When I first started teaching Krav Maga in 1998 very few people had heard of it. When they had heard of Krav I almost always got the comment “Oh, that brutal stuff”. My answer was always “I don’t look at it as brutal, I look at it as effective. I didn’t start the attack.” Problem is, most people have no idea what real violence is or what real self defense needs to be. They learned from their martial arts instructor or from TV and movies…and never thought for themselves.

Whenever you have to use self defense you are already losing. You are trying to recover from stupidity or bad luck, as Rory Miller says. You have already taken some damage. Now, if the attacker is a pro and has done this before he knows what works. What works is a flurry attack that never lets you recover or hit back. We will be hit, stabbed or bludgeoned several times before we ever realize what is going on. We could be taking so much damage that we’re out in just a few seconds without ever hitting back. So…if this works for the scumbag we had better study it and do it better. If the scumbag is going to use violence as a weapon we need to take that weapon, practice it and weald it better than they do.

So, in Krav Maga we don’t just teach a block. We don’t even just teach a block and simultaneous counter attack. We teach a block with a simultaneous punch to the throat into a kick to the groin into clinching and kneeing the idiot in the face and groin into dumping them onto the ground into stomping their Achilles and running away. To show less isn’t keeping people safe. We must teach to cheat, to hit from behind, to kick to the groin, to hit them until they are out…all that brutal stuff.

Something for men who teach self defense for women to think about. Guys, think of your nightmare attacker. The dude weighs 70 lbs. more than you, is way, way stronger than you, is way faster than you, is way more aggressive than you and has trained one hundred times more than you. His best punch to your head will for sure knock you out and will probably kill you. Your best punch to his head is just going to piss him off and he’ll come at you even harder. Pretty damned scary, huh? This is the starting point for a woman learning self defense. Your nightmare attacker is her likely attacker. Why would you teach her to put her keys between her fingers, to stand there with her hands up yelling “stop”, to blow a whistle, to carry something heavy in her purse to swing or to drop to the ground and get her feet between her and her attacker? Would any of that crap work for you? There is only one option that has any chance of saving your ass in that situation. That is to go forward with all the hatred and rage you can muster, become an animal. Spit, cuss, claw, bite and smash targets (eyes, throat, groin, knees, Achilles) over and over…always looking to escape. If that is the only thing that is gonna work for you that is what you better be teaching them.

Another quote from Rory Miller (the USKMA just had him in for a seminar so for the next several weeks I’m sure I’ll be quoting him a bunch!); “the first person to go balls to the wall almost always wins.” The scumbags know this and that is why they attack so brutally. We need to train the same way. Go at the attacker with such hatred and rage, swinging for the fences and being “brutal” that we win. Turn the strategy on them.

To teach self defense without ever studying what a realistic attack on the street looks like is crazy. The martial arts are about the only thing that you will find that works and works on answers without ever knowing what the question is. Just getting on youtube and watching a real knife attack would be enough for me to think “damn, that knife defense I have been working on would get me killed” and yet most martial arts practitioners don’t do that. Almost everyone I see teaching self defense are actually teaching self defense techniques, not self defense. There is a difference.

I have had people leave my intros complaining that we are teaching over the top, that we are too brutal. This always saddens me as I know they have a pre conceived notion of what violence is, and that notion is wrong and can get them killed. I remember one short, stocky woman in her fifties (who had a black belt in a traditional art) leaving in a huff saying “Well, I’ve been taught to deliver one effective blow to end the attack!” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Some master of some martial art had blown smoke up this woman’s butt and had her believing that she had one effective blow in her, a blow that would stop a crazed, enraged 250 pound six foot three man. This is unforgivable and sickening.

If you are teaching self defense (and I’ve blogged this dozens of times) those coming to you are literally putting their lives in your hands. You had better be studying what real violence is, had better be scouring everything you can get your hands on for the most up to date, battle tested stuff you can find, had better not be teaching crap from a system just because it’s your system. You are preparing people for what will be the most terrifying few minutes of their lives and the stakes are life and death. Learn, train smart and train the “brutal” stuff! BE SAFE!


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