Being a self defense instructor comes with many responsibilities. It’s our job to help one build strength; physically & mentally. From the first moment, a new student enters the studio we start building a connection and trust. This trust will be the foundation for our journey together. It’s our job to show them how capable they are!
The Responsibility To Empower:
Most people don’t know how strong they are until they have to deal with pressure. When they overcome the pressure, they realize that they have so much more potential than they ever believed.
As Krav Maga practitioners, we need to be ambassadors wherever we go.
Right now is a great time to start. Remember, in every situation; there’s a good and bad side. Yes, the Covid-19 situation has been one of the worst crises many people can remember. People feel helpless and overwhelmed. However, just because a situation is bad doesn’t mean we can give up. We have to look where we can leverage ourselves to our advantage.
As bad as the quarantine is, it is a great way to also start training because people can train in their own homes. They don’t have to feel self-conscious and they don’t have to have the stress of working in pairs and meeting new people and feeling overwhelmed and they don’t even have a long commute. It’s the perfect way to help people dealing with social distance get back some of their social life and their exercise requirements safely.
At first glance, we might think that responsibility means protecting our loved ones ourselves.
- It’s inefficient. We are almost certainly not going to be able to be there when they need us. We can hope we are, but realistically, they will be alone and isolated when attacked.
- It makes them helpless and reliant on others instead of letting them see how powerful and amazing they are on their own.
- The benefits of training will help them in their career and personal life as well.
That’s how we can really be there for them. Instead of being responsible for them, we can show them how to be responsible for themselves. The world is a dangerous place, and everyone should be able to protect themselves.
Choosing to help someone instead of teaching them how to help themselves is often easier for you and for the person you want to help. Easy isn’t always good, and it’s often really bad. It reminds me of the story of a little kid who saw a caterpillar in its cocoon, struggling to get out. He wanted to get scissors to cut the cocoon to help the caterpillar. His mother told him instead to wait and watch.
The caterpillar struggled painfully out, looking exhausted. The boy was heartbroken because he wanted to help so badly. Then the caterpillar unfolded a beautiful set of wings and flew away. The mother took his hand. “The struggling is how the caterpillar brings blood to their new wings. If you would have cut the cocoon for it, it would never be able to fly.”
Don’t think of it as letting your friends struggle by having them learn for themselves. Think of it as the process of getting wings to fly.
Technique of the Week:
Also this week, we’re discussing how to protect ourselves from one of the most dangerous chokes. Yes, all chokes are dangerous. In nature, when the leopard attacks antelope, it goes for the neck for a killing bite. The neck has a number of advantages.
- It is a narrow part of the body that is easy to grab. The head and shoulders are wide, but the neck is narrow, thin, and weak.
- It is very useful for gaining control. Just having someone put you in a very gentle headlock or touch your neck makes people very vulnerable.
- It is a weak point for both blood and air chokes. It’s one of the most sensitive parts of the body.
- It isn’t very hard to do. In the past weeks, we discussed how easy it is for someone to choke someone. You just have to be strong enough to squeeze hard.
However, those simple chokes are also more simple to defend. The rear-naked choke requires a level of skill that shows that the person attacking knows what they are doing and therefore presents a bigger threat.
It is known by many names. In Japanese Ju-Jitsu, it is called hadaka jime, or “bare choke” meaning it didn’t require the use of the kimono sleeve. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it’s called Mata leao, which means the lion killer, named after a famous Renaissance painting of the Greek hero Hercules killing a lion using that technique.
It’s a powerful move and is one of the worst positions to be in. The only way that is that this situation can get worse is if this happens on the ground. A rear-naked chokehold on the ground especially with the hooks in is the worst position for a person to be in for the fight.
How the attack might happen:
Here are two ways that you might find yourself in the rear-naked choke. There are more, but these are very common.
One: Someone sneaks up on you from behind. This is why situational awareness is so important. Once somebody has you in a rear-naked chokehold, your life is an imminent risk and you must move quickly and efficiently to neutralize the threat.
In Krav Maga, we train the rear-naked choke by surprise in three ways. This approach is unique and comes from our origins in the military.
- Sitting on a chair
- On the ground
Two: The attack starts as a bear hug. When you do the defense of hitting the groin, the attacker turns the attack into a rear-naked choke. When we discuss defense, we also have to remember that our attackers will respond to our defenses. If we hit to the weak point, we may have disabled them enough to get to safety. They are likely going to keep attacking, and they may escalate the level of threat.
- Practice your situational awareness, especially to the sides and to the back. As the name tells you, it’s the rear-naked choke, so you need to work on your peripheral vision.
- If someone comes from behind, work on facing them as quickly as possible. You want to take their dead side, not have them take your dead side.
- Make sure to tuck your chin, diagonally down to the opposite collar bone. This prevents the attacker from digging into your neck. Remember, tucking your chin will only delay the attack, you need to do the defense as quickly as you can afterward.
- When I am raising my arm, it’s like I’m scratching my own shoulder. Raise your hand high before doing the hooking pull-down. Remember that this is a burst motion, you can’t do power against power. By using the angles of the arm and creating leverage, I can fight power with science.
- Make sure to turn away from the attacking hand. I also like to pivot my foot a little to get some extra mobility for the turn.
- Make sure once you have secured their arm, you keep it close to your chest so they don’t try to choke you again. Remember Situation Two, this might be the attacker’s second attempt. They are clearly committed to the attack and will attempt a third try.
This week, focus on shadow-boxing and shadow-responding. When you are striking, the opponent is striking too. Therefore, you need to also be thinking about blocking, parrying, ducking and slipping, and combining that with additional strikes.
So instead of assuming you landed the knock-out,
- Think if you missed or the opponent blocked. What would you do then?
- Think if you do the defense, but your attacker tries another attack. How could you transition your defense to meet the new attack?
- Practice in front of a mirror and ask yourself, if you were the attacker, what weak points are vulnerable? If you can see the weak points, so can the attacker. This is a great time to fix it.
We’ll discuss the Nelson hold, another dangerous position that will require creativity to overcome.
Until then, keep practicing.