January 27, 2023, Israel
Greg, IKI Ilinois, training in Israel in Counter Terror tactics, Tour and Train Israel Experience.
IKI Members training in Counter Terrorism, Tour and Train Israel Experience.
Things are rarely as they appear.
Today I had the opportunity to have in-depth conversations with two of Israel's top counter-terror experts, both men with many years of experience. I am constantly learning; I am never content. The situation that was troubling me was as follows: You are armed police or military personal, you are standing guard outside a military facility. A man approaches, he is shouting abuse, he threateningly pulls out a knife, waves it and then strategically pulls it behind his back. He is at point-blank range. The knife is hidden from view, he can switch hands.
Remarkably this scenario came to my mind while sitting in the synagogue, inspired by a verse from the prophet Ezekial, Chapter 29.
“Then all the inhabitants of Egypt
Shall know that I am the Lord,
Because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.
When they took hold of you with the hand,
You broke and tore all their shoulders;
When they leaned on you,
You broke and made all their backs quiver.” (Ezekial, Chapter 9, verse 6-7)
Judah (Israel) hoped to rely on Egypt’s power to help them against the Babylonian Empire, but they were like a staff of reed to the house of Israel. i.e. When Israel needed their help, they did not come through.
This made me think of our Krav Maga techniques, how many are like a staff of reed, and how many are truly reliable; we need to constantly reevaluate our approach. We cannot rely upon the unreliable. So, I took my situation, I had my ideas, but I wanted to hear what others had to say. Besides these two experts I also spoke to a few regular soldiers, I wanted honest input.
The discussion at first took a different direction than I intended, but this turned out to be very important. While I was discussing the practical self-defense aspect of the situation the experts were focused on the legality of a potential pre-emptive attack. So be it. Thus, I was asking, would you charge in, burst in, try to take the guy down, punch him, attempt to disarm him, or would you take a step back and prepare for an attack? The experts turned to the legal aspects and asked me; "If you, the knifeman, pull out a knife and waves it, can I, the soldier, shoot you?" Turns out the answer to this question and many similar questions was a clear and resounding NO. Any such action, could, and has resulted in legal action being taken against Israeli soldiers. Our expert gave me several examples of current ongoing trials of Israeli soldiers. To me and everyone I know this is appalling. We are fighting with both hands tied, terrible, but that is the current law, clearly motivated by international political considerations.
Thus, not only is a preemptive shot not permitted, but even a preemptive strike! This may come as a shock to many Krav Maga practitioners around the world who are being taught to charge in against a knife attacker before he actually begins his attack. Similarly, they are being taught knife disarms, something which does not exist in Counter Terrorism. Thus, it makes me wonder about some of the techniques being taught around the world, I believe it is a case of adapting to local "tastes" and catering to the market, similar to what I wrote in the blog "Food for Export".
But finally, I managed to pin them down to my question; I said, let's put aside for now the question of Israeli law. Let's imagine there are no legal repercussions, and our only concern is the best technique and strategy to save our lives. How would you handle it? Would you attempt a preemptive strike? try to grab the guy? and how about a situation where the guy is a little further away, charge in?
In both cases the answer was an unequivocal and resounding NO, followed by "it is not even a question".
With regard to the mid-distance situation with the knife, the words they used were, "I wait for him to move first". With regard to the close-range knife situation, it was the same: prepare yourself.
and why is this so?
I was very glad that the Counter-Terror expert gave the answer himself. I said, imagine I am the soldier on guard duty, and you have a knife. I don't know if, how, or when you are going to stab. (And we are putting aside the question of legality at the moment as legally I have no right to attack him). And first I tried to punch him, but he moved a little and stabbed me. Next, I tried to grab him aggressively, but he was able to stab me in the ribs, as I fully expected.
I said to him, It would be very popular if I showed a "tough, aggressive" approach, this is what many people around the world expect to see.
He just shook his head, no, no. So I repeated my approach: take a slight step back, not a retreat, not a "running away" but just a careful repositioning into a prepared stance. He said, "Without question, there is no question here"
Now I realized why it took so long for him to answer my actual question, because to him there was no question, that was a given, both legally and in terms of personal safety. Even at a short distance, charging in either in an attempt to grab the knife-arm, punch him, or take him to the ground, is simply too risky. He has the knife, and he has not yet committed to an attack, that means he can attack from many different angles, very unpredictable. However, once he moves his shoulder we have our defense, the various applications of the Universal Block. but then is for a video, a Vimeo, or a class. In addition, there is the factor of an armed guard with a handgun; a physical struggle can result in the loss of this weapon. Such things have happened.
I want to add another important point. Often there are Krav Maga techniques taught that involve striking the man with the knife or taking him to the ground. Of course, on YouTube these techniques look very convincing, and in class the instructor can make a very powerful presentation with his students, but the reality is different. The terrorist who attacked one of my nephews was a 19-year-old body builder, 1.9 meters (about 6 foot 3). Punching him will not likely guarantee success. In fact, it might just provoke him further. How many professional boxers have knocked out their opponent with the first strike? Trying to wrestle him to the ground? A guy that big and that strong? These are not realistic solutions, think about it.
Reality is not pretty, and often a judgement call has to be made on the spot, but it is nice to have confirmation for our approach from some of the leading experts in Israel.
Just to give an example without revealing too much; one of these individuals is currently serving in the most dangerous Arab population centers in Israel. He is often called on in the middle of the night to deal with serious situations. For him this is a matter of life and death, there is no room for trying to look cool. In fact, he gave me several examples of how his knowledge of the Arabic language and culture assisted him greatly in resolving potentially explosive situations, no pun intended.
He is the real deal, but if you met him, and some of you have... you would never guess, just a soft-spoken mild mannered slightly built religious man. But he is the real deal.
At IKI we keep in real, and up to date.
Counter Terror training.
Counter Terrorist in Israel. There is always a soldier supervising, and this is often the one to neutralize the terrorist.
Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt Hall of Fame, USA and Europe. Twice voted International instructor of the year.
What is the cultural background of Krav Maga? What makes it unique? What makes the Israeli military so effective? Why are Israeli security systems used all over the world?
What are the Biblical origins of Krav Maga and who was the first Krav Maga instructor?
What weapons and military strategies did our Biblical ancestors use?
How has Krav Maga developed in Israel and what are its goals?
All that and more in this unique book.
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