When I was testing for my instructor certification, one of my testing partners was a HUGE guy from the Portland PD. I remember the instructor yelling that she was going to flunk him if he let me go and didn’t attack hard. I guarantee, after the previous 9 days of hard training, he wasn’t about to let go and flunk.
When I saw the defense against a handgun threat for the first time, I remember thinking, “Yea, that guy might survive because he’s lightning fast, but it won’t work for me”. Then, the instructor showed us an example of the time delay between perception, decision, and action, (google OODA loop for more information), and how to use tactics to slow that loop down, and it gave me a slight bit of hope.
A few months ago, I was participating in a non-krav related force on force exercise with simunitions. As a “bad guy”, I was faced with a person holding me off with a handgun. My curiosity got the best of me and in a “this might hurt, but I want to see if it will work” mindset, I used the technique for handgun threat from the front. It was a longer distance than I was comfortable with, but I was able to reach the weapon and divert the shot without a fatal wound.** (In fact, thanks to the tactical medical portion of the recent VIP course, and Winn Curran’s presentation, I know I had a 99% chance of survival)
That type of training and testing actually proved to me that krav maga works. The techniques, when done correctly and explosively, WORK.
** I’m sure with better body defense and pulling my trailing hand with me, it would have gone without a hitch.
How can we train safely and build confidence in the system? Train with realism.
As a student:
When you are the attacker, use the time as training, don’t just go through the motions.
Throw realistic punches and kicks. They don’t have to be 100% speed and power, but they need to be realistic. Work on your technique (shifting body weight, getting as much mass into the technique as possible, RECOIL, recovery). Know what the target is and aim for it. If you are supposed to punch to the face, punch to the face, not the shoulder. If you are attacking with a stick to the head, aim for the head. If you don’t, you encourage bad muscle memory that will get your training partner hurt in a real situation. Pay attention to your partner- start slow and build up speed and power. If they look scared or intimidated, pull the speed and/or power, but do not compromise your technique.
Get into the mindset of the “bad guy”. Ask yourself, is this a “rage” type attack (chokes, combatives, hair pulling) or is this a power/predatory threat (the attacker assumes he has the upper hand due to physical size or weapon). Or is it both? (Rage with weapon)
Do not “let” someone have a technique or defense. Make them work for it. Choke from the side is a perfect example. If you, as the attacker, let go, the person defending doesn’t have to pluck explosively in the right direction. As an example, too many times, I see “peeling” vs. plucking technique on choke from the side. Understand that the defense comes with an explosive attack and acknowledge that attack as if your nuts (or WhoHa, if you are female) just got lodged between your tonsils or your nose is now surrounded by brain matter.
As the defender:
Insist on realistic attacks, but be tuned in to “volume control”. If someone is going too hard or too intense, ask them to lighten up, but keep the technique. Insist on RECOIL. If you feel the person is “giving” you a technique, ask them to close their eyes once they have their attack in place. This works great for 2 reasons. First, they don’t anticipate the defense and either let go or defend against it. Second, they will give a more realistic physical reaction on the counter attack. Obviously, this won’t work for punches or other types of moving attacks, but works for chokes, headlocks, bear hugs, etc.
We need to train and demo with realism. When someone throws a slow motion punch at me during a demo (unless I asked for slow motion), it is an indication to me that they don’t think the technique works. “Choke me like you mean it!!” is a common phrase heard at our gym. If we do that, it will encourage our students to do the same.
Explain the difference between predatory and rage attacks. Help your students get in the mindset of the attacker by explaining the difference.
Understand the mechanics of the attack and how it has to be applied. (Example: Chokes aren’t a long range type of attack. I always use the pickle jar example. If a lid is stuck on a pickle jar, I don’t hold the jar at arm’s length to get it unstuck. I hunker down and bring it in close to my body so I can get more power.)
Insist on RECOIL and do not accept “rabbit” punches. (Tiny little repetitive punches that do not cause immediate damage or interrupt the thought process- brain as CPU- needs to be reset).
When students experience the success of a technique on a realistic attack or the absolute WOW factor of a technique used against them as an attacker, it will build their confidence and help them trust the Krav Maga system.
Parting shot: I am a believer in the defense against the 2 handed handgun threat from the front not because I experienced great success with the technique as the defender, but because I lost several moments of coherent thought when Avi launched me into orbit with a kick to the groin at E crash camp.