The Evolution of Attack and Defense Stategies

Posted: December 30, 2014 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Philosophy
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This will be the last post of 2014 and I thought a good topic would be the evolution of technique. In the New Year we always make resolutions to be better and improve so evolution or improvement is a good place to end 2014.

Many months back, I went on a trip to Buffallo NY, with my partner in crime Borhan Jiang to re-take the CT-707 Instructor course under Nir Maman. For me it was my third time training with Nir and for Borhan it was his first.

In a conversation we had with Nir the question came up, why is it, that many of the techniques developed by Imi and others, are either no longer effective or are less effective than they once were.

The answer we got was so simple it was shocking. With the evolution of attacks, so too must the defense evolve.

I spent much time thinking about this over the past few months and the one area that so many Krav Maga organizations seem to struggle with is adapting the moves to the new types of attacks. Not only do some, not want to change their defense, others come up with options that sometimes leave me scratching my head.

The area of defense I see most problematic is knife attacks. If you look at most systems, even early Krav Maga, the answer is usually some kind of block or grab that is meant to stop the attacking knife and arm in one move. The problem with this is that the real weapon is the person, their brain and their nervous system and not the knife. The knife like everything else we use to be more efficient in this world is simply a tool.

Recently, there have been numerous Knife attack videos presented to me and It always shows one thing. A person with a knife, attacking, often wildly one….two…. 10 plus times in succession.


Which means, they are attacking fast and repetitively. It is really easy to demonstrate to a student how it is extremely difficult to simply grab or block such attacks as many systems would have you believe.

So I thought I would break this all down a little bit further so that you too can better understand how to properly deal with various knife situations.

To start off lets break down some of the different types of Knife scenarios:

  • Static knife scenario – This is a stick up like situation where they are simply holding the knife and demanding something
  • Committed Knife attack – This is an attack that is now kinetic (Energy and motion) but is in one committed direction – Down, up, forward (Thrusting)
  • Non-Committed knife attack – these attacks are kinetic and have no direction, they are slashing and stabbing rapidly with no pattern

Much of the older techniques deal with primarily the committed and static attack type and offer little or poor solutions to the non-committed type. This is very problematic as if an initial committed attack fails they often turn right into a non-committed attack until the attack is satisfied with the amount of damage they have done.

So why has much time ibeen spent developing good techniques for the first two attacks and not the latter. I thought about this long and hard and perhaps I am right or perhaps not but this is what I think.

It was not until the mid-late 1800s’ that guns, due to the advancement of rifling and bullets, became the primary tool for killing. Before this, and for 100s of years swords of all types were the primary tool. This meant that specific styles and techniques were developed both offensively and defensively around sword techniques and strategies. Depending on the sword type, they either rely on direct thrusts or a wide slashing movement. As such, knife techniques also followed similar patterns.

This means that older techniques in many styles may in fact work as they are dealing with primarily static or committed attack types. But as guns began to take over as the preferred tool, less and less people were being trained in proper sword techniques and with the World Wars speeding up globalization new styles could easily spread.

One such style came from the Philippines, a style that predominantly deals with knife and shorter bladed techniques. Be it Kali, ilustrisimo or Escrima these styles really began to change the way trained individuals looked at bladed attacks. Individuals both trained and untrained are realizing the best way to attack with a knife is with short quick movements in rapid succession. It does not matter if it is a stab or a slash, if the movements are quick, and rapid they are very difficult to stop.

Which means, organizations that due to tradition or simply laziness who choose to only use techniques that do not deal with all possible attack types as simply as possible are no longer living in reality. This could be Krav Maga or other martial arts styles.

The flaw is always when you treat the knife as the weapon and not the person. If you simply block and re-direct, you are ignoring the person as this does nothing to stop them from resisting.

When it comes to knives you have a few options.

  1. Simply RUN!, this is and always will be the best choice
  2. Block while simultaneously disrupting their attack pattern then Run
  3. Block while simultaneously disrupting their attack pattern control the means of Kinetic energy deliverance to the tool (The arm) and continue to disrupt the individual until the knife can be safely taken away.

So I have made this explanation a little complicated on purpose, as I want you to understand how it is a knife becomes dangerous.

A knife on its own, is a static object with bladed or sharps sides usually under 12 inches. On its own, it is harmless. However, as some kinetic energy (motion) to it and that blade now can cut or pierce soft tissue with ease. The knife is not the weapon it is a tool and the person wielding it is the weapon, more precisely their brain and nervous system. You must disrupt these things to stop the attack pattern and it must be done so with speed and confidence.

However, if you ignore the knife you are doomed to fail as well. This means you must both disrupt the attacker and control the knife with as little motion as possible.

If you block and disrupt. For example the standard 360 Krav Maga defense, and then continue to fight them then you are ignoring the knife and you now have a problem.

However, if you do a 360 defense and then IMMEDIATLEY grab the attacker’s arm you can now control the knife and can disrupt the attacker with kicks, knees and head butts.

For the record when I say grab the arm, I do not mean simply with your hand. I mean with BOTH arms and hands with vice grip clamping onto that arm. This turns it into their arm and hand vs your entire body weight.

An example of a reference point 1 or Live side two on one Grip

An example of a reference point 1 or Live side two on one Grip

An example of a reference point 2 or Dead side two on one Grip

An example of a reference point 2 or Dead side two on one Grip

TO many times I see demos where a person is controlling a knife wielding person by the wrist, but this is only the illusion of control.

When it comes to knives, if you lose control and of the knife arm, and are not a significant distance away…well I will leave it to your imagination.

So what happens, if the attacker starts with a non-committed wild attack?

Did I not say to run already? That is the best option.

Because the reality is, if you do not find a way to disrupt their attack pattern while maintaining your distance long enough to get a hold of that arm, there are very little techniques that will be able to stop such an attack without sustaining significant damage to one’s self.

So, if you cannot run, find another tool that is longer and bigger to fight them with. Throw things at them. But you must find a way, to create distance or cause them to pause. A pause is all you need to dive in for that arm. Otherwise, your only option is to run.

Evolution, it is how things improve. It is not just biology that adheres to this principle but also the learning process. It is far too easy to get stuck in a pattern because we are comfortable. This is what causes complacency. Complacency is what causes trained individuals to fall short of defending themselves and their loved ones. So, we must always evolve and be better. This does not only apply to evolving knife defense scenarios. This applies to all Krav Maga and self-defense scenarios. If you cannot keep up with the evolution of the attacker’s strategies then you too will fall prey to Darwinism.

So to you I say, make sure it is not just you who is evolving for the better in the New Year but also your methods, strategies and techniques.

I wish everyone a good, and prosperous new year in 2015 and wish that all of you out there, may continue to walk with peace.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

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