Defending Yourself Against Attackers With or Without Weapons; What are your chances?
by Eric Wasserman
The rights and responsibilities surrounding firearms is an extremely hot issue these days. Let me make it very clear that it is not my intent here to convince you whether guns should or should not be acceptable pieces of flair. Rather, I want to discuss the topic of how we can defend ourselves in two generic, yet distinct situations. In both, we do NOT have firearms at our disposal.
In the first situation, we find ourselves facing an aggressor without a firearm.
This is most often going to be the case. In Krav Maga we consider every situation as applied to a number of distances away from the attacker. Out first, and often best, course of action would be to remove ourselves entirely; you can’t be hurt if you can’t be reached. This is the distance at which we can safely run away (always towards an exit, and always where there are people around).
At a slightly shorter distance, we may have to engage. If this is the case, it only makes sense to use our longest, and most powerful weapon: our legs. Kicks can be incredibly powerful tools to thwart an attack before it ever can reach a stage where it may be more fully engaging. There are some basic things to understand, for example; control, human vital regions, and making and keeping distance. Lastly, any student or instructor will remind you; always, always, always search and scan for additional threats.
Closer in, we reach a region where kicks may be too long of a tool. This is where we will begin to use our basic combatives. Punches and hammer fists are excellent tools in this zone. It’s also vital to keep in mind that it is highly likely the attacker is not alone. As the adrenaline pumps through your body, you begin to tense up and focus in. This tunnel vision can be as dangerous as it is useful. In a ring, or sport, or fight, we do not need to worry about this kind of thing but, as we know, there are no rules in the street; therefore, there can be no rules in our teachings.
Another step closer, and we have reached a point where we’ve made a mistake. To have an aggressor in this close means we have been largely unaware of our surroundings and our sense of space. But, now we’re here. This is problem number one. A close fight could involve elbows, hooks, uppercuts, headbutts, and even biting and scratching. We could also find ourselves using Krav Maga techniques like a choke or headlock release. The nature of an in-fight lends itself to be messy, so we do everything possible to avoid this.
Now, the more dangerous situation: we face an attacker with a firearm.
Please take note, that under NO circumstances, regardless of your proficiency or state of mind, should you ever seek out or put yourself in this situation. It is massively dangerous, and dealing with an imminent threat is quite different than seeking out said threat.
This type of threat could be fatal, and because of that, we have to be perfect in our decision-making and actions. Every second is crucial. You’re scared, heart pumping, beads of sweat starting to form across your brow. But, you remember your training. You use the most effective technique you’ve been taught. The one that’s been handed down for generations. You slowly reach into your bag, pull out your wallet, and toss it a fair distance away while you turn and run like wind.
There is nothing we want to do less than deal with an attacker with a weapon, hot or cold. The slightest mistake could be the end. Therefore, we use a few pieces of key knowledge. Our chances are pretty good in these situations, as long as we stay calm. Most attackers don’t want to hurt you. This is how we define a threat vs. an attack. When we have the opportunity to deal with a threat non-violently, we do. By talking to the attacker, we use tactics to keep his mind unfocused, and we can take advantage of that weakness. This knowledge is something you can take away after just a single Krav Maga class. By tweaking our natural responses, we can massively increase our chances of performing under pressure in these situations. But a more aggressive attack is rather different.
We learn very quickly how to notice an incoming attacker. It is a basic survival tool of every living animal on the planet. We wouldn’t be here without it. But in today’s day and age we have been conditioned against many of these primal responses that would have saved our lives 10,000 years ago. While retraining this type of thing isn’t very difficult, when it comes to the precision required to safely handle a weapon, repetition is key. Basic checkpoints always remain the same. We call it 200% defense, and it SAVES LIVES. We move our body and vital regions out of the way of the attack while defending simultaneously using an extremity, like a hand. We then need to get away and call for help. Any physical struggle over a weapon is a bad one. Finally, and by far the most important, this is not a game. Never give up.
As Vince Lombardi so brilliantly put it, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” We can train ourselves to handle scary situations. They will always be scary, and there will always be risks. But preparing for any type of risk, be it career, competition, or a dangerous situation, is a part of being, and staying, alive.
When it comes to weapons, remember, give up what can be replaced. Your life is priceless. And – always, always, always search and scan!