According to Krav Maga International, a martial system known as Krav Maga was created by Imi Lichtenfeld some time after 1940 when he fled to Nazis and moved to Palestine. There, he joined the paramilitary group, the Haganah, within the Jewish community and started playing a strong role within the Israeli military. He was asked to develop a system and the result was to use krav maga for self defense against their oppressors to help them fight for the independent state of Israel.
Lichtenfeld gained a large following of professionals; including special unit leaders, armed forces operatives and police officers. From the beginning, Krav Maga was designed in time of war and later adopted by paramilitary units as a combat system and called it self defense. Let’s look at what self defense is and how it compares to the concepts and principles of Krav Maga.
What is Self Defense?
According to the legal dictionary at law.com, self defense is “the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of the family from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor, if the defender has reason to believe he/she/they is/are in danger.”
The site goes on to give an example:”an unarmed man punches Allen Alibi, who hits the attacker with a baseball bat. That is legitimate self-defense, but Alibi cannot chase after the attacker and shoot him or beat him senseless”. According to this definition, the following video is NOT self defense.
The person in the video both pursued and beat the attacker senseless. The other people in the video DID protect themselves by removing themselves from the path of the danger. Is the man a hero? Definitely. Did he put self defense practices in action? Not a chance. What he did was use military strategy to eliminate a threat.
Basically, the idea is to put the attacker in a position – either through passive means or by necessary and reasonable force – that he/she can’t or no longer wants to attack their chosen target. This enables the target to protect themselves/their family/their possessions and return about their lives in as normal a way as possible.
What is Krav Maga?
Krav Maga is a paramilitary combat system that was later adapted for the Israeli populace to protect themselves against invaders and oppressors in kill or be killed situations; in short, war.
Granted, the creator cautioned to avoid confrontation or dangerous situations, but when faced with no choice – according to the seventh principle of Krav Maga – there are “no reserves, no boundaries as to the techniques employed, nothing is forbidden, all strikes are legitimate” (martialartsdo.org).
As taught by the Israeli army combat instructors, the soldier is not to fear the danger, they are to become the danger at the time they are attacked; rushing in to engage the attacker directly. This is a perfect philosophy for a soldier in battlefield conditions to keep the soldier engaged in the battle instead of running away and escaping the danger; but is it appropriate for a civilian population?
Let’s Look at Some Facts
Fact#1: Comprised of aspects from multiple systems, Krav Maga is a highly effective combat system meant for those who are mentally and physically prepared to face and attempt to defeat a dangerous situation by facing the danger head-on or pursuing the dangerous person. The average person is not.
Fact #2: The average person isn’t a soldier and is in no way obligated to engage someone threatening them; with or without a weapon. A person should only engage if their safety is – without any doubt – on the line. A person threatening with a weapon and a person trying to use that weapon on you are two very different things.
Fact #3: It is incredibly difficult to keep someone where they don’t want to be. Try to wash a dog that doesn’t want to take a bath. Is it possible? Yes. Is it easy? No way!! The same goes for people. There is no attacker alive that is so interested in what you have that they are going to try to keep you in a specific location unless they (1)have friends or (2) have a weapon and can instill fear.
Fact #4: It is easier to purchase, steal or otherwise obtain a knife than a firearm. That means – comparing the two deadliest weapons – that the majority of weapons-based attacks are going to be with a knife. They come in all sizes and shapes, are easy to conceal until the moment of use and they are VERY effective.
Fact#5: Every cut from a knife in an attack weakens the person cut. Either because of pain, blood loss or trauma, the likelihood of getting cut again increases as time goes by.
Fact#6: Distance is your friend when encountering a stranger or you feel uncomfortable around someone or in your surroundings. You see more things when you have distance between you and what you are looking at. That gives you a better chance of seeing a knife before the attacker has a chance to use it. If someone gets too close – within arm’s range – either move yourself, put something between you and that person or move them; usually by asking them to step away.
Fact#7: Unless it is a firearm or other projectile weapon, a person must get close to you to attack. That means that if a person is threatening you verbally or is brandishing a melee weapon of some kind – bat, crowbar, knife – you are under NO obligation to attempt to engage or attempt to disarm them. Though it may seem so at the time, they are not truly a threat.
Fact#8: If you continue to attack an attacker after they either cannot or show they no longer wish to attack you, you become the attacker and are liable for aggravated assault. This means that if you wrestle with an attacker over a weapon, not only are you increasingly likely to get harmed, you are now a participant in violence and can be held legally liable.
The Differences Between Krav Maga and Self Defense
- Designed for military/paramilitary use in combat conditions
- No reserves, no boundaries as to the techniques employed, nothing is forbidden, all strikes are legitimate
- Don’t fear the danger, become the danger
- Attack until you are no longer in danger
- Teaches knife and firearm disarms; often resulting in fatality
- Overwhelm the attacker(s) with aggressive action
- Teaches a person to avoid danger or remove him/her self from danger at the first opportunity
- Do enough to enable you to get away
- Do NOT get close to a person with a weapon
- Do ANYTHING it takes to get away from the danger; including but not limited to: kissing the attacker, stripping, acting crazy, screaming, shining a light in the attacker’s face (if in a dark location), tickling the attacker, etc. Be creative in your attempts to get away.
Final observations and conclusion
Personal attacks are violent and sometime a person needs to meet violence with violence in order to create an opening for escape. That is a given. Overwhelming a person with aggressive action is not self defense. That is pure combat tactics; a “might makes right mentality”.
Self defense is a “put yourself in a safer position” type of system, not a “be the danger” strategy. If you are attacked with a melee weapon that is easily concealed and can cause lethal damage (like a knife), the chances are, you were cut before you could do anything. Now, you are losing blood, are in pain and are getting weaker by the moment. Staying in the fight and using martial skills at that point is the LAST thing you should do unless you are protecting someone else.
Therefore we have to conclude that Krav Maga is not a self defense system. The philosophy of the system is directly opposite of self defense. It is a combat system used ONLY when escape is impossible. Escape is rarely impossible as it is incredibly difficult to keep someone from escaping. Anyone that bent on attacking you to the point you needing to become more dangerous than they are is not trying to mug, rape or assault you. They are trying to assassinate you. In that case, the attacker will either just pull a firearm and shoot or they will quietly get close and stab multiple times before the victim ever knows they are there. Either way, there are NO martial systems prepared for that situation.
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