Imi Lichtenfield, founder of Krav Maga, said that the reason one should learn to fight, is “so that one may walk in peace”. I started taking classes with Urban Tactics because you never know what can happen to you. Just a few weeks ago, I was attacked when I did not expect it. I quickly learned the importance of being prepared for the worst.
It was the last weekend before school started up for university students, and thus also the last weekend I had to see off a good friend of mine before he left for the school year. We went out drinking, clubbing, and generally having an obnoxious good time in the way that young men do on summer weekends. By 2 or 3 in the morning we headed toward our homes, and fortune had us walking into a bad neighborhood to be caught in at such a late time.
I don’t consider myself all that stupid, or reckless. I have family in this area, and have been through it by myself on countless occasions over the years. The incident I am about to describe caught me completely off guard. I didn’t for a moment think that I was in danger. As we approached this part of town (the specific place we visited and who we were going to see will not be disclosed for my own privacy and safety), we saw a crowd of twenty or so people gathered in the street of this suburban area. Unafraid, and slightly drunk, I took my friend and headed straight for it, eager to meet some new friends. Unfortunately, and rather unexpectedly, a member of this crowd stole my friend’s glasses. I pleaded with him to return them, naively confident that he might, and bang, seemingly out of nowhere, he elbowed me in the side of the jaw, right by my ear. While I was reeling, he punched my friend in the mouth.
Before he struck me, he was leaning on a fence, hands by his side. The quickness with which a person is able to throw a strike is why it is absolutely essential to always be protecting one’s head, as is taught in Krav Maga, as soon as one suspects they may be at risk of physical attack. As soon as I got hit, I threw a wild hammer punch (which missed) while toppling, caught myself on a fence, and entered what we refer to as semi-passive stance; close to fighting stance, but less aggressive, palms facing forward to communicate a wish to cease or prevent violence. The first sight I took in was three figures surrounding me from a couple strides away, and my friend on the ground. Had I not displayed some level of competence in self-defense, the attack might have continued, and my friend and I would have faced much worse risks and consequences. As it were, I pleaded with them to stop, and we walked out with only minor injuries (and wounded pride, but fortunately, that doesn’t land you in the hospital).
I wish I could say that I taught that guy a lesson. I wish I could say that we lived in a world in which bad things don’t happen to innocent people. I cannot say either; he got away with it, and people prey on the unsuspecting every day. What I can do is strive for excellence, and prepare myself for the worst. It’s possible that my training saved me and my friend from serious injury. I hope that this is the only occasion in which I find myself having to use what I have learned from Krav Maga, but I know that it very well may not be. I choose to practice in combat for many reasons, primarily so that I am better prepared for situations like these. One should not learn to fight so that they may bring harm to others; that is not in the spirit of Krav Maga. One should learn to fight so that they are able to protect themselves, and others.
Written by: Daniel Kennedy