For those who truly understand the nature of Krav Maga, it is apparent that we are constantly looking for the best possible solutions to self-defense and combat problems. We do not have a million ways to do something and will not offer multiple solutions to problems because we recognize that an individual will have a limited response capability under stress. Based on operational experience (professional terminology for experience acquired in real life situations), we also recognize that this capability can be increased but only with a certain variation. Stress, fear, adrenaline and the overall psychological challenge will always be an integrate part of fighting and will prevent an overly developed spectrum of defensive strategies to be applied under extreme speeds even for experienced practitioners.
For this reason, we are always trying to figure out a responsive system that is simple, generalizable and most importantly, compatible with our innate psychological reflexive system. The last part might be difficult to understand for others because it requires knowledge of biomechanics, human behaviour, mathematics and physics within a combat setting. In short, Krav Maga is a very logical system of self-defense that has been rooted in scientific principles. To better explain how we build our techniques, let’s take a simple example.
Defense vs. the Front Choke. (Refer to Facebook video for demonstration.)
0. In pre-combat we offer an analysis of the environment and take into consideration situational awareness. For simplicity, let’s assume there are no other opponents, the terrain is plain, there is a clear exit and no other difficulties are present. This will allow us to execute our reflexive defense and finish a basic technique without involving a very common category in Krav Maga referred to as Troubleshooting. (Or if you prefer the Krav slang: the “Shit Happens” category)
1. Once the premises have been set we are clear to analyze the situation and continue the breakdown. Our two subjects are talking to one another in a relaxed state at a medium distance prior to the threat. This is an important factor in the type of technique we are going to perform. Since we are not expecting an attack, we consider our future response to be a reflexive technique. For those who have studied this training parameter in Krav Maga, we are in the earliest stages of psychological preparedness (The second being semi-prepared and the third and final stage being fully prepared). The distance for a front choke has a variation in and around 1 meter. This means that a human being cannot strangle another human being at 2 meters unless he is an alien and would render the choke less powerful if it would be applied closer to the defendant. (Example: 0.5 meters) The reason for this lies in the biomechanics of the attack itself. If you want to execute a powerful choke, the arms need to be bent at an angle of 135 degrees (with slight variation accounting for individual arm length) in order to effectively engage the back muscles and deliver maximum strength to the throat. If we are closer we reduce our power considerably and if we are further, we reduce it even more since the arms will become straight and the back muscles can no longer engage. The opponent has either one leg in front (small step) and the shoulders are fairly parallel as he executes the motion. The position of the opponent is referred to as “realistic representation” of the attack. The defendant’s position is also relaxed. This concludes the type of threat we need to resolve.
2. The opponent lunges to choke us! Based on our distance and our mental state, we are not prepared to act with an establish response. Once the assailant’s hands are wrapped around our throat, we initialize a primitive (but not necessarily ineffective) reflex that commands our own hands to cover the opponents hands and try desperately to touch our throat. Why? Because the brain is a very selfish organ that prioritizes itself above everything else and sends the fastest available soldiers (your hands) to the problem (getting strangled). In fact, at this point in time your brain does not really think about anything else, not even attacking. This is also where most self-defense systems don’t really make any sense. They try to immediately deal with a problem they were not expecting with a solution that can only be executed by an expecting defendant. If you think you can suddenly jump out of that front choke or do a spinning kick or send your hands anywhere else than to protect your throat you were either expecting the attack or you have never been assaulted before in real life to experience the effects of your body under extreme stress.
3. Once your hands are covering the opponents and are trying desperately to defend, we proceed to execute a double scooping defense in the most efficient and powerful way possible all the while respecting the position of your own hands. Remember that your initial priority is to breathe, it is very difficult to override your own survival system and decide that you will be attacking with your hands. As you are executing the scoop, you are counter- attacking with the only part suitable to do so under this particular circumstance: your knee. If you look at both the attacker and defendant’s position, you quickly notice that all four arms are involved in either attacking or defending, therefore the legs become the only avenue for a potential immediate attack. (Your head could always be an option but attacking with a part of the body that was itself attacked is not very logical given the circumstances).
3. The counterattack with the knee will serve to “stop the opponent’s brain”. This means that we must give pain to shift the opponent’s focus from attack to defense. Another major mistake in technique selection is thinking we can somehow use locks and disengage from the front choke without giving pain or striking the adversary. This is a big mistake because in reality you are not capable of executing a response like that versus a strong and enraged opponent who is trying to kill you. All responses must include strikes, ideally to very sensitive targets such as the groin, eyes or back of the head. Finally, once the choke has been released as a result of the scoop and counterattack (hopefully you didn’t miss the knee otherwise we’ll have to move to that troubleshooting category I mentioned above), we finish the technique with two open palm strikes to the opponent’s head. Given the knee was successful, the adversary will bend forward and expose the top of his head. It is important to avoid punching at this point so that we do not target the top of the skull with the knuckles. Push the adversary away to facilitate escape.
4. In post-combat we engage the tactical scan prior to running and finalize the technique. There are many more details to this situation but this is the general building strategy to our responsive system in Krav Maga.
Krav Maga West Island
Self-Defense & Martial Arts Dollard-des- Ormeaux, Montreal