Krav Maga Endings
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

Ability, Purpose, Circumstances

September 28, 2014, Israel

When I teach Krav Maga self-defense techniques and concepts I do not dictate an ending.

In other words, unlike a karate kata, or a choreographed move, I do not tell you how the situation should end. What I do give you are tools and options and the ability to use them.

Why is this so?

This is based on the reality of combat, fear, our psyche, our circumstances and our personality.

Many of our members come to us from other styles. One may have spent 25 years training in Judo, another is a 9th dan grand master of karate, while another is a Muy Thai champion. Yes, we have these and many others in IKI.

We have Olympic champions and coaches, military war heroes and undercover police officers. We have it all.

Each one of these highly trained professionals comes with a skill set and a method of operation. While they are eager to learn the Krav Maga defenses they already have many combative tools in their tool box. These are tools that they are comfortable with and will use instinctively, thus I want them to incorporate these tools into their personal Krav Maga. They do not have to delete their previous training and start from zero. That would be a total waste of all their previous years of training.

I provide the initial defense, the Krav Maga part, and create a situation where you have options. If you are a trained judo man you might instinctively go into a judo throw. On the other hand if you are a karate man that very same throw may prove to be extremely tricky and difficult to pull off, you may have a different ending.  Thus I leave that to you.

The karate man might see an opportunity for a side kick to the head while a Taekwondo man might see a place for a spinning back kick. A well built wrestler might just take the assailant to the ground. Each one of us has different abilities.

I leave those options to you. I chose for my endings/finishing moves the techniques that I am comfortable with. I leave you that same option.

If you have been doing Muay Thai for 25 years those moves will be most instinctive for you and you will do them best.

For beginners with no martial arts background I will show them my preferred endings. But even here personality differences must be taken into account. Some people will never be able to do an eye gouge, each one of us must find our own preferred methods.

But there are other factors to consider. I call this APC: Ability, Purpose, Circumstances.

Ability: I could suggest certain techniques but not everyone will have the ability to do them. Someone might not have the flexibility, another will not have the strength, another will lack the height. We are all different; different ages, different sizes, different abilities, and many of us have injuries that prevent us from performing certain techniques. Thus I give you as many tools as I can but you must chose the correct finishing move based on your particular abilities.

I recently had a student in a wheel chair. Certainly he would not be able to use the same ending moves as me, but he was able to come up with his own endings based on his unique abilities and even using his chair as a weapon.

We have older people who cannot run away but they carry a cane or a walking stick. For them the ending may very well involve using that stick. For a person without a stick that would not be an option.

Each case is unique.

Purpose: What is your purpose in this encounter? Are you a parent protecting your children? or are you a counter-terrorist?

If you are a counter-terrorist your finishing moves might include shooting the man dead on the spot. But what if you are a bouncer, a door man at a club? clearly killing the man is not an option. That would be murder. If you are a bouncer you need to just get him out of the club. If you are a prison guard you need to control him. If you are a police officer you need to arrest him, etc.

Circumstances: Are you alone? Are you in a bad neighborhood where it is best you leave as soon as possible? Are you with friends who can help you? Or are you with small children? Are you in a house of worship with a bunch of older untrained people? All these factors must be considered when determining what ending to use.

If I were to publish a Krav Maga book, step by step, as I was asked to do, there would only be one ending, but this clearly would not serve everyone's unique circumstances. Instead I go with the reality of life and offer you many tools and many options. Based on your circumstances you will chose the correct tools to end your fight.

How can I, as your instructor, dictate to you what finishing move to use when I do not know your purpose? I could end up getting you locked away in prison!

Your ability, purpose and circumstances will dictate your finishing moves, not I. Your endings/finishing moves can range from hit and run and escape, to killing off the attacker. At the moment of truth you will chose the correct endings.

I will give you the basic self-defense technique. I will give you tools, and options, to end the fight. These will include striking and running away on one extreme, to eliminating the threat on the other extreme.

It is up to you to judge your ability, your training and habits, your personality and your purpose in determining how to finish the fight.

I have no right to dictate to you how to end the fight.

However, I will instruct you never to rely on fine motor skills; never to rely on wrist grabs (heaven help us!!!) or joint locks or a series of moves (if anyone of them is less then perfectly executed and timed you are a goner).

No, all our moves will be based on simple gross motor moves, for nothing else has a real chance in the reality of fear and combat. Many techniques might possibly work but very few will probably work. We must stick to the simple and direct moves. 

I sincerely hope you accept this advice. It comes not only from my thirty years of training but from the hundreds of professionals I have had the privilege to train:

Police officers
SWAT team leaders
Prison guards
Flight Attendants
VIP Guards
Commando soldiers
Undercover narcotics agents
Bounty Hunters

Their experience in the field serves to confirm the validity of our approach. The countless success stories that come back to me validate our way of thinking.

IKI Krav Maga training in Moscow. Control the weapon, make sure you are safe and then chose the ending/finishing move that suits you best.

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Have to admit, I would have to use a KO like the big black guy in front of me I told you about....better have a good reason as it DOES look bad....  Have to admit, control methods on that hyped up psycho smaller white guy just wouldn't have least for me....  However, in church, hope to have a less drastic approach.  Your article is exactly how I like to approach the subject.  Capabilities/needs differ by individual, etc..

Bob Butler, USA

Absolutely perfect!

.I can show you dozens of HKD techniques which had “specified finishes” or “endings” that had to be done on tests, etc. and of course we were told that (if you do them right) these would always work.  I can prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that the “other guy” in these situations would never, ever, end up in the same position as your cooperative partner (esp. a partner who knows how to do an aerial fall) which means that while the initial move MAY work, the finish would not be even close to possible and would have to be modified.  IF all you know is one ending the chances of that causing YOUR end area very high (my opinion after over two decades of involvement).

Hal Herndon, GA, USA

 Moshe, Nice blog. This is exactly one of the problems I have with our previous KM Organization. They made us teach students prescribed step by step defense techniques that often times went 5 or even seven steps deep. It seemed that they all ended with the defender clinching the attacker "with the elbow always on the neck". Regardless of the attacker's size vs the defender's size or the varied movement and angle of the attacks the defender was expected to always end up in the same position on the "correct" side every time with their forearm on the neck even if the attacker was 6'5" and defender was 5'5". This led to awkward movement when we did real time drills with aliveness which eventually just led to the attacker complying in a very "aikido" like fashion so we could get through the drill nicely. This always goes back to concepts over techniques. In real time predetermined steps beyond the initial response always breaks down. I will say it is entertaining to watch a KM student from the other guys do a technique and then realize the attacker should be on the other side. They run around to "correct" it for the drill breaking all the rules of retsev (flow). We teach to react instinctively based upon the situation like you point out in the blog. We give quick protocols for escape or re attacking. Both are based on simple angles and should never cause the student to stop and think in the middle of the defense. 

I bet you get a lot of people complain for not seeing the ending instead of thanking you for keeping it real. What a shame. If they would train with aliveness and real speed they would quickly see why you do it this way.

Thanks, Chris

Chris Cromer, USA

Thanks Moshe,

As I tell the students here, Krav provides a response to Phase 1, the rest is variable and should be planned for accordingly by keeping options open... one of the principle I push is the use of "techniques of opportunity", i.e. strike what you can with whatever you have and keep the flow going..
This is another reason I discourage too much focus on combos as this becomes the learned response, as if a fight may end after  a 3/4 strike combo... it stops when your opponent is no longer able to harm you... this may be due to him being knocked out, or, the student having escaped... again... variable outcome based on opportunities that students are taught to recognize...

Thanks for this post!

Best regards,

Tony Hardy, South Africa

A very well thought out article. It's true that circumstance and environment will dictate much of your action, but there is this nagging voice in my head that says "Situations Change, Standards Don't", if you see the opportunity for the throw, take it, if not just keep firing. Keep moving and don't waste a single punch.

Mark Kaufman, Boston, USA

Hello Moshe,

Thank you for this blog.

You say the same what I teach to my class.

There are many different types of Students ... same as you ... prison guards, bouncer, Soldiers, young boys like my Joshua, young mothers ...

every one of them maybe needs a different ending.

Alexander – you know him – is a prison guard ... he must finish the fight with handcuffs ...

Joshua should leave the violent situation and I mostly must bring my opponent into the ambulance or in to the clinical bed ....(male nurse)

So every Krav Maga fighter needs an “idea” or a “feeling” of “How to finish a fight. But we do not need a unbreakable konzept like in Kata (Karate) or Poomsae (Taekwon-Do)

Thank you

all the best


Juergen Kohler, Germany

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