Self Defense Clothing
By Moshe Katz
Martial Arts Clothing Expert

I know you have all been waiting for this; a fashion column by Moshe Katz. Well, actually this will not be about fashion. Many Krav Maga associations have elaborate clothing codes; different color T shirts for different ranks, special jackets for instructors, cool camouflage style pants, hats, etc. We have none of that.

We do have our Krav Maga T shirts, but that is it. The T shirt means our students do not show up for class wearing all kinds of weird or distracting T shirts, which everyone is looking it. I recall years ago my teacher Frank Dux announced that the dojo had new T shirts, we were all required to buy and wear the T shirts to class, and he said, "No more funky T shirts". I believe that was very wise.

But this article is not about Krav Maga fashion either. It is about practical clothing in terms of self defense.

Let's begin with airlines: emergencies, and precautions. On my travels I observe the passengers closely and am frustrated that it is so terribly obvious that they have not read anything on this topic and have no idea how to behave on a plane.

Let us take a look at safety in terms what to wear while flying. If God-forbid there is an emergency landing, or fire, you do not want to be wearing flip-flops or crocks on your feet. You will not want high heels.

You should be wearing something solid that will enable you to run without your footwear falling off. You do not want to be running barefoot on a hot surface.

Cute sexy sandals are a very bad choice. You should wear sneakers or good walking shoes, not dress shoes, not flip flops, not sandals. Practicality must trump fashion.


I see many people flying in shorts. If there is an emergency landing and a fire breaks out your legs will be burnt. A solid pair of jeans is much more practical.

Here is some practical advice every passenger should know

• Wear clothes made of natural fabrics such as cotton, wool, denim and leather. They offer the best protection. Synthetics may melt when they are heated.

• Wear clothing that allows freedom of movement. Avoid restrictive clothing.

• Wear low heeled shoes or boots. (Shoes with laces or straps are recommended. Avoid sandals.)

• Arms and legs should be as fully covered as possible. (Long sleeves/pants are recommended.)

On the Street

I see many people wearing backpacks on the street. Now backpacks are designed for hiking in open spaces but on the streets or in crowded places they present many problems. Your backpack is like part of your body, if you turn – it turns, but unlike your body you cannot feel it and you unaware of what it might be hitting. What happens is you constantly bang into other people (such as on the plane) and hit them without even realizing it. This is not only a safety hazard but you also become a public nuisance. In terms of self-defense as you cannot feel your backpack it is very easy for someone to help themselves to anything in your backpack without you really feeling it.

In addition someone can grab your backpack and pull you to the ground; very dangerous. Bottom line – save the backpack for that hiking trip.

Ties – Neck ties may be great for business meetings but if you are wearing one on the street they make a very convenient weapon – for your assailant! It is as if you are preparing yourself to be hung, you already have the noose on, all the attacker has to do is pull and …you are choked. Keep it in your briefcase until you are safely at the office.

Jewelry – Not only does expensive looking jewelry invite an attack but large jewelry can easily be grabbed by an attacker. You can be pulled or strangled with your own necklace.

Shoes - Just like on the place you should wear shoes that you can easily run in, on slippery or burning surface, in the rain or snow. Not many people can run very well in high heel shoes, flip flops or sandals.

Bottom line is that as soon as you begin to think along these lines you can easily figure out on your own what clothing is safe and practical and what is not. As soon as you make a realistic assessment of the potential dangers – the answers will appear. The problem is most people never think along these lines. I was recently in Norway, a relatively safe country, and a very charming young woman, studying for a doctorate in philosophy, told me, "We choose to be naive". The choice is yours.



What you wrote is absolutely right and I have no objection for that. And which is what I always try to choose to wear.

However, what should I do when I go to a date to a boy?

Boys often told me “you dress nicely, but your shoes…” or “why are you wearing sports shoes? They don’t look pretty.”

Yes, I know maybe they don’t make me look delicate or elegant. I wear those shoes just because for my safety. But I can’t say “well, it is night and this is not nice area, so someone might attack me (and you are not reliable)” or “I’m taking precautions against a date rape (from you).” (Shiori Iwagaki, Japan)


My mother, when going to synagogue, would always walk in comfortable shoes, (simply because it was more comfortable than dress shoes) and carry her dress shoes in a bag. So although this is a bit of a pain I would say wear comfortable "Safe" shoes with you on the way to your date, and then in the car, or just before the date, changed into nice shoes for the date. This way you are in the safe shoes on the way to the date at least. Do the same on the way home. (Unless he is with you, and hopefully he is a trained Krav Maga expert, why else would you date him?)

Now, this only solves half the problem. So next part, what to do, as you say if you need to protect your self from him, from you date! or, from someone in the pub or restaurant or party?

I would suggest at this point to have shoes that you can kick off easily and just risk losing the shoes. He, or she, who throws their shoes and runs away, lives to fight another day. Best not to risk your life for a pair of shoes. not to spend too much money on a pair of shoes.

I am impressed that you have always known to wear practical shoes, you are more clever than most people.

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