I sometimes question the wisdom of teaching this Kravology Method of training and dealing with the confusion of uncertainty. It’s not that this concept doesn’t work, so much as it’s a function of how the concept is applied that counts most in a self defense situation.
For now, I’d like to explore how this method helped one of our students effectively defend himself against an unusual handgun threat at very close range. Next week, if all goes well, Kravology will have posted an article and video that tells the story of a student that fought back against a 6’2” 220 pound man with a handgun.
The attacker approached his target from behind and shoved a revolver chambered in .38 Special under our student’s chin. The attacker was standing at an angle that is best described as at the back and at the side of our student. The business end of the revolver was pointed up at a sharp angle into and under the jaw.
Our student remembered how to deal with a knife threat from behind at the throat, and this was the most familiar position that he could reference. At this point, given the different nature of weapons, you can imagine how this concept can create substantial risk. Treating a handgun like an edged weapon or vice versa can be dangerous. In this case, managing the line of fire, our student was able to quickly mount a defense.
Without spoiling the story, the fight went–as they often do–well off script. In the end, our student not only acquired the handgun, but he was able to fire the weapon at his attacker – hitting him once in the low center mass. Look for the full story and video soon!
Let’s get back to the concept at hand: moving to a position of familiarity. Essentially, I teach this concept in two very different environments. First, I teach this concept in level one and level two classes with the purpose of freeing the students from a singe mindedness that tends to trap them into a narrow range of responses as (1) drills become more active and/or complex and (2) as training partners better simulate resistive attackers – requiring access to a broader set of defensive responses.
In general, when these drills are introduced, students either (1) bail out of the drill or technique thinking they’ve failed, or (2) students continue to attempt to apply a defensive concept that is no longer effective as the drill or technique or danger has changed due to the active and resistive attackers’ responses.
In short, if you train a student to be hammer, everything will look like a nail. But what happens when a hammer is the wrong tool for the job? People fail. It’s that simple. The concept of moving to a position of familiarity was born from a need to develop more freedom in students’ responses as the danger changes form in the moment.
An easy way to start this process is to watch where the break points are in a drill – where are most of the students failing? Then ask the students to get into that position and ask them to slowly work their way out.
Each student will begin to move and often quickly find the closest (or if you will, nearest position of familiarity). As they work, ask the students to feel their way through the process slowly. I describe the process as follows: (1) work through the danger, (2) keep moving slowly, (3) as you move, feel that you are nearing a familiar position (the operative word is feel), (4) when you get close, seize the initiative, and move to the familiar position. This works especially well in standing grappling positions and with control positions.
As a metaphor, think of taking a road trip in which you exit the highway (your familiar technique) to fill up your truck at gas station (an emerging danger). The gas station is off the beaten path, and it’s dark outside. When you leave, you exit a different direction and the road you came in on doesn’t connect with your exit.
Forget about GPS, you’re going to have to navigate back to the highway using two lane roads. You do this by feel. Driving back toward the direction you feel you’ve come from initially. You keep driving (keep fighting) and hold out faith that you’ll find your way back. When you get a glimpse of the highway, you automatically speed up and make a b-line for the open road (the familiar position from which you’ve trained to fight many times before).
Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense to you at first. It’s not difficult to poke intellectual holes in this method, but when properly applied, it works (and gives your students the freedom to follow their own feelings in the moment instead of a static script).
The second environment in which I apply this method is with highly advanced training that usually entails weapons training and active resistance. As the drills you develop become more complex, dangerous, and reactive, your advanced students will need to learn this method.
In this case, the method must be combined with an understanding of the nature of the weapons. For instance, juxtapose an edged weapon with a handgun.
The edged weapon can stab, slash, and cleave the flesh, but it must be in motion to do so. A handgun in motion is a recipe for missing the target and renders the weapon nearly useless.
The edged weapon is designed to be effective by creating a substantial loss of blood, while a handgun generates systemic shock.
Grabbing an edged weapon is not productive and does not render it less effective, while grabbing a handgun can be a highly effective defense.
An edged weapon does not run out of ammo and does not suffer malfunctions like a handgun might.
An edged weapon takes no strength to wield and can change direction at any time while remaining highly effective, but a handgun requires some strength to hold on target and must not change directions to hit specific targets.
An edged weapon is, in general, an ultra close range weapon, and a handgun is a close range weapon.
I digress… we could go on and on, but you get the idea. Given these differences, moving to the closest or nearest position of familiarity may or may not be a good idea. Consider that the method I’m teaching includes an implied word – VIABLE.
If you move to the nearest position of familiarity, given a strong understanding of the present danger, you will in essence be moving to the nearest VIABLE position of familiarity. If it suits you, substitute the word EFFECTIVE for VIABLE. Whatever you do, use the implied words to guide your thinking. When you teach, make these points explicitly with your students.
As you consider these issues, the realities must be built into your understanding to allow safe access to this method of moving to a position of familiarity as you transition to address changing and ongoing danger.
Before you introduce these concepts into your training curriculum, thoroughly study and develop your own thoughtful approach to this method. Without a deep understanding, this method isn’t worth implementing and won’t make your students safer.
…walk in peace