One of the biggest challenges as a Krav Maga instructor is helping students or the general public the difference between a self-defense scenario and a fight. While you may need to actually fight in a self-defense scenario for us a pure self-defense scenario is one which is a 0-60 scenario which is started and stopped in a relatively short time. Let’s say for the sake of argument 10-30 seconds. As opposed to a back and forth match that is more a showcase of skill, athleticism, and heart.
In Krav Maga, we very much want to avoid a fight and keep it in the self-defense realm by using Retzef to surprise and overwhelm our opponents to stop them as a threat or create the space to escape and evade to safety. In a fight, we are willingly engaging in a back and forth fight where blows are traded equally at least until the point there is a clear winner.
In our oppinon if you are in a fight situation (outside of mutually agreed combat) on the street or in general you are in most cases, not applying good self-defense practices.
This means that a good self-defense scenario is a 0-60 esk 1/4 mile at a time drag race. Take a knife threat. The attacker shows up in a brand new shiny Ferrari in the form of a knife to your belly. They feel confident because you are driving a beat 1996 eagle talon with mixed body panels. This is the reason they chose to race. They felt strong. Just as a choice victim for a would-be mugger they picked you because you looked weak and seemed like an easy target. Little did they know, your little eagle talon has been heavily modified and is a 650hp AWD monster powered by Krav Maga. The light goes from red to green. The knife tip touched your back as they say give me your money as they slam the gas with launch control feeling like your money is now theirs. You hit your gas and shift seamlessly as you re-direct their knife slam a fist into their face, control the weapon arm so you can safely create space and then book it. Gone with your tail lights in their site and the look of shock on their face as they have now failed to defeat you in this metaphorical drag race.
Contrarily a fight can either be a failed self-defense on your part engaging in a fight or simply letting your ego get the better of you. Try this scenario, You just won the lottery and are ready to go in the world of highperfomance vehicles. Since you cannot actually buy an F1 Car in most cases lets say you just bought yourself a Ferrari. This time a thug outside of the club says you have hit on his girlfriend and is now in your face. Here you are your first time on a racetrack-ready to test your skills one on one against another Ferrari owner. The light goes from ready to green and you are off, they throw a punch and you move and then throw a punch as you hit your gas on the track. Initially, you seem neck and take as you counter the blows and land some as your own. THen the first turn comes and they throw a HARD leg kick like you have never felt before. They seemsly take the corner and you skid around it. The feeling of dread now comes in that you have now engaged with someone who is clearly more skilled than you and guess what, they had been toying with you. You throw a kick of your own trying to even it up, they perry and punch you square in the nose. You hit your gas harder knowing aggression will solve everything right? You push your self to keep up with their Ferrari giving everything you got. They stick to the track easily and are getting farther and farther ahead as they are landing more and more strikes and you can barely touch them. You give one final push as your Ferrari skids off the track and slams into the wall much like your head just did on the pavement as you got knocked out. You see, they were a proffesional of the trade and you failed to recognize it early. Instead of backing off and creating space and bailing, you tried to keep up because your ego said you could. You went from a 0-60 self-defense situation into an F1 race that you were not prepared to deal with.
I hope this analogy has made things clearer for you. Self-defense is a quick scenario where someone chose you as a target and you did the absolute minimum required to stop the threat by stoping them quickly or by getting to safety. While a fight is any scenario where there is a willing back and forth exchange of skills until someone clearly wins and one or both parties have sustained significant damage.
Often individuals come in who love to fight, and the task for me is to convince them to choose control, strategy, and technique over letting their preference or ego get the better of them. Because on the street, you must assume everyone is a better fighter than you and you must learn to refrain from being succered into a fight. Because self-defense is not a fight, and if you are fighting its because your life depends on it and there is no other choice.
So when it comes to your personal safety, in the moment, choose the drag race and not the F1 marathon! (Metaphorical of course)