Self-defence is not just about physical skills. It also takes a brain-based training under stress that helps you go through the freezing process and to make the right decision when it is time to react. Self-defence must be taught seriously in situations closely resembling those where it must be applied.
At KMC, we say that techniques are just muscle memories, and that learning techniques without putting them in the realistic context of an aggression and that not having your partner resist your self-defence moves will give you false self-confidence and a false idea of the reality.
In some cases, it could even cause you to make the wrong decision, especially in a context of assault with a weapon, or involving multiple attackers.
There is something that most people forget or don’t know, when signing up for a self-defence class, that is that there is a huge difference between practicing “self-defense techniques anyone can do” with friends in a comfortable dojo, and facing a real violent threat or assault in your daily life, alone or accompanied with your loved ones.
There is also a huge difference between “having fun” practicing self-defence techniques on the mats with your friends and having to defend yourself on the ground in the streets. Think about it again:
- How did you end up on the ground in the streets?
- Did you get punches in the face first?
- Did you get chocked first?
- Did you hurt the back of your head on the sidewalk when your attacker took you down?
- Is a sidewalk as soft as a dojo mat?
Everyone can do a kata, punch a boxing bag, pretend to disarm from a rubber gun pointed on your forehead, or from a plastic knife under your throat, like so many “experts” are selling on Youtube.
But unless you have trained hard under stress for months in realistic combat and defence contexts, without mats and with weapons as close to reality as possible, the first thing you will do when you will have a real handgun on your forehead or a knife under your throat will be to shake, to freeze and to pee in your pants.
A Few Fantasy Techniques sold as Self-defence...
Unfortunately, the martial arts and fitness industries, including some Krav maga schools out there, have for years sold self-defence as “simple techniques that anyone can do”. It is wrong in so many way and only a marketing slogan.
Self-defence is not easy, and responding to a threat or an assault is not something “fun” that everyone can do.
The first punch in the face or throat choke you will experience should make you understand that very fast.
If there ever comes a time when you have to physically defend yourself and/or your loved ones, you can bet that the context of circumstance isn’t going to be a funny one and you must be prepared for the worst because you will never know the level of violence your abuser is capable of ahead of time.
When you learn self-defence, your instructor should teach you the reality of threats and assaults and make you aware about important things that matter in a self-defence situation, such as:
- The timeline of an aggression.
- The size and weight of the attacker.
- The body language, change in posture, hands position, etc.
- How they trap you.
- The risk factors in your daily life.
- The number of attackers,
- The reality of street fights.
- Evasion tactics to escape from problems before they occur.
- Your freezing process.
During the classes, you should also practice repetitive drills with different partners who have different sizes and skills than you, and then execute your self-defence techniques considering a sudden attack, the timeline of an aggression, an attacker bigger than you, an attacker who is resisting your defences, etc.
You should have a training as close as possible to the violent reality of an assault.
About classes teaching you handgun or knife disarming:
If you want to try a class to learn to disarm a handgun threat, you should at least train with an Airsoft handgun, because the weight as well as the slide of an Airsoft handgun will make it more realistic when handling the handgun during the defence, rather than using a yellow plastic gun.
You should also make sure that your instructor knows how a handgun works and how to handle it and it must be the first thing he teaches you!
Airsoft handguns used during our advanced Krav Maga Classes.
If you take a knife defence class, your instructor should tell you that no matter what your skills are, there is a lot of chance that you will get injured in a real attack. If you are taught that during a knife attack, your technique will work 100%, you are not training at the right place. When we train to defend ourselves against a knife attack, we learn how to minimize the damage and we hope it will work. During a fight, you don’t want to get a cut to an artery, but if your attacker engages in a hard fight, there is a lot of chances that you will get cut/stab somewhere.
Please note that it is also completely useless to learn to defend yourself against an armed attacker if you first did not learn to manage your stress level, your freezing process and how to strike hard, working under pressure, without boxing gloves.
You just end up losing your time and your money.
Your instructor should also tell you that it is completely wrong to think that a self-defence technique can work 100%, regardless of your attacker.
Considering your own self-defence level and how you manage your freezing process, the size, the weight, the strength, the street fight habits, the determination, the level of stress, the madness, malice or uncontrolled level of anger of your attacker, will set the level of aggression and injuries you will face, either physical injuries or mental injuries, and probably both!
About Advanced Self-defence classes:
In 2021, Self-defence instructors should adapt their training to the reality and ever changing face of violence! It is time that advanced self-defence classes provide you with important teachings such as:
- Teamwork in a street fight context.
- Teamwork “Contact and cover” in a threatening context.
- Hand to hand combat.
- VIP protection techniques applied to our loved ones.
- Fighting in a confined space such as a car or a building.
- How to trap someone in a self-defence context.
- To promote the value of having a family emergency plan.
- First Aid & CPR.
- EDC: What you should carry every day.
About freezing during harassment, violence or sexual assaults:
People often say “I froze” when trying to explain why they didn’t fight or flee during a sexual assault, a school shooting, or a very stressful experience of harassment. The fear, the mental and physical pain are some of the components of the freezing process. It’s possible to differentiate three types of freezing:
- Detection freezing
- Shocked Freezing
- No-Good-Choices Freezing
Your self-defence instructor should teach you how to manage the freezing process because it is a very important skill to know when it is time to defend yourself.
Lessons from the Military:
No one knows better than military that one key component of effective combat training is repetitiveness, literally drilling in new habits: how to fire weapons, how to reload, fire a gun, execute combat formations, clearing a building, etc.
Without sufficient practice, the training won’t deeply ingrain essential habits in young recruits.
But without a second component, that is, lots of practice in the specific situations where those habits must be applied, such training is useless. That’s why the military spends so much on simulating the streets and buildings of cities and villages, and on replicating enemy strategies and tactics in countries where they have to carry out missions.
As decades of neuroscience research have shown, highly stressed brains run on reflexes, habits and by repeated life experiences.
When you are under attack, your ability to manage an effective defence depends on the nature of your training.
Self-defence for civilians is the hardest one to learn!!:
- Most of the time, you will be alone facing a threat.
- You should defend yourself respecting the section 34 of the Criminal Code of Canada. (Or the criminal code of another country if you have to defend yourself during a trip).
- Unlike close protection teams, soldiers, or police services, facing a threat, you are not a part of a large tactical team, you do not make in advance a security plan and risk assessment, you don’t have assistance from a special unit, you don’t have technology, or any paramedic on standby.
- You are alone.
In 2021, more than ever, self-defence is an essential skill to learn. But it takes lots of practice, understanding and it must be taught seriously in situations closely resembling those where it must be applied, and there is no place here for “an easy technique everyone can do in a fun environnement”