Welcome to Israeli Krav Maga CT!
One of the first questions I am repeatedly asked is “Do I really need to think about self-defense if I live in Fairfield County? It’s not exactly a high risk area, right?”
Hollywood has done a lot to condition our psyche with respect to when to feel threatened. Dark alleys, ominous street corners in vacated sections of large cities is where all the nefarious action takes place on screen. Swelling music right before the attack is also a great cue. Sadly, real life does not offer us such a simple formula to consider….
Darien, Greenwich, Wilton, Stamford or Norwalk have none of those risks, right? Perhaps not.
What is real, however, is that all residents of these seemingly safe communities, leave those communities at some point for work, college, vacations or business travel. Cos Cob and Noroton Heights, for example, will probably never be hotbeds of criminal activity, but as college seniors go away to college, holiday seasons bring day trips to NYC, and business travel potentially takes you to all points on the globe, the ability to feel safe when confronted by the unexpected or the unsavory will be comforting.
I do not believe in paranoid notions of the “boogie man” being around any corner, but I do believe that knowing what I know has enabled me to walk in any city or be surrounded by “uncomfortable/threatening” elements, and still feel confident that I can protect myself. This sense of peace if priceless.
Even more priceless is the knowledge that, if called to, I could protect my family. I have a wife and two teenaged children. I have traveled to many foreign destinations with them on vacation and was once even confronted by a large, seemingly drunken derelict in their presence. No anxiety or high stress moments followed, as I knew that things would be ok if I just followed my training on how to handle these situations.
All you need to do is watch the evening news to understand that despite all efforts to the contrary, sometimes dangerous situations and criminal activities can take place anywhere. These are the reasons I have personally advocated my entire family (yes, my wife too!) become trained in Krav Maga. They benefit from being better at handling themselves if confronted as well as enjoying the fruits of a workout that strengthens them and conditions their bodies. I benefit by feeling more confident that they are safe when they leave the house.
Investing in self defense is a bit like an insurance policy..you never want to have to call your agent and deal with the loss, but you feel a lot better knowing that the policy is there. Isn’t your peace of mind worth the further exploration of self defense?
Self defense schools are numerous and with each school come countless strategies and tactics for surviving a fight depending on the threat that is presented. Indeed, practitioners of the martial arts, as a whole, study for years to become expert in the litany of strikes, kicks, defenses and holds required to diffuse or overcome almost any situation. The reality, however, is that it is possible to get through one's whole life without having to fend off a person of hostile intent. What is interesting to me is that, generally speaking, experienced martial artists, those most confident in their abilities, find that they never need to resort to violence at all.
The reason for this is simple: Along with learning all the masterful moves of self defense, an attentive self defense student begins to realize that the easiest fight to win, is the one where no punch is ever thrown. As cool as it is to be able to disarm a threat with a gun or knife, why would you want to place yourself under that pressure or position of danger? Knowing that the local barroom bully is easily handled with a specific technique does not mean that the danger of all his "drinking buddies" jumping in to help him is any less great. Put simply, any time you make the decision to engage in a fight, for whatever the reason, you have opened a Pandora's box of variables and risks that might place you and all those you care about in jeopardy.
I, therefore, adhere to the following flowchart of options, to ensure that my life is as free from unwanted risks as possible:
"It is better to avoid than to run. It is better to run than to de-escalate. It is better to de-escalate than fight. It is better to fight than die."
Hopefully, we should all agree that not having the danger in front of you beats all alternatives. As a friend of mine (a retired police officer) once told his teenage son in my presence, "I don't care if you were not involved in the situation, why were you there in the first place?". Words to live by...
If you know a certain bar, street corner, schoolyard, etc., is a known place for the unsavory, don't go there. No glory comes from suddenly being confronted by a hostile threat, when you knew you could have avoided it.
Once you realize that a bad situation is happening in front of you, it is best to leave. Period. Nothing to be gained by sticking around to see how things evolve or turn out. If hostility is in the air, your best self defense move is a hasty retreat. You have no way of knowing who you are dealing with, what they are capable of, or how brutal/deadly things can suddenly become. Here is where your pride at being brave and not cowardly will get you in trouble. It is not about bravery, it's about understanding that you know nothing about how things may go down and the guy who dies because he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time", might be you! As the Bible says, "Pride cometh before the fall."
If your exit is blocked and you cannot leave, then your next best self defense move is to de-escalate. What does this mean? It means to talk your way out of this situation. Make the threatening parties understand that you have no issues here, have no desire to be involved in a fight, etc. You need to make sure everyone understands that there is no honor to be won by beating you as you are not trying to assert your "alpha" position...You are a lover, not a fighter, and just want to leave if it's all the same to them.
Let me be clear....even if you are the second coming of Bruce Lee, you still do not change the tactic. Fights are living breathing things that change in a heartbeat. You are one sucker punch away from a really bad place. A blow to your head by the guy you never saw is a great equalizer to your applause worthy hand speed and kicking prowess.
If de-escalating is not working and you are at place where you know the punches are about to fly, then throw first, throw fast and throw often! Leave nothing to chance. Use a combination of all your well learned strikes, kicks , elbows and knees to neutralize your initial threat and then leave immediately. This is not a Hollywood movie, so you have no need to clear out the bar by invoking your inner "Chuck Norris". Once your threat is incapacitated enough for you to safely remove yourself from the premises (which is what you were trying to do two steps ago), your job is done.
By following this simple flowchart you accomplish a few things:
- You potentially avoided having to place yourself or anyone you care are about in harms way
- Even if you are forced to fight, you established yourself to all witnesses as the unwilling party to a fight (hence, self defense laws attach)
- You hopefully go through your whole life without ever having to put your fighting skills to the test, which makes you an undefeated martial artist!