Jujitsu Krav Maga Self Defense
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

January 1, 2019, Israel

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The late great Gary Albright of the Japanese Bushido league, he could pull off many great techniques that the average person should never attempt.

When teaching ground self defense I am always pleased to discover when a student has some jujitsu ground fighting training. This makes my job easier. They already know the terms; Mount, Guard, passing the guard etc. They are already familiar with moving on the ground, they have the foundations. Knowing this makes the IKI Krav Maga techniques that much  simpler to understand and apply. Knowing the foundations they can now incorporate the simplicity of IKI Krav Maga with ease.

However as I have pointed out many times before, if a student becomes too immersed in this sort of training, the dangers and shortcomings often outweigh the benefits. 

for example, see  The Danger of Sports Martial Arts training 

I have always stressed that my goal in teaching Krav Maga is self defense for everyone, I seek the lowest common denominator. I say the weakest link is the strongest, i.e. if the smallest, weakest, least capable person can do the technique - that is our indication that it is good. If a 6 foot 5, 300 pound man can pull it off, nice but...not everyone is that size.

When it comes to Jujitsu ground fighting I am a big fan. I enjoyed training with several of the top Jujitsu players of our time and I greatly respect their skill, courage and passion for the sport. I have also trained with experts in other forms of ground fighting, wrestling, grappling etc. I consider some of these men my teachers and friends.

However, again, as I have pointed out I have come to see a great danger when sports is confused for self defense. This is not the place to point out all the differences which I have already pointed out elsewhere. 

I recently received a question from an instructor who specializes in women's self defense, someone who truly cares about her students' well being, and I must say the question shocked me. 

I found it remarkable that after all these years there are people who actually believe that what we see in sports competition is the way to go for self defense for the average person, that the "game" of finesse and strategy, jockeying for position, setting up techniques, looking for chokes and joint locks, is actual practical self defense, including for petite women. 

I simply have to scratch my head and wonder.

I received the following question and I sincerely appreciate the humility of a person asking such a question and their desire to learn. The questioner accepted my response and I asked her for permission to use her question as the "trigger" for this blog, to which she fully consented. Yet, I will leave out names.

The question deals with a very bad and dangerous situation indeed, with a woman being on her back, a strong man sitting on top of her and choking her. I sent her our video of this which involved using a balancing technique to knock the attacker off, and then escape. But she was hoping for more. In her own unedited words...

I am still looking for the best self defense techniques for a GIRL when you are mounted and choked. I have been looking for a good technique for this for the last year and I'm not happy yet... that's because I want to get off me and then get in to å good position for å  choke from the back, or come out, and break a joint. But That's difficult when you are mounted First. if you have a good solution on just this one, i would be SO happy. The reason why I'm not happy with what we learn in our Krav Maga, is that in my opinion as å girl, you MUST finish him of with a choke or a broken joint/bone BEFORE  escaping. Every thing else will just piss him off more, and you are dead meat...

My Reply:

  1. I never make a difference between women and men in training, it is illogical. Some men are small, some women are big, if we were to start making divisions we would have to divide by big and small Krav Maga, strong and weak Krav Maga, Strong women, weak men etc. My assumption is always that the attacker is bigger and stronger, that is why he attacked. So I always go on the assumption that the defender is smaller and weaker.
  2. Our goal is to get away as soon as possible, not to win a fight. To execute a choke on a bigger stronger person, wow! Even to get into the position to do so, is totally unrealistic, certainly for a self defense situation, certainly for a smaller person against a bigger person, and certainly for someone who is not a well trained martial arts athlete. Our style is designed for all and for simplicity, as you know from the seminar you attended with me. To even get into the position to execute a lock or choke requires great skill. I know this, I have trained in all sorts of ground fighting and jujitsu, it is a skill that takes a long time to develop. And ...even if one did get into this position, to be able to choke someone out is extremally difficult, most people will not be able to do this. In addition there is the moral question; if you are free, and able to run away, and you decide to come back and choke someone, how is this justified? He will not "tap out", you will have to kill him, i.e. choke him to death, or at least cause brain damage. Most likely this will end in a long term prison sentence for the defender turned aggressor.
  3. Joint locks - Again, I have a great deal of experience in this and I would never use this for self defense. very tricky at best, and again this involves a great deal of skill and strength. Look at the UFC fights, it is very rare that anyone can apply a lock, and when they do it is after a long and tiring fight, and it almost always involves forcing the technique, i.e. using a great deal of force to implement the lock. And again, this usually happens only after a good softening up of the person, i.e. beating him to a pulp and only then applying the lock. NONE of this applies in a self defense situation, and certainly not for a small woman or girl, which is your goal.  
  4. The scenario that you are describing, I certainly know how to do this but I would never teach it as a self defense move. This would hardly classify as "survival training". Can you imagine a soldier doing this with a rifle strapped around him, and all sorts of gear? Well, my nephew was in that situation recently, yes, on the ground fighting off a huge muscular guy. The goal is to get up and away, create distance. When the military experts evaluated this case after the fact, not a one suggested my nephew should have tried to choke the guy out. Such thinking is out of the question, it is not self defense thinking, it is sporting thinking. 
  5. The idea that you "MUST finish him off", I have to strongly disagree, as I said, this is nearly impossible (and I am being generous here). There are probably a handful of highly trained female athletes in the entire world who can do this against a bigger and stronger man. They do exist, they are professional fighters who have devoted their lives to this sport. They are young and in the peak of their careers and fitness level. This description does not fit your average housewife, or college girl.

The idea that you will only "piss him off", well he may be upset, most likely he will be stunned a bit, if you do the technique that I teach, and then Run run run, that is the best solution. Again, the IKI philosophy, under no circumstances do you want to spend one second more in the presence of this individual than you have to. Let me explain: You strike , you get away, you are out, OUT and gone, Finished. But if you stay, if you try to get a choke, if you start messing around looking for a joint lock, oh my!! you are looking for trouble, you are CHOOSING to stay with the attacker longer than you have to. Remember Murphy's' law? Anything that can go wrong - will. The longer you stay with this person the more likely you are to get killed. You are looking for trouble. 

From a legal point of view, if you were able to escape but you choose to stay and fight, you are no longer a victim, in fact you might be considered the aggressor. 

Real cases:

I have a dear friend, when she was in college she went on a date that ended up in the boy's apartment watching a movie. Before she knew it he mounted her, choked her, and had big plans. She choked him back, smashed his groin, and rolled him off of her. She got up and ran to the door. She called the police and he was arrested. Today she is a lawyer. Had she done otherwise I do not know if she would be a practicing lawyer today, a family lawyer who helps many women who have been victimized. I believe she acted correctly.

Another case:  A student of mine was having marital difficulties. She decided to give her soon to be ex husband another chance. He used this chance to try and rape her. I received the phone call; good news and bad news. The good news is the techniques work, the bad news is the pending divorce. 

Conclusion: I have to scratch my head and wonder what was the thinking behind the idea of release from the attack and then moving to the back, applying the choke, and a bone breaking arm bar or joint lock. This reinforces with me the idea that sports martial arts training has a less than positive influence on real self defense, beware! 

The image that comes to mind is the old Bushido league from Japan, which I enjoyed very much. I see top athletes never giving up, taking a beating and going back to get that joint lock. I recorded every episode and then went back and analyzed and learned every single technique that I saw. I still have some of my notes. I remember Gary Albright, Nobohiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki, great stuff.  But would I teach this as a self defense course? for Girls? Please, the answer must be no.

With Royce Gracie, in Jerusalem

with the wonderful Renzo Gracie. Virginia, USA

with Legendary grappler Mark Hatmaker, Kentucky, USA

Training with Renzo Gracie, Karate College.

Training with Rodrigo Gracie, Long Island, New York


 a comment from Moshe Katz, 

After writing this blog I started listening to a podcast from one of our instructors in England, Mr. Mark Richardson, at about 44:50 into the interview concerning self defense, he is discussing his views after decades in the martial arts, and he just said the following: in discussing options, "If you can get to the attackers' back, you can escape. If you stay...you are now the aggressor."

Wow, I know I made the correct decision in certifying this man as an IKI Krav Maga instructor. 


That blog is superb!  I agree with all you are sharing and once again feel fortunate to be  associated with someone who truly has the right perspective.  

     I regularly teach assault prevention to young women and one of the things we always cover is escaping from a choke while mounted.  Bridging works well for most of them.  The real important part is their placement before they attempt bridging.  We show the gals how to jam their elbows into the attackers thigh to get their hips under the attacker.  If the attacker has a “high mount” position bridging doesn’t work.  This positioning detail is crucial to making it all work.  Of course the attackers arm and foot are trapped prior to the explosive bridge.  

    Equally important is aggressively counterattacking immediately after the reverse to create enough affect on the predator to escape and flee.

Colby S. Taylor, IKI Black Belt instructor

Covenant Defense, LLC Traverse City, MI 49685 https://www.covenantdefense.com


Excellent blog. The key word here is "tactical". KM thinks tactically and sport does not. There are elements of sport martial arts that do work for self defense if done tactically but most of sport does not apply. It is similar to shooting. In sport shooting there is a controlled environment and clear set of rules to win a game. The skills developed in this controlled environment "may" apply in a tactical shooting environment but then again they may not. The gross movement skills of escape and general confidence developed by training jiu jitsu will go a lot further for anyone in a self defense situation than any specific technique like an arm bar, oma plata, kimura or whatever... The hope is that the jiu jitsu practitioner will realize the are in a life or death situation with a clear goal of survival and not attempt to "win" a fight. The problem I have always seen with sport martial arts is that the build in what I call "training scars" into their systems. Under stress you will react the way you train. BJJ guys will almost always look to grapple or worse yet "pull guard" under stress. Karate guys and boxers get in a stance and give up the tactical advantage of a preemptive strike. Almost all of them stay in the mix too long and never consider circumstances like environment, etc... They key is to separate sport and self defense. While some traditional martial arts techniques work you have to understand the APC and respond tactically. 

Thanks Moshe,

Chris Cromer, USA

IKI Krav Maga Black Belt instructor, Jujitsu expert and former competitive fighter

Trine Jensen When you wrote "However, again, as I have pointed out I have come to see a great danger when SPORTS is confused for self defense!!! THIS really maked sense to me! now after a time I couldn't agree with you more! Thank you SO much for pulling me down to earth again! I was so affected by people telling me that this was the best thing to do so I started believing it and I wanted to check it out, but now I know otherwise. But it was a good Experience, to deal with "Both Sides" and make up my own mind in the end. Thank you for helping me with this!

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