Cause Pain, Off Balance, Disrupt

Posted: January 23, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles

In Krav Maga we have two basic Choices, Fight or Flight. This usually occurs when we were unable to or failed to practice steps one and two of the stages of self-defence. Whenever we are forced to fight either in PE or RA Self Defense, we must always do one of 3 three things.


Cause Pain, Off Balance and/or Disrupt their mental process as we apply Retzev.

These three methods are how we beat the game of action vs reaction and keep the opponent in stage one or two of the decision-making and action model.

Cause Pain

Causing pain can be done by any well-placed strike to the head groin, or other vulnerable parts of the body. It is the most obvious option and is effective most of the time. There are times when a person with a high pain tolerance or training is less affected by a strike or pain stimulus than you were expecting. Another scenario is the individual is on drugs and will not feel pain meaning you will need to rely on the other options.

Off Balance

The easiest way to off balance a person is by being the aggressor and using your body mass. The bursting motion of Krav Maga application is extremely effective at this as it puts the majority of your mass into the other person. Ano



An Example of Bursting in 360. Though it should be to the face.


ther way that is less aggressive is to simply move forward in an aggressive manner causing them to step backwards. This option is common in professional fighting to take the power away from the opponents strikes. An opponent who is moving backwards usually cannot strike as hard as they would if they were moving forward. Off balancing can easily be combined with strikes with more competent proficiency. It may be problematic however if the person is significantly bigger than you.

Disrupt their mental process

This option can be directly or indirectly. If you caused pain or off-balance an opponent they will already have had their mental processes disrupted resetting them to stage one or two of the decision making action model. However, a good….HEY LOOK OVER THERE!!!…. can also be a method of distraction. Anything you do that causes them to look away, or pause is an effective method for disrupting opponents mental processes.

It must be understood that you must always attempt to apply three or more of these as we must always assume that what we just did, did not work. This is where Retzev or continuous attack applies with aggression and the will to survive will come in. Remember, when techniques and principles fail, you must do everything in your power, with all your will and strength to survive long enough to escape to safety.



This week’s Krav Maga and BJJ curriculum: January 22nd – 28th

Posted: January 22, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Uncategorized


Fight, Flight or Freeze

Posted: January 16, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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When Encountering a threat, humans typically have one of two instinctual behavioural reactions, with an occasional third.

Fight, Flight, or Freeze



For many, especially untrained individuals or for those exposed to a threat they are simply overwhelmed by, this can be a subconscious automatic decision. For more trained individuals this response can be honed and controlled at a more conscious level. Whether the decision is a conscious one or not, your brain will do a quick calculation based on your past experience, your skill level and conditioning and determine which option is best. The most important part is often not which decision is made, but the speed at which the final decision is reached and whether or not you can commit to it.

“Strike fast, but run faster” – Unknown

The below is an excerpt from a previous article found here.

“The fight or flight response refers to physiological reaction that occurs when a person is placed in a threatening situation. Fight or flight simply describes the two basic decisions that are instantaneously made to resolve the dangerous situation, which is the decision to either quickly escape or to stay and fight.

The physiological effects of this response begins with one or several of the five senses, typically vision. A person will see threatening stimili, such a person or animal. The stimili is then sent as a signal via the optic nerve to be processed by the brain, generally in the amygdala, known as the ‘fear center’ which sends signals to the hypothalamus, which activates the nervous system. A signal then stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which sends impulses down the spinal column to the adrenal gland, which releases epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. This hormone will cause the heart rate to increase and is sent throughout the body as the heart beats faster. Epinephrine will signal the liver to release glucose, which will then be converted into ATP, which is used to activate muscles. This heightened level of epinephrine in the body will also activate the lungs, causing the breathing rate to increase in order for the body take in and utilize more oxygen through dilated blood vessels. The pupils in the eyes will also dilate to facilitate better lighting and vision as blood vessels in the ears dilate for increased auditory perception. In order to efficiently escape an attack or to fight, this response also subdues bodily processes which are unnecessary during a dangerous situation, such as digestion. The elevated levels of this hormone and increased activation of these bodily processes will increase body heat, which is also useful as it allows your muscles to ‘warm up’ in seconds as the mind registers the threat.

autonomic-nervous-system.jpgPsychologically, the combination of the increased heart rate, sweating, and the explosion of energy in the muscles, create a sense of acute awareness of the current situation and the ability to act quickly. While this illustrates a case in which the entire process runs smoothly, you must also be aware of the case in which it fails, known as condition black. Condition black is also known as ‘freezing’ during a dangerous situation, preventing the individual from fleeing or fighting. Cognitively, a sense of increased aggression will be associated with the ‘fight’ response and a combination of fear and anxiety for ‘flight’, while freezing is associated with fear and anxiety, but also a feeling of physical stiffness. During this freeze response, the parasympathetic nervous system dumps large amounts of hormones into the body, the same hormones that return the body to its relaxed state after a fight. The sudden increase of these hormones during a dangerous situation have the opposite effect of the fight or flight response, mixing panic with an inability to act quickly. Although freezing can be useful in situations in which a person must remain still in order to hide from an attacker, it can be detrimental when faced with an attacker head on.”

In Krav Maga, we accept these natural reactions and work with them. Generally, we have a decision to make. If we are following the proper stages of Self defense, then we will choose Flight, as (A) Avoidance is the first choice when we have it and it is appropriate (For civilians it usually is, for those whose jobs required them to stay then it will not be appropriate). Of if we cannot run and avoid the fight, and we cannot (D) diffuse the situation, then we fight. Depending on the scenario and how quickly you realized the fight is unavoidable you will either Strike first (PE) or react to their attack defensively (RE).

The Freeze reaction is a double edge sword. It is either a correct tactical response to stop moving.

Example 1: you are walking in the plains of Africa, you spot something. That something you think is a pair of eyes peering at you from the tall grass. You FREEZE! This is both to ensure that you identify the threat correctly, before making a decision. And not to activate the predator’s response to running.


The ability to recognize eyes and a face is so ingrained in our biology our brains have a part of the brain dedicated to this task. This is a very primal predator response. I see Face, I decided, Fight, flight or freeze. Remember, these responses are engrained into our biology as part of our survival instinct. So dont, fight them but instead train them.

Example 2: You are a special operations group moving silently through the night. You are still 1km from your designated target. a group of teens is up late night passed the local curfew, you freeze so as not to be identified by remaining motionless and silent. The threat of detection passes and you continue.

OR the freeze response can become code black and turn into a catastrophic mental failure preventing you from acting at all in a Non-Functional Freeze. This is the kind of freeze we hope to avoid. Some individuals are fortunate enough not to have a code black or NFF trigger. Others will only know when it happens. If it happens for the first time hopefully you have made correct life decisions and avoid dangerous or life-threatening situations. If not, you may be in for a world of hurt.

One of the most effective ways to avoid a code black situation especially under the threat of violence is to train. Training is a form of exposure therapy, especially Krav Maga. Krav Maga cannot be called Krav Maga if the training never forces you to push your physical and mental limits through stress testing. This regular and relatively safe training exposes you to higher levels of mental and physical stress in slow doses which allows your body to adapt and get used to it. The more you are used to it the easier you can turn a freeze response from an NFF to a tactical freeze to action thus making the correct decisions and avoiding being overwhelmed by a real-world threat.

So under threat of life and death, do you know which response you are most likely to have? The right one, could save your life, but the wrong one…




UTKM Belt Testing: Adult Requirements

Posted: January 11, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in UTKM Testing

First of, if you haven’t read our post on our belts, in general, please see the page UTKM Belts – Our Story & Process.

First off, in order to test for any specific belt level, you must meet the MINIMUM requirements. Remember, these are MINIMUMS and do not entitle you to test even if you have met them. Please do not ask your instructor to test, you will be asked when your instructor has deemed you ready. It doesn’t matter if you think you are ready, if the instructor does not think you are ready, you are not ready. In addition, there are various factors to consider when inviting students to test. Please do not take it personally.

UTKM Adult Belt Rankings (Age 16 +)

Yellow Belt

  • Complete a minimum of 70 hours at white belt, warrior and defence classes and be approved by your regular instructor
  • Have shown competency in, and  can safely spare with contact
  • Have volunteered or witnessed a yellow belt test previously
  • Attend classes a minimum of once a week 6 weeks prior to testing
  • Are physically and mentally ready for the test as determined by your instructor

Orange Belt

  • Complete a minimum of 70 hours as a yellow belt with at least 50% of classes attended in the colour belt (Yellow & Orange) Belt classes and be approved by your regular instructor.
  • Have volunteered or witnessed an Orange or Green Belt test previously
  • Attend classes a minimum of once a week 6 weeks prior to testing
  • Have shown competency in the yellow belt curriculum
  • Are physically and mentally ready for the test as determined by your instructor
  • Are prepared for the written test, including multiple choice, true and false, and short answer. All information can be found at or by asking your instructors.

Green Belt

  • Complete a minimum of 140 hours as an orange belt with a minimum of 50% of classes attended in the colour belt (Yellow & Orange) Belt classes and be approved by your regular instructor
  • Have volunteered or witnessed an Orange or Green Belt test previously
  • Have shown competency in the Orange belt curriculum
  • Attend a minimum of once a week 6 weeks prior to the test date
  • Are physically and mentally ready for the test. This includes being prepared for the “Bar Or” test including a 2 km run.
  • Are prepared for the written test which is a more comprehensive test and may include multiple choice, true and false, and short answer. All information can be found at or by asking your instructors.
  • Have received your PAL (Canadian Firearms lesson) or for non-residents have completed a minimum 8 hours of firearms safety classes. If your province, state or country has an equivalent that is legally required then this will be required prior to advancement.

Blue Belt

  • Complete a minimum of 210 hours as a Green Belt with a minimum of 25% of classes attended in the colour belt (Yellow & Orange) Belt classes and a minimum of 25% of classes attended in the advanced green belt + Classes and be approved by your regular instructor.
  • Attend a minimum of once a week 6 weeks prior to the test date
  • Are physically and mentally ready for the test as determined by your instructor
  • Have completed all level 01 Firearms courses on all 3 platforms, pistol, shotgun rifle, either as independent courses or in the scope of your advanced training.
  • Be competent on the subjects of Krav Maga History and organizations.
  • Be competent on the subjects of firearms safety and firearms general knowledge.
  • Shown competency on the Green Belt Curriculum

Brown Belt

  • Complete a minimum of 280 hours as a Blue Belt with a minimum of 25% of classes attended in the colour belt (Yellow & Orange) Belt classes and a minimum of 25% of classes attended in the advanced green belt + Classes and be approved by your regular instructor.
  • Attend a minimum of once a week 6 weeks prior to the test date. Including any additional prep requested by your instructor.
  • Are physically and mentally ready for the test as determined by your instructor
  • Have completed all level 02 live fire Firearms courses on all 3 platforms, pistol, shotgun rifle, either as independent courses or in the scope of your advanced training. and prove that you have done an additional 16 hours or more on live fire training either through UTKM or other approved training organization.
  • Be competent on the subject of Police application of Krav Maga
  • Shown competency on the Blue Belt Curriculum.

Black Belt

  • Complete a minimum of 400 hours as a Brown Belt with continued regular practice at all levels of Krav Maga classes, beginner, novice and advanced. Classes and be approved by your regular instructor.
  • Attend a minimum of once a week 6 weeks prior to the test date. Including any additional prep requested by your instructor.
  • Are physically and mentally ready for the test as determined by your instructor
  • Shown competency on the Brown Belt Curriculum
  • Be competent on the subject of Military application of Krav Maga
  • Show competency on All prior belt material to such a degree that is capable of teaching it regardless of having completed a UTKM Instructor course
  • Have acheived a Blue Belt in BJJ or show an acceptable grappeling equivalent. Can be from UTKM or any other recognized school.


* The information on this page takes precedence over any other belt requirements at all times. This page is subject to change as determined by UTKM HQ. Remember, all requirements are MINIMUMS and your instructor may ask more of you prior to being asked to test.


In 1989, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper, a former US Marine and creator of “the modern technique” of gun fighting, wrote a booked called Principles of Personal Defense and he devised a colour code to indicate the level of awareness a person has. Black was added later by the USMC after realizing what extreme stress can cause. The awareness colour code is a simplified view of a person’s stress and awareness under stressful potentially dangerous situations. It is important to know both in Krav Maga and in life at what level you are to avoid reaching code Black. A keyword often heard in Krav Maga is ” Situational Awareness” this as taught in class is usually referring to environmental awareness. Here you must ask yourself things like, are there multiple attackers? are their weapons? Do I have viable escape routes? etc… However, a big part of situational awareness is also your personal mental state and your ability to act or react appropriately. Enter, the Awareness Colour code. An easy guide to understanding your mental state at any given time.Principles of self defense.jpg

White – Unaware and Unprepared

This is you sitting relaxed on the couch after a large meal. Often students like to test an instructor, however even if a black belt is teaching but is at this level, any person could easily sucker punch even the most accomplished martial artist. This is a relaxed and unassuming state, you are not anticipating an attack and are relaxed both mentally and physically. This is a state you should be in only in safe environments.

Yellow – Relaxed Alert (A)

Most animals such as cats or dogs spend most of the time in this state. To quote his book;

“Observe your cat. It is difficult to surprise him. Why? Naturally, his superior hearing is part of the answer, but not all of it. He moves well using his senses. He is not preoccupied with irrelevancies. He’s not thinking about his job, his image or his income taxes. He’s putting first things first, principally his physical security.”

 – Jeff Cooper (2006). “Principles of Personal Defense: Revised Edition”, p.14, Paladin Press

In this stage, you are relaxed but still paying attention.  It would be harder to surprise a person at this stage but they are still not at a level of any stress, just simple awareness. It must be understood that being at Yellow, or relaxed alert, is not paranoia. If one were to mentally be at orange (below) or above on the scale on a regular basis, identifying everything as a threat whether real or imaginary then this would then be moving into paranoia. Remember, relaxed alert is just that, relaxed. Here you can stay indefinitely with out any issues other than being more prepared to perceive, Analyze, Formulate and Act (See Action Vs. Reaction: Stages of Mental Processing for more) against identified threats.

Orange – Specific Alert (A) (D) (PE)

This is when you have identified a specific area or person of concern and your attention is focused. A nefarious looking person walking towards you. A soldier on patrol assessing windows and doors. While Yellow is a stage that you can maintain indefinitely, Orange requires mental concentration. Consider working an 8 hour job. Statistically most work is done before noon as people still have the mental focus to be productive. The same goes for Orange; stay here for too long and you will begin to read the situation incorrectly.

Red – Condition Red is Fight (PE) (RA)

Either the situation was unavoidable or you misread it but you are now actively engaged in a fight or conflict. Imagine a car tachometer.  How long can it stay red lined until the engine blows. The same goes for a fight. How long can you maintain this level both mentally and physically? This is why for us, as Krav Maga practitioners, we try to limit time spent here and end it as soon as possible.

Black – Catastrophic Breakdown (Non-Functional Freeze (NFF))

You have now experienced a complete catastrophic breakdown mentally, physically or both. The longer you spend at condition Red the more likely you are to experience this. An example of this would be shell shock. However, sometimes, some people go straight from White or Yellow to Black. This would be the “freeze” reaction, which is when your nervous system is overwhelmed and instead of entering “fight or flight,” simply shuts down. You can avoid this by training properly so that your brain and body know how to react appropriately. However, it is impossible to know who will experience this. Some people are prone to it and some people are not. It is also important to have proper mental decompression if you spend too much of your time at Orange or Red. If you experience this or anything like it and have survived a violent confrontation we advise that you seek professional counselling to ensure that you do not suffer from Depression or Post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result and can get a proper debriefing both practically and emotionally.

* See The Stages of Self Defense post for more details on the below information

  • (A) – Avoidence
  • (D)- Diffusion
  • (PE) – Pre-Emptive
  • (RE) – Re-Active

**Topics under any principle category (EX. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time so always check in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.



Warren Green Belt techniqueA work colleague of mine recently joined UTKM on a trial basis. He had never trained in martial arts before although he always had an interest, so he decided to give it a try.  Based on our discussions about what to expect, and not, he was quite excited to give it a shot.  His father was a martial arts practitioner when he was younger so he was also happy that his son showed an interest in self-defence.  At the end of each class we spar with a partner for a couple of rounds, so since he had never sparred before and I introduced him to Krav Maga, I felt some responsibility to help him ease into it by being his sparring partner, rather than throwing him to spar with the other, more experienced, students.  As a green belt, sparring is now optional for me instead of being mandatory, and when I passed my green belt test I had hoped I would never spar again.  Never say never.

Since my colleague only had sparring gloves and no protective headgear, I had to be careful to only use kicks and body shots against him, and allow him to hit me in the head if he wanted to since I was protected. We’ve sparred now a couple of times and he’s not bad, so I can see that once he’s fully geared up it will be an interesting experience helping him improve.  It then got me to thinking how my sparring is, and whether or not I’m very good, or need much improvement myself.  The answer is, no, I’m not very good at sparring and yes, I could also use improving.  It then made me think exactly what the differences are between someone who just started taking Krav Maga and someone like me, who’s been taking it for years.

When I first started training in Krav Maga, I had never sparred before so it was a new experience for me. The first thing I noticed was that it’s much different than just watching a boxing match on TV and there are consequences for every move you make.  I keep my hands up to protect my head, but then that means I can’t throw a punch.  I use a hook which then leaves my head open, albeit for a split second.  Still, I immediately feel vulnerable.  At the same time my partner is throwing a kick which I need to block and try to counter-strike.  Do I go fast and try to overwhelm my opponent, or go slow and measured, and ensure that my throws reach their intended target.  It was very confusing and chaotic, and while I’m now much better at controlling my emotions and being more precise with both my technique and power, I’m still not very good at sparring.  But as a green belt, shouldn’t I be?  The answer is no.  We are learning Krav Maga, and not learning how to be an MMA fighter.  Yes, I should be better than someone who has never sparred before, but it doesn’t mean that someone trained in Krav Maga should be able to out-box a boxer, out-kick a kickboxer, or out-grapple someone taking BJJ.  Krav Maga is a self-defence system, and its prime purpose is to a) not get into a confrontation to begin with, b) if a confrontation arises, to try and de-escalate the situation, and c) if it gets physical, to be able to fight well enough to be able to buy enough time to get the hell out of there.  And, as Jon had passed some words of wisdom to the class just yesterday, to run to safety, not to just run away from the threat (think about that for a bit and you’ll see why it makes sense).

As a green belt, I have learned and been tested in parts of the curriculum that the lower belts have not yet seen, such as multiple attacker defence or ground fighting. But right from the first class that anyone takes in Krav Maga, they’ll learn to spar.  So it should come as no surprise that when I watch someone taking their Yellow Belt test and they get to the sparring section, they can be pretty good and I certainly wouldn’t want to get into a fight with them.  There are some beginner students who are very strong and are natural strikers, and they can easily give the higher belts a sparring challenge. The main difference is that they can often lose control of their emotions and power, and that’s where experience comes in.  So I fully admit and concede that in a 1:1 sparring situation they may overwhelm me, but that’s ok, because I’m not taking Krav Maga in order to be a boxer.  And it can take some students a longer time than others to be good at sparring and again, that’s ok.  We’re all here to learn and help each other, not to point fingers at one another and say “I’m better than you!”.

Also, progressing to the higher levels in Krav Maga is more of a linear, as opposed to vertical, progression. In a traditional martial art such as judo, it is more of a vertical progression, and advancing to the higher belts actually does mean that you can do the technique better than the lower belts, along with its application in a competitive situation.  It can take years, and repeating the same technique thousands of times, before you can execute an advanced throw cleanly and efficiently.  The lower belts will know the same throw, but the upper belts will perform it properly, and hence the acknowledgement that the higher belts are more skilled than the lower belts.  In Krav Maga, the techniques are simple by design, so it doesn’t take years to learn how, for example, to hit or kick effectively.  Progression in Krav Maga is about learning more techniques and strategies as opposed to learning how to do a technique really, really well.  Yes, with more practice some techniques will also improve, however, I’m sure that if I throw a jab-cross 10,000 more times I won’t get that much better than I am now.  And since I am taking Krav Maga to learn to protect myself in a real-life situation, I am confident that I will be good enough to be able to escape and get to safety.

Keep in mind why you are taking the martial art or sport you are. Time is very limited and we’ll never get it back once it’s been spent.  In my case, I love watching judo matches just as others enjoy watching their sports, but I freely admit that in a real life-threatening situation, judo is not going to help me much if someone came at me with a knife.  And that’s why I take Krav Maga, so I can learn what to do in an end-to-end situation and get home safely, regardless of who was better at sparring in class.





January 2018 Seminars

Posted: January 1, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Seminars

healing arts and martial arts - talk.jpg

Stick Seminar January 20th 2018.jpg

Shotgun 01 Dryfire January 27th 2018.jpg