How Fit Do You Need To Be To Train Krav Maga?

Come back in time with me to 2007...

I’d been in the Self Defence/Martial Arts game for a long time and was at the a stage of ‘searching out' other systems, seeing what was out there.

I wanted to be clear that what I was teaching was the best available.

Yes, I was questioning myself and questioning what I teach... and there is nothing wrong with that, reviewing choices and the path you are on is necessary to make sure you keep aligned with what you want to achieve...

I digress...

I got invited to a seminar of a new ‘reality based’ knife defence training system.

I’m always sceptical of new systems that ‘work’... I mean, I’m not sure who’s out there on the mean 'streetz' testing them!

I’m happy to stick to sensible principles that kind of make sense in an extremely varied, dynamic and quite frankly shitty situation!

But with an open mind, I went along to the seminar.

The instructor started speaking and after about 10 minutes, I quietly left the room. It wasn’t so much about what the instructor said, it was how he looked.

He was overweight!

STOP!!!

Before you start to judge me on that part, hear me out.

I don’t mean he was a little overweight, I mean he was unhealthy overweight, his mobility was limited, and he wouldn’t have been able to run 10 metres!

Surely, if you are going to ask people to part with money to learn ‘knife defence’ you should be reasonably skilled at it. And that also means being skilled at the simplest solution of running for your life!

During his open speech he never mentioned running, using objects or anything. Just these new moves...

We were about to learn what a ‘trained knife man’ would do to you...

I’m sorry? A what?

Surely all a ‘trained knife man’ (whatever that is) is going to do is just kill me, perhaps a little bit quicker and more stylishly, than your average criminal.

Or maybe I’ll get lucky and he will be too busy training in the ‘knife man gym’ to be wandering the streets looking for victims.

However, in a little under 3 hours, I’m apparently going to be able to deal with this trained knife man thanks to these new skills and special moves!

OK, I’m certain that I’m going to have a hard time dealing with the untrained knife man, let alone a fully trained one. Does it really need to be said?

Knives are very dangerous and there is a real risk of losing your life.

It’s because of seminars like this one, that I ensure that my Instructors promote the age-old skill of running away, either immediately or as soon as you can...

And by promoting it I mean, actual running and being able to run; watching your food intake, maintaining an energy balance of movement vs food, staying healthy... so that even if you aren’t going to win an Olympic medal at the 100m sprint, you’ll still be able to hot foot it away towards safety!

Self Defence is about making sensible decisions. Not learning the next great ‘move’. 

That said, I’m off to put on my commando trousers and practice defences against the ‘knife man’ (eye roll!).

Stay safe (and sensible!) and have a great week.

Jon

A Terror Attack - Do You Run Away or Run Towards?

2020 is in full swing but I recently thought back to the terror attack in London last year in which, sadly, two people lost their lives. My heart sincerely goes out to their families.

We also experienced some very brave souls, doing what few would, and ran towards the danger rather than away from it.

I really believe there are two types of people… those who run away from danger, and those who run towards it.

And we need both types.

Those that run away, keep the human race alive, by alerting others to the danger.

Those that run towards help to reduce or remove the threat and send the message that we are ‘hard to kill’!

Running away or running towards saves lives.  These actions showed that although we live in a world where everything is available to us, our survival instincts are still there, lying dormant within us, and will come alive when needed.

You will recall on the news one of the heroes instantly armed themselves with a Narwhal Tusk that was mounted on the wall inside Fishmongers Hall.

Was that smart thinking?   Or was it our age-old survival brain kicking in?

Human beings have survived by understanding that using something long and sharp to keep an aggressive predator at arm’s length is a sound strategy.  

And even though we aren’t fighting off the sabre tooth tigers anymore,  it is comforting to know that the instinct is still there. The way we defend ourselves and fight for our lives has not changed.

My hat is well and truly off to those who charged towards the danger, just as much as it is for those who ran to safety and alerted others, or helped the injured.

We cannot escape the fact that there is no way to delegate our own personal safety.  It is our responsibility, each and everyone of us, to keep our eyes open, warn our fellow humans, and when the time comes, react as needed.

There will be some who will go out and actively learn how to do it, and others will do it out of sheer indignation.  

Either way, the ability is there, in all of us.

Best,

Jon

Jon Meets the IDF and Gets Their View on Krav Maga

Firstly, Happy New Year!

I am not sure when it starts to become ‘weird’ to say this after the 1st January, so let’s just roll with it.

Promise I won't do it again.

I started 2020 with my usual ritual, a trip to Israel for some Krav Maga training and to get my head in the game for this year.

During this trip, I was fortunate to meet a VERY important person in the Krav Maga world…

The Head Instructor of Krav Maga in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

If you’ve done your research, you’ll know that this is where Krav Maga originated from and was then adapted for the needs of civilians.

I’d met the former head of IDF Krav Maga in the past, but he has long since retired and there was a new Sheriff in town.

I managed to pull some strings and get a meeting with him. You may ask why?

The answer is simple.

I KNOW that from a simple conversation with somebody in his position, I am going to learn something. Guaranteed.

I think he was a little wary at first. He’d agreed to the meeting, but seemed guarded as we sat down.

(I immediately noticed a plaque on the wall as he’d been inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in the USA, very cool!),

I made it clear that I was addicted to learning. I love the roots of Krav Maga and always want to ensure that how and what my team and I teach is as close to what is currently taught, with of course the adaptations for civilian life.

When he realised I was there simply to further my knowledge, he relaxed.

He asked how he could help me, so we started discussing Krav Maga training, teaching methods, drills and much more.

I said to him one of my biggest issues in the civilian Krav Maga world is how ‘technique’ focused it has become from the many videos I see all over the internet. It seems that it’s become almost like Karate in some places, where the instructor has to correct every intricate detail to the nearest millimetre.

Don’t get me wrong, learning the techniques, and practicing them improves not only effectiveness in self-defence but also efficiency. Being able to defend yourself as quickly as possible, whilst escaping but without sustaining damage.

He agreed with me, and he said a phrase that summarised it so well…

“The defensive techniques are tools, but they are not the goal”

If somebody grabs you around the throat, the goal is to get them to release that grab, whilst making them unable or unwilling to try again.

The technique forms part of achieving that goal, but in the heat of the moment, if you don’t get the technique absolutely perfect, it doesn’t mean it’s going to fail.

There are many other factors at play, from your mental resilience, your overall physicality and your ability to make decisions in a difficult situation.

Krav Maga is a problem-solving system, not a technique based system.

What is learnt in class must be able to work for most people, most of the time.

That doesn’t mean that practice isn’t required, quite the contrary.

But the focus remains on learning to be a fitter, safer, and a smarter decision-maker with a special set of skills. 🙂

Speak Soon

Jon

Learning 100 Different Self Defence Techniques!

Many moons ago, I went through the (painful) process of trying to find a Martial Art / Self Defence System (call it what you want!) that suited me… I always wanted something that had a fitness element to it, so that I didn’t have to have a gym membership as well, or go do another fitness activity. 

I wanted it all, in one thing (needy aren’t I!)

During the ‘search’, I went to countless training centres, from Church Halls to Leisure Centres and Sports Halls, trying out all sorts of styles and systems.  

I tried one particular style (I won’t mention it out of respect) whereby we learnt about 20 techniques in one class. 

Now, don’t get me wrong… it was good fun and was pretty cool.

But ask me how many of those ‘cool moves’ I can remember?.

Very few is the answer.

In fact, I think the Instructor told me there were ‘100’ fundamental techniques to learn!

What I realised was that most of the systems and styles I tried out were ‘closed systems’.  Meaning, there is one technique for one particular type of attack you might face.

And when there are infinite ways someone could attack you, that’s a lot to learn!

Then, add in the constant change in attacks that happen. 

Take Gang Violence, for example, when I was at school, I can’t remember that being an issue… now it’s everywhere!

So not only do closed systems have to deal with all the current possible attacks and threats, they also have to deal with new ones.

In fact, when I think about it… I guess that’s why the more traditional ways of training end up sticking to their ‘history’ and do not develop with modern times.

But when I found Krav Maga Self Defence, I realised it was an ‘open’ system. 


I could learn to defend against one type of attack, and then translate that movement to something else, in a relatively short space of time. 

Take the classic ‘swinging punch/slap to the face’... Once I’ve taught somebody that, it’s pretty easy to translate that to something more severe, like a knife attack!

That’s why Krav Maga is advertised as ‘Simple and Easy to Learn’...

It doesn’t mean you can do two lessons and be BLACK BELT. 

It means that the training is all linked.

Or, as an instructor in Israel said to me… 

“Krav Maga is like islands with bridges… they are all connected, you can move from one to the other quite easily!”

I think that’s why so many people are now starting Krav Maga, and staying with it.  As they soon realise it doesn’t take years to learn, as everything is open…. And they get fitter at the same time! BONUS!

All that is needed is for you to find a good instructor, have some focus and show up to training!

Speak Soon

Jon

Adapt to Survive!

The problem with self-defence techniques is that more often than not, they are designed for specific situations. Where the ‘bad guy’ is going to be doing a particular thing, holding you in a particular way, all of which means a particular technique will work.

In reality, if that is the case, then bonus!

But what if the ‘bad guy’ changes their behaviour slightly.  Suddenly, that technique you’d trained 1000's of times suddenly doesn’t feel right, you might not feel 100% confident in the technique and end up freezing, and doing nothing as the situation gets progressively worse.

You see, most techniques are practiced  almost always with your favourite training partner, who’s about the same size and strength as you, you’re evenly ‘matched’ and "work" well together so, the technique works a dream; in the training room.

But the reality isn’t like that.

More than likely the person that decides to try and hurt you... specifically selected YOU!

You were either a victim of chance or worse a victim by choice!

Either way, the odds will be stacked against you... and you're not helping matters by always practicing the ‘ideal’ technique.

You should learn the ideal technique, but also the skill to adapt when needed.

Answer this question... Do you deflect the hand holding the knife to your neck, hit your attacker and escape or control the hand holding the knife and then hit back to escape?

If you’ve just answered yes to either part, then you're right but you’re missing one crucial point. The choice of which one you do may sometimes be yours, and at other times it will be made for you.

I’ve met so many people who’ve been training in self-defence but always in the ‘ideal’ way and that’s okay to begin with but as you progress you need to be able to adapt.  We humans are pretty good at adapting. Make sure you’re learning to apply it in your training.

You need options for when your ideal technique won’t work, situations such as different environments, the relative size and strength of your attacker, right down to how you are feeling at that moment when it happens.

This is one of the main reasons I started with Krav Maga to learn a system that teaches you an ideal option but then teaches you how to adapt when needed.

Because adaptation may make all the difference.

Speak soon,

Jon

Utter Nonsense Self-Defence!

I had an interesting… no hang on, that’s too polite… a ridiculous, conversation the other day regarding self-defence training.

One of the things that I do is write training packages for ‘high-risk teams’ employed in certain job roles.

Without sounding too cliche, I can’t say too much but you get the idea, people who need effective training solutions delivered over a short space of time.

I met with another ‘instructor’ the other day, who had also taught similar teams and he proceeded to tell me that the training he delivers is primarily centred around…

Wait for it…

Pinching and twisting skin, or poking people in the eyes.

This was the whole basis of his self defence training?

What utter nonsense!

Now, I am not saying that pinching someone, or poking them in the eye wouldn’t hurt and maybe buy you some time, but it’s certainly not something I’d focus a WHOLE training course on.

Human beings don’t really need to practice poking someone in the eye, I mean hey, you’ve probably poked yourself in the eye a few times.   And I am sure some annoying kid at school pinched you, and maybe you did that back to them.

You don’t need to spend a week practicing it, there are more useful skills to learn.

But my new ‘instructor’ friends disagreed.

So I presented to him with a (hypothetical) challenge.

Let’s say we had one week, we both had to train someone to defend themselves and then, at the end of the week they would meet in a ‘duel’.

He could spend the week training his ‘student’ in ONLY in pinching, biting and eye poking.  The stuff he believes in.

I could spend the week training my ‘student’ in ONLY striking with the hands and legs, keeping balance and structure, learning how to block and counter-strike, how to avoid going to the ground and, what to do if you end up on the ground, how to move and stand up quickly.

The stuff I believe in.

AND THEN…

ONE DAY before the ‘duel’... he is suddenly told he can teach all of the stuff I’ve been teaching to his student, and I (Mawwhahaha) can teach his stuff to my student in the same day.

You get my point?

I’ve just spend a week training my ‘warrior’ in the fundamentals of self defence & combat, he’s just a week training his ‘warrior’ in what they already know how to do and don’t really need to practice it that much.

I can easily teach his skills in one day, he can’t do the same with mine.

He’s just pretending.  Using quick ‘pain’ movements to wow some uneducated people in what he’ll undoubted call ‘secret techniques’ that can disable ANY opponent!

Let’s get real.

Spend time learning the stuff that builds your confidence and skill at the same time, and then just understanding that all the poking, pinching and biting stuff is there if you need it, but it is certainly not the basis of all of your training.

I’ve spent nearly 15 years teaching Krav Maga, I’ve trained all over the world and have trained some people to exceptional standards.

But apparently I should let them know it was time wasted, all they needed was pinching and poking!!

We humans are easily influenced.  Question everything, just because someone is a ‘instructor’ and might hold some authority, doesn’t mean what they are saying is true.  People believe all manner of BS these days.

Be sceptical.

Learn a system of self-defence that makes sense, and that builds a strong skill base for that moment in time you hope will never come.

Speak soon.

Jon

What is Situational Awareness?

Most of my time is spent teaching… but it’s not all just kicking and punching.

I spend a fair amount of time working with some BIG NAME companies, educating their staff about dealing with difficult people.

There are lots of courses out there for Conflict Management, (or whatever you want to call it).

But the fact it… most of them are rubbish!

Most ‘Conflict Management trainers’ like ‘buzz’ words!

They’ll throw phrases at you like ‘Situational Awareness’…

(That’s a military term that has been picked up and overused by those who never served!)

They’ll then proceed to bang on about some of their ‘experiences’, largely when they were ‘on the door’… BORING!

Describing situations of when you actively choose to put yourself in a job role that would likely see a significant level of aggravation…  is probably about the worse example to give to people who are just going about their normal daily lives and just want to stay safe.

If you’re going to and from the school gates, for a night out with your friends, or on holiday with the family… then you are hardly going to don your long black trench coat, put an ‘earpiece in’ and stand around being ‘situationally aware’!

Let’s get real…

Being aware of your surroundings is important, but not ALL the time on RED ALERT!


There’s a very simple way to think about it…

The People vs the Environment…

Do you know the people around you? YES

Do you know the Environment well? YES.

ANSWER = You can dial down your imminent FIGHTING STANCE!

 

Do you know the people around you? NO

Do you know the Environment well? NO.

ANSWER =  Open your eyes and pay a little more attention (less iphone staring!)

 

… and then you have those in between

Know the people, don’t know the environment…

Don’t know the people, know the environment…

 

You get the idea?

 

Who’s around you and where are you!

That’s a much simpler way to think about your ‘situational awareness’.

 

I’m off to Ninja Crawl to the corner shop… you never know!  😉

Have a great day!

Jon

Remember the magic technique to defend against two armed gunmen?

I've posted about this previously, but I came across the video again the other day. I was doing the usual pointless ‘scroll’ down the Facebook newsfeed, making my way through the memes, cat videos and pictures of what people had for breakfast.

And then suddenly, I saw something that piqued my interest: a video of a ‘self defence expert’ showing you what to do if you were ever held at gunpoint. 

Here’s the screenshot of the video:

Krav Maga Elite — October 2021

Your eyes don’t deceive you; she is actually trying to take you step-by-step through a situation in which you fend off two guys, both pointing guns at you.

Part of the solution that the ‘instructor’ suggests is to deflect one gun, so the first bad guy shoots the other.

Then she re-directs the other weapon and shoots the other guy.

The main problem is that this sort of “solution” is based ENTIRELY on assumptions.

Assumptions about the attitude and behaviour of the ‘bad guys’…

The physical ability of the person being held… 

Their emotional state at the time…

Whether the guns are loaded or not (and whether they’re real or fake)…

The environment the scene takes place in…

And so on and so forth…

In short, it’s not a solution; it’s a fantasy, based on nothing more than assumption and guesswork.

Now, I am not speaking ill of other instructors, but I am making the point that all instructors have got a responsibility when it comes to posting stuff online.

They need to understand that whatever is posted will be viewed (and believed) by many people, all over the world.

Which means that whatever you demonstrate (for some people) becomes reality, and teaching a ‘technique’ to defend against two gunmen holding your hostage is far from reality.

What would I do in a similar situation?

Well, to be honest, my first question would be: “how did I end up in that position in the first place?!”

I mean, two guys managed to sneak up on me from the front and back, pull guns out, and grab hold of you without me seeing or doing anything - there’s mistake number one.

But okay, let’s say I ended up in that situation: what are my last-ditch chances of survival before I’m dragged in to a nearby transit van?

The only solution here is a combination of aggression, timing, speed and ability to escape (fast) with a little bit of luck thrown in!

Whatever you do must be extremely aggressive, it must incapacitate the ‘bad guys’ in some way, to cause them pain, to change their thought process to ‘buy’ you some time.

The only real option here is using your understanding of a modern self-defence system - like Krav Maga - combined with fast aggressive action to do some damage and then escape at the speed of 1,000 gazelles (something else that is not demonstrated!)

Needless to say, this video was posted on a website call ‘DumbAss Martial Arts’… nuff said!

PLEASE vet the people you learn from, take an objective view and avoid the people who invent ‘techniques’ for every situation.

Sometimes just using common sense combined with your fundamental skills has more chance of success.

But as my instructor from Israel always says, “If you let someone put a rope around your neck, and tie your hands behind your back, do not be surprised if you are hanging!”

I’m off to invent a “technique” for how to defend myself from a choke whilst falling out of a window… it might happen! 🙂

Speak soon

Jon

P.S. I thought about posting a link to the video on here, but I really do not want to give it any more views than it’s had already, because it is quite frankly ridiculous.  But if you are really curious, check out Dumbass Martial Arts 😉

Be like Patrick Swayze (Legend)

Defending yourself is not difficult.

Every adult human being knows exactly how to cause physical pain and injury to another.

They may not have done it, or not like the thought of it, but they know how!

So why do so many people feel they are not capable of defending themselves or, learning how to?

I was teaching a Krav Maga class last year, when I came across Jane – she was on our Trial Class Programme, coming along to find out if Krav Maga was for her.

At one particular point, we were practicing how to block someone trying to swing a punch at your head.

Not a pleasant situation to find yourself in, but it’s one of the most common things people have to deal with, so we teach it.

To defend that type of attack in Krav Maga, you block the attack with your forearm, immediately counter-strike and move to escape.

Jane did the block very well, but when it came to simulate the counter-strike towards her training partner’s head, I saw her hesitate...

She wouldn’t go anywhere near her partner’s face, even slowly and safely, as we do in class.

And it’s not her fault

She’s been raised that violence is bad, that you don’t hit people, that you must be nice to everyone and not be rude (even to the point that when they are not behaving as they should!).

That’s our conditioning from early childhood, and as a kid growing up it’s pretty sound advice.

It’s just that it stays with us and when we get older, even when the risks increase and the types of danger we could face change!

Many people are now roaming the big wild wilderness, unequipped to deal with the bad people, as we no longer have our parents to watch over us.

Physically hurting someone is not hard, but emotionally it is, because we’ve been brought up to feel like we don’t have permission to do it.

Now here’s the interesting thing, when Jane put boxing gloves on, she had no issue with contact at all (the boxing gloves still hurt if you hit hard!).

The gloves were her permission.

When she wore gloves (because she’s seen boxing on tv with lots of people shouting and cheering and giving their permission) it then became ‘okay’ to hit back!

What more “permission” do we need than having someone trying to physically hurt us, or someone we care about? 

Trust me, you don’t need permission: defending yourself is both an ethical and legal right!

My first child was born recently. I know  I’ll be raising him the Patrick Swayze way, taking advice from his famous film.

Roadhouse! No, not Dirty Dancing! It's vastly inferior)

In Roadhouse, Swayze plays a nightclub bouncer and he goes into a small town to help ‘clean it up’ from all the criminals.

When he arrives at the ‘club’, he tells all of his team:

‘Be nice to everyone, until it’s time not to be nice, then do what’s necessary!’

I’m glad to say that  Jane joined the club, and did exceptionally well. She's no longer with the club but I'm sure  is now better prepared both physically and emotionally for a difficult situation!

Any bad people roaming the lands are now in for a shock, should they decide to pick on her!

Speak soon,

Jon

P.S For those who now think I might show Roadhouse to little baby Bullock and call me a bad parent, of course, I won’t.

Until they’re 18 – it is an awesome film! 🙂

Stay Safe....Be Aware!

I am loathed to mention the ‘news’ again in my blogs, but I was reminded of this old story the other day when the CCTV footage of the attack showed up on my Facebook newsfeed.

It did make me think more and more about how some people ‘educate’ for self-defence.

Turns out there have been a few occasions in London where people have randomly pushed innocent people on to the tracks of the Underground, without any reason, let alone a warning, build-up, argument or whatever.  Just launching themselves forwards and pushing hard.

Utter madness.

Granted, these might be people of unsound mind or high on some type of substance. But it brings into question what should self-defence instructors teach to deal with this?

I am sure somebody, somewhere is coming up with a ‘move’ where you ‘sense’ the person’s energy and sidestep one way then sidestep the other and, hey presto, they fall onto the tracks!

You laugh… but I kid you not it’ll happen and probably closer than you think!

Ask most instructors and they’ll fob you off with the old military phrase of maintaining ‘Situational Awareness’

To which you answer. “What does that mean..?”

And they reply…”er..um.. being aware of your situation”

Yeah, ok mate… thanks for the clarity!

Let me help and translate it for you.

It means being very clear on two things:

WHERE YOU ARE & WHO IS AROUND YOU

Know the people around you?, Know the place?  Okay, you can chill at little; weddings are the only exception… risky as hell! 🙂

Don’t know the place, but know the people? - Keep your eyes just a little more peeled.

Don’t know the people, but know the place? Keep your head turning a little more than you would be when watching Netflix but probably not as much as a Wimbledon tennis final.

Don’t know the people, don’t know the place?

The answer is obvious, lock and load and deploy your nunchucks!

(Just kidding, that would be illegal!)

Just make sure you are noticing things a lot more, paying attention as we say!

DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH PARANOIA.

Just dial up your senses a little bit, you know. When there are ‘unknowns’ around you pay just that little bit more attention to where you are, where everybody else is, and what’s going on.

In a world, where I can be just peacefully waiting for a train and some dude decides it’s time I meet the great Krav Maga God in the sky, we are in living in dangerous times.

And when the good lady on the tannoy advises me in that garbled voice, to stand behind the yellow line, I won’t be the person whose toes are touching it, whilst I check on my Instagram account.

Why?

Because being brutally honest, if anyone is going to be shoved onto a train track, then I would prefer very much not to be on the list. If just by taking that half a pace back, I can appreciate my surroundings, when I am not sure who’s around me. It might just mean I am not the ‘chosen one’...

Stay safe,

Jon