Krav Maga Black Belt Michael South details some of the simpler points of self-defense, the art of avoiding conflict in the first place. Krav Maga is all about the real world and one thing that comes with being aware of the real world is the ability to pick where and how you act around others. Krav is all about concepts and real-life application; there are no combinations and nothing has a set number of reps or movements. Your mind won’t be bogged down in a fight because you couldn’t get the third part of your combination in. Michael mentions that it is because of this fluidity in training Krav that many people get the basics of Krav quickly. If you’re looking for a real world martial art made for real world defense scenarios Krav Maga may be a great martial art for you.
Keeping Your Wits About You!
There is nothing safer than being aware of your surrounding and future. South asks why are you in the scenario in the first place? He suggest avoiding the dangerous parts of the city or walking alone. When you go for a walk don’t have both ear buds in while you listen to music and walk with some posture while looking ahead. You want to make yourself a “hard target” in any way possible. When someone who may be a bit suspicious approaches you simply say “Hello”. This signifies that you are aware of them and not afaird to speak and at that moment, if that individual was going to attack, he or she will think “Not this one” and move along, leaving you safe.
There is even more information Michael has to offer on looking like a hard target and preparing a defense so read the exact transcript of the interview below get all the right information.
Dan: I’m glad to have you on the horn today. Before we got on the mic here, you were talking to me a little bit about how Krav Maga expresses itself as more of a concept based or philosophy based system, as opposed to technique based.
We had mentioned in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, in a certain armbar, there’s a move that you do to get out of that armbar, or variations of those moves and combinations of those moves. But Krav thinks of the dynamics of combat in a different way.
I wanted you to go into that first for the people tuning in, because I think that will set the frame for the other topics we’ll go into with self-protection.
Michael: Absolutely. Basically, just as you said, we look at Krav Maga as a philosophy based or concept based system, as opposed to a technique based system.
All that really means is everything we do, we do our best to arm the everyday citizen, all the way up to law enforcement and military, for real-life encounters. We’re just assuming that if you are awesome with all your defenses on the mat and train two or three times a week and have everything down well, you’re not going to be nearly as proficient in a real-life scenario.
We can obviously assume that if the guy has a gun, I’m going to have a massive adrenaline rush. There’s lots of different things going on. I’m in an uncontrolled environment. Maybe it’s nighttime, maybe it’s daytime. I might have a bag in my hands.
There are so many variables, and we don’t want to put each attack or each technique in a box where X + Y = a certain definitive thing. It’s more concept based. It lends itself to mastering difficult proficiency in real life.
That’s a very important cornerstone of Krav Maga.
Dan: It’s not like, “In this situation you do X. In this situation you do Y.” It’s that we kind of need to overcome that dynamic in general because I could be on a staircase, I could be by myself. I could have three people around me, this guy could have a gun, etc.
Michael: Exactly. Some more traditional martial arts like Kempo or something of that nature, they have specific combinations. For this front-punch defense or front-kick defense, I do this block and this set of techniques.
What we found is that when we do that in a reality based system such as Krav Maga, we’re trying to do what we call an adrenaline drill or a stress drill, where we’re trying to get people a little stressed-out about what’s going on.
If they feel like it’s a specific defense, like they have to redirect, like they have to punch in exactly this way this many times and then kick, then try to disarm, if they mess up or they don’t do the correct number of hammer fists or kicks or what have you, then they want to stop in the middle of this event and then start over, which is of course not very good for real-life training.
Obviously, you can’t say, “Hey, mugger, I need to do my Krav Maga defense properly. Can you start over?” It doesn’t work like that in the real world. It would be so cool if it did, but it doesn’t.
That’s one of the reasons the proficiency of Krav Maga is generally faster than something more traditional. There’s really no rules. One of the popular sayings in Krav Maga is if you find yourself in a fair fight, then your tactics suck.
There’s no rules like some other martial arts and things like that.
Dan: The first topic I wanted to go into in terms of philosophy and concepts and seeing how this might apply, I really consider this to be the brunt and emphasis of what I would like to convey in self-defense.
I’ve trained in grappling for a lot of years and feel solid about a lot of those techniques. In terms of the nitty-gritty, protecting yourself and your family, I think avoiding conflict altogether is of course the ideal. Some of this is advanced common sense.
Some of this might be a little more intuitive, or there might be some other ways of thinking about things. In terms of Krav, if I’m a 40-something or 50-something year old guy with a family and I just want to protect myself, protect them, and think a little more intelligently about it.
Let’s say I don’t go to dangerous bars every night, and I don’t go down dark, dank alleys with my wife on Friday nights. I don’t do stupid things like that. What are some other tenets to have in mind or habits to have in place, or ways to prep myself or my family that might make everybody safer?
Maybe some of this is from the general philosophy of Krav, but what might there be about living a little safer on the aggregate?
Michael: In that sense you’re absolutely right: the first thing to do is not put yourself in stupid situations when you’re in a bad part of town late at night or something like that.
I think we’ve all been told not to do those things for our whole lives, so that’s fairly self-explanatory. One of the main things that we talk to our students about quite a bit is we live in this technological age and there’s so much that takes our attention away from what’s going on around us.
It seems like every time I go to the supermarket or the store, I see people with an armful of groceries in one hand and their keys in that same hand, and then they’re texting or they’re looking for a new song on their iPod and their earbuds are in. They can’t hear anything around them, they’re not paying attention to who might be around them, and things of that nature.
If you’re simply aware of what’s going on around you, usually you can see from a ways off if something is going on. If you’re in the very back of the parking lot, which is not a great idea, you should probably park closer if you can so you’re closer to the door and other people and things of that people.
Just simply be aware. Don’t be texting on your cell phone, and don’t be talking on your cell phone. Have that in your pocket. Have your keys already ready. I’ve got my specific car keys so I can unlock it, get in and lock the door behind me.
I’m not going to stand there fidgeting with my keys for a while, especially if it’s night time or something like that. It’s about situational awareness, just being in the now and being aware of what’s going on around you.
Beyond that, if I do interact with somebody, we talk about easy targets and there are hard targets as it pertains to a bad guy looking for somebody.
Dan: I’ve heard this concept a lot with targets. Sorry to interrupt you. I’m definitely excited to go further into the definitions, so go ahead.
Michael: An easy target would be someone who’s not even paying attention to what’s going on. I feel like I would be able to grab their purse and be gone before they even know what happened.
That’s the easiest target. That’s like a buffet for someone who’s looking to get something from you, or what have you.
Also, generally walking with a slouched posture, looking at the ground, looking like you don’t really have much confidence and stuff like that, and avoiding eye contact with people and avoiding looking or interacting with somebody.
Looking like an easy target would be a good example of that. One of the first things that we teach people to do is, if they do pass a person in the parking lot, whether or not they feel intimidated, also to expand on your social skills a little bit, look them in the eye and say hi in a loud voice.
It’s not authoritative or to be mean or anything, but just say hi loud enough that they can hear you. That just let’s them know, “I can see you and I’m not so shy that I’m not going to say anything to you.”
If that person is approaching you and planning on passing and coming from behind, they might be thinking, “Not that one.”
Dan: It’s the hard target concept.
Michael: Yes. If somebody is approaching me, they’re one of those annoying close talkers who want to get close to you when they’re talking, obviously stepping back and always maintaining an adequate distance between you and somebody else is important.
If they did decide to attack you, obviously the more distance you have, the more time you have to react. If I’m speaking to somebody and I do feel fairly threatened, I always want to put up what’s called a fence.
That’s simply my hands being up between myself and my would-be attacker or aggressor or what have you. There’s a big difference between putting up a fence in Krav Maga and putting up a guard.
Dan: Like putting up your dukes old-school boxing style or something.
Michael: Exactly. I’m not going to put my fists up with my elbows in. That looks like I want to fight. As we learned when we were kids, that can escalate a situation.
If somebody is talking to me and I put my fists up, I’m communicating to that person with my body language that I want to fight, which of course I don’t.
Lots of people talk with their hands. As I’m sitting here now, I’m using one of my hands that’s not using the phone to articulate what I’m saying. We can do things that are totally normal and not necessarily alarming to someone else, but what we’re really doing is having our hands up and ready so I can deflect something or block something.
It’s just to protect myself in general.
Dan: You don’t want your hands in your pocket. Create some type of barrier. It should be innocent in appearance, but if some swing came, at least your hands are high enough to protect. If someone ran at you, at least your hands are high enough to deflect or whatever you need to do.