There are many types of self-defense programs, and each has its own rituals and its own system of movements. Whether it be Karate, Taekwondo, Jiu-Jitsu, or boxing, people are drawn to these disciplines for a variety of reasons. However, in the end, the point of learning self-defense is -- as the name suggestions -- to defend yourself. That is what sets Krav Maga apart from the other forms of self-defense.
Krav Maga is not a martial art, but rather a practical system that prioritizes self-defense over other objectives such as gracefulness or flexibility. That said, one of the key Krav Maga principles is to use any weapon at your disposal to survive an attack and to escape. This includes weapons you take away from your opponent and use against them, or even a weapon that happens to be within reach when you suddenly find yourself under attack.
A Brief History of Self-Defense
Martial arts such as Karate and Judo evolved from actual fighting techniques that were taught and learned in their native countries to help unarmed people defend themselves in lawless times. Centuries later, techniques derived from these disciplines were used by soldiers on both sides in World War II. Since then, these Eastern martial arts have evolved into a form of “points fighting,” a type of competition, including wrestling and mixed martial arts, in which participants are awarded points for legally delivered blows.
Because of heightened awareness and honed reflexes, people who have trained in these disciplines may have an advantage over the average person when attacked by a random assailant. However, it is important to remember that an assault in a dark alley is not ended by a referee when someone gets hurt.
The Krav Maga Difference
This is where Krav Maga is different. This is training for real world fighting, and self-defense weapons are used toward the objective of survival and escape. Krav Maga is grounded in the three tenets of practicality, efficiency, and aggression. Your goal when attacked is to end the confrontation as quickly as possible by striking forcefully at vulnerable parts of your attacker’s body, including such obvious spots like the jaw and the groin, and less obvious places like the armpit and the back of the knee.
If you’re in a situation where you have to use a force multiplier to win in an assault, you need to be ready. In our early stages of training, we introduce the idea of self-defense weapons as a potentially necessary maneuver. Starting in Level 3, we train students with actual objects so that they can master the techniques involved in weapon-based self-defense. Consider the example below:
An important part of Krav Maga training is to disarm an assailant. If you are attacked by someone wielding a knife or a gun, disarming the attacker is a matter of life or death. In such dire cases, you may have to transform those devices into self-defense weapons. As seen in the training video above (produced by Krav Maga Worldwide), instructors train students to use the “360” method in defending against an attack by an armed foe. The 360 principle advocates that when you are attacked, you respond by simultaneously counter-attacking while defending yourself.
Identify and Use Improvised Weapons
If you are attacked by someone who is not armed but who is in a position to harm you, Krav Maga advocates the use of improvised weapons to end an attack quickly. An experienced Krav Maga practitioner will scan any room they enter, looking for objects that may be used as weapons in the case of a dangerous situation.
Fundamentally, improvised weapons enhance your own ability to injure an attacker. Most improvised weapons are either sharp or heavy. Think of your ideal options as something along the lines of a carving knife and a baseball bat.
In a kitchen or restaurant setting, a knife may well be in reach in case of an attack.
More often, however, you will have to do your best with what’s at hand. Any object of heft, a metal stapler, a coffee mug, or a vase is going to have a more damaging effect on the side of your attacker’s head than your bare fist. Remember, the object of Krav Maga is to escape an attack, not to win a fight. As soon as your attacker is incapacitated, you should run for your life, literally.
Always Be Aware of Your Situation
Of course, it should go without saying that Krav Maga is a self-defense system whose weapons should never be used to instigate a conflict or to act aggressively against anyone who is not threatening you. It should also go without saying that physical confrontation should always be a last resort.
There are two ways to minimize your chances of being attacked. The first is the principle of situational awareness. When you’re out and about, look for suspicious movement, especially if you’re a woman. Prior to an attack, offenders will almost always “mirror” their chosen victim’s movements, walking at the same pace, stopping when they stop. Also, look for people lurking in less traveled areas and spaces -- in the shadow of a building, for example, rather than under a streetlight.
The second way to avoid a physical confrontation is to resist escalation, whether it be in a road rage situation or when engaging with some drunk in the bar who is determined to pick a fight. It can be hard to give ground or deescalate a situation when you have done nothing wrong, but you will likely be glad you did when you look back on the altercation.
In a perfect world, confrontations would never happen, but we don’t live in that world. Receiving Krav Maga training and learning the proper use of self-defense weapons allows you to face everything life throws at you with confidence. To start honing your own skills, sign up for classes today at Krav Maga Worldwide.