Your Body Knows

How many times have you messed up a technique even when you knew it perfectly?  

As almost all of Krav Maga’s self-defense techniques rely on reflexes, there is typically no need to recognize the coming attack as the body will react for us. (This does not mean that we do not preempt!) So why do we botch our defense? Simple-- thinking instead of acting.

In a real-life self-defense situation, there is almost no way to predict what will be the attack and from which direction the attacker will try to engage us. Therefore, we rely on our reflexes, our natural defense mechanisms. Here’s the physiological definition:

noting or pertaining to an involuntary response to a stimulus, the nerve impulse from a receptor being transmitted inward to a nerve center that in turn transmits it outward to an effector.
— http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reflex?s=t

How do we translate this to our training? Instead of trying to anticipate an attack, look straight ahead and try clearing your brain of thoughts. If trained right, your body's reflexes will take over and the defense will be performed better than when trying to think about them.

The main concept is to take your mind off the incoming attack. Here are a few drill ideas, assuming that you are already moderately comfortable with the technique:

Distraction/diversion drill:

  • Defender performs a very short set of exercises (2 push ups, 1 push up, 1 sit up, etc.)

  • The attacker attacks as the defender finishes the exercise

  • Result: the defender does not have time to look for the attack or anticipate

Constant rotation (ping pong):

  • The students constantly switch between being attacks and defenders

  • The idea here is for the defender to become the attacker as soon as they complete the defense

  • In essence, not giving the attacker time to think

Multiple attackers:

  • The defender is constantly attacked without giving him/her time to completely finish the technique

  • This drill will exhaust the defender to the extent that he or she will neither have time nor mental capacity (from lack of oxygen) to think

*Note that the above drills can be performed defending one type of attack or different types. Additionally, they can be combined into simple or complex drills.

Oftentimes we get so focused in our training that we forget the bigger picture. We are training for the unforeseeable.  Even the most complex defense in Krav Maga is part of a whole system. 

Let your body work for you!

Thank you for reading,

Ron G.

Owner | Instructor

Tactical Fitness Austin

Krav Maga | Fitness | Firearms

Train right, fight easy

My students typically find me to be very OCD with every aspect of training. It's not really that I am obsessive (well maybe a little)  but rather that I firmly believe in training  correctly and safely.

The two main issues I see today with training are the following:

  1. Proper training distance for each technique

  2. Bad attackers

Proper Training distances:

Last week while training bearhug defense at Gabi Noah's gym here in Netanya, Israel my training partner got very frustrated because I would never let her apply the bearhug on me. So why was I being annoying? Every time she came to attack, she started from almost leg length away, with her arms stretched out. So every time, I either just kicked and followed up with other strikes or just pushed her hands out of the way. Eventually, I explained that she needs to start very very close to me where I wouldn't have time to do anything else but the prescribed technique!

Each technique needs to be trained from the shortest distance possible that is relevant to that technique; why?

Many times I see students performing a defense that does not really need to be performed from the distance that their attacker is attacking them (or rather a different technique should be used). For example 360 defenses, where the attacker is initiating the attack form an almost kicking distance away instead of at arm length. So what's wrong here? The student is learning to use the wrong technique for the distance, bad timing is developed, and most importantly the student is developing a false sense of confidence.

How do we correct these mistakes and ensure proper training?

  • Start with correct distancing tactics from the beginning; It starts from the ground up! Teach the student correct footwork and stance so they understand how to close and open distances through their feet. Then ensure that the student knows a how to strike with their hands and legs at each and every distance (with the relevant technique), and more importantly how to transition between these distances while striking. Yes this is a whole lesson; infact I have taught several full length classes on this subject!

  • Train self defense, whether simple inside defense through stick defense, at the shortest distance possible without telegraphing the attack. At first train these techniques only on instructors command so the student can focus just on the technique without the timing aspect. Then let them work freely. ALL WHILE working from the correct distance where there is no other option but to use the defense at hand!

  • Once students know the technique well have them train to the defend the same attack from different distances. For example, overhand stab: the students learned their 360 defense so they know how to defend against a very close attack, now add medium range where they should kick or have time to use an object for cover, then add far away where they can just run! (this can also be trained from far to close).

Bad Attackers:

For the most part we are nice people that do not want to injure our training partners. As self defense practitioners we must understand that the person that is going to attack us on the street WILL try to hurt us or even kill us! What does that mean for our training?

I often see two main problems from attackers (aside from the one discussed above.)

  1. Not actually attacking the defender, "pulling punches"

  2. Attacking the defense

"Pulling punches"

This is often a problem of new students who either do not understand the distance they are supposed to attack from or students who are afraid to hit their partner. How do we solve this problem?

  • Emphasizing to the students that they are practicing their attacking skills (punching, kicking and even stabbing!).

  • Wearing protective gear; gloves, helmets, mouth guards, etc. Even if they hit their partner, they will not hurt them.

  • Checking the attacker; every few repetitions NOT defending. (off course only while practicing slowly)

Note that if this issue is not fixed it will cause both students many problems in the long run. For the defender, primarily issues with timing and a false sense of confidence. For the attacker, problems in sparring and issues with distancing.

Attacking the Defense:

Often times a result of getting into a rhythm or over repetition:

  • When students are practicing and not very experienced they tend to get themselves into a training rhythm, where the attacker is attacking, defender defends and repeat without any breaks in timing. As a result the attacker tends to attack on a rhythm and often times at the defender's defense and not their body. For example: kicking the defender's shin instead of side of the knee or leg while practice round kick defense.

  • Additionally, over training is also a big cause when the student becomes tired of training the technique and no longer attacks properly.

I will leave you with this quote from Bruce Lee:

"Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick."

Thank you for reading, 

Ron G. 

Owner | Instructor

Tactical Fitness Austin