Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Home Invasion: Arriving Home to an Apparent Break and Enter

Home invasions are a special type of assault.  Our home, after all, should be our safe place, our sanctuary.  Break-ins are a violation of our well-being and our privacy.

Some invasions occur when we are in the home.  Other times they occur when we are absent.  Perhaps you come home and suspect or see that there has been a forced entry. 

Here are 4 tips if you suspect/discover a home invasion.

  1. Call for help(911) from a safe distance (e.g. a neighbour's home)
  2. Do not enter the house
  3. If you did not notice forced entry, walked in your house, and realize or suspect a home invasion - LEAVE
  4. Alert anyone else who might come home (family) or visit.  You don't want anyone (besides the police) alarming the invader.

Even if you are confident in your self defense skills and are feeling outraged about this violation please put your safety first.  Leave, stay away, and call for help.

Stay Safe,

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Get Away! 5 Ways to Create Distance from an Aggressor

During our self defense training sessions we remind students that distance is their friend.   There are many reasons to stay away from a potential aggressor.  (see attached blog).

But how do you create distance if someone is trying to get closer.  After all, people are not always respectful of our space and someone intending to harm you is obviously void of all respect.

Here are 5 general ways to create distance in situations ranging from the annoying to the aggressive.

  1. Use Your Voice:  Stay Away!  Leave me alone!  Use an assertive tone and speak clearly.  Keep your message simple and direct.
  2. Body Language: Holding your hands out in front of you to say "Stay away, don't get closer."
  3. Walk/Run Away:  As you leave/back away continue to be aware of the person.  He might follow.  
  4. Common Objects: If the person is persistent use a common object (if available) to create distance - umbrella, throwing coins, water bottle... Flee if you can.
  5. Use Your Body:  If the aggressor does not back away, is trying to grab you, then you have to create distance with your physical tools - kicks, hand strikes, elbows, even bites - according to direction and distance.   
All of these techniques, even using your voice, need to be practiced.  Clear communication through voice and body language can be effective deterrents.  If, however, the person is not receptive and is intent on harming you then you have to revert more physically aggressive measures.

As much as possible keep him away.  Distance is your friend.

Stay Safe,

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

Monday, September 17, 2012

Self Defense and Stress Management: 6 Ways to Prepare You for Real Life Assaults

All self-defense instructors, including us humble folk at Krav Maga Toronto, must constantly strive to prepare students for real life situations.  Often overlooked is the fact that one of the greatest challenges of defending yourself is managing your stress.  Assaults, verbal or physical, are scary and evoke various responses including:

  • Reduced motor skills
  • Tunnel vision
  • Nausea
  • Muddled thinking
  • Impaired hearing

Such symptoms seriously hinder your ability to defend yourself.  Many are the reports of trained martial artists freezing during a crisis or using techniques that simply are not appropriate to the situation (think spinning kicks in an elevator).

The problem is not necessarily faulty technique but that students (and instructors) are not trained to perform under stress. 

Here are 6 training tips to help you to manage your stress and to act more effectively:

  1. Train with various partners:  Besides various heights, weights etc… people move differently, grab, punch, kick…differently.  Don’t train with the same person every class. 
  2. Close quarters/close eyes: Real life assaults often come unexpectedly. Learn to defend the unexpected.  
  3. Noise: Toronto is not a quiet place and your attacker(s) might not be silent. Our federation has offered workshops in night clubs, airports....
  4. Different settings:  If you train exclusively in a studio/dojo you won’t learn how to defend yourself on different surfaces (pavement, grass, gravel…) various size spaces (open parking lots, stairs, elevators,,,)…..
  5. Surprise games:  Assaults are unpredictable.  You need to learn to quickly identify and react. Choreography is great for movies not for real life.
  6. Contact Drills: You have to get used to contact because a real situation often involves grabs, strikes, shoves etc.. You don’t want to panic.  Safety is paramount but contact is necessary.

All of these exercises take you out of your comfort zone and all of these require your instructor to be creative and responsible.   If your instructor is not inducing stress they are overlooking a vital aspect of preparing you for real life. 

P.S. All of this being said please reduce the stress in your everyday life - e.g. driving the Don Valley Parkway (virtually anytime these days), holiday shopping at the 11th hour, cramming a semester in your brain the night before an exam......... you get the idea. 

Stay safe and stress free (outside of class)

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

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stay Away! 4 Reasons to Maintain Distance from an Aggressor

During every self defense class we emphasize that our primary goal is not to teach you how "win a fight" but to get you home safe.  One way to preserve your safety is to maintain distance from your assailant.

Why do we want distance?  There are many reasons an assailant is more dangerous in close quarters:

  1. Less reaction time: If he is close he can reach you more quickly, perhaps before you can react or even know he attacking. 
  2. Limited visibility: The closer he is the less visible his various weapons.  Imagine someone standing directly in front of you, his face 8 inches away. Can you see is hands, elbows, knees, him reaching in his pocket for a.....?
  3. Spatial Awareness: It is more difficult to find exits, scan for other threats etc... when you have to focus on someone who is very near, perhaps touching...
  4. More ways to hurt you:  From a certain distance, for example, the attacker must kick or use an object such as a baseball bat to reach you.  As he approaches, however, he can use knees, fists, sharp objects, elbows, head butts, biting...  In short, has more tools/options at his disposal.
Of course, it is not always possible to maintain distance.  The attacker might be very aggressive, he might surprise you, or you might be in a small space - e.g elevator.

There are times, therefore, when you have to create distance.  This is the topic of a "soon to released" blog.

Stay safe,

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

Monday, September 10, 2012

6 Potential Signs Your Child is Being Bullied

Parent often identify bullying as the primary reason they enroll their children in self defense classes.  In some cases, bullying is obvious.  Your child or school officials might simply tell you what is happening.  Other times, perhaps due to shame or fear, children do not disclose.  This is where your observation skills enter into the picture.

Here are 6 potential signs your child is being bullied.
  1. Do not want to go on the school bus.
  2. Have their property go missing.
  3. Experience illness in the morning.
  4. They are frightened to walk to and from school.
  5. Are hungry after school (perhaps lunch is being stolen).
  6. Decline in school grades.
Of course, these could signify problems other than bullying.  Establish and maintain an open dialogue with your child and school officials.  Ask questions and above all, listen.

Stay safe,

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

Monday, September 3, 2012

Self Defense Workshop for Women (Sept. 23)

Self Defense for Women: Practical Self Defense

Wuxing Martial Arts, 374 Dupont St. 2nd Floor
Sunday September 23rd, 12-2pm(followed by a 30 minute Question and Answer session).
$50/person($40 if your register by September 21th)

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, International Krav Maga Federation