Cause Pain, Off-balance, Disrupt

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

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; Avoidance and De-Escalation. Whenever we are forced to fight, either in PE or RA self-defence, we must always do one of 3 three tactics; Cause Pain, Off-balance, and/or Disrupt their mental process while applying Retzef.


These three tactics 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 is less affected by a strike or pain stimulus than you were expecting, this may be due to them possessing a high pain tolerance or having a greater than normal experience of physical conflict in their life. Another, more likely and common, scenario is that the individual is on drugs and their sense of pain is reduced, meaning you will need to rely on the other two options.


The easiest way to off-balance an opponent is by being the aggressor and using your body mass. The bursting motion in Krav Maga application is extremely effective at this, as it puts the majority of your mass into force applied to the other person.

An example of Bursting in “360 defence.” (Though the strike should be to the face.)

Another way, that is less aggressive, is to simply move forward in an aggressive manner, causing your opponent to step backwards. This option is common in professional fighting, where it is used to take the power away from an opponent’s strikes; an opponent who is moving backward usually cannot strike as hard as they would if they were moving forward. As you train your striking proficiency, off-balancing can easily be combined with strikes for more effective results; it may be problematic however if the person is significantly bigger than you.

Disrupt (their mental process)

The disruption of an opponent’s mental process can be direct or indirect. If you caused pain or off-balanced 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 an effective method of distraction. Anything you do that causes them to look away or pause, is a method for disrupting opponents’ mental processes.

It is important to understand that you must always attempt to apply two or more of these tactics, as we must always assume that what we just did, did not work. This is where Retzef (continuous attack) comes in; you combine aggression with the will to survive. 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.

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

  1. […] looking nice take longer than a straight line approach would have taken. Remember, the faster you off balance, disrupt or cause pain that faster you can stop the threat. But if you add beautiful yet complicated movements it is […]

  2. […] could miss, or they could be better. It’s because of this, we have strategies like Retzef and Cause pain, Off Balance and Disrupt. If I assume that what I did for whatever reason was not sufficient to stop the threat then I must […]

  3. […] same principles of Cause Pain, Off Balance and Disrupt the mental process we apply to our assailants can also be applied to us. Therefore we must do what […]

  4. […] quicker you can overwhelm your opponent by off-balancing, causing pain and disrupting while applying Retzev and protecting yourself from the initial attack the more successful you will […]

  5. […] vs Reaction: The Stages of mental processing. By applying constant and continuous pressure, while causing pain, off-balancing, or disrupting, you will be constantly resetting your opponent’s mental processing back to stage 1 or 2 (of […]

  6. […] Your goal is to always engage in an aggressive fashion should you find your self in mental colour code red, so that you are constantly resetting your attacker’s mental process to 1 or 2. This can be done by off-balancing, causing pain, or resetting their mental process through disruption. (See Off Balance, Cause Pain or Reset) […]

  7. […] escalate the scenario. Techniques such as the push kick, educational block, throat jab, etc. will cause pain, off balance and disrupt enough to effectively create space in a quick manner. Of course, if creating space has escalated […]

  8. […] teaching the concepts of closing the distance, and cause pain, off balance, and disrupt we often find ourselves noting the structure of our arms. We use that arm structure to maintain […]

  9. […] life situation. The jarring force this can produce is also important, as it’s a stimulus that can disrupt and off-balance someone, which is an important factor both in the training your defence technique and preparing you […]

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