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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:

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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.

British Krav Maga Review

Life or Ego? Self Defence Law

No study of self defence or CQC is complete without a study of self defence law and the law of violence in whatever country you practice – and live – in. A fluid understanding of the law and its processes will not only help to keep you from falling foul of it, but will also help you to make good moral and responsible decisions about your use of force and question your decisions ahead of time to be sure you are acting in defence of self, not defence of ego. In the following brief summation, we’ll look at the offences of violence in the United Kingdom, and their Statutory Defences. Then we’ll look at provisions in UK self defence law and talk about how you should apply them to your Krav Maga training in Swindon, or wherever it is that you train.

Assault
The word assault is widely misunderstood. In UK law, assault has nothing to do with putting hands on someone. The charge of assault has a different definition:

Common Assault, Contrary to Section 39, Criminal Justice Act 1988

“Any act where a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal violence”

From this simple definition come the following key points.

Assault has occurred where one person’s actions – be they words, gestures or whatever – result in another person believing that immediate and unlawful violence is about to occur against them.

The violence threatened must be immediate and possible immediately. Were A to threaten B verbally from the other side of a busy motorway, the threat would not be immediate and an assault would not have occurred. However, if the threat were made stood next to B, then that would constitute an assault. Further, future threats are not assaults – “I’m going to beat your head in next week” is not immediate and therefore not an assault.

No physical contact is necessary for an assault to have occurred. All that is necessary is that one person is caused to believe that they are about to be the victim of violence.

Battery

Battery is the physical component of an attack, and the charges of Assault and Battery generally come together. Battery is where an actual physical attack has occurred that occasions “superficial injuries.” More serious injuries would result in the more serious charges detailed later in this article.
Injuries that would constitute Battery:

Grazes
Minor Bruising
Superficial cuts
Not requiring stitching
Black eye

Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) – Section 47 Offences against the Person Act 1861

ABH is basically the same as assault and battery, except that the nature of sustained injuries are more severe. Typical injuries that might result in a charge of ABH:
Loss or breaking of tooth
Cuts requiring stitching
Multiple areas of bruising

Unlawful Wounding/Inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm – Section 20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861

As ABH, but with more serious injuries. Here’s some examples from the CPS page:

Permanent disability, loss of sensory function or visible disfigurement
Broken or displaced limbs or bones, including fractured skull, compound fractures, broken jaw or ribs
Serious loss of blood, usually necessitating transfusion or lengthy treatment or incapacity
Serious psychiatric injury (subject to expert witness).

Self Defence Law – Statutory Defence against the Charges of Assault and Battery, ABH and GBH

Self Defence law is simple enough. Self defence appears in UK law in a number of places, starting with the Common Law. As a student of self defence, you owe it to yourself to have a solid understanding of self defence law and to know your place within it. Ignorance of the law is never a defence against it and understanding what follows is the best way to ensure that, should the worst happen, your actions will fall within ethical and legal boundaries.

The Crown Prosecution Service offer a guidance to Self Defence and the Law (Link Below) that gives the following reassurance and guidance:

The basic principles of self-defence are set out in (Palmer v R, [1971] AC 814); approved in R v McInnes, 55 Cr App R 551:
“It is both good law and good sense that a man who is attacked may defend himself. It is both good law and good sense that he may do, but only do, what is reasonably necessary.”

The key wording is in the last clause: “What is reasonably necessary.” Indeed, there are three measures that will help you to decide if the level of force you use is lawful:

Reasonable – In the situation of an attack against your person, the force you use must be reasonable in the circumstances as you believed them to be.
Proportionate – The force you use must be proportionate to the attack as you believed it to be.
Necessary – The force used must be the minimum amount necessary to successfully stop the attack as you believed it to be.

Clearly there are issues here. The test of Reasonable Force is a subjective one. However, the CPS guidance continues with the following reassurance:
(Palmer v R 1971 AC 814);

“If there has been an attack so that self defence is reasonably necessary, it will be recognised that a person defending himself cannot weigh to a nicety the exact measure of his defensive action. If the jury thought that that in a moment of unexpected anguish a person attacked had only done what he honestly and instinctively thought necessary, that would be the most potent evidence that only reasonable defensive action had been taken …”

What this means:

Before you use force to defend yourself, you must have the reasonable belief that you are about to be attacked and that the force you use must be reasonable relative to the circumstances as you honestly believe them to be.

Section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 clarified the Common Law by saying that the question of whether the degree of force used was reasonable or not must be decided based on the circumstances as you believed them to be.

In simpler terms, it is your belief about the circumstances that matters, not the fact. You could have been mistaken about the imminent attack, and still be justified, if you held an honest belief that the attack was imminent.

The more unreasonable your belief, the less likely it will be that a jury will find in your favour. Remember, you’re asking other people – the CPS and then, if necessary, a jury – to put themselves in your shoes and ask themselves if they would have done the same.

Pre-emptive Striking and the Law

Striking first is not unlawful. There is no law against pre-emptive striking. However, it is unlawful to seek out and start a violent confrontation so you will need to show that you did not seek out the confrontation and did not wish it to occur, as well as then showing that you had the honest belief that your subsequent actions were necessary to prevent an attack that was, in your honestly held belief, inevitable.

Life v Ego – Did you Act to Defend Life, or Ego?

Self defence law gives you the right to use force in the defence of life and well being. It is a lawful act when faced with a genuine threat to your health or life by the violent attack of another person. It is not lawful self defence to act in defence of ego. It is a moral and legal imperative that you ensure you can tell the difference – many can’t in the heat of the moment.

Picture this: you’re in a bar and someone cuts in front of you in line. You complain and the person squares up and says ‘What the fuck you going to do about it?’ If you answer this challenge – and it is a challenge, not a threat – you are acting in defence of ego. The violence that follows is unnecessary, and unlawful. In answering you like this, the aggressor is clearly stating a willingness to be violent. He is offering an invitation to engage in violence. You do not need to accept. You do not need to engage. Engaging in this circumstance is not necessary for the defence of life. Further, it is unlawful.

This is a hard thing for many people – particularly men – to accept. But you must get your head around it and the better trained you are, the more responsibility you have to get your head around it. If you’ve never been in a fight, please learn from the experience of the unfortunate people who have. There’s one thing that can be worse than getting a beating and that’s coming out on top. There are no winners in violence, especially if your actions were not just and the violence wasn’t necessary. In the scenario above, even if you escalate this particular argument and it becomes violent and you win, you will then have to deal with potential and likely criminal charges, the long wait for court and sentence, civil suits for damages, the fear of repercussion or reprisal, and the emotional consequences of having seriously harmed or killed another human being, over what? A place in a queue? When you look at it this way it’s clear to see how preposterous is it, how ridiculous. And that’s violence. Ridiculous. Stupid. Unnecessary. So much of violence – social violence – is just that, unnecessary; it’s a defence of the ego, not a defence of life. Be sure that you know the difference.

Experienced people such as violence professionals (security, law enforcement, military) will tell you, in a situation like this you walk away and you laugh because you know that, far from losing face, you’ve spared him, and yourself, so much pain and stress and grief, and in moments the situation is forgotten. You go back to your friends or your beer or your meal, happy because you know the hell you just walked away from.

If someone asks you if ‘you got a problem?’ or ‘You want a problem?’ the correct answer is NO. Remember that pre-emptive striking – and force in self defence law – is only lawful if an assault has occurred. Sure, assault is just the apprehension of immediate violence – you don’t have to wait until there’s a physical element to that assault – but there must be present such actions to cause you apprehension of immediate and unlawful violence, in the wording of the law. Yes, someone asking you if you want a problem will very likely lead to an attack if you let it, but it isn’t a certainty yet – you can’t safely argue that at that point the threat of attack was immediate (unless there are further circumstances such as intense adrenalisation or violence signals from the aggressor, presence of weapons or more people engaging, moving and flanking). In other words, it’s a tough sell to the CPS, police, or a jury of your peers that you couldn’t have done something to avoid the violence, and it is likely that your belief that violence was immediate and inevitable wasn’t reasonable in the circumstances as you believed them to be. At that point there are still options. You can de-escalate. De-engage. Or at the very least fall into the Fence and your Conflict Escalation Protocols: control the distance and use verbal fence (‘leave me alone.’ Or ‘Back away’). If they close the distance after that, forcing you to push them back, then there is emergent justification for use of force – legal and moral justification is becoming present and easier. You are giving them the chance to make the right choice, and if you later have to hit, you are giving yourself the best chance of having solid, moral and legal justification for the use of force – you did everything you could to avoid the violence. You are working with every second, every attempt at de-escalation, towards proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that an attack was coming and that you acted out of necessity. But you must ask yourself in every circumstance, could you walk away at this point? Are there door staff ten metres away you could go to? If there is any chance of any other resolution, without undue danger to yourself, you must take it, otherwise you are acting in defence of ego, not in defence of life, and your actions are at the least immoral, and at the worst unlawful.

Consider these questions for yourself, in your own time, and don’t let the first time you think about it be when you’re faced with a real attacker. And remember, it’s not self-defence if you’re defending your ego.

We’ll consider more scenario examples and good training protocols to keep yourself on the right side of self defence law in further articles.

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

Links:
Basics and Desensitisation – Our advice on preparing yourself for violence
Crown Prosecution Service – Offences Against the Person
Crown Prosecution Service – Self Defence

The Bravado of Self Defence

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?

No.

And I want you to imagine for me something.

Someone.

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.

Carefully.

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 Rule number 1

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:

Rule#1

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.

httpss://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3927954/british-soldier-drowns-isis-puddle-sbs-troops-mosul-iraq/?utm_source=FBPAGE&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SprnklrSUNOrganic&UTMX=Editorial%3ATheSun%3AFBLink%3AStatement%3ANews

 

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

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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.