Monday, February 25, 2013

Understanding the Attacker: Assaults and the Element of Surprise

A vital aspect of learning self defense is understanding how real assaults take place.  One of the elements we stress during training is the element of surprise.

Assaults are not like fights where two people are facing each other and saying: "I am going to mess you up!" or "I'm givin you a beatin."  As unpleasant as these exchanges are they do warn of potential violence and allow for some preparation.

A cunning assailant will not announce his intent.  There are some practical reasons for this:

  1. Evoking "shock,  or "freezing": Often, when surprised/frightened our ability to think and to act is severely compromised as is your ability to defend yourself. 
  2. Stealth/Alarm Prevention:  Assailants often sneak behind a person and cover their mouth to prevent a cry for help.  Without surprise they risk you attracting attention and help.
  3. Disabling.  Besides the psychological freeze, a surprise attack might inflict injury to disable or can even be fatal.  Weaken the victim so he/she can't fight back.  
  4. Self Preservation.  An attacker knows that surprise attacks minimizes injury to himself. 

Training must reflect this reality by training you to better manage your stress, to recover from physical attacks, and perform techniques based on how your body reacts.  See

We also encourage you to develop an awareness of your surroundings and minimize factors that hinder your ability to do so - headphones, texting, etc....  

Defending against surprise attacks is one of the most difficult aspects of self defense.  With focused training, however, you can better your chances of getting home safe.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

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