Surprise Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

December 11, 2014, Israel

Knife attacks are very fast, we use natural instinctive responses

"How do we time it correctly?"

This was a good question asked last night by one of my newer students. She said that my knife defenses looked so easy, so natural. She was trying hard but could not "time her defense correctly".

Ahh...such an excellent point.

Trying is not the answer.

The point is that our Krav Maga is different. No, it is not the same as other styles. We thrive on the surprise. As I say in many languages..Use the surprise to your advantage..Usar el sorpresa a tu ventaja, Utilizzare la sorpresa a tuo vantaggio.

Our style of defense is based on the surprise. We do not try to "beat the system", instead we "join the system."

We follow the flow. In most cases it is unrealistic to be able to anticipate the attack. Sadly we have no choice but to react. And thus we train for that reaction.

This simple concept took me years to understand and develop.

For years I trained in Judo, Karate, Jujutsu, Kung Fu, Wrestling and tried to be quick, to beat the attack, to see it coming, to be ready. But in most cases this is simply impossible. And yet, like trying to fit square pegs into round holes most martial arts continue with this pattern, never realizing that it is fruitless. Your speed increases in the dojo/training hall but this does not translate into better self defense.

And survival on the street is our only concern.

We work on instinct; your instinctive reaction to an attack, and we build on that. When you get it you will realize how easy the defense can be, and then you too will have "perfect timing" and flow like water.

We work with your body, not against it.

Most knife attacks come too fast for us to think and then respond. We must we able to use the surprise to trigger our natural defense.

Lack of Control

It takes a certain amount of time and experience to realize that we are not in total control of our lives and environment. As much as we want to be control freaks, whether we realize this or not, we cannot control everything. Too often we must react. And that is the basis of our style of Krav Maga.

At one of our recent Counter Terrorism courses, part of our Tour and Train Israel Experience program, a student suggested that we can counter a terrorist attack by being "prepared".

Our instructor questioned the student. What does it mean to be prepared?

Intelligence? The very nature of a terrorist attack is the surprise.  It is they who have the "intelligence"; they are watching us and planning the attack and we have no way of knowing when or where it will take place. That is simply the facts.

We can stop many attacks before they take place, by use of informants and other methods, but we cannot stop a man who wakes up one morning, grabs a knife and decides to enter a synagogue and start stabbing. There is no way to anticipate such an attack.

The nature of the attack is that we will be caught by surprise. And it is the surprise that we must train for.

Our counter terrorism instructors are among the best in the world, if not the best. Yes they tell us that we cannot anticipate an attack, that the terrorist will always have the advantage of the surprise and we must always be the ones reacting. Not a happy scenario but that is reality. And that is what we must train for.

So, unlike other martial arts, we are not seeking "perfect timing" and in our training we will not anticipate the attack. We must be fair. We must be realistic. Do not train differently than the reality you will have to deal with.

When I tell a student "Do not anticipate my attack." it is not because I don't want him to "spoil" my technique, no, I am not afraid of looking bad. I simply want to teach reality and the reality is surprise. The attack is a surprise. We must train for reality.

Our counter terror instructors know this. And they know that the way they train must save lives. So they train for being caught by surprise. This is the basis of IKI Krav Maga; reality - lessons from the street, the battlefield, and home invasions. Expect to be caught by surprise and we take it from there.

We cannot take the surprise out of life. We cannot control all that is around us. We cannot know who will wake up this morning and grab a knife or an ax, so we must be ready. We must train in a way that hones our natural instincts, we must train to use the surprise to our advantage and turn the tables on our opponents.

About the author, Moshe Katz

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