You train hard. You come to as many Krav Maga classes as you can. You even practice in your spare time.
In other words, you’re ready to kick ass.
Are you, though?
Tough as this may be to swallow, training hard doesn’t necessarily ensure that you’re prepared for an attack.
The truth is, unless you’ve already found yourself in that situation, away from the (relative) safety of a Krav Maga class, you have no idea how you’d react when thrown into the brutal reality of an attack.
Let me repeat that: unless you’ve already found yourself in that situation, you have no idea how you’d react when thrown into the brutal reality of a vicious attack.
Then again, you might just freeze during an attack.
See, violence, especially unexpected violence, has a way of shocking people. The fight-or-flight response kicks in. Blood rushes through your body. You get tunnel vision. Your hearing becomes impaired. You experience difficulty breathing.
Designed to help your body survive, these physiological responses can sometimes do the opposite, reducing your chances of survival.
In the case of an attack, be it a rape attempt, a kidnapping attempt, a mugging, an encounter with an aggressive, deranged person, or even a drunken brawl, you might just freeze. You might stammer and gape as you back away from your attacker. You might even let him get close—too close.
In the end, you might be the one who ends up lying unconscious on the floor, blood covering your face.
The good news? By enrolling in EMA Toronto, you’ve already taken a major first step towards ensuring your safety. But follow these tips, and you can greatly increase the odds of reacting appropriately to a random attack.
But follow these tips, and you can greatly increase the odds of reacting appropriately to a random attack.
How to stop yourself from freezing during an attack
In a nutshell, to stop yourself from freezing during an attack all you have to do is replicate that nasty reality as much as possible.
But before I begin, a disclaimer: be sensible. Talk these things over with your partner, especially if you don’t know them well. Stop if they tell you they’re uncomfortable—but please do stress why you’re doing it and why they should consider doing it themselves as soon as they’re ready.
- Be aggressive. This is key, and not all students do it. Be aggressive, not just when you’re defending, but also when you’re attacking. If you’re going in for a punch, really go for it. Your partners knows it’s coming, so chances of real damage are slim. If you’re going in for a choke, let your partner get an idea of what being choked feels like. It’s a huge disservice to you and your partner to train complacently. Give each other the opportunity to experience a burst of aggressive energy coming in fast and hard, and you’ll both be less likely to be caught off guard on the streets.
- Insult your partner. Let’s say you and your partners have practiced a technique a couple times. When it’s your time to attack again, surprise him or her by insulting or threatening them. It could be a whisper in their ear as you hold a choke. It could be a scream at the top of your lungs as you hurl yourself at them with a raised fist. Either way, you’re helping them become immune to verbal threats and insults.
- Keep going. I’ve experienced this many times, typically with aggressive partners. They throw a flurry of knees and punches, only to stop when one actually lands. “Are you okay?” they ask. I tell them yes and ask them to carry on. So make a deal with your partner that neither of you will stop unless someone specifically says to stop. Mind you, I’m not saying you should seek to actually land a punch or a kick. You should always keep your partner’s safety in mind. Likewise, if someone is being overly aggressive, tell them to pull it back a notch. But a stray, unintentional punch here and there isn’t the end of the world, and shouldn’t make it either of you stop the technique. What’s more, it will teach you to keep your composure when struck.
- Remember your goal. I’ve also seen this too many times. I’ve been guilty of it, too: I stop when I make a mistake with a technique. Now, sometimes you should do this, especially when you’re learning a new technique. But remember: You’re here to learn to defend yourself, not to learn techniques. It’s subtle, yet powerful distinction. Got stuck? Hesitated? Threw the wrong kick? Never mind. Improvise and continue to defend yourself. In a real street fight, you can’t afford the luxury of stopping because you made a mistake and the technique didn’t work as expected. Your goal is to destroy your attacker, then vanish. Train with that goal in mind.
- Be aware of your surroundings. This one is to be practiced away from class as you go about your day. Basically, put your phone back in your pocket, and if you must listen to music, at least lower the volume and take off one earbud. Think about it: if you were going to attack someone, would you attack an alert person or a person who’s gaping down at a screen, barely aware of where they are? Don’t stop there, though—scan for potential threats. Watch people’s hands (are they holding a knife?) and body language (are they nervous, or maybe high?) See a guy acting aggressively on the corner? Cross the street, or if that’s not an option, turn and go back where you came from. Did an aggressive panhandler storm into your subway train? Adopt a comfortable yet discreet position, one that allows you to spring into action, and remain vigilant. That way, if an attack does happen, you won’t be caught by surprise.
Have you ever been attacked? Did you freeze or did you manage to fight back effectively?
by Alain Latour