Monday, November 26, 2012

Deception: 5 Ways an Assailant Might Try to Get Close to You

Earlier this month a 16 year old woman was assaulted near the Broadview/Danforth intersection.  This horrible incident began when the survivor approached a man with his head down.  As she approached he asked her for "a light" for his cigarette.  When she go close he grabbed her, threatened her with a knife, then dragged her to a more secluded area.

Another incident this month saw a man pose as a salesperson and force his way into a home then assaulting two women.  

See link for description of these incidents:

In both cases, the attackers devised a deception to get closer to the victim.  

There are, unfortunately, many ways assailants will try to lure you closer.  Here are 5 general examples:

  1. Asking a Favour: He asks for "a light", some change, for you to hang on to or hold something, to borrow your phone....   Besides getting closer you are distracted by your task opportune time to strike.  Be especially careful if you are alone in an isolated area. 
  2. Asking For Information: What time is it?  How do I get to Yonge and ?, If you give information give it from a distance. 
  3. The Imposter:  Recently, in Toronto, a man posed as a salesman and forced his way into a home, assaulting two women(see above).
  4. The Crisis: Years ago, a student told me a man approached her in a parking lot saying he locked the keys in his car and asking her, since she was smaller, to reach through the partially opened window to unlock the door.  As they approached his car she saw the windows were closed.  She fled and reported the incident.   If there is a "crisis" call the police, mall security, etc... from a safe place - not alone with a stranger. 
  5. The Small/Isolated Space:  If you don't feel comfortable walking into, or staying in an elevator, please leave.  A former co-worker reported a man following her into a Tim Horton's bathroom.  Vacant parking lots.  Be aware of body language and ask for an escort (e.g. security guard). 
We don't like to be cynical.  Helping people and random conversations can be extremely enriching.  The key is to be aware of the context. Are you isolated? What is your intuition saying?

Be cautious.  Be aware.

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga Federation, Toronto

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Understanding How Attacker's Attack in Real Life: 6 Aspects

A vital aspect of self defense training is understanding how assailants actually attack in real life. Without this knowledge you are preparing for assaults that happen only in the safety of your studio/dojo.

One of the things you learn during our Krav Maga classes is that real life attacks are quite different than those you come across in many martial arts classes and what you see in movies and television.

Here are 6 things you should know about real life attackers:
  1. They often approach you when you are distracted - cell phone, Ipod...   These days this is most of the time.  Don't expect an assailant to announce himself or his intentions.  Surprise is his ally.
  2. They approach from different directions.  Yes, they might approach you from the front but don't count on it.  
  3. Attacks are brutal and intense.  Don't expect him to follow rules or to withdraw after a verbal scolding or one punch.  
  4. Tenacity.  Some attackers are very tough and very determined.  You will have to match and exceed this if you want to survive.  If you can't escape you might have to fight harder than you imagined possible. 
  5. Multiple Attackers Don't Attack in Sequence.  In movies, an actor like Jason Statham can fight one person and count on the others to wait their turn.  Not so in real life.  
  6. They don't punch like Ralph Macchio aka the original Karate Kid.  Fighting stance, elbows cocked back, fists straight ahead on arms that move like pistons in a predictable 1, 2 cadence.  Nope.  Real attacks are chaotic, unpredictable, and intense.  

You need to understand these realities and prepare accordingly.  Otherwise, you are engaging in choreography rather practical and reality-based self defense. 

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga Federation, Toronto

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fighting Skills Workshop - Nov. 17th

Learn to defend, escape, and get home safe when an assailant is insistent on physical confrontation.
Skills that can help you survive situations such as:

  • home invasion
  • road rage
  • random assaults
Beginners are very welcome.

Saturday Nov.17th, 3-6pm
Wuxing Martial Arts, 374 Dupont St., 2nd Floor

To register contact: 

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga Federation, Toronto

Monday, November 12, 2012

So You Have Signed Up for Your 1st Krav Maga Test. 9 Tips

Testing is not a mandatory part of our self defense program.  Some students, however, want a more tangible way to gauge their progress, enjoy testing, or want to become instructors.

Whatever the reason(s), testing is a rigorous process that requires careful preparation, attention to detail, and a commitment to improving.  Testing is not easy but it will help you better understand how far you have come and what you need to work on.

Here are 9 tips for testing:

  1. Know the curriculum:  If the instructor tells you to perform an upward vertical elbow and you only offer her a blank stare you are in trouble!  
  2. Understand terminology: 200% defense, inside defense, outside defense, 360, deflect, block, rotation, recoil, pluck, step, skip, slide..................If you don't know....ask...before the test.
  3. Techniques Must Be Performed as If They Would Work in Real Life:  If you deflect a punch then strike with the speed and power that would barely alter the route of a passing butterfly then time to step it up.  Be safe but be aggressive.   
  4. Scan:  Look around for secondary dangers.  Not doing so during the test can lead to failure.  Failing to do so in real life can prevent you from seeing the incoming fist, knife, grab, streetcar.....
  5. Recoil:  When you strike bring your, hand, elbow, knee, foot, back as soon as possible.  You might need to strike again, protect yourself, or leave. Only hold the strike if you are posing for Black Belt Magazine.
  6. Rotate:  Rent The Wizard Of Oz and watch the Tin Man before he gets oiled up.  Don't be like that.  When you strike rotate your shoulders, hips....   Be more like the Scarecrow - loose but with more control.  (Yes, we can link Krav Maga to everything). 
  7. Focus:  One technique, one exercise, at a time.  Focus on performing each as well as you can.  Don't think about what is coming or what has been.  (That's what Yoda would say).
  8. Understand "Why":  If the instructor asks why you performed a hammer fist rather than a straight punch don't answer "Cuz my instructor said so".  You need to know why.   Logic is your friend.  
  9. Prevent:  Instructors want to see good habits.  If your partner approaches you from 5 or so feet away with intent to grab, choke, hug, stab etc... prevent - from this distance with a kick or running.  Only when the instructor specifies will you allow contact. 

Place your testing in the context of your development.  Pass or fail you are taking a step closer to becoming a better Krav Maga student and more capable of defending yourself. 

P.s. There are 7 elbow strikes!

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga Federation, Toronto

Monday, November 5, 2012

Avoidance is the Best Self Defense: 5 Tips to Stay Safe

One of the points we emphasize at our self-defense school is our hope that you never have to use the skills and knowledge you develop through Krav Maga training.  Avoidance, we stress, is the best self defense.

Too many things can go wrong.  Yes, a person proficient in Krav Maga, an experienced fighter, or a skilled martial artist, has a better chance of surviving an assault.  The operative, word, however, is "chance".

An assailant swinging a broken bottle might catch an "expert" off guard.  Fighting two or more attackers looks great in the movies but is extremely dangerous, even for the world's best.  In real life, don't count on attackers to engage in sequence (e.g alphabetically by last name, gang seniority, date of birth....) but rather expect them to come at the same time.  Have you met someone who can deflect/block three punches and kicks at the same time?

Yes, there are times, when we have to defend ourselves but if you can avoid engaging please do so.

Here are 5 points to consider.

  1. Avoid Dangerous Areas: Night time shortcuts through parks, alleys....  Clubs with a reputation for violence.  Places where groups or gangs "hang"...  
  2. Walk Away:  Some people will try to entice you into a fight.  They might verbally insult you or the people you are with, "flip you the bird"....   Don't be lured in.
  3. Right vs Fight:  You might be appalled that a biker threw a beer bottle into the ditch. Yes, morality is on your side but do you want to chase down Vic the Viper and chastise him for his ecological carelessness?  Mail an anonymous copy of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring to the clubhouse instead. 
  4. Anger Leads to the Dark Side:  Worse, anger can lead to the back of police cruiser, the courthouse, the afterlife....  Road rage, verbal assaults...... avoid them.   
  5. Don't Be Afraid to Run/Escape:  If you can flee the scene please do so. I, personally, have no problem running from two bored teenagers who wants to challenge a self-defense instructor.  I just hope they are not on the track and field team. 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Avoidance is a great form of prevention.  Don't put yourself in danger.  Get home safe.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga Federation

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Self-Defense and Self Doubt: 4 Ways to Ease Your Anxieties

New students often come to a self-defense class with many self doubts.
  • I am not strong enough.
  • I don't have experience.
  • I am not athletic.
  • I don't want to hold students back.
  • I don't want to embarrass myself.

These doubts are natural.  After all, you are wandering into unfamiliar territory and into a subject - violence - that is  inherently disturbing.  Know that you are not alone.  Many students express these concerns.  

So what do we do?  Here are some suggestions.

  • Be open with your instructor(s) about your feelings.  A quality instructor will listen, answer your questions and address your concerns.  
  • Accept Where You Are: We are not all at the same place in terms of aptitude, experience, fitness, confidence...  Develop a sense of where you are, where you want to be, and work with your instructor and the other students to get there. 
  • Be Patient:  There is a lot to learn.  Don't get discouraged if everything doesn't come naturally.  Work hard, ask questions, and be patient - especially with yourself.  
  • Acknowledge Your Strengths:  You might be strong, fast, smart, tenacious, clever, agile, a hard worker...  Develop the strengths you have and work on the areas that need more work. 

Self doubt enters the mind of every student, and yes, every instructor, at some point.  Acknowledge these doubts and ask for help.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga Federation

Friday, November 2, 2012

Women's Self-Defense Workshop Dec. 2nd

Women's Self-Defense Workshop: Practical Skills

Wuxing Martial Arts, 374 Dupont St. 2nd Floor
Sunday Dec. 2nd, 12-2pm(followed by a 30 minute Question and Answer session).
$50/person($40 if your register by November 26th)

Group rates(bring friends, co-workers.......):

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

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Self Defense for Beginners: 7 Tips for Finding the Right School for You.

Your first self-defense class can be daunting. Are you fit enough?  Do you have the athleticism or coordination to perform?  Are you walking into a testosterone-filled fight club where each member has seen the movie 300 at least 10 times and secretly(or not) wish they were Spartan warriors?   

All in all, you don’t know what to expect.  Here are 7 ways to ease into your self-defense training. 

1.   Ask Questions.  Don’t forget we are here to serve you.  Ask questions to better understand what is being offered. 
2.   Try some free classes.  A phone conversation or email exchange can be informative but the best way to understand is to try a class/some classes
3.   Talk to other studentsStudents are quite receptive to talking about their experience. 
4.   Ask for testimonialsAre students raving about the classes?  If so, why?
5.   Be honestA decent instructor will address your questions and concerns.  Be honest about your needs.
6.   Don't Buy the hard sellThe school should be addressing your needs rather than bombarding you with price lists, deals, and extravagant promises.  Take your time and make an informed choice.  In fact, don’t even bring your debit or credit cards to the first meeting. 
7.   Shop AroundTry various schools to get a sense of the different offerings and pick the best one for you. 

Don’t rush into anything. Be clear about your needs and goals and what the school offers.  Make an informed choice. 

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne

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