At last weekends USKMA affiliate training weekend one of our seminars was “Krav on a bus”. We set this up after blogging this about training flaws a few months ago…“We fight in a gym that we keep open. padded and uncluttered for safety. When you’re jumped the surfaces will be hard and there will be obstacles everywhere. The cop who is the USKMA’s co-lead instructor, Brannon Hicks, swears he’s gonna bring coffee tables and shrubs into his gym. He says every time he is in a fight one of those two things are in the way! The difference between a hazard and a gift is who sees it first. We need to train to see that curb or corner of the bar and use it…our gyms don’t have these things!”

Lessons learned from defending on a bus;

1)There ain’t no sparring. Sparring is footwork, changing distances, moving, etc. On the bus there was no room for footwork whatsoever. It was close in, clinch and flail away. When kicks were there at all they had to be linear. No looping roundhouses, spins, etc., just straight kicks and then not with power because there wasn’t any room. Basically it looked like a hockey fight.

2)Ground…what ground? Our BJJ guys found out there was ground techniques only if we fell perfectly down the isle and hit the ground…and then we were wedged and not exactly able to change positions. If you were mounted, you stayed mounted! Some of the attempted arm bars, triangles, etc. worked every now and then…until there was a second attacker. BJJ, like sparring in general, goes out the window on the bus.

3)Krav Maga’s choke defenses, bear hug defenses, hair grab defenses, full nelson defenses, etc, etc. didn’t translate well to those close quarters. There was NO room to move, to throw the attacker away from us, to get side clinch to throw knees, etc. the way we can if we are in a gym. Hence, the reason for all the preaching that techniques can’t be relied upon. The philosophy of “get rid of the danger and destroy the attacker” paid off. Those being attacked figured it out. They got the attacker’s hands off their throat and turned the tables with fingers in the eye, biting, elbows in the groin and the like. They made me proud!

4)The same goes for knife and handgun. Many of those techniques didn’t translate to “I am pinned to the window in my seat by the moron sitting beside me who froze as the guy behind me is stabbing me in the head”. As with chokes, etc. the techniques weren’t there but the philosophy was. If it was a knife it was “don’t get stabbed, hit the idiot”. Block that blade as best you can and punch the idiot in the throat, ram a finger in his eye, elbow his head so hard he looks like a PEZ dispenser. In most videos we watch of those being attacked by a knife the poor person getting stabbed fixates on the knife trying to grab the attacker’s wrist and never attempts to hit the attacker. Again, we were proud of what we saw! With the handgun it was point the barrel somewhere besides at me (or others) and hit the idiot. Technique didn’t happen but that philosophy kept people alive!

5)Scenarios. These were cool. In a bus full of people I would point to only one or two and tell them they were Krav students and everyone else on the bus was just going to sit there and scream. We would have one or two attackers board the bus and attack with a knife or handgun. Sometimes the attacks were random and directed at everyone, sometimes they had a specific victim. We saw some cool things. The Kraver figured out how to get to the attacker through the rabble and neutralize the attacker. Some things learned were;

-going for the knife hand was hard, that hand is swinging up to 5 feet as the attacker slashes or stabs. The arm pit stays in the same place. Start there and slide to lock up the rest of the arm.

-Wrapping the knife or handgun arm and waiting on the crowd to jump in and beat the attacker works….unless the frozen goof balls don’t help. Then it’s a fight!

-The attacker that jumped on the bus with a hand grenade threw us all for a loop. Nobody said it was going to be only a knife or handgun! Even the kravers kinda froze for a bit there. Wrapping the hands before the spoon was released was one of the few options but it wasn’t easy. Hoping to beat him down to the ground with the thing under him when it went off was sometimes the only thing to attempt. Don’t ride the bus was what we mostly learned there!

-We aren’t the savior of the world. When the scenario was two obvious gang bangers got on the bus and started knifing a passenger that was an obvious gang banger as well we still had the kravers going to rescue the one being attacked. I talked a lot about knowing what your go buttons are beforehand. If I see that scenario I am going out the back door. I will then point to the lady with the kid and tell them, come on, I’ll help you off, then the next lady, then the next person, etc. from outside of the bus. Why would I put my life in serious jeopardy to stop what was obviously gang related? I wasn’t going to save the dude’s life, he would have taken 30 stabs by the time I got to him. My go buttons tell me that if it’s a woman or a child being hurt in any way I will intervene. If it’s obviously an innocent being ambushed by more than one, I’ve told my self I’ll do something in that event as well. If a law enforcement officer isn’t obviously winning a fight I will jump in and help. However, if it’s two dudes beating on each other or something that looks gang related, I’m not putting myself into that.

We had a bunch of fun and learned some good lessons! We almost didn’t mind having to fork out the cash to replace the window and mirror we broke! BE SAFE!



  1. Great review. Thanks. The go buttons issue is definitely something for everyone to think about, and revise, all the time. As for hand grenades or explosions in general (say, after the first bomb had gone off at the Boston Marathon last year), I’m trying to develop a reaction not terribly unlike what I’ve rehearsed for (possible) earthquakes: if I can be outside, be outside and move away from anything that can become a projectile, such as windows. I would generally prefer to move towards the largest open space I can find, and for explosions the fewer people the better. A cow pasture would be just peachy! But if I’m inside, aim for a sturdy structure and use it as the best shield I can, and cover up to try to avoid getting hit by shrapnel/debris and to minimize the damage of the contained blast pressure wave. (I do TBI research so I have a basic understanding of what to protect, why and how.) Then, I won’t give up a good shelter until a better opportunity becomes available. Whatever that means. It would probably involve determining where I am going next and why, then sprinting so fast that Usain Bolt would be impressed.

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