I’m proud of everyone who completed the 21-day challenge; your most significant reward is already granted! Those who were able to accomplish 21 classes in 21 days have reported a difference in muscle tone and fitness level. Well done!
I hope you all saw you were capable of a lot more training than you thought. In the end, if you increased your practice this month even by a few classes, you have succeeded. If you didn’t make it in June, I encourage you to try again for July.
So this week, I want to discuss a tough subject, domestic violence. While domestic violence takes many forms, we’re going to be discussing chokes today.
I want to begin with this truth. No one has the right to touch you without your consent. There is never an excuse for violence in a relationship. No matter how angry you made the other person, you don’t “deserve it.” And if someone does choke you, you must have the courage to fight back, even if this person is a loved one.
A choke is performed when you stop the air or blood flow from the brain. For the blood choke, you only need 11 pounds of pressure and for an air choke, four pounds. Being strangled can lead to loss of consciousness, brain damage, internal bleeding, carotid artery and vascular damage, and larynx and trachea fractures.
It is clear by the damage it causes that even non-fatal chokes should be seen as attempted murder. In almost all states in the US, the laws have been changed to increase the punishment, although a few states still are behind in their legislation.
But the law isn’t enough. Raising non-fatal chokes to a felony will only punish the attacker afterward, but the goal of Krav Maga is prevention. We need to speak out against domestic violence and educate on appropriate behavior. We also need to teach self-defense on a wide-scale to make sure that when predators strike, defenders strike back.
Here is the truth that I want you to understand. No one who loves you will choke you. They may say they love you, but saying it and meaning it are two different things. If someone is hurting you, you need to get away to safety. Once a woman has been strangled non-fatally by her partner, she is seven times more likely to be murdered in the future.
Once someone has put their hands around your throat, they have decided they are ready to kill you. Therefore, the time for peace is over. Begging and trying to appease them is a tactic, not a solution. If you can talk this person down, so you don’t have to fight and can get away to safety, that’s great, but you must be prepared to use violence to save your life.
It’s easy to talk about this in the hypothetical, but when someone has their hands around your throat, and you are struggling to breathe, it’s a lot harder to perform. It’s also true that before physical violence starts, the mental abuse has already broken down the person and made them feel like they deserve to be hurt.
I know to most people who have never experienced this abuse, it makes no sense, but that’s how abusers work. They don’t just physically destroy their targets. They mentally break them down and make them feel worthless.
Just as no one has the right to put their hands on you, no one has the right to mentally and verbally abuse you. You can’t love someone and also break down their self-esteem. People can be critical without being cruel and degrading. Work on being constructive and caring to others and expected that treatment in return.
Also, that includes being constructively caring to ourselves. When you find yourself saying “I’m stupid, I’m a failure,” remember that perception is reality. We all have negative feelings, but that is the time that you need to be your own coach and give yourself a pep talk. Encourage yourself and remember, you are worth fighting for.
To defend against the front choke, we remember that chokes are very rarely completely static. Chokes usually start as dynamic because the goal is to pin the defender in some way, like a slam against a car or a wall, or being pulled closer to the attacker, and becomes static once the defender is pinned. But even if the choke starts as static, it can become dynamic at any moment. So you need to make sure you have a strong base.
Second, remember that you are racing against the clock. You have around 6-10 seconds to react, or you will begin to lose consciousness. This is why prevention is so key. If you are already getting choked, you’re fighting from one of the worst positions possible. This would be a great time to practice your P3 inside defenses. Whether it’s a punch or a choke or a stab, it’s the same motion. Practice in front of a mirror, slowly and looking to see you have good form, and then work on speeding it up until you are confident and ready to use it.
But if you failed to prevent, you can’t stop fighting. When you’re being choked, you are filled with terror. This is the time where you need to be able to flip the switch and begin fighting.
The natural movement when someone is being choked is to try to release the choke. The person choking you is going to be bigger and stronger, so you need to make sure you are releasing at a weak point, the base of the thumb. Form your hands into a hook and use a burst motion to increase your power. Then you immediately begin targeting the weak points and moving out of the line of fire.
One thing I would add to the video is that you need to have a plan B option. Remember, to always look for the weak points. Fingers in eyes, knee to the groin, you can’t rely on the release to always work.
And once you do target the weak points, keep striking until you can get away to safety. Don’t rely on one good strike, even though hopefully one good strike will be all you need.
So my second training mission for you is to remember to finish. When you practice a release, make sure to get into the habit of doing several strikes, instead of one. When you think you’ve done enough strikes, add one more for good luck. Then you finish the technique by getting to a safe place. Consider what you would do next.
If the attacker is a stranger, focus on getting away from them. Look to find a safe place like a store or a church or restaurant, anywhere where there are people and you can get help. Look around for someone in uniform, or try to find a taxi that will get you to a safe place. Also, keep an eye out for things that can be used as an improvised weapon if the attacker tries again. A broken bottle or umbrella can become a very effective weapon.
If the attacker is a loved one, get out of the house. Go to a neighbor, and call the police from there. Once the attacker is taken away, make plans to set a boundary and end the relationship. Look into restraining orders and finding a safe place to stay.
Some resources that are available are:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Family Violence Prevention Program
- New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Remember, as hard it is to report a loved one who is abusing you, your life depends on it.
We are going to continue next week with the defense for a choke with a push. I’m looking forward to seeing you all soon when we can socially distance train in the park. Start training harder now, so we can go at 100% once we are together again.