Archive for the ‘Krav Maga Opinions’ Category

This blog post is written by one of our female students who wishes to remain anonymous. Names in this article have been altered for the sake of anonymity.

I have been doing Krav Maga at Urban Tactics Krav Maga for a few months now. I am a 46-year-old mother of three: a teenage daughter and two adult sons. I started Krav partly because my family does it and partly because I work as a paramedic and occasionally find myself in some tense and even dangerous situations on the job.

Another student in our class recently came across an advertisement online for a women’s only Krav Maga class and asked me what I thought about it and if I would write a post on the subject.

When I consider a women’s only self-defense class, it seems counter-productive to me. I understand women’s only dance or yoga classes. Some people feel uncomfortable exercising in the presence of the opposite sex and that’s fine. Self-defense classes, however, seem to be based in self-defense, first and foremost. That’s the most important thing.

In the first class that I sparred with a man, I hesitated. I was not aggressive. Partly, it’s because I was taught as a girl to be demure and to let the man lead. The thought also went through my head, “what if I hit him hard and he hits me back hard?!” Which is what could happen in real life, of course. It could happen to me at work, or to my daughter who is going about her teenage life in a crazy world. Attackers don’t wait for you to be ready or get over your conditioning just because you are a girl.

I learned that techniques work differently when used on people who are larger – or smaller – than myself. I wonder how a woman who has never practiced against a man would overcome her natural psychological reactions to such a different kind of opponent. How would she learn that some techniques simply do not work the same way on someone considerably larger or stronger than themselves and that those techniques must be modified?

In the real world, things will not go well if your reaction speed is slowed because you face an opponent you are really unfamiliar with or your situational awareness is less because something totally new is happening to you. You will most probably hesitate and get hurt. Krav Maga teaches us not to hesitate and to do whatever it takes to survive against an attacker. Against anyone trying to hurt us. Gender-specific schooling doesn’t really work well with that goal.

I have now practiced and sparred with both men and women and I hesitate less each time. I use different moves depending on size and aggression level of my opponent.

Krav Maga has taught me that self-defense is about awareness and reaction speed before technique and force. Technique and force are important, but great technique doesn’t help you very much when you’re already on the ground due to not being used to fighting a certain kind of opponent.

We all learn best by doing and practicing any kind of self-defense is better than none. However, self-defense techniques should be able to be used reliably, without hesitation, in any situation and against anyone who is trying to hurt you.

Since the internet was made publically available, it has changed the world in so many ways. In general, it has increased the connectivity of ideas and thoughts, which can be positive but also gives the ability for any idiot to have a voice. Don’t get me wrong, I am generally for free speech, but now with so much information, it can make it difficult for the average person to know what’s what.

For martial arts, I think it has been a good thing. For a long time, individual styles have been isolated to specific regions and cultures. Through the advent of the internet, it has allowed a mix of martial arts ideas and thoughts to arise all over the world. The internet is probably what helped MMA expand so rapidly, for instance.

Now, in the world of martial arts, this means that it is time to adapt or die. It also means that anyone can put up their videos, whether good or bad and sell their brand of martial arts.

For some videos like the ones below, it can be easy for the average person to decern bullshit or not.

But for other videos like the following, it can cause confusion to both those in the know and those who are not in the know.

I came across the above video on a page for one of the numerous Krav Maga organizations I follow. This video faced criticism in the comments section and rightfully so. However, some of the criticism had me concerned mildly.

First, let’s start with the valid concerns:

  1. I am generally against women only classes due to the unrealistic nature of the attack scenarios often presented. On the bright side, I did see a male in a demo which seemed to be an instructor, but it is unlikely he was attacking with realistic pressure or aggression which causes an unrealistic expectation for a woman in their ability should they ever need to defend themselves. There are some other males, but again the pace of and training of this class seems to be oriented to the woman. Personally, I see no difference in training women vs. men. It’s just a matter of building every individual into the best version of themselves. I structure my classes the same regardless of the balance of gender in my class. Also, if a woman is uncomfortable training for violence in and around men, it is a consideration that some form of counselling may be advised. Women need to understand that whether right or wrong, most attackers will be male and bigger and stronger and often more aggressive, so they must train for reality and not ideas or fitness. In addition, I refuse to teach people who demand that I cater to their version of self-defense. A colleague of mine was recently asked to teach a Krav Maga class without any reference to violence or anything that may seem traumatic. Remember, as Bruce Lee said, you are ready to learn when your cup is empty.bruce_lee2
  2. It is unnerving fact that many people only seem to want to learn self-defense when violence around them rises, rather than preparing for it even during peaceful times. Remember, Krav Maga is so you may walk in peace. Even during times of peace, you should learn and practice. With that being said, Anti-Semitism against Jews never went away and is on the rise in most countries again. Though in Canada, it has a low occurrence, this is probably why so little Jews (at least in Vancouver) participate in Krav Maga or other martial arts. Remember, it is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.
  3. Praying isn’t going to save you in a violent situation, only violence will. If you aren’t training properly with aggression you may be in trouble. Also, while Krav Maga is not about fitness, being in reasonable shape to act and move quickly is important for proper self-defense. The reality is in a given situation, you may have to run for a few kilometres and the techniques and athletism shown in this video is slow and sloppy. So how prepared are these woman really? This doesn’t mean they cannot become something more, but the training needs to reflect this and in this section of the video at least it does not.
  4. Some of the techniques shown, such as the “cavalier” or knife disarm are old and risky especially for such a group of people. The fact that numerous Krav Maga organizations still use such techniques is shocking to me as to much can go wrong with them.

Now, I have a couple of thoughts regarding some of the comments I saw on the page where I found the video:

  1. Something is better than nothing. Even if this training is mediocre and unrealistic, it is a start.
  2. The people on the page seemed unfamiliar with the older cavalier technique. This is a historical Krav Maga technique and should be known by all practitioners regardless of whether or not you like it. The fact that they were unfamiliar suggests the individuals of this organization very rarely train with other organizations and lack perspective in Krav Maga. It also shows that they are not familiar with the historical development of Krav Maga. To me, this is bordering on an insular and cult-like mentality, which I am strongly against. I always encourage individuals to cross train, even when they are not convicted of another organisations abilities or moves.

Now, of course, the folly of the internet is releasing a video without proper context. I very rarely like to release a simple clip without some kind of explanation. If you show too little of a specific move or concept without full background information it is very easy to pick apart on the internet. I see videos all the time, from people I respect, that I think are ridiculous because there is no context.

Especially for Krav Maga, a move or concept should be fully fleshed out. If it is a move, you should show it both in slow motion and in its full speed application. This way, it solidifies the argument you are trying to make. I get it that people do not wish to give away to much for free, but the reality is if you release one bad video, it can be picked apart easily by those on the internet.

Let’s be honest, the quality of your video matters as well. A flashy, well-produced video, even if it isn’t that great technically, can draw out the sales. But if you have the money for such a video, why not produce something that also shows off technical prowess under realistic stress and conditions?

The internet unified the martial arts community and the world, and yet we are still so divided. Krav Maga, for example, is more fractured than ever. There are so many schools and organizations some which are better than others, but most which are garbage. Too many people pretend to know what they are doing and still get students because of the content they release. In addition, in many cases, the fact is they have a captive audience from a group of people who may not have the proper perspective or background knowledge when it comes to Krav Maga or self-defense.

Beware of videos on the internet, which can make or break you as a self-defense practitioner. Put content out there with some discretion and make sure it doesn’t misrepresent you if you are good, or over represent you if you are not so good. Although, you probably don’t even know…

 

winston-churchill.jpg

If you are a regular audience of my Warriors Den podcast, then you know that I have a long-standing battle with depression. No, I am not talking about the kind that SJWs have because they can’t handle a bad grade or the reality that shitty behaviour can get you fired in the real world and makes you unhireable. I am talking about chronic depression which I have had my whole life. I always recognized that I have experience some problems throughout my life, but I couldn’t figure it out. It took a manic depressive episode several years ago for me to finally realize the issue.

Now, some years later and 2 years on SSRIs have helped me to get my depression to a reasonably manageable point that is allowing me to move forward with my entrepreneurial aspirations.

First off, I would like to say that if you are what I would consider “functional with a diagnosed mental health issue” (by functional I mean employable and or capable of going to school or operating fairly normally), then I don’t think you should ever use your mental health as an excuse to skirt responsibility, which a lot of people do. Sure, it’s ok to have a down day or even a week, but if you use it as an excuse to get out of homework, work or other issues, then you are either just fall into the category of non-functional or you just need to learn better coping mechanisms. At the end of the day, your problems should not always be the problems of those around you. Just saying. Moving on.

Some of you may also know that 2016 was not a great year for me with regards to physical health. Early 2016, I tore the cartilage in my left foot, which made it very painful to run or jump or move properly. Also, I do not believe in medicating the pain away, so it was a great discomfort. When that was finally clearly up, I tore my ACL in my right knee, which basically killed my ability to move forward in my BJJ training. Last December, I finally got surgery and have been recovery rather speedily thanks to the fact I have projectpower.ca attached to my UTKM gym giving easy access to rehab tools and advice. This helped me to keep up with my rehab training, even when I didn’t really want to because it was right there in my regular training environment. Convenience helps!

Recently, I have been amping up my training with running. Finally! After well over a year of no running, I can run again. As well, I’m doing more regular weight training.

Here is where the factor of depression comes in. I noticed that my recovery and increased training coincided with the weather having finally started to warm up and be nicer. I realized, here I am as someone battling with clinical depression and heavily affected by SAD (seasonal depression) and heavily injured and unable to train properly for the last year or so. Man, 2016 was a shitty year! (And not because Trump won because I actually won a bet because of that.)

I have been told by countless people that they are  astonished by how unfazed I am by major complications in my life. I am generally fairly steadfast, and while I may be super disgruntled during a moment of crisis or when a problem arises, I always think that I need to keep on trucking. Resilience is a skill that so many people today have forgotten about. Personally, I can’t say why I’m particularly skilled at resilience, but I know now how important it is to general success.

Anyway, I have been thinking about why I am so motivated to train now. I did not realize how much the injuries had affected my general motivation, mainly due to the aforementioned attitude about resilience. I also don’t think I realized how much the seasons affect my motivation.

It’s easy for experts to say, “Exercise helps with depression and makes you happy!” For the most part this seems to be true, but when I am depressed, I generally don’t want to exercise at all. Add that to the fact that I couldn’t do much physically…

A big wake up call for me happened when I was holding my last Yellow Belt Test in March. Most people didn’t notice, maybe a few probably did, but holy shit was I out of breath! I often write about how being an instructor should not be about how great you are as a practitioner, but how great your students become from your training. Yet, I think in this case, my students are my motivation to become better. Realizing how out of shape I was made me think to myself, “For my student’s sake, I cannot be this out of shape.” Not that I was ever really an athlete, but you know…

20170304_YellowBelt_IMG_0472.jpg

You guys keep me going.

 

 

With my regular depression mildly under control and seasonal depression nearing its end and my crippling injuries behind me, I now find the motivation to train from my students (and the sun), which is something I did not fully appreciate until now.

I am not sure what I am really trying to say about this topic other than that living with depression can be tough, especially when you are high functioning. At least in my case, so many people depend on me and my ability to function. It’s especially hard in this industry when there are so many hyper athletic, super motivated people around me getting better and better as I watch and think, “Man, I wish I could be that motivated.” What is your motivation? No matter what level of intrinsic motivation you have and no matter the condition of your mental health, people still need to find their motivation.

rawI supposed I have found mine in my students and those who depend on me. It is good to know because without knowing that this motivates me, I would only be a facade of an instructor, telling my students to do something that I struggle to find on a daily basis. Though my students may not realize it, I am grateful that they are there to continue to drive me forward so that I can offer them the best training experience possible.

If you struggle with a mental health issue, don’t let it get you down (pun intended). Don’t let injury cripple you and keep looking for what keeps you motivated. Slow and steady is better than nothing at all. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress.

In my previous review, posted my commentary on the Fight Quest episode about Krav Maga. Here is my review of the Human Weapons (2007) episode on Krav Maga.

Personally, I enjoy Human Weapons more out of the two series, probably due to the awesome 3D graphics they employed. I also liked Fight Quest less because I really didn’t like Jimmy Smith. Either way, it is a shame that both series have been canceled after only one season each. Also, Human Weapon employs a slightly different format of experiencing the various martial arts. The hosts stay together, train together, and learn identical techniques, and I think the fact they both get the same experience is better for the show.

Timestamped Commentary

00:17 You can see them walking with Prof. Itay Gil, a former Sheyetet-13 (Navy Seals equivalent) and other units as well as a well-known counter-terrorist and Krav Maga expert. They use the term “anti-terrorist unit,” but this means nothing to me and shows that they either didn’t want to say the name or couldn’t be bothered. In reality, Israel has many anti-terrorist units and people using the terms vaguely without actually specifying the unit is a pet peeve of mine. Itay was one of the early people spreading Krav Maga and CT tactics globally and out of Israel before it even became widely known. He is also known for training IKI’s Moshe Katz.

01:00 I know that stadium well. It is an obvious landmark in Jerusalem, but I never actually went in it. I am not sure if he is still teaching to civilians there, but there is only one way to find out. Itay’s style is hyper-aggressive, to the point, and very military focused on the specific needs of what soldiers and police might need.

01:56 Enter the weapon. Even an amateur fighter could handle themselves easily against the average person in a fight, but bring in the weapons and all of a sudden they are usually not sure what to do. If you have never trained with realistic weapon attacks. all your martial arts may have been for naught.

04:14 The anti-terrorist training facility is not such a secret. I mean, if you know what its name is then you can easily find it because they have road signs for it in Israel, so they probably knew its name simply by watching the road signs on the way in. Also, when I spent my time there during sniper school, there were US Marines and units from all over the world periodically training there. So really, if you really wanted to find it you could just ask around. Not sure if that’s so secret….

04:56 It’s called bursting. This basically means putting all your energy forward into the target. To me, if your feet are in the same place they started you really didn’t burst. In Krav Maga, if you are not running away or creating space, you should be moving forward. Thus, you must start with a burst and keep moving. If your instructors always have you stationary when you drill, then either they don’t understand the concept or they are a bad instructor. Sorry, it’s another pet peeve of mine. Also, it should be noted that you should be hitting the face not the chest, but I am sure they did it they way they did so as to protect the actors.

06:31 As you can see, they are attempting to do a combo 360 defense with their burst. However, as is common with new practitioners, they are so mentally concerned about getting away from the knife that they screw up the technique. They are usually moving out and sideways before they have actually completed a full burst, which diminishes its effectiveness. I would like to also add this builds bad muscle memory when done like this as you cannot always run immediately, often bursting means moving forward to control the weapon arm and if your reflex is always to hit and run, you may be in trouble in the times you cannot run.

07:26 IKMF is originally founded in 1996 by Eyal Yanilov and others prior to Imi’s death, probably because they were pissed off by the succession by Haim Gideon. Anyway, it is now run by Avi Moyal who ousted Eyal in the late 2000’s. Eyal left and created KMG. You have to love the Israeli and Krav Maga politics… I also originally started with IKMF, but due to a difference in opinions let’s say, we left IKMF.

07:36 Hey, look! There is Eyal before he left. That’s how old this show is. He is widely seen as the true protege for Imi. Also, you saw Avi Moyal a little earlier in the clip.

07:55 As you can see, they are doing a pressure drill. In Krav Maga, you avoid the ground and do not stay on the ground, so drills like this force people to be aggressive under pressure in order to get off the ground. Although, this circle looks kind of tame…

09:02 If I am not mistaken, that is Zeev Cohen with whom I have never trained, but I know several people who have. From what I have heard, he is widely considered one of the top instructors and practitioners in the Krav Maga world. As far as I know, he operates his own school under his own name/brand but is more affiliated with KMG these days as he followed Eyal after his ousting.

09:20 Crowd control work for VIP protection. It is situations like this that people usually hire giants for their body guards. Though outside of these situations, giants are not always the best, just saying.

09:50 As you can see, they are practicing the 360 block. Really, this needs to be combined with bursting. I like the drill they are showing, but only when explaining why it’s called 360 and if people are having trouble with the block section. I would much rather teach it in full with the burst so as to build proper reactive muscle memory. If you are static due to muscle memory caused by these drills during an aggressive knife attack, you will have a hard time dealing with it. I personally feel part of the reason some organizations claim that 360 is not a good technique is because they are not teaching it properly in the first place. It is a simple and effective technique when taught and trained properly, but I see people messing it up all over the internet. Pet Peeve. Did you notice I have a lot?

12:00 These choke attacks may not be common for everyone and thus a lot of places don’t like to teach them. However, they are very common in large person versus small person self-defense situations, such as domestic violence, and should not be ignored. Would I attack any one like that? Probably not. I know better, but I hate it when I hear people say that “Nobody attacks like that.” They do, even if you have not seen it before.

12:20 Someone who is grabbing the trachea with force to crush it using only one hand probably has some idea about what they are doing. Most people are just targeting the neck in general, but if they are targeting the trachea specifically, you had better react fast if you don’t want to die.

13:00 This is actually one option in this scenario that I still teach. However, I teach two others as well because, due to body shapes and sizes as well as varying situations, sometimes having one option is not good enough. All options work just fine when they suit the person and situation, but sometimes one is better than the other even though the other is preferred. As much as possible, we try to limit the move to just one option, but again due to the variables in attacks, sometimes people need a couple options. For example, you can see that plucking relies heavily on speed to work.

14:14 You can tell this is old. The IDF largely uses the Micro Tavor now. When I was in the army, they were still trying to convince SF operators to use the regular Tar 21 which is what I used. I would take the Micro Tavor though over either, but the M4 over the Tar 21 Tavor any day.

14:28 He pronounced the name wrong, just so you know. Also, they are a bit dramatic by saying they are going to armageddon. It’s actually a really nice area full of farmlands and hills. I know since I lived in Kibbutz Ein-Ha-Shofet just around the corner for most of my time off base in Israel. Though, I should really have moved to the city because, well, Jonathan Fader and socialist communists don’t really mesh. Look up “Kibbuts” for more info, although a Kibbutz is a good example of why socialism fails because they rely on capitalism in order to survive. Go figure.

14:40 Ok, you can just skip over this section. If you didn’t know, Moni Aizik is a fraud and was never actually in any “Commando” units as a combat soldier. He was allegedly a paper pusher in one of the bases. Also, he was only ever a Judoka as far as I know. He has been widely discredited since this show and I am fairly sure he is wanted in several countries for fraud or other things though I couldn’t tell you what. Unfortunately, some people still pay money to train with this fool. Not to mention a lot of the techniques he teaches are quite laughable.

18:00 Ok, for the last f***ing time, Wingate is not the main base of the IDF. For the most part, it is a private sports institute that happens to have a military base on in and, yes, a lot of physical tests and the general program for Krav Maga is run out of it. And yes, back in the day it is where Imi and others taught out of but that was many many years ago. It is not this main amazing crazy place that so many people claim it is. There is a hill I mentioned in the Fight Quest post that I do hate. Personally, I went there to do fitness competitions. In addition, many of the SF pre-trial tests are done there. Also, as mentioned, the general Krav Maga training program is there where instructors take a 6 week or so program to teach IDF Krav Maga to soldiers. So, if this is the only training that IDF KM instructors have in KM, it means not all of them are very good unless they trained as a civilian previously. It is a fairly nice base though as IDF bases go as its right on the mediteranian. and NO every israeli citizen does not go to Wingate for Basic trainging, I sure as hell didnt. I was stuck in the Negev Desert…..

19:21 To be honest, I have no idea who Shahar Klafeld is so perhaps someone can enlighten me. He looks like a Miloeemik or reservist doing his annual duty. If thats the case they didnt take the show very seriously. Also head instructor is relative if they always change them.

20:00 Personally, I don’t teach the butt hit anymore as you are not controlling the muzzle. As far as I am aware neither do a lot of people. I simply use magazine and the barrel from different angles. I also don’t teach people to hit wildly again due to muzzle control, which if you are not aware is a key part of firearms safety.

23:15 By the way, that gear is the crappiest available. Again, they weren’t giving them anything frilly. At least they gave them new unifroms. Also, I like this drill but it could have been much better but again due to safety when firearms are involved you can’t go too crazy or else someone might end up with a barrel in their eye. By the way being hit in the face with a barrel is not fun, as I can attest.

25:01 What is saying is great. Let the trainig and reaction take over. Because under stress you can’t think you need to just do. This is why it’s so important to build the correct reactions to calm situations. It’s better to practice slowly and correctly than quickly and incorrectly because this trains your body how to move properly.

25:49 Massada is one of my favourite places in Israel. So much history and also known for the famous pre-sunrise hike. If you go to Israel and don’t go to Massada then you didn’t really visit Israel.

26:19 It should be noted that while Dennis Hanover is an AMAZING martial artist, self defense expert and overall combative expert, he isn’t technically doing Krav Maga even if he is teaching a lot of the same things. This is mainly due to the fact he has an immense martial arts back ground, but really doesn’t come from the traditional Krav Maga lineage. Either way though, I would not mess with him as he clearly trains to kill and is proficient in most hand-held weapons. I also love the way this guy moves, there’s just something about being a true master.

31:12 It’s true that the heat in the Jordanian Valley is quite annoying. If you want to experience different types of heat then simply travel all over Israel in the summer. Hot in the Jordanian Valley is a whole different kind of hot.

31:19 This is more Kyokushin style training, but I support it periodically. It allows people to condition their body and really push themselves physically. Of course, if you do it too much, it tends to lower your guard from protecting the head, which is a bad habit. You must always train sparring with head shots (of course, with protective head gear) and occasionally do this kind of sparring. It may also be a section in some of UTKMs belt tests.

33:03 As you can see, some people have their faces covered, this means they are SF and cannot be seen on camera. Again, they are on Israels Central CT base, though I still say it’s not so secret anymore. Also, people really need to stop using the term commando as a general term as it really means nothing other than SF, but doesn’t specify the unit. It is likely that these are members of CT707 the same unit that Nir Maman served it. However, as many SF units train out of this base you really cannot be certain.

34:30 For example, these guys who are sparring could be Matkal, Sheyetet-13, Shaldag or any other top tear unit, but you really cannot know. See how it mostly focuses on aggression and engagement?

36:44 I wonder if this is actually how they decided. I mean, its generally obvious who has the better skill. It’s usually Jason, but Bill does get in sometimes.

39:00 These circles are great. We use them is some of our testings. If your school has never put you in a similar circle, tell them it’s time to up the ante. Though, please do them safely. Although, Jason has a tendency to go to the ground too often. I think it’s his MMA training coming in, but with knives, you rarely want to go down to the ground since you’ll get cut for sure. Also, I really think they are going easy on him. Either way again, even after going through a week of training, you can tell he is reverting to what he knows. Also, he probably would have been dead from the second knife attack. Overall, these circles are great for training people for the unexpected when you are tired. You really never know who is going to attack and when.

Summary

For the most part, the guys in Human Weapons trained a little bit more with the military Krav Maga organizations and a little less with civilian ones probably because of Itay Gil. While both military and civilian Krav Maga organizations are very good, a truly great Krav Maga organization or program should provide both military and civilian aspects of training. Military Krav Maga is generally more focused on conditioning, aggression, and mental toughness, while civilian Krav Maga spends more time developing technical prowess and correct reflexes. Again, both are important with regards to being a good Krav Maga practitioner.

Also, like the Fight Quest episode, I would really like to emphasis how much BS is out there regarding both Krav Maga and the IDF. I know so many people who don’t have a clue what they are talking about when it comes to the IDF or Krav Maga. Always do your research and don’t be easily impressed just by titles alone.

The fourth dimension is a complicated concept for many people and you can get a general idea of what it means here and here.

What is the fourth dimension?

Time. In the art of self-defense, the element of time is often a forgotten factor: taking our past experiences into the present while learning new skills in the now. Self defense is to prepare for the worst of the future, while hoping you never have to use what you know now.

The 4th dimension is the often a forgotten aspect of good self-defense

How many styles of martial arts out there have got you practising forms and katas? How many of them teach a set of moves that are solutions to various offensive and defensive strategies? The answer is many, if not most, traditional styles. Now, how many of them are still teaching strategy or the art of war?

Not, many.

In today’s progressive societies which are driven by image and consumerism, even those who claim to be against capitalism often reject violence as a part of the human reality. An individual in a wealthy neighbourhood on the West Coast who has never been exposed to physical violence can easily renounce violence as bad. Unfortunately, the majority of people on this planet cannot do or say the same. Thus, when policy makers who have had privileged lives, no matter their ethnic background, try to dictate to everyone to be peaceful without understanding the nature of violence or use of force, we often end up with pointless documents that don’t always do anything to protect people.

As you may know, I am a big believer in teaching individuals not to rely on law enforcement or others for their own self-defence. If you don’t know, this is because in the moment, a split second is all it takes to change from a survivor to a body bag. In most violent situations, individuals do not have the luxury to wait on the phone and hope someone shows up in time.

So what does any of this have to do with the fourth dimension?

Well, time is relative. Depending on the situation, it could mean many things. Learning proper self-defence is so much more than just learning what to do in a specific physical confrontation. Self-defense is also about learning the strategy to avoid conflict in the future by learning from our past. This is where time and experience comes in.

There is a saying I like, it goes something like this:

“A fool does not learn from his mistakes. A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

This saying has been used in one form or another over the years and it echos truth no matter how it is said. Time is an important factor of self-defense because learning not only from your past, but also the past of others gives you context for violence and how to avoid it. It also teaches that sometimes violence and not peace is, in fact, the best solution to stopping more violence. This is where good strategy comes in, which based in reality in the past, present and future.

Knowing an opponent’s past will prepare you for a future confrontation and will better allow you to apply the appropriate strategy for a higher survival outcome.

A more simplified example could be thinking twice about heading to particular area of a city that is historically known for its crime or violence. (Situtaional awareness!)

A great self-defense program, no matter the style, will consider time in all its forms to teach proper strategy. Because without a proper strategy based on experience and knowledge as dictated by time, a person could easily be overwhelmed by a violent situation because it’s not at all what they were expecting.

Another easy aspect of time with self-defense is of course practice. There is often a flawed idea with regards to self-defense which is “oh, that’s easy to learn” and thinking you can be proficient at it in a very short amount of time. I know we have written about this previously, but it cannot be overstated that this is a flawed belief.

The only way to really be ready for conflict is to continue to practice, even if it is easy to learn, so that you become proficient enough to apply what you know even in overwhelming odds. Thinking you know how to defend yourself just because you took a few classes and broke a sweat is presuming far too much. Sure, we see stories all the time about people, usually woman or girls who took a little bit of self-defense and managed to fend off their attackers. Of course, these are great stories, but the truth is that these individuals got lucky. How many situations did we not hear about where the person wasn’t quite so fortunate. Just like time is forgotten, physics is also forgotten when it comes to self-defense. If you took some self-defense classes, but are not proficient under stress because you didn’t put in the time required and your attacker is someone skilled and considerably larger, then you have failed to account for such an overwhelming strategy and the outcome may not be so desirable.

Signs a self-defense school is not serious
  • If they only ever show set moves and answers for specific attack patterns
  • If they don’t encourage you to come and practice, even only once a week or month

If you’re at a place like this, maybe you are not in the right place for serious self-defense. In my opinion, a good self-defense school should take the time to go over strategy, explain current events regarding violence, and regularly put people of different sizes and skills together to challenge individuals so that they understand sometimes there are situations in which you may not be so lucky.

The fourth dimension in self-defense

Time means experience. Time means practice. Time means perspective. Time means strategy relative to the situation. When it comes to self defense, knowing the element of time can prepare you to deal with reality. Did you think of time as part of your self-defense system? Are you prepared to deal with all possible realities of self-defense?

Colour belts starting to put it all together. #kravmaga #thisisUTKM

A post shared by Urban Tactics Krav Maga Inc. (@urbantacticskravmaga) on

A few weeks ago, I was teaching a Krav Maga class for some of my more advanced students. I was getting them to practice engaging with a target who is resisting enough to be difficult. To make it harder, I told them to start with their eyes closed. The goal was to react to the attack, engage, control, take down the attacker, and then maintain control while the attacker is on the ground either through control positioning or pain compliance.

One of my students said to me after seeing this video:

“I don’t look good.”

To which I responded:

“Nonsense.”

I was extremely happy with the kind of progression I was seeing.

Because the point is not to look good

The point is to react well. From the beginning, the students had their eyes closed so they couldn’t anticipate the attack. The attacker would say “OPEN!” and immediately start their attack. This helps to simulate the kind of startled reaction people would have in a real situation which they failed to be aware and anticipate an attack. Though, I asked my students to keep their hands up since it would be unrealistic to expect them to react quickly enough with their hands down.

What this example shows is that under stress and pressure, defending against even a mildly non-compliant attacker, your movements will never look perfect.

It’s not about how good you look doing Krav Maga, it’s about how well you apply the strategy.

Real life is unpredictable.

So many factors come into play in a real conflict that people cannot be expected to move perfectly under pressure. Perfect reactions are not real. That’s choreography.

As a Krav Maga instructor, I don’t expect students to be perfect under pressure. I expect them to be aggressive and react with retzev (continuous movement) and keep moving forward no matter the threat. Hesitation results in injury or death. Therefore, even if your move wasn’t executed to textbook accuracy, that’s not important if you reacted properly, survived, and walked away.

Some people watch cat videos, some people watch squirrel videos, I watch martial arts videos

People are often blown away by amazing practitioners showing off their styles on the internet. Without realizing it, what they are seeing may be as realistic as watching John Wick (2014). A lot of the time, demonstration videos are choreographed by the instructor (the person leading and explaining the demo) with the other people in the video playing specific roles. They probably practiced behind the scenes with someone attacking a specific way and the instructor doing the defense or counter move a specific way. For teaching purposes, this is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately for realism purposes, this can create unrealistic expectations for the average person about how to do the defense or counter move effectively while under pressure in a real, stressful, and chaotic situation.

In addition, the real situation has so many variables. For example, imagine that you have learned a combo from the internet and the situation from the video happens to you in real life. You use the combo you learned. As you’re doing it, the attacker pulls out a knife from their pocket. How does this now change the situation? On top of that, suddenly another person comes running out from the side and helps the attacker. How would the same combo which was perfectly demonstrated in the video work?

The unlimited amount of variables of a real situation is something that Krav Maga or any other self-defense system should take into account. Moves or sequences should be universal. At UTKM, we always tell our students to assume there is are weapons and/or friends. Weapons and friends change the situation drastically and make the average style, sequence, move or strategy fall apart because they don’t work anymore.

To this effect, some of our students have suggested that we provide more curriculum videos and show demonstrations of techniques on non-compliant attackers in more realistic scenarios.

So far, online video learning for our entire white belt curriculum is available for FREE here. Hopefully, by late-2017 we will be able to produce videos for our yellow and orange belt curriculums and include the reality-based demonstrations. This way, you can learn both the textbook version of the move as well as the real version of the move performed under pressure.

This is something Kravists need to understand. It’s not about how good you look doing Krav Maga, it’s about how well you apply the strategy. When training, the bottom line is would you survive the scenario if it is real? If you survive, you’re good.

Back in 2008, the TV series Fight Quest (2007-2008) featured an episode on Krav Maga. I have been meaning to write a commentary on both this and the Krav Maga episode in Human Weapon (2007) for quite some time. These shows were great for publicity and getting people aware of and interested in Krav Maga.

However, some things can be misleading or confusing without more background information. Only so much can be fit into 40 minutes. Thus, I want to give some perspective and feedback based on my experience with the people and training in Israel. I hope you take the time to watch it the episode in addition to reading this article – I’ve linked to YouTube below, and hopefully it doesn’t get taken down.

Quick Summary

As usual, this episode shows co-hosts Doug and Jimmy split up and sent to train with different instructors. Jimmy goes to train with Ran Nakash, an Israeli cruiserweight boxer and, at the time of filming, head of the IDF Krav Maga training program at Wingate institute, as well as one of the founding members of KMI. Doug goes to train with Avavit Cohen, one of the top female instructors in the world who trains under Haim Zut of KMF (Haim along with Imi was one of the original Krav Maga/KAPAP masters) as well as KMI. I am not entirely sure if the KMF seen in the show is the same as the KMF with Rhon Mizrachi, but I think they are separate. See how things can get confusing in the Krav Maga world?

Timestamped Commentary

01:32 “All combos start with groin kicks.” This is not necessarily the case. While the groin kick is the number one kick in Krav Maga, it is an advised starting option when possible, but is not always possible. Just because it is preferred does not mean all combos start with it. There are many situations in which kicks are not possible, such as if we are in the wrong range from the start.

02:10 At the time of filming, Ran Nakash was the head of IDF training at Wingate, but this can be a misleading note. There are many “heads” of IDF Krav Maga training and the true head often rotates around. In addition, the IDF base in Wingate is not the only place people in the IDF train. Most Special Forces learn far more comprehensive and advanced Krav Maga from the counterterrorism school at “Camp Adom.” (This is also where I spent 2 months of my IDF training in sniper school.) Although both are part of the IDF, there is a clear rift between the two schools due to differing mentalities and approaches. Instructors at Wingate only have to do a 6-week course and often had previous martial arts experience. Instructors at Camp Adom often have an extensive martial arts background and were first-hand -counterterrorism soldiers. They are far superior to the more advanced forms of training. Nir Maman of CT707 ran this program for a time and he is a better source contact for more specific info.

02:40 Jimmy dons the IDF work uniform or Uniform B. This is the standard army uniform when on base in training. Nothing fancy for the IDF, just olive drab. The thick material makes them durable, but from time to time they tear or rip. Have fun trying to get new ones when in training.

03:08 Ran is speaking English. Normally, such courses would be taught in Hebrew as commanders and instructors are only suppose to speak Hebrew. However, Israeli people learn English for most of their education, so it can be easily understood by many but not all in the IDF. I often spoke English to my commanders and they spoke Hebrew to me since it was far easier under stress to communicate in such a manner.

04:00 “Krav Maga is also a mentality, and the key word is aggression.” This is especially true for military-style Krav Maga.

04:20 It is common to spar wearing full body armour and boxing gloves in military Krav Maga. A big reason for this is so they can fight full force and push aggression. But notice how they usually avoid head shots. First off, training soldiers is expensive and in the counterterrorism school, an injury during training can mean the end of the line for soldier in the Special Forces. It would be too easy for concussions to happen if head shots were allowed in sparring with all-out aggression, thus it’s only reserved for specific training. Personally, I dislike boxing gloves in KM training because it builds a false style for the street. Unless, of course, you walk around with boxing gloves on your hands. I also suspect boxing gloves are used over MMA gloves because they are cheaper and, well, the IDF is cheap.

04:45 One against everyone is a type of training used to help individuals overcome panic under overwhelming situations. Military training is designed to push people to their mental and physical breaking points, while still continuing to fight. However, training like this all the time is done at the expense of technique, so it should be done sparingly.

05:48 Avivit Cohen is 100% badass and most definitely one of the top females in the world. However, it is hard to say if she is the highest rank female considering every organization does its own thing and disagrees with each other regarding who is best. Every organization says they are the best with the highest ranking person. I’d say there is rather a pool of top 3-5 people/organizations to even this out. Avivit Cohen is certainly one of the top 3 females globally.

06:10 “The fact that her gym is in a bomb shelter…” His reaction is more of a culture shock than a reflection of Avivit’s badassery. Bomb shelters and fortified buildings are everywhere in Israel and often used for a variety of things, usually a communal space in the event of an external missile threat. Training in a shelter means you can keep training even if air raid sirens go off.

06:54 Everyone who watches this episode always remembers the elbow. I think this kind of attitude is required for smaller instructors or female instructors as there are any places or cultures that only respect those who can gain respect through physical force or aggression and skill. For instance, this is totally required in places like Israel or Western Europe. However, doing such a thing with a new student from softer countries such as Canada may not be the best idea as you usually have to build people up to be able to handle this kind of thing.

07:37 Shark tank style training is excellent for testing. We often do this in our training and it’s a required portion of our Orange Belt and Yellow Belt tests.

09:00 A good example of why kicks above the waist are not desirable and not the most practical. They are prone to error and slow you down, especially in a situation like this. You also sacrifice balance and risk going to the ground.

09:21 “I was trying to get a foot lock, it’s hard with the gloves.” Again, I am not a fan of the boxing gloves as they are limiting and are not what you would have on the street… Usually…

09:45 I remember those shitty bunk beds. That is what I called “bed” for many, many nights. Except for when we were out training, in which case what I called “bed” was the ground. And on one occasion, I slept on some real shit. It was either camel shit or human shit, it was dark and I didn’t know until the morning…

10:00 IDF is very strict about gun safety. Chambering a round without permission, or even cocking the gun with no ammo indoors or outdoors can result in disciplinary action. Only when going on duty in “hot areas” or going on a specific task where resistance is expected would we have chamber rounds.

11:00 Jimmy calls the M-16 a machine gun, which I find very offensive as a pro-gun person. While the original M-16s were equipped with the fully automatic function, it should be noted that the IDF does not train for full auto. In fact, the new “Micro Tavors” only come with semi-auto from the factory. Only a designated machine gunner directly given the task of cover fire uses an actual machine gun, such as the Israeli “Negev” light machine gun or the Belgium “Mag” heavy machine gun both used by the IDF. If a firearm is not meant to be used as a machine gun, then it is not a machine gun.

11:33 Training with your eyes closed is a great way to develop proprioceptive reaction. Sight can be misleading or too slow under stress, while using your feel and instinct is often faster and more reliable.

12:20 Outdoor training is a must at some point in Krav Maga because most self-defence scenarios will occur in a place that isn’t flat and nicely padded. At UTKM, we regularly train outdoors when the weather is good and almost every day in the summer.

12:50 In this training scene, they are not attacking full force with full commitment against neither Avivit or Doug. In Avivit’s case, it is likely that her students are afraid or her. However, full force training is also not advisable in a “naturalistic” scenario without protective gear. You cannot train full force without proper protection in Krav Maga since it will definitely result in injury. Of course, this can sometimes create a false sense of reality because it’s hard to teach people what real aggressive force on force looks like without expensive and reliable protection.

14:00 An important advice from Avivit: never intentionally go to the ground. This is a basic principle of Krav Maga because going to the ground is just a terrible idea and a bad tactical decision. This is especially true in an environment that is sandy, dusty, or unstable such as their training ground.

15:50 “You always take the hard way here.” This is not a true statement. Actually, in Krav Maga, you always take the easiest way – strikes to the most vulnerable points of the body like groin, eyes, throat, knees. The “hard way” he is facing in training is simply a method to properly prepare people for potential real situations in which you could be overwhelmed physically and mentally. Training the “easy way” in the gym or dojo doesn’t prepare you for the intensity of a real conflict and that is why so many people struggle on the street.

16:31 This scene demonstrates how high kicks can be problematic by limiting mobility and slowing counter attacks. Against multiple opponents, you need your balance and footwork more than ever. High kicks are simply low speed and high risk.

17:20 Again, real training that wants to teach you reality takes you into the real world at some point. Some people think that Krav Maga is hardcore. Life is hardcore.

18:30 That hill, I hate that hill. While I never trained at Wingate for Krav Maga, there were several “sports days” or physical competitions that took place there. They inevitably mean climbing up that stupid sand hill after completing a long course. That hill is often used during pre-testing for IDF Special Forces.

19:12 “Not good enough, you’re right… Next time, I want you to be excellent.” It wouldn’t have mattered if Jimmy had done well or not, they would have told him he sucked anyway. That’s part of the military mentality. You will regularly be told you are not good enough because they want to mentally break you and attempt to make you quit. The military is not for quitters. Keep going and finish and, in many cases, you will pass. The same goes for our tests at UTKM – give up and you fail, finish and you will most likely pass… (but not always).

19:47 Personally, I have puked during training. I have had my legs give out during forced marches. I have seen people pass out mid-training just to get up and keep going. I have also seen people functioning even when their eyes have rolled back. Sometimes, you don’t know what you are capable of doing until you are pushed past your breaking points.

20:00 The Dead Sea is a great place to visit. It is also dying because everyone is extracting the salt and minerals for dead sea products and other uses. It is considered, in many ways, a wonder of the world. If you are for environmental protection, you should not be buying Dead Sea products even in support of Israel because at the rate salt extraction is going, in another few years there might not even be a Dead Sea.

23:00 Only one week of training, Jimmy? No sympathy…

23:05 This is why I am warier of knives or sharp objects than guns. Anyone can have sharp objects anywhere made of anything. They are harder to deal with in many ways (ex. this way and this way and this way). I suspect if the knife attack from behind against Jimmy had been real, he would have been fatally injured.

25:00 Jimmy commented on needing to get used to reacting with a gun in his hands. A firearm, when used as a blunt force trauma weapon, should be used as an extension of your body. If you treat it as something else, it will be difficult as Jimmy learned.

25:33 We do this kind of attack scenario in our Orange Belt and Green Belt tests. This drill teaches and tests ability to react under stress, mental will, and usage of techniques under pressure.

29:00 Jimmy takes three hits to the legs and can barely fight anymore. “Right away they attack my injured thigh again, these guys are out of control.” In real life, attackers don’t care if you have an injury or not. This is why IDF training is heavily focused on aggression and mental toughness. However, I have found that with some of the more intense Israeli instructors, injury rate is fairly high, which is not an indication of the best training. People should train hard and train realistically, but while minimising injury. You can’t train hardcore all the time. Eventually, people’s bodies give out. I remember a video from Special Forces Krav Maga in which a candidate had been in the middle for 2 hours and the attackers were still trying to break him. Apparently, the attackers who were this guy’s friends were told that if they don’t really attack, they’ll be in the middle instead. Again, this training is more for aggression and mental toughness.

35:11 Welcome to Krav Maga. Giving up is not an option on the street and thus it’s not an option in testing.

At this point, you should note again that the military fighters avoid head shots which, if this is all they ever do, is very problematic as it is not entirely realistic. Yet, much of Krav Maga in the IDF operates in such a matter.

36:00 Notice that Doug trained with civilian Krav Maga instructors. You can see Haim Zut in the background. Also, notice that they are doing open handed strikes to the head and training with weapons. It’s my personal belief that the best instructors are the ones who have trained both in and out of the military. The military can rely heavily on their firearms, but for civilians, this is not always possible, and thus civilians must be far superior when it comes to overall technical skill.

IDF training doesn’t mean superior training

Please do not get scammed by someone who says they have trained in the IDF. Many people use the IDF name to promote their Krav Maga. It can sometimes be a meaningful designation, but it does not automatically mean they have experience in Krav Maga or maybe even in combat. Also, they may not be a certified IDF instructor. (If you were never in the IDF, you will probably not be familiar with it as an entity, even if you have heard of it. It is not similar to any other military in the world in many ways.)

For example, I learned more Krav Maga the year before I joined the IDF than during my time in the IDF. I probably had a total of 10 one-hour classes which, most of the time, involved doing conditioning and practicing rifle drills.

Thus, please do your research and make sure that not only is the organization credible and good, but the instructors are of high quality as well.

If you are a regular UTKM Blog follower or active member in the Krav Maga or self-defense community, then you’ve probably figured out that there is a lot of politics in the Krav Maga world. Since I started Krav Maga, I’ve become familiar with some of the more active and larger organizations through training directly with them or their students and instructors. Some I follow on Facebook. Just to give you an idea, let’s list off some of the major recognized Krav Maga organizations, and even some smaller ones:

IKMA – Israeli Krav Maga Association
KMF – Krav Maga Federation
IKMF – International Krav Maga Federation
KMG – Krav Maga Global
KMW – Krav Maga Worldwide
KMA – Krav Maga Alliance
CT707 – Israeli Special Forces Krav Maga
CKMI – Combat Krav Maga International
IMKM – Israeli Military Krav Maga
KMIL – Krav Maga Israel
IKI – Israeli Krav International

Of course, there are many others legitimate organizations, but nowadays the Krav Maga community is fraught with liars and fakers. (I am not intentionally forgetting anyone, but I think my point is made by listing the above.) From a business perspective, I disprove of some of the ways these organizations operate or teach things that are impractical or unrealistic or stray from the fundamental Krav Maga principles. Many seem to have developed a more sports martial arts mentality. Yet, given the opportunity, I would like to train with each and every one of these organizations at one point or another (minus the obvious frauds).

Many people ask, “What’s the point?” Why train with other Krav Maga organizations when you’re already an expert? Many people have the stance that they already know everything there is to know about Krav Maga. So why put in the effort to train more?

Perspective

One simple rationale. Perspective is everything in the world. Even time itself is simply the perspective of one point to another, from where it was before to where it is now.

perspective.gif

For this reason, I welcome and pursue training with other organizations and bring instructors from other organizations to train my students, even if I may not agree with or teach their curriculum. Our goal is to provide all of our students with the best possible ability to defend themselves. Thus, introducing them to other perspectives affirms what we have taught them or offers another method that works for them. The reason being that in the end, it is about them not me.

Personally, I have issues with all of these organizations, but I also see valuable lessons from all of them, just as how they view me and other smaller organizations or schools I am sure.

If a student trains with another organization and makes the decision to leave me, I truly hope it is for the right reason of giving themselves the best possible training that suits them. The goal is that they can defend themselves to the best of their ability in a dangerous situation.

ego.png

Ego aside…

I know people of all martial arts who only train with one organization, their organization, and never reach out to others. I commend their sense of loyalty, yet criticize their close-mindedness. For all they know, their instructors could be garbage or fraud. You are not getting the best training you can if you are limiting yourself to one source.

You are not getting the best training you can if you are limiting yourself to one source. Don’t limit your perspective and, in turn, limit your personal growth by restricting yourself to one organization, school, and style.

Sure, training with all of the organizations is unrealistic, not to mention expensive and impractical. However, now you know the benefits of branching out and experiencing more than one perspective throughout your Krav Maga or self-defense journey. At least, try to train with more than one organization. If not, how do you really know that you truly have the ability to defend yourself? Challenge yourself by learning and training with new people. Limiting yourself would limit your perspective. In the end, it could be catastrophic if you’re blindsided by a situation for which you are totally unprepared.

Perspective is everything. Don’t stop challenging yourself. Don’t stop learning. Keep searching for different perspectives.

Martial arts and kicks go hand and hand. Some martial arts have even dedicated the majority of their training to practicing spectacular kicks. To ignore the two strongest limbs on our body would be ridiculous. Kicks have various uses. High and low kicks, fast kicks and hard kicks all have their application.

Sometimes, I find in my social media feeds videos of high kicks in practice from Krav Maga and self-defense colleagues. For most of them, I have the utmost respect, but I still wonder how they come to the conclusion that this is practical self-defense method, let alone Krav Maga.

How practical is applying kicks in a self-defense situation?

My belief is that when it comes to Krav Maga, kicks should generally be kept below the waist, with the exception of maybe a push kick to the gut. There is one reason I don’t teach high kicks. One basic concept I have been taught and teach my own students is to avoid the ground at all costs, and if you end up on the ground you get up as quickly as possible. While our legs are the most powerful limbs of our body, and can certainly land a powerful one-hit KO, a poorly delivered kick would leave you exposed to a counter. A successfully landed kick reaps a high reward. A failed or sloppy kick poses a high risk. This basic Krav Maga philosophy is why I do not endorse high kicks. On the street, with weapons and multiple attackers, it is an unnecessary risk.

1249895526_bruce_lee_kick.gif

Great high kicks are possible, but are you a Bruce Lee?

High kicks also compromise other important things: balance and stability on your feet. Sure, if you train for years it is possible to throw accurate and well-balanced high kicks, but the reality is that you take a huge risk again. If your opponent uses a good counter or you simply slip, there goes your kick (and possibly your life). I have witnessed countless black belt fighters fall on their ass when attempting high kicks. On the street, in a survival situation, it is simply an unnecessary risk.

In Krav Maga, we teach students to attack with aggression and commit to strikes in order to attempt to stop the threat. However, overcommitting with a power strike like a knockout kick is just a bad strategy. It also ignores another basic Krav Maga philosophy of retzev, which is Hebrew for continuous attacks. An overcommitted attack breaks the ideal retzev pattern, which forces you to reset your attack strategy and allows your opponent to advance their strategy.

Many argue that if you can do the kick, then why not do it? Well, sure you can. People train for it and they can have very high accuracy and success rates. If it works for you, then it is certainly an option for you. Unfortunately, the reality is that high kicks take a long time to train and are not realistic for everyone. Take me, for example, a fairly small individual standing at 5’6 ft (167cm). While I might be able to pull off a front snap kick to most people’s faces, I do have a limit as my legs are fairly short for my body. Thus, if a would-be attacker is standing at say 6’5 (195cm), it is obviously unlikely I could even pull off a kick to the face, let alone a roundhouse kick to the head.

Another type of kick I don’t like much

Matt Riddle Spinning Back Kicks John Maguire UFC 154.gifBack kicks. While I teach upward heel kicks toward a person who has gotten behind you, I don’t like to teach or endorse kicking behind you. It looks fancy and works sometimes, but I would rather teach someone to be alert and think, rather than throw blind kicks that may not succeed. Your body is not optimized for back kicks. Also, if you have time to kick behind you, then you should have time to turn around to face your opponent.

A person who has successfully gotten behind you not only has applied more successful tactics from the get-go but is also positioned much more ideally to succeed in their attack. If your back kick fails, then you have now sacrificed your balance and ability to stay on your feet since many attacks from behind will result in one or both of you ending up on the ground.

Let’s recap

The benefits of kicks:

  • Comes from the strongest limbs of your body
  • Powerful
  • High reward if successful
  • Aiming below the waist is ideal

The disadvantages of kicks:

  • High risk – compromises balance and stability
  • Possibility of going to the ground
  • Fancy, but not practical

Because of these reasons, when I teach kicks in Krav Maga (roundhouse, groin kick, push kick, etc.) I keep them practical. Kicks are initial attacks, from your personal long-range or just outside your range, and used to close the distance or keeping the distance between you and the opponent(s). They should target vulnerable parts of the body that have greater chances of immediate results, such as the knee or groin. In addition, if you are going to throw a kick, it should be with retzev in mind. The aim of a kick should be to close the distance from long to medium range, then move to close range, and then a control position so that you can better assess your situation while also keeping the threat at bay.

While I am sure many will disagree with me, I truly believe that it is impractical to learn and teach kicks that are difficult and compromise balance. No matter what style of self-defense you practice or teach, a priority of practical self-defense should be movements that are quick and easy to learn and keeps you well balanced.

On January 29th, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette implemented a Lone Wolf attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. Regardless of your opinion of Islam, in a country like Canada, this kind of thing should not happen yet it does.

I look at these kinds of events, as horrific as they are, and I am reminded why I teach Krav Maga for a living. The reality is that no matter how safe you think you are, it only takes one person to rock the boat and remind you that humans can be violent regardless of societal norms or laws.

So one may walk in peace.

The other thing I am reminded of is how little the general public seem to know about, well, a lot of things. I also knew that Canada’s media would immediately, or soon after the attack, take a strike at the already strict gun laws in Canada. In this particular event, the amount of BS I have seen on the internet within hours of the attack were quite shocking. Generally, I give the Canadian media some more points than the American media, for the Canadians tend to wait a little longer for facts to come in the midst of such chaos before spewing out nonsense. However, in this case, they also get the initial details wrong.

Not all terrorist attacks with a single attacker are Lone Wolf attacks, but all Lone Wolf attacks are considered terrorist attacks (most of the time)

Right away, I started seeing politics thrown around and read several articles about the topic of Lone Wolf vs terrorist attacks, with many claiming this attack to be purely terrorist and not Lone Wolf. This tells me that writers of such articles know little about conflict, violence, and terrorism. Aside from the fact that the perpetrator will most likely be charged with terrorism, his attack was most definitely a Lone Wolf attack. The distinction is very important.

As stated, a lone attacker does not signify a Lone Wolf attack, but a Lone Wolf attack is usually terrorism in nature (but not always). To me, a clear distinction is whether or not they had help. If they had help, it is most likely part of a larger terror network, such as Al-Qaeda or some nefariously well-hidden Muslim brotherhood affiliate. Or, to be fair, could also be  is part of some right-wing Neo-Nazi group planning their “big return.” If they did not have help, it is most likely a random guy who woke up one morning and decided to go on a rampage (of course, this is an understatement).

If your general definition of terrorism is simply “to cause terror,” then any violent attack such as a simple murder in a home could be called a terrorist attack since it definitely causes terror in a community. But does this now make such situations terrorism? I am not a big fan of word policing, but sometimes definitions matter, especially when there is so much confusion about specific things.

When a Lone Wolf attack becomes terrorism

Attacks targeting these groups can be considered terrorism:

  • Cultural
  • Ethic
  • Political
  • Religious

Also, if the attack was premeditated in any way, it can also be considered terrorism.

Definitions are important because the right or wrong word can be the difference between accurate or misleading information. Attacks that come from a single person who just snapped one day would be more appropriately termed “mass murder” which is an attack resulting in 5+ deaths depending on the regional definitions. If the media calls a mass murder situation a “terrorist attack,” it would most likely cause public terror since there could be the potential for another attack. However, in the case of the attack in Quebec, while the attacker turned himself in later, it is fairly safe to say it was a terror attack.

Another important reason for distinguishing the concept of a Lone Wolf attack is that it tells you whether or not law enforcement could have done more to stop it. Whenever a terrorist attack is not Lone Wolf and there are links to larger networks, it shows a failure in law enforcement agencies to do their jobs effectively in that particular case. However, in the case of a Lone Wolf attack, it is often unreasonable to blame law enforcement for lacking effort in prevention regardless of whether it is deemed terrorism or mass murder. The fact is Lone Wolf attacks are not on the LE radar and incredibly difficult to predict, especially when it’s by an individual with no criminal records like the Quebec case. Of course, the community could take responsibility to notice the behaviour of those close to them and recognise erratic behaviour in days leading up to an event. For example, family members should pay attention to each other and teachers should pay attention to their students, react appropriately, and possibly report to LE. However, sometimes Lone Wolf attacks can happen without warning.

 

alexandrebissonette

Alexandre Bissonnette

 

The only thing people can do to prepare for the unexpected situations like a Lone Wolf attack is to acquire the skills to protect themselves. The goal of getting people home safely every day is why I’ve dedicated my life to Krav Maga and training people how to avoid fights and how to end conflicts. In the moment of an attack, the people who can really do something to stop the violence are the people hiding in the building. The unfortunate truth is that waiting for LE to show up can be too late.

The political nature of attacks and terrorism

The word “terrorism” in modern times usually refers to Islamic terror, but it isn’t always the case. It is undeniable that Islamic terror is one of the biggest problems in the world, and people who refuse to believe it are incredibly naive, but it is also wrong to think that Caucasian people and Christians don’t participate in terrorist activities. However, there is a difference between the two. By and large, terrorism from Caucasians and Christians nowadays are Lone Wolf attacks by disgruntled and, sometimes, racist people. On the other hand, Islamic terrorism is usually more systematic and linked to large terrorist groups capable of repeat or other attacks.

Again, if you are going to pick a side, then you must understand the distinct and general difference. If you want to get into history, there was a time in which Caucasians had large organized terrorist groups, such as the IRA in England or the Basque in Spain. However, to be realistic, these groups are not a problem at the moment and the immediate threat is Islamic terrorism.

To the left-wing people in Western North America, please stop pretending that Islamic terror is not a problem.

To the right-wing people in Western North America, please stop pretending that Caucasians do not sometimes create plans to cause terror.

 

oklahoma

Oklahoma Bombing

 

A perfect example of the latter is the Oklahoma City Bombing, one of the largest domestic terrorist attacks in American history. One April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up a Federal building, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds more (which combined with the 9/11 are the largest terrorist attacks on American soil in modern times). This shows how Caucasians can be as dangerous as Islamic terrorists. Over the last several years, there have been numerous attacks in America, such as the Sandy Hook shooting, San Bernardino shooting, and the Charleston S.C. shooting. Notice the trend?

Terror attacks, mass murder, and guns

The anti-gun bandwagon becomes more popular after such attacks, especially when the people with a political motive and the media, for numerous reasons, often jump on the opportunity to blame these attacks on guns. However, the important point to remember is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The weapon is nothing without a wielder. If you think about the two largest terror attacks that were just mentioned, they were not perpetrated using guns but with explosives: a massive fertilizer bomb and giant planes.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

While the option of using planes as weapons has now become considerably harder with increasingly strict post-9/11 security measures, it is certainly still possible. The option of using IEDs is even easier and more effective for doing greater damage in a shorter amount of time because anyone with a little bit of chemistry knowledge can create an explosive. As such, firearms as a weapon of terrorism should be the least of people’s concerns. Immediately jumping to the anti-gun rhetoric post-terror events simply shows how little people truly know about violence, conflict, and firearms use.

In addition, Canadians and Americans forget how lucky they are to live in such relatively peaceful countries. In other parts of the world where the violence rate is high, the average person uses guns to defend themselves and the gun culture is very different. People living in North America easily become complacent about safety and security.

Gun laws in Canada

It drives me nuts when Canadians talk about gun laws as if they are living in America, which they are not. In Canada, if you would like to own a gun, you must pass a firearms safety course for non-restricted (rifles) and/or restricted (pistols) firearms, submit your test results to the RCMP, and wait for them to complete a criminal record check on you. If you have no criminal record and have never been committed for a mental illness, then you should receive your license soon after.

In addition, restricted firearms such as pistols are governed by mandatory safe storage laws, which usually require a trigger lock and a locked storage container. While bureaucratic in nature, these gun laws have drastically reduced accidental firearms-related deaths in Canada. (Notice I said “accidental” deaths. Due to these laws, suicide using firearms and death involving children gaining access to firearms have dropped.) Specifically, according to all the data I have seen, the two parts of the laws that have helped reduce firearms-related death are the background checks, including the mental health aspect, and the safe storage regulations. In the case of the Quebec shooting, Bissonnette had no criminal record and had not been committed for mental health issues and have not been reported for unusual behaviour.

With that being said, it is clear that the Brass at the RCMP and many politicians have an anti-gun agenda. They also regularly target the law abiding citizens who own guns (ie. Alberta’s High River Gun Grab in June 2013), so please do not say that gun owners are paranoid about getting their guns stolen and taken away because they are not.

Getting rid of guns would have stopped the Quebec attack, right?

 

niceattack

Lorry used in the Nice attack

If someone is truly committed to performing an attack, they would find a method. Remember the Nice, France attack on July 14, 2016?  Firearms were not the primary method for death, instead, a truck was used. Bissonnette could have just as easily taken a vehicle and driven into the mosque potentially killing and injuring even more people. Guns are not the problem.

 

People think that firearms are the most dangerous way bad people use to take out large groups. This is a myth that people believe because they do not get enough knowledge about violence and conflict. Shooting people in large groups is not the most effective way for mass murder. People have this idea simply because they are fed so much anti-gun propaganda that they believe it. If guns inherently make people wake up and decide they need to cause terror, then death rates would skyrocket in most Western countries because, well, there are a lot of guns there. The average person doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to commit murder.

People are fed so much anti-gun propaganda that they believe it.

Another issue that is more problematic than guns is mental health. It’s hard to deny that majority of the individuals who have committed mass murder in America since 9/11 had some kind of serious mental health issue. Either that or they were part of some gang violence, criminals shooting at other criminals, and thus the media never picked it up.

Finally, one more point about weapons is that people underestimate knives as a danger. I, on the other hand, am more wary of knives than firearms. Any idiot can pick up knives and use them as weapons. Only people with some kind of training can operate firearms to do significant damage. Bissonnette could easily have entered the mosque with a knife, locked the doors, trapped people inside, and started stabbing away. Firearms run out of ammo fast. Knives do not need ammo. He would have had an unlimited method of killing with a knife. For example, the Kunming knife attack in 2014 is a reminder of how quick and easy it is for a knife to yield significant damage. I emphasize this every time I teach knife-related self-defense.

The only one who can protect you is you

I wish that one day, humans would all decide they don’t want to hurt each other and then live in peace. Unfortunately, we are far from that as a species, and people attack each other all the time. What I hope for more is that, more importantly, people would wake up and recognize that humans are humans. You cannot use laws to regulate human nature and fix people’s desire to hurt others. Thus, the thing that people don’t seem to be able to grasp but need to understand is that the real weapon is the human being. The person committing the attack is the real threat and real danger, not the weapon they use. It doesn’t matter if they hold a knife, a gun, a bomb, or drive a vehicle. If a person wants to do something big and bad, they will find a way.

walkinpeaceThe best thing people can do to take real action against this issue is to acquire the skills needed to protect themselves. Whether it’s a mugging, a terrorist or Lone Wolf attack, or a school shooting, only you can protect yourself. To start, practice being alert, vigilant, and aware of your surroundings and situation (aka situational awareness), learn to identify threats immediately and get away (aka avoidance). Otherwise, you would always find yourself as a victim. Situational awareness and avoidance are tactics that people in fairly peaceful places like North America tend to forget. Just because we don’t have drug wars or tribal warfare or civil war doesn’t mean it is safe and that we shouldn’t be wary of danger.

You truly only have yourself.

It doesn’t matter what the media tells you, what you hear, and what you read about terrorism and mass murder. The most important thing you need to know is that in the moment of an attack, you truly only have yourself. Denying yourself the skills to survive is a risk. Are you willing to take that risk?