The Stages of Self-Defense

Posted: December 21, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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When people think of Krav Maga or even self-defense, they often do not understand the complex nature and progression of violent situations.  In the post on use of force the graph gives a basic idea of how complex a situation can get from a second to second decision making perspective. Almost all violent attacks are because of a failure to be aware and avoid the situation. However, it is also possible that a situation, due to circumstances was unavoidable which means how we approach it will be fundamentally different.

There are two primary reasons that you were unable to foresee or avoid conflict.

  1. You were not paying attention and your awareness level was probably at white. (See post on Awareness Colour code)
  2. They had been planning it and their tactics and approach were simply better.

In addition, this model is still subject to the model of action is faster than re-action.

Run away.jpgWhile you may see variations of this model below we offer a simplified version of the basic 4 stages for progressing in a self-defense situation. Ideally, you can use step one, as you win 100% of fights you are not, but remember at any point you may be in any one of the stages which means you must respond appropriately and in progressive order.

Avoidance (A)

If you do not put yourself in a situation where conflict is required then you will not have conflict in the first place. Avoidance can mean many things. It could mean you identify a threat and run away, or ensuring that you are not in a situation requiring conflict. Perhaps it means not walking in that dark alley at night alone. This seems like common sense but many people make poor decisions that naturally put them in a situation more conducive to conflict. Perhaps it means not going to a party with the person that doesn’t like you and that you know will result in conflict if you go. Maybe you are simply sitting at a coffee shop and you notice a person acting strangely so you decide to leave, or you simply make yourself aware of them so if they do something you are prepared. In the avoidance stage, the threat is not aware of you as a target. Of course, we recognize that avoidance is not always possible and as such we move down the progression scale.

Diffusion (D)

At this point in a conflict, the threat has actively identified you. This is the stage to which many first world countries like to advocate. This is essentially the diplomacy stage. In Canada, 9 times out of 10 you can talk your way out of a potentially dangerous situation. (In some countries, however, if a threat has identified you, you will have no choice but to run or skip to step 3 and/or 4). Or, at the very least you should talk as a distraction to find your exit and run. If you can talk your way out of a conflict do so, but remain defensive. In this situation, you MUST be in semi-passive stance or something equivalent. Your hands MUST be up and ready to act should the threat decide to attack. If they attack first you will be jumping right to Re-Active Self Defense. However, if attempting your diffusion you assess through observation that they are becoming more and more aggressive, then we recommend that you strike first as move down the progression scale to a pre-emptive attack strategy.

Pre-Emptive Self Defense (Pre-Emptive Action (PE))

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. This is a common saying that could not be truer. Because of the concepts of action vs. reaction, it is always more beneficial to act first as this means you will be one step ahead of the threat. We cannot tell you when or how to act first as it is completely up to you to assess when it is required, but we can tell you that when you strike you must strike hard, fast and with retzev. You must attack with a goal which is to stop the threat and at any point you feel the threat is no longer there, you must assess and either detain the individual or run to safety.

Reactive Self Defense (Re-Active Action (RE))

If you are reacting to defend yourself it means something has gone wrong. It means you failed to use step 1-3 and have grossly misread the entire situation, or it could mean that the tactics the threat are using are simply better than yours. Either way you are reacting to defend yourself and stop the threat from doing you harm. This is where the explosive aggressive aspects of Krav Maga come in. It is not good enough to simply block, you must block and attack using retzev to escape or stop the attacker from wishing to continue.

*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.