Krav Maga’s Technical Aspects Aren’t All There is to Self Defense

I was explaining to a group of students who’d become lost in the technical aspects of an edged weapon defense that the counterattack is arguably the most important element of effective self-defense. I used several examples before I stopped myself mid-sentence…

“Think of it this way, the technical aspects of a Krav Maga defense are what preserve your ability to optimally respond to a threat with balance, speed, and power. In the end, you have to break the threat. No amount of technical skill can replace the hammer that is your counterattack.”

The optimal counterattack not only creates a break in the threat’s OODA loop, causing a slowing of the threat’s responses to the defender’s actions, but counterattacks also break down the physical structure of the threat – making the threat less powerful while reducing speed and balance. But, perhaps, the most important by-product of your counterattack is found in the mental and emotional dimensions of the altercation.

Jeff Cooper (Founder of Gunsite Academy, a retired Marine, and the father of the “modern shooting” technique) may have articulated it best when he wrote,

“…On a realistic note, I can point out that in every single successful defense against violent attack that I know of and I have studied this matter for nearly three decades – the attacker was totally surprised when his victim did not wilt.

“The speed, power, efficiency, and aggressiveness of the counterattack varied greatly, but the mere fact of its existence was the most elemental component of its success.”

For many, Cooper’s claim is simply outlandish, but I can confirm my belief in his assertions through (1) years of observing high stress training drills, (2) a few personal, minor altercations, and (3) in the viewing of a myriad of YouTube videos where real-life violence was captured and recorded by surveillance cameras. If you haven’t spent time watching these videos as part of your training, start today.

I think of the counterattack and the aggression such responses require in simple terms. Counterattacks explicitly shift the physical hazard from an unbalanced ratio (thinking of the position of disadvantage from which the defender starts) to more even-sided and (at times) lop-sided ratio to the defenders advantage. The moment this process begins, the threat is working to mentally catch-up (and the attack he/she imagined is not the conceived success but a painful fight for life). The emotional shift is substantial and a problem for the threat in many cases.

So remember, the technical aspects of Krav Maga are meant to preserve your ability to make optimal counterattacks – the technical aspects of a Krav Maga defense are not the solution but rather the elixir that creates the opportunity to prevail.

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