Monday, May 27, 2013

Krav Maga: Favouring Focus

"Jack of all trades, master of none."

In his influencial book, Meditations on Violence, Rory Miller notes how many martial arts studios “promise self-defense skills and tournament trophies, discipline and self-discovery fitness and confidence, and even spiritual growth and enlightment.”  
This is a noble undertaking but fulfilling such a promise is a tall order.  Each of these goals, if approached properly, requires sustained and focused attention. 
Our Krav Maga training reflects a decision to focus on one of these promises: practical self defense training that can save your life.   
At first glance, it might seem that we are limiting our offering but students soon learn that self-defense is a very comprehensive and detailed subject. 

There is much to learn!

Consider the following:

1.   There are innumerable ways assaults take place – verbal, slaps, kicks, stabs, grabs, chokes, holds…
2.   Assaults can happen in various environments.  You must learn to adapt.
3.   Criminals are innovative, inventing new tactics and strategies.
4.   Every self-defense situation is unique.
5.   Every student has different abilities and limitations.

Krav Maga techniques are easy to learn but you also have to develop your assessment skills along with the ability to act quickly and decisively –  actions ranging from avoiding a dangerous situation, to defending an imminent attack. 

Fitness is certainly a benefit as you improve your strength, lose body fat, and improve your conditioning.  Character evolves though perserverence and respecting fellow students.  Discipline and confidence is developed through attention to detail and consistent practice.

These benefits, however, grow from our focus on self-defense.

We certainly respect more comprehensive systems.  For us, however, teaching you to survive is a monumental task in itself, and worthy of our undivided attention.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Adapting to Real Life - 6 Tips to Becoming a More Versatile Defender

IKMF Director, Avi Moyal, Defends Against Knife Assault from Sitting Position 

Assaults are unpredictable.  They come at various times, from different types of people, posing varying degrees of danger, and can take many forms - grabs, shoves, stabs, punches, kicks.........

Accordingly, you have to develop the versatilty to recognize a problem and respond quickly.  Assailants can be cunning and will act when you are vulnerable.

Here are 6 tips to help you become a more versatile defender.

  1. Train In Different Settings:  It is unlikely that you will be attacked in a dojo, studio, or wherever you train.  Practice outside, on stairs, on various surfaces (cement, grass, gravel, snow, sand), in small spaces, large spaces.......   
  2. Practice Defending from Various Directions:  In reality there is the likelihood that your attacker won't approach from directly in front of you.  Learn to defend from all angles.  
  3. Standing, Sitting, Walking, Running, on the Ground......  Over the course of an average day you stand, sit, and walk.  Some people run - for fitness, or after the bus they are always trying to catch.  During assaults we might get knocked, pushed, or pulled to the ground.  
  4. Carrying Items:  Often we walk with coffee, water, mobile devices, backpacks, briefcases.....  Use props to mimic these situations(please don't throw hot coffee into the face of your training partner - ouch!). 
  5. Clothing:  From time to time practice in the clothes you wear everyday.  Can you kick in jeans?  How is your punching while you are wearing a heavy jacket.  Running in heels?.....
  6. Learn about real life assaults.  It is an unpleasant topic but it will give you some insight into how assailants behave.  

Consider the innumerable ways assaults take place and strive to mimic these situations.  Learn to adapt.  

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Monday, May 20, 2013

Workshop:Introduction to Surviving Armed Assaults: June 8th

To gain advantage or perhaps out of rage, an assailant can use a weapon to steal, assault, or kill.  Usually, your best option, in the case of theft, is to comply.  In other situations - abductions, stabs, etc. - you must defend yourself.

This workshop will help you understand weapon assaults, your realistic options, and introduce you to some simple techniques that can save your life.

Beginners welcome!

See poster below for details.

To register go to:

For some tips on defending against armed assaults please visit:

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Home Invasion Workshop - (Oakville) - June 2nd

Our homes are where we should feel safest.  Unfortunately, criminals target homes to steal property, to impose fear, or to commit assaults.

This workshop focuses on what to if someone breaks into your home while you are there.

Topics include:
  • Planning escape routes
  • Using objects on your house to defend yourself
  • Protecting your family
  • Prevention strategies  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Blunt Force Weapons: 5 Things to Understand

Our Krav Maga classes devote significant time to teaching students how defend against blunt objects such as
  • pipes 
  • crowbars
  • baseball bats
  • hammers 
  • pipes

We know that such objects are readily available.  Most people own some or all of the above-mentioned objects.  We also know that an assailant armed with such weapons is extremely dangerous.  The effects of such attacks range from head injuries, broken bones, and of course, death. 

Here are  5 things you should know about blunt force weapons, particularly club-like objects.

1.     The most dangerous part of the object is the close end.  It is the fastest - basic physics.
2.   Escape if you can.  Even if you are well trained you risk very serious injury(or worse). 
3.     Get Close.  If you can’t escape you have to get close to the assailant. (see no.1)
4.     Range. The object, especially something like a bat, affords the assailant the advantage of distance        
5.     Don’t Wait.  As soon as you perceive the attack you have to move – fast!  You are either running away or moving in. Standing still is not a viable option.

Expert 3 Jean Paul Jauffret demonstrates defense vs stick attack.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Image courtesy of Felixco, Inc. at

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When Someone Enters Your Home: 9 Home Invasion Tips

There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.
Rosalynn Carter 

Ideally, our home is our sanctuary, where we feel safe.  Unfortunately, homes can be a target for criminals who are seeking property, or to gain some demented gratification from terrorizing people.

An unlawful entry can be terrifying, especially if you have children.

Here are 9 tips to help you if such an unfortunate incident occurs.

  1. Do not open your door to someone you don't know.  Invaders will pose as salespeople, fundraisers....any role to gain access to your home.  
  2. Have an escape plan.  Similar to a house fire you should have a plan to leave your house.  Allow for different scenarios.  
  3. If escape is not possible go to a room and lock the door.  You want to avoid direct contact with the invaders.  
  4. Call 911.  Also, contact a neighbour/nearby friend.  
  5. Do not try to prevent the invader(s) from taking property or leaving the house.  You don't want to escalate the situation.  
  6. If you have children go to them immediately.
  7. Be aware of items in the house that you can use to protect yourself.  
  8. Listen.  Is there one or more invaders?  
  9. Do not leave with the invaders (e.g. to go an ATM). The second scene tends to be more violent.  

As always, the overall goal is for you and your loved ones to survive.  Property and any sense of injustice are secondary to your safety.  

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Monday, May 6, 2013

Situational Awareness: Appropriate Use of Force

Krav Maga teaches you to adapt to various circumstances.  Life, after all, can be very unpredictable.

One aspect of adapting involves appropriate use of force.

Let us consider two examples.

  1. Imagine you are suddenly grabbed by the wrist by a man who is winding up to punch you.  His friend is lurking behind him, ready to pounce.   
  2. You (by mistake, of course) step in front of a fellow commuter as walk into a subway car.  Upset, he/she grabs you wrist and demands to know where your manners are.  
In both cases you are being grabbed at the wrist but the circumstances are very different.

One situation warrants more force than another.  In the first instance, you are going to have to be more aggressive as there is an imminent strike and a potential second assailant.   If you limit your reaction to a wrist release and a pleasant "let's talk about this" you will not finish your sentence.  

What about the second situation?  Perhaps the person is simply trying to get your attention to point out your offensive behaviour.   Here, simply apologize for you rudeness - intended or not.    You might have to perform a "soft technique", a wrist release, but there is no need for aggression.  

 If you only train for the most aggressive situations you might overreact to relatively harmless situations.    The consequences can include needlessly hurting someone and legal action.

Krav Maga is not about pummelling people into submission.  It is about getting home safe.  Often, this involves simply not allowing a situation to escalate. 

Often, this involves using appropriate force/no force.

Train for all situations.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Safety and Professional Travel: 10 Questions to Ask a Self Defence Instructor

Image courtesy of Ambro at

Over the years, professionals have worked with the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF), to develop the knowledge and skills to prevent and survive self-defence situations they might encounter during business travel.

Some clients include:

  • banking professionals
  • insurance brokers
  • developers
  • lawyers
  • medical/healthcare professionals
  • engineers
  • entrepreneurs 
  • diplomats 

As a travelling professional here are 10 general questions you can ask a self-defence instructor.

  1. What can I do to prevent an assault?  Essentially, this involves awareness training.  Learning how to scan your environment, interpreting body language, develop safe habits...
  2. What steps can I take to minimize being targeted for theft?  This usually centers around being discrete about your possessions, schedule, where you are residing.  Minimize alcohol intake, especially in unfamiliar environments. (sorry!)
  3. How do criminals target their victims?  Sometimes it is "wrong place, wrong time" but criminals can be cunning and choose carefully to avoid harm to themselves and getting caught.
  4. How can I be discrete when I represent a high profile organization?  
  5. What do I do if I am physically attacked? Learning how to respond under stress against various attacks - punches, kicks, grabs....
  6. What do I do if my colleague is physically attacked?  This involves what we call "third-party protection" - a challenging topic.   
  7. What are my options in the event of an armed assault?  If it is a matter of giving up property to save your life then please comply.  If it is an abduction then you have to explore taking action.  
  8. What does a real assault/attack look like? What are my best options for survival? A significant part of IKMF research involves exploring the various tactics of criminals in different countries.  
  9. What do I do after I have survived an assault? Looking at the immediate aftermath - getting to a safe place - as well as follow-up supports such as counselling.  
  10. What techniques can I use to de-escalate a situation?  Using body language and your voice to prevent a situation from becoming worse.  

Beginning with these questions, along with training with a qualified self defence instructor, can give you the awareness to avoid and prevent assaults, and the skills to save your life.

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto