They say, in life, that if you assume, you just make an ASS out of U and ME. The problem is, sometimes assuming could save you. Just like in life, we have to make certain assumptions in Krav Maga to ensure our maximum survival in any situation.
Assume They Have a Weapon
Assuming that your attacker has a weapon, even if it is not readily visible or identifiable, could save your life. This is because weapons change what you should or should not do with regards to tactics and control methods. Obviously, if you know there is a weapon your training will tell you what to do. However, if you don’t see a weapon, but assume they have one, you are mentally prepared and can still rely on your senses and your training if that situation suddenly changes.
A good example is controlling the arm. In wrestling, it is totally acceptable to underhook the opponent’s arm above the elbow, near the shoulder. Unfortunately, while such a control may be great for controlling you opponent’s body, it does not, however, control their arm’s ability to bend at the elbow. A motion which is perfect for stabbing and slashing. You may get your underhook control in, but maybe it was dark and you didn’t see the knife; you assumed, incorrectly, that your control was sufficient, sudden;y it is not. In this particular case, a better control would have eliminated their arm’s ability to stab or slash. Just like in splinting for first aid, always isolate the joints; one below and one above. If a attacker is using a knife, they are holding it, so you should do your best to control the arm near the wrist and prevent the elbow from moving easily; thus preventing an effective stab or slash motion.
Effective control of the arm is just one example of how assuming they have a weapon drastically changes your acceptable control mechanism and your tactics.
Another example would be the tactics employed if you are a trained as a sports striker, say Muay Thai or kickboxing. Your training gives you the confidence to want to “dance” with your attacker, because you recognize your skill set to be far greater. However, you failed to assume they had a weapon, so you go for a clinch, controlling their head and neck. They’ve had enough, they pull a knife, and next thing you know your guts are all over the ground.
Most styles fail to assume a weapon may be present and they do not train for this occurrence appropriately. Your style may be perfect for unarmed fighting, but if you have little to no experiences with knives or guns, you may have a problem. See the example in this tragic story, in which a high level of training in empty-hand martial arts still wasn’t enough versus an identifiable weapon.
Weapons change everything.
Assume They Have Friends
Another thing we need to assume is that the attacker has backup. Remember, in the real world there is no referee, there is no cage, and any person, even a stranger to you and your attacker, can jump in against you. For example, you could agree to a fair fight, but once you start to win opponent’s friends think it’s unfair, so they jump in and you go from winning to losing.
Or, you got away from the initial attack but forgot to scan and look around, so didn’t see the other attacker 6m away; who now lays you out easily because you mistakenly thought you were already safe.
Forget honour, forget rules of engagement, and just assume that their friend is ready to cold-cock you from behind. Because failing to constantly check for more than one attacker could turn a “good” encounter with violence into the one we all fear. Worse yet, if one person has attacked you and there is a group with them, it is easy for mob mentality to kick in and their normally peaceful “friends” suddenly become bloodthirsty goons.
So, remember, until you are truly away to safety, assume there is another attacker.
Assume it Didn’t Work
While we try to use the most efficient, reliable techniques, in the end you need to remember that techniques can fail, you can miss, and your opponent could be better than you. It’s because of this reality that we apply 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 will always continue constant pressure, while maximizing my effectiveness, until the threat is in fact stopped. Words do not always work, no matter how much we would like, so we must be prepared to continue our self-defence strategy. The same, however, can be said for violence; if it doesn’t initially work, we either need to escalate or escape to fight another day. The truth is, in the moment we don’t really know what worked and what didn’t until the dust has settled. So, it is a safe practice to assume that what you did didn’t work, so that you don’t prematurely stop and end up dead.
*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.