Posts Tagged ‘Self Defense Principles’

Have you assessed this situation critically? Is the short cut worth the risk? (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader with additions

Being assaulted, attacked, robbed etc… will always be a horrible, unwanted experience. Yet, at any given time, all over the world, it is happening to someone. For the purposes of keeping it simple I am only going to be discussing basic assaults (eg. muggings). This subject will, of course, become more complex with regard to domestic disputes, or when the assault involves close friends, relatives, or mentors; such situations are impossibly complicated, as they are interwoven with emotion, personal connection, betrayal, and often shame. Perhaps “domestic and close relationship violence” could be a topic for another time (likely requiring another series)

For our discussion, imagine you were attacked while walking home, or you were mugged at an ATM. These are terrible experiences, and yet they are often somewhat avoidable. If you still watch the news or follow trends, you may often hear the term “victim blaming.” Discussing fault is typically frowned upon as it is considered cruel to say the person who got attacked was (even partially) to blame. Particularly in cases where it may have seemed unavoidable, taking responsibility for what happened, for most people is a daunting and heart wrenching task.

Before you jump down my throat, know that no one has the “right” to attack you and that these attacks are inexcusable. In most countries there are laws against such things, some of which have been in place for thousands of years. Yet this has not stopped assault, robbery, rape, and other garbage behavior. The idea that laws will protect you outright is, in many cases, delusional. If someone is trying to rob you, will you be able to call the police? Probably not. Even if you are somehow able to call 911, the response times can range from 5 minutes to no response at all (especially in today’s anti-police climate); which means that, when it comes to your own personal safety, you are the only one who can prevent immediate physical harm or death.

Of course, size matters. And if you are underage, with less life experience, it matters even more. If your attacker is bigger than you and decides to target you, fighting may be considerably more difficult and risky.

So what do you do, and why may it be your fault that you got attacked?

Simple, the best self-defence is avoidance. Though Krav Maga teaches to fight with all you have, this is really meant for when running is not an option. The goal, however, should always be to take a step back, think critically, and try to make good decisions and assessments so that you do not even have to make a fight or flight decision.

Hearing or even thinking that being attacked was, in one way or another, your fault, is a difficult idea to swallow and yet, if you don’t want such things to happen in the future you will have to make some changes. (Again, we are not talking about assaults involving partners, friends, or relatives)

The concept of personal responsibility or “ownership,” (made more popular these days by Jocko Willink in his books “Extreme Ownership” and ‘The Dichotomy of Leadership,” and by others in various publications) is a difficult concept for many, even in the best of times. You see, we have this thing called an Ego, and it wants to protect us and shift blame elsewhere. So if someone did a bad thing to us, we rationalize that it must be completely their fault. Yet, when it comes to self-defence and protecting yourself, that may not be entirely true.

Were you walking in a way that made you seem like an victim? With your head low, shoulders rolled forward, for example, are physical indicators that will lead an attacker to believe you are an easy target. Or did you, as Jordon Peterson would say, “stand up straight, with your shoulders high.” It may seem silly, but this simple change will take you from “easy target” to “potential problem” in the eyes of the attacker.

I, myself, am not the largest person, being 1.6m tall and (in the past) around 65-68kg. Yet I managed, despite my big mouth and tendency to offend people, even when I was younger and did not know how to fight, to not get jumped, or attacked, or worse (much to my surprise). In my case, it’s an explainable confidence that probably kept people guessing whether it was a good idea to attack me or not. I managed because I talked big and looked the part. Of course, occasionally I would recognize that I said the wrong thing to the wrong person, and I was immediately aware of that instinctual feeling: “It’s time to leave.”

Knowing when you are about to get in over your head, in any situations, is difficult. But knowing when you must leave (early “flight” indicators) will save you great pain and hardship. Failing to recognize that you, A) just pissed off a bunch of people, B) are probably in over your head, and C) failed to avoid further conflict, means that you are largely responsible for the resulting hospital trip. You failed to manage a bad situation, you stayed in that bad situation, and you allowed it to get worse.

Another example is the classic “taking a short cut through a dark alley.” Didn’t your mother tell you not too?! You can say all you want that “the person who robbed you shouldn’t have!” And you are right, they shouldn’t have, but your attacker doesn’t care; they are operating on a different moral scale then you are. Even if they are just trying to survive, they don’t have the right to take from you. But it really doesn’t matter in the moment, because now you are in the situation, and they are doing it. Failing to recognize that you were making a bad decision, a decision that put you in the position of being an easy target, makes it your fault. Failing to maintain situational awareness, to know when to run when you must, might be your fault to.

You might say, “Wait a second, for some people their body will cause them to have paralytic fear, causing them to freeze up and prevent any decision making that will be beneficial. So how can it possibly be their fault?”

Well, why did you go into the dark alley in the first place? Even if you knew it was a bad idea? Failure to recognize that decision as your fault may cause you to make it again and further compound any psychological trauma you may have experienced from the results of the first bad decision.

Furthermore, what did you do to prepare for violent situations? For most the answer is “Nothing.” Which would then be your fault. You assumed it would never happen to you and when it did you may have found yourself asking yourself, “why didn’t I do more?”

Prevention is the number one way to stay happy and healthy, which includes the ability to defend yourself. If you never learned even the basics of defending yourself, and you didn’t keep your body in good health so that you can run, it is again your fault.

We can say all we want that “people shouldn’t attack people” (which they shouldn’t) and “it’s their fault,” but we cannot control other people, we can only control ourselves, which means our personal safety is on us and us alone.

This, of course, doesn’t apply to small children, but as a parent you can teach and inform your children, in age appropriate ways, to give them the best possible chance of survival in any situation.

So, do you want to be the victim? Or do you want to take a proactive approach to self-defence, taking full personal responsibility. Learn to make good decisions, avoid people who might be problematic in your life, and learn to defend yourself.

Remember, it’s your life and your responsibility. While others contribute to who you are and why you are the way you are, when it comes to assault, in that single moment of time, all the blame on society, your parents, your significant other, are completely irrelevant. In that moment it is only you and them.

Did you do everything you could to avoid that horrible situation, or did you do nothing and wait to be the victim?

Written: by Jonathan Fader

Base, Posture, Structure

Posted: November 13, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles, Uncategorized
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Sometimes concepts are universal and are applicable to all styles, no matter what your beliefs. One such set of concepts is that of Base, Posture and Structure. Not an innovation of Krav Maga itself, we loosely taught these concepts after being introduced to this them by Professor Robert Bernacki, based on his conceptual BJJ system. We have since found ourselves incorporating it more and more into our teachings.

When teaching the concepts of closing the distance, and cause pain, off balance, and disrupt we often find ourselves noting the structure of our arms. We use that arm structure to maintain good control over the posture of our opponent, and expand that concept to the structure of our own stance and base. Because these concepts apply universally, not just in self-defence but also in engineering and science, it seems appropriate that they are included in our general self-defence concepts.

Base

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The pyramid’s base is your legs in fighting stance, and the apex is your head.

Base is the ability to generate force and receive force while maintaining your stance or position. If you are in a fighting stance you are have a “solid base,” as you are able to generate force by bursting and you are able to receive a blow, within reason, without falling over. Without a solid base, it will be difficult to fight or defend yourself. Often during sparring sessions in our Warrior classes, individuals still don’t understand this important concept; intentionally or accidentally they cross their feet or legs, losing their base and the ability to resist force. Even when they get hit with a light blow they find themselves on the ground. The hit was not necessarily powerful, but it was perfectly timed to the loss of base, meaning they were unable to maintain balance against the incoming force. For Krav Maga, having a strong base means having a strong fighting stance. Lose your footing and you lose your base.

Posture

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Here we see the universal nature of posture applied to squats.

Posture is the position of your spine or your opponent’s spine to take a load. When we burst into our opponent and take a control position, if they have a good base and are resisting, we can cause pain and disrupt with a knee or kick to the groin, the impact of which allows us to break their posture. Once we have broken their posture it is easier to control them. If we let an opponent maintain a good base and posture it will be very difficult to move or control them. We can’t cheat physics, but we can cheat biology! This is why Krav Maga applies the cause pain, off balance, and disrupt principle, without this means of breaking an attacker’s posture it will be difficult to take on opponents larger than us.

Structure

360 block
Structure as used in 360 defense

Structure is the efficient use of your limbs. If we have good structure in our limbs then we can effectively resist force pushed against us. Consequently, if we break the structure of our opponent’s limbs, turning their limbs into a lever, we can easily control them. One of the best examples of good structure in Krav Maga is the 360-degree defence, in which our arms create a super-efficient block and create 0-95 degree angle. This angle allows us to absorb the impact of circular attacks with minimal effort (energy) as the angle of the structure redirects the incoming force. This same angle can be employed when in position 1 (reference point 1) to control the person’s forward motion at the head and neck via arm structure. Other self-defence systems, such as Tony Blauer’s SPEAR system, would call this the “outside 90” and have created an entire martial arts system around that central concept. Such is the power of structure.

*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.

 

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Saying you don’t want to learn to fight to a self Defense instructor is like saying you don’t want to learn at all. Empty your mind, then you will be ready to learn.

I know I have definitely talked about this before, so I don’t know why I am surprised this statement keeps coming up:

 

I want to learn self defense but I am not interested in fighting or learning to fight

Meteor hitting earth.jpgEvery time I hear this statement from a new student or someone eager to learn to defend themselves I want to smash my face against the desk so hard it causes a meteor to be knocked out of orbit and smash me and the surrounding area into nothingness because I’ve died a little more inside and lost even more faith in the human race.

Ok, enough of the melodramatic truth…

One of the biggest uphill battles faced by any legitimate Krav Maga instructor who is actually interested in teaching people to defend themselves is to ride their students and the public of all of their blatant misconceptions when it comes to violence, Use of Force, and Self Defense.

No, I am not here to teach you to be a ring fighter. No, I don’t want to you be a fighter for the sake of fighting. Yes, I am here to teach you to learn to defend your self. and YES!, I am going to teach you how to fight.

The worst is when people actually think they can learn to defend themselves without hurting other people. Or as I have been told by another instructor once in a while, when law enforcement or security agencies ask to learn defence techniques with no physical contact. Thankfully the later of the two never occurred to me otherwise the original melodramatic statement could have the meteor replaced by a black hole so large it could destroy the universe.

Can you tell when presented with the ideology that somehow fighting and self-defence are separate from each other is extremely frustrating to a legitimate Krav Maga Instructor?

Essentially a big part of Krav Maga is Aggression (though it is often wrongfully no thanks to Israeli attitude perceived as the only part) which is really about teaching you how to turn on the internal “fight” switch. Because the reality is, under stress, pressure, fatigue etc… techniques begin to fail and it is through aggression and your pure will to fight that will save you. And you cannot ever forget that.

Yet in many more “peaceful” cities like Vancouver were relative to other big cities there is very low rate of violence out in the open, people tend to get sheltered from the realities of violence. The people I have met from countries where violence is much more open or a day to day thing are far more ok with, and understanding with using violence to fight violence.

Truly, most normally wired human beings when put under duress will fight flight or freeze, and it is our goal to teach you to control and use the fight or flight mechanisms without activating the freeze. The reality is though the best self defence is to run, it is not always an option which leaves the Fight option.

So if you “don’t want to learn to fight” then you are going to have a very hard time learning to defend yourself. Because that fight mixed with training, skill and aggression is the only way you will every overwhelm a larger stronger opponent long enough to actually find your escape to live to survive another day. And in some more extreme violent cases, you might have to Fight so hard to overcome the attacker that you have to incapacitate or use lethal force because that is the only way to stop the threat.

So do you really think if you don’t want to fight you are going to defend yourself against a serious threat? I think you need to take your head out of the clouds or as the saying goes in Hebrew, Ata Chai B’Seret or you are living in a movie.

If you cannot overcome this belief of not wanting to learn to fight then perhaps you simply aren’t ready to actually learn to defend yourself by learning Krav Maga.

 

 

Keep Your Hands Up!

Posted: April 26, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Tags: , , , , ,

Keep Your Hands Up! Keep Your Hands Up! Keep Your Hands Up!

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Hands up in a Semi Passive Stance.

If there’s one thing you need to learn on your first day of class when learning Krav Maga, other than avoiding the fight, it is KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!

Keeping your hands up to protect your head, face, and neck is such an important principle that it changes how we do a lot of techniques in Krav Maga, as compared to other styles.

A boxing Jab or Cross thrown from certain boxing guards may be faster or more powerful, but they leave your head exposed (such as a low guard) and, unless you are a master of head movement, it is foolish to drop your hands in this fashion.

The same principles of Cause Pain, Off-balance, and Disrupt the mental process we apply to our assailants can also be applied to us. Therefore, we must do what we can, at all times, to protect our head, face, and neck.

If we assume there are multiple assailants, this changes how cautious we need to be in keeping our hands up. Your skill as a striker may be sufficient to drop your hands against one opponent, but now, with your hands down, it is easy for their friend to sneak up and punch you in the side of the face.

The other thing is, keeping your hands up is an easy, basic defence if you do not have the skill to apply other methods or strategies; at least you can protect your head, face, and neck long enough to escape.

Note: Keeping your hands up should never obscure your vision to the point you can no longer see the threat. If you lose track of the threat your reaction time will be dramatically slower, as you must now re-identify and re-assess the threat via the mental processing model, which takes the time you do not have.

If you have never had your Krav Maga instructor tell you “Keep Your Hands Up!” then perhaps you need a new instructor.

As mentioned, this concept is so important that it changes how we train; as we willingly sacrifice speed or power in order to maintain at least one hand up at all times. If your hand is not punching, or controlling, or doing something to cause pain, off-balance, or disrupt, then it should be up protecting the vitals (as we will repeat, many times).

This idea becomes even more important when knives are involved, as that hand, up protecting your neck and face, could be the difference between life and death; as one sharp blade across your carotid artery could mean the end of everything.

So, if you haven’t gotten the point yet. KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!

*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.

Action (Preemptive) vs Reaction (Reactive)

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 function with the same brain chemistry and processes. Most people will have approximately the same action-reaction potential with regard to response times. While there are of course exceptions, as in the case of extreme athletes, most people will fall within similar parameters. Below, the action vs. reaction concept is broken down into the four basic steps to processing information for the purposes of self-defence. 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.  The “Oh-Shit” moment when you identify an imminent threat.

2. Analyze

At this point, your brain examines the threat, in the context of your situation, to determine what to do.  The brain will consider the speed and trajectory of the threat, his or her size and shape, the direction of any escape routes, 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 on your plan.

Both an attacker and defender are going through these same stages, which can take approximately 0.25 seconds to move through all four. However, in a life or death situation, this can seem like an eternity. If you failed to recognize and act in response, you now find yourself relegated to a reactive action (rather than a preemptive action); you are now playing a game of catch up. Your attacker may be at stage 4, with a punch, while you are still at stage 2 or 3. If you fail to give yourself enough space, or cannot 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 disruption. (See Off Balance, Cause Pain or Reset)

Because of this model, and how the brain processes information, action is always faster than reaction. The Four Stages of Self-defence, 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 preemptive action rather than a reactive action.

*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.

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