Posts Tagged ‘Krav Maga Principles’

On top of Straight line vs circular attack types, we now expand in to attack patterns. Attack patterns are essential how they are implementing the attack and at what speed and tempo. As a general rule, we have 3, Threats, Committed attacks and Non-committed attacks. For bladed attacks, we add a third called “blender mode”.

  • Threats- A threat is a static motion rather than dynamic. If someone is holding a knife to you, this is a knife threat. If someone has grabbed you but is only holding you it is a threat. They have yet to put any kinetic energy into their attempt other than the initial motion. But don’t get it wrong, if you attempt to do something and mess up at any point their threat can become an attack.

 

  • Committed Attacks – A committed attack is linear. It follows a direct path from the attacker to the intended target on a person. Committed attacks are usually due to an emotional reaction or because an attacker has decided or committed to a specific attack. The 360 defence, for example, is designed for committed attacks like the “ice pick” or “Prison shank” style attack. These attacks go from outside in and downward or upward. Attacks like bear hugs are also committed as the attacker is going from a static, to forward grab and slam and there is a specific attack pattern.

 

  • Non-Committed attacks – Non-committed attacks are any attack which do not follow a linear pattern. A basic Non-committed attack, adds a retraction to the attack rather than a telegraphed “committed” attack. They may start in one direction such as straight, then retract for another attack or quickly change to something else. They can come from up, down, left or right. The intent is the same as a committed attack, that is to harm the intended target, but there is no set way. Hacking slashing knife attacks are an example of a non-committed attack. When dealing with a non-committed attack it can be a battle of Action vs reaction until someone wins. As such you must reset their mental processing and do damage to them as fast as you possibly can prior to progressing to control. 

     

    Because of action vs reaction concepts, the more your brain has to process the harder it is going to be to formulate the correct action to stop the attack or threat. Thus the more complex and non-linear an attack the harder it will be to deal with. Because of this committed attacks are preferable over non-committed attacks when it comes to a defence perspective. However, from an attacking perspective, a non-committed attack is preferable as it has a greater chance of succeeding. If you encounter a non-committed attack the best idea is to simply create distance and run and if you cant run, you must find a way through strategy, technique and aggression to overwhelm your opponent.

  • Blender Mode – Blender mode is reserved for a Non-Committed knife attack which is both stabbing and slashing in a fast motion. This essentially created a wall of “blender blades” which is not safe to approach. The attacker either started like this or you screwed up your initial defence, and they went from a simple committed lunge to a non-commited straight line attack to blender mode. These are the times when it is best to use a weapon of opportunity.

 

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Recognizing the attack type of your opponent and understanding how to react appropriately will greatly increase your ability to defend your self. Generally, we don’t have to much time in a split second attack to identify if there is a weapon or if its an unarmed attack but what we can quickly identify what kind of attack is it generally.

To keep it simple and practical we have two general attack type. Straight Line attacks and Circular or peripheral attacks.

  • Eye Flick

    Example of a straight line attack. Eye Flick

    Straight Line Attacks – Straight line attacks are exactly as they sound. Any attack that is a straight line from the attacker to you. If telegraphed these are the lunge type attacks, though they don’t have to be telegraphed.  These attacks are often quite fast as they have little time to travel as it is well, a straight line.

    • Solution – With all straight line attacks you must re-direct, and get off the centerline if possible. With these attacks, we have 300% option. 100% re-direct the attack with, for example, a vertical sweep. 200% Move your body at an angle to get off the centre line. 300% burst at a 45-degree angle to the side of the attacker. Each one of these in the moment will avoid the attack but it is best to do them all, as you just never know.
    • Examples: Straights, and Jabs, Straight knife attacks or lunges, straight kicks, like push kicks or groin kicks.

 

  • Roundhouse Kick No Pad 4.jpg

    Example of a circular attack. Roundhouse kick

    Circular Attacks – These attacks come from an outward angle towards the centre of the body. These are often, but not always considered power shots with the intent of generating as much power as possible.

    • Solution – With all circular attacks you must block first, especially if there is a knife. While you can just move out of the way, blocking directly stops the initial attack pattern. After which we usually must burst into the opponent attempting to apply Retsef and off balance cause pain and disrupt. How we block is also important as we must yous the biomechanical strength of our body by creating angles with the bone structure to deal with the amount of power that is generated by circular attacks.
    • Examples: Haymakers, Hooks, Roundhouse kicks, knees

Training & Muscle Memory

Posted: March 27, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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Muscle memory.jpgHow you train in the gym is how you will react in the street. The more you repeat a movement, the more your body will know how to do it. The more you practice, the faster you will react. There is a saying; a true master forgets all he knows. This is due to muscle memory. (It should be noted that it is actually your neurons, and nervous system getting trained how to fire and when, which intern activates the muscles) The more time you take to think on how to move or react, the more likely a situation can go from bad to worse.

Bruce Lee famously said,

I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times. [yes, this quote again]

By continuing to practice the basics over and over your body reaches a point that you will act without fear, instantly dealing with a situation to which you hope never happens but for which you have practised over and over.

Of course, there is some negative aspects to muscle memory. If you practice incorrectly for too long this also will become your muscle memory. Because of this, it is better to practice slowly but correctly than fast and incorrectly. As well, muscle memory may cause you to act in a way that can be inappropriate. The reason we always say to look first prior to attacking is so that you do not just react arbitrarily. You must always identify if something is a threat or not prior to acting. Failing to assess properly and relying solely on muscle memory could result in you injuring your friends or family as they attempt to simply hug you.

We also tell the famous story of the police officer who got himself killed due to muscle memory. He taught how to disarm guns and knives regularly. After every drill, however, they would pass the gun or knife to their partner without even thinking about it. This action was repeated over many years of training. One day an individual pulled a gun on the officer, he disarmed the individual and then without even thinking passed the gun back. The officer was shot and killed. (This story, or versions of the story have been repeated by different agencies all over the world. So it happens.)

Muscle memory is how we get good at the movements but we must always remain conscious of all our actions. Be alert, be observant and always take that split second to decide if an action is appropriate.

For Kravists, a big part of training muscle memory isn’t about just drilling the techniques but training the mind to function under stress. While it is important to first learn the technique and how it works, you must also train the environment that you expect to practice it in as well. Most self defense scenarios are stressful, you may be tired, you may be sore, you may be drunk but you will most likely not be expecting it, and will probably be stressed or have a rush of adrenaline. This is something we must also train into muscle memory.

If your Krav Gym looks more like a Karate class, with Katas all the time, no active sparring and very little stress testing you need to look elsewhere. Good Krav Maga is not just technique, but also strategy and mental training. As our motto says, we Turn Lambs into lions. So know, that to properly train your muscle memory we WILL push you to your limits and expect you to function. Because failing to be able to do so, may mean the difference between life and death.

So train hard, train properly, and train yourself to the point when you can act without thinking and still make the right choice.

wheretohit.jpg

Groin

You have probably heard the expressionno groin, no Krav Maga”. Of all of the vulnerable points on the body, this is one of the easiest to access and is one of the more sensitive areas, especially for men. One quick kick, knee, punch or anything to the groin can possibly stop your opponent outright. It can also be reached from all ranges: long, medium and short.

Pros Cons
§  Highly sensitive for both men and women

§  Relatively exposed to a leg kick

§  People are more aware of this vulnerable point

§  Attacks are more likely to be blocked

§  Some may be desensitized to groin strikes

Suggested moves against groin: Groin Flip Kick, Straight Groin Kick, Push Kick, Knees, Palm Strikes, Punches

Abdomen

A well placed shot to the abdomen can potentially drop your opponent, especially to the liver or solar plexus. However, it is not always a guarantee as many people can condition themselves to take hits to this region.

Pros Cons
§  Many vulnerable parts: liver, solar plexus, stomach, floating ribs, etc.

§  Well-placed shots can cause severe pain

§  High damage to opponents

§  Strike must be strong and well-placed

§  Pro fighters usually train their abs to take hits

Suggested moves against abdomen: Knee, Front Kick, Straight Punch, Uppercut

Throat

The throat is another major target that can stop anyone in their tracks. However, it can be a dangerous target if you do not know what you are doing. Seven lbs of force on the throat can cause windpipe collapse and ultimately kill a person. Be careful with this one.

Pros Cons
§  Easy to access

§  Highly effective

§  You might accidentally kill your opponent

Suggested moves against throat: Straight Punches, Elbows, Strike with the webbing between your thumb and index finger.

Neck

The neck contains the spinal column, the carotid artery which supplies blood to the brain, and the jugular vein which takes blood from the brain. If anyone of these were severed a person could die anywhere from rapidly to instantly. Restricting blood to the brain with a technique like a choke hold can take only 6 seconds for a person to pass out. Also, the back of the neck is extremely sensitive to impacts, and strikes to this region can be very effective and possibly deadly.

Pros Cons
§ Attacks on C3-C7 could paralyze a human

§ Attacks on C3-C5 could disrupt nerves signals to the diaphragm, necessary for breathing

§ Neck contains the brain’s major blood supply, the carotid artery and jugular vein run along the sternocleidomastoid muscle (from the clavicle to behind the ear)

§ Difficult to access unless opponent is bent over, or already softened up

 

Suggested moves against neck: Downward Elbow, Downward Hammer Punch, Guillotine Choke, Rear Naked Choke

Chin 

One solid strike to the chin can be the end for many, but not all. This is a target for more experienced confident strikers, and one can, at any time, knock someone out with a well-placed shot.

Pros Cons
§  Vulnerable against forces from the side

§  Shockwave will cause concussion

§  Ineffective if opponent tucks their chin and has hands up

Suggested moves against chin: Hammer Punch, Elbow, Hook Punch

Nose

The nose is one of the easiest targets on the face to strike and it can be very effective. As well, the nose is very close to the eyes and the tear ducts. A solid strike can often cause a person to cry in response. In addition, the nose can be broken or caused to bleed fairly easily which may stop your opponent for both pain and psychological reasons.

Pros Cons
§  Highly sensitive area

§  Could stop opponent’s movement

§  Could gain control of their head

§  Difficult to access if opponent’s hands are up

Suggested moves against nose: Straight Punches, Forward Elbow, Grab, Palm Strikes

Eyes

The eyes are, without a doubt, the single best target to strike on a person. Any person who has even accidentally flicked themselves in the eye knows how unnerving this can be. In addition, if you take out a person’s sight, if only temporarily, you can put them at a severe disadvantage as sight is considered our most important sense.

Pros Cons
§  Most sensitive sensory organs on body

§  Even light touches will stop one’s movement

§  With enough pressure, you can control the opponent’s head movement

§  Difficult to access

§  People would naturally protect this area

Suggested moves against eyes: Eye Gouges, Straight Punches, Finger Flicks

Hair

For those who have long enough hair to grab, it can unfortunately be used against you by assailants. However, this also means you can use it against others. Hair can be used to control a person’s head movement and thus their body using pain compliance. This is the reason many martial artists choose to have short or no hair.

Pros Cons
§   Allows you to control opponent’s head and subsequently the whole body §   Some people may have short or no hair

Suggested moves against hair: Grab or Pull

Ears

The ears are often an overlooked target. But like the eyes, if you strike just right it could end the fight on the spot. But as it is on the head, an opponent that is actively defending themselves may make it difficult to strike these small targets.

Pros Cons
§  Can stop the threat quickly as it attacks not just hearing but balance and coordination §   Might be hard to hit in a manner that disrupts the senses

§   May cause permanent damage, so you must be able to articulate why you did it.

Suggested moves against hair: Hook punch, Ear smash/pop

Knees

Knees are one of the most important joints on the body for mobility, but because they are a hinge joint and only like to move in a specific way can be injured easily. But, they are excellent targets especially on larger opponents as if you take out their base effectively the fight is ended. Remember, the bigger they are the harder they fall.

Pros Cons
§  Easy to target on an unsuspecting opponent

§  A well-placed shot can be extremely effective at reducing the opponent’s mobility

§   Requires considerable skill with well-placed kicks and timing to hit accurately

§   May cause permanent damage, so you must be able to articulate why you did it.

Suggested moves against hair: Round House, Oblique Kick

Feet

Though not as effective a target as the knees, feet can be the best choice when there is no other option. These targets often present themselves in grabs and holds where your options are limited

Pros Cons
§  Easy to target on an unsuspecting opponent

§  Low risk to you, as your heel is unlikely to get damaged even in bare feet

§   Shoes may restrict damage

§   Not always a realistic target unless you already screwed up.

Suggested moves against hair: Foot Stop

Do not forget about these vulnerabilities. While they are the areas we target in Krav Maga, never forget that attackers can use these same points on you. There is a reason why in class we keep telling you to keep your hands up, chin tucked and to be aware. Preventing your opponent from accessing any of these points on you before you access them on your opponent can make the difference between having a good or bad day.

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

The Body: Weapons & Ranges

Posted: March 13, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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If you seriously intend on learning to defend yourself you must understand range. Range means how close you have to be to another person in order to use your body’s weapons.

  • Long range (LR) – Kicks etc..

 

 

Groin Flick Kick 3

Example: Groin Flick Kick/Groin jab. All kicks are long range.

 

 

  • Medium Range (MR) – Punches etc…

 

Eye Flick

Example: Eye Flick. All punch or attacks with extended but not completely locked out arms are medium range attacks.

 

  • Short Range (SR) – Elbows, Knees, Grabbing etc…

 

Krav Maga Knee 4

Example: Knee Any attack that can be done from a clinch or control point is a close range attack

 

  • Control point (CP) – Reference point 1, Reference point 2, Point of Dominance etc..

 

Reference point 1 takedown grip 1

Example: Reference point 1 control, or live side control. Controls are positions in which you have broken down the opponent and are controlling their body in some way.

 

As much as you can you should keep your distance in the long range region prior to conflict. This allows you to assess the overall situation while still being able to attack your opponent if you need to.  If you need to pre-emptivley (PE) Strike, you should usually start from your long range as you properly assessed and kept your distance. If you decide you need to fight instead of run, attack in whatever range you are in and begin closing the distance. Once you have done this, you can control, and disengage or control and take down, depending on your skill, objective and what will most effectively stop the threat for the situation.

One of the best ways to become effective at closing the distance and learning your ranges is to spar. While learning self defense techniques does not require sparring, it is a MUST if you are serious about your training.

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

Avoid Injury

Posted: March 6, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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Another important founding idea of Krav Maga is to avoid injury.

 

Avoid Injury.jpg

This is of course in jest, but no seriously…

 

It is both a fundamental principle and expectation that you will do your best to avoid injury in both training and in real life. In the gym, we train hard. We kick, punch and spar, but at no point in training is it permitted to intentionally hurt your training partners or instructors.

On the street, hopefully, all the knowledge you gain in the gym will help you avoid outright fights. However, should you find your self in such a situation you must remember, you probably have a day job. Unlike professional fights who make tens of thousands and sometimes millions to fight. They can afford to take months off to heal, you cannot. If you throw a punch in self defense and break your hand, but you require it to do your job, you may have survived the conflict, but you affected your self negatively because of it.

It is because of this Krav Maga prefers techniques that minimize (but not eliminate) the risk of injury during the conflict.

The most common example of this is how we punch. Kravists should be punching with 45 Degree Knuckle.jpgtheir first 45 degrees in relation to the ground, not overextending their elbows and using their bodies to generate the power. Unlike boxing where there is gloves and which it is acceptable to over rotate the fist for more range and arguably more power. Or wing Chung which uses vertical fists to increase the speed. Kravists choose the middle ground between power and speed so that our punches are more likely to land with the larger two knuckles.

Another example is the concept of soft on hard, hard on soft in which we use hard parts of our bodies on the soft parts of the attacker’s body and soft parts of our bodies on the hard parts of their bodies. An example of this would be switching to a palm strike if we are fast enough to notice they have lowered their head exposing the hard part of the skull. Punch this with bare knuckles and you may break your hand, but a palm strike will deliver the same effective force with limited damage to yourself.

So remember, both in training and practical application a Kravist will always take the past with the least chance of injury to themselves.

Note: Of course it must be remembered, that Krav Maga literally means contact combat of close combat, and accidents do happen. As such it is unrealistic to expect through years of training you will never get hurt. Choosing not to practice or train because of fear of injury is not good at all. This is a common thing as people accidentally get injured and then create a mental block from training. Just remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and the faster you bounce back the happier and healthier you will be.

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

 

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 your life. Just like in life, we have to make certain assumptions in Krav Maga to ensure our maximum survival in any situations.

Assume they have a weapon

Assuming that your attacker has a weapon even if it is not readily identifiable could save your life. This is because, when weapons are involved it changes what should or should not do with regards to controlling a person or your tactics. Obviously, if you know there is a weapon you will not fall into such traps but if you don’t see one, but assume they have one then you can also avoid such mistakes.

An example would be controlling the arm. In wrestling, it is totally acceptable to under hook the opponents arm above the elbow near the shoulder. This is often called a Whizzer. Unfortunately, while such a control may be great at controlling their body, it does not, however, control their arms ability to bend at the elbow. A motion, perfect for stabbing and slashing. You may get your Whizzer control, but maybe it was dark, and maybe you didn’t see the weapon, now you assumed incorrectly and your control is no longer sufficient for weapon control. In this particular case, a better control must immobilize their arms ability to stab or slash. Just like in splinting for first aid always isolated the joints below and one above. If a person has a knife, they are holding the knife which essentially eliminates those from moving, so you should do your best to control near the wrist and prevent the elbow from moving easily.

This is just one example, however, assuming they have a weapon drastically changes your acceptable control mechanism and your tactics.

Another example would be if you are a sports striker, say Muay Thai or kickboxing. You decide you want to “dance” with your attacker because you recognize your skillset to be far greater. However, you failed to assume they had a weapon and you go for a clinch controlling their head and neck. They’ve had enough, they pull a weapon and next thing you know your guts are all over the floor.

Most styles, fail to assume this and train for it appropriately. Your style may be perfect for unarmed, but if you have little to no experiences with knives or guns you may have a problem. See the example in this tragic story here. In this case, the weapon was identifiable, but it still wasn’t enough.

Weapons change everything.

Assume they have friends

Another thing we need to assume is that the attacker travels in groups. Remember, in the real world there is no ref, there is no cage and any person even not their friend can jump in. You could agree, to a fair fight for example, and you start to win, but their friends think its unfair and jump in and you went from winning to losing.

Or you got away from the initial attack but forgot to scan and look around and didn’t see the other attacker 20 feet away who now lays you out because you mistakenly thought you were already safe.

Forget Honor, forget rules of engagement and just assume that their friend is ready to cold-cock you in the back of the head. 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 it is easy for mob mentality to kick in and normally peaceful “friends” now 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 of the day you need to remember. Techniques can fail, or you could miss, or they could be better. It’s because of this, we have strategies like Retzef and Cause pain, Off Balance and Disrupt. If I assume that what I did for whatever reason was not sufficient to stop the threat then I must always Continue constantly, while maximizing my effectiveness until the threat is in fact stop. Words do not always work, no matter how much we would like, so then we must continue our 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, that in the moment we don’t really know until the dust has settled. So, it is a safe thing to assume that would you did, didn’t work so that you don’t prematurely stop and end up the losing end of the fight.

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

Fight, Flight or Freeze

Posted: January 16, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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When Encountering a threat, humans typically have one of two instinctual behavioural reactions, with an occasional third.

Fight, Flight, or Freeze

 

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For many, especially untrained individuals or for those exposed to a threat they are simply overwhelmed by, this can be a subconscious automatic decision. For more trained individuals this response can be honed and controlled at a more conscious level. Whether the decision is a conscious one or not, your brain will do a quick calculation based on your past experience, your skill level and conditioning and determine which option is best. The most important part is often not which decision is made, but the speed at which the final decision is reached and whether or not you can commit to it.

“Strike fast, but run faster” – Unknown

The below is an excerpt from a previous article found here.

“The fight or flight response refers to physiological reaction that occurs when a person is placed in a threatening situation. Fight or flight simply describes the two basic decisions that are instantaneously made to resolve the dangerous situation, which is the decision to either quickly escape or to stay and fight.

The physiological effects of this response begins with one or several of the five senses, typically vision. A person will see threatening stimili, such a person or animal. The stimili is then sent as a signal via the optic nerve to be processed by the brain, generally in the amygdala, known as the ‘fear center’ which sends signals to the hypothalamus, which activates the nervous system. A signal then stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which sends impulses down the spinal column to the adrenal gland, which releases epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. This hormone will cause the heart rate to increase and is sent throughout the body as the heart beats faster. Epinephrine will signal the liver to release glucose, which will then be converted into ATP, which is used to activate muscles. This heightened level of epinephrine in the body will also activate the lungs, causing the breathing rate to increase in order for the body take in and utilize more oxygen through dilated blood vessels. The pupils in the eyes will also dilate to facilitate better lighting and vision as blood vessels in the ears dilate for increased auditory perception. In order to efficiently escape an attack or to fight, this response also subdues bodily processes which are unnecessary during a dangerous situation, such as digestion. The elevated levels of this hormone and increased activation of these bodily processes will increase body heat, which is also useful as it allows your muscles to ‘warm up’ in seconds as the mind registers the threat.

autonomic-nervous-system.jpgPsychologically, the combination of the increased heart rate, sweating, and the explosion of energy in the muscles, create a sense of acute awareness of the current situation and the ability to act quickly. While this illustrates a case in which the entire process runs smoothly, you must also be aware of the case in which it fails, known as condition black. Condition black is also known as ‘freezing’ during a dangerous situation, preventing the individual from fleeing or fighting. Cognitively, a sense of increased aggression will be associated with the ‘fight’ response and a combination of fear and anxiety for ‘flight’, while freezing is associated with fear and anxiety, but also a feeling of physical stiffness. During this freeze response, the parasympathetic nervous system dumps large amounts of hormones into the body, the same hormones that return the body to its relaxed state after a fight. The sudden increase of these hormones during a dangerous situation have the opposite effect of the fight or flight response, mixing panic with an inability to act quickly. Although freezing can be useful in situations in which a person must remain still in order to hide from an attacker, it can be detrimental when faced with an attacker head on.”

In Krav Maga, we accept these natural reactions and work with them. Generally, we have a decision to make. If we are following the proper stages of Self defense, then we will choose Flight, as (A) Avoidance is the first choice when we have it and it is appropriate (For civilians it usually is, for those whose jobs required them to stay then it will not be appropriate). Of if we cannot run and avoid the fight, and we cannot (D) diffuse the situation, then we fight. Depending on the scenario and how quickly you realized the fight is unavoidable you will either Strike first (PE) or react to their attack defensively (RE).

The Freeze reaction is a double edge sword. It is either a correct tactical response to stop moving.

Example 1: you are walking in the plains of Africa, you spot something. That something you think is a pair of eyes peering at you from the tall grass. You FREEZE! This is both to ensure that you identify the threat correctly, before making a decision. And not to activate the predator’s response to running.

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The ability to recognize eyes and a face is so ingrained in our biology our brains have a part of the brain dedicated to this task. This is a very primal predator response. I see Face, I decided, Fight, flight or freeze. Remember, these responses are engrained into our biology as part of our survival instinct. So dont, fight them but instead train them.

Example 2: You are a special operations group moving silently through the night. You are still 1km from your designated target. a group of teens is up late night passed the local curfew, you freeze so as not to be identified by remaining motionless and silent. The threat of detection passes and you continue.

OR the freeze response can become code black and turn into a catastrophic mental failure preventing you from acting at all in a Non-Functional Freeze. This is the kind of freeze we hope to avoid. Some individuals are fortunate enough not to have a code black or NFF trigger. Others will only know when it happens. If it happens for the first time hopefully you have made correct life decisions and avoid dangerous or life-threatening situations. If not, you may be in for a world of hurt.

One of the most effective ways to avoid a code black situation especially under the threat of violence is to train. Training is a form of exposure therapy, especially Krav Maga. Krav Maga cannot be called Krav Maga if the training never forces you to push your physical and mental limits through stress testing. This regular and relatively safe training exposes you to higher levels of mental and physical stress in slow doses which allows your body to adapt and get used to it. The more you are used to it the easier you can turn a freeze response from an NFF to a tactical freeze to action thus making the correct decisions and avoiding being overwhelmed by a real-world threat.

So under threat of life and death, do you know which response you are most likely to have? The right one, could save your life, but the wrong one…

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

 

In 1989, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper, a former US Marine and creator of “the modern technique” of gun fighting, wrote a booked called Principles of Personal Defense and he devised a colour code to indicate the level of awareness a person has. Black was added later by the USMC after realizing what extreme stress can cause. The awareness colour code is a simplified view of a person’s stress and awareness under stressful potentially dangerous situations. It is important to know both in Krav Maga and in life at what level you are to avoid reaching code Black. A keyword often heard in Krav Maga is ” Situational Awareness” this as taught in class is usually referring to environmental awareness. Here you must ask yourself things like, are there multiple attackers? are their weapons? Do I have viable escape routes? etc… However, a big part of situational awareness is also your personal mental state and your ability to act or react appropriately. Enter, the Awareness Colour code. An easy guide to understanding your mental state at any given time.Principles of self defense.jpg

White – Unaware and Unprepared

This is you sitting relaxed on the couch after a large meal. Often students like to test an instructor, however even if a black belt is teaching but is at this level, any person could easily sucker punch even the most accomplished martial artist. This is a relaxed and unassuming state, you are not anticipating an attack and are relaxed both mentally and physically. This is a state you should be in only in safe environments.

Yellow – Relaxed Alert (A)

Most animals such as cats or dogs spend most of the time in this state. To quote his book;

“Observe your cat. It is difficult to surprise him. Why? Naturally, his superior hearing is part of the answer, but not all of it. He moves well using his senses. He is not preoccupied with irrelevancies. He’s not thinking about his job, his image or his income taxes. He’s putting first things first, principally his physical security.”

 – Jeff Cooper (2006). “Principles of Personal Defense: Revised Edition”, p.14, Paladin Press

In this stage, you are relaxed but still paying attention.  It would be harder to surprise a person at this stage but they are still not at a level of any stress, just simple awareness. It must be understood that being at Yellow, or relaxed alert, is not paranoia. If one were to mentally be at orange (below) or above on the scale on a regular basis, identifying everything as a threat whether real or imaginary then this would then be moving into paranoia. Remember, relaxed alert is just that, relaxed. Here you can stay indefinitely with out any issues other than being more prepared to perceive, Analyze, Formulate and Act (See Action Vs. Reaction: Stages of Mental Processing for more) against identified threats.

Orange – Specific Alert (A) (D) (PE)

This is when you have identified a specific area or person of concern and your attention is focused. A nefarious looking person walking towards you. A soldier on patrol assessing windows and doors. While Yellow is a stage that you can maintain indefinitely, Orange requires mental concentration. Consider working an 8 hour job. Statistically most work is done before noon as people still have the mental focus to be productive. The same goes for Orange; stay here for too long and you will begin to read the situation incorrectly.

Red – Condition Red is Fight (PE) (RA)

Either the situation was unavoidable or you misread it but you are now actively engaged in a fight or conflict. Imagine a car tachometer.  How long can it stay red lined until the engine blows. The same goes for a fight. How long can you maintain this level both mentally and physically? This is why for us, as Krav Maga practitioners, we try to limit time spent here and end it as soon as possible.

Black – Catastrophic Breakdown (Non-Functional Freeze (NFF))

You have now experienced a complete catastrophic breakdown mentally, physically or both. The longer you spend at condition Red the more likely you are to experience this. An example of this would be shell shock. However, sometimes, some people go straight from White or Yellow to Black. This would be the “freeze” reaction, which is when your nervous system is overwhelmed and instead of entering “fight or flight,” simply shuts down. You can avoid this by training properly so that your brain and body know how to react appropriately. However, it is impossible to know who will experience this. Some people are prone to it and some people are not. It is also important to have proper mental decompression if you spend too much of your time at Orange or Red. If you experience this or anything like it and have survived a violent confrontation we advise that you seek professional counselling to ensure that you do not suffer from Depression or Post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result and can get a proper debriefing both practically and emotionally.

* See The Stages of Self Defense post for more details on the below information

  • (A) – Avoidence
  • (D)- Diffusion
  • (PE) – Pre-Emptive
  • (RE) – Re-Active

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


 

Action (Pre-Emptive) vs Re-action (Re-Active)

When it comes to a human vs human situation action is always faster than reaction. Humans brains are all made up of the same stuff and operate in relatively similar fashion. We all have neurons, and our brains generally operate with the same brain chemistry and processes. Generally, most people will approximately have the same action-reaction potential with regards to response times. While there are of course exceptions like extreme athletes most people will fall within similar parameters. Below, the action vs. reaction concept is broken down into the 4 basic steps to processing information for the purposes of self-defense. The names given may be similar to standard process models but are simplified for the purposes of the self-defense model.

Mental Processing.jpg

  1. Perceive

This is the initial identification of an attack or action, or the “Oh-Shit” moment has identified an imminent threat.

2. Analyze

At this point, your brain examines the threat and situation to determine what to do, considering the speed and trajectory of the threat, his or her size and shape, the direction of any escapes, and numerous other identifiers

3. Formulate

Now, you are consciously thinking about what to do and searching your memory for the appropriate response. Do you run? Do you fight? Do you freeze?

4. Action

Finally, based on your perception and analysis, you now act based on your plan.

Both an attacker and defender are going through these same stages, which can take approximately 0.25 seconds to go through all 4. However, in a life or death situation, this can seem like an eternity. If you failed to recognize and attack and find your self re-active action over a pre-emptive action you are now playing a game of catch up. Your attacker may be at stage 4 with for example a punch while you are at stage 2 or 3. If you fail to give your self enough space, or can not counter react fast enough that punch will now hit you.

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

Because of this model, and how the brain processes information action is always faster than reaction.The 4 stages of Self Defense as taught by UTKM must keep this processing in mind and approach violence in the appropriate order so that a defender always has to option to engage with a pre-emptive action rather than a reactive action.

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

**A similar model is the OODA Model of Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.