I wanted to share a video that’s come up in self-defense work this fall.  It’s from an Italian crew called Krav Maga Training.  There’s no need to make a Tweak of the Week video when the full-time pros have already got it handled.

There are three take-aways that I want to pound on here.

1] AVOID A FIGHT.  I love the fact that this video shows clips from actual violence.  The first thing to notice is the time and space that takes place before the violence.  The best, most effective way to keep yourself from being harmed is not to be in a fight in the first place.  Pick up a biography of someone you think is pretty bad-ass, the Gracies, Chuck Norris, I don’t care.  If they’re honest, you’re going to see how even the 1% of the martial arts world gets hurt.  Fights are chaotic, ugly, usually messy, and they hurt.  The best martial artists know how easy it is to hurt yourself or someone else in a permanent way, and so they will do everything they can to avoid a fight.  I worked 10 years of bar rush shifts at an all night restaurant without getting into a single fight.  Each time I avoided one I went home and called it a “kung fu victory”.

So, when the pre-violence dance starts, when the posturing, the threats, and the tension builds, you should already be gone.  If you aren’t, and reality has been kind enough to hand you more signals that it’s time to go, get out of there.  Your wallet isn’t worth your life and health.  Your ego sure isn’t .  Run away.  Give them what they want, unless it risks someone else’s life or health.  Apologize. Back down.  Every time you don’t have to hurt someone and you don’t get hurt, you win the gold medal of self defense, the ultimate prize.

2] GET OFF THE GROUND.  My original master, Kiel Soon Park, put it this way about self defense: If someone grabs you, takes you to the ground, tries to put you in a lock, it has just become a potentially life-and-death fight.  It doesn’t take long to find a video of some kid killed because the sleeper hold went wrong.  I’ve rallied a prayer vigil for an MMA fighter who took a single bad technique and nearly didn’t survive.

Krav Maga points out that on the ground you can’t control your environment.  You can’t defend against additional attackers.  If your opponent produces a knife or other weapon while you’re on the ground you don’t really have the range or mobility to protect yourself very well.  In an octagon or a dojo, ground and pound is great.  In the real life the ground is the last place you want to be.

3] MONITOR YOUR ENVIRONMENT.  I got the most surprised look this month when I pointed this out to the college student I was training with.  He did a good defense against choke, put together a good combination to put me on the ground, and then sort of blew off the last step before running away.  He’s made great progress this semester, but now that he can punch and kick, it’s tempting to neglect the fundamental safety skill, looking.  he truth is that the ability to stay aware of your surroundings is ultimately more useful than the punching and the kicking.  I’d rather have a student who can shove me down instead of kicking me down if that person could scan and escape ASAP.

Scan your Surroundings.  Hands out to to guard, eyes moving, head on a swivel, make sure that there are no more immediate threats, and then get the heck out of there.  You need to see if there are multiple attackers, find the best way to escape, or if you can’t get away from danger you need to take in as much as you can about your environment.  Find an improvised weapon, a chair, your backpack, whatever you can find.  The goal is to get away ASAP.

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