Saturday, January 31, 2009

How to Avoid a Confrontation

Confrontation Maybe there's been a misunderstanding, or perhaps someone's had a little too much to drink but a fight is brewing, and you don't want anything to do with it. What to do? Follow these easy steps, and avoid a nasty black eye.

Click here to continue...

Also, check out The Missing Link with Bill Kipp. He reveals proven strategies that enable you to take control of a situation, assertively de-escalating potential conflicts and repelling would-be attackers.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Choreographing Your Combinations

Chain Drill Monday night's class was pretty straight forward... work combinations that make sense. Once you’re at a level where you know all of your combatives and defenses, you then have to know how to put them into some sensible order of attack/counterattack. “Fights are not won by individual techniques but by combinations.”

Except for the last drill of the night, most of the drills were choreographed.

The first drill started with no contact.

  1. Partner throws a left jab.
  2. You defend with an inside defense.
  3. You throw a left hook.
  4. Partner defends by covering.

We also did… what I’d call… an observation drill. Now we have boxing gloves, headgear and shin guards on. You’re in a fighting stance and your partner is hitting you. He’s concentrating on hitting vulnerable targets and throwing combinations and then spinning off. You… on the other hand… are observing his strikes and visualizing your defenses for them.

Another choreographed drill added the kicking element into the mix.

  1. Partner throws a left jab.
  2. You defend with an inside defense.
  3. You throw a left hook.
  4. Partner defends by covering.
  5. Partner throws a right round kick.
  6. You defend with a shin block.

As the class went on, we progressed into longer chains.

The last drill was unique. Both you and your partner could punch… but only with your left hand. However, you could defend with both hands. Being relegated to punching with one hand made you focus on what targets were available with that hand.

Choreographed chain drills are a great learning tool. The chain drills help you recognize the strikes coming at you. They also help you with reacting, defending and countering them thus building muscle memory. The punches and kicks are real… but arranged.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ernie Kirk’s Self-Protection Seminar

Saturday’s seminar was excellent. Ernie Kirk covered a lot of material in four hours. His anecdotes about being a bouncer at various venues were humorous and at the same time enlightening.

After starting the class off with some unique warm-up exercises, we went right into the various self-protection drills.

One drill involved reacting to your partner grabbing your wrist either passively or aggressively. If your partner grabbed your wrist passively, you might react by using a wrist release technique. After all, an elderly woman may grab your wrist to get your attention. However, if your partner grabbed your wrist aggressively, you might stiff arm him in the chest or throw a punch.

The aforementioned drill was followed by a drill whereby the entire class walked around the room. If someone grabbed your wrist, you had to be sensitive to the grab and react accordingly. A little bit later in this drill, it was announced that someone was carrying a knife.

Another drill had your partner wearing focus mitts. Whichever direction you moved, he had to follow (shadow) you. Picture a NFL football game with a defensive cornerback shadowing an offensive wide receiver. At some point, you turned and punched the focus mitts.

Later, this drill was changed to you shadowing your partner and at some point, he turned and attacked you with a knife.

We also did some triggering drills whereby you had to make a decision as to when you would strike your partner. The strike could be based on his aggressive movement toward you or a movement that was interpreted as reaching for a weapon.

The close quarter short range punching drills were great. Ernie explained the importance of moving your hip first to generate power. He used examples of how one generates power by swinging a baseball bat or a golf club. We practiced some close quarter short range punching by doing some hockey-style fighting with focus mitts.

Ernie talked about the four techniques often used by attackers, especially muggers and rapists, in preparing victims for attack. They’re known as The Four ‘D’s – dialogue, deception, distraction and destruction. According to the book by Geoff Thompson, “Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours”, they’re the most important element of self-protection to be aware of.

Dialogue designed to disarm and distract the targeted victim is the professional attacker’s most common priming technique. His objective is to make you think about his question, so that you do not notice the weapon he is drawing or his accomplice coming round behind you.

An attacker uses deception to make himself appear harmless. Do not expect dangerous people to stand out in a crowd.

Distraction is a part of deception and usually comes through dialogue. The attacker may ask his victim a question and then initiate attack while the victim is thinking about the answer.

Destruction – Few people survive the first physical blow and most are out of the game before they even realise that they are in it.

Even trained martial artists often get suckered by the four ‘D’s because these do not appear on their training curriculum. The attacker uses the techniques of deception and distraction to prime a victim that is only trained in ‘physical response’.

As I stated in the beginning, the seminar was excellent and there was a lot of material covered in four hours... too much to cover in a blog. The bottom line is… don't underestimate an attacker. There are some diabolical and sociopathic predators out there. Stay alert… stay alive!

Ernie Kirk’s Self-Protection SeminarSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, January 23, 2009

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

If you see a group of individuals walking toward you and they appear to be malcontents (you have that gut feeling), you should try to avoid them. If, on the other hand, you’re on the opposite side of the street and the group crosses the street to engage you, “Let’s get ready to rumble.”

Last night’s class dealt with moving through a crowd. We started the class off with creating a human circle and then trying to walk from one end of the circle to the other without making contact with anyone. After doing that a few times, we walked from one end of the circle to the other making contact. We were told that this was a sensitivity drill.

Next, after breaking the class up into two groups, we did a walk-though exercise. Each person in each group, except for one, held a kicking shield. The group walked toward the person without the kicking shield as a solid unit. The person without the kicking shield had to walk through this group.

Our next exercise was similar to the last one except there were no kicking shields. In addition, as you walked through the group, someone grabbed you by the wrist. You were expected to use a wrist release technique and move yourself to a position where you had full view of the entire group with no one behind you.

We continued with exercises that had someone from the group attempt to sucker punch you and when someone from the group comes up to you asking a question in a threatening manner.

The class ended with an exercise with you surrounded by five individuals. Three individuals held Tombstone pads and the other two held kicking shields. The first person in the group that moved acted as a trigger for you to strike. You had to punch or kick three individuals and then move away from the group.

One of the psychological responses to these kinds of situations is tunnel vision.

Peripheral vision is impaired or entirely absent…. It takes an act of will to see anything outside of this field of vision. As far as survival instincts go, tunnel vision is beneficial because it focuses the mind on the immediate threat. However, it can be a problem if you’re dealing with multiple attackers or an unpredictable environment.

The bottom line here is… the way you train is the way you react. You have to put yourself through these kinds of scenarios if you hope to survive in the street.

Let’s Get Ready to RumbleSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Learning by Trial and Error

Our Krav Maga training center’s groundfighting night has been up and running for over two months. The class was started to augment the existing Krav Maga groundfighting curriculum.

After two months of training, I can definitely see a big difference between how students are rolling (wrestling) now and when they first began. Students that were easy to overpower and submit are a lot wiser now and aren’t making the same beginner mistakes.

So... as is the norm... we reviewed techniques from the previous classes before moving on to the newer material. I was surprised to see how many attacking techniques had been learned by the students for the closed guard position. Attacks learned thus far are the straight armbar, Kimura armbar, triangle choke and guillotine choke.

The American psychologist, Edward Thorndike, specified three conditions that maximize learning. One condition is the “Law of Exercise.” This law stated that “stimulus-response associations are strengthened through repetition.” In the Law of Exercise he wrote, “We learn by doing. We forget by not doing, although to a small extent only.” Further, in his theory of learning, he wrote that “the most basic form of learning is trial and error learning.”

So... as is also the norm... we ended the night with the Litmus Test... free rolling. It’s always great to see everyone trying to execute the armbars, chokes and sweeps they’ve learned―over the past several weeks―on resisting opponents.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Don’t Get Bogged Down With Techniques

I found the following on a forum today:

Oriental HoldI was thinking over knife attacks and I can't think of an effective Krav counter for this one - The attacker holds the knife in the oriental hold, but instead of stabbing upward he twists the knife to attack the side of the rib cage.”

You’re not going to be able to go to “the book” and find a technique for every particular situation. That’s why Krav Maga is a system of principles and not techniques. "Krav Maga training focuses on principles rather than techniques because no two attacks are ever the same."

Anytime you’re involved in a confrontation, look at it like a pool game (pocket billiards). Every time you shoot a game of pool, the balls are not going to line up the same way. You’re going to make shots that you have probably never made before. The shots may look the same, but they are off just a fraction of an inch. As in pool, you need to understand the underlining principles. Then you’ll be able to improvise like a Jazz musician and suit the scene perfectly.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Television and Movie Assault Scenes

Jack Bauer ChokeHave you ever watched a television or movie scene involving some sort of assault and wondered how you’d handle it? Some solutions to the assaults are cut and dry for the Kravist, others take a little more thought.

There was a scene from the television series 24 the other night where Jack Bauer put a choke hold on FBI agent Renee Walker. He said to her, “Don’t fight it” as she started to lose consciousness. Agent Walker was trying to pull her firearm from its holster while at the same time she was being choked unconscious.

Knife Threat From Behind Friday night I watched the television show Flashpoint. On that show, a woman kidnaps another woman whom she suspects of having an affair with her husband. There was a scene where the kidnapper holds a chef’s knife to the throat of the hostage from behind.

The beauty of Krav Maga is that one technique can be used to defend against different types of attacks. In this particular scenario, the defense is based on the fundamental Krav Maga technique of releasing yourself from an arm bar choke from behind.

So, the next time you’re watching a movie or television show with some assault scenes, exercise your Kravist mind and decide how you’d handle the situation.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Building Confidence on the Ground as a Kravist

As a Krav Maga practitioner, I am not advocating that you get so good at ground fighting that you are qualified to enter the Abu Dhabi World Championship. I am saying that you should know enough about ground fighting ― so that if you find yourself on the ground ― you don’t feel like a fish out of water or in another dimension.

Think for a minute and analyze your strengths and weaknesses in Krav Maga. Which do you feel more confident defending against, a front choke from a 250 pounds powerlifter-type attacker or a 250 pounds powerlifter-type attacker mounted on top of you ready to put your lights out? Should you be more efficient at plucking the attacker’s choke hold than you are at trapping and rolling the attacker?

The only way to build up confidence on the ground is to practice there by free rolling and scenario-based training. Practicing with someone that is within your weight range is a good starting point for feeling comfortable. However, ultimately, you’ll want to practice your techniques against your worst nightmare, the behemoth.

Tip: There are only two places that you want your attacker to be when you’re on the ground and he’s on top of you. The first place is at a distance that he can’t strike you. The second place is where he’s so close to you that his punches are ineffectual or at the very least less damaging. If the attacker is somewhere between those two places, you’re going to get hurt.

The bottom line is give as much weight to your Krav Maga ground fighting skills as you do to your Krav Maga standup skills. In a street scenario, you don’t know where you’re going to end up fighting for your life.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Defense Against Punches While Mounted

Being on your back with someone straddling you (mounted) and throwing punches at you is the second worst position you can be in. The worst position is to be face down, while being mounted, and someone’s throwing punches at you. Generally, anytime someone has your back (rear mount) it’s a worst-case scenario for you and a best-case scenario for them.

In Wednesday night’s class, we did a drill... I’ll call it the “Sleeping Beauty Drill.” In this drill, we were on our backs with our eyes closed and our arms spread eagle. My training partner was mounted on me. He awakened me by slapping me in the face and punching me in the torso. My job was to defend against the punches and then trap and roll (sweep) him.

As a Krav Maga practitioner... a Kravist... we don’t want to be on the ground if we can help it, but [blank] happens. So... as our lead instructor always says, “Let’s fix it.”

The following are a couple of techniques that can be used to reduce the punches being thrown and to get the attacker off you.

A very basic technique is to use Krav Maga's inside and outside defenses against the punches. In addition to that, as a punch is thrown, buck your hips straight up. This will force the attacker forward, making him lose his balance, and will probably make him base himself out on the ground with his hands. A variation to this is to buck up and drive a knee into the attacker's butt to force him forward onto his hands.

Once the attacker is on his hands, reach out and trap one of his arms above his elbow. You can reach either over (trapping from the inside out) or under (trapping from the outside in). Simultaneously, using your leg, trap the attacker’s leg that is on the same side as the trapped arm.

Next, buck your hips upward toward your head. At the end of this motion, roll your hips over toward the trapped side. Drive over with your feet to end up on top. When you’re on top, deliver punches and elbows to the face and groin as you get away from the attacker.

In another technique, start out the same way by using inside and outside defenses against the punches. However, this time grab one of the attacker’s wrists with both hands. You can use the grabbed arm to block punches from the attacker’s other arm.

Next, pull the grabbed arm across the attacker’s body while at the same time you use your leg to trap the attacker’s leg that is on the same side of the grabbed wrist. A variation to this is to grab both wrists and pull them across his body.

Now, buck your hips upward toward your head. At the end of this motion, roll your hips over toward the trapped side. Drive over with your feet to end up on top. When you’re on top, deliver punches and elbows to the face and groin as you get away from the attacker.

Tip: To effectively buck your attacker off you, make sure your hips are under him. A good ground fighter will ride your chest high in order to make your bridging or bucking ineffectual. To thwart him from riding high, jam your elbows into his knees to prevent him from sliding up. If he’s already slid up, jam your elbows into his knees and shimmy yourself up until your hips are underneath of him again.

Get out of this predicament as fast as possible. In the street, there will be no referee to stop the fight because you’re taking too many punches to the head and can’t defend yourself anymore.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rolling Tips

Here are a few tips when rolling (wrestling, grappling).

Being Heavy

When you’re on top of your opponent, you should make yourself as heavy as possible.

Why be heavy?

  1. It makes it harder for him to escape.
  2. It makes it harder for him to breathe, which means he’ll get tired faster.
  3. You’ll be connected to him in such a way that you’ll feel everything he’s attempting to do.
  4. He might make a mistake trying to get your bodyweight off him, which may create submission opportunities.

How do you become heavy?

Keep your hips below his center of gravity. For example, if your opponent is lying flat on his back, dissect the distance between the top of his chest and the ground and find the halfway point. That halfway point is his center of gravity. You must keep your hips below that center of gravity.

Make sure your energy is going straight through him and not on an angle. This will make you as heavy as humanly possible.


Your opponent - on his feet - whether he’s striking , attempting a take down or when he’s on the ground, gets all his power from his hips. Therefore, you want to control his hips.


You want to keep your opponent in an unnatural position. You don’t want him to be in a comfortable, relaxed or natural state. If he’s comfortable, relaxed or in natural state, he can harness all of his energy and strength to counter your moves.

The bottom line is... make your opponent carry your weight at all times, keep his hips under control and make him as uncomfortable as possible.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chokes, Scarf Hold and Arm Bar Night

Wednesday night we warmed up in our groundfighting class with shrimping, tumbling and ground positional changes.

We then practiced our 360 degree outside defenses and our inside defenses against punches. That was followed by lying on our backs and having our training partner mount us and attack us with punches. We were required to make the appropriate defenses from that position.

Next, we practiced three different ways to escape from an opponent’s full guard.

Continuing in the first hour, we practiced trap and roll techniques against the full mount. We were allowed to execute the technique à la Krav Maga style or any other grappling style that we knew. We switched training partners a few times and then we moved on to the continuous trap and roll drill.

We were required to wear our protective headgear for the continuous trap and roll drill. In this drill, you had to lie on your back. Then one by one, a different training partner would get on top of you and attack you. You had to defend against his attacks, sweep him, and then get up. You continued with this drill until you defended against each training partner in the class.

In the second hour of the class, we played a game called Sharks and Penguins. If you were designated as a shark, you could only use your legs and not your hands to engage an opponent. The use of your hands was only to maneuver yourself on the mat.

If you were designated as a penguin, you maneuvered around on the mat with your knees and could only use your hands to engage an opponent.

Oh... and the other thing you could do was double or triple team a shark or a penguin. Picture a school of sharks surrounding a poor little penguin. After a couple of minutes we reversed rolls.

Next, we reviewed some techniques that we learned prior to the holiday break.

Then we learned a couple of collar chokes. They seemed to be a version of the Kataha Jime Judo chokes. Pretty cool stuff. Essentially, you use one hand to strangle your opponent with the collar of his shirt and the other hand is placed behind the neck to control the head.

Scarf Hold Next, we learned the Scarf Hold (Kesa Gatame in Judo) position. The position isn’t designed for locking in a host of different submissions, but the submissions the Scarf Hold does offer are highly effective, especially when applied on an opponent stunned from a brutal throw.

Then we learned how to apply an arm bar from the Scarf Hold position. It’s called a Near Side Arm Bar. It is so named because you attack the arm closest to your body.

The class ended with some free rolling which is always fun. It gives you a chance to try to apply, on a resisting opponent, what you’ve learned in the class.

Chokes, Scarf Hold and Arm Bar NightSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Upcoming Ernie Kirk Seminar

On Saturday, January 24, 2009, Ernie Kirk will be conducting a 4-hour seminar at our training center. Ernie Kirk is a former Krav Maga World Wide regional director and is the owner and head instructor of Premier Martial Arts in Glen Mills, PA.

The seminar is from 9am to 1pm and will cover:

  • Controlling range and distance
  • Preemptive striking
  • Action triggers
  • Cheap shots
  • Training for the REAL world
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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Scraping Off the Rust

The rust was showing Monday night after being away from Krav for two weeks. It’s funny how you can fall out of your groove in what would seem to be a short amount of time. With the holidays upon us and the fact that our training center was on hiatus for a period, the only thing that I kept up with was my cardio workout. I didn’t do any weight training during that period as well.

After our warm up, we started with some focus mitts punching drills.

One of the drills had your training partner call out a number. That number represented the amount of punches you had to throw. Next... without you defending... you had to absorb a midsection kick from your training partner. Once you absorbed the kick, you immediately had to burst back in and throw the same amount of punches initially called for. Then, you repeated the sequence, but with another punch count.

We ended the night with the customary stress drill. First, you burned yourself out with focus mitts combinations. Then, you had to deal with the attacks of a training partner wearing a High Gear training suit.

You had to stand in a passive stance with your eyes closed. Once you were attacked... with punches, grabs, kicks, chokes, etc.... you retaliated immediately with combatives. When someone is wearing the training suit, you can punch and kick them a lot harder than normal.

The class was a good start for scraping off the rust and getting back into the swing of things.

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Israeli Martial Arts Gurus Duke It Out For Real

When grandmaster Haim Gidon, a top-ranking practitioner of the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, entered a studio in New Jersey on a recent Monday, the 20-odd people in the room stopped pummeling each other and lined up like soldiers standing at attention.
Source: Forward
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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Misunderstanding Krav Maga

Often I will come across questions like the following on the Web:

  • “Is Krav Maga good for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)?”
  • “I want to take up a martial art. Should I take Muay Thai, BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), Aikido or Krav Maga?”
  • “Does Krav Maga have a good form of ground fighting?”

This is the classic comparing apples to oranges scenario. The philosophy and training for a Kravist is very different from the philosophy and training for a traditional martial artist or a sports-oriented martial artist.

Krav Maga is not a martial art. It has been described as a “defensive tactics system”—a tactical and logically sound approach to dealing with violent confrontations. Krav Maga addresses a wide variety of aggressive acts which include punches, kicks, chokes, bearhugs, headlocks, grabs, as well as defenses against multiple attackers and assailants armed with a firearm, edged weapon, or blunt object.

Traditional martial arts and sports-oriented martial arts have rules. There are no rules in a violent confrontation. During a violent confrontation, you must do anything and everything to defend your life or your loved ones.

If a BJJ practitioner is attacked and ends up on the ground... his world... he may see an opportunity to apply a triangle choke to an assailant’s neck. What he hasn’t trained for is the fact that while the assailant is in his triangle choke, the assailant pulls a knife out of a back pocket. The assailant is now able to stab the BJJ practitioner to death. The Kravist... not wanting to remain on the ground... would have forgone the choke and gotten up to escape the danger.

If a Muay Thai fighter is attacked and is on his feet... his world... he may be able to defend himself quite well in a fist fight, but he hasn’t trained for the assailant’s accomplice that has snuck up behind the Muay Thai fighter and has placed a handgun in his back. The Kravist... on the other hand... has trained for that scenario until its burned into muscle memory.

I enjoy watching MMA fighters, grapplers (BJJ, Wrestling, Judo, etc.) and strikers (Muay Thai, Boxing, Kickboxing, etc.) compete in their sports. I also enjoy watching traditional martial artists compete in kumite and perform their katas and forms. They are excellent athletes; they train hard and are great at what they do.

However, Kravists train to do what they do and that is to defend themselves or loved ones against armed and unarmed attackers. Traditional martial artists and sports-oriented martial artists train to do what they do and that is to defend themselves, in a controlled environment, against an opponent... real or imaginary... in a ring, cage or on a mat.

Krav Maga means contact combat not contact sports. The two worlds are at opposite extremes.

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