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Stopping Injuries in Self Defence and Krav Maga

No, this isn’t an article about preventing injury in your Krav Maga or Self Defence training. It’s an article about causing injuries. Namely specific injuries called Stopping Injuries. A Stopping Injury is any damage to the human body that renders that individual incapacitated – that is utterly unable to continue any form of attack or to pose any kind of threat. We’ll take a look here at the kind of injuries that will stop a threat and how an unarmed person can go about delivering these injuries in a timely and effective manner.

As civilised people, we tend to shy away from such explanations, or from thinking too deeply about what it means to train to deliver such pain and damage to another human being. But make no mistake, there is one simple truth when it comes to real-world self defence:

Do damage to your attacker before they do damage to you.

Violent assault is a game of damage. There is an equation: Damage done to you vs Damage done to your attacker. With every measure of damage dealt to you, your capacity to cause further damage to your attacker diminishes, and vice-versa. In short, the survivor of any violent encounter is the one who is willing, and able, to cause effective damage to the other.

What isn’t a stopping injury?

Adrenaline is powerful. So too are endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. If you’ve never seen anyone fight, or fought yourself, it can be hard to imagine the kind of punishment the body is capable of taking before it becomes incapacitated, and just how much damage a person can take with no feeling of pain whatsoever. In the heat of a violent assault, it is common for people to break bones and not notice, to suffer broken noses, fingers, jaw, ribs, to be stabbed and even shot, and continue to fight with no slow down or loss of intensity. What does this mean for self defence? It means that, if someone has come to do you harm, you need to be sure that the measures you take will be IMMEDIATELY effective. It’s no good arguing for a technique that will go on to kill someone if it takes a full two minutes for that attacker to become incapacitated. That’s a whole two minutes they get to attack you, and how long does it take for them to end or forever change your life?

Here’s an example. A broken nose.

Over the years I have heard a good number of instructors, both in blogs and classes, talking about the effectiveness of a blow to the nose. But here’s the thing: we don’t class it as a Stopping Injury. And here’s why:

Bristol, 2002, on the door of a venue in the back streets off of the Centre. A fight erupts inside and three door staff attend to it. During the course of escorting one male down the corridor towards the exit he begins to fight again, with immediate and total aggression. He punches one doorman, knocking him to the floor. Another doorman lands a decent cross (A left as he was a southpaw) on the man’s nose. It bursts, literally, blood gushing out all over hand and face. He doesn’t slow down. Eyes partially closed, blood going everywhere, he is still swinging with that animal violence, and it takes another few seconds for someone to hit him in the jaw and knock him cold so that he can be dealt with (taken outside, recovery position, police and paramedics.) I understand that they later had to use inflation to stop the bleed – small balloon like devices designed to go up the nose and inflate, so bad was the bleeding, but did it stop him at that time? No. He was still an immediate and serious threat.

Stopping Injuries

So what is a Stopping Injury? Any injury caused to a person such that they are immediately incapacitated sufficiently that they pose no further immediate threat.

Here’s the list:

  • Significant breaks to the long bones of the leg or arm – Causes mechanical defect that adrenaline cannot overcome and potential shock (See Shock). If you can’t load bear, you fall. Simple.
  • Rupture of the knee ligaments ACL or PCL – Causes mechanical defect and potential shock (See Shock)
  • Significant blow to the head causing concussive injury to brain and resultant unconsciousness – especially blows from the side to the line of the lower jaw that cause rapid rotational acceleration to the brain pan.
  • Blow to throat – Contrary to popular opinion, this isn’t likely to collapse the windpipe but it will temporarily induce panic and an inability to draw breath except in short and desperate gasps. Effective in most cases as an incapacitant.
  • Trauma to groin. Again contrary to popular opinion this has nothing to do with testicles. The strikes to the groin advocated by systems of Self Defence such as Krav Maga are not designed to merely cause trauma to the testicles; they are designed to cause damage to the pelvic bone and to the bladder, which sits directly above the pelvis. Both of these potential injuries are intended to cause Shock, which in turn incapacitates the subject.
  • Loss of blood pressure due to internal or external bleeds. Think stabbing or shooting with sufficient calibre weapons. The body runs on oxygenated and sugared blood, which is delivered to the system by a pressurised run of pipes. Rupture those pipes badly enough and the blood pressure drops, incapacitating the subject, similar to the effects of serious Shock.

Shock – Not a Stopping Injury, but the mechanism by which most stopping injuries become effective. You know that feeling when you stub a toe or take a painful blow in a sport, or even rupture a knee ligament or break a finger, or even just see too much blood coming out of a cut? That’s shock. It’s a simultaneous dilation of the body’s blood vessels that causes a dramatic drop in blood pressure. Makes you feel faint, sick and clammy. Try fighting through that!

Summary

This is an ugly subject, no doubt. But the reality is that violent assault is an immediate risk to your life. Put simply it means that another human has decided to harm you for whatever reason – money, sex, amusement, ego – and is prepared to do anything to get what they want. In such a situation, you must stop the threat within seconds, or realistically you will be hurt or killed. And remember, with 92% of violent attack involving being outnumbered at least 2 to 1, you must act with such immediacy that you can overcome multiple determined attackers. The good news is that it doesn’t take long to learn how to strike effectively. The bad news is that takes training and discipline to will yourself to do what is necessary when or if the time comes. Going forward, whatever you train in, make sure that in your repertoire are a series of simple movements such as stamps or crosses that will hit an item on this list. If you don’t then it’s likely your techniques won’t stop a person before they can stop you.

Stay safe this New Year and train hard, fight easy.

 

Will Bayley, British Krav Maga Graduate Instructor and Adrenalised Training Coach, Krav Maga Swindon, Krav Maga North Bristol, Bristol University Krav Maga Society.

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British Krav Maga Interview with Swindon Instructor, Will Bayley

British Krav Maga Training Director, Paul Grey, talks Instructing with Swindon and North Bristol Instructor, Will Bayley

Krav Maga Swindon is run by British Krav Maga’s very own Will Bayley. Will recently celebrated his 5th anniversary as a full time Krav Maga Instructor so we thought we’d interview him about his experiences.

If you’ve ever wondered what life is like as a full time Martial Arts or Krav Maga Instructor, now’s the time to find out…

How did you originally get started in the Martial Arts Will?

I was an average 15 year old. Picked up a pretty nasty assault from a group of lads and it rattled me badly. At the end of the day you have to come to a decision – face the fear or let it eat away your liberties. I faced mine at a boxing gym. I’d go there and stand at the edge of the room and refuse to participate. “I’m watching” I said every time the instructor would come in. He was a good man and he let me do that for some months. Until he didn’t. One day this older fighter came up and started lacing gloves onto my hands (no Velcro gloves back then). I was literally shaking. They walked me over to the makeshift ring and I remember feeling like the world was coming down around my ears. I took a single punch and landed on the boards. After that, the fear was still there but the edge had gone from it. The worst had happened and I was still there, still alive. I was hooked. I trained in various classes focussed on self-defence. Tried boxing, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, and then Ninjutsu. The fear, of course, never went away, but it did get put into a box. Managed. Controlled.

How did you come to find Krav Maga ?

I came to realise over time that while the study of the arts I had practiced had benefitted me in many ways – heritage, history, intellectual interest, fitness, flexibility etc – they were not really preparing me for real-world self-defence. I was outside a night club this one night in my twenties and I saw this fight spill out onto the pavement as a group of blokes were ejected from the club. It quickly emerged that one guy was the victim and the group had been attacking him. The door supers had thrown the lot out, not wanting to discriminate. The victim in this case took an obvious stance – Karate I believe – and I thought wow this guy is going to hand out some justice. But one of the men attacked him with full force and fury, just running at him and flailing with poor but highly aggressive punches. Most missed. The guy in the stance didn’t even raise a block and was knocked to the floor where he was stamped viciously. I couldn’t understand it at the time. Why would someone with training do nothing while attacked? Of course, it was his failure to manage stress, fear, adrenaline. All the technique in the world is useless if you are not on top of your fear.

This experience jarred me a bit. I stopped training for a few months. I analysed all the things I knew about movement and combat and realised that I had no real idea if the things I knew would actually work if I was that man stood there in the midst of so many enemies. But I wasn’t going to give up. I did my research, beginning to look into reality based self-defence. Of course, if you do that, you can only end up in one place. There is nothing in the world like Krav Maga. It is the only thing I found that could actually prove its calibre because it was – is – used by the very people sworn to protect us, law enforcement, military etc. Police and army tend to be very much evidence based. If stuff doesn’t work, it’s ditched and changed. And still, 500 law enforcement and military units worldwide have Krav as their go to CQC solution.

What are your most vivid memories from the Krav Maga Instructor course, every ‘survivor’ of BKMA training has at least one stand out moment?

Phase 1 was a blur. 15 minutes into the first day I caught a beast of a hook that cut up the inside of my mouth. Over a sink bleeding, stuffing blue hand drying paper up my nose and across my lips to stop them from bleeding. But the real standout moments came at the hands of the military and former military guys on the course. I’d never had much contact with the military at that point, save for cadets in school. When things got real tough they were there, pulling you up, standing beside you, telling you to go on, that you could go on, that we were in it together. And we were. I learnt that. I learnt that, in the toughest moments, we can achieve great things as team where alone we would have fallen. I took it to heart and was able to offer support back, because everyone has their weak moments in a course that tough. It was a life lesson. I’ll never forget it.

Couple of years later I was on a Close Protection course with another BKMA instructor, who shall remain nameless. Somehow the topic of phase one crept up and one of us said, mate, did it stress you out for ages afterward?  We both laughed, relieved I guess that it wasn’t just us that found the process so tough that we’ll never look at a squash court (where the final assessment took place) in the same way again. Even driving into Weston Super Mare nowadays gives me a little buzz as I remember what those days felt like. No one wants to admit it, but secretly everyone finds it brutal tough. Big shout out to that instructor by the way – It was genuinely good to hear that I wasn’t the only one!

Did you gain any personal insights from the pressurised training on that course, getting punched in the face has a tendency to make people reflect on their training?

Less than a month later I had to walk into a situation where a man was hitting a woman. There were two men present at the scene, both very much intoxicated, and one of them had decided to take whatever ills he had out on the victim, who was also drunk and very much not capable of self defence. As I was walking into that situation something occurred to me. There was a surety that had never been there before. Not a surety that I was going to win – that never really happens – but a surety that I was – if necessary – going to fight to get the outcome I wanted. And here’s the thing. I didn’t fight. Didn’t need to. I reached out, stopped the threat, and pushed the guy over. He was drunk, fell over easily. The other guy took a single step towards me and I shouted “Get back!” then “Stay on the floor” to the guy on the floor. And they did. Exactly what they were told. I analysed that situation since and I believe that most socially violent people – the bullies of our world – don’t actually want to fight. They want dominance. Easy, threat free dominance. If you are genuinely prepared to close with them and use force, often you don’t need to. You put them to a decision. They may still believe they can win, but they know by your bearing that it will likely cost them in pain, or loss of liberty to get that result. That’s a certainty most can’t handle, so they capitulate.

Before the Krav Maga Instructor course, I would still have engaged, but I would likely have had to fight. My surety wouldn’t have been there and the men would have seen the absence, as all bullies are often able to do. The best outcome I could have hoped for was to come out on top, and risk legal or civil issues for my use of force, and potential escalation and comeback down the line. Ending it with verbals was a massive win, a win only possible because of my capacity to use force. What the Army says is right – Train hard, fight easy. Train hard enough and you don’t even need to fight. And what Imi, founder of Krav Maga, said is also true and apt: “[Krav Maga] so that one may walk in peace.” Finally, motto of the Britsh Krav Maga Association: “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” – If you wish for peace, prepare for war.

You became successful very quickly, what do you think you did that helped you go full time so quickly?

There’s two sides to this story. One is about approach. I thought back to my two decades of training and picked out the good aspects of my instructors and also the bad. My approach attempts to be more like the former and less like the latter. I believe in trusting the intelligence of my students and so my teaching style is to explain the details and thinking behind all our techniques and tactics. As a student I like to understand why we’re doing something, not just do it with blind faith. I have found that people relate to that and value the intellectual component of training.

I’ve also worked very hard on the people aspect, ensuring that we have a warm and welcoming group. My Krav Instructor, Paul Grey, likes to say that assholes kill clubs. Get one and you can survive, but more than one and, like dandelions, suddenly your club is filled with assholes and all the good people have left. It’s true. But the opposite is also true. Proactively get rid of the rare people who come with ego and attitude, and you create a warm and welcoming environment. I believe in involving experienced students in helping coach the inexperienced, and my members take to that well, creating a great learning environment. It’s simply a nice place to be. There are warm welcomes and hard training, just what you want from a self-defence class. Teaching both Krav Maga Swindon and North Bristol is a real pleasure for me. I look forward to catching up with my students – many of which have become good friends over the years – and seeing them develop their skills. Nothing beats the moment when you look at someone and think, wow, he or she looks like a Kravist!

The other side to it is the impeccable support I’ve been given by my association. British Krav Maga are a rare gem in today’s business world – a truly ethical, lifestyle company. There’s nobody at the top whose goal is money money money. It’s lifestyle Krav from the top to the bottom and we have a brand now that is truly respected and I’m very proud to put my name beside it.

I often think that a good Krav Maga Instructor is like a duck on water, smooth and relaxed on top but swimming like mad under the water. I am sure my own students think I teach 3x a week and have the rest of the week off (laughs), how have you found the work load running a school.

Oh the truth of that. To a student who trains twice a week, I have the best job in the world. It seems I work 180 minutes a week. What they’re not seeing are the other 17 hours of professional instruction I deliver in the average week – 1000 hours a year teaching. My work doesn’t only extend to two civilian classes; I teach private classes every week for celebrities and also for the British Army. Neither do they see the lesson planning, a complex task that has to take into account every last student’s needs, from the rank beginner all the way to the veteran prepping for a P5. And for my work with the military, designing a combatives programme for a Battalion of men, such as with the Royal Gurkha Rifles, is a time-consuming job. Delivering it even more so.

Then of course there is the commitment to personal excellence. At least 2 hours a day of training just for me, to keep me at a level where I can teach professionally. Both fitness and skills development. Continued Professional Development is essential to a professional. Because that’s what we are. My experience with martial arts is that most instructors have a day job and teach a couple hours a week. I teach 20 hours a week, do around 10 hours of Krav for myself, and around 5 hours planning lessons and considering the development outcomes from my students. Oh, and there’s the driving aspect. It’s a lot of miles. But I’m my own boss and I get to do something every day that I not only love, but that empowers people, including vulnerable people, to stand up for themselves, to walk free, in peace, and in control of the fear that I felt so acutely when I was 15 years old. That does truly make it the best job in the world.

What do you think makes a successful Krav Maga Instructor?

Well that’s a simple one for me. And it isn’t being good at Krav. There are great Kravists that would make poor instructors. No, it’s about one thing.

You have to care. Lao Tzu said “the purpose of a great teacher is not to educate a student but to lead a student to the threshold of their own minds.”

In my words, doing the job right means empowering people to take control of their own self defence. It means that when I walk out there in front of people it very much is not about me. I exist only as an example of movement and tactics that they can draw on to create their own solutions to real world threats. Too many martial arts instructors are focussed on me me me, but it isn’t me that will have to fight if my students ever get into trouble. I think to be successful you have to genuinely care about the development of your students. You have to constantly self-analyse and find better ways to include everyone and deliver learning outcomes to a great variety of people. You have to communicate to a high level. And you have to have an eye for detail, to spot the little things that make a difference between walking away and getting hurt. Lastly, you need to be creative. A good instructor can create hundreds of drills in their head in a moment to fit the needs of the people in front of them. That’s the fun part!

What has been the highlight of your career as a professional Krav Maga Instructor?

Brunei. Definitely Brunei.

 

Being flown to Brunei to train the Gurkhas is something special isn’t it. Can you tell us more about that and the training?

The Commanding Officer of 1RGR – The Royal Gurkha Rifles – trained with me in Swindon for a couple of years, and still does when he is in country. He came to me with a desire that 1RGR be given Krav Maga to add to their already incredible skillset. But all the talk in the world couldn’t prepare me for a moment I had on the plane.

It was a long old flight. 18 hours, with a long change in Dubai. As I came into land in Brueni, over the South China Sea, it suddenly hit me where I was and what I was there to do. The Army of my country had put me on that plane so that I could deliver training to its men. I’m not going to lie, I still get imposter syndrome sometimes. But I’ve delivered 5000 hours or so of training in the last 5 years, sometimes to some very high level or very famous people. It only takes a couple of minutes of teaching and you realise that yes, you do belong there, you’re the right person for that job, and you get the job done.

The first time I ever heard of the Gurkhas, I was learning to fly paragliders on the Welsh hills and we saw a group of men in army fatigues and carrying heavy burgens beasting it up a hillside so steep you wouldn’t have gotten a Landy up there. I asked my friend, who were they. He laughed and said, Gurkhas, mate. To stand in front of the PTIs of that hallowed Regiment was a daunting honour. And they lived up to it. I have never worked with people so fit and capable. Normally, with civilians my job as an instructor is not just to teach technique but to ingrain a fighting mentality, an aggression, a willingness to close with an enemy and deal the damage necessary to stop them. It’s always the hard part. But with the soldiers of 1RGR, this wasn’t necessary. They were, of course, utterly indomitable. Two centuries of warfare, tradition, honour, sacrifice and loyalty had already done that work. All I had to do was offer a new skillset, one that they learned with amazing speed and skill.

The men and women of our Armed Forces, just like those in service in the Intelligence, Prison, Police, Fire and Ambulance services, stand on an ever-narrowing line between an often-unsuspecting British populace and a whole world of troubles. To play even a tiny, nigh insignificant part in that is an honour that will stay with me forever.

We’ve talked about the highlights, have there been any funny moments, things that you’d only experience in this industry?

There’s a bloopers reel, but only instructors get to see it. You’re there standing with a kick shield while your Assistant Instructor drives a knee into you. You forget to pop the hips back. You take impact where you don’t want impact. You have to get the words out and finish the drill before the pain kicks in. It’s not an ego thing, it’s because you know that you need to inspire, motivate, not collapse in a heap because you messed up and got clipped. Times like that are funny, in hindsight.

We share a passion for research and evidence based training. How do you think research should shape the Krav Maga Programmes we offer and the way we deliver Krav Maga Training?

As anyone working in the Police service will tell you, the best strategies for handling violence and violent people are evidence based. If you ask a police officer why offenders are cuffed in the back, rather than in the front, it’s because of a statistical history of violent outbursts, particularly in the backs of cars, with people cuffed in front. You ask a door supervisor – one with real experience – why he’s standing just so or why he takes a particular line with a would-be attacker, and he’ll cite evidence – years of experience of the real world.

But in the martial arts world, very few instructors have any real experience of violence, outside of the choreographed, sanitised, matted arenas they train in. It has always amazed me that so many people in this industry purport to teach a solution to a problem without studying the problem. It’s almost unthinkable. Research is vital to our understanding of violence. Understanding is vital to our ability to design, and to teach, solutions to that violence.

Like they say, you must bend your self defence or Krav Maga training to fit the reality you find, not try the ridiculous and attempt to bend reality to fit our training. Think King Cnut sitting on his beach ordering the tide to do one. Didn’t work for him, won’t work for you.

British Krav Maga are believers in research based curricula. And so am I. With help from some bright minds at Bristol University, I have recently carried out a deep academic study into the dynamics of violence and the adrenal stress response for exactly that reason. As instructors we must know the reality, preferably first hand, so that the tools we give our students are machined to do the job. Otherwise we are training people to lose.

What do you think that somebody considering Krav Maga for the first time should look for in a Krav Maga Instructor

Do they take the time to ask you what you want to get out of training? Do they take the time to settle you into your first lesson? Do they have a provable background and links to a credible organisation? The industry is a minefield, because it is totally unregulated. Someone can watch a Youtube video and then call themselves an instructor and there’s nothing anyone can do. Beginners should try classes out, taking time to talk with the instructor. Don’t be afraid to try several different classes. If someone is good, the fact will be obvious. There will be a good number of students, people who have done the research before you and decided to stay with that instructor. There will be students there that move very well. There will be a good atmosphere. You’ll be asked lots of questions about your training history or lack of it and your goals. And going forward, you’ll see progress. A good instructor will take pride in your learning and this fact too will be obvious.

Most of all, look for someone without ego. The class should be all about learning. It should be about the development of the students, not a celebration of the Instructor’s skills.

Also, with the rise of pseudo instructors who know that Krav Maga is supposed to be tough, we see classes where it’s all about physical exercise and not about technique. Sure, a Krav class should be tough exercise – sometimes 1600 kcal – but that exercise should come in the form of skills training, combatives, striking, as well as calisthenics, not just an hour of burpees and sprints.

What should a new student starting out at Krav Maga Swindon expect on their first lesson?

I can’t speak for every class, but at Krav Maga Swindon we will take time to talk to the beginner before training, and then pair the beginner up with a more experience student who will help them through the first lesson, picking up skills in a non-pressured, positive, supportive environment. This one on one attention is vital in the beginning to ensure you get a smooth introduction to the tough world of Krav Maga. We want you to succeed and we have the experience to get you there.

What do you think Krav Maga offers the complete beginner?

Frankly it’s life changing. I’ve had people with weight issues drop many stones in weight in their first year, giving them a new lease of life. I’ve had victims of crime come in in pretty poor mental and emotional states and manage to work their way towards re-empowerment, if not catharsis. And for everyone else, it offers a deep insight into that which terrifies all of us. It is true what they say, knowledge dispels fear. Doesn’t really get rid of it, but it does put it in its box.

Occasionally, what we teach is lifesaving. Particularly for violence professionals. I get a message every month or so from some former or current student saying that they used this or that technique and tactic to deal with a real-world threat. What we do works. If it didn’t, why would I have been on that flight to Brunei?

And what about the more experienced martial artist who is coming to try Krav Maga?

I had ten years when I first picked up Krav. For some, it’s a hard and bitter pill, to realise that what you’ve learnt doesn’t necessarily translate to real world self-defence. Looking back, I still love Ninjutsu. That time wasn’t wasted. I took away excellent movement skills that have made me a much better Kravist. And control and restraint skills that have proven useful later in life, dealing with violence professionally. People coming from truly combative systems such as boxing, Muay Thai, or anything that involves contact, will find that many of their skills translate directly and they pick up Krav very quickly. We’re not about getting rid of what you’ve learned. We’re about helping you put what you know with what we have to teach and helping you apply that to the arena of the real.

And finally, what does the future hold for Will Bayley and Krav Maga Swindon, where do you see yourself in another 5 years?

Personally, I never stop learning. And I can’t see a time I’ll ever stop teaching because teaching is without doubt the best way to learn anything to the highest level. I am excited to continue my work with the Gurkhas, and with other elements of our Armed Forces. I am trying to put together a free course to benefit local Paramedic services, who are all too often the victim of outrageous attacks on their person. And I am writing a book about violence, based on my experience and research, which will be published in 2018.

Krav Maga Swindon continues to go from strength to strength. We’ve expanded from our original 2 sessions a week to delivering 4 a week now, including our new adrenalised and contact sessions, which aim to desensitise experienced students to the stresses involved in interpersonal conflict and teach them effective conflict resolution skills, both verbal and physical. Our priority for 2018 is to expand our coaching staff with more Assistant Instructors, to make our service delivery even better.

It’s been a great 5 years. Hard to see how the next 5 will be better, but I’ve no doubt they will.

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Krav Maga for Self Defence – Body Slams

At Krav Maga Swindon we’ve recently rotated into an area of the self defence syllabus that deals with whole-body grabs. The purpose of this article is to put some footage in front of you and demonstrate exactly why grabs of this nature – bear hugs, double-leg grabs etc – are so lethally dangerous. (Link to video at foot of article)

At first glance, someone grabbing you with both arms, around your body or legs, doesn’t seem that hazardous. They ruin their striking ability by using both their arms in this way and are far too close to use effective knees or feet. But, as this footage demonstrates, it’s not the grab that you need to worry about; it’s what comes immediately afterwards.

All throws carry a very high risk of injury. Instructors know this first hand – whenever there are throws or takedowns involved in training, injury rates go through the roof. That’s why we tend to only train them on thick mats or grass, and why in arts like BJJ or Judo, so much time is taken learning effective breakfalls that mitigate the damage. To be blunt, there is only so much mitigation you can do when you are being turned upside down and dropped onto concrete.

Let’s apply the principles of Krav Maga to this situation:

Your attacker grabs you from behind, both arms circling your chest. Your arms are trapped.

Krav Maga Combative Principle 1: Stop the threat.

What is the threat? Simple: you are about to be lifted, turned, and dropped on your head, neck or shoulders. If this happens, there is a high likelihood that you will suffer a badly broken shoulder, serious head injury or worse – compression injuries to the skull or a broken neck, leading to paralysis or immediate death.

The untrained response is usually to attack the grab. Both hands go down to where the grip is and try to fight the hands holding you. This is useless; in the time taken to even find the hands, you have been lifted off your feet and are already on your way to the ground, and hospital.

The trained, Krav Maga response is to drop the weight. You must get your weight down and change your body shape to create space between you and the person lifting you. Even a few inches away from their chest and the job of getting you up off the ground becomes much more difficult. It’s like trying to dead-lift with the bar held out from the front of your body. So you drop low through the knees, keeping the back straight, and you lean forward a little, trying to create that space. You don’t try to break the grip at all – it’s not relevant yet. You can also try to lift both arms up, which can sometimes loosen the hold, but again, this isn’t the most critical thing.

Krav Maga Combative Principle 2: Apply immediate, aggressive combatives.

Once your weight is down, you must do damage. This must consist of what we call Stopping Injuries. You must incapacitate the attacker now with immediacy and total commitment. With your arms trapped by your sides, this will be difficult. But not impossible. Shift your hips aggressively to one side to create a line to the attacker’s groin. Rotate in, turning towards them and us the forearm or the flat of the hand to strike the groin as hard as possible, with the rotation lending power to your attack. Repeat until you get a loosening of the grip. Then slip out and use further combatives to strike other areas as necessary.

Krav Maga Combative Principle 3: Disengage.

Don’t follow the opponent to the ground. Once incapacitated you must move on.

Krav Maga Combative Principle 4: Scan for further threat.

Look for the other ones. In our last survey, the likelihood of being outnumbered in a violent assault in the UK went up markedly from previous studies. 92% of victims surveyed were outnumbered at least 2 to 1. Once the first opponent is down, you have a 92% chance that is at least one more attacker. You must locate, close and engage this attacker with immediacy. Remember, if you do not have the momentum and initiative, they do.

In summary, double arm grabs to any part of your body are a far greater threat than is obvious. In a fraction of a second, they can lead to you being lifted off your feet and dumped on the ground. In part due to the proliferation of MMA and the growing popularity of UFC, takedowns are becoming more and more popular among the perpetrators of violent crime. As a result, no study of self defence is complete without answering this threat.

For a good look at this threat in action, check out this footage:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”httpss://www.youtube.com/embed/CKCT__0OOI8″ frameborder=”0″ gesture=”media” allow=”encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>

For more info on the principles of Krav Maga, see this article from our sister site https://kravmagaswindon.com/principles-krav-maga/

Will Bayley – Instructor – Krav Maga Swindon – Krav Maga North Bristol – Bristol University Krav Maga Society.

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Be Responsible for Your Own Safety

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…

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Krav Maga Swindon – Gradings

The nature of assessment changes vastly between the various Krav Maga organisations globally. It also varies with each examining instructor. The differences, however, should only be in degree. Whether you grade at Krav Maga Swindon or in Israel, it should be one of the toughest things you’ve ever done. This article is designed to help you prepare effectively for your assessment.

First, if you’ve done some martial arts training and done a few gradings before, you will need to reset your expectations. Many gradings in the martial arts are over in half an hour to an hour and are taken – at least in the early grades – every three months. With us at Krav Maga Swindon, the Practitioner Level 1 grade takes around 5 hours to assess, and the participants will burn through between 1000 and 1300 calories an hour during that time. It is tough, and it’s not for everyone, but if you decide to step up to the challenge, be prepared.

Not Obligatory

At Krav Maga Swindon we believe that gradings are for you, not for us. Gradings are not obligatory. If you decide you don’t want to take the grades, you don’t have to. Students without grades will be taught all the same things as those with grades. The assessments are there for you, to challenge yourself, to push yourself to a limit, to learn a little about yourself. They’re there to instil in you a sense of confidence that will be with you when you need it most, out in the real world.

Reasons to grade at Krav Maga Swindon

We believe that the first enemy is the enemy within. What Sun Tsu called the Inner Opponent. If you’ve never met your inner opponent head on, or are not aware of it, you likely are not mentally prepared for the realities of violence. The Inner Opponent is the voice that stops you before you get stopped. It’s the voice that tells you to stop running when you’re on a run, to eat more food when you’re on a diet, to smoke a cigarette when you’re trying to quit, and to stay on the floor in a fight instead of fighting your way to your feet and doing what is necessary to survive. It’s a fact that most people in violent situations are defeated before the first punch is thrown, by their own adrenal systems, their own doubt and fear, their own failure to act. Our gradings are not just designed to provide an objective test of your ability to perform Krav Maga, they are designed to introduce you to your Inner Opponent and hand you a victory over that opponent, meaning a real desensitisation to the fear associated with violence.

As instructors, we are contacted regularly by old and current students with words of thanks for this technique or that, after they have used Krav Maga in the course of their professional or civilian lives. Gradings put you through something tough so that the next time something tough comes along you will face it with an edge, the knowledge that you have walked into combat before and survived. It is a statistical fact that the biggest predictor in success in violence is previous successful exposure to violence. If you don’t have previous exposure or success defending yourself, you’ll need to get it and gradings are one way of going towards that goal safely, ethically and legally!

You will walk out of a grading sore, worn out, but ten feet tall. Ask anyone who has done one. There’s an almost indescribable sense of accomplishment.

Preparation – Exercise

Fighting is profoundly anaerobic. You will need to train your anaerobic metabolism with plenty of high intensity interval training such as hill sprints and Tabata. However, you should not neglect steady state exercise. Studies show that the most rapid road to excellent fitness is to mix steady state with high intensity throughout the week. You might want to adhere to the following:

5 days a week – at least 1 Tabata workout per day. See https://www.kravmagaswindon.co.uk/tabata-protocol.html for more information on Tabata training.3 days a week – one instance of steady state exercise exceeding 45 minutes in duration.

Steady state means any exercise where you push hard but are still able to maintain a steady pace over the duration. To get great benefit, this should be just marginally under what you’re capable of achieving in terms of pace – you should finish exhausted but still able to go another few minutes. High Intensity, on the other hand, should be working way past your capacity to sustain. You should be gasping for breath after a 20 second interval.

Don’t underestimate the physical requirement of gradings at Krav Maga Swindon. But also remember that it isn’t a fitness test, per se. We don’t care how many pushups you can do, or burpees, or squats. We just care that you can push yourself to your limit again and again and still keep moving forwards to engage an enemy. The first hour of our assessments is designed to push any person to a limit, physically and mentally, so that we can impair cognitive function and simulate the effects of adrenal stress on the body and mind. No amount of fitness training will break this process, but if you are fit, you will recover faster from each phase of the assessment, be more alert during it and more resilient against injury. We highly recommend adequate preparation. Individuals who do not train themselves in terms of fitness outside of classes do not tend to do well in Krav Maga gradings.

Preparation – Food and Drink

Whatever you do, do not drink any booze for around 5 days before the assessment. It will have an impact on your ability to sustain the level of activity involved in the grading.

For the week before, take on board lots of carbohydrate in the form of white or brown rice, pasta etc.

Hydrate extremely well. Obviously don’t overdo it, but medically, your urine should be clear at all times. Dehydration for the week running up to the assessment can have a marked impact on your performance on the day. It isn’t enough to think about drinking some water an hour before the grading. In fact, this advice applies to everyday life. Most people are chronically dehydrated all of the time.

Eat a good breakfast at least 2 – 3 hours before the scheduled start time. Porridge is awesome.

Three Bottles

An old staple at Krav Maga Swindon is the 3 bottle trick. Many people are not able to take on solid food during a grading as it can make you sick. However, you will need to be putting calories and fluids into your body at every opportunity. Hence the 3 bottles:

Water – obviously you should take at least 2 litres of water.

Carbohydrate solution. You can buy Maltodextrin powder. It’s cheap, white and almost tasteless. It’s a carbohydrate that you can dissolve in water. Make a concentrated solution by putting a few inches of the stuff in a bottle and pouring on warm water. Then refrigerate overnight and take to the grading. This stuff is invaluable. Taken regularly it can keep you energised and prevent the faintness and nausea so often associated with high intensity exercise.
Sugar solution. An inch or two of sugar in a two litre bottle of water. This one is for emergencies – for when you feel like you are about to be sick or pass out. Swig from this bottle and you will feel better in minutes!

Equipment

You must take to the grading a gumshield and boxing gloves. For P3 or higher, you will need shin protection as well. A groin guard is advisable, as are knee pads and forearm protectors. You must also take a towel and at least 3 t-shirts of any description. A change of trousers is also advisable as you will sweat massively and it can be a great restorative to change half way through.

Hygeine

You will be working closely with people. Please use an effective antiperspirant and arrive showered and with clean clothes. However, please remember that strong perfumes, aftershaves or deodorants can be as unpleasant to others as bad personal hygiene. Best to smell of nothing.

Conclusion

There will be people who will be put off by this advice. We can’t help that. It is as it is. It is unapologetically tough because it must be tough. If it was easy, you would get nothing from it. It wouldn’t push you to discover some things about yourself and what you’re capable of.

The best advice we can give you is to go in there as a team with the people you train beside. I have assessed hundreds of people through the P grades at Krav Maga Swindon and North Bristol, and I can tell you that the people who shine are usually the people who stand with their fellow students, rather than alone. Go in there and encourage other people through the tough bits. They’ll encourage you right back when you need it. People who only focus on their own grading and their own success tend to introvert during the tough times. They go inwards and the voices in their head beat them and make them quit. Don’t let that happen to you. A team is far more resilient than an individual.

Also, you are ready. At Krav Maga Swindon our policy is to let you grade only when you we know you are capable of passing the assessment. If your instructor has let you in the room you have a proven ability to the standard by which you will be assessed. You can do it.

And if you don’t, you will have learned something, had a great experience and be more ready to succeed in the future. Remember, with us, retakes are always free. Forever. It only costs effort.

Remember Churchill: “Sometimes it is not enough that we do our best. Sometimes we must do what is necessary.”

Will Bayley – Krav Maga Swindon – Krav Maga North Bristol – Bristol University Krav Maga Society
British Krav Maga

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Krav Maga Swindon – Adrenalised Self Defence Training

Self Defence – Krav Maga Swindon Style

I’m pleased to announce the expansion of Krav Maga Swindon to four sessions per week. We will go into some detail about the adrenalised sessions in a later post, but for the benefit of our members, here are a few key notes about the session and your newly expanded membership.

Saturday Krav Maga sessions will be shortened to 1 hour, 10:30 – 11:30.
Our Adrenalised Training Session will be held Saturdays 11:30 – 12:30.

Those students not wanting to take part in the Adrenalised Training are free to attend the first session and then depart – sessions will be run as normal with no disruption to current training. Those students wishing to continue and do the extra session will be able to do so, provided they have been with us for a sufficient time. There will be no increase in cost for this session – it will be included in your memberships.

Eligibility:

Adrenalised Training is a serious business. It is very important that we all have trust in the group, and that participants have a good level of core Krav skills. To that end, students will not be eligible to participate in these extra sessions until they have trained with us for 3 months or longer.

Content:

Sessions will focus solely on fight skills and Adrenal Desensitisation training. Krav Maga Swindon’s lead Instructor Will Bayley has taken the relevant Coaching courses to deliver effective adrenalised training, and we have access to best-in-class protective kit to enable us to periodically train all-out with safety. Participants can expect a supportive environment to roll-play aggressive and violent situations and train to a high level in the skills necessary to both de-escalate and effectively escalate conflict.

Contact:

The level of contact between participants will vary depending upon who you train with. It is fine for less experienced students to attend and practice with light contact only – there will be no pressure to ‘go harder’ and you will be able to stay within your comfort zone (but encouraged to push yourself). More experienced students will be able to use the time to train harder than would otherwise be possible in sessions, and full-contact with the use of the Predator Suit and our protective kit.

Opinion:

It is our opinion, based on our experience and also that of many violence professionals, that combat effectiveness is about more than skill; it’s about management of fear. These sessions will deliver real confidence and experience that will translate directly to the real world using tried, tested and proven methodology. We have extensive experience preparing ordinary people for the extraordinary and this expansion will allow us to do that on a larger scale.

Think of it this way – the other 3 sessions are for skill of body. This session is for skill of mind.

You cannot learn to fight without fighting. That’s the truth. The trick to it is creating a program that is effective and safe, and that is what this is about.

Start:

Sessions will start within the next couple of weeks and will begin with a few weeks of introductory drills at a low intensity to settle everyone into the drills. For questions, please contact us.

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The Commander, British Forces Brunei Talks Krav Maga

We asked Lt Col Charlie Crowe to discuss his reasons for introducing Krav Maga to The 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, his views on Krav Maga as a tool for the armed forces, and his experience working with British Krav Maga’s Will Bayley…

Why did you want to bring Krav Maga to the Battalion?

Training in Krav Maga in Swindon over the past year I learned that it is an excellent tool for the intelligent and judicious application of effective violence; this is core business for fighting units like 1 RGR. The training also develops high levels of anaerobic fitness, determination and resilience. These are all qualities required of soldiers in 1 RGR.

What was your opinion of the training outcome?

I am delighted with the outcome of the training. I now have PT instructors who are able to deliver Krav-based physical training to the Battalion on an enduring basis. We are very aware that we do not possess the experience or qualifications to deliver wholesale high intensity Krav Maga training, but we do now have the means to develop basic drills and test them under stress in a safe environment.

Do you see Krav Maga as a useful skill for today’s soldier?

The operating environment we can expect to deploy into requires all ranks to be highly disciplined in how and when to apply violence. But when the time comes for aggressive action it must be decisive, and our own recent operational experience is full of examples of lethal threats at close quarters. Krav Maga is an excellent tool for developing the right responses to this and is, in my view, highly relevant to modern soldiering.

Do you see Krav Maga as being a continued future part of training with the Regiment?

It is my firm intention to pursue Krav Maga as a basic skill set and training discipline across the Battalion.

How was your experience working with Will Bayley?

Will Bayley has a thorough knowledge of the psychology and physiology that underpins close quarter fighting. This gave real depth to the practical training he delivered, which he had painstakingly tailored to the particular requirements of this unique unit. His instruction was excellent throughout and he very quickly gained the respect of my experienced PTIs. A highly impressive professional.

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Krav Maga and 1RGR

In January of 2017, I was asked by the Commanding Officer of The 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles and the British Forces Brunei to travel to Brunei and introduce Krav Maga to the Battalion personnel. Lt Col Charlie Crowe had trained with Krav Maga Swindon for 18 months while posted to Shrivenham, and is a keen and skilled Kravist. When the time came for him to change station to Brunei, he wanted to take Krav Maga with him and introduce it to the soldiers and officers of the Gurkha Rifles.

The brief was simple: come to Brunei and spend a couple of weeks teaching Krav Maga. Obviously, in the time we had, it was not going to be possible to create experts, but the intention was to introduce it as widely as possible both to ingrain some good basic skills and also to begin the Krav Maga journey for as many people as possible, complementing their skillset with proven hand to hand capabilities.

The Royal Gurkha Rifles are a legendary Regiment, with a long-standing reputation for being fierce and indomitable warriors. All soldiers in the Regiment have experience in the more traditional martial arts, with Tae Kwon Do being taught to them during basic training at ITC Catterick. However, very few had previously trained in Krav Maga, which is something that the Colonel wanted to change. Doing so meant blazing a trail as one of the first Regiments of the British Army to take up the practice of Krav Maga.

Methodology

After some planning, we decided that the best way to achieve a good exposure throughout the Battalion was to run a five day, twenty-hour series of sessions with the Physical Training Instructors of the Battalion. The idea was to drill them thoroughly in four or five basic Krav Maga fundamentals, so that they could effectively and safely begin to involve basic combative drills in their daily physical training sessions with the three companies of the Battalion. That way, the whole of the Battalion would be able to have sustained and regular exposure to the basics of Krav, preparing them well for further training with us when they return to the UK. Long term, it is our hope that several members of the Battalion will take the British Krav Maga instructor course, enabling them to provide continued, in-house training, furthering the skills of the personnel.

The PTIs took to the training with incredible focus and skill. It was immediately clear that not only were they incredibly physically fit, but also skilled and competent fighters with a good deal of martial arts experience between them. Their ability to take on new skills and patterns of movement was remarkable, their learning curve almost vertical. We were able to skill them in good basics easily within the 20 hours available.

At the end of the 20 hours, we worked with the PTIs to deliver Krav Maga focused physical training sessions to the companies. These sessions were a marriage of basic Krav Maga drills and murderously tough PT. The men flew into them with total focus, made even more impressive when considering the intense heat and humidity present in Brunei. Of course, it wasn’t possible to ingrain any advanced skill in that one hour, but we did manage to introduce them to Krav Maga and create in them a desire to train further. And of course the PTIs will be able to satisfy that desire with a new routine of daily Krav focused Physical training sessions.

Ultimately a deeply satisfying trip, accomplishing what we set out to do, and a real honour to work with such dedicated and incredible warriors. I look forward to working with them again when they return to station in the UK.

A Commander’s View

We asked Lt Col Charlie Crowe to discuss his reasons for introducing Krav Maga to the Battalion, his views on Krav Maga as a tool for the armed forces, and his experience working with British Krav Maga’s Will Bayley…

Why did you want to bring Krav Maga to the Battalion?

Training in Krav Maga in Swindon over the past year I learned that it is an excellent tool for the intelligent and judicious application of effective violence; this is core business for fighting units like 1 RGR. The training also develops high levels of anaerobic fitness, determination and resilience. These are all qualities required of soldiers in 1 RGR.

What was your opinion of the training outcome?

I am delighted with the outcome of the training. I now have PT instructors who are able to deliver Krav-based physical training to the Battalion on an enduring basis. We are very aware that we do not possess the experience or qualifications to deliver wholesale high intensity Krav Maga training, but we do now have the means to develop basic drills and test them under stress in a safe environment.

Do you see Krav Maga as a useful skill for today’s soldier?

The operating environment we can expect to deploy into requires all ranks to be highly disciplined in how and when to apply violence. But when the time comes for aggressive action it must be decisive, and our own recent operational experience is full of examples of lethal threats at close quarters. Krav Maga is an excellent tool for developing the right responses to this and is, in my view, highly relevant to modern soldiering.

Do you see Krav Maga as being a continued future part of training with the Regiment?

It is my firm intention to pursue Krav Maga as a basic skill set and training discipline across the Battalion.

How was your experience working with Will Bayley?

Will Bayley has a thorough knowledge of the psychology and physiology that underpins close quarter fighting. This gave real depth to the practical training he delivered, which he had painstakingly tailored to the particular requirements of this unique unit. His instruction was excellent throughout and he very quickly gained the respect of my experienced PTIs. A highly impressive professional.

The Security Bubble

We’re fortunate in the BKMA to be surrounded by some very experienced people in the security industry and in the forces, and of course the two often overlap. I’d like to share with you today a lesson I learned during my Close Protection training, a lesson delivered by Mark Edwards. Mark is a quiet, humble chap who won’t make a lot of noise about his achievements, but let’s say he’s got a lot of both military and security experience behind him and is extensively respected in both Bootneck and Close Protection circles as well as being a great Krav instructor. Far as I’m concerned, what Mark has to say about Security gets written in stone. He knows his shit.

The lesson is this. Build a bubble around yourself and keep it up all the time as a way of life. It becomes habit which you can then use effortlessly to protect others.

People who aren’t in the Krav or security industries listen to comments like this and their reaction is often the same: “Isn’t it really stressful going around being paranoid all the time?”

This comes up all the time so I’m going to address this point now.

PosturingViolent crime happens at rates that are small but significant. It can happen. It does happen. And if you are unaware, that is living in a state of unawareness, you are already in a class of people more likely to fall victim to crime. Victim Selection rituals are designed to find people like you. People who, when attacked, will be so surprised and unprepared that you will react with immediate and total paralysis and capitulation. Criminals don’t want fights, they want victims. Easy, predictable, safe victims.

Secondly, it isn’t stressful to be aware. Security Awareness, as it’s known to the professionals, is not a stressful state of being. It’s just awareness. It means being present and awake and aware of what is happening around you. When it’s practiced regularly it becomes natural and unthinking.

Cooper, in his now industry standard theory on Colour Codes, talks about the levels of threat awareness…

White: Code White means you are asleep. No trained professional is ever in this state, even in their own home. Code White means you have absolutely no awareness of anything occurring around you. If this sounds dangerous, it’s because it is. Think of all the near misses you see on the roads because a driver has not looked or seen a hazard or a pedestrian, texting away, has stepped in front of a car. That’s Code White.

Yellow: Code Yellow is the relaxed state of awareness we are talking about here when we mention the Security Bubble. Yellow means you are chilled out but very aware of your surroundings. When you first switch on and begin to learn security either through law enforcement or military/intelligence work, close protection work or simply as a civilian learning a reality based system such as Krav Maga, this will be an effort as you make habit all the observations. After a time, all these observations become automatic and happen as easily as breathing or blinking. You don’t have to try, the information is just there:

  • Where are the exits?
  • Are there any intoxicated and potentially violent people around me?
  • Can I see this guy’s hands? If not, why not?
  • Why is this group of three splitting up and forming around me?
  • The car behind me has been present through two roundabouts and three turns. (Surveillance awareness.)
  • Etc.

Orange: Code Orange occurs when something elevates to the level of threat. Someone is eyeballing you; the vehicle described above follows you through three sides of a square (a standard counter-surveillance maneuver); footsteps quicken behind you when walking at night; someone steps too close to you at a cashpoint.

Red: The threat becomes immediate and aggressive. There is physical contact or the immediate threat of physical contact and/or verbal aggression, typically profanity.

Black: Black isn’t on Cooper’s list, but it basically means it’s on, you’re fighting for your life.

Clearly, being in code Yellow is the best way to prevent things escalating to Red or Black. And equally clearly, if you are in White and suddenly you are in Black, you’re screwed. Your adrenal Predator and Preysystem will hit you harder than any punch and you’ll flounder in utter, hysterical paralysis while someone dances the tango on your head.

When you ask professionals about security awareness, or OPSEC, and people’s lack of it, the professionals are always amazed at how people can be so whimsical about their lack of thought. Of course it’s all about ignorance and bliss, but to a security aware person, they can see the threats everywhere and can’t understand people’s ignorance of it. That guy over there is twitching, suggesting he’s come off antipsychotic medications or is otherwise unbalanced. That guy over there walking directly towards me has his hand just behind him so I can’t see it. Or he’s repeatedly checking a pocket or back of belt.  I’ve crossed the street twice and the guy behind me has done the same. There’s a guy in a bar eyeballing everyone. It’s only a matter of time before he chooses to engage someone and I don’t want it to be me. When you see all this, all this potential threat, you make different choices. It’s not stressful, it’s just awareness. But it keeps you safe and you wonder at the fact that so many live in such total oblivion. And it becomes easy to see how terribly easy it is to select a victim from amongst all these Code White people and attack them without fear of any reprisal or fight.

The Bubble.

Once you have security awareness, you extend a bubble of habitual security protocols around yourself, your property and, by extension, your loved ones. This means, in practice, such everyday things such as:

  • Parking the car front out every time.
  • Checking rear seats before entering vehicle.
  • Locking car doors when travelling. Even before car start or seatbelt on, doors get locked.
  • Have safe places in mind to drive to in the event of hostile surveillance or action (road rage is included here).
  • Don’t drive home if you think someone is following you. Go to a safe place.
  • Avoiding known trouble spots. If you have to walk through them, keep head up, aware, walking briskly and with purpose. No headphones or mobile phone use.
  • Keep aware of your exact location at all times so you can report it promptly to emergency services, for example mile markers which appear every 0.5 miles on British Motorways.
  • Never opening car windows more than two inches, less in traffic or stationary.
  • Drinking moderately when out and keeping an awareness of immediate threat, being prepared to stand up and walk to another place if there is threat or hostility.
  • Avoiding obvious or known trouble spots or bad routes for foot.

These are just some of the very many things a security aware person does to keep their safety managed. This is the bubble. And the fact is, professionally, if you come to a place where you’re asked to protect another individual, or personally, when it comes time to protect your own, your habits can simply be extended to protect the other, without any work on your part. Your protection will be thorough, practiced and solid. Contrast this with someone who only thinks about this stuff when they’re working. I know who I’d want protecting me if my life were in danger.

BKMA StudentsTo learn more about security awareness, consider a good Close Protection course, if you are a professional, choosing one that puts heavy emphasis on fieldwork rather than classroom time. Or, if you are a civilian wanting to protect your family or simply yourself, learn a good reality based fighting system such as Krav Maga from a reputable and experienced teacher. Ask questions, of the teacher and yourself. Watch the world. Open your eyes and start to see how it works. Ignorance isn’t really bliss; it’s putting your life in some scumbag’s hands and hoping they won’t end or seriously alter your life.

Stay safe. Happy training.

Will Bayley, Close Protection Officer and Krav Maga Instructor, Krav Maga Swindon, Krav Maga North Bristol, Bristol University Krav Society.

 

Tags: Personal Security, Close Protection, Awareness.

TL;DR: Put a good security bubble around yourself and when the time comes to step up and be responsible for someone else’s security you’ll be able to simply extend your bubble and be much more effective than a person who only practices security on a need-to basis.