Tuesday, May 20, 2014

6 Reasons Striking is Vital to Your Self Defense Skillset

Student elbows "attacker" as she escapes a bear hug.

Self defense does not always involve striking an attacker.  In fact, we advocate avoidance and escape as safer alternatives to direct contact.  Also, soft techniques such as wrist releases can solve a problem without inflicting serious damage.

Striking, however, remains essential to any effective self defense system. Here are 6 reasons why:

  1. There is Always Someone Stronger: Even if you possess natural strength and live in the weight room there is someone out there who is stronger than you.  Also, consider the added problem of multiple attackers.  Your strength is an asset but you need other tools.
  2. Releasing Holds.  Speaking of strength, some people are capable of exerting incredible force when choking, grabbing, bear hugs etc...   A knee to the groin, stomp on a foot, or a head butt might encourage him to release - even a little.  
  3. Keep him distracted.  If his eyes are watering, his nose is bleeding, he feels an intense pain in his groin or shin, then he is less able to continue his assault.  Don't, however, underestimate his pain threshold or resolve. 
  4. Maintaining or Creating Distance.  A series of effective strikes can deter someone from getting closer or create space for you to escape, grab a weapon of opportunity etc...   
  5. Armed Attacks.  Generally, disarming is not the preferred choice as taking a weapon such as a knife is extremely difficult even for the best trained.  Gun threats require disarming due to their range.  To have any chance of disarming, the attacker must be hit to distract and disorient. If you are not disarming you still need to strike - a kick, palm strike - to survive.  He needs to feel pain or injury for assaulting you! Crude but the alternative is worse.
  6. Disabling.  Effective striking can prevent a pursuit (e.g. knee strike), or prevent the attacker from continuing the attack.  You are also, to some degree, disabling his cognitive abilities - to problem solve. 
With striking there is a balance in expectations.  We cannot assume that a strike or series of strikes will stop the attacker.  Strikes might simply open up an opportunity to escape, get help, or grab a weapon of opportunity.  On the other hand, some strikes can end an assault quickly.

Continue to work on your striking.  Improve your power, speed, and timing.  Developing these skills can be life saving.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Self Defense and Protecting Others

When we hear the term "third party protection" we often think of bodyguards protecting state officials or celebrities.  While this is certainly an aspect of third party protection there is a more practical application for most of us: protecting those we spend time with -  friends, co-workers, and family.

Self defense training tends to focus on protecting yourself but real life situations might require you to help others.

Some possible scenarios:
  • You are out for an evening walk with your partner/spouse and an aggressive man approaches, yelling at both of you.
  • A home invasion. You must protect your family -get them to safety.
  • A co worker is attacked at the office or off-site.
There are innumerable examples.  On December 4, 2014, here in Toronto, a woman and her 21 month old baby were attacked by a 14 year old boy, and a 12 year old girl.  She was allegedly punched and kicked and the baby was briefly snatched from the woman's arms. 

 Learning how to protect others includes body positioning, strike prevention, releasing others from hold and chokes, even weapons defenses.  Sometimes, it is simply getting help. Essentially, it comes down to defending someone who is vulnerable due to lack of physical ability, skill, or awareness of the danger.

Third party protection is very challenging but, in my view, a necessary part of of any practical self defense program.  After all, we are social animals, spending much our time with others, including  people we care about.

Here is a video with one of our Global Instructors, Tamir Gilad, teaching workshop participants in New York City how to protect others.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto