Self Defense…Not Fighting

I have been involved in the martial arts for over 20 years. Like most students of the arts, I have come to appreciate what takes place between two willing combatants in the ring, cage or octagon. The athleticism, speed, grace and raw power of each participant can be awe inspiring. A well timed strike that causes the knockout or a finely tuned joint manipulation that creates the submission is discussed by me and my students for days following the event. Yes, combative sports can be a really cool spectator sport. The more you learn at your dojo or studio, the greater the appreciation you have for the action.

What we teach at Israeli Krav Maga-CT, however, is not fighting, but self defense. My mission is not to train my students to become the next Jon Jones, GSP or Floyd Mayweather,. It is to survive an attack. Self defense, unlike what takes place in the ring/cage/octagon is NOT between two willing combatants. It is about you being at the wrong place, at the wrong time and trying to escape safely when you find yourself unexpectedly at the receiving end of potential violence. This, therefore, is an entirely different type of training.

While we must learn all the respective strikes, kicks and defenses that the professional fighters learn, our application is far different. We are not in that situation by choice, and unlike the pros, know nothing about what fighting skills our attacker has or what weapons they may have brought. For that matter, we don’t even have the assurance that we have only one attacker. In the ring/cage/octagon, we know who we are fighting. On the street our attacker may have a buddy waiting to pounce when our attention is diverted.

So what is my point. Self defense is not about winning a fight. Winning on the street is survival. Winning is about leaving the situation as unharmed as possible. As we look at an attacker in front of us, our mind must shift to what will be the quickest way to disable and then disengage. I have listened to instructors at other studios talk about the attacker engagement as if your goal as intended victim is to knock the attacker out, submit them or otherwise dominate them.

I say, be wary of this strategy. Once you have neutralized the initial attack and countered to the point of rendering the attacker hurt or stunned, your next mission must be to find a safe exit. The longer you attach yourself to this person through further combatives or submission holds, the greater the possibility that another attacker appears, a hidden weapon is drawn or they catch a second wind.

At the end of the day, your goal is to be able to escape a violent confrontation safely so you can get home and watch the pros showcase their talents on Pay Per View.