Self defense is hugely complex yet simple at the same time. At its most fundamental it is pretty much as Dictionary dot com describes it:
Yes, pretty simple, but there is much more than that. Much, much more.
Krav Maga is a self defense system in which we train to defend ourselves in much the same manner as described above. All of the drills and training are basically to defend one’s person when physically attacked. A lot of any relevant self defense training will incorporate drills that will induce stress to approximate the real deal as much as possible. That includes sparring. It’s one thing to defend against a choke, bear hug, or punch when training and another thing to do it under the kind of stress induced when you really get punched or are exhausted. The stress drills matter. You have to know what it’s like to be exhausted and defending yourself against an attacker in order to, well, be exhausted and defend yourself against an attacker. You have to know what it’s like to be punched in the face to really understand what it’s like to fight back after being punched. Where I train at, Krav Maga Reborn, there is a lot of emphases on “training from a disadvantage” which means they do a lot of stress drills. Yeah, you’ve got various counters down in response to various attacks, but lets see how you do in a circle of hell, surrounded by various assailants coming at you with a punch, kick, stick, knife, or gun.
Knives are difficult to approximate in a training scenario. The rubber knives are pretty good up to a point, but you have to experience the discomfort that a knife brings to really train. What to do? Train with real knives? I’d advise against that. The next best thing is something called a Shocknife. It’s basically a stun gun in the shape of a knife. It produces an electrical charge along the “cutting edge” and it’s very helpful in demonstrating where your knife defense is lacking. It hurts. Trust me. It puts a whole new spin on training for defending against knife attacks.
Along much of the same lines as knives are guns. When running drills and practicing gun defense tactics the fake training guns work pretty well up to a point; they approximate the size and weight of a gun. You can train with disarm techniques and do stress drills, but it’s a far cry from the real deal. Again, training with a real loaded firearm would be ill advised. That’s a nice way of saying blitheringly stupid. There are training devices called ram pistols which work great, again, up to a point. These closely resemble real firearms and will let you know how effective your gun defense is. They hurt, but won’t kill you.
But that’s only part of the story regarding training gun defense and gun takeaways. There are a lot of different kinds of guns (I’m talking handguns. Long guns are a whole different realm). You can do that awesome gun defense and takeaway when defending against one kind of gun, but apply that same technique against a different kind of gun and you would be in a bigger world of hurt than you’re already in if someone is posturing with a gun. The characteristics of something like a Glock 26 are different enough from, say, a small frame Smith & Wesson revolver that if you’re not familiar with what you’re dealing with your chances of a successful takeaway go from very poor to just about hopeless. Or, worse yet, even if you’ve trained and drilled yourself half to death on some kind of gun takeaway, the effectiveness of any gun defense is going to be severely limited if you have no familiarity with firearms.
This is something that became apparent for me today as I participated in a gun familiarity seminar this morning at the place where I train Krav Maga. For me, it was nothing new. It was geared towards those who have NO experience with guns. Going in, I was thinking it was going to be pretty cool in the sense that it would introduce a lot of novices to firearms.
Going over the basics was a good thing and it was well presented. But then it occurred to me that someone like me, who is pretty experienced in firearms, would have a definite advantage over someone with zero experience with firearms. For example, one of the things that Krav Maga drills in gun takeaways is the “tap and rack” maneuver if you’re lucky enough to be successful with a takeaway. For those who have zero experience with firearms, they’ll have no clue what the hell “tap and rack” is. Okay, you’ve got the gun, now what do you do with it? If you have zero experience with firearms, you may very well be as big of a danger to yourself and others as the bad guy was.
A lot of these kinds of things were touched on this morning during this excellent presentation.
Look, if someone approaches you with a gun fully intent on shooting you, there’s not a whole lot you’re going to be able to do about it. But, in most instances, bad guys are going to use a gun to posture; a point of leverage to get something from you. If you’re smart, you’ll give them what they want. If someone throws a gun in my face and demands my wallet, I’m giving them my wallet. Nothing you own is worth dying for. However, if you’ve given the bad guy everything you have and you’ve begged, pleaded, and done everything you can to get the bad guy to leave and they now demand that you come with them to some other location, the chances of that gun actually being used against you has greatly increased. If the point has been reached where you’ve decided that it’s worth the risk, and you go for a gun defense/takeaway, the more familiar you are with firearms and how they work, the better position you are going to be in to be successful. Self defense will always work best against what you know.