Posts Tagged ‘Krav Maga Principles’

Knowing how to avoid danger increases your chances of survival dramatically! (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

The “4 stages of self-defence,” as taught by UTKM, is the basic order of operation for what you are doing when presented with conflict; be it physical, social, or otherwise. The order, moving from best option to worst, is; Avoidance, Diffusion, Preemptive Self-defence (Strike First), Reactive Self-defence (React Last). Understanding the basics is easy, but, like all concepts, understanding when and how to apply them correctly can be trickier.

The major reason for this is the simple fact that if you do not truly understand what you are doing and you lack the experience to make a quick and correct decision (and you do not have your instructor whispering the answers into your ear), the real world situation is suddenly more complicated than it was in training.

Grasping the nuanced application of a technique, how and why it works, and when to employ it, can be the result of you being fortunate enough to possess an innate ability to understand intricate contexts, or, as is more common, it can be accomplished through consistent training. Consistent training makes up for talent by internalizing the details, purpose, and application of a given technique (or reaction in a scenario), to the point that your nervous system and decision making process will, more often than not, fire correctly under duress.

To help foster a better understanding of these key concepts, I, and others at UTKM, will be sharing real world experiences relating to the four stages. Each week we will expand upon one of the concepts and give examples.

This week it is the first and arguably most important stage: Avoidance.

“You win 100% of the fights you are not in.” – Nir Maman

First you must accept the fact that you cannot always avoid. For example, applying avoidance as a self-defence tactic for interpersonal conflict will most likely result in further problems. The concept of Avoidance simply suggests that it may be better to avoid than to confront in most situations However, and this applies particularly when it comes to bullying or active violence, sometimes the best option is to directly confront the source of conflict. After all, Krav Maga was built on the idea that sometimes running is not an option. So, please, do not interpret this stage as permission to be passive-aggressive or to never deal with life’s problems, that is not the correct application of this concept (and, honestly, if avoidance is always your chosen option in life, this may be indicative of other, deeper problems you are struggling with.)

So, lets start with some examples from my youth:

  1. It was Halloween night, and, like most young teens (I was maybe 15 or 16), I wanted to go out. In our area, big house parties were not a common occurrence, but what was all too common were hoards of teens and young adults roaming the streets like a hungry packs of wolves, looking for fun and perhaps trouble. I was with the group of friends I usually ran with at the time, and we ended up crossing paths with another pack of teens. Walking together with them, in costumes, masks, and painted faces, with candy and fireworks in hand (legal then, but illegal now, likely due to these same ravenous packs of ne’er-do-wells getting up to yearly mischief) we were on the boredom-fueled prowl. Some confident and bold, others just trying to fit in. In my case, the latter seems like it was the appropriate category. I mean, is that not what one of the best features of Halloween is; You get to dress up and pretend to be something else, something grander, something more powerful? It is after all, “All Hallow’s Eve,” where dressing up as something scary was meant to fend off the roaming spirits and demons that walk the earth on this night, every year (so the legend goes). But masks and make up can only mask you for so long. One of the older boys in a mask, I did not recognize. Clearly a leader, out front, loud and obnoxious, identified himself to me. It turned out this masked individual was someone whom I had issues with in the past. He was also dangerous, in the literal sense, much like that of a hungry alpha. He regularly got in fights (and won), regularly had police interactions, the circumstances of which were anything but innocent fun, and he “may or may not” have had ties with even more violent individuals who were known to police. He was also much bigger than me, a good bit stronger, and far more athletic. Which, through a child’s eyes, was a terrifying thing, even though I considered myself tougher than perhaps I was and, like most males, overestimated my skills. I had no training and no experience, just an over inflated ego. It was, of course, dark, and I did not like the things coming out of this guy’s mouth, nor the energy in the air. The feeling of fun turned to a dread and an uneasy churning in my gut (yet to be filled with candy.) It was uncomfortable. Concerned that the hoard was full of individuals who did not in fact like me, not to mention the de facto alpha, this was not ideal for an enjoyable night. So I decided to listen to my instincts; it was time to leave. My pace slowed, I fell to the back of the crowd, then quietly, but swiftly, faded into the dark, walking to my home a few blocks away. Later, when I was asked by my cohort where I had disappeared too, I made up some plausible story. The reality is, it was probably the right decision. Those uneasy feelings we have may be wrong sometimes, but it is often better to err on the side of caution, as we never know how things will escalate. There is one thing for certain; if you are not feeling your best, or you are uncomfortable, it can be easy to do or say the wrong thing and cause a situation to quickly shift from manageable to disastrous. So, in that case, with those personalities, avoidance was the best choice. No harm, no foul, no hospital.
  2. I was an awkward teen with no sense of who I really was yet. Which meant I was not so great with the opposite sex. So, when female friends came into the mix, it was always a joy, and an uneasy excitement (the kind only a teenage boy knows.) For a time, I frequently hung out with two girls who were a year or two younger than me. Feelings were always mixed, as I liked them each at a different time; which meant I would often go out of my way to spend time with them. Lacking experience and confidence, of course, things never went the way I had imagined. Nevertheless, it was fun at the time. Like many youths lacking good mentoring and guidance, I had trouble controlling my temper. I would never hurt anyone, but it was obvious to those all around me. Like a tornado striking down in an open field, I was loud, boisterous, and, to some, terrifying, as the fear that the destruction might come your way. (This is something I still work on daily, though with calmer mind, maturity, and fewer raging hormones it is much easier to manage.) One of these girls had a cousin, equally attractive in my eyes. Someone who I had met previously, at a random community party. She was troubled. If I am informed correctly those troubles continued to impact her in adulthood. Whenever she came around to join us, it never went well. I was POSITIVE she would intentionally say or do things to illicit my temper and unleash the tornado for her amusement. I was cold, dry air, she was warm, humid air, the inciting words and actions were the required updraft. Everyone said I was either crazy or imagining it. Nonetheless, there came a point at which I could no longer stand to be around her. So the strategy I employed was avoidance. Anytime she randomly showed up, I would find a reason to leave. If she was already there with my friends, I would make other plans. Everyone thought I was being unreasonable. However, I did not like having my fun outings turned into episodes of anger, thus, to me it seemed like the better choice. It also prevented me from hitting a breaking point and actually doing something I would regret. Despite the fact it made me look even more weird and unstable, socially, in many respects I probably made the right decision by practicing avoidance. (In hindsight, and perhaps re-framing the situation, it turns out that this girl may have actually liked me. I was told by someone, later down the road, that she was very likely trying to illicit my aggression on account of a secret, let’s say, fetish for violence. Had I been more confident, then perhaps I would have handled it differently and allowed my cold dry air to meet her warm humid air, but given my lack of knowledge at the time, avoidance was still the best strategy. Lest the tornado met the hurricane and all hell broke lose. It probably wouldn’t have been good for anyone.)
  3. If you think bullies disappear after high-school you may have practiced avoidance a little too much, and may in fact be a shut-in who is living in a perpetual state of self-imposed exile. As the internet has shown us, most people are not as stable and confident as you think, and many have bully-like tenancies at the very least; trying to use force, intimidation, or aggression to get what they want. Or, they simply have not learned to manage their anger like others and emotionally lash out at people when they are challenged, or whenever things do not go their way. I learned to deal with these people early in my youth, and as an adult I tolerate it even less. I, of course, generally employ Stage 2, diffusion, as much as I can; using my words and avoidance, as Stages 3 & 4 (outside of physical violence) are not at all appropriate in day-to-day life in a Civil society. Which means, as an adult, mastering the first two stages is that much more important. Especially when you live in a strata (eg. a condo or townhouse). Personally, I despise stratas, as it is all to easy for a bully, or someone who has a bully-like attitude, to get on the council and try to tell others how to live or act, or has a personality that leads them to take issue with being challenged (due to their perceived powers.) I personally think stratas have been nothing but a disaster, and will go the way of the dinosaurs eventually, but until then, you, like me, will likely have to deal with them at some point. Without getting too detailed, there was some conflict between me and those on a strata council. Whether I was in the wrong or the right isn’t important, sometimes I was, sometimes I wasn’t. However, several members of the council seemed to think it is acceptable and appropriate to yell and scream at people when they don’t like what was said or done. This is, of course, utterly inappropriate, and in the adult world could constitute bullying and harassment. Obviously, this is something I will not tolerate. Extensively researched, well-worded letters where sent! The goal of these letters was not to demand compliance one way or another, but rather to make it clear that I am not the kind of person to pick a fight with, verbally, physically or otherwise. Initially they got the hint and basically stopped bothering me. Later, another incident occurred where a member of council, once again, decided to scream at me. After making it clear that this was an inappropriate (and futile) tactic it didn’t seem to matter, they saw me as a threat to power, and continued. As an adult, I made the decision that, clearly, these individuals are old, unstable, and have never resolved their personal issues. I understand, but I still have no patience for it. I privately told another, calmer strata council member that their fellow’s outbursts were boarding on harassment. Moving forward, I just ignored the problem individuals and do not engage. Clearly they have problems, and those problems are not mine to solve. I made it clear that I will not be pushed around, they all seem to have gotten the hint. I avoid conflict with them, they avoid conflict with me, and we now all live in a cold peace where, so long as we don’t bother each other, all is well. While it is certainly not an ideal situation, I would rather have good relations with my neighbours, it is, in modern times, often quite impossible to get along with everyone. So, practicing a peaceful yet aware avoidance strategy will, in the end, help keep things calm, and less stressful.

Whether you are a teen, an adult, or a senior learning to practice good avoidance (and when to move to the next stage) can be extremely useful, not just in literal sense of physical self-defense, but also to help you manage the hardest part of life: Other people. These skills can be innate or learned. In my case, it seems to be more of the former, though through practice I refine them as I go along. Perhaps as an Ashkenazi Jew it is in my genes to be cautious, and avoid whenever I can, as thousands of years of oppression and living in fear is likely to impact your genetics a little bit. (Think Woody Allen, the stereotypical, nervous Ashkenazi Jew, albeit a extreme case.) Regardless of how you come to learn these skills, learning it early, and learning it well, will only mean one thing; a happier, more peaceful life. One in which your visits to the hospital due to violence are low, and your conflict related stress is that of calm waters rather than a raging storm. For if you find yourself raging too much, too often, you may find yourself battered, bruised, and broken; because you failed to manage your mental state (see awareness colour code.)

Written by Jonathan Fader

Audio By Jonathan Fader

During the Covid-19 lockdowns many people have found a lot of time to do a variety of things they might not normally had the time to focus on. For me, as many of the things I would like to do are not available or are sold out, I decided to reacquaint myself with one of my childhood passions.


Don’t lie, if you are under the age of, let’s say 40, there is a good chance that you too, at one time, wanted to be a “pokémon trainer” when you grew up.

Unfortunately, like many childhood dreams, this is one of those aspirations that is impossible in real life. Sigh, I can still dream.

Aside from the many cute pokémon, like Pikachu and Togepi, and the addictive nature of trying to achieve that lofty goal of “catching them all,” coupled with a brilliant cross platform global strategy, there are numerous reasons that Pokémon was, and is still, great.

While I did not think much of this as a kid, as I re-watch the original seasons, as well as the many, many, many seasons I missed (and they are still making new ones!), one of the great lessons the show teaches is that it is, in fact, OK to loose.

Even as a child I often thought the lead protagonist, Ash Ketchum, was a terrible pokémon trainer. This is mainly due to the fact that, in the original few seasons, he didn’t actually earn many of the gym badges by winning battles, but rather by foiling the plans of the “evil” Team Rocket. This means he probably didn’t actually deserve much of his respect as a trainer. So what did make him such a good trainer?

I think it’s the fact that win, loose, or draw, he would always keep going; he stayed consistent and kept a reasonably good attitude. Compare this to so many other cookie cutter kids shows or superhero series, where the protagonists always win in the end. I think Pokemon was a refreshing change, as it was far more based in reality than most other shows in regard to “winning.”

In most cases, these kids’ shows always result with the protagonist winning, which shelters young kids from one of the most important life skills; learning to fail. Pokémon, in contrast, showed you could win, loose, or draw, and still come out stronger.

For it is only in your losses that you can learn to improve. Only through adversity do you realize you need to change. If you only ever win, and only ever achieve the best, then you may not know how to truly assess and improve yourself.

A good, real life example of someone who clearly can’t handle loss would be Jon Jones. An amazing fighter who is one of the very best, yet is chronically having issues with the drugs and the law. Perhaps, had he faced a loss, or true adversity, he might have learned to be a better person as well as a better fighter. Maybe, had he been a pokémon trainer, this is a lesson he might have been forced to learn.

Whether you love Pokémon or hate Pokémon, the fact remains that it was and still is a worldwide phenomenon, one that experiences a resurgence in mass popularity every few years with some new version of the game. If you pay attention, you may realize that it’s a much better TV show for your child to watch than so many of the other cookie cutter junk out there; as it portrays the challenges of life (though in a fictional setting) in a much more realistic way.

So, whether it’s for your child, or yourself revisiting your childhood love, perhaps it’s time to look at Pokémon for some of it’s deeper lessons. Then learn to internalize the truth that it’s okay to lose, so long as you learn from it, and use that lesson to move forward and grow.

No matter what your endeavors are, keep going, stay consistent, and perhaps you too will metaphorically “catch them all,” as you will have built yourself up to the very best that you could be, a little bit at a time.

By: Jonathan Fader

Situational Awareness

Whether it is for Krav Maga, real self-defence situations, or just life, we always need to be “situationally aware” and assess, re-assess, and assess some more. This ensures that, at any given moment, we are making the correct decision based on the information we currently have. Short of being clairvoyant, it is unlikely that you will ever have all the information to make the perfect decision in a situation. Yet, we still must to make a decision! When it comes to self-defence that decision needs to be fast. All the while processing every factor in our environment, the use of force decision tree, managing our fight, flight, freeze mechanisms, and attempting to act before our assailants.

To our current knowledge humans have not developed superpowers. Therefore, the best way we can make the best decision is, as mentioned, to constantly assess for new information. In a self-defence scenario we have to rely on our senses and experience to collect as much information as we are able.

  • Sight – Can you see another assailant? Can you see a weapon? Can you see a clear exit path to safety? etc…
  • Sound – Can you hear another assailant? Can you hear police coming? can you hear gun fire? etc..
  • Touch – Can you feel the assailant resisting more or less? Do you feel have control of their body or are losing it? Can you feel an injury?
  • Smell – Can you smell fire? Can you smell the release of toxic chemicals? etc…
  • Balance – Do you still have good balance? Is your balance compromised due to trauma or alcohol and substances use? etc…

There are degrees of subtlety to your senses, and you should not limit yourself to just the above examples when assessing; though they are most likely the ones you will rely on during a self-defence scenario. At any point a scenario can go from fine (safe) to not fine (dangerous).

Maybe you had the situation handled with one person, as you effectively deployed stage 2 self-defence (Diffusion) and talked the person down, but then their friend showed up and their confidence increased, which made them (and their friend) more aggressive. Now the situation is quickly moving from bad to worse. If you fail to assess correctly, and avoid (run) or preemptively strike, you may find yourself at the end of a sucker punch (or stab!).

Often, new students become so fixated on the application of techniques in training that they forget the need to adapt in the moment based on new information.

For example, a common mistake for beginners is forgetting to disengage and create space, even after they have clearly lost control of the situation. Instead, they continue to struggle for control even though the tactile information (sense of touch) has told them they can no longer safely control their opponent. This is because they know they are supposed to gain control by moving through the situationally appropriate ranges, but they forget that new information has changed the strategy from attack, to avoid.

Whether you are a new student or experienced fighter, failure to accept new information, from constantly re-assessing the situation as it unfolds, can mean going from a “successful”* violent encounter to an un-successful one.

So remember, Assess, Assess, Assess, but don’t take too long to make a decision, as, after all, hesitation could mean death.

*In truth, a “successful violent encounter” is to avoid it in the first place! In the absence of this possibility, a successful one could be considered any one in which you escape alive, with minimal damage to yourself or loved ones.

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

On top of Straight Line vs Circular attack types, we now expand into attack patterns. It is essential to understand attack patterns to assess how your opponent is implementing the attack, at what speed, and what tempo. As a general rule, we have three attack  patterns; Threats, Committed, and Non-Committed. For bladed weapon attacks, we add a fourth called “blender mode“.

  • Threats – A threat is a static action rather than dynamic. If someone is holding a knife to you, not swinging it, this is a knife threat. If someone has grabbed you, but is only holding you, this is a threat. In both cases the assailant has yet to put any kinetic energy into their attempt, apart from the initial motion to move in close. 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 point 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 a forward grab and slam, and there is a specific attack pattern.
  • Non-Committed Attacks – Non-committed attacks are any that do not follow a linear pattern, and tend not to have the attacker’s full weight behind them. A basic Non-committed attack includes a retraction after the initial strike, rather than a telegraphed Committed attack which may lunge through or past the target. 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 path. Hacking or slashing knife attacks are an example of Non-committed attacks. 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. If you can’t 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 employs both stabbing and slashing in quick, repeating succession. This essentially creates a wall of “blender blades” which is not safe to approach. The attacker either started like this, and is likely skilled with a knife, or you screwed up your initial defence and they went from a simple Committed lunge, to a Non-committed straight line attack, to blender mode. These are the times when it is best to use a weapon of opportunity.

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

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

To keep it simple and practical, we have two general attack types; Straight Line attacks and Circular (or peripheral) attacks.

  • Eye Flick

    Example of a straight line attack; the Eye Flick

    Straight Line Attacks – Straight line attacks are exactly as they sound. This is any attack that follows a straight line from the attacker to you. If telegraphed, these are often lunging attacks, though they aren’t always telegraphed.  These attacks are often quite fast, as they have little distance to travel; the shortest distance between two points being a straight line.

    • Solution – With all straight line attacks you must re-direct, and get off the centre line if possible. With these attacks, we have 3 options: 1. Re-direct the attack with, for example, a vertical sweep. 2. Move your body at an angle, or side-step, to get off the centre line. 3. 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 punches and jabs, straight knife attacks or lunges, straight kicks  (such as push kicks or groin kicks).
  • Roundhouse Kick No Pad 4.jpg

    Example of a circular attack; the Roundhouse kick

    Circular Attacks – These attacks come from an outward angle towards the centre of the body. They 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 could just move out of the way, blocking directly interrupts the initial attack pattern. After which, we usually must burst into the opponent, attempting to apply Retzef and off-balance, cause pain, and disrupt. How we block is also important, as we must leverage the bio-mechanical strength of our body, by creating angles with our bone structure, to deal with the amount of power that is generated by circular attacks.
    • Examples: Haymakers, hooks, roundhouse kicks, knees.

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

Training & Muscle Memory

Posted: March 27, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Tags: , , ,

Muscle memory.jpgHow you train in the gym is how you will react in the street. The more you repeat a movement, the more accurately 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 being trained how to fire and when, which in turn 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 practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced 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, or react, without fear, instantly dealing with a situation which you hope will never happen, but for which you have practiced over and over.

Of course, there are negative aspects to muscle memory. If you practice incorrectly for too long, these mistakes will become your automatic response. Because of this, it is better to practice slowly but correctly than fast and incorrectly. Furthermore, muscle memory may cause you to react 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 trained gun and knife disarms regularly. After every drill, however, students would return 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 it have been repeated by different agencies all over the world. So it happens.)

Muscle memory is how we improve the speed and accuracy of our movements, but we must always remain conscious of all of 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 just about drilling the techniques, but also training the mind to function under stress. While it is important to first learn the technique and how it works, you must also simulate the environment that you expect to apply it in. Most self-defence 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. Dealing with these variables is something we must also train into our 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 function may mean the difference between life and death!

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

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



You have probably heard the expressionno groin, no Krav Maga”. Of all the vulnerable points on the body, the groin is one of the easiest to access and is one of the more sensitive areas, especially for men. One swift kick, knee, punch, or anything, to the groin has the potential to stop your opponent outright. It is also accessible at 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 people may be desensitized to groin strikes

Suggested moves vs the groin: Groin Flip Kick, Straight Groin Kick, Stomp Kick, Push Kick, Knees, Palm Strikes, Punches.


A well placed shot to the abdomen can potentially drop your opponent, especially when targeting the liver or solar plexus. However, it is not always a guarantee, as many people train to 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 vs the abdomen: Knee, Front Kick, Straight Punch, Uppercut.


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. A mere 7lbs of force on the throat can cause windpipe collapse, potentially killing a person. Be careful with this one!

Pros Cons
– Easy to access

– Highly effective

– Potential for accidental lethal blow

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


The neck contains the spinal column, the carotid artery (supplying blood to the brain), and the jugular vein (takes blood from the brain). If any one of these were severed a person could die rapidly, or instantly. Restricting blood to the brain with a technique like a choke hold can result in loss of consciousness in 6 seconds. The back of the neck, containing the seven cervical vertebrae (C1-C7),  is extremely sensitive to impacts; strikes to this region can be very effective, possibly even deadly.

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

– Attacks on C3-C5 could disrupt nerve signals to the diaphragm, necessary for breathing

– 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 vs the neck: Downward Elbow, Downward Hammer Fist, Punch, Guillotine Choke, Rear Naked Choke.


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

Pros Cons
– Vulnerable to incoming forces from the side

– Shockwave will cause concussion

– Ineffective if opponent tucks their chin and has hands up

Suggested moves vs the chin: Hammer Fist, Elbow, Hook Punch.


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

Pros Cons
– Highly sensitive area

– Could stop opponent’s movement

– Could lead to control of opponent’s  head

– Difficult to access if opponent’s hands are up

Suggested moves vs the nose: Straight Punches, Forward Elbow, Grab, Palm Strikes.


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 jarring and unnerving this can be. In addition, if you take out an opponent’s sight, even temporarily, you have them at a severe disadvantage; as sight is considered our most important sense.

Pros Cons
– The most sensitive sensory organs on body

– Even light touches will stop opponent’s movement

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

– Can be difficult to access

– People will naturally protect this area

Suggested moves vs the eyes: Eye Gouges, Straight Punches, Finger Flicks.


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 vs hair: Grab and Pull


The ears are often an overlooked target. But, like the eyes, if you strike just right it could end the fight on the spot. However, as they are 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 disrupts 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 vs the ears: Hook Punch, Ear Smash/Pop.


Knees are one of the most important joints on the body for mobility.  Because they are a hinge joint, and only like to move in a specific way, they can be injured easily. This makes them excellent targets, especially on larger opponents;  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 vs the knees: Round House, Oblique Kick.


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 be damaged, even in bare feet

– Shoes may restrict damage

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

Suggested moves vs the feet: Foot Stop, Low Oblique Kick.

Commit these vulnerabilities to memory! 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 of your surroundings. 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 (Eg. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time.  So check-in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.

The Body: Weapons & Ranges

Posted: March 13, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Tags: , , ,

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 punches, 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 your opponent, and are controlling their body in some way.

As much as possible you should maintain long range 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 Preemptivley (PE) strike, you should start from your long range; as you already properly assessed and gauged your distance. If you decide that you need to fight rather than run, attack in whatever range you are in and begin closing the distance. Once you have achieved close range you can control-and-disengage, or control-and-take-down, depending on your skill, your objective, and what will most effectively stop the threat in that situation.

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

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

Avoid Injury

Posted: March 6, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Tags: , ,

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 yourself in such a situation you must remember that you probably have a day job. Unlike professional fighters, who make tens of thousands and sometimes millions to fight and can afford to take months off to heal, you cannot. If you throw a punch in self-defence and break your hand, but you require your hands to do your job, you may have survived the conflict but negatively impacted yourself in another way.

It is because of this that Krav Maga prefers techniques that minimize (but not eliminate) the risk of injury during a 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. This differs from boxing, where gloves are worn and it is acceptable to over-rotate the fist for more range and, arguably, more power. Or Wing Chung Kung Fu, which uses vertical fists to increase punching 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 to strike 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 keen enough to notice they have lowered their head exposing the harder 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 path with the least chance of injury to themselves.

Note: Of course, it must also be understood that Krav Maga literally translates to “contact combat” or “close combat,” and accidents do happen. As such, it is unrealistic to expect, over the course of years of training, that 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 occurrence, as people accidentally get injured and then create a mental block related to 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 (Eg. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time.  So check-in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.

They say, in life, that if you assume, you just make an ASS out of U and ME. The problem is, sometimes assuming could save you. Just like in life, we have to make certain assumptions in Krav Maga to ensure our maximum survival in any situation.

Assume They Have a Weapon

Assuming that your attacker has a weapon, even if it is not readily visible or identifiable, could save your life. This is because weapons change what you should or should not do with regards to tactics and control methods. Obviously, if you know there is a weapon your training will tell you what to do.  However, if you don’t see a weapon, but assume they have one, you are mentally prepared and can still rely on your senses and your training if that situation suddenly changes.

A good example is controlling the arm. In wrestling, it is totally acceptable to underhook the opponent’s arm above the elbow, near the shoulder. Unfortunately, while such a control may be great for controlling you opponent’s body, it does not, however, control their arm’s ability to bend at the elbow. A motion which is perfect for stabbing and slashing. You may get your underhook control in, but maybe it was dark and you didn’t see the knife; you assumed, incorrectly, that your control was sufficient, sudden;y it is not. In this particular case, a better control would have eliminated their arm’s ability to stab or slash. Just like in splinting for first aid, always isolate the joints; one below and one above. If a attacker is using a knife, they are holding it, so you should do your best to control the arm near the wrist and prevent the elbow from moving easily; thus preventing an effective stab or slash motion.

Effective control of the arm is just one example of how assuming they have a weapon drastically changes your acceptable control mechanism and your tactics.

Another example would be the tactics employed if you are a trained as a sports striker, say Muay Thai or kickboxing. Your training gives you the confidence to want to “dance” with your attacker, because you recognize your skill set to be far greater. However, you failed to assume they had a weapon, so you go for a clinch, controlling their head and neck. They’ve had enough, they pull a knife, and next thing you know your guts are all over the ground.

Most styles fail to assume a weapon may be present and they do not train for this occurrence appropriately. Your style may be perfect for unarmed fighting, but if you have little to no experiences with knives or guns, you may have a problem. See the example in this tragic story, in which a high level of training in empty-hand martial arts still wasn’t enough versus an identifiable weapon.

Weapons change everything.

Assume They Have Friends

Another thing we need to assume is that the attacker has backup. Remember, in the real world there is no referee, there is no cage, and any person, even a stranger to you and your attacker, can jump in against you. For example, you could agree to a fair fight, but once you start to win opponent’s friends think it’s unfair, so they jump in and you go from winning to losing.

Or, you got away from the initial attack but forgot to scan and look around, so didn’t see the other attacker 6m away; who now lays you out easily because you mistakenly thought you were already safe.

Forget honour, forget rules of engagement, and just assume that their friend is ready to cold-cock you from behind. Because failing to constantly check for more than one attacker could turn a “good” encounter with violence into the one we all fear. Worse yet, if one person has attacked you and there is a group with them, it is easy for mob mentality to kick in and their normally peaceful “friends” suddenly become bloodthirsty goons.

So, remember, until you are truly away to safety, assume there is another attacker.

Assume it Didn’t Work

While we try to use the most efficient, reliable techniques, in the end you need to remember that techniques can fail, you can miss, and your opponent could be better than you. It’s because of this reality that we apply strategies like Retzef and Cause pain, Off-balance, and Disrupt. If I assume that what I did, for whatever reason, was not sufficient to stop the threat, then I will always continue constant pressure, while maximizing my effectiveness, until the threat is in fact stopped. Words do not always work, no matter how much we would like, so we must be prepared to continue our self-defence strategy. The same, however, can be said for violence; if it doesn’t initially work, we either need to escalate or escape to fight another day. The truth is, in the moment we don’t really know what worked and what didn’t until the dust has settled. So, it is a safe practice to assume that what you did didn’t work, so that you don’t prematurely stop and end up dead.

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