Guns and Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

January 6, 2016, Israel

I am not a gun expert. I am not a licensed gun instructor but I have been around guns for more than three decades, handled countless different types of weapons, supervised and translated gun courses, counter terrorism courses, VIP protection courses and I have been fired upon.

I am no stranger to guns or violence. I have trained with the best. And of course I have been actively training and teaching Krav Maga for more than thirty years along with an encyclopedia's worth of other martial arts.

Thus for my introduction, which is absolutely necessary. Stick to what you know, avoid preaching or writing about what you do not know. You will never find an article about computers or cell phones penned by me.

With the recent spate of knife attacks here in Israel many have been advocating that citizens play a more active role in defending themselves. Krav Maga courses popped up along with a long line of applicants for gun licenses.

As I stated at the start of this period the initial enthusiasm for Krav Maga courses would quickly die down. As soon as the situation came under control nearly all interest in Krav Maga would vanish. They pop up like mushrooms after a storm and die a quick death.

In fact the situation has not fully calmed down but the interest in Krav Maga courses has. Why? Quite simply people are inherently reluctant to devote much time to anything that involves an ongoing effort. Very few people stick with anything, be it language courses, diets, whatever. We seek quick fix solutions.

Now what about handguns? The demand continues. Several of the terrorist attacks have been stopped by armed citizens. Most, if not all, of those citizens were actually reserve soldiers or off duty security guards with considerable training and experience with firearms. But my question is; Are handguns the solution? Should we be advocating that everyone be armed?

My answer: Handguns can be part of the solution but it is not the quick fix solution people imagine it to be. My fear is untrained, or under-trained, people packing guns without the necessary skills.

Let us examine a few points. First we shall look at the handgun on its own, without Krav Maga.

1. The basic handgun course required to obtain a license gives you little more than computer equivalence, how to turn on and off a computer and access your e mail. To pass you need to fire no more than 50 bullets and I believe only thirty need to hit the target. Lets' ponder that for a moment.

The target is not moving, the shooter is not moving, there is no time pressure, no stress at all. Should a person with this kind of experience be chasing after terrorists, firing and reloading as he moves? Imagine downtown Jerusalem, people firing from all over. These people firing are not counter terror experts, not military people with years of training, but people who took a course. Is this the solution we need? 

2. Innocent bystanders - Even police have killed innocent bystanders. In one of my advanced courses we all shot innocent bystanders, (made of cardboard). In a real life situation it is easy to not only miss but also misjudge. There are people shouting, running, panic. How do you know you will hit your target and not some innocent person??

Your gun license might end up being your license to kill!

3. Becoming a victim - Pulling out a gun and running around might make you a target. Professionals have a way of clearly identifying themselves as such, they are trained to communicate with each other and avoid tragic mistakes. But what about others? Perhaps a recent gun course graduate will see you with a gun and think you are the terrorist?

You might say "I don't look like a terrorist", Really? Plenty of terrorists dress up as Jews. The three Japanese men who committed the worst airport attack in Israel's history did not look like terrorists either, they looked like musicians carrying violin cases.

To carry out a successful gun defense requires training, just like with Krav Maga, it is not as simple as people think. Our counter-terror teams are highly trained and they fear hitting innocent people. Their motto is "Not good enough" as they train continuously. I know, these are people I work with on a regular basis.

Of course we have cases where armed civilians pulled out a hand gun and at a close range killed a terrorist, thank God, my concern is that without proper training a great deal can go wrong. We must be aware of these dangers. There is a lot more to this than the average person thinks. Thankfully most Israelis who carry guns have military training.

Can you imagine how it will feel if you killed an innocent person? Perhaps you shot an Arab who just happened to be walking by, or a Jew who panicked and ran into your line of fire! Counter terrorists are aware of these dangers and train specifically to avoid these mistakes. Their courses are extremely difficult and last several months, only the best are chosen. They train to kill. A gun is a license to kill. We must never forget that.

4. Guns around the house - We all know of accidents that have taken place, both in Israel and in the USA, children playing with guns and killing themselves, angry teenagers taking their parents' guns and committing crimes. Again, with proper training this should never happen, all I am warning against is the quick fix solution of buying a gun, doing a basic course and feeling that "my work is done". Owning a gun is like owning a pet or a car; it involves constant maintenance and upkeep. It is an on-going responsibility.

5. Loss of the gun - We all know stories of people who pulled out a gun only to have the assailant take it away from them. Experts train for these situations and know how to protect themselves, novices do not.

6. Over Confidence - All too often as people walk around with a gun, or have one at home, they feel very confident. In fact they feel so overconfident that they see no need for self-defense, empty hand training. They feel a gun is all they need.

Krav Maga

Owning a firearm is not enough. Often there is not enough time to pull out a gun. Often the initial defense must be an unarmed defense. Too many people feel that owning a gun is all they need. Having a gun but not being able to access it on time is the same as having a credit card but your account is blocked. You can't spend that money if you cannot get your hands on it.

Esther, who has been following all the knife attacks in Israel very closely, pointed out to me an important detail: In all the cases where the attacker was shot and stopped by an armed citizen or security forces, it was only after the initial stabbing. In other words a third party was able to intervene and stop the knife attack, but only after the initial stabbing attack. The first response is the empty handed response.

It is my opinion that the best solution is a combination of ongoing Krav Maga training along with ongoing firearms training. Many of our IKI members in fact do this. For some it is a full time occupation while for others it is a very serious part time job and avocation. My point here is this is not a quick fix solution; get a gun license, walk around armed, and ..voila, you are safe. No, you are still not safe and in fact those around you might be in even greater danger. Personally I do not want to see a person who fired only fifty bullets, with only thirty of them coming close to the target, walking around waving a gun trying to be a hero.

My friends, training is required. A commitment is required. If you adopt a dog you will have to feed it, walk it daily, clean up after it and take it to the vet. You will also have to play with it and give it attention. will have to do this every day for many years. Why would one think self protection should be any different?

My fear, my concern, is that people might view gun ownership as a solution to all their self-defense needs: I have a gun, I feel safe, I AM safe, but...this is dangerous thinking.

Do not let your license be a license to kill the wrong people, yourself included.

Training with a true expert, a legend in the field.

About the author

Tour and Train Israel Experience

Comments and Commentary
by John Liptak

John Liptak is a martial arts expert with nearly 40 years experience covering every possible aspect of reality self defense including firearms. He is a former US Marine and has trained many in the practical and safe use of firearms. His comments are well worth reading.

I have seen all of the videos of the attacks in Israel, even in the cases of the trained IDF soldiers, the gun did not do any good during the initial attack, it seems during the attack the person wielding the knife can get off between one and three stabs, now we take in consideration these soldiers are being somewhat protected by a bullet proof vest/ or some type of flak jacket, and in most cases it is not the person being attacked but the people around them that is actually shooting the attacker.

Now we take an untrained person, possible female, with a few hours training, no protective gear, and they are going to draw a weapon and shoot the attacker while be attacked? Highly doubtful. And then if they are at a stabbing situation and have to intervene, that they can take a tactical shot, possibly to the head, possibly in a crowd, and not have any collateral damage, again, very doubtful.

At the height of my training, up to 5 days a week, at least a 4 hour session, and up to eight a day, including tactical head shots and hostage scenarios and firing about 1000 rounds a session, actual training, no shooting for fun, if I were in a close quarter situation against an attacker with a knife or gun, I would deploy unarmed combatives first, starting with blocks and counterattacks, I would go to my knife as my primary weapon or use in unison with my empty hand skills, and unless I had room, even with CQB training, the gun would be a last resort, if I could even have the time to deploy it.

The bottom line a gun with the proper amount of training can aid in self defense, but is not the one single answer or cure all and a great amount of training goes along with becoming proficient in its use.

One should first be proficient in unarmed combat, they go hand in hand, especially in close quarter situations, if you cannot block, defend, or stop an initial assault, then a gun is just then another tool in your belt.

And are you mentally prepared to take another humans life? Many people buy a gun but cannot pull the trigger, having a gun may make you feel very confident, but you must be ready to kill someone, this is not the movies, you do not shoot to wound, or hold the gun and expect a hard core criminal to give up at the site of your gun, he will see the frozen fear in your eyes if you are not ready to kill him, he will then probably kill you and take your gun home and use it in another assault.

So before even purchasing a firearm you need to make sure you are mentally prepared to kill another individual, you may be required to do so.

Are there other options, less lethal? Self defense training, Krav Maga, Martial Arts, tear gas, taser, stun gun, baton, walking stick, a cane, and so on, in close quarter combat and in most live situations, even when armed, your unarmed training is your first line of defense, if you cannot defend yourself in the initial attack, how can you then draw a weapon and shoot an armed motivated attacker? Just to carry a weapon you need more than a gun, you also need a spare magazine, a proper holster, and tactical flashlight, by the way more training with the flashlight (you didn’t think all attacks happen in the daylight did you? Can you safely and discreetly carry all of your gear, a question that must be answered, what if you are female, will you be digging through a purse, your fashion just went out of the window, you may need a new wardrobe, remember, you have to draw that weapon and shoot in less than 2 seconds but have it concealed, that is allot to think about.

OK, you are determined to get a handgun, it makes sense for you, you made the decision, this is a great responsibility you have chose to undertake and the number one thing you have to do now is train, I am not talking about a 4 hour familiarization course, I am talking about real training, going to the range several days a week, putting in the hours and time it takes to get proficient, and most important leaning to hit a moving target, this is not a paper target your will be shooting at, it will be a moving, living, highly motivated killer that may have killed before, he will be violent and aggressive and unpredictable in his actions.

Of course in your training you trained to take tactical head shots, remember center mass paper targets just went out the window, and what about the possibility of people around you, one stray shot can leave an innocent bystander dead, remember, You, and You alone are responsible for every shot fired from your gun !

Yes, the gun is a great tool in self defense, but just like learning to drive a car, it takes allot of practice, you cannot just take an initial course and go to the range a couple of times a year, if you do this you are putting yourself and everyone around you in danger.

On a side note I have trained many military personnel to shoot in real world situations, it is different, you do not have a squad protecting you, or your back, and allot of those safety rules you learned in the military go out of the window, they were great within your group but don’t work so well when you are on your own. For example, we shoot from plain of site, the gun is never lowered, we do not lower a gun and scan the area for instance, remember this is not a police movie, so just because you were in the military, or you know someone that was, and so on, it does not necessarily make you an expert on the subject.

I spent four years in the Marine Corps’ and thought I knew how to shoot until I actually started training with self defense experts and found out I had a whole lot more to learn. The bottom line is, owning a gun is a great self defense weapon, but along with owning a firearm goes a great amount of training with it. Even in my own family, my wife and daughter choose not to carry a weapon, and only have it at home as a self defense weapon. They do train in close quarter combat and my daughter is proficient with the knife.

Example of training you should have, preferably one on one from a certified instructor:

Basic Pistol Course. The basic pistol course will teach you the safety rules, legal considerations, gun handling, pistol types, shooting fundamentals, firing positions, cleaning, and safe storage.
Even if you have experience with firearms, it's a good idea to periodically take a refresher course like this.

Get your Carry license. In most areas, you will need a permit or license to carry a concealed firearm. Licensing requirements usually include classroom instruction on the law and legal considerations including wrongful death lawsuits, and some range time is normally required with your firearm. The amount of time spent on the range drawing from a holster will be especially useful, since most likely it will be on your person in some type of cancelled carry holster.

Take advanced self defense courses. This can include drawing from concealment, barricade shooting, the difference between Cover and Concealment and shooting from both, clearing malfunctions and weapon stoppages, shooting at moving targets, shooting from a moving vehicle, shooting into a moving vehicle, engaging multiple targets, combat reloading, one-handed drills, shooting from your non dominant hand, moving and shooting, grappling ground fighting with a handgun

Hostage situational shooting - Can you shoot the hostage taker while he is holding a hostage as a human shield?

At the more advanced levels, you can learn shooting in low light, moving around corners, partner drills, and many other skills. Ranges should include many props to create scenarios to train in.

Practice at home. Dry fire is a great way to practice at home, with an unloaded firearm, this is where you can train to draw quickly, clear stoppages (Condition one, two, three) take cover, practice reloading, practice reloading form prone and concealed positions, stances, drawing and shooting on the move, drawing and engaging targets behind you, and so on, you can get very creative at home, in the world of shooting about 90 percent of the time training is in dry fire, and only about 10 percent actually at the range, it is like anything else, you have to practice

The following is a summary of material that John send to me from gun experts and gun advocates.

Now this comes from a conservative gun advocate.

..and the truth is some people probably shouldn’t own guns.

While I 100% believe that a gun in the hands of a responsible, trained gun owner is a good thing, a gun in the hands of an under-trained gun owner or a person how has not learned how to use that firearm in a self-defense situation is downright dangerous.

There are far too many people out there who own guns but are a danger to the public.

Having a gun DOES NOT Guarantee your safety.

Too many people believe that carrying a gun somehow protects them from all harm and gives them the ability to protect others. Without the proper training  a gun can get you killed.

Keep this in mind: Many people chose to own and carry guns because it takes less time than learning Krav Maga. You bought a gun, took a basic course or two, that's it, no need to devote two nights per week to self-defense training.  But what people forget is that while the average person is going about their daily business the criminals and terrorists are perfecting their criminal style. Perhaps you visit the firing range once or twice a year and fire fifty bullets at a stationary target but that does not compare to the daily hands on training these guys are getting. The guy who breaks into your house has done so many times before. These guys have experience. Are you ready?

In order to stop an assailant, a criminal or a terrorist you need to train in realistic self-defense situations — including knowing how to defend yourself without your gun. Yes, without your gun.

Carrying a firearm without self-defense training is a recipe for disaster.

In close quarters combat, the chances of being able to unholster your firearm and return fire on an attacker is actually pretty slim. For realistic self-defense you need to be able to stop an attacker without your gun – or at least block and move so you can draw your weapon.

Further Confirmation

January 14, 2016, Israel

Soldier stabbed in Samaria. Other soldiers at the scene shoot, kill terrorist.

i.e. the gun is helpful after the fact. The solider who was attacked with a knife was unable to draw his weapon in time, only after the initial stabbing were other soldiers able to shoot the terrorist. Krav Maga MUST be the first defense.

Earlier today, another terrorist tried to stab civilians near Kiryat Arba. In that instance, nearby soldiers were able to shoot and kill the attacker before he did any damage.

Again, it was the Third Party who protected the people being stabbed, and they were not people who took a "course" they were professional soldiers.

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.