The combat mindset known as the “switch"

By Logan Hepner

As a former IDF special forces operator and later a Krav Maga instructor, I found that many soldiers and Krav students lacked what is known as the switch. The Switch is a type of conditioning where a person is both mentally and physically ready to completely take out an opponent.  Lacking this conditioning I’ve seen soldiers hide or hesitate in combat situations and students hampered in the more advanced training exercises.

To put the switch in better context, let us look at a professional MMA fighter compared to a person being attacked by a knife wielding assailant.  The MMA fighter has the physical aspect down, having spent countless hours training to win the match. However, they do not have the mental aspect since there are referees, rules and points awarded for tactics. (When is the last time you saw an MMA fighter kick the groin, gouge eyes and break bones in the first 30 seconds of a fight?)  The person being attacked will have the mental aspect, fight or die. However, the physical aspect might not be there.  

To be effective, both the mental and physical component of the switch needs to be trained into a person.  The physical aspect is relatively easy to train into a person.  Going to the Krav studio 3 times a week for several months is all you need to attain the repetitions for muscle memory. This will give a person the fighting basics and physical prowess necessary for the physical component of the switch.  The hard part is the mental component because most civilian and not properly trained military personnel are not ready to kill.  This basic mental block has to be overcome to achieve the switch.

Aggressive training is a good start to prepare for the mental aspect of the switch.  Drills such as fighting your way out of a pile-on or punching and kicking multiple targets until you are dead tired are the first step.  However, the best drill I have encountered is the combat room.   

The combat room is a training exercise where multiple opponents are in a room with full protective gear (Helmet, boxing gloves, thick vest, groin guard, and shin guards). You enter the room with full gear and take out the one defined target in the room.  Other opponents join in until you are pinned or told to stop.  The drill will repeat if you held back in any way.  

When fighting for your life or in a combat situation, the switch has to kick in. The opponent absolutely must be taken down by any means necessary.  Training to achieve the switch is the best way to ensure this happens.

I would like to conclude with the caveat for the switch.  Just because you have gone through the training doesn’t mean you should use it.  Give the mugger your wallet or walk away from the drunkard at the bar who decided to throw a punch. Only if your life is in danger should you switch it on!

By Logan Hepner,

About the author:

Logan Hepner is a former member of the IDF’s Duvdevan unit, A counter-terror special forces unit tasked with undercover operations.  He joined the IDF in 2006 and served until 2009, during which he fought in the first Gaza war in 2008. During his service he participated in multiple counter-terrorism operations that remain secret to this day. After his service, Logan moved to Michigan and began instruction with Ron Grobman in 2013.  He became an instructor of Krav Maga in 2014.