Krav Maga North Bristol Instructor Will Bayley discusses the harsh realities of violence in the context of home defence and why you should make sure you keep your training real.

I was in a bar recently waiting for a mate when I heard an all too common conversation about home self defence – what to do when someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night. You can imagine the people having this conversation. A small group of blokes, beered up. Normal, average blokes. Workers not long out of work, ties off, collars undone, sleeves rolled up for the serious business of Friday night drinking and setting the world to rights.

The common conversation and the inevitable bravado.

God help anyone comes in my house. I keep a bat by the door. I have a Maglite by my bed. I’d do em with that. I don’t care what the law says, if someone breaks into my house I’m going to drop them.

I appreciate the sentiment. Even agree with it. But I want to throw out a tiny bite of reality for you because your life may depend upon thinking about this in another way

There’s a place called violence. It’s a lonely and terrible country, torn apart by war. The people you find there are monsters, predators, everything that you, in your seat of civilisation, would call evil. How many times have you been to that place? Honestly? I don’t mean the scuffles you had at school or that time your mate got loud at that party and you shoved each other. I mean how many times have you been attacked by a wild animal and had to fight, literally, for your life?

Most haven’t.

If it’s happened to you, you won’t be full of bravado. The people who know what I’m talking about are typically silent on the matter. Humble.

And those who have been there, how many times have you been there? Once? Twice? How long each time? Most assaults are decided in seconds. So your experience, throughout your lifetime, of that place is approximately ten seconds. Does that make you an expert, a travel guide to that country’s horrors?


And I want you to imagine for me something.


Imagine this person…

He’s early twenties but he looks a decade older because of the brown he’s been putting in his arms for the last seven years. He’s lean and underfed, malnourished, his body fucked up on years of opiate abuse, on the cycle of constipation and laxitives, on junk food and chain smoking, his teeth falling out and his nose half fucked from his forays into stimulants – amphetamines adderall and cocaine. At the moment he comes through your door he’s been off the smack for a day and a half. He’s in a fever of pain, fear, nausea, cramping and worse. He knows that his hunger will deepen by the hour, until it incapacitates him, until he can’t do what he’s doing now to solve his problem. He needs his solution more than you have ever needed anything. He knows desperation like you never have and never will. He will take something from your house and sell it for a fraction of its value to fund a solution that will last him a few hours at best. And he will literally kill to do it.

Let me state that in a more complete way: There is nothing he won’t do to get what he wants. Literally nothing. If you don’t stand in his way, that means take and run. If you stand in his way, it means stabbing you or punching you to the floor and taking and running. If you go at him with a weapon – and you’d be the thousandth person to try – he’d take it off you and beat you to death to make sure you didn’t present a threat to him, before taking and running.

Your morality, he doesn’t have that. It’s gone, along with any notions of self respect, guilt, conscience. It’s been drummed out of him by years of addiction.

But don’t think that the addiction makes him weak. Once he was a strong kid, stronger than you can ever know, driven to the solace of the drug by a life of terrible violence and abuse.

When you were taking your first steps, he was sitting in a house full of addicts, starving, undernourished. When you were going to nursery he was stealing food and getting beaten when he was caught, learning how to take a beating with the minimum of damage, desensitising to the pain and the fear. When your parents came home from work and cooked you tea, his sent him out to run money and drugs, or came home loaded and beat him until his eyes swelled shut and his gums bled. When you were doing your entrance exam for secondary, he was out in the parks fighting other kids over selling territory, knowing that if he lost he’d lose everything, that he’d take it badly at home, that he might not get to eat. While you were mastering maths and english, he was mastering violence, learning through the weekly, if not daily fights, threats and skirmishes how to most effectively beat another human to the ground. While you were learning the ropes in your first job he was learning how to use surprise to paralyse a victim so that he could take what he needed with the least risk to him. By the time you were competent in your career, he was a master of his, the veteran of a thousand or more fist fights, stabbings, muggings, breakins and arrests.

He’s experienced front-line violence almost every day of his life. Immediate. Total. Around him all the time.

Home Self DefenceHe’s lost count of the amount of times he’s struck someone, knocked them down, stabbed them when he was too weak to fight any other way. And he’s lost count of the amount of times someone did that to him. The violence, it holds no real fear for him, like it does for you. And in that lack of fear, in that desensitisation, there is a certainty, not that he will win, because truly he doesn’t care about win or lose in the way that you do, but that he will fight, and do everything that is necessary to get the job done and come home with his solution. While you’re finding your feet he’s already beaten you. You’re the hundredth person that swung a Maglite at him. The hundredth person to leave a cricket bat by the door for him to arm himself with when he comes in.

And when he comes he will come without hesitation. From the moment you are aware of him he’s already had hours to come to terms with what’s about to happen. He’s got momentum, practice, initiative.

Think about this.


That land we were talking about, the country of violence, at best you are a visitor to that land. He lives there.

Real world violence isn’t a place where bravado is well rewarded. Hard training is the answer, based on solid research.

And here is some research:

Survey after survey, when we study violent crime, there are only two significant predictors of success in the survival of real world violence.

  1. By far the most significant. Exposure to previous instances of real world violence.
  2. Self Defence training that involves close approximation of real world violence through stress inoculation, contact drills and adrenalisation training.

Whatever else you do, come to the fight prepared, without the bravado, and see it for what it is. Come to the fight not with bravado but with realism and humility. See that to run is not shameful. To die defending property is hubris, and ludicrous. You fight when there is no other choice, when you’re on the stairs and you meet that man and it’s clear there’s no other way. And if you have to fight, make sure it isn’t a fight. Find a way to surprise. Hit first. Hit hard, with so much aggression you overwhelm the opponent. And train for that moment with the real world firmly at the front of your mind. The research. The numbers. The facts. The statistics.

You bend your training to fit reality. Then you don’t die doing it the other way round.

Train hard, fight easy. Your life depends on it.

Will Bayley – Krav Maga Swindon, Krav Maga Bristol Central, Krav Maga North Bristol, Bristol University Krav Soc.

Krav Maga North Bristol instructor Will Bayley has an unofficial rule-book when it comes to the learning, teaching and practice of Krav Maga. Some of you might be most familiar with Rule #5, but here’s rule #1 from that rule-book:


If something bad is happening, move towards it as rapidly as possible.

The world of violence is not well understood by most people. And to the uninitiated, raised on a diet of Hollywood Kung Fu and Karate Kid since the ’70s, it may appear as if all violence is won with skill. Nothing is further from the truth. Most people carrying out successful violent attacks on their victims – assaults, muggings, beatings – have no more skill than the victims they assault. And when the victims do manage to fight back and are successful in turn, it is often not because they have skill over their attackers. No, the currency of violence is not skill. It’s aggression.

And management of fear.

Let us state that in another way:

The person in charge of their fear is the person moving forward, taking action. The person taking action is the person winning.

There are other truths about violence that go towards our Rule #1. Here’s one:

You can’t win a defensive fight.

Take the recent case made public this week in the Sun of a small unit of British Special Forces soldiers who got ambushed by 50 or so ISIS fighters. They ran out of ammo engaging the threat and still had 30 or so left to fight. Running would have invited pursuit, almost certain capture, torture and death by burning or beheading. So they made their peace and took the fight forward. And so fierce was their resolve, so immediate their attack that a good number of the 30 fled for their lives.

Of course, the 30 ISIS men could have won that fight, if they had committed to it. But the battle wasn’t won in the territory of skill and number; it was won in the territory of fear.

These British soldiers had one chance, and it lay in Rule #1.

If something bad is happening, move towards it as rapidly as possible.



Will Bayley, BKMA Graduate Instructor, Krav Maga North Bristol.

A recent article in the local paper (link at bottom), The Swindon Advertiser, makes public a statement by a senior Police Officer in Swindon. The gist of this statement is that the Police no longer have the resources to deliver the service expected of them by the public. As practitioners of Krav Maga, the implications of this statement should be immediately obvious. In Britain, the Governmental and Societal stances towards self defence are that we have very few rights to self defence beyond those stipulated by the Reasonable Force dictum, and that citizens of the country should instead rely on the Police service to protect them from threat. However, we are now in a position, and have been for some considerable time, where it is not realistic or pragmatic to rely solely on the Police service to protect us from harm. We must take personal responsibility for our own safety and the safety of our communities. This doesn’t mean taking matters into our own hands – intervention is the job of the Police, and only the Police – but it does mean developing Security Awareness – the practice, simply, of paying attention – and making good decisions about our own safety and the safety of our property. It means taking personal responsibility for our own property and person. There have been many advertising campaigns telling people to be responsible for their own health, but few telling them to be responsible for their own safety. In general, the vast majority of the British population are critically naive as to their own vulnerability to crime and critically overconfident about their own ability to ‘handle’ it.

A fellow Kravist said to me recently that not training regularly was essentially a strategy of protection which involves “hoping it doesn’t happen to me.” The context of this was that we were discussing people leaving training. I said, “I can’t understand people who decide to stop training in Krav (or any other real-world self-defence practice).” To which he said, “Yes, they’re essentially going back to the strategy of hoping it won’t happen to them.”

The Police Force of the UK do a fantastic job. And as the years go on, we as a country ask more and more from them while providing them with less and less. What I’m getting at here isn’t a dig at the Police. It’s a dig at the politicians for failing to provide adequately for the service. And it’s a dig at us, the population, for two important reasons:

We the public failed spectacularly in 2008. If you were at the protests on April 1st, 2008, in London, protesting against the bailouts for the big financial institutions, you would perhaps have thought that it was amazing how few people there were that day protesting the gutting of the public purse. But of course in 2008 the protests were abstract – the general public weren’t really aware of the inevitable consequences of the bailouts in terms of future cuts, and still aren’t – until they call on services that they need that simply aren’t there anymore, or have been gutted almost to the point of malfunction. Most people still aren’t aware how bad is the state of our public services, until they need them. Or until they try to work in services that are still being stripped further and further of needed resources. We have a responsibility to support our Police, Ambulance and Fire services and listen to them when they ask for our help, our voices, our solidarity. If you have ever felt that the Police, Ambulance, Fire, or even NHS have failed you, first ask why. These services are failing you because they in turn have been failed. If we were aware of this, en masse, we might have the political will to stop it, which is vital particularly as our security climate becomes ever more unstable.

You are responsible for your own safety. So much crime could be prevented simply by making better choices. Sure, you should have a right to walk wherever you want at whatever time of day, but that doesn’t mean you should. And if you had prepared yourself even with basic awareness training, the odds of you being selected as a victim of crime diminish markedly, as does your burden on the stretched services of our Police Forces.

This second point is perhaps the easiest to address. I am willing to bet that a good majority of calls on the Police services are unnecessary. Further, of the necessary calls, how many of those could have been prevented if individuals took personal responsibility for their own safety? Here are some things you could do today to massively reduce your burden on the Police and Emergency Services.

  • Fit an alarm to your house.
  • Use your alarm, and your locks.
  • Close your curtains so that window shoppers don’t see your shiny new kit.
  • Lock your car doors in transit, as well as when you park up.
  • Remove valuables from the car.
  • Walk in sensible places and at sensible times, or get a lift.
  • Don’t drink too much in public.
  • Carry yourself with a bearing that doesn’t scream VICTIM.
  • Pay attention to surroundings – it’s not stressful to do this, it simply becomes a habit through practice.
  • Get on top of your own ego so that you’re not causing problems.
  • Teach your children to be aware and make good decisions.
  • Learn effective self protection so that, if the worst happens, you will be able to strike back and escape.

I offer these points just to get you thinking – what can you do today to protect yourself, which in turn helps an emergency service stretched to its limits? Every decision you make that keeps you from being a crime statistic helps the Police to focus on someone else, someone who needs their help, someone who cannot do what you have done for themselves.

People say sometimes that training for violence is a negative thing, a thing against society, that we who do it must be violent people. But in my long experience this is not true. To the contrary, people who dedicate time and effort to self protection training show considerable civic duty in doing so. Who is helping society more? The person who takes responsibility for the safety of themselves and others or the person who doesn’t bother, whose sole security strategy is hoping it will never happen to them? Up in the mountains of Wales, it’s common to see people walking up the slopes in trainers, shorts and a t-shirt. These are the people who will have to be rescued when the weather changes suddenly. These are the people whose poor strategies necessitate hard work and risk by other people who are simply better prepared. Which would you rather be?

Will Bayley, BKMA Graduate Instructor, Krav Maga Swindon, Krav Maga North Bristol, Bristol University Krav Maga Society

Link to Swindon Advertiser Article: Officer Warns that Police…