The Element Of Surprise (History Lesson)

The Element Of Surprise (History Lesson)

How Israel Won Four Bigger Armies In Six Day?


The Krav Maga system is known to the element of surprise as the most important element in winning a fight. Best to hit your enemies and catch them off guard when they least expect it. This was the case of the Six Day War of 1967. In that year, Egypt’s President Nasser threatened to close the Strait of Tiran which would choke Israel’s shipping. Israel reiterated its 1956 position to keep that strait open. Tensions grew higher as Egyptian troops and equipment began to mobilize close to the Israeli border. Nasser’s bellicose tone became harsher calling for the destruction of Israel. Jordan, Syria, and Iraq joined forces with Egypt and also began mobilizing their military. In this military scenario which was becoming more menacing by the hour, Israel realized it was vastly outnumbered in troop numbers, tanks and airplanes. All the military odds were against Israel; there was no way win it seemed. Rather than just wait for the inevitable, Israel decided to act quickly and decisively. The best defense, in this case, was a good offense. And it turned out to be one of the greatest military accomplishments in history.

On June 5, 1967 the air force of Israel launched a massive pre-emptive strike against the Egyptian air force. Israeli pilots flew low in order to not be detected by enemy radar. They flew only 100 feet above sea water at high speed with no radio communication.  It takes incredible concentration to fly so low, so fast for so long. As one Israeli pilot said, if you just move your head sideways for one second you could hit the water and it’s over. The hard work paid off as Israel destroyed the Egyptian Air Force with its planes lined up as sitting ducks on their airfields. The element of surprise is what allowed fewer planes and forces to defeat a considerably stronger enemy.

The element of surprise can also be used in a regular fight with someone, especially if that person is larger and stronger than you. Why wait for that person to physically assault you? Instead, attack unexpectedly. An example would be someone who is telling you he or she will hurt you and starts taking off a jacket for example. Why wait until he takes off the jacket? In this case, attacking him while he is in the process of removing his jacket when his hands are busy, you can launch your pre-emptive strike and never give him the opportunity to react. He’s most likely not expecting an attack at this time, but by the time he reacts, it’s too late. When you fight someone bigger and stronger, it’s best to strike immediately before he controls the fight by keeping you out of reach with his longer arms and legs.

Another example of using the element of surprise is when you’re assaulted. For example, a mugger puts a gun to your head in front of you. You immediately put your hands up but keep them closer to your face. With one hand you pretend to reach out for your wallet; meanwhile telling him you will give him the money. Instead, you re-direct the gun away from your head and using Krav Maga techniques forcibly remove the gun from the assailant’s hand. Immediately you start to strike and not stop until the threat is neutralized. Just as Israeli planes quickly bombed Egyptian targets in the Six Day War, you must quickly strike your aggressor before he can recover and strike back. The aggressor is relying on the element of fear, but you respond with the element of surprise by doing something the aggressor doesn’t expect. Using the element of surprise destroys the aggressor’s confidence and will to continue.

A bully depends on his ability to instill fear in the victim. When the victim feels empowered because he or she is trained in a self-defense discipline like Krav Maga, and strikes back, the bully is caught off guard and can no longer act. The victim stopped being a victim and it’s now a fighter.

In order to act pre-emptively by surprise, you have to not follow the script. This is the key. Israel did not follow the conventional methods learned in military academies to combat Egypt and other enemies. Its pilots did not follow standard protocol used by NATO and its allies.  By not following the script, Israel blindsided its enemies and managed to have time on its side. The same can be applied to a fight. You still have to train with discipline and commitment, and each day is a better version of yourself. Israeli pilots didn’t follow the rules, but before they could break them they had to know and practice them. They too had to train hard with courage and commitment. These were extraordinary pilots who managed to think out of the box in order to catch their enemies by surprise and gain the respect of the world.

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