What is Krav Maga? Principles in Action
The Problem with Self Defense Techniques
When asking what is Krav Maga, people are really wanting to know what is different about the system than everything else. The problem with self-defense techniques is that they are often the starting point in problem solving, rather than the result of correctly applying principles. Krav Maga is advertised as being a principle and drill-driven system, but some instructors and groups do a better job of keeping training in line with advertising than others.
Self-defense tactics and methods must be at their most refined when dealing with the highest-threat situations - such as an armed threat with a handgun, a knife, or multiple attackers. This is where we should see the principles in action that answer the question what is Krav Maga?
Unarmed Against an Armed Threat - The Why
The reason to defend against a handgun threat is simple - I will defend against a handgun threat if I have reason to believe that I will be shot anyway. If there is another option that is safer, such as providing my wallet, cell phone, or car keys, I’ll take it. This keeps with our Use of Force guidelines.
Evaluating Techniques - By Principles
There are many examples of gun defense online, and once you understand proven principles, it is easy to evaluate what is more likely to work, or less likely to work in a real situation. We start with a video example that gained popularity a few years ago provided by Victor Marx. Victor is an accomplished martial artist who used his gun defense performance as part of his youth ministry work.
Handgun Threat - For Entertainment Purposes Only
I picked this video in particular, but it’s not especially bad compared to others. They did have the presence of mind to start putting some disclaimers on the video and in comments. The problem I have is that when you read the Youtube comments, some people practice this technique and think that it might work.
It might work, but when doing something as high-risk as a weapon disarm, you should use the techniques and tactics with the highest probability of success.
What is Krav Maga Gun Defense? Principle-based!
Techniques and tactics really can be evaluated according to principles, rather than a war of opinions. Here are the Krav Maga guidelines, which every legitimate group with a link to the founder follow:
- Redirect - Redirect the line of fire. Once out, stay out.
- Control - Control will be temporary, expect and train for resistance
- Attack - An explosive strike shuts down resistance, creating Stop Action
- Take Away - Disarm the weapon.
Handgun Threat - The Krav Maga Approach
This is a refined method, and most of the other gun defenses you will see come from some variation of edged weapon defenses from one of the Jujitsu-based systems, rather than recognizing the special properties of the firearm.
One criticism of the RCAT method from inside the self-defense industry is “that’s a lot of stuff to remember.” A handful of steps aren’t hard to remember or practice. Is Stop-Drop-Roll too much to remember if you’re on fire?
Why not just put out the fire directly? It’s a nice thought, but the mechanics of the situation don’t allow for such a direct solution.
Evaluating Defense Against Handgun Threats
Be skeptical of techniques when this is what you see:
- The disarm is the very first movement, often flashy
- The line of fire of the weapon is not controlled
- The defender moves his feet or makes a large movement before contacting the gun
- The Big One - There is no provision in the technique for resistance, and for failure of the initial attempt.