Caught by Surprise

by Moshe Katz

I am not a huge fan of surprises. I like to have a certain control over my environment; I like to know what is coming my way. But in life the fact is there are surprises. Now some of them are positive, nobody really minds those although even a positive surprise can unsettle your life and lead to confusion. It is the negative sudden turns of events, the unexpected challenges, that we spend our lives trying to prepare for.

The entire military reserve system in Israel, Miluim; trained civilians ready for battle – is in place to provide us a measure of security in the event of an unexpected attack by any one of our many enemies. The oref, the civilian population of Israel is constantly prepared for such surprise; gas masks, bomb shelters, sealed rooms to protect us from chemical attacks – all this is in place to provide us a measure of security and protection in the event of a surprise.

As they say in military circles, "Luck favors the prepared", in Israel and in Krav Maga we strive to be prepared.

Many people spend years training in martial arts. Their stated goal is to be prepared. They know someone who was raped or mugged or kidnapped and they have vowed that this would not happen to them. So they have signed up for judo, karate or kung fun. Now the problem is that most martial arts are preparing you for a "no surprise attack" (for lack of a better word, if anyone knows a better term – write to me).

Even the new style of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), and the brutal UFC cage style competitions only prepare you for a fight that you are prepared for. These styles train you for a fight you know all about in advance. You are ready, you are expecting the attack; you have a pretty good idea of what is coming your way.

In traditional martial arts they even have "one step" where students train against a specific attack again and again. But what if the attacker did not learn this drill? What if it is a crazed religious fanatic or a drunken bum or drug user? What do you do with him?

I spent years training with such methods until I had to be brutally honest with myself and my students and admit, that if someone attacked me in an unpredictable way, (how many of us have said to our students, "Nobody attacks that way), I would not be prepared.

I have come to realize that the whole essence of self defense is self defense when you are unprepared, self defense when you are caught off guard, self defense when you are facing a surprise attack. This is the essence of self defense.

This requires an entire reevaluation of everything we do. It requires analyzing our natural instincts, our natural responses to surprises, and trying to use those actions, motions and emotions to our benefit. If you have only trained for an attack you are expecting – then you are not properly trained. "Expect the unexpected", train for the unknown, prepare yourself to be surprised.

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Learn to expect the unexpected. Come to Israel, experience Israel and Krav Maga for yourself. From the moment of your first interrogation at Ben Gurion airport you will feel what makes Israel the "Nation of Warriors".

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