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