makes me laugh when someone asks “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!

GOTTA BE UNCOMFORTABLE

The exhaustion drills that we run at the end of every class make people uncomfortable. Actually, the whole reason for these drills are to put people under stress and make them feel uncomfortable. I am sure that i have had people there for intros not join our gym after these drills. I occasionally get comments about how disliked they are because they made that student “uncomfortable”. I ususally tell them “Good, that’s what they are designed to do!” This is what seperates Krav Maga classes from most martial art classes.

When I was in the martial arts I liked the classes. They were fun, i got to catch up with my friends, i got to practice my board break kick, I got to practice my forms. There were very few times i was uncomfortable. There was no exhaustion, very little contact, no discomfort and nothing that resembled actual violence. Being out of breath and feeling like I couldn’t go on never really happened. What we thought we were preparing for is beyond me.

If real world violence would ever find one of our students I would want them to have a “been there, done that” feeling. Real world violence is more terrifying, stressful, exhausting, faster, closer and more “uncomfortable” than we could ever prepare for…but we should sure try. We want our students to have felt exhaustion to the point that they don’t think they can go on. We want them to be blitzed by stimuli so that they are confused and can’t tell what is actually going on. We want them to feel contact. We want them to hit something as hard as they can until they can’t lift thier arms. Yes, we want to make them uncomfortable!

In our drills we sprint, hit pads as hard as we can, have a second attacker push us, have to hit both attackers (their pads, anyhow), sprint some more, worry about a third attacker, etc., etc. These drills are killer. A minute feels like an hour and our lungs are burning the whole time. We aren’t hitting nearly as hard at the end as we were at the beginning but…we’re still hitting! Two stories from students come to mind. The first one was a guy who hit a kid that darted out in front of him with his car (the kid was fine). It wasn’t a good neighborhood and there were several men who came running…not to help but to beat on my student. He ended up out sprinting them, turned on them when there were only two left and then clinching and kneeing the both of them until they walked away. He said “it was like a drill”. The second was a cop who took Krav Maga from me. He was on bike patrol during a fourth of July festival and had to sprint on that bike for almost a mile to get to an officer who was being attacked. He got there, got off the bike and tackled the bad guy. Bent him into a pretzel and cuffed him. He also told me “it was like a drill”.

The special forces have a saying. “The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in battle.” If we don’t train with any realism, exhaustion and while uncomfortable how are we going to react when violence, which brings all of those things to bear, finds us? If you are learning self defense techniques and not putting them under stress and exhaustion you are only learning self defense techniques, not self defense. There is a big difference. BE SAFE!

GRAB A WEAPON!

“The iron hand ain’t no match for the iron rod.” Bob Dylan

I have said before that a person with a small amount of training and a weapon will defeat an unarmed person with an expert amount of training the vast majority of the time. We self defense “experts” and martial arts black belts don’t like to hear such things but if you think about it this is just common sense.

I know many “good” unarmed knife defenses. I have trained them for years. I am a fourth degree black belt in Taekwondo and a third degree black belt in Krav Maga but if faced with a knife wielding attacker I’d rather have a ball bat than all of that unarmed knowledge.
Ask a cop who they would least like to come up against by themselves. Choice one is a very high ranking and very proficient black belt in any art or system you can name. Choice two is a psycho crazy with a machete. I would guess the majority of law enforcement draw their side arm and shoot the crazy!

Last one. You have to walk through a tough neighborhood at night to get to safety. You can bring your black belt buddy with you or you can bring your buddy who has a bowie knife. I’d guess you bring the one with the weapon.

I wrote an article once about martial artists and handguns. The point was that I believe the old martial arts masters from centuries ago would have spent time on the range getting good with handguns and cut way back on their training time with sai’s, kama’s and nunchucks.

Every now and then I get someone who wants to learn Krav Maga at our gym who just doesn’t have the physical ability. Either age or handicaps have made it hard for them to move. I will teach them Krav Maga, of course, but our emphasis will be on using a blade, or better yet, a handgun. Weapons are the great equalizer. The attacker can be much bigger, stronger, athletic and even have way more training but a weapon will give us the advantage.

In fact, grabbing something to use as a weapon comes before krav maga in our heirarchy of what we teach for real world violence. First
is don’t be there, second is run, third is GRAB SOMETHING TO USE AS A WEAPON and fourth is our krav maga techniques. This is the order i’ll use if faced with danger! Remember, if you are in a fair fight your tactics suck!!

Anyone testing for black belt in the USKMA must have taken an NRA gun safety course. The reason is twofold. 1) If we are learning to take handguns away from someone we certainly need to know what to do with it once we have it. 2) Being proficient at Krav Maga AND being proficient with weapons makes us one hard target. BE SAFE!