Thursday, December 10, 2015

5 Things to Know About Krav Maga (infographic)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Krav Maga in the GTA: What Programs do we offer? (infographic)

What does a Krav Maga class look like?

When people inquire about our self defense classes they often ask "what does a class looks like?" 

By way of a general answer we describe classes as divided into three parts. 

In the case of a one hour class:

1. Warm up: to warm up your muscles and foster alertness you will spend about 10 minutes getting your mind and body ready for the class topic to come. If the class focus is kicks for example, we will focus on the legs. The topic "Defending punches" can involve some striking and some exercises to warm up the relevant muscle groupings and hone your reflexes.  

2. Technical practice. This is where we focus on various problems (e.g. escaping holds, defending against strikes etc...) and solutions(e.g. prevention, escaping). Here, you gain a better understanding of how attacks actually occur and what you can do to avoid, escape, and survive.  35 Minutes. 

3. Stress training. Sounds daunting but it isn't. Well maybe a little- but that is the point.  Essentially, we practice what you learn but add a little stress.  This stress can involve some exercises to make you a little tired or having your partner surprise you.   We include this as real life situations include the challenge of defending under stress and we want you to be ready.  15 minutes. 

Overall, classes are interactive.  We encourage questions and suggestions.  Safety is stressed and we recognize that everyone has different fitness levels and experience.  We strive to help you "where you are at"  to learn how to protect yourself and be safe. 

Feel free to contact me with any questions.


Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Krav Maga: What You Learn in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year....

Many people are goal oriented and like to get a sense of what they will learn during their training.  Here is a general description of what you will learn in 3, 6, and 12 months.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Effective Striking Workshop (Saturday Nov 28th, 4-6 pm.)

Striking is fundamental to self defense.  To effectively defend yourself in most situations you need to strike effectively to stun or disable an assailant.

This workshop will help you to:

  • strike to maintain or create distance
  • strike in close quarters
  • strike in all directions
  • strike vulnerable points to better your chances of escape and survival

Beginners welcome!
2156 Yonge St.  IKMF Toronto

For more details contact Christopher Gagne at 416-657-1028 or

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Our Corporate Self Defense Programs

Our Vision
We stand for every one's inherent right to live in safety.  We aspire to keep our families and communities safer by helping men, women, and children (regardless of age and physical strength) learn practical life-saving self-defense.

Our corporate training programs can be a valuable part of your workplace wellness program.  Besides offering your staff the security of practical self defense training there are other benefits:

Managing stress: You are often faced with tight deadlines, and sometimes long hours.  Our programs offer a great way to release stress and how to cope with it.  Through physical exertion, self defense training offers a very effective stress reliever.   We also make training fun.  Assaults, of course, are inherently stressful and an important part of our training is performing under stress. 

Team building:  There is something about learning together that promotes team building.  Learning practical self defense, including learning how to work together to protect each other, goes a long toward building trust and and teamwork.

What Each Workshop Includes

Learning Awareness: All training emphasizes awareness.  This involves developing a better understanding of your environment.  Where are the exits/escape routes?  Are there objects you can use to protect yourself?  Who is in the area?  How do assailants behave?  What is their body language telling you? 

Understanding Real Assaults: Our training helps you to understand how assaults actually happen based on real life events.  

Adaptable: Learn to defend various assaults (grabs, holds....) in a variety of contexts (small space, standing, siting, etc....).  Assaults are unpredictable and learning to adapt is vital to protecting yourself.  


We offer an introductory workshop that gives you an overview of various topics.  The other workshop focus on particular topics.  Take a look...

I. Introduction to Krav Maga:.  This workshop offers you an overview of how to protect yourself. Topics include include avoidance and escaping tactics, escaping grabs, effective striking, defending against strikes and an introduction to surviving weapon assaults. 

II. Your Body as a Weapon (Striking) .  You need to strike to effectively to defend against a determined attacker.  During training you learn what tools are most effective according to direction, distance, and situation.   Elbows, palm strikes, knees, kicks....   

Rear elbow vs close attack from behind
III. Escaping holds, Grabs, and Chokes
Unfortunately, an assailant usually has a size and strength advantage. and will try to control with brute force.  When releasing from holds you will have to attack weak points with your strong muscle groupings.  With wrist releases, for instance, you attack their thumbs, the weakest point in their grip. With other holds, particular those of immediate danger (see choke release below) you need to effectively strike e vulnerable points of their body. 
Pluck and palm strike vs choking attacker
IV. Using common objects to protect yourself.  Your office, your home, your pockets, there are objects you can use to protect yourself - back packs, coffee, umbrellas, coins....

V. Surviving Armed Assaults.  Assailant can use weapons (sharp objects, blunt objects, guns) to attack or threaten. This workshop gives you the tools to survive weapon attacks.  

Defending vs gun threat.
VI. Defending Sitting and on the Ground: Assaults can occur while you are sitting (e.g. subway, booth), or on the ground where you are especially vulnerable.  Learn how to survive strikes, holds and chokes, fall safety and get up quickly.  

Defending on the ground


I organized two Krav Maga sessions at the workplace as a Wellness initiative in which Chris led. The sessions were practical, useful, and thoroughly enjoyable! Chris was a friendly and knowledgeable instructor who is an absolute pleasure to work with. Employees were extremely satisfied with what they had learned in the brief 1-hour Corporate class and look forward to bringing back the program in the near future. I recommend IKMF without reservation.

Rachel Malin 
Marketing Analyst
BIC Inc. Canada

For more information please contact:

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

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Corporate Self Defense Program: Women

I organized two Krav Maga sessions at the workplace as a Wellness initiative in which Chris led. The sessions were practical, useful, and thoroughly enjoyable! Chris was a friendly and knowledgeable instructor who is an absolute pleasure to work with. Employees were extremely satisfied with what they had learned in the brief 1-hour Corporate class and look forward to bringing back the program in the near future. I recommend IKMF without reservation.

Rachel Malin 
Marketing Analyst
BIC Inc. Canada

For more information please contact:
Christopher Gagne 
Owner and Lead Instructor
International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF), Toronto

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Stress and Real Life Assaults

Assault are stressful events. This is obvious and applies to even to the best trained.  A sudden/surprise assault can effect us in many ways.  A sudden act of violence such as a punch, someone charging with a knife, a sudden grab or choke. or even a yell or scream will induce stress.  

Let's begin with a more general overview of how stress impacts you during an assault. 

Tunnel Vision: Your peripheral and depth perception can be seriously reduced.   Consequently, identifying strikes from various angles and distances is compromised.  Awareness of your surroundings - other attackers, escape routes - can also be limited.  Besides vision, you might not hear shouts, alarms, etc....    Stress, in short, assaults the senses.  

Motor Skills/Coordination: Your ability to perform complex and even simple techniques will be hampered. Striking combinations won't be as fluid, strike defenses not as precise, plucks and hold releases etc will not as sharp.. Weapon disarming, always extremely difficult and requiring precision and dexterity, will be compromised.  

Fatigue:  Under stress blood goes to the organs and away from the extremities.  When this happens your limbs feel weak and heavy.  This means you might tire quickly.  Not good news in a prolonged fight or chase. 

We cannot escape stress or its impact but we can learn to manage it in a way to more effectively defend ourselves.   Accordingly, training must include stress training to help prepare students for real life situations.

Suggested reading:   Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected, by Rory Millar

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

P2 technique: Defense Against Impending Knife Threat (long range)

P2 technique: Defense Against Impending Knife Threat (long range)

Situation:  Person is standing in front of you holding a knife(pointing at you) at stomach level.

1.  Strike the assailant's hand as quickly is possible
2.  As soon as possible kick the attacker in the groin (lean back for a body defense)
3. Recoil kick as quickly as possible, escaping with kicking leg leading you away


The best time to perform a defense is when the attacker is distracted.  If there is not an external distraction then create one.  

Don't telegraph your hand strike.  Your hand should travel in a straight line.  

Be sneaky.  Any advantage (e.g.. discreetly moving striking hand closer to target)

Recoil you kick as quickly as possible - a knife slash to your leg will disable or kill you).  


Saturday, September 12, 2015

September 26 Workshop: Defending in Small Spaces

IKMF Expert Megan Kaddouch defends vs larger attacker

Assaults can occur in situations where escape is difficult - on subways, office areas, elevators...
To survive such assaults you need to act decisively and quickly.

This workshop will focus on various real scenarios and will include:
  • how to use your short range tools (elbows etc.. to defend and escape or disable)
  • defending from a seated position
  • defending near or against a wall
  • escaping to safe places

Here are some tips for defending in small spaces:

Beginners are welcome!

Saturday September 26, 4-6pm
IKMF Toronto
2156 Yonge St. 

To register please contact(inquiries are very welcome):

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bullying: An Brief Overview

I started visiting schools and talking to kids about bullying and what to do and how to deal with it. I don't think that there is one person who has lived life without being bullied. Everybody gets bullied - whether it's cyber-bullying or to your face or behind your back.

Bullying is something all of us have experienced to some degree.  I certainly did as a child, and to some extent as an adult, as did my friends family, and acquaintances.

Defining bullying is a challenging endeavour.  Barbara Coloroso's offers a concise definition in her excellent book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander (2006)   Bullying she writes "is a conscious, willful, and deliberate hostile activity intended to harm, induce fear through the threat of further aggression and create terror." Bullies tend to leverage power based on many factors including: size, age, social status, race, gender...   Bullying can also be a group activity.

There are various forms of bullying.  Below I have outlined three broad categories. These do not have to be mutually exclusive and one form can certainly lead to another.

Verbal Bullying: This is the most frequent form of bullying.  I can involve: name calling, insults, malicious rumours, racial slurs...    As Coloroso writes, "Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me, is a lie." Moreover, verbal bullying can sometimes be a first step to physical violence.

Physical Bullying: Shoving, punching, grabbing, pinching, kicking, taking property such as money etc....  This is the most obvious and the easiest to detect.

Relational Bullying:  This involves attacking the bullied person's social relationships and status. This can involves isolating, ignoring, shunning.  It is more insidious than physical bullying and more difficult to detect.

Cyberbullying:  Intimidation, humiliation, reputation tainting - all via email, and various social media sites.  With the proliferation of mobile devices that is becoming a growing problem.

In future blogs, we will address these forms of bullying in greater detail and explore effective ways of dealing with them.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Brief History of IKMF Toronto

Humble Beginnings in Ottawa
I first experienced Krav Maga in 2004.  Laurent Mougeot, now our Canadian National Director, taught a hybrid class of karate and Krav Maga - more karate than Krav Maga at the time.  Laurent was an excellent teacher who encouraged our passion for self defense.

2004 Karate/Krav Maga class in Ottawa
Leaving an Impression: The IKMF Visits Ottawa
In 2005, a high ranking member of the IKMF at the time, Phillippe Kaddouch, visited Ottawa to offer a workshop.  At the time, I was full time social worker with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and a part-time PhD student (history) with aspirations of becoming a history professor.  Little did I know that this workshop would change my career path.

March 2005 The IKMF visits Ottawa

The workshop? In short, we were very impressed!  Besides being extremely skilled, his exercises were all based on practical scenarios from knife threats to multiple attackers to defending ourselves from a chair.  That year, one of his senior students, Thierry Cimkauskas, set up a school in Montreal and became IKMF National Director for Canada.  Thierry offered some excellent workshops and as we became more immersed in Krav Maga we considered becoming instructors.

In 2006 and 2007, Laurent Mougeot, Christopher Gagne, and Bella Motzen enrolled in the Civilian Instructor Course (CIC).   It was one of the most challenging - physically and mentally experiences of my life, but also one of the most gratifying and exhilarating. The instructors, Avi Moyal, and Gabi Noah, (both of whom were granted Master's status by their teacher and the founder of Krav Maga Imi Litchenfeld) were excellent.  In August of 2007 we earned our CIC certifications.

2007 CIC Instructors - happily exhausted...

IKMF sets down roots in Toronto
In September 2007, Laurent continued teaching in Ottawa.  Christopher Gagne and Bella Motzen began teaching courses at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (JCC) in Toronto.  In February 2008, Christopher rented space at the Kapissisaan Centre in the Kensington market, beginning with one class Sunday afternoons.

Teaching at Wuxing Martial Arts
In September 2008 Christopher began renting space from Wuxing Martial Arts, then located at 25 St. Nicholas.  Here, students began testing with Thierry. The larger space and floor mats gave us more teaching options.  Students liked that we were 1 block away from the Wellesley subway station.  Our classes grew from 1 to 3 per week.

First IKMF Level Grading in Toronto - 2009
374 Dupont St.
When Wuxing moved to 374  Dupont  in January 2011, we went with them.  Here, our classes grew from 3 to 8/week. With both Wuxing and IKMF Toronto growing we decided to get our own studio.  During this time, Henry Karabela became an instructor and opened a school in Oakville.

Avi Moyal visits Wuxing Martial Arts 

Yonge and Eglinton: 2013
In March of 2013, we moved to 2156 Yonge Street.  The space was smaller but we were able to dictate our schedule, expanding out class offering from 8 to 14 including a kids class, a women's class, and an advanced class.  The first year was a period of adjustment.  Every year since we have worked hard to improve our self defense training and every year we have grown.  More important than numbers are the quality of people who train with us.  Students are polite, welcoming and enjoy themselves. This makes teaching easy!

Expert 2 Marcus Torgerson visits IKMF Toronto

Looking Ahead: Expanding Through the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
As of 2015, we continue to grow and strive to improve our classes.  Now we work as part of IKMF Greater Toronto Area (GTA), with training also offered in Oakville and Scarborough.  From 16 students in 2007, we are approaching 200 active students in the GTA.  We are excited about how far we have come and are even more excited about where we are going.

Watch for an upcoming blog on the short history of IKMF Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Self Defense Workshop: Introduction to Edged Weapon Assaults (August 29th, 4-6pm)

Edged weapon assaults are among the most common weapon assaults as such objects are readily available,  Some examples:
  • knives
  • broken bottles
  • carpet cutters
  • screw drivers

This workshop will focus on some of the more common attacks and how to survive them.  Topics include:
  • how to defend against medium and short range attacks
  • defending from different directions
  • escape tactics

The focus of this workshop will be on escaping rather than disarming.

Workshop is open to all levels.  Beginners welcome!

For an overview of surviving knife assaults visit:

International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF), Toronto
2156 Yonge St.
Saturday August 29th, 416pm

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Describing Krav Maga as a Self Defense System....

Krav Maga is often referred to as a self defense system or a reality based system.  Sometimes, people will insist it is not a martial art.  The latter comment is not something I will address because the term martial art simply includes too many systems and I strive to avoid generalizations.

What I will do, however, is describe some fundamental characteristics of Krav Maga, particularly how we teach it in Greater Toronto Area as part of the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF).  Along the way, I will reference other systems.  I won't make any claims that Krav Maga is the best system as I find such claims unnecessarily antagonistic. I have met and trained with students and instructors of other self defense systems, enjoy working with them, and have the utmost respect for what they offer.

Here are some points to help you understand what Krav Maga offers.

A Focus on Realistic Contexts: As much as possible, Krav Maga training considers various environments where assaults might occur(otherwise known as everywhere!).  In competitive fighting, you are facing an opponent, often someone of your own level or weight class, in a controlled environment (boxing ring, cage...).  In a realistic situation, you will likely face an attacker you have never met before.  You won't be in designated area but rather on the sidewalk, on a subway, a parking lot, an elevator....the possibilities are endless.  Krav Maga factors these scenarios into its training.
Training outside with street clothes

Focusing on Realistic Situations:  There might be more than one assailant.  You might be walking with family or friends.  You might be: standing/sitting down, carrying a briefcase, gym bag, umbrella, a coffee...  The attacker(s) might approach from the front, side, or back.  Krav Maga training strives to mimic these situations.
Defending from a sitting position (e.g. subway, pub)

No Competition and No Rules:  Krav Maga does not observe any particular set of rules.  Groin strikes, biting, pinching, eye gouges, etc... are all acceptable.  Why?  Because you might be in mortal danger and you have to do whatever it takes to survive. Participants in competitive sparring and fight competitions (Mixed Martial Arts, Judo, Wrestling, Boxing), need to abide by certain rules.  In real life the attacker is not confined to a rule book and neither are you!

Rules? What rules? Attacking the eyes of a larger attacker

Using Appropriate Force/Avoid or Escape if Possible:  Krav Maga tends to have a brutal reputation.  Perhaps this is due to its military heritage or the no rules component. (no.2).   What some people are surprised to learn is that we offer various "soft techniques" appropriate to situations where striking is not necessary.  Some wrist release techniques, for example, do not involve striking.  In fact, we advocate avoidance and escape as the best self defense.

Techniques Grow From Natural Reflexes:  Techniques, as much as possible, are based on our natural reactions.  For a more extensive description of this go to:

These are some general characteristics of Krav Maga that I find compelling and address my criteria for a practical self defense system.  If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to offer them.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Friday, July 17, 2015

Self Defense Workshop:Adapting When Techniques Don't Work (July 25, 5-7pm)

Sometimes things don't go as planned.  You perform a technique and it doesn't work.  Why?

  • Your stress level hindered your performance.
  • You simply made a mistake
  • You misread the assailant
  • The assailant surprises you with skill, aggression etc...

Whatever the reasons, you have to adapt.

This workshop offers tactics and counter moves to survive such situations.

Topics include:

  • hand strikes
  • ground situations
  • sharp and blunt weapons
  • holds

Saturday July 25, 5-7pm
International Krav Maga Toronto (IKMF)
2156 Yonge St. 

For more information contact Christopher Gagne 416-657-1028 or

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Kids Self Defense and Realistic Expectations: Defending Against Adult Assailants

 We need to have a realistic sense of our ability to protect ourselves.  This applies to adults and it certainly does to children.  Movies, and other media, sometimes offers a very exaggerated sense of what a child can do against an adult. Some scenes show children of eight or ten years old defeating a man (or men) in hand to hand combat.

This is extremely improbable.

Even without training, an average adult would be able to subdue a ten year black belt in any martial art/self defense system.  Does this mean self defense for children is useless?  Of course not.  What it does mean is that we have to manage our expectations and focus on what they can do.

So what do we advocate when it comes to surviving adult assailants?
  • Awareness and Avoidance
  • Escape Tactics
  • Getting Help
  • Fighting to Buy Time/Escape/Get Help
Awareness and Avoidance:  Similar to adults, children need to develop awareness of their environment and adult behaviours.  Where are safe places to run for help?  Walk facing traffic to be able to encroaching cars.  Avoid adults who ask for directions (especially if they are asking the child to step closer to their vehicle)...

Escape Tactics: Certainly a strength for most kids - active kids in particular.  A healthy kid can be very agile, elusive, and quick.  They also need to focus on where to go  - a safe destination - rather than simply getting away.  This involves identifying escape routes needs to become a habit.

Getting Help: Leave me alone! Help! Help!   It is hard for even the most apathetic adult to ignore a child calling for help.

Fighting to Buy Time/Escape/Get Help: If a child is grabbed they have to fight.  It is very unlikely they will disable the adult but they might be able to escape, or, at the very least buy some time and get the attention of someone who will help.

Fighting is a last option - when escaping and avoidance have not worked.  The goal, it must be consistently emphasized, is to escape, not fight.   Accordingly, learning to flee to a safe exit to get away and get help must be an integral part of the training.  We build these skills through games rather than scare tactics.  We want to empower rather than instill fear.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

4 Reasons I Train and Teach with the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF)

A fellow instructor recently asked me why I have been with the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF) since 2005.  It was a great question and I mulled over it for a day or two.  So after some thought, here are 4 main reasons I am with the IKMF.

1. Leadership
You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit. Harry S. Truman

One of my favourite business books, Good to Great by Jim Collins, explores what kind of leaders lead the most successful companies.  The research found, not surprisingly, that Level 5 leaders "embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. They are ambitious for sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves." (38)  I believe our IKMF chairman, Avi Moyal, embodies this leadership style.  Just as importantly, the people around him, including the Global and Expert Instructor Teams reflect this same mindset.  They believe in something bigger than themselves.  It is the larger goal of giving people the means to be safe (rather than personal ego) that drives the organization forward.

2. Global Instructor Team (GIT) and Expert Instructor Team (EIT)
Besides believing in Krav Maga and being dedicated to building a quality organization, members of these teams are extremely skilled, and are excellent instructors.  All of them continue honing their own technical and teaching skills set.  Every time we work with them we improve as practitioners and as instructors.

3. Innovation
With their collective knowledge and perpetual efforts to offer better self defense, the IKMF is very innovative.  Techniques, are changed or altered if they can offer more effective alternatives. Moreover, since they teach and travel the world, they always discover new situations that require adaptive solutions.  They are, pardon the pun, on the cutting edge of practical self defense.

4. A Focus on Teaching
Avi and the GIT/EIT know that even with formidable skills you need to be able to teach your students in a way that resonates with them.  As much as our sessions with the GIT and EIT spend time on technical proficiency, there is a substantial focus on how to better serve our students.

5.  Focus on Inclusiveness
The IKMF want everyone regardless of ages, fitness, disability etc to be able to protect themselves.  Over the years, I have seen Avi and others explain that if the technique does not work (for someone small against larger and stronger, for example), then we need to find something that does.

6. Local Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Team
Being good people and, I believe, being inspired by IKMF leadership, my colleagues in the GTA embody the IKMF mindset at a local level.  There is a sense of building something together, without as Harry Truman stated, minding who gets the credit.  They are a pleasure to work with. 

There are many more specific examples but these are my overriding reasons.  If you have other reasons feel free to add your comments!

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Escaping Side Chokes on the Ground (P1)

Many assaults end up with attacker and defender on the ground. 

One of the first ground techniques we teach is escaping a side choke on the ground.  These assaults can happen after you are knocked or thrown down.  Your air is being cut off and an attacker (usually larger and stronger) is trying to keep you on the ground.  What do you do?

Here are some pointers for escaping this very dangerous attack.

1. Pluck to breathe. Similar to standing chokes your first priority is breathing and an effective tool to do this is a pluck. Pluck with the hand furthest from the attacker as the other will be busy preventing him from collapsing on you.

2. Create space. Striking palm to chest (some people strike to face or throat) to prevent attacker from getting closer. Immediately replace your arm with your inside leg (your leg should be diagonal across his torso - like a seat belt.  You will have to elevate you hips (see pic above).

3. Strike/kick and Get him off of you!  As your inside leg is maintaining space the outside leg is also elevating ready to kick.  The legs work together. The outside kicks him in the head as the inside pushes.  

4. Get Up!.  You are kicking through the attacker and landing with your kicking/outside leg forward facing the attacker.  Preferably you can get up quickly and escape but if the attacker persists you are in a position to attack with your legs.  

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Defending Against Ice Pick Knife Attack - Close Range (P1)

Footage of knife attacks often show the assailant stabbing in a downward motion- what we call the ice pick attack.  It is not a sophisticated attack but can be very strong.  
Avoidance and escaping are your best options as any knife attack can lead to serious injury or death. If avoidance is not possible and distance allows, a kicking defense is most effective. We do not want the attacker to close the distance.  What do we do, however, if the the attack is close, too close to run or kick?    

Some tips to surviving such an attack:

1. Block and strike at the same time. Your blocking hand is open as your perform a forearm defense using the bony part of your arm against his wrist. (See pic below). You are not absorbing the arm but attacking it as early as possible to minimize his momentum and to keep the knife away.  You are striking at the same time with a punch or palm strike to the face. This strike can hinder his momentum and prevent him from closing the distance. Otherwise he will continue his attack with repeated stabs.  If his head snaps back the rest of his body might follow allowing you to escape. (Disarming (G1) is an option but escaping is preferred if possible).

Avi Moyal with simultaneous block and punch

2.  Kicking (an option):  Kicking after the initial block and strike might not always be practical - imagine, for instance, you are defending on a slippery sidewalk, or in an elevator.  Kicking, however, can give you more time to escape.  Bursting, by blocking with force, and striking the face as hard as possible can stop the attacker's forward momentum and even reverse it, creating space for a kick.  It is vital that you maintain contact with your blocking arm (see pic below) to keep the knife away and to have a tactile sense of the most immediate danger.  

Kicking attack while maintaining contact with knife hand

3.  Some Common Mistakes:  

  • closing the fist of the blocking hand
  • not maintaining contact with the blocking hand as you punch/palm
  • not recoiling your strike
  • not leaning forward (body defense)

The ice pick attack is on of the more common knife assaults.  If escape is not possible you have to "attack the attacker".  As daunting as this is, it is the only way to survive a close range assault.  

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto