When I am asked about the principles and/or the philosophy of Krav Maga I say the main principle of Krav Maga that all others branch off of is to STAY SAFE. We stay safe by first and foremost, not being there. Don’t go to stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things! The second rule is RUN. Really, run when in danger…run when in doubt. I don’t care if the local paper has a picture of me running from a knife wielding punk with the headline “krav maga expert runs from knife”. I would be a smart, still living Krav Maga expert! Our third rule is to pick up something to whack the bad guy with. Why go into a knife with just my hands when I can pick up a pipe or stick and have distance and impact on my side? The fourth rule is to DESTROY the attacker. We aren’t safe if we merely fend off the attacker but still have to go to an ER afterwards. We aren’t safe if we win the fight but have months of rehab ahead of us. We are safe if we are unscathed. If we go hard, go first and go until the threat is gone we have a much better chance of being unscathed. Notice how far down the list that the actual Krav Maga techniques are used. If you get to the techniques you weren’t paying attention or were in a stupid place to begin with!
Wikipedia says the principles of Krav Maga are: 1. Do as much damage in as little time as possible. 2. Change from defending to attacking as quickly possible (including simultaneously). 3. Use items around you as weapons. 4. Be aware of everything that is happening around you. Let’s look at these one at a time and think about why they make sense for self defense.
1. Do as much damage in as little time as possible. This goes back to a few of my blogs where I talk about not sparring but ending. Sparring is moving around, throwing a combo, backing out, changing levels, going back in, etc. This is never a good idea as it extends the time that we are in danger. The attacker may be a better sparrer than we are and (more importantly) extending the fight gives his buddies time to get to you. As a wise man once said “every asshole has an asshole friend nearby”. Our goal in a real world violence situation should be to end things and get out of there…as quickly as possible. This is why in class we teach to go forward with rage, swing as hard as you can and strike targets that do the most damage. Keep hitting until you can escape, which is when the attacker is unconscious generally.
2. Change from defending to attacking as quickly possible (including simultaneously). I talk about this in my self defense for women book. When we are attacked we are a victim. As soon as we fight back there is no longer a victim and an attacker, there are two opponents. Most scum bags are looking for a victim, not for someone who will fight back…and fight back hard!
3. Use items around you as weapons. Absolutely! I know some “great” unarmed knife defenses but why would I want to use them if there is a pipe laying close by? Something with impact and distance is a good idea…I bleed! As I’ve said in previous blogs, a person with a weapon and just a small amount of training will beat a well trained person who is empty handed more often than not. I’d take a ball bat and an attitude over a black belt in any system!
4. Be aware of everything that is happening around you. This is talking about self protection and being aware at all times. Self defense is you grabbed me so I had to react. Self Protection is I saw you coming and avoided you. Self defense is I went into a seedy looking bar and, sure enough, I got into a fight. Self protection is the bar looked seedy so I didn’t go in. Self defense is you were hitting me so I smacked you back. Self protection is you were in my space looking like a threat so I smacked you. We are much better off (and we must teach this) to learn and live by self protection than we are self defense. We must teach our students to be aware of their surroundings, to avoid trouble and to “mind set” (we covered this in a few past blogs). We are doing our students a disservice if this isn’t taught and talked about in every class. If we are only teaching self defense techniques we are failing them. Self defense is recovery from stupidity or bad luck. BE SAFE!