Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Unpredictable Nature of Assaults: An Overview

There are instances when we can sense an impending threat.  Escalating abuse in relationships of various kinds, for instance, give us many indicators - if we choose to acknowledge them.  Sometimes, a "predicable assault" offers mere seconds to avoid, escape, or try to calm a situation (e.g. road rage).

Assaults, however, are generally unpredictable.  We simply don't see them coming. 

Here are 4 aspects of the unpredictable nature of assaults.

When?  Crimes happen at night when darkness helps to conceal.  Many assaults, however, occur during daylight hours including early mornings. Last year, for instance, a man posing as a sales person entered a Toronto home at around 9am and assaulted two women.  Likely, he reasoned that people are less guarded during the day.  If he knocked on their door at 9pm would they have let him in?

Where? Some people might assume that assaults happen only in "rough neighbourhoods"or in areas where an assailant can isolate an individual - walking paths, quiet side streets, underground parking lots etc....   Assaults, however, can occur anywhere including very public places such as subways, malls, bars, busy streets....
Who?  The assailant stereotype is that of an unkempt wild eyed man, yelling...  History tells us that assailants can be well groomed, hail from various backgrounds, and be very presentable and charismatic. 

Why?  “Motive” is often discernible, particular after an assault has taken place - a jealous partner, a stalker, someone with a personal vendetta.........   Motive is often less visible beforehand and in many cases there is no premeditation - acts of rage, crimes of opportunity...etc. You might simply be a random target.  

Prevention is sometimes possible if we are aware and the assailant offers visible signs of aggressive intent.  In most of these cases our decision-making window is small.   Self defense training must prepare you for situations that defy our traditional notions of how assaults take place and to prepare you for the unexpected.  

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Knife Threats: Cooperate or Fight? 7 Factors to Consider.

When you are confronted with someone threatening you with a knife there is a vital choice before you. Do you cooperate or do you fight?

There are innumerable variables at play and every situation is unique.  Generally speaking,  avoidance is the best self defense.  Escape is the next best option.  We also warn of the dangers of trying disarm someone with an edged weapon.  Sometimes, unfortunately, these options are not available. 

Here are some general factors to consider when threatened by a knife-wielding assailant.
  1. Theft. He wants your watch, iPhone (I almost said Walkman!), cash...? Give it to him. You don't want to risk getting stabbed for an object.
  2. Distance.   Is he far away demanding your wallet or purse? Give it to him.  Did he sneak up to you and place the knife against your body? Here, escape might be more difficult.  You might have to act quickly as even the slightest move of his hand can lead to serious injury or death.
  3. Escape Routes? Are you in a parking lot with numerous escape routes or trapped in an elevator?  It is safer if you get to an exit without engaging too much with the attacker.  If you are in an elevator and he wants more than property you might have to disable and disarm the attacker.
  4. Are You Alone?  If an assailant threatens you when you are with with a friend or family member you obviously have more than yourself to consider. If you are walking with your kids, for example, techniques that involve striking then quickly escaping will likely not work. 
  5. Is He Alone?  One assailant is challenging enough.  Multiple attackers makes the situation more dangerous. 
  6. Abduction? If he wants to bring you somewhere more private don't go!  History tells us that "leaving the first scene" usually has a tragic ending. 
  7. Intuition.  Sometimes we have a "gut feeling".  Listen to your intuition. Can you appease him and get home safe or will you have to fight for your life?
Self-defense training must prepare you for as many situations as possible.  Besides learning and refining effective techniques, you must learn to make decisions - quick decisions - appropriate for the situation.  Such training teaches you to adapt and can save your life.
Here are some examples of IKMF Expert/Global Instructor, Tamir Gilad teaching knife defenses in a public setting...

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Friday, November 8, 2013

December Workshops - Dec.9(Surviving Gun Threats), Dec.11 (Defending in Public Places), Dec. 13 (Law Enforcement/Security)

Marcus Torgenson, Expert 2, will be visiting Toronto December 9th to 13th to offer 3 workshops. (see poster below).  Marcus is an excellent Krav Maga instructor with extensive knowledge and a genuine will to help people protect themselves and "walk in peace."

For questions or to register please feel free to contact me at 416-657-1028 or

To register online visit:

Registration deadline for all workshops is Friday December 6th! 

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor
IKMF Toronto

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Edged Weapon Threats: What Does He Want?

Threats with knives or other edged weapons such as bottles, screwdrivers, utility knives, are relatively common because such objects are readily available and easy to carry and conceal. 
For the assailant, the edged object is used to intimidate someone to agree with their demands.  “Do what I tell you to do or........!”  From a practical standpoint it is easier and more effective to hold a knife to a person than to use simple brute force. 

What does the assailant want?  Here are 3 general possibilities. 

  1. Property (money, I phones, vehicles, wallet, jewelry....).  “Give me your wallet!
  2. Sexual Assault: The edged weapon is used to gain your cooperation.  “Take off your clothes or I will cut you!”  Intimidation might allow him to forgo using physical force.  
  3. Abduction:  Taking you to another location.  “If you don’t get in the van I am going to kill you!”  It is easier to display a weapon than to carry a struggling person to a second location.
Of course these goals are not mutually exclusive.  An assailant, for instance, might successfully rob you and then decide he wants more.  An abduction can lead to sexual/physical assault and theft.  Threats can easily become attacks if the assailant decides you are not agreeable, is enraged, doesn’t want witnesses, or simply wants to inflict pain.

Understanding what the assailant is seeking plays a very important role in how you defend yourself.  If you can appease him by giving him some money please do so.  If, on the other hand, he is trying to take you to a more private location you must fight. 

To cooperate or to fight?  This is the topic of our next blog.  Knife Threats: Cooperation or Action?

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto