self defense choices and options
by Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

August 20, 2020, Israel

We train for many years and always wonder; what will happen in the moment of truth? What will happen if we are actually attacked? How will we respond? Will it be like we trained in class? How well will I do?

We all ask these questions, deep in our souls. We imagine, we hope, that we will perform like a movie star, We will Steven Segal them, do a Bruce Lee on them, Jackie Chan them, or wrap 'em up like a pretzel ala the Zohan!

I have heard many stories, I have seen many videos. The stories can be divided into two categories; truth and tall tales. The tall tales are often told at bars, or in martial arts dressings rooms. With the years the stories often grow more dramatic, or change. The true stories are more humble. 

I recall the stories of those who fought at Bastogne, World War Two; very humble. These men spoke of fear, cold, how years later they still wake up in panic, that is closer to the truth. We can separate truth from fiction.

There is an old joke in Israel about how a person finally "meets himself" and the question is: will he be disappointed? 

That is what I want to address here. We train for reality and we need to address the issue of reality. We need to understand that we will probably not come out looking like the fictional characters in the movies. We have to make choices; before, during and after. 

Before the event we chose a style that we believe to be realistic. We train with scenario training, we train for the psychology of actual events. We learn from actual events. That is what we do at IKI. 

During; we need to make choices. We need to have options. This is what this article is about, our options. Krav Maga advertisements will have you believe there is only one option: Beat the crap out of the attacker/s and leave them for dead. This is rarely the only option and is not usually possible or legally or morally advisable. We must remember our goal: To get home alive, that is our goal, our only goal. We are not here to teach anyone a lesson, impress the bystanders, or use this to gain fame as a Krav Maga instructor.

Our goal, at least at IKI, is to get home safely.

Our trophy is to see our loved ones again. 

Our reward is that we wake up tomorrow and continue our lives. 

Lets' face it, there is ego involved. We trained for a long time and we want to prove that we can do it. However we cannot let ego rule this game, the ego must be checked at the door. 

I will begin with a story, a true story. A man, Dr. Dave, in South Africa told me this story. He said to me, "Coach, you saved my life again". OK, but how? He is a brain surgeon, five guys came into his office and demanded all the cash. Now brain surgery is a lucrative business but it is not a cash business. Perhaps these young me could have used some brain surgery. The cash was in the petty cash drawer, intended for minor expenses, coffee for the secretaries etc.  I believe he said he had close to 1,800 Rand. For those unfamiliar with South Africa, it is about $100 US dollars.  Dr. Dave handed over the money. I said...OK, but where do I come into the picture? What was my role here? 

He answered, and that day he became my teacher. He said, "Coach, had this happened before I trained with you and Alan in Krav Maga, I would have felt violated, defeated, beaten. But now I looked at it different. I had options. I knew there was something I could do. However I evaluated the situation; five against one, armed against unarmed, I thought of the money at stake and I decided to buy off these fools with the petty cash. I walked away a winner!"

There is a powerful lesson here. He chose not to use the physical aspects of Krav Maga, he made a wise decision. 

Another South African student called me up. He had been stopped at a traffic light, I think they call it a "robot". Five Africans came to his car, armed with various weapons. He gave up the car. Later on he called me. He wanted to know if he did the right thing. 

Now we do know that there are cases where tragically the victim is robbed and then shot. In such a case of course it is better to fight back. But how does one  know? That can only be decided at the moment of truth; can this person/people be bought off with cash or a car? or will they shoot me? Who is around me? What are the circumstances? All this must be taken into account. 

I answered the young man, "Are you calling from heaven?" , no. "Are you calling from the hospital?" No. So "Yes, you made the correct choice, I assume you have car insurance". Yes, he did. The only harm is a slightly bruised ego and an unpleasant encounter. He recovered, and continued training in IKI Krav Maga. 

When we train we have options. Each case needs to be evaluated based on its' own unique circumstances. If you did not end it by looking like the Zohan/Bruce Lee/Jackie Chan/Steven Seagal, the only struggle is in your mind; you need to understand that life is not a movie, as we say in Israel. You need to understand that you made a choice, a choice based on options. You may have chosen to escape, retreat, that is fine. You may have chosen to protect others by buying out a few losers on the street, money well spent. You are only a victim when you have no choices, no options. 

After the event: Often the psychological effect after the event can be terrible. We tend to doubt ourselves. The time to prepare is now, train hard, scenario training, awareness, be prepared! Once the event is over we tend to our psychological issues which will be much easier if we did all we could when we could.  We need to understand that we made an intelligent choice based on our options. In baseball sometimes we offer an "intentional walk" where we allow a player a free pass to the First Base, in war sometimes we make a strategic retreat, in gambling we need to know when to hold and when to fold. Such is life. Life is not the movies and your name is not the Zohan. 

Train hard, with the right method. It will be worth every moment, every penny of investment. 

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