Thursday, July 26, 2012

Workshop: Self Defense for Women -Aug 26th

Self Defense for Women: Practical Self Defense

Wuxing Martial Arts, 374 Dupont St. 2nd Floor
Sunday August 26th, 12-2pm

Group rates:

4-10 participants: ($35/person)
10+ participants:  (30/person)
20+ participants ($20/person)

Topics include:
  • avoiding and preventing
  • using your voice
  • escaping grabs
  • striking for self defense
  • using common objects for self defense

"I was nervous about taking the women's self-defense course at first, but Christopher put me to ease with his friendly nature and encouragement. Through his classes, I learned a lot in a short amount of time."
Erika Bachman, Tutor, Tutor Doctor

For more information contact:

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor

Monday, July 23, 2012

6 Practical Punching Principles: Self Defense Fundamentals

So much depends on an effective punch, from defending against an unarmed attacker to stunning an assailant armed with stick, knife or gun.  

At first glance, punching is simple.  You ball up your fist and hit something.  Easy.  No problem.

Nope.  Not so much.

Punching requires sound technique.  Otherwise punches are ineffective and you stand a good chance breaking many of the bones in your hand.

During our self defense classes we consistently refine students' punching.  Here are some points we stress over and over - ad nauseum (yes, students sometimes get sick of hearing them).

  1. Keep your wrists straight - otherwise you will sprain or even break your wrist.
  2. Rotate shoulders, back, hips - more reach and more power!
  3. Chin down. Protect your jaw and throat.
  4. Elbows down. Flailing elbows(think the infamous Chicken Dance) announces your strike.  Elbows down also direct your punch in a straight line, the fastest route to your target and helps protect your body against incoming strikes.
  5. Strike with your fist at a 45 degree angle with first 2 knuckles(closest to thumb) making impact.
  6. Recoil as fast as possible.  You might need to strike again, defend yourself, or hopefully, flee the scene.   

Proper punches can go a long way in determining if you can successfully defend yourself.   Developing sound technique requires practice (and an instructor nagging at you to recoil, to rotate.....)

There are times when a palm strike is the preferred tool(can you guess when?).  This is the topic of our next blog.  

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

Friday, July 20, 2012

Are You "Directionally-Challenged"?

"Directionally-challenged" usually refers to someone who has difficulty finding their way to a desired destination.  I know someone, for instance, who cannot navigate shopping malls(especially the Yorkdale Mall) and ends up wandering lost, confused, and without direction.  At least, he says, he blends in.  

Being "directionally-challenged" has a different, more positive meaning from our perspective as self defense instructors.  For us, it means training our students to defend from assaults that come from all directions - front, back, sides......
After all, many, if not most, assailants avoid attacking from the front.  They want the advantage of surprise, to catch you in a position where you are "off guard".  Despite this reality, many martial arts schools continue to focus exclusively, or almost exclusively, on face to face confrontations.  This makes sense for competition fighters but not for those who claim to teach self defense.

Here are some topics that need to be included in a self defense training program:

  • defending against punches and other strikes from various directions
  • escaping chokes and grabs from all directions (often one will feel, or hear the assault before they see it - e.g a bear hug or arm bar from behind)
  • weapon attacks and threats from various directions
  • locating and assessing attacks and threats via sound and feel 
  • becoming proficient defending with left and right side arms and legs etc.. (we all have a favourite "side" but sudden attacks don't allow us the luxury of choice)
  • recovering from an unseen strikes, grabs etc....we need to manage our stress/shock to successfully deal with assaults

There are many creative ways to develop and refine students' abilities to defend themselves from different directions.  Being "directionally-challenged" should be a consistent part of any self defense training.

Stay safe and feel welcome to visit us for a free class.

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Surviving Knife Assaults: 5 General Tips

Defending against assaults with knives and other sharp objects comprises a significant part of our self defense training at IKMF Toronto.  Beside being extremely dangerous, these assaults are quite common as such weapons are readily available.  Some examples include:
  • knives of all sorts (carving, jack, swiss army, hunting)
  • broken bottles 
  • screw drivers 
  • utility knives  
All of these weapons are easily concealed and used in various ways - stabs, slashes, threats etc....  All of these can inflict fatal wounds. Here are some general tips for surviving knife assaults:

  1. Flee whenever possible: Even well trained martial artist should heed this advice.  There is a bad Steven Seagal movie (is there any other kind?)where he waits for an assailant to pick up a carving knife so he can disarm him.  Bad self defense!  Flee the scene and certainly do not wait for someone to grab a weapon.
  2. Use common objects:  Chairs, gym bags, toasters, coffee, cups........Anything you can grab us use to distract, defect, shield or strike.
  3. Use your legs: Besides running, use your legs to kick.  Kicks can keep your attacker at a distance and are more powerful than hand strikes.  Keep in mind that this option is not available if your assailant is very close.
  4. Strike as soon as possible: To facilitate an escape or to disarm your assailant you must strike him.
  5. Observe: How is the assailant holding the knife?  This can indicate how he will attack and how you will defend.

Knife assaults are brutal.  Avoid and escape whenever possible.  There are times, unfortunately when these options are not available (imagine an assault in an elevator, subway...) and you must engage the attacker.  This is a subject for future blogs and the focus of many of our classes.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or any suggestions for future topics.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

Monday, July 16, 2012

5 ways Krav Maga differs from MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

Mixed Martial Artists are among the most skilled fighters in the world. The main distinction is that these fighters are in a relatively controlled environment where they fight:
  • against one opponent
  • according to specific rules
  • with a referee monitoring these rules
  • until the referee decides one fighter is seriously hurt
  • controlled spaces (cage or ring)
Krav Maga, on the other hand, prepares you for situations where there are no rules or standard environments (no referees, multiple attackers, weapons, in any setting).  Assaults, after all, can occur in various settings, in many ways, and at times we don't expect

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

Defending Against Multiple Attackers (Principles): Avoid focusing only on one assailant only.

When confronted by multiple attackers the best course of action is to RUN.  If this option is not available you must neutralize an assailant (the one that poses the most immediate threat) as quickly and as efficiently as possible.  It is important, however, to avoid devoting excessive/exclusive attention to one assailant.  This is a frequent and very dangerous mistake. 

Imagine this scenario.

Two aggressive males approach you.  One is standing 3 feet in front of you while the other is to his left,  five feet behind him, smoking a cigarette and looking around.  

Suddenly, the closer male lunges his right hand raised to strike.  

Before he closes the distance you kick him in the groin.  You follow through with a barrage of hand strikes until he falls to the ground.  Then, you make a critical mistake.  As he falls, you jump on him intent on inflicting more damage.

Suddenly, you feel a sharp pain in your ribs.  You fall to the ground gasping for breathe.  The other man has kicked you in the stomach.  You didn't see him because you fixated on one attacker.  Now, both men are upon you. 

What should have happened?

In this case, kick the first attacker then run (if there is an accesible exit and you are a decent runner).  If running is not an option you must neutralize the primary threat as soon as possible while being aware of the secondary attacker.   There are many ways to do this.

At ikmftoronto we train you to quickly neutralize attackers and to be aware of secondary dangers.  Students are placed in multiple attacker scenarios (relative to their training level) and are challenged to make life saving choices.  As students progress, these scenarios become increasingly realistic and decisions are made faster. 

Defending against multiple attackers is a formidable challenge.  One must make practical decisions very quickly.  Our training gives you the tools to do this.  
Again, if you can avoid or escape such situations please do so!  Prevention is the best choice.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor
International Krav Maga Federation, Toronto

Friday, July 13, 2012

Defending Against Larger, Stronger, Faster....

Students often ask me if self defense techniques work against someone with superior physical attributes(e.g. size, strenght, speed).  The general answer is a qualified yes.  Being stronger, faster etc.. certainly offers advantages.  However, there are ways to defend against the more physically imposing.  Here are some general tips: 
  • Use Effective Techniques:  If executed quickly and precisely, techniques can be effective - even against behemoths.
  • The Element of Surprise: Surprise your assailant with a premptive strike to a vulnerable body part (there are many)
  • Use Common Objects:  Even a gorilla of a man is afraid of a broken bottle (if he isn't he should be) or will be distracted by hot coffee splashed in his face).
  • Fight Dirty: Face it.  Without exten
    sive training, you are not going to wrestle with a skilled grappler and come out on top - unless you fight dirty.  Even hulking monsters have anatomical weaknesses.  
The challenge is immense.  Your training must prepare you for formidable opponents.  There is always, as my father told me once, someone stronger.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

6 Self Defense Tips for Campus Safety

Sadly, Toronto has witnessed its share of assaults on and around the campuses of its post secondary institutions(York University, University of Toronto, Seneca College, George Brown College, Ryerson...). 

Many students are living away from their parents for the first time.  Many have moved to different cities. Such changes coupled with inexperience can make students vulnerable and the focus of assailants. 

Developing your awareness is a vital aspect of self defense and preventing violent assaults.  Here are some tips to help you become more aware.
  • Inquire about security services on campus (some, for example, offer security escorts)
  • Intoxication impairs judgment.  Be mindful.  If you are drinking be with friends.
  • Don't leave drinks unattended.  (date rape drugs)
  • Be very mindful when walking alone.  When possible walk with friends. 
  • Report crimes as offenders might repeat their behaviours. 
  • Treat your dorm room as your secure place.  Be aware of who enters or attempts to enter.  
Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

   Image courtesy of smokedsalmon at

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

5 Safety Tips for Apartment/Condo Living

Apartments/Condos offer many conveniences for their residents but can also attract unwanted visitors.  Here are 5 tips to promote your safety.
  1. Change locks immediately upon moving in.  Previous tenants might have spare keys.
  2. Don't reveal your gender on the mailbox or directory.
  3. Do not admit unknown people into building via remote door opener.
  4. Alert police of presence of unauthorized people. 
  5. Report inadequate lighting in and around building. 

 Please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

5 Tips for Defending Punches - 1 for Each Knuckle

Many assaults involve punches.  Learning how to defend against such attacks comprises a significant part of our self defense training at IKMF Toronto.  Punches pose a serious problem as they can come from different directions, angles, and heights. Here are some basic factors to consider when defending against punches: 
  • Direction.  Is the assailant in front of you or do you happen to catch a glimpse of a fist flying from your right side (a sucker punch)?  Direction, will among other things, influence how you move your body and how you use your hand/arm to re-direct or block the attack. 
  • Circular or Straight.  Like answers to questions, punches can be circular(hook punch) or straight(jab, or cross).   
  • Height.  An attacker, for example, can deliver a hook punch to your head and a hook punch aimed to your kidneys.  Same punch but you need to recognize the height or he is going to connect.
  • Where are your hands?  Not just a legitimate question on a crowded subway or a dance floor.  Are you waiting for a subway/cab with your hands by your sides or are you texting with hands in front?  Perhaps your hands are in front of you as you try to calm an aggressive person.  Wherever your hands are they need to intercept an incoming punch in the most efficient/direct way possible.  P.S. Your parents were right.  Don't walk around with your hands in your pocket. 
  • Your natural reaction.  Are you surprised and jerk your head away from the incoming fist?  Maybe you move to the side?   Do your hands try to swat away the incoming strike? Your defense must grow out of this initial response to be effective.  
Our training gives the skills to defend against all punches by refining technique and improving reflexive responses. 

If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

Monday, July 2, 2012

Long Weekend Travel: 6 Tips to Deter Break-ins

Long weekends weekend offer many of us people an opportunity to travel.

A vacation offers a well deserved break from the rigours of our daily lives.  It is also, unfortunately, a time when people target homes for theft.

Here are 6 tips to deter break-ins:

  1. Avoid publicly announcing your vacation (i.e. Facebook)
  2. Make the outside of you house look "lived in" - grass cut, snow shoveled, newspapers and mail collected...
  3. Set timer for inside/outside lights
  4. Ask friend/ family to check on the house from time to time.
  5. Check alarms before you go.
  6. Store valuables such as jewelry elsewhere. 
In general, you want your home to look "lived in" and to remove items that you cannot replace.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Spring is Here! Walk the Safe Walk - 6 Tips

With nice weather we tend to spend more time walking and running in our neighbourhoods, near our workplaces, or anywhere our whims happen to lead us.  We encourage you to enjoy and to be safe.  

Here are 6 tips for pedestrian safety. 

  • Walk in the middle of the sidewalk to help prevent being grabbed by someone concealed around corners, in doorways, bushes etc....
  • Keep your hands as free as possible (e.g out of pockets)
  • Try to vary the times and routes of your walks and/or runs. 
  • Walk facing traffic.  It is easier to see potential stalkers and to escape drivers who must turn their vehicle around to follow. 
  • IPods hinders your ability to hear warning signs and is a common temptation for muggers.
  • Avoid unsafe shortcuts such as unlit parking lots and parks.
It is important to learn how to defend yourself while you are in motion.  Ask your instructor to include this in your training.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto

5 Tips for Escaping Chokes and Holds

Our Krav Maga self defense instructors in Toronto and Oakville devote significant class time to teaching students how to avoid, escape, and survive various holds. 


The simple answer is that these assaults are relatively common.  Assailants often attempt to physically control their victim during a robbery, fight, sexual assault, or abduction.  These can include chokes, headlocks, bear hugs, and hair pulls.  They can also come from various directions and occurs in different situations (e.g. walking, sitting, on the ground).

Here are some general points to remember when dealing with these assaults:

  • act as soon as possible as every second gives the attacker an opportunity to strike, strengthen their hold, or get help from other attackers
  • release a hold at its weak point (i.e. wrist release weak point is thumb and forefinger)
  • when necessary strike (knees, groin strikes, elbows, biting) a vulnerable point on the assailant's body
  • learn to prevent holds (in cases when you are able to see imminent assault)
  • when possible flee the scene (remember: in close quarters your visibility is compromised, hindering your ability to see you assailant's movements as well as any nearby dangers - e.g other attackers) 

Of course, this only represent a very general introduction to the problem.  Consistent training with a quality instructor can give you the skills to effectively deal with various holds.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor and Owner
International Krav Maga Federation(IKMF), Toronto