Audio by Jonathan Fader

Retzef is an offensive strategy that, when choosing to fight, we must implement in any and all self-defence scenarios.

Retzef means: a constant, continuous attack in which the intention is to overwhelm your opponent with constant pressure.

Streetfighter’s E. Honda applying his “Hundred Hand Slap.” Little did he know, it’s a form of Retzef!

Essentially, crazy beats big. The more ferocious, more relentless, and more aggressive your attack, the more likely you are to overcome an opponent, even a larger one, even if for just a moment. That moment, however, may be just the time you need to escape and evade to safety.

When following the stages of self-defence, you may find yourself unable to apply the first two stages, Avoid and Diffuse, and end up being forced to Preemptive Strike (PE) or, if you are caught off guard, a Reactive situation (RA).

Retzef works because of the principle of Action 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 the 4), allowing you to overwhelm them, if only for a short time. You should also be bursting in, changing from long range to close in order to gain control of your attacker. At this point, you can either disengage and run, or perform a takedown for to detain or arrest.

This strategy not only works on the micro scale, it can work on the macro. Consider war. Retzef is a strategy applied by the IDF; any engagement should be swift, and with such force that the enemy has little time to recuperate in the moment. This “crazy beats big” strategy is one of the reasons the IDF has been so successful over the years. Consider also guerrilla tactics. Here Retzef is a strategy that applies in a different sense; while constantly attacking a larger force, and then disappearing just to do it again, you put immense strain on the larger force’s resources and moral (off-balance and disrupt?).

On the micro scale, of course, your goal is simply to overwhelm the senses of the attacker long enough to apply your self-defence strategy, whether it be to run or to detain. If you fail to apply Retzef, any break in pressure could be the moment your attacker needed to recover and then to apply their strategy. This split-second break can be catastrophic, as in cases where your attacker is much bigger, they may only need to hit you once to win their fight.

One of the deciding factors in whether a move or decision is appropriate when applying Retzef, is whether it is a passive movement or an active movement.

Passive Movement: An intentional or unintentional movement that does not Cause Pain, Off-balance, or Disrupt.

Active Movement: An intentional or unintentional movement that does Cause Pain, Off-balance, or Disrupt

When applying Retzef, each motion will be an active motion, with a limited delay in between each successive attack.

So, remember, if you are going to attack in the name of self-defence, it must with constant, continuous and aggressive pressure.

*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.