Fight Flight Numb
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

October 17, 2018, Israel

An actual knife used in a terrorist attack in the old city of Jerusalem. Does this make you feel calm? Confident? ready to jujitsu the guy or perhaps pull off a Zohan move? 

Dealing with such a threat is not child's play, using traditional techniques can get you killed. Get real before it is too late. It is a matter of life and death. Leave Zohan and Bruce Lee in the movie theaters.

I recall words spoken by Itay Gil many years ago, when we were just locals, unknown outside our neighborhoods. He said all we aim to do is minimize damage. That's it; this is not about being humble but about being truthful.

Sadly, today there is a proliferation of Krav Maga "federations" (there is no control over the use of such terms as Federations, Academy, Associations etc., anyone can use them). They come with names like IDF Krav Maga, True Krav Maga, Military Krav Maga, International Federation of Krav Maga and variations of these names. None of these are endorsed by the Israeli military or government. 

My teacher taught me "never make a false claim", and I honor that. I teach what I have gained from my teachers, students and experience. I make no claim to be endorsed by the pope or the IDF. (I have met people who claim both, we did not accept them). 

What is being taught in the name of Israel and the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is not what is being taught to Israeli soldiers. What is being taught are crowd pleaser techniques, stuff that "sells". If they were honest, they would simply call it "Commercial Krav Maga", or "Sport Krav Maga", it is not real, it is not smart, it is not military.  

When I speak about things like, Block and run away (disengage) many students become upset. They say things like, in (name any country, Ukraine, South Africa etc) things are different. We cannot run away, things here are tough, you don't understand.

I understand better than you do. 

These people, for some reason, seem unaware of what a real attack is like. Movies with big stars like Steven Seagal, even Bruce Lee, create a false image of what people can actually achieve in a real confrontation. At least Jackie Chan and the "Zohan" present it as comedy.

We need to get real if we intend to stay alive. 

In a very recent attack, a civilian bystander expressed his thoughts on this topic. I will not reveal his name but only a little of his background. Like nearly all Israelis he served in the military. He also carried a handgun. He is an Israeli which means he was born to a legacy of hatred. His relatives were persecuted while living in the lands of the Gentiles, many were murdered in the Holocaust. Like all of us he grew up with wars, terrorism and a legacy of hatred towards our people. Thus, he should have a higher level of awareness than most humans on this planet. And will hear what he has to say. 

What happened: The terrorist, an Arab, walked right by him - no reaction whatsoever. The terrorist pulled out a knife to stab the soldier who was standing guard - no reaction. 

Only after the stabbing, a few seconds later, the civilian flees the scene. He returns later to give a report but at the "real time" he did nothing. And that is what most of us would have done. Yes, sorry. 

Now in his own words. 

He felt embarrassed, and a need to explain his behavior. He correctly states that no one can judge someone who has gone through this experience. You just don't know what these people have gone through and cannot pass judgment. The whole thing is over in a few seconds, thus we cannot say "what I would have done". You don't know. 

This man had military training and was armed. Let us not forget that. 

His first reaction reaction. He expresses frustration with his lack of reaction and states, "this is not how I know myself, I usually react quickly".

This is a very important point: real life humbles us. We all think that we will react like Bruce Lee in a movie. The words, “I usually react quickly” are a fantasy. This was a first-time experience for him, so what does the “usually” refer to? It refers to his imagined sense of being a martial arts superstar. Let's be honest, we all imagine that we will react like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

He expresses that it took him a long time to overcome the initial shock. What actually happened is as follows: the first reaction is no reaction. i.e. this is a totally unfamiliar, unrehearsed situation and our brain does not process it at all. The terrorist walks by him, nothing, the terrorist pulls out a knife and yet this passer-by seems relaxed and unperturbed. (I saw the footage) What is happening is that his brain is simply not processing what is going on. Thus, unlike what we are told to believe, it is not Fight or Flight, not at all. It is What on earth is going on? Numb. No reaction. 

Next comes the shock, the frozen lack of behavior. Next comes either a reaction of running away, or a response. The military experts later told him that had he processed all this faster he would have had a good shot at the terrorist.

That is what we are here for. To train you to process the shock.

We are here to teach you more than just techniques. Oh my, that is so lacking! All those schools that spend so much time on Grab this, push that, forget it!  It is not going to happen! Where is your sense of reality? You and your students will not pull any of that stuff off. 

What we teach is to process the attack, deal with the shock, respond with simple movements. 

The man in this story explains that it took him a while to "come to his senses", i.e. leave the zombie stage. That is where our training comes into play. That "while" that he describes is the entire length of the incident. By the time he "came to his senses", it was all over. 

This individual also points out that the fact that he was on his cell phone, texting, totally diminished his ability to respond. Cell phones kill. Be careful when you use them. And yes, this too is part of your Krav Maga self defense training. If your teacher is not teaching this, he should not be your teacher. 

This is our life. We study these cases; we use them to improve our training and provide you with the best self-defense possible. Your job is to come to the training. 

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